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Subject: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy? rss

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William Leslie
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I've only played one three player game so far and I really liked the mechanisms of the game. However, based on the way that game went, I'm wondering if all pith helmets all the time is a dominant strategy.

Early on we each focused a little bit on one company and dabbled in the others. Then one of the players was actively gobbling up the pith helmet cards. Late in the game, he had several huge pith helmet turns and basically made his company almost completely wipe the other companies off the board, making them essentially worthless. Since we had pushed other companies early on, he had by far the most stock in the company he expanded and won by a large margin.

Have others come across this or was it a fluke?
 
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Tahsin Shamma
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
Definitely not dominant. Definitely raising the stock value of a particular company is one way to go, but there are also lots of points to be had if you focus on getting diamonds or books.

This is also a game where you have to observe what your opponent's strategy is and be prepared to counter it to a certain degree.

Take a look at the other strategy topics.
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
waleslie wrote:
Late in the game, he had several huge pith helmet turns and basically made his company almost completely wipe the other companies off the board, making them essentially worthless. Since we had pushed other companies early on, he had by far the most stock in the company he expanded and won by a large margin.

Have others come across this or was it a fluke?


Not a fluke. What you're talking about, William, is a stock game. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the first you've played...

They're a lot of fun, but it takes a little while to adjust from other games.

To begin with, it was NOT his company! All companies are public! You saw the value of the company, and you saw that it was going to go higher when he focused on acquiring more exploration cards. There was nothing stopping you from getting heavily into that company as well. The fact that you wouldn't have had as many shares as him doesn't matter.

If the stock value ends for that company at 9, and he has nine shares and you have 6, you're down $27 at the end. The game gives you ample opportunities to make up that much money: diamonds, books, scrapping cards.

However, if you turn up your nose at 'his' company because you've mistaken Mombasa for an area control game, you will be down $81, and no, you probably can't make that up.

My advice: try again, and make money wherever you can.

(Pro tip: It actually gets easier to catch up on a highly valued company later in the game as cheap shares come out in the card market. Be ready with cash and commodities in hand.)
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William Leslie
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
No limb to go out on. I said that it was my first play of the game.

Yes, I get that it wasn't "HIS" company, but after the first third of the game each player trying to pump up different companies that they were vested in, it kind of was. And since he literally wiped the other companies off the map, I think the stock value ended up at the full 12 ($108). Yes, I can play catch up and cut into his lead, but... It seems like if someone adopts that particular strategy, you must specifically recognize it and counter it or you're going to lose... and it's likely that the other companies will be nearly worthless, so your only option is to get some shares of it AND do well on diamonds and/or books.
 
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Gary Heidenreich
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
This game is not multiplayer solitary, that is for certain.

You have to watch what others are doing. You have to see where the game is starting to trend.

We are getting this to the table again tonight.
 
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Gary Heidenreich
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
waleslie wrote:
No limb to go out on. I said that it was my first play of the game.

Yes, I get that it wasn't "HIS" company, but after the first third of the game each player trying to pump up different companies that they were vested in, it kind of was. And since he literally wiped the other companies off the map, I think the stock value ended up at the full 12 ($108). Yes, I can play catch up and cut into his lead, but... It seems like if someone adopts that particular strategy, you must specifically recognize it and counter it or you're going to lose... and it's likely that the other companies will be nearly worthless, so your only option is to get some shares of it AND do well on diamonds and/or books.


No, that is not true. At least from the three games I have played. Our winners were those who did well in a few facets of the game. No one was allowed to push a stock where they were the only ones in it. When stock came up, people jumped on it. Especially if it was one of the hot stocks.

Player turn order was big in our games.

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Clyde W
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
OP should put a question mark in the subject of this thread.
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Justin
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
doctoryes0 wrote:
Not a fluke. What you're talking about, William, is a stock game. And I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the first you've played...

Detour: I don't remotely consider Mombasa (a game I like) to be a stock game, because there are unlimited shares and no division.
 
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Fraser
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
If you are playing your first game with the first game recommended setup then Pith Helmets and Mombasa are self reinforcing thus quite useful. We have taught the game quite a few times using that standard set up and Mombasa has always been the #1 company.

