I've played a number of games in person and on BGA. I'm trying to figure out a good rule of thumb for when to end the game. Up till now I've been ending the game as soon as I can to gain the emperor card. But if that's only 2 points and I could cash in a 4-point card next round, perhaps it is better to wait?
I just played a 2-player game where I went out with 40 points. My opponent had 31, but managed to parlay that into 46 with 3 cards at start of his turn. I thought he might edge me out by a point or 2, so I was surprised that he scored that many points so quickly. I guess it really makes sense to hold onto your more valuable objectives so that you can shock your opponents later...
What point advantage per card should you seek to make it worthwhile to end the game? Ie If your opponent has 3 cards, should you assume each is a 5-pointer? A 6-pointer?
I think that you can actually make a good guess if you deepen the analysis.
First, you should take into account the type of objectives your opponent has in hand.
For the panda Objectives, you'll have to correlate the number of objectives with the bamboo that is accumulated. Keep in my that he might eat up-to 2 more bamboo sections, depending of the weather and the bamboo available on the garden. Remember the values of each bamboo objectives (green 3, yellow 4, pink 5, combined 6).
For the plots objectives, it might get a little trickier. Their values range from 2 to 5. 3 or 4 must be the average per card. You can actually remember the couple of objectives that are worth 5 points and see if your opponent will be able to complete it. For this, you can see if it's already completed, or if there is one or more plots missing, or if there are one or more plots that are not irrigated. Minding that, you should take a look to the number of irritations your opponent has.
In one turn you can complete plot cards in this fashion:
- put down objectives already completed
- take a new plot card and a new irrigation channel
- take two plot cards (wind weather)
- take two irrigation channels (wind weather)
In all cases, placing the irrigation channels that you have is free.
Last but not least, the gardener objectives. These are really valuable, but there are not so easily hoarded. But, there is a type of objective that can be saved to be completed at the end: any enclosure objective. Once one of these objectives is completed, it will always remain completed.
The first thing you want to do is being able to remember all the different objective cards (per color: several towers, not improved, watershed, fertilized, enclosure) and have a sense of their values (6,7,8 for the several towers; 5,6,7 not improved; 4,5,6 enclosure and watershed; 3,4,5 fertilized).
Then you want to see how many cards he has in hand, and be able to predict how many objectives could be completed in a turn.
These may be accomplished with many combinations, depending on the weather:
- wind: enables moving the gardener twice
- storm and wind: enable moving the panda twice (useful for fulfilling an objective with several 3-tall towers)
- rain: after its effect you may also move the gardener
One you understand these courses of action and you remember every possible objective, you may be able to glance at the current bamboo pattern in play and analyze which objectives can be completed and make a hypothesis on which objectives your opponent may have.
Also keep in mind that your opponent may draw one (or two on windy weather) extra objective card. A lucky draw may end up in fullfilling any type of objectives (panda if he has extra bamboo, plots if he has extra irrigations, or gardener if he's able to see that a certain objective is close to completion).
The interesting part of all these is that you can not only predict the number of points an opponent may obtain on an extra turn, it also helps yourself calculate how many points you would make if you had an extra turn.
So, in conclusion, I'd rather end the game if I'm positive that my opponent won't be able to reach my score, or if I realize that an extra turn for me would result in very few *new* points. But, if I see that I can make a bunch of points you by waiting an extra turn (even if these means that my opponent gets the emperor card), I'd rather wait.
I didn't realized how many things I had on my mind on these topic. I hope it's helpful!
"...look to the number of irritations your opponent has..." My opponent sure can be irritating!
Good advice. I will start paying more attention to values of cards and see if I can get better at predicting points. Thanks for the tips!