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Let me apologize in advance for the long post. TL : DR is Giants are the clear second-worst faction for league rules (original map and scoring) among highly rated players, and I'd like to know what strategies give them the best chances in that environment.

Hello all, I've been playing Terra Mystica for about 4 months now, and while I've definitely tended to favour certain factions I can at least understand what makes most factions "tick." The major exception is the Giants.

So far I've stuck mostly to the league rules - 4 players, original map, extra town tiles and shipping tile with no bonus scoring tile. Most factions, if I've originally struggled with them, I've looked up the games of high level players on snellman and looked for common elements.

But I'm having trouble finding much of a sample of games using these rules where the Giants have done well. Many of the top players have few or no games with the Giants under any rules. Most of the games that do have the original map and league rules have obvious skill gaps.

So I tried filtering 4p games on original map with original scoring and players above 1250+ shows Giants have the worst average position of 3.09 (excluding the Fakirs who have had only one game - 4th place with 123 points). Excluding the ice maidens (with 2 games), the Giants have the worst average score of only 119.09. For average score difference, the Giants have a dismal -13.91, which is easily the worst if we ignore the Fakirs' one game and the expansion factions with two games each. The next worst would be Auren with an average of -8.39. And, to be clear, the Giants are the only non-expansion faction besides the Fakirs who have not won a game of 4 1250+ players with original map and scoring. For high scores, ignoring the fakirs and expansion factions, the Giants have the lowest high score of 135 (over 11 games), the next worst is dwarves with 145 and after that is alchemists with 154.

My point is, of the original factions we have statistically useful data on (ie. not fakirs), the Giants are dead last by virtually every metric when played amongst the top ~140 players by rating on snellman's site.

So my question is, what strategies work for the Giants? Specific opening tactics are okay too (such as, for example, "build two temples with engineers in round 1 and pick fav7 plus either fav11 or fav8 depending on circumstances" or "don't pick engineers with green in the game/no brown or black in the game"). But opening tactics are easy to test and experiment with. I'm more concerned with strategies (for example: "if you build a SH with nomads, try to dig brown and red hexes with power/bon1/cults and save sandstorm for harder to convert hexes like green and blue", "with swarmlings, try to always build at least one dwelling per turn to maintain worker income with your free TPs", or "with alchemists, focus on acquiring as many workers as possible throughout the game since you can always get coins"). If there's any chess players here the difference between tactics and strategy should be already understood, but for those who aren't chess players basically tactics are specific executions while strategies are general plans. I'm trying to understand what general plans work for Giants (on the original map with original scoring).

Thanks in advance
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When in doubt, go the legend. Click here

http://terra.snellman.net/player/Xevoc

Look up the finished game list and start digging. 18 wins from 19 games with giants.

cheers

SW

p.s. I dont really like them either. I think practically any SH round 1 start I'm more likely to pick nomads, witches, swarmlings or even alchemists than giants.



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I think the main problem with the Giants is that they are only viable in quite a few setups. If you find yourself in a fitting setup, Giants are not really worse than many other races, but they are not a faction that works decently in almost any setup, like Darklings or Nomads.
Some general things that you want in a game in order to make good use of Giants:

- No Bon1 (free spade) in the game. Almost every other race benefits more from this than the Giants do.
- Shipping bonus tile in the game. Red has lots of nice spots at the river, and they need it to expand.
- No early Spade cult boni. If your opponents don’t get free spades from walking up the cults in the first 3 rounds or so, the Giants’ disadvantage of always needing two spades is mitigated.
- Ideally Stronghold scoring on turn 1 since you more or less have to build it anyway.

As for actually playing, keep in mind that the Giants have a black-and-white-view of the world, or rather a red-and-not-red-view. You don’t need to pay attention to the color wheel. When in doubt which hex to take next, always transform the one that your opponents might have a use for. Be aggressive and steal crucial hexes from your opponents.
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Lets start with the obvious:
Giants start with SH, think they are even more dependent on that than Swarmlings. A SH bonus first round and BON6 in the game are helpful.
No BON1 might also be good but I think that's not as important as not having digging cult bonus for round 2-4.
At first glance Giants are not as dependent on neighboring colors than other factions, but they can reach a lot of red hexes by shipping if they aren't taken by an opponent in advance.
Nomads starting with 3 dwellings are extremely bad, engineers and dwarves will probably suffer more themselves than harming the Giants.
That leads to the main strategic of giants, advance shipping and spread.
take coastal red hexes and dig coastal hexes with neighboring red hexes.
Giants with shipping level 2 are a constant threat to opponents and can force them to 3w digs. Don't try to disrupt your opponents by taking spots that don't help you, threatening and leaving them a costly way out is in most cases the better move.
BON4 will help you and BON10 can also be good. You can make good use of the power by taking ACT6 several times in the game.