If you use a random setup then neither Pith Helmets or Mombasa are necessarily strong.
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Josh
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
waleslie wrote:
No limb to go out on. I said that it was my first play of the game.

Yes, I get that it wasn't "HIS" company, but after the first third of the game each player trying to pump up different companies that they were vested in, it kind of was. And since he literally wiped the other companies off the map, I think the stock value ended up at the full 12 ($108). Yes, I can play catch up and cut into his lead, but... It seems like if someone adopts that particular strategy, you must specifically recognize it and counter it or you're going to lose... and it's likely that the other companies will be nearly worthless, so your only option is to get some shares of it AND do well on diamonds and/or books.


I just won(my first time playing) against someone who powered Capetown and ended with 12 shares of it at value 11.

I had meandered a bit, pushing diamonds somewhat hard(ended up maxing them) and a few books(15pts), but when I saw that push I dove into Capetown behind him, ending up with 5 shares with minimal effort. Combined with some other bits and pieces of other small companies and 9$ I beat him out. 164/150(other players were 111, and 93)
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J
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
waleslie wrote:
No limb to go out on. I said that it was my first play of the game.

Yes, I get that it wasn't "HIS" company, but after the first third of the game each player trying to pump up different companies that they were vested in, it kind of was. And since he literally wiped the other companies off the map, I think the stock value ended up at the full 12 ($108). Yes, I can play catch up and cut into his lead, but... It seems like if someone adopts that particular strategy, you must specifically recognize it and counter it or you're going to lose... and it's likely that the other companies will be nearly worthless, so your only option is to get some shares of it AND do well on diamonds and/or books.


I'm going to have to question just how many Helmets did he have in his one turn and around how many houses did he place. In my experience all the "free" spaces are taken before the midpoint of the game when players are playing properly.

In a few games I've played I've seen a player who late game tries to do a massive helmet push using 7~10 helmets. However, much to the disappointment of that player, this usually translates into 3 maybe 4 houses factoring the cost of displacement. This is hardly "Wiping the other companies from the board" and not a great value for their whole turn.
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Armand
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
There's no way to sugar-coat this. OP, you're trying to blame the game for your own egregiously bad play. Your question has been answered very clearly by several people who have played the game much more, and much more effectively than you.

If you can face that and learn from your mistakes, you may end up enjoying the game.

If you prefer to insist that exploration is a 'broken' strategy then you should just trade/sell your copy now.

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Josh
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
I think calling someone's first play egregiouspy bad is a touch much.
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
Shadrach wrote:
I think calling someone's first play egregiously bad is a touch much.


Maybe, but someone had to say something to that effect as the OP doesn't come across as having thought things through very well.

Why aren't the other players buying Helmets? What cards are they buying? Helmets (and Diamond Merchants) are also stocks so they're the best cards to get regardless of your strategy.

If you're going to go out on a limb by yourself in a particular stock track, how can you expect it to do well if you don't buy helmets? Who else could possibly have an incentive to increase the value of that company if no one else is invested?

As someone already said, if your opponent is hoarding helmets AND moving mostly up one company track then why wouldn't you follow him?? Is there really any question which company he's going to be expanding?

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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
verandi wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
I think calling someone's first play egregiously bad is a touch much.


Maybe, but someone had to say something to that effect as the OP doesn't come across as having thought things through very well.

Why aren't the other players buying Helmets? What cards are they buying? Helmets (and Diamond Merchants) are also stocks so they're the best cards to get regardless of your strategy.

If you're going to go out on a limb by yourself in a particular stock track, how can you expect it to do well if you don't buy helmets? Who else could possibly have an incentive to increase the value of that company if no one else is invested?

As someone already said, if your opponent is hoarding helmets AND moving mostly up one company track then why wouldn't you follow him?? Is there really any question which company he's going to be expanding?



Well yes, the OPs tone was poor too. I'm not saying the content was bad, just delivery.
 
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
Shadrach wrote:
Well yes, the OPs tone was poor too. I'm not saying the content was bad, just delivery.

Quote:
I've only played one three player game so far and I really liked the mechanisms of the game. However, based on the way that game went, I'm wondering if all pith helmets all the time is a dominant strategy.

