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The Voyages of Marco Polo» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Contracts contracts contracts = 100% win ??? rss

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Gringe Commander
Germany
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We never played a game, where the winner was not the one with the most contracts, and often the one who traveled the least.
Last game I only traveled 2 times, securing 2 exellent bonii and spend the rest of the game buying resources and fullfilling contracts ending up with 13 contracts.
Trying to travel to your 4 cities and Bejing only gives you 28 points and cost a lot of money and camels and most likely 20 dices for travel/camels/money. Thats about 4 contracts which are easier to fullfill.
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nikolaos Kamoudis
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its all about the characters you pick and you follow theyr abilities to get the most out of it.
if your character is good at contract go there.if good at travel go there.but also dont focus 100% on that.
also it matter what cards you pick to travel?are there near to one road both of there?are there in good city cards?are there close to Beijing?

You need a good plan to start.
i also made a win with polo and his father with put all my tokens (15 points) go 1st to Beijing (10points) made both my travel cards (10+4+6)
and do so little contracts and use city cards to convert resource to points was able to finish 1st with 75points
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Aernout Casier
Netherlands
Nijmegen
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GringeCommander wrote:
We never played a game, where the winner was not the one with the most contracts, and often the one who traveled the least.
Last game I only traveled 2 times, securing 2 exellent bonii and spend the rest of the game buying resources and fullfilling contracts ending up with 13 contracts.
Trying to travel to your 4 cities and Bejing only gives you 28 points and cost a lot of money and camels and most likely 20 dices for travel/camels/money. Thats about 4 contracts which are easier to fullfill.

Funny, in our games usually the one who has travelled the most is the winner.
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Florian Trabert
Germany
Düsseldorf (34 km south of Essen)
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kounabi22 wrote:
its all about the characters you pick and you follow theyr abilities to get the most out of it.
if your character is good at contract go there.if good at travel go there.but also dont focus 100% on that.
also it matter what cards you pick to travel?are there near to one road both of there?are there in good city cards?are there close to Beijing?

You need a good plan to start.
i also made a win with polo and his father with put all my tokens (15 points) go 1st to Beijing (10points) made both my travel cards (10+4+6)
and do so little contracts and use city cards to convert resource to points was able to finish 1st with 75points


Characters are important, but far from being the only factor. City cards can have a huge impact on the strategies. If there are city cards which generate a lot of VPs in let's say Sumatra, then travelling to that city or not can easily decide the game. That's why Marco Polo is such a good game: contract strategies can be strong, travelling strategies can be strong, mixed strategies can be strong: it is always depending on factors which change from game to game.
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Łukasz Małecki
Poland
Oława
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flott wrote:
Characters are important, but far from being the only factor. City cards can have a huge impact on the strategies. If there are city cards which generate a lot of VPs in let's say Sumatra, travelling to that city or not can easily decide the game. That's why Marco Polo is such a good game: contract strategies can be strong, travelling strategies can be strong, mixed strategies can be strong: it is always depending on factors which change from game to game.


I second that, although I have to say that if the map is really bad for traveling (no incentive to go far, no cards generating money early on, which can be critical) and there's a choice of good contract-strategy character (say Mercator) and good traveling-strategy characters... Well, the traveling characters are going to have a very, very hard time. It won't be easy to travel, profit can be low and beating someone like Mercator in contract strategy is close to impossible. I had a game or two where one look on the board was enough to type the potential winner.

It also doesn't help that playing someone like Mercator and focusing on contracts is, well, very easy.
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Phil Hendrickson
United States
Seward
Nebraska
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I agree with Florian and Lukasz. The genius of this game is that every play can be different. It has something in common with Dominion: players can examine the board after it is set up and determine what strategy they wish to pursue with the available options. Then, the choices of your opponents and the rolls of your dice make you think tactically how to accomplish your chosen strategy.

I score the highest when I am able to use a lot of traveling (scoring all 4 goal cities, Beijing, and placing all 9 trading posts), while also claiming enough resources to complete a good number of contacts. That requires careful choosing of contracts and good planning of which cities to visit first. Opponents who watch each other carefully can take contracts to prevent their opponents from getting the most benefit from them. It really is a fun challenge!

This game is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
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Florian Trabert
Germany
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rednar wrote:
flott wrote:
Characters are important, but far from being the only factor. City cards can have a huge impact on the strategies. If there are city cards which generate a lot of VPs in let's say Sumatra, travelling to that city or not can easily decide the game. That's why Marco Polo is such a good game: contract strategies can be strong, travelling strategies can be strong, mixed strategies can be strong: it is always depending on factors which change from game to game.


I second that, although I have to say that if the map is really bad for traveling (no incentive to go far, no cards generating money early on, which can be critical) and there's a choice of good contract-strategy character (say Mercator) and good traveling-strategy characters... Well, the traveling characters are going to have a very, very hard time. It won't be easy to travel, profit can be low and beating someone like Mercator in contract strategy is close to impossible. I had a game or two where one look on the board was enough to type the potential winner.