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CTKShadow wrote:
So I tried filtering 4p games on original map with original scoring and players above 1250+...
Unfortunatelly this sample size is way too small, it's only 133 games in total atm and only eleven giants games, the highest scoring "only" 135 points. As suggested I'd rather look at the best player's games (preferably league games) with giants working well.

- There is only red hex and expensive hex, so it's crucial to build cities at places where you can use 2 red hexes
- Many red tiles are reachable by the river, so consider shipping early, sometimes even round 1
- As you start with SH and want early shipping it's hard to build TEs very early (lot's of coins required), so I'd look for high-scoring non-low-coin games with favorable round bonus distribution and useful BONs with lots of VPs for passing
- As Matthias said: while you can often read that aggressive play is good for Giants you don't want to waste to many of your precious digs to hurt others - destroying a town at the cots of not finishing your own third town is no good idea
- on the map I feel like controlling the central area between D4 and D6 is very beneficial
- as red hexes are very prcious for you, you can also easily be hit by aggressive play, try to not let this happen

Trantor42 wrote:

- No Bon1 (free spade) in the game. Almost every other race benefits more from this than the Giants do.
- No early Spade cult boni. If your opponents don’t get free spades from walking up the cults in the first 3 rounds or so, the Giants’ disadvantage of always needing two spades is mitigated.
I'm not sure if I'd focus on this too much - other cult bonuses can be strong, too, and as you won't send many priests to cults early anyway it's not that critical if they are bad for you. If there is BON1 other players will leave other good BONs for you - I think it's more important that the good ones are in play.
 
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Early dig cult bonus (beginning round 2, first round often only one player will get it) is very bad, because opponents can hurt you by transforming red hexes. Worker bonus can be good for your opponents but will not directly hurt you, priest bonus is generally weak, only good for darklings.
 
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Bon1 missing is very nice, because then more players will have to use act5 and act6, which leaves act2, act3 and act4 for you. Giants may want act6 at some point, but usually not on the first round.

Spade bonus on round 2 is OK for Giants, because it's too early for spade abuse and Giants will get free 4 points out of it, and possibly another 4 from act6.

An example setup which would be good for the Giants:
* Turn 1: SA/SH >> 5
* Turn 2: SPADE >> 2 or TP >> 3
* Turn 3: D >> 2
* Turn 4: TP >> 3
* Turn 5: D >> 2

First round SA/SH is good for "free" 5 points, but also for the chance to get 2 extra workers from fire or air cult. If you end turn 1 with SH+2D, get 2 workers from cults and manage to get act4 then that's very good position already. From there you want to build TE+D on turn 2 with those 5 workers and end turn 2 with SH+TE+2D, possibly taking act4 again. Then on turn 3 you'll upgrade shipping and occupy many free red hexes and end the round with SH+TE+7D (gain 2 workers from act3 or bon6). On round 4 build 4 TP's and on round 5 max dwellings and maybe build another TE.

If you manage to do all this and build 3 towns in the process I won't be surprised if you score 160+, even if you miss fav11 and have to take fav10 instead.
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Petri wrote:
First round SA/SH is good for "free" 5 points, but also for the chance to get 2 extra workers from fire or air cult. If you end turn 1 with SH+2D, get 2 workers from cults and manage to get act4 then that's very good position already. From there you want to build TE+D on turn 2 with those 5 workers and end turn 2 with SH+TE+2D, possibly taking act4 again.
Thanks for the analysis!

Two questions:

Taking act4 and act2 until the beginning of round 2 requires leaching 7 power (or even a bit more if you don't want to burn bellow 6). What to do if you don't manage get that much? (I feel like you are in a pretty bad position when you can't afford the temple or the r3 shipping)

When do you decide to get shipping very early (R1 or beginning of R2)?

 
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SpaceTrucker wrote:


Taking act4 and act2 until the beginning of round 2 requires leaching 7 power (or even a bit more if you don't want to burn bellow 6). What to do if you don't manage get that much? (I feel like you are in a pretty bad position when you can afford the temple or the r3 shipping)


with 7 leech you have 0/10/2 -> burn5. act2. act4 -> 7/0/0
with 6 leech you have 0/11/1 -> burn2. act2. send p to fire -> 2/8/0 -> burn 4. act4 -> 6/0/0

with bon5 you can do with 3 less leech.
 
