Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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The first two turns in Star Realms might not win or lose you the game, but the cards you buy will be in your deck the longest and will help shape the entire game. Saying the first two turns are important is an understatement. They're very important.

I just started a game with a tough opening trade row.

Trade Row:
Defense Center
Freighter
Cutter
Missile Bot
Trade Bot

Starting with three trade would be so good! Buy both scrappers.
One trade is easy. Buy the trade bot.
I start with 2 trade...

What would you take?

As I think about this situation, I think I made the wrong move, but I also think I made the move most people would make. I think this situation gave me a new idea about opening strategy, so I'm interested to see what other people think about this situation. Here is my thinking.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

With 2 trade, I could take:
1) An explorer
With such great cards on the table, I can't just take an explorer. No way.

2) The cutter
A great starting card. However, he's guaranteed to afford both the missile bot and trade bot, and getting that far behind in scrapping is almost a sure way to lose unless you can end the game quickly, and the cutter is not a rush card.

3) The Missile Bot
This is a great starting card. It prevents my opponent from getting both scrappers early. This is what I took.

4) The trade bot, then see what flips with 1 trade left
I didn't really consider this option until writing up this post. In hindsight, I think this was the best move to make, and I'll explain below.

So now things really depend on my opponent's distribution of cards. He could either have a 4/4 trade start, a 3/5 start, or a 5/3 start. I think my opponent has to take the cutter and trade bot over the freighter, since giving someone a cutter, trade bot, and missile bot is very, very strong. So the best starting hand for him is 3 trade, because he can get the cutter and trade bot, then either the defense center or freighter. At this point if I take the freighter, then he gets the defense center which I have no way to destroy, and it will trigger the ally with his cutter, so in my opinion I sort of need to take the defense center.

If I had taken the trade bot instead of the missile bot, then the 3 trade would only get him one of the good cards instead of both. In this case, a 3 trade start would be the worst for him.

With a 4 trade start, he would probably still grab the cutter and missile bot, but that leaves me with the freighter, and he couldn't afford the defense center on his turn.

If he has 5 trade, he might spring for the defense center, but again that leaves me with the cutter and missile bot. So he would have to take the cutter and remaining scrapper.

Basically, I think all 5 cards are strong cards. If one player can get 3 or more of them, (or both of the scrappers) they have an advantage. By taking the trade bot, I guarantee that he can only get 2 of them.

One other thought. I think I could have gone with the cutter, and then the freighter, and just gone for big trade. I think that's a risky play, since 2 scrappers is strong compared to no scrappers. Also if he starts with 3 trade (like he did), he can get both scrappers, and then the defense center which I can't destroy. So someone could make an argument to go with the cutter, but I don't think that's the best move. Also, the cutter is so useful because it helps counter the rush strategy by giving you enough authority gain to give you a couple more turns. However, it doesn't counter the scrapping strategy, since scrapped decks deal large amounts of damage very quickly once they are built.

Recap:
IF I BUY THE MISSILE BOT
He starts 3/5
My buys: Missile Bot, Defense Center
His buys: Cutter, trade bot, freighter

He starts 4/4
My buys: Missile Bot, freighter
His buys: cutter, trade bot, two explorers? (who knows)

He starts 5/3
My buys: Missile bot, whatever he doesn't buy
His buys: He could go with defense center, or cutter, trade bot, explorer?

IF I BUY THE TRADE BOT
He starts 3/5
My buys: Trade bot, Freighter
His buys: Probably missile bot, then either cutter or defense center

He starts 4/4
My buys: Trade bot, freighter
His buys: cutter, missile bot, then maybe 2 explorers? (who knows)

He starts 5/3
My buys: Trade bot, whatever he doesn't buy, but probably I'd end with freighter
His buys: Probably cutter and missile bot, possibly defense center

Overall, I think the worst scenario is me buying a missile bot and him starting with 3/5, which is what happened. None of the trade bot scenarios are terrible in my opinion.

Of course all of this analysis ignores any cards that get flipped, which will change the game. But let's not worry about that, especially because in the actual game none of the flipped cards were nearly as good as these starting 5.