Early on we each focused a little bit on one company and dabbled in the others. Then one of the players was actively gobbling up the pith helmet cards. Late in the game, he had several huge pith helmet turns and basically made his company almost completely wipe the other companies off the board, making them essentially worthless. Since we had pushed other companies early on, he had by far the most stock in the company he expanded and won by a large margin.

Have others come across this or was it a fluke?

I think the tone was fine too. I think small-sample balance concerns are a smaller problem around here compared to the defensive hordes that respond to them.
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Josh
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Re: Dominant Pith Helmet Strategy
astroglide wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
Well yes, the OPs tone was poor too. I'm not saying the content was bad, just delivery.

Quote:
I've only played one three player game so far and I really liked the mechanisms of the game. However, based on the way that game went, I'm wondering if all pith helmets all the time is a dominant strategy.

Early on we each focused a little bit on one company and dabbled in the others. Then one of the players was actively gobbling up the pith helmet cards. Late in the game, he had several huge pith helmet turns and basically made his company almost completely wipe the other companies off the board, making them essentially worthless. Since we had pushed other companies early on, he had by far the most stock in the company he expanded and won by a large margin.

Have others come across this or was it a fluke?

I think the tone was fine too. I think small-sample balance concerns are a smaller problem around here compared to the defensive hordes that respond to them.


I suppose 'dominant strategy' is a touch of a trigger phrase in the community, it implies a broken game in general. OP did a gaming equivilent of 'I'm not trying to sound prejudiced but...' (please don't take this to rsp, tried to be vague enough to keep it out)
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William Leslie
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Wow. Things go downhill quickly around here. You'd think I'd attacked a game that they had personally designed. There was no attack. I never said that the game was broken. Just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

Some games just essentially require you to do certain things or not ignore certain other things to win, and that's just part of those games. Doesn't mean they're broken or even bad games.

Thanks to Gary and Josh for actually answering the question as I asked it. Thanks for your input as well, Fraser.

Verandi - I never implied that I was an expert on my first play of the game. Tried a few different things here and there. Didn't see the strength of what the other player was doing until it was too late and lost. I still enjoyed the game and thought that the mechanisms were cool. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

J - I don't remember the numbers, as the game was a couple of months ago, but he had 2 or 3 turns with a large number of helmets that did wipe other companies off the board. The relatively limited number of helmets held by the other players wasn't enough to counteract and give the other companies a significant presence (only $1 or $2). I was trying to advance on several tracks to gain their powers/bonuses and messing around with the bookkeeping. The third player was trying to focus on diamonds, but I was fighting him for those cards, limiting both of our advances.

Armand - I'm not claiming to be an expert with just one play of the game. Also not blaming the game. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out. Maybe it's time to work some aggression out at the gym? or go play a wargame...
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waleslie wrote:
Wow. Things go downhill quickly around here. You'd think I'd attacked a game that they had personally designed. There was no attack. I never said that the game was broken. Just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

Some games just essentially require you to do certain things or not ignore certain other things to win, and that's just part of those games. Doesn't mean they're broken or even bad games.

Thanks to Gary and Josh for actually answering the question as I asked it. Thanks for your input as well, Fraser.

Verandi - I never implied that I was an expert on my first play of the game. Tried a few different things here and there. Didn't see the strength of what the other player was doing until it was too late and lost. I still enjoyed the game and thought that the mechanisms were cool. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

J - I don't remember the numbers, as the game was a couple of months ago, but he had 2 or 3 turns with a large number of helmets that did wipe other companies off the board. The relatively limited number of helmets held by the other players wasn't enough to counteract and give the other companies a significant presence (only $1 or $2). I was trying to advance on several tracks to gain their powers/bonuses and messing around with the bookkeeping. The third player was trying to focus on diamonds, but I was fighting him for those cards, limiting both of our advances.

Armand - I'm not claiming to be an expert with just one play of the game. Also not blaming the game. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out. Maybe it's time to work some aggression out at the gym? or go play a wargame...


In my extremely limited playing of the game I found bookkeeping to be awful. I got to 15pts on the track, but it was an orchestrating nightmzre. You need to get the book points to get the books, hope the books that come out are sympatico with each other *and* with the cards you have, then take the actual book keeping atcion to shuffle along, and during that turn your other spaces are clogged with the specific goods combos needed to get past as many books as you can, sure you can pay points to flip a book but then your net gain for all this work ends up less than otherwise, and don't forget you need to use B or C tiles for some which kimits your options further and... yeah you get the idea. I'mma just take these here diamonds over here.