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SpaceTrucker wrote:
Taking act4 and act2 until the beginning of round 2 requires leaching 7 power (or even a bit more if you don't want to burn bellow 6). What to do if you don't manage get that much? (I feel like you are in a pretty bad position when you can afford the temple or the r3 shipping)
You don't always get 3 steps for the priest either and in that case it's not worth sending the priest to cult. If act4 is taken, you can for example only take act2 and send the priest to cult and then take bon2 or bon3 as passing tile for money and at the beginning of round 2 take act4.

You also don't have to build TE on turn 2 (I've seen successful turn 3 or even turn 4 temples with Giants), but in that case you need bon4, bon8 or act2 by round 3 for the shipping.

It's also possible to do shipping before turn 3. On turn 1 it's slightly problematic because if you take bon4, you need act3 and you don't always get it. If you're guaranteed to get act3 and 2 dwellings then bon4 start is feasible, but otherwise not. For the given example setup I'd try to get the shipping for round 3 though as you don't really need it before that as you don't have enough workers to build the dwellings anyway.

Personally I like bon6 on round 1 and bon4 on round 2-3 much better than bon4 on round 1.

Another solid openings could be bon6 + act6 + 2 dwellings or even bon6 + bridge + 2 dwellings. Priest to cults is better than those, but if that option is taken, you need to try something else to maximize worker income on turn 1.
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Petri wrote:
SpaceTrucker wrote:
Taking act4 and act2 until the beginning of round 2 requires leaching 7 power (or even a bit more if you don't want to burn bellow 6). What to do if you don't manage get that much? (I feel like you are in a pretty bad position when you can afford the temple or the r3 shipping)
You don't always get 3 steps for the priest either and in that case it's not worth sending the priest to cult. If act4 is taken, you can for example only take act2 and send the priest to cult and then take bon2 or bon3 as passing tile for money and at the beginning of round 2 take act4.

You also don't have to build TE on turn 2 (I've seen successful turn 3 or even turn 4 temples with Giants), but in that case you need bon4, bon8 or act2 by round 3 for the shipping.

It's also possible to do shipping before turn 3. On turn 1 it's slightly problematic because if you take bon4, you need act3 and you don't always get it. If you're guaranteed to get act3 and 2 dwellings then bon4 start is feasible, but otherwise not. For the given example setup I'd try to get the shipping for round 3 though as you don't really need it before that as you don't have enough workers to build the dwellings anyway.

Personally I like bon6 on round 1 and bon4 on round 2-3 much better than bon4 on round 1.

Another solid openings could be bon6 + act6 + 2 dwellings or even bon6 + bridge + 2 dwellings. Priest to cults is better than those, but if that option is taken, you need to try something else to maximize worker income on turn 1.
Thanks for this and your post above. I haven't had a suitable setup to try Giants again against players but I did a test run on lodev against the AI and got a very respectable 163 with a bridge opening since act2 got blocked. I'm sure I made some mistakes and it's just the AI, but that's still good enough for me to give them another shot once I find a decent setup
 
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Here is another unorthodox opening that I like a lot with Giants:
http://terra.snellman.net/game/RD152/max-row=91

no SH but te + 4d
And Sh was built on round 2.

PS: Giants didn't win this game but this is besides the point.


Edit: nvm, OP asked for strategies within league rules.
 
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Petri wrote:
SpaceTrucker wrote:
Taking act4 and act2 until the beginning of round 2 requires leaching 7 power (or even a bit more if you don't want to burn bellow 6). What to do if you don't manage get that much? (I feel like you are in a pretty bad position when you can afford the temple or the r3 shipping)
You don't always get 3 steps for the priest either and in that case it's not worth sending the priest to cult. If act4 is taken, you can for example only take act2 and send the priest to cult and then take bon2 or bon3 as passing tile for money and at the beginning of round 2 take act4.

You also don't have to build TE on turn 2 (I've seen successful turn 3 or even turn 4 temples with Giants), but in that case you need bon4, bon8 or act2 by round 3 for the shipping.

It's also possible to do shipping before turn 3. On turn 1 it's slightly problematic because if you take bon4, you need act3 and you don't always get it. If you're guaranteed to get act3 and 2 dwellings then bon4 start is feasible, but otherwise not. For the given example setup I'd try to get the shipping for round 3 though as you don't really need it before that as you don't have enough workers to build the dwellings anyway.