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Dave
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Good points. I'm not a fan of the Missile Bot, as it slows down your early deck quite a bit, whereas a turn 1 Trade Bot at least keeps the 1 trade moving through your deck.
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Charles Hasegawa
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Nothing you said in analysis seems revelatory except that I never put that much thought into it, which is why it is amazing that I've survived the top tier ever.

I would have gone Cutter and hoped for the Freighter. If the opponent took the freighter, I would have gotten at least one scrap card. If he took both scrappers, I'd have to hope that expensive hitters came out that I could beat him too and the race would be on.

Having said that, my record would indicate that this is a pure gambling move that is likely to win just under half the time.
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Scott Heise
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Very interesting post and thorough analysis. However, I liked your analysis of what your 2nd buy vis a vis your opponent's opening buys. This is exactly the kind of thorough analysis that helps good players become great players.

Having said that, I disagree with a couple of your points. I generally avoid Trade Bot as a solo scrapper, even as an opening buy as, because it is one of the only cards in the game that actually makes your deck worse before it makes it better. One scrapper is not going to make enough of a difference in the long run, and it's not worth slowing your deck down on the second shuffle. I will only buy Trade Bot along with 2-3 other scrappers as part of a "scrap rush" strategy.

In this situation, I would make my move assuming your opponent is going to have a 4/4 opening draw, the which means breaking up the Cutter + Missile Bot combo since these are probably the two best cards on the table. This means it comes down to Cutter vs Missile Bot. I don't want to rehash the scenarios you already laid out, but the most likely scenarios look like:

Me: Cutter, Him: Missile bot, trade bot, Me: Freighter
Me: Cutter, Him: Freighter, Me: Missile Bot, trade bot
Me: Missile bot, Him: Cutter, trade bot, Me: Freighter
Me: Missile bot, Him: Cutter, explorer, Me: Freighter, trade bot
Me: Missile bot, Him: Freighter, Me: Cutter, trade bot

Honestly, I'd be happy with all of these scenarios and this really shows the power of being in 1st seat. I can't really speculate about his 2nd buy since 4 out of 5 cards are getting replaced in the trade and the new cards could dramatically affect the game, but I'm going to be feeling especially spiffy especially in the scenarios where he has to eat the trade bot.

So while I think a case could be made for either the Cutter or Missile bot, I'm leaning towards the missile bot because 1) it forces him to choose between the Cutter or the Freighter, so I'm guaranteed to get a good trade card on my 2nd buy, and 2) it compels him to buy a crappy trade bot to break up a double red combo for me.

Obviously this is just my opinion and is weighted heavily by my prejudice against the Trade Bot.

Good discussion!

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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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HomerJr wrote:
In this situation, I would make my move assuming your opponent is going to have a 4/4 opening draw...

Honestly, I'd be happy with all of these scenarios and this really shows the power of being in 1st seat.


I agree that if my opponent starts 4/4 then the scenarios aren't that bad. But the problem is if he starts 3/5 like he did, then I'm not too keen on him picking up the cutter, trade bot, and defense center. Maybe you don't value defense center as highly as I do, but I think that's a strong start.

That's why I think taking the trade bot is better because it mitigates the worst case scenario.
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Scott Heise
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railbaron wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
In this situation, I would make my move assuming your opponent is going to have a 4/4 opening draw...

Honestly, I'd be happy with all of these scenarios and this really shows the power of being in 1st seat.


I agree that if my opponent starts 4/4 then the scenarios aren't that bad. But the problem is if he starts 3/5 like he did, then I'm not too keen on him picking up the cutter, trade bot, and defense center. Maybe you don't value defense center as highly as I do, but I think that's a strong start.

That's why I think taking the trade bot is better because it mitigates the worst case scenario.


It's not that I don't value defense center, it's just that there isn't anything you can do to stop him from getting it. I don't see whether you take missile bot or trade bot is going to affect his decision; he's going to grab the cutter and then the defense center, so you might as well grab the better of the two scrappers. Whether or not he gets a trade bot is sort of immaterial in this scenario IMO, as the main concern is his strong blue start not the weak scrap. You're probably going to need the missile bot's combat to take down the defense center.
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I admit that it is likely my lack of skill, but I feel like pure scrap rushes never work out for me. I am often left with a deck that is just small red cards, able to deal 10 damage a turn against an opponent who has picked up a couple outposts to help soak the damage and is building trade in order to buy some bomb cards.