I'm sure someone somewhere can make bookkeeping work, but it relies on so much mining up that it doesn't seem worth the hassle (at least not past the extra card spot)
 
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William Leslie
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I agree. The bookkeeping did seem like a lot of work and coordination, although there was another thread on here with advice on how to to well on it.

Only one of us had all five slots active. He felt that while it allowed big turns, it also diluted your hand. You're just not going to get some of the piles back...

Seems like a really cool game with so many different things going on and paths to take.
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Gary Heidenreich
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Shadrach wrote:
waleslie wrote:
Wow. Things go downhill quickly around here. You'd think I'd attacked a game that they had personally designed. There was no attack. I never said that the game was broken. Just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

Some games just essentially require you to do certain things or not ignore certain other things to win, and that's just part of those games. Doesn't mean they're broken or even bad games.

Thanks to Gary and Josh for actually answering the question as I asked it. Thanks for your input as well, Fraser.

Verandi - I never implied that I was an expert on my first play of the game. Tried a few different things here and there. Didn't see the strength of what the other player was doing until it was too late and lost. I still enjoyed the game and thought that the mechanisms were cool. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

J - I don't remember the numbers, as the game was a couple of months ago, but he had 2 or 3 turns with a large number of helmets that did wipe other companies off the board. The relatively limited number of helmets held by the other players wasn't enough to counteract and give the other companies a significant presence (only $1 or $2). I was trying to advance on several tracks to gain their powers/bonuses and messing around with the bookkeeping. The third player was trying to focus on diamonds, but I was fighting him for those cards, limiting both of our advances.

Armand - I'm not claiming to be an expert with just one play of the game. Also not blaming the game. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out. Maybe it's time to work some aggression out at the gym? or go play a wargame...


In my extremely limited playing of the game I found bookkeeping to be awful. I got to 15pts on the track, but it was an orchestrating nightmzre. You need to get the book points to get the books, hope the books that come out are sympatico with each other *and* with the cards you have, then take the actual book keeping atcion to shuffle along, and during that turn your other spaces are clogged with the specific goods combos needed to get past as many books as you can, sure you can pay points to flip a book but then your net gain for all this work ends up less than otherwise, and don't forget you need to use B or C tiles for some which kimits your options further and... yeah you get the idea. I'mma just take these here diamonds over here.

I'm sure someone somewhere can make bookkeeping work, but it relies on so much mining up that it doesn't seem worth the hassle (at least not past the extra card spot)


In the four games our group played (myself 3 games, the rest played one more) we questioned that, as well. Whether or not bookkeeping is a valid play.

I have thought about it recently, too. My feeling is, like the diamonds, you do not want to push max out on either at the extreme expense of the rest of the game. That is a losing strategy. But, you can work it well...especially if you have some cash. You can skip spots with money and when you get to the point of the extra space (coveted), isn't it every other space in bookkeeping where you gain 5 points? That is a 3 point gain on the two you spend. And that is if you do not gain the bonus.

I'm going to look at how this works on my next play (hopefully next week as I cancelled this week).

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bop517 wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
waleslie wrote:
Wow. Things go downhill quickly around here. You'd think I'd attacked a game that they had personally designed. There was no attack. I never said that the game was broken. Just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

Some games just essentially require you to do certain things or not ignore certain other things to win, and that's just part of those games. Doesn't mean they're broken or even bad games.

Thanks to Gary and Josh for actually answering the question as I asked it. Thanks for your input as well, Fraser.

Verandi - I never implied that I was an expert on my first play of the game. Tried a few different things here and there. Didn't see the strength of what the other player was doing until it was too late and lost. I still enjoyed the game and thought that the mechanisms were cool. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out.

J - I don't remember the numbers, as the game was a couple of months ago, but he had 2 or 3 turns with a large number of helmets that did wipe other companies off the board. The relatively limited number of helmets held by the other players wasn't enough to counteract and give the other companies a significant presence (only $1 or $2). I was trying to advance on several tracks to gain their powers/bonuses and messing around with the bookkeeping. The third player was trying to focus on diamonds, but I was fighting him for those cards, limiting both of our advances.

