David Luckhardt
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We've played the Basic game in Rivals five times, but the one question we can't answer is how to manage the draw stacks as the game progresses.

We start with 4 stacks of 9 cards, and draw from and exchange / return to these 4 stacks. But as the game goes on we start running out of cards, or the stacks get down to 1 or 2 cards. Since one of the ways that exchanges can be done is to pay to look at the entire draw stack, there's an advantage in keeping one stack at maximum size or larger. The rules just keep saying "Place discarded cards under your choice of draw stack(s)".

So in the Basic game, do we force a random exchange/return pattern and keep the 4 stacks as long as possible, or exchange/return to one stack to keep it large, or ? We know we're supposed to put the Action cards in a separate discard pile for the duration of the game, but the cards in question are the Settlement/City Expansion cards (not the other three Era / Theme sets of cards).
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Michael
Spain
Barcelona
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You're allowed to have empty stacks and to return cards to empty stacks to replenish them as you see fit. You are not forced to keep all 4 stacks. If one or both players decide to keep putting cards into one stack, they could do that if they wanted to, but I'm not sure that that would be the most beneficial.

For instance, what if the other player was in an easier position to pay and look through the stacks than the other? A couple things players sometimes do is make a "trash" pile in their mind, discarding cards to one pile they know they do not want at all, or perhaps putting a card that could possibly be valuable to the other player under a pile with few cards, making their card searches less efficient.

And if I may say, after 5 rounds with the basic game I feel you are more than ready enough to start tackling the expansions, where the meat of the game is. Also, since the basic stacks are then split into 3 instead of 4 and there is an addition of 2 theme stacks, the situation you're encountering should be less pronounced.
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Reiner Dr. Düren
Germany
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Since the introductory game ends with 7 points, at one point it makes less sense to search for a certain card - except Candamir to get the strength point. That means that the stacks have still a lot of cards. Most victory points in the introductory game are made with settlements and cities whereas in the theme games, the duell and tournament game, most points are made with city expansions.
 
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Klaus Gunther Herzog
United States
Torrance
California
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The stacks question was already answered, so I just want to add that I highly highly recommend moving past the basic game. My regular opponent and I moved on to theme games and the shell of princes after playing the basic game only once. We later tried going back to just the base set just for variety, and found it unsatisfying.

This game really needs the extra time to build to 12 or 13 points for a victory. With less it really doesn't give you enough time to develop a satisfying building strategy, and you're much more at the mercy of the dice. I've played many games where it seemed like an uphill losing battle at the beginning when all the rolls were favoring my rival, and I managed to turn things around near the end, almost always around the 10 point mark or higher. Those were definitely some of the most satisfying gaming moments I've ever had. And they never would had, if the game ended a 7.
 
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