I feel like scrap is only good when you have other good cards in your deck to draw more often. Between the two scrappers, you are getting 1 trade, so I would:

go for the Cutter to help offset the damage that the scrappers can do, hope my opponent takes the scrapper, then take the Defense Center to shut out all the early damage my opponent could do or the Freighter if there are any expensive cards in the trade row.
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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HomerJr wrote:
railbaron wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
In this situation, I would make my move assuming your opponent is going to have a 4/4 opening draw...

Honestly, I'd be happy with all of these scenarios and this really shows the power of being in 1st seat.


I agree that if my opponent starts 4/4 then the scenarios aren't that bad. But the problem is if he starts 3/5 like he did, then I'm not too keen on him picking up the cutter, trade bot, and defense center. Maybe you don't value defense center as highly as I do, but I think that's a strong start.

That's why I think taking the trade bot is better because it mitigates the worst case scenario.


It's not that I don't value defense center, it's just that there isn't anything you can do to stop him from getting it. I don't see whether you take missile bot or trade bot is going to affect his decision; he's going to grab the cutter and then the defense center, so you might as well grab the better of the two scrappers. Whether or not he gets a trade bot is sort of immaterial in this scenario IMO, as the main concern is his strong blue start not the weak scrap. You're probably going to need the missile bot's combat to take down the defense center.


I can't believe we actually disagree about something in Star Realms ;-). I think I always agree with you!

So my point is, if I take trade bot and he takes cutter, then I can either take the missile bot or the defense center. Either way, I have 2 good cards, and best he can do is buy one of: defense center, freighter, missile bot.

I'm trying to avoid the situation where it is:
Me: Missile Bot, Defense Center
Him: Trade bot, cutter, freighter

So you disagree that that is the worst case scenario?

Also I think an early trade bot is a fine solo scrapper, so I guess we disagree about that too :-).
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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ThinkingThatsAll wrote:
but I feel like pure scrap rushes never work out for me. I am often left with a deck that is just small red cards, able to deal 10 damage a turn against an opponent who has picked up a couple outposts to help soak the damage and is building trade in order to buy some bomb cards.


I agree that a pure scrap rush doesn't work, but you have plenty of time to add more meat to the deck after you add the missile bot and trade bot. Even just adding a bunch of explorers will give you enough trade to get some decent cards, and then just scrap the explorers immediately.

Edit: You only need 1 or 2 good cards to make a trimmed deck very powerful.

I still think that opening with a missile bot and trade bot is probably the strongest 3 trade start, behind maybe only three trade bots.

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Scott Heise
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railbaron wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
railbaron wrote:
HomerJr wrote:
In this situation, I would make my move assuming your opponent is going to have a 4/4 opening draw...

Honestly, I'd be happy with all of these scenarios and this really shows the power of being in 1st seat.


I agree that if my opponent starts 4/4 then the scenarios aren't that bad. But the problem is if he starts 3/5 like he did, then I'm not too keen on him picking up the cutter, trade bot, and defense center. Maybe you don't value defense center as highly as I do, but I think that's a strong start.

That's why I think taking the trade bot is better because it mitigates the worst case scenario.


It's not that I don't value defense center, it's just that there isn't anything you can do to stop him from getting it. I don't see whether you take missile bot or trade bot is going to affect his decision; he's going to grab the cutter and then the defense center, so you might as well grab the better of the two scrappers. Whether or not he gets a trade bot is sort of immaterial in this scenario IMO, as the main concern is his strong blue start not the weak scrap. You're probably going to need the missile bot's combat to take down the defense center.


I can't believe we actually disagree about something in Star Realms ;-). I think I always agree with you!


Haha, I suppose there's a first time for everything. We wouldn't want this game to get boring now, would we?

railbaron wrote:

So my point is, if I take trade bot and he takes cutter, then I can either take the missile bot or the defense center.


Ahhhh.... I had assumed that you would get $4 on your second hand (70% probability, I think) and thus getting the defense center wouldn't be an option. On on the off chance you did draw $5 on second hand, then Freighter vs Defense Center is an interesting choice. A case could be made for either, so I would make my decision based on what 2 new cards arrive in the trade row. If a card with 4+ attack or a $6+ card shows up, I grab Freigther; otherwise, Defense center. My guess is that this means I grab Freighter in the majority of situations.

railbaron wrote:

Either way, I have 2 good cards, and best he can do is buy one of: defense center, freighter, missile bot.