Armand - I'm not claiming to be an expert with just one play of the game. Also not blaming the game. Again, just asking if that's how most of the games play out. Maybe it's time to work some aggression out at the gym? or go play a wargame...


In my extremely limited playing of the game I found bookkeeping to be awful. I got to 15pts on the track, but it was an orchestrating nightmzre. You need to get the book points to get the books, hope the books that come out are sympatico with each other *and* with the cards you have, then take the actual book keeping atcion to shuffle along, and during that turn your other spaces are clogged with the specific goods combos needed to get past as many books as you can, sure you can pay points to flip a book but then your net gain for all this work ends up less than otherwise, and don't forget you need to use B or C tiles for some which kimits your options further and... yeah you get the idea. I'mma just take these here diamonds over here.

I'm sure someone somewhere can make bookkeeping work, but it relies on so much mining up that it doesn't seem worth the hassle (at least not past the extra card spot)


In the four games our group played (myself 3 games, the rest played one more) we questioned that, as well. Whether or not bookkeeping is a valid play.

I have thought about it recently, too. My feeling is, like the diamonds, you do not want to push max out on either at the extreme expense of the rest of the game. That is a losing strategy. But, you can work it well...especially if you have some cash. You can skip spots with money and when you get to the point of the extra space (coveted), isn't it every other space in bookkeeping where you gain 5 points? That is a 3 point gain on the two you spend. And that is if you do not gain the bonus.

I'm going to look at how this works on my next play (hopefully next week as I cancelled this week).



I think the trick is going to be tempo. Use expansion early to get a few book points lined up then use the resources you have to play out to buy up more resources to feed the engine and buy stock liberally with leftovers. You can likely steer a,majority a turn this way, and never hesitate to spend 2 bucks to buy the bookkeeping extra action. It lets you devote more slots to resources to satisfy requirements, and to spend on more cards/stock. Let others do most of the expansion and simply calitalize on their investments.
 
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doctoryes0 wrote:
There's no way to sugar-coat this. OP, you're trying to blame the game for your own egregiously bad play. Your question has been answered very clearly by several people who have played the game much more, and much more effectively than you.

If you can face that and learn from your mistakes, you may end up enjoying the game.

If you prefer to insist that exploration is a 'broken' strategy then you should just trade/sell your copy now.



What a rude response. Shocking, really.
 
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William Leslie
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Unfortunately, not shocking. BGG is, after all, located on the internet.
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waleslie wrote:

J - I don't remember the numbers, as the game was a couple of months ago, but he had 2 or 3 turns with a large number of helmets that did wipe other companies off the board. The relatively limited number of helmets held by the other players wasn't enough to counteract and give the other companies a significant presence (only $1 or $2). I was trying to advance on several tracks to gain their powers/bonuses and messing around with the bookkeeping. The third player was trying to focus on diamonds, but I was fighting him for those cards, limiting both of our advances.


My best response to this is that this shouldn't happen. From what I've seen achieving 2 turns with a (significantly) large number of helmets is difficult. You don't recover cards fast enough to reuse your helmets after your first big turn (remember you take back a pile before you discard so all those helmets will be out of commission). The high Helmet also come with stocks so all players should be buying them, not just the player using helmets. Bookkeeping and diamond players also need helmets as exploring is one of the best ways to gain diamonds/bookkeeping points.

Further if you are concentrating most of your buys on helmets it's difficult to afford other cards since helmets cannot be used for purchases.

Sorry but this just does not seem likely though to be fair there may indeed be a combination of tracks which would allow this but I cannot see what you described being a common issue. Like I said above, even if you had 10 helmets, in the late game, this would likely translate into only 3 or 4 houses.

The only time I've ever seen someone dominate nearly as bad as what you described was when the other players were ignoring helmets far more than they should be and allowed the player to rapidly expand while the whole board was cheap.

In the early game it is in everyone's interest to play helmets as it is one of the cheapest and most cost effective ways to gain resources and generally the board fills up quickly which makes further massive expansions as you described very difficult unless multiple people are focusing on one track.
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