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Subject: Not buying Workers rss

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Some Guy
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I'm very new to CoB and while reading up on some strategy, I came a across a lot of people saying never spend dice rolls on workers, or at the very least, only once maybe twice a game. One person said if they spend even one dice roll to buy workers then they feel like they are throwing the game. So how exactly do you do this? It seems like the yellow tile that gives you workers for your mines is the best, but what if you can't get that tile? What if that tile never even comes out in the game?
 
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Israel Waldrom
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My guess is that they would be talking about VP's per action, and buying workers with a dice does not directly contribute towards your VP.

There are other ways to get workers - the knowledge tile that gives you workers with mines, and one that gives workers with the sales of goods, as well as the building tile boarding house that gives 4 workers upon placement.

There are also knowledge tiles that give extra bonuses when buying workers (increasing the number to 4, and getting a silvering along with the workers) that make it more beneficial, and one that makes workers give +/-2 instead of +/-1.
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Der Einsielder
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1. Solution: Play flexible. Position yourself so that any number is good for you. The you don't need any workers

2. Place the city tile that gives you 4 workers

3. Why is the move you mentioned bad? Easy to explain: any die should give you ~4 VP. Taking 2 workers is worth only one VP. So this is an immediately loss of 3 VP!
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Moose Detective
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Einsiedler wrote:
1. Solution: Play flexible. Position yourself so that any number is good for you. The you don't need any workers

2. Place the city tile that gives you 4 workers

3. Why is the move you mentioned bad? Easy to explain: any die should give you ~4 VP. Taking 2 workers is worth only one VP. So this is an immediately loss of 3 VP!
This post has it right. It was probably me in at least one those other posts saying that buying workers is terrible and you should only do it if you have no other options and this is why.

 
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Carsten Jorgensen
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Just don't get too afraid of using a die for workers, if it means you can get a great scoring tile or complete a colour right before someone else would do it.

Then you might have used both dice just for one thing, but if that gives you 8+ VP combined, you are still good.
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Ben Bateson
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I think this is symptomatic of people using bad maths to try and analyse games. Lots of Eurogames are easy to break down mathematically, and there are some very good examples on this site of doing it well. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of poor analysis that often runs along the lines of saying 'I need x VPs per action, therefore anything that gets me less isn't worthwhile.' This, of course, neglects lots of other factors such as player interaction and engine-building. I have had lots of arguments in-depth analytical conversations with people on the 7 Wonders forums who blandly state 'This is the best side of the Wonder because it gets me 2 extra VPs' without considering the knock-on effect of their actions on other people around the table.

Is the Workers action a good one? Well, obviously not. But as Carsten says correctly, if you ignore it completely from a purely mathematical standpoint, you are likely to award other players more VPs than you are 'saving' by not using it.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Having workers allows you to be more flexible. It might be worth it to get workers even if they don't directly give you VP's. If, for example, there is a tile that will score both you and another player points (maybe both of you are competing to finish mines first or something) being able to spend workers when you otherwise couldn't get it is huge.
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Moose Detective
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ousgg wrote:
I think this is symptomatic of people using bad maths to try and analyse games. Lots of Eurogames are easy to break down mathematically, and there are some very good examples on this site of doing it well. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of poor analysis that often runs along the lines of saying 'I need x VPs per action, therefore anything that gets me less isn't worthwhile.' This, of course, neglects lots of other factors such as player interaction and engine-building. I have had lots of arguments in-depth analytical conversations with people on the 7 Wonders forums who blandly state 'This is the best side of the Wonder because it gets me 2 extra VPs' without considering the knock-on effect of their actions on other people around the table.

Is the Workers action a good one? Well, obviously not. But as Carsten says correctly, if you ignore it completely from a purely mathematical standpoint, you are likely to award other players more VPs than you are 'saving' by not using it.
If there comes a time where you don't have the die rolls to pick up a knowledge tile or animal tile that is multi-point swing unless you burn one of your dice to get workers, then you should do it. But that's going to be a rare case where there's an in-demand tile, you have 0-1 worker and you didn't roll what you needed on either die. Of course, by using an action to pull this off, you've only grabbed the one tile, so you may be putting yourself behind elsewhere and losing out on tiles 2-3. So the "math" becomes more like "If I don't use the worker, I can get tiles B+C, my opponent gets A+D, I get E, he gets F." Rather than I use the worker and get A, my opponent gets B+C, I get D+E, he gets F." and you have to figure out which swing is better or you B+C+E or A+D+E. This of course is ignoring further variables such as open spaces on player mats, black market tiles and first player changing mid round..but that's why this rare situation you've brought up can pretty much only happen at the beginning of a round.

If you already picked up a tile and then start considering burning an action for a worker NOW so that you can pick up any building next turn, it is highly possible that your opponent will either roll what they need (if they go earlier in the round) or build a ship/ships to go twice before you go again. You have to make sure both of these aren't options. And if the tile is valuable enough for you to burn a worker, its valuable enough for them to questionably place ships.

I haven't seen anyone say NEVER buy workers. A little flexibility might be better than shipping a single good if you don't need the silver, or better than a 2 point animal or clogging your buildings with one that doesn't help you. But its generally not a great move. Especially compared to many worker-placement type games where extra workers is something you should get even if you pass up early points.
 
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Robert Crawford
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I'm far from a great play, but I've played about 10 games and won the majority of them. I don't think I've ever seen someone go 0 times without spending a die for workers. But usually it's only 1-2 times per game.
 
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Phil Pettifer
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I reckon I go 2 out of 3 games without spending a die for workers. Mainly it's a case of using the building that gets you 4 workers and spotting when you've got a problem with your useful numbers appearing and doing something about it e.g. You can currently use 4 threes but only 1 one - don't change that two to a one, change it to a three.
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Robert Crawford
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Another common thing I see is that on the final turn, you simply don't have any options that would increase your points more than the 1 point you get by turning a die into 2 workers. Perhaps you can say that in this case you should have planned better; but there's numerous tiles where adding 1 to your board simply won't do you any good at all on the last turn, so instead of spending those 2 dice to take and add another tiles; spend them to get workers for points.

On another note, in my most recent game, a player whom I was teaching ended up with 26 workers at the end. He had 3 knowledge tiles that contributed; mines-give-workers, workers-are-twice-as-good, and dice-give-4-workers. So he went into the final round with plenty of workers that he didn't have any use for, plus his last 2 or 3 actions couldn't possibly increase his score more than trading all dice for 4 workers (2 points) each.
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Mav
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Einsiedler wrote:
1. Solution: Play flexible. Position yourself so that any number is good for you. The you don't need any workers

2. Place the city tile that gives you 4 workers

3. Why is the move you mentioned bad? Easy to explain: any die should give you ~4 VP. Taking 2 workers is worth only one VP. So this is an immediately loss of 3 VP!
Early on you are not always in the position to do this, or alternatively NOT having workers could stop this happening!
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Einsiedler wrote:
1. Solution: Play flexible. Position yourself so that any number is good for you. The you don't need any workers

[...]

3. Why is the move you mentioned bad? Easy to explain: any die should give you ~4 VP. Taking 2 workers is worth only one VP. So this is an immediately loss of 3 VP!
Sorry, but: Terrible argumentation! What if the less flexible style gives you more points? Still want to put an emphasis on flexibility? What if the workers boost your next moves from 4 VP to 20 VP? Still want to skip that move.

I'm not saying that taking workers is a good move, just that your reasons to avoid it are bad.
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