I'm trying to avoid the situation where it is:
Me: Missile Bot, Defense Center
Him: Trade bot, cutter, freighter

So you disagree that that is the worst case scenario?

Also I think an early trade bot is a fine solo scrapper, so I guess we disagree about that too :-).


I think the worst case scenario is any situation where the trade bot is in my deck and not my opponent's. That's just how much I dislike it as a solo scrapper... I actually wish it to be in my opponent's deck. I just think it's actually a pretty harmless card for my opponent to have unless he has 2-3 other scrappers to go with it. This is probably the crux of why we see this scenario differently.

(Reminds me of this thread from a while back, although become much harsher towards Trade Bot than when I initially posted there)

Seriously though, I think the worst case scenario is me having Missile Bot + Defense Center and him having Cutter + Freighter (+ Trade Bot?), as some nice $6+ power cards are bound to show up in the trade row after the initial buys and I'll have no buying power. Missile Bot + Freighter gives me buying power, solo scrapping, plus a small combat boost to help take out his Defense Center (if he buys it).

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Defense center tends to prolong the game. If you have missile bot and Freighter you should have the advantage for the long game. I would take the Missile Bot and then take either Freighter or Cutter+Trade Bot... Whichever is left for me.
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Sonny A.
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I would take the Cutter and expect my opponent to take the Freighter (and possibly the Trade Bot if he has 5 trade).

If my opponent doesn't go for the Freighter, he'll probably take the 2 scrappers, in which case I will take the Freighter.
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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lSweetJusticel wrote:
Good points. I'm not a fan of the Missile Bot, as it slows down your early deck quite a bit, whereas a turn 1 Trade Bot at least keeps the 1 trade moving through your deck.


Interesting. So in a vacuum, if you had the choice between missile bot and trade bot, you might go with trade bot anyway on the first turn?

Also, I'd like to point out that slowing down your deck just depends on the strategy you're going with. If you're going with a rush strategy, then the missile bot accelerates your deck, it doesn't slow it down :-).
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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SonnyDK wrote:
I would take the Cutter and expect my opponent to take the Freighter (and possibly the Trade Bot if he has 5 trade).

If my opponent doesn't go for the Freighter, he'll probably take the 2 scrappers, in which case I will take the Freighter.


How good would you feel about this opening for you and your opponent?

In my opinion, the two scrappers will beat out the big trade usually (not always), even if it's freighter and cutter. It will greatly depend on the rest of the game, and I guess I'm just so averse to big trade that I've played very few games (probably none) where I opt for the freighter/cutter over the scrap.

I will say that both the cutter and freighter cards are much better if they're allied, so I see them as riskier cards. They could be great, but they could be just good. I'm a pretty risk averse player, so I usually try to not depend or count on any ally abilities.
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railbaron wrote:
Interesting. So in a vacuum, if you had the choice between missile bot and trade bot, you might go with trade bot anyway on the first turn?

I've done it before and I might do it again! (I actually did it in a game today.)

I just don't think you can underestimate early game trade, with some exceptions of course. When you're fishing for an early game card that costs 6 or 7, that missile bot can be a sad disappointment.

I'm not willing to defend this as my "official" position though. Despite the crazy volume of games I've played, there are still many things I'm not sure of and some starting trade rows that confound me.

[Edited to include your quote, as you ninja'd me!]
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Sonny A.
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railbaron wrote:
SonnyDK wrote:
I would take the Cutter and expect my opponent to take the Freighter (and possibly the Trade Bot if he has 5 trade).

If my opponent doesn't go for the Freighter, he'll probably take the 2 scrappers, in which case I will take the Freighter.


How good would you feel about this opening for you and your opponent?

In my opinion, the two scrappers will beat out the big trade usually (not always), even if it's freighter and cutter. It will greatly depend on the rest of the game, and I guess I'm just so averse to big trade that I've played very few games (probably none) where I opt for the freighter/cutter over the scrap.

I will say that both the cutter and freighter cards are much better if they're allied, so I see them as riskier cards. They could be great, but they could be just good. I'm a pretty risk averse player, so I usually try to not depend or count on any ally abilities.