Personally I like bon6 on round 1 and bon4 on round 2-3 much better than bon4 on round 1.

Another solid openings could be bon6 + act6 + 2 dwellings or even bon6 + bridge + 2 dwellings. Priest to cults is better than those, but if that option is taken, you need to try something else to maximize worker income on turn 1.
I wanted to thank you again, I finally found a setup that was decent and while I didn't quite win, I certainly didn't do poorly. Considering the mermaids scored an incredible 137 base VPs (as a faction with essentially no "free" VPs and with only 9 points from favour tiles) I'm pleased with the outcome. Nothing like my first attempt with the giants.

http://terra.snellman.net/faction/BushLeagueTM45/giants/

One more question, when you won't get 2 workers from fire or air R1 (and thus need 3 dwellings to get 4 workers for R2), with bon6 could it not be feasible to (via act2 and act4 R1) advance shipping on the first round? I suspect this could set up a strong round 3 (especially if dwelling round) with bon4 (combined with act4), bon6 (act4), or even bon3. If round 2 is a dwelling round and/or you're not in a rush for a temple this could also allow you to build 3 more dwellings in R2 (four if starting g2 and d7 but that lools weak). Is there an issue I'm not seeing with advancing ship first round?
 
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CTKShadow wrote:
One more question, when you won't get 2 workers from fire or air R1 (and thus need 3 dwellings to get 4 workers for R2), with bon6 could it not be feasible to (via act2 and act4 R1) advance shipping on the first round? I suspect this could set up a strong round 3 (especially if dwelling round) with bon4 (combined with act4), bon6 (act4), or even bon3. If round 2 is a dwelling round and/or you're not in a rush for a temple this could also allow you to build 3 more dwellings in R2 (four if starting g2 and d7 but that lools weak). Is there an issue I'm not seeing with advancing ship first round?
Shipping + 2 dwellings is also a good opening, but you need a bit of leech in order to do it. Act2 is usually taken fairly early during round 1 so if you have to take it before getting power to bowl III, you need to burn 3 tokens and leech a lot in order to not burn more than 3 when taking act4. But if you get both power actions without burning down to 5 tokens and fire/air cult is taken then go for it. It's better than bridge opening, but also requires more power.
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SillyWords wrote:
When in doubt, go the legend. Click here

http://terra.snellman.net/player/Xevoc

Look up the finished game list and start digging. 18 wins from 19 games with giants.

cheers

SW

p.s. I dont really like them either. I think practically any SH round 1 start I'm more likely to pick nomads, witches, swarmlings or even alchemists than giants.



Interesting fact about Xevoc, though: He's never picked the Giants in competitive play, which I think says a lot about the faction. Also, in several of those games he was playing 2- or 3-player games or was playing on the expansion board. So it's actually incredibly rare that even the best player picks the Giants with the tournament rules.

Basically, Xevoc picks the Giants when he knows he can already win with them, when the board is perfect and often the other factions are weak.

For more on this, check out: http://eightpointdwelling.weebly.com/blog/faction-in-focus-t..., in which I talk about this very situation.
 
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darkhorse11 wrote:
SillyWords wrote:
When in doubt, go the legend. Click here

http://terra.snellman.net/player/Xevoc

Look up the finished game list and start digging. 18 wins from 19 games with giants.

cheers

SW

p.s. I dont really like them either. I think practically any SH round 1 start I'm more likely to pick nomads, witches, swarmlings or even alchemists than giants.



Interesting fact about Xevoc, though: He's never picked the Giants in competitive play, which I think says a lot about the faction. Also, in several of those games he was playing 2- or 3-player games or was playing on the expansion board. So it's actually incredibly rare that even the best player picks the Giants with the tournament rules.

Basically, Xevoc picks the Giants when he knows he can already win with them, when the board is perfect and often the other factions are weak.

For more on this, check out: http://eightpointdwelling.weebly.com/blog/faction-in-focus-t..., in which I talk about this very situation.
I had observed this when I made the original post which is why I specified tourney rules and assuming equal player strength. But I do think the strategies he suggested are very effective, based on what I have been able to test since, even on the original map and scoring. I wouldn't shy away from playing them in competitive play against equal skilled or slightly better opponents, provided the setup was strong for them and I was in the fourth position (to ensure R1 BON6).
 
