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Gang of Four» Forums » Strategy

Subject: How about a few strategy tips... rss

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:ninja:

I've just started getting into this game and I'm trying to get a few friends involved. I am starting to see more of the strategic nuance involved in this game and I would appreciate any tips from veteran players.
I do have a rules question though; if the next player (after you) is down to their last card, do you have to play the highest possible set in your hand? I.E. if I have a yellow ten (my highest single) but I also have a pair of sevens; am I compelled to play the pair of sevens to absolutely insure that the last player doesn't go out) likewise if I had a five card hand, would I have to play it; or just the highest in whichever card category I decide to play (single, double, trips, five-card, etc)?
 
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John Farrell
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Travis, I would play by the spirit of the rules which are that you do whatever you can to stop the next guy going out, so if you have any pair/five that would be fine. But if you're going to play a single, you must play the highest.

I haven't played Gang of Four much recently, but I have been playing Tichu and Big Two on the Palm, so here are my ideas based on my experience with those games.

Firstly, you will rarely win without the lead. Playing most of your cards and hoping to get rid of the others when someone else leads is just wishful thinking. If you're going to do that, make that the last cards in your hand are very very big.

When you get your hand, look at it and assess (a) what's the fastest way to get rid of those cards, and (b) how are you going to get and keep the lead.

Usually you won't have enough good cards to get the lead straight away so you'll have to wait for the right time to pounce. If you have a pair of 10s but you're afraid there's a pair of premiers out there, play your pair of 8s to try to get someone to put the premiers on them. If you don't have the chairman, don't try to win the lead in a singles trick until he gets played. The time to make your move is when you know you can take the lead and not lose it. Count cards so you know when this is.

With experience you will come to know which cards you can expect to win tricks with and which you can't. Your full house of 2s and 3s may look really good, but someone will beat it every time at the beginning of the hand. At the end of the hand it *will* be really good, but of course you risk being stuck with it when someone else goes out.

You can't win every hand, though I've seen some people who nearly could. The best laid plans can be totally ruined by someone with a couple of full houses. Learn to time your plays and on average you will come out ahead.
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I really appreciate your advice, most of what's out there is a little too detailed for my level of play. I have been trying to take the lead early on and I end up squandering my strong hands up front. I will employ more restraint --thanks again;

Squatting Monkey
 
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John Farrell
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I hope it works, that's how I play. If you get any better ideas let me know. I think the skill is in judging how strong a hand you have and knowing the right time to use it.
 
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Craig Macbride
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Friendless wrote:
But if you're going to play a single, you must play the highest.


This rule is one of the things which make this game so bad.

Firstly, it forces you to play non-optimally. Let's say you know that one player is down to a single card under 8 (a single 7 went past them previously when they could have and would have gone out) and you have the lead and an 8 and a phoenix left. Clearly, your best play is to play the 8, hoping that other players will not play above your phoenix and that you can go out, or that they do play over it but you have the phoenix left as your last card. Instead, this stupid rule forces you to burn your best card, even if you know it will be beaten.

Secondly, because the scoring system is so badly skewed, your only way to win if you've had one bad hand is to make sure others are caught with lots of cards. Having one player go out while you have few cards left is much better than preventing them and letting other players dump cards. Yet this rule forces you to reduce your own chances of winning.

I've played a bit of Gang of Four recently, and it only reminds me that the best strategy is to play Tichu instead.
 
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Tuomas Korppi
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Squatting Monkey wrote:
ninja

I've just started getting into this game and I'm trying to get a few friends involved. I am starting to see more of the strategic nuance involved in this game and I would appreciate any tips from veteran players.


I've not played this particular game, but there are general strategical points that apply to all climbing games. Basically, your cards can be divided into three catgories: Low cards, mid cards and high cards.

Mid cards usually play themselves. Sooner or later you'll get a chance to play them.

High cards, when used properly, give you the lead.

Low cards are what one should concentrate on. They are difficult to get rid of, and usually the player who is the most successful in getting rid of low cards wins the game.

Thus, use every oppoturinity you have to get rid of low cards. Try to play combinations containing them so that you'll get rid of several of them at once. In games involving full houses, a full house with a medium-high triplet and a low pair is an excellent possibility to get rid of a low pair.

Use your high cards to get a lead, and save them until you are fairly certain to win a lead with them. Very high cards are often played as single cards even if they form a combination, since a combination wins only one lead, but when played individually, high cards win several leads. When you have a lead, use the oppoturnity to get rid of low cards.

Mid cards can be played when a possibility to play them arises. If they form a combination, it can be saved, since in the late midgame, a combination of mid cards is often unbeatable, and hence may win a lead. (If they do not win a lead, they can be played when you have a lead, and they win the trick.)

Thus, a good hand consists of more (or equal number of) oppoturnities to win a lead (high cards, high combinations) than times you need to win a lead (low cards.) Try to keep your hand good, or make it good.

The more the hand progresses, the lower the cards need to be in order to win a lead. This means that if you have a very good hand, you can afford counting only the highest cards as lead-winning cards, and rid yourself quickly of all your cards. If your hand is somewhat worse, you must regard also medium-high cards as lead-winning, and wait until they actually are lead-winning. In particular, you must avoid ending up with a hand that consists solely of low cards (yes, a one-card hand with that card low is a very bad hand.)

Do not count on winning a lead with an exotic combination. It is very possible that no-one else leads that type of a combination. Exotic combinations are best lead in late midgame as a lead-preserving combination. (At that point, other players have probably broken their combinations and cannot beat you.)

Also, if you have a small combination and a high combination of the same type, you are in a good position, since you can lead the small combination to get rid of it and win the lead with the high combination.

The best way to foil other players' plans is to cover their high cards with still higher cards. Thus, often (but not always) the highest cards of the game are used most efficiently when they cover the second-highest cards. You can create such a situation by playing a medium-high card into the trick when you have also the highest card of the game. If it wins, good for you. If not, someone must beat in with a second-highest or a third-highest card, which you can cover with the highest card. However, this trick should not be used when you need the medium-high card as a lead-winner. (See the bolded rule.)

In games where the game is stopped after one player gets rid of cards and other players are penalised for the number of cards in their hands it is possible to play a defensive hand. If you have much more low than high cards, you can aim at getting rid of most of your cards quickly, and leaving one or two cards in your hand to minimize the penalties.
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