It also doesn't help that playing someone like Mercator and focusing on contracts is, well, very easy.


I agree, but to my experience it is not happening very often that the winner is more or less determined before the game actually starts. However, that is the price you have to pay for the diversity of the characters: they can't be diverse AND completly balanced at the same time. Terra Mystica and Android Netrunner (and, to a lesser extent, the Tzolkin expansion), very different games, suffer from the same issue - if it is an issue at all. In my opinion that is the reason why these games are so good.
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Olli Juhala
Finland
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I think there's also a disconnect between thematic expectation and design reality - I feel like traveling is never supposed to be the the sole source of you points as such. Basically, ignoring contracts completely is not supposed to be as viable as travelling and doing contracts.
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Davi Rosa
Brazil
Brasília
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From the Dungeons and Dragons 80's cartoon. If only it was remade...
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Last game I played, the winner was the traveller, 2 points ahead from me, second place, who played the most contracts.
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Paulo Renato
Portugal
Vila Nova Gaia
Porto
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Another thread about this?
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Space Trucker
Germany
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GringeCommander wrote:
We never played a game, where the winner was not the one with the most contracts, and often the one who traveled the least.
Last game I only traveled 2 times, securing 2 exellent bonii and spend the rest of the game buying resources and fullfilling contracts ending up with 13 contracts.
Trying to travel to your 4 cities and Bejing only gives you 28 points and cost a lot of money and camels and most likely 20 dices for travel/camels/money. Thats about 4 contracts which are easier to fullfill.

Some questions:
- How many players do you play with and what are your winning scores? (Doing contracts is easier and has a mostly linear point increase while traveling is more rewarding the better you do it)
- Do you play with the 'expert variant'? (picking 2 travel goal cards out of 4? This obviously makes traveling more rewarding as it's much more likely to get goals that are easy to fulfil and fit to the board)
- Did the heavy travellers in your games manage to build all 9 (or 11) trading posts? (This isn't easy but means additional 15 (or 25) points. Expert players here in the forum apparently built all houses quite regularly)
- As you precisely write 28 vp: Maybe you missed that contract cards are not only 4vp but up to 7-8 vp? (Theoretically one can get 35 vp for fulfilled contracts and 1st in Beijing, 50 vp with 9 houses, rubruk even 60 vp with 11 - not counting conversion vps granted by Beijing. If you manage this and dump a few ressources into contracts or big cities, it should quickly sum up to a score that is hard to beat by contrast only strategies.)
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Olli Juhala
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Muse23PT wrote:
Another thread about this?


What are the BGG forums, if not an endless cycle of repeating topics.
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Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
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I have never seen a game suffer so much from the pitfalls of "group think" as this game.

As near as I can tell, the first time it is cracked out in most groups, there is a board conducive to one strategy over another (say a straight path that gives you the 1-5 1 gold, 6 3 gold action and the trade gold for coin action early on which makes travel a strong option, etc), and then one person ends up winning by a large margin while everyone is learning the game.

The second game someone else follows the same idea using that as a template and is successful.

Now that is the only way to win for that group.

The forums are littered with threads alternating between "traveling most always wins" and "most contracts always wins".

Any game with asymmetric powers and multiple paths to victory can "look" solved if the first play or two has one really strong setup for one, and then everyone spends the subsequent games trying to replicate it.

It's a shame, because I think that's why this game gets a bad rap amongst some players as being "too simplistic". It is a truly different game every time it is set up.

The only theme is, don't let your opponent get all the black dies every time. And even that can isn't even a firm rule...I've won games with only a couple of black dies. If your dice do the trick...
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Kevin B. Smith
United States
Morro Bay
California
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Muse23PT wrote:
Another thread about this?

In case anyone is curious, here are a couple others (in the General forum):
- Is traveling required or just sit in one spot and fill contracts?
- Is the Contracts strategy broken

In addition to everything that has been mentioned, I think people also fall into the trap of "I won, so I must have this game figured out." It seems like most first-timers win with maybe 60 points or so (perhaps 70). However, many experts are disappointed if they score less than 80, even if they lose. Player count can also be a factor. Just because a contracts-only strategy will often beat inexperienced players doesn't mean it's actually a strong strategy.

My high score after 6 plays is 83, and that was against an opponent who had an uncharacteristically catastrophic game, which had the side effect of making it easier for me to score points. My second best was a losing 74. So I know I still have a lot of room for improvement.

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Scott Douglass
United States
Minnesota
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The more you analyze the board, the more you plan out your route at the beginning of the game, the better travel is. I pretty much never see anyone win without traveling at least a little bit, and I usually do better when I travel quite a lot and get most or all of my trading posts down. I am disappointed if I don't score at least 90, though sometimes the board is more unfriendly than others.

The thing about traveling is that it's extremely expensive, and the reward varies from amazing to utterly awful, depending on how well you plan your route, how well you execute on that plan, and the board.

I had a game where I beat someone that completed 17 contracts using a travel focused strategy where I placed all of my trading posts down, and completed 5-6 contracts.

So no, contracts contracts contracts does not equal a sure win.
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