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Subject: Dealing with the apparent harshness of Norenberc rss

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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
Zaandam
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After having given the game a go for I think the third time since it came out, I found myself actively wondering about how to play it effectively. In all cases I found myself absolutely stuck in an unplayable position from about halfway onwards: very little money, very few actions (less than the opposition in any case), very little goods, bad position on the turn order track. What little cheap opportunity there was would be immediately spotted by my opponents who would snap it up themselves, and thus cement their lead even more. No goods means no way of altering the turn order (because you only get goods if you hire a guest); no money means no goods; and without opportunity to gain more money the game is pretty much over at that point. (I'm leaving out the utter chaos which can ensue at higher player numbers when people alter the turn order before the guild(s) you selected is(are) called for.)

I am aware that a variant exists which gives out a loan of 10, but 10 is a measly amount which is gone in a jiffy, especially if the guild masters show a high value. (You have to be really desperate to purchase something at anything over 4. At the same time, because of the game's unpredictability, you may not have a choice because the alternative—doing a null action—is worse.) The amount of loans the game hands out is quite limited though, indicating that dearth of liquidity is a design feature rather than something that occasionally happens.

To some extent I am to blame for my own predicament, true. A more conserving strategy would definitely see the starting capital last longer. At the same time: it will dwindle, and if there are not sufficient opportunities to restock in some way to keep the cycle of purchasing and expending going, you're sunk. So with that in mind I invite the people who have played this game more often to comment on the following questions:

— how often are null actions taken in your games?
— how do you pace your own game?
— how do you handle a lack of funds?
— what do you do if the guild masters take on high values for a round or two?
— how do you deal with turn order effects?
— and anything else you think interesting to mention.
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Maarten D. de Jong
Netherlands
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For the benefit of those reading this thread I'm going to answer my own questions because I've been able to come up with some satisfying answers.

The first order of business is an open door: be aware of what scores VPs. Norenberc is pretty lenient with the awarding of majority influence positions, going as far as giving VPs to 3rd place (although of course not much). If a player is amassing a lot of influence in a guild then it simply doesn't make a lot of sense to challenge that position: it will cost a lot of money and resources, and the gains will be small. That said, the double guild tiles at the end can cause important improvements, so be a tad careful here (or plan exactly for that opportunity). Then pay attention to shields, in particular that you need different ones. Having more than one of the same type (prestige shields excepted) brings you nothing. This is important for it means that players who have already obtained a guild's shield are not likely to invest heavily to obtain another: the result is that it causes competition for a particular guild to lessen. Finally the bonus for having influence in all guilds in play is also rather valuable. If you can obtain this bonus through the hiring of a cheap guest: go for it. It's worth the resource(s).

Second: take your time building up a position. Don't try to do everything at once. It's perfectly acceptable to spend all your actions in a full game turn securing a resource majority so that you win the guild's master and shield. The next full game turn you can spend these resources for money or guests (because you have no further use for a shield of the same guild). That also means that under certain conditions it is fine to spend money on relatively expensive resources: the cash is tied up, yes, but you will get some to all of it back if you sell the goods back to the guild. But don't go overboard either: if there is a price difference of 5 between the guild master and the successor then this ought to give you a lot of pause.

Third: mind your position in player order, especially in the beginning of the game. Cheap opportunities will be spotted and taken up by other players before you have a chance to get at them, so don't even try in the event you are forced to take a null action. Plan your moves for the later guilds on pass n, then take advantage of players not having yet been able to interfere on pass n + 1. Yes, it will make your moves somewhat slower, but everyone will sooner or later be in the position that the turn order needs to be adjusted; and by that time there ought to be sufficient asymmetry in player positions that prioritisation weighs down on your position less heavily.

Fourth: it is okay to play a single action card for a pass. Wait and see what the others are doing; and don't run the risk that an apparently efficient throughput of resources, money, and tiles is interrupted because of turn order effects or guilds becoming sold out.

The above should go a long way in avoiding the problem of finding the game an even tougher opponent than your fellow players. There is still the possibility of running into an uncooperative set of weirdly valued guild members, but this should definitely affect more players. Keep your cool, look at where the others are not likely to act, and accept that this will be a slow round.
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Jake Waltier
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That's good advice. I haven't personally felt the game is harsh, though maybe your players try to do too much and aren't getting what they want or are running out of resources.
 
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