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darkhorse11 wrote:
Interesting fact about Xevoc, though: He's never picked the Giants in competitive play, which I think says a lot about the faction. Also, in several of those games he was playing 2- or 3-player games or was playing on the expansion board. So it's actually incredibly rare that even the best player picks the Giants with the tournament rules.

Basically, Xevoc picks the Giants when he knows he can already win with them, when the board is perfect and often the other factions are weak.

For more on this, check out: http://eightpointdwelling.weebly.com/blog/faction-in-focus-t..., in which I talk about this very situation.
I haven't had many good opportunities to pick Giants in tournament games. I went and had a look at all 40 games and it seemed that only 5 of them had SA/SH >> 5 on the first round, which is an important (but not decisive) precondition for picking Giants. It's important for 3 reasons:
* Usually players tend to build SH on turn 1, which means there will be fav11 available for some of the SH builders
* Giants almost always want to build SH anyway so they just get 5 extra points
* Giants get an opportunity to send a priest to cult for 2 extra workers. Early on workers are very valuable for the Giants because they will need to build SH early

Two other important (but again not decisive) preconditions for picking Giants are absence of bon1 and presence of bon6. It's also good to get either bon5 or bon6 on first round, so you don't have to buy workers with power on first round, which means that seat 3 or 4 is best for you.

Here are the 5 games which had SA/SH >> 5 on first turn:
* S2 G1, I picked Witches from seat 1 -- bon6 was missing here but otherwise setup was quite solid for the Giants. It takes some guts to take them from seat 1 though in tournament, so maybe next time.
* S5 G4, I picked Engineers from seat 4 -- bon1 was there and bon6 was missing and opponent colors were better for gray so this was really an obvious choice.
* S6 G6, I picked Nomads from seat 3 -- this would've been an excellent setup for the Giants, but likewise it was excellent for the Nomads. Blue and gray were already taken at the time when I had to do my choice. Most likely if blue wasn't already taken, I would've taken the Giants. Now yellow just happened to fit to the opponent colors better.
* S8 G4, red was already taken when I had my turn to pick.
* S9 G6, I picked Chaos Magicians from seat 1 -- bon1 was there, but so was bon6 so this would've been acceptable setup for the Giants. Again I wasn't bold enough to do it but ended up struggling with the mages so Giants may have been better, they are not so allergic to Nomad presence.
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Matthias Reitberger
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So let's give them another try
http://terra.snellman.net/game/jetlagbr07

No bon1 but bon6 and bon5.
No bonus digs first three rounds.
No SA/SH bonus first round but spade>>2 which turned out even better, giving me 8vp.
SH + 3d start, looks really good.
 
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darkhorse11 wrote:

For more on this, check out: http://eightpointdwelling.weebly.com/blog/faction-in-focus-t..., in which I talk about this very situation.
Hey, a TM blog - very nice to see. Might be worth advertising that more widely on these forums, I'd love a dedicated place to discuss TM (not that BGG isn't great, of course, but you know...)
 
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Petri wrote:
An example setup which would be good for the Giants:
* Turn 1: SA/SH >> 5
* Turn 2: SPADE >> 2 or TP >> 3
* Turn 3: D >> 2
* Turn 4: TP >> 3
* Turn 5: D >> 2
what dose this even mean?
 
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DayinDaLife wrote:
what dose this even mean?
Terra Mystica Terminology Reference
 
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DocCool wrote:
DayinDaLife wrote:
what dose this even mean?
Terra Mystica Terminology Reference
ok.. cool thanks... but

What is the ">> 5" mean then?

Petri wrote:
* Turn 2: SPADE >> 2 or TP >> 3
Like what dose this mean... none of these codes are in that thread yo u linked, are they?
 
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"SH/SA >> 5" means you get 5 VP for building a Stronghold or Sanctuary. The numbers refer to the VP you get for building the specified building or taking the specified action.
 
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A bit off topic, but I miss BlueSteel.
 
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DayinDaLife wrote:
Petri wrote:
* Turn 2: SPADE >> 2 or TP >> 3
Like what dose this mean... none of these codes are in that thread yo u linked, are they?
They are in. Just search for ">>" and you'll find this paragraph:
Quote:
Scoring:
When Passing - pass-vp:D*1 = 1 Victory Point(VP) per Dwelling(D) at the end of the turn
When Building - TP>>3 VP = 3 Victory Points(VP) when building a Trading Post(TP)
Favor 12 = The numbers in brackets in this notation designate the number of Victory Points(VP) that a player receives for total Trading Posts from 0 to 4.
 
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