With big money there's a whole lot of other scrapper cards available to you. Letting your opponent get a scrapper before yourself isn't that dangerous, if you can easily beat him on economy.

But there's always the risk of none showing up, but then you can hopefully get some big hard hitting ships. And your +authority will prolong the game, which works to your advantage if you have better econ.
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Kevin Wojtaszcyk
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depends on how one does a scrapper strategy.

with that opening, if you can get both reds to start, I would then just buy explorers or other red discards till I can spice in some bigger cards due to the explorers 2 dollars all the while killing scouts.

then after I have a couple big cards and possibly an outpost or two, then the explorers discard for 2 damage each as they come up and you can quickly get to a 6-9 card hand that cycles for big damage.

two missile bots early actually work real well down this route since they can add up the damage when showing up with other reds.

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lSweetJusticel wrote:
railbaron wrote:
Interesting. So in a vacuum, if you had the choice between missile bot and trade bot, you might go with trade bot anyway on the first turn?

I've done it before and I might do it again! (I actually did it in a game today.)

I just don't think you can underestimate early game trade, with some exceptions of course. When you're fishing for an early game card that costs 6 or 7, that missile bot can be a sad disappointment.


I agree with this judgment. For the first 5 hands or so, you always want at least the option to buy, so $1 is much more valuable than 2 combat.
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I saw a link to this today, looks like an old post, but in case anyone is still subscribed, I thought it would be interesting to see my simulator's opinion on the best card to buy. I had both players using Velocity Bot, and I got the following results of win % based on which card is bought:

(2nd player cards random)
Cutter - 59.40%
Missile Bot - 59.05%
Trade Bot - 61.85%
Explorer - 35.05%

(2nd player starts with 3 trade)
Cutter - 56.65%
Missile Bot - 56.10%
Trade Bot - 62.00%
Explorer - 26.35%

(2nd player starts with 4 trade)
Cutter - 58.20%
Missile Bot - 57.05%
Trade Bot - 59.10%
Explorer - 25.15%

(2nd player starts with 5 trade)
Cutter - 41.00%
Missile Bot - 41.40%
Trade Bot - 57.35%
Explorer - 12.55%

So the simulator would agree that the Trade Bot is the best buy.


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Fascinating - thanks icesphere! And thanks railbaron for the original post, this significantly influenced my thinking about the opening.
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Sonny A.
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icesphere wrote:

So the simulator would agree that the Trade Bot is the best buy.


Isn't the simulator pointing towards Cutter?

I would say the simulator is wrong
 
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SonnyDK wrote:
icesphere wrote:

So the simulator would agree that the Trade Bot is the best buy.


Isn't the simulator pointing towards Cutter?

I would say the simulator is wrong


It shows the Cutter is a strong choice. I wouldn't say the simulator is "wrong", it's simply showing probabilities based on how it was programmed.
 
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Stephen Hurn
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icesphere wrote:
I saw a link to this today, looks like an old post, but in case anyone is still subscribed, I thought it would be interesting to see my simulator's opinion on the best card to buy. I had both players using Velocity Bot, and I got the following results of win % based on which card is bought:

(2nd player cards random)
Cutter - 59.40%
Missile Bot - 59.05%
Trade Bot - 61.85%
Explorer - 35.05%

(2nd player starts with 3 trade)
Cutter - 56.65%
Missile Bot - 56.10%
Trade Bot - 62.00%
Explorer - 26.35%

(2nd player starts with 4 trade)
Cutter - 58.20%
Missile Bot - 57.05%
Trade Bot - 59.10%
Explorer - 25.15%

(2nd player starts with 5 trade)
Cutter - 41.00%
Missile Bot - 41.40%
Trade Bot - 57.35%
Explorer - 12.55%

So the simulator would agree that the Trade Bot is the best buy.




The simulator confirmed my hunch - the trade bot is much better than the missile bot as a turn 1 purchase.

I personally thunk that the missile bout is the weakest early game scrapper. It's not strong enough to crack opponent defences, it gives you 3 bad trade cards in your second deck instead of 2 and it is twice the price of a trade bot.

Having said that, it's often the best turn 1 purchase since you don't often get cutters and trade bots in the same trade row on turn 1. But I'd usually consider a trade card to be more flexible than a turn 1 missile bot.
 
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