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51st State: Master Set» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Some Thoughts on Strategy rss

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Eric Guttag
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West Chester
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I don't own 51st State Master Set, but I've played it now at least 2-3 times. Especially for those who haven't played this game that much, here are some things to consider when you play:

In the first Lookout Phase, I try to concentrate on cards having 1 or at most 2 Distance. In the first round, you don't have that many contact tokens to work with, so you need to get cards that will use that limited number of contact tokens efficiently, be it by Building, Dealing, or Razing. Especially look for cards of that type which, by Building, Dealing or Razing will give cards, contact tokens, and/or workers/other pieces. Those that give you only victory points usually aren't helpful in the first round.

In the first round Action Phase, you've got to get your "engine" kick started. After the Production Phase, you have 7 Cards (6 from the Lookout Phase + 1 during the Production Phase), some workers, 1 contact token, and 1 piece (iron, gun, fuel, or brick). That's not very much to work with, especially as you are limited in terms of Actions you can take from your Faction board. In fact, in terms of pieces, you'll only be able to do 1 Action from your Faction board with the 1 piece you get. So what I try to focus on is Building as many cards as possible (having a Distance of 1) that either provide Production (of worker/other pieces/cards) and/or more Actions unless the Feature gives you a bonus in terms of more cards/workers/pieces if you do, for example, a Deal, or allows you to store extra workers/pieces. As much as possible, for two worker Action at the bottom of the Faction board, I try to use workers to get additional cards unless there's a piece I really need to take one of the Actions on the Faction board and/or a card that was built. For Actions on the Faction board in particular, you'll need 1 of each of those pieces so you can get more contact tokens to Build, Deal and/or Raze cards. Besides Building Production cards, you should take Actions to get more Deals which not only give you immediate benefits, but also provide you with additional benefits each Production Phase.

After the first round, you'll hopefully have your "engine" kick started enough to "chain" Actions to Build, Deal, and Raze as many cards as possible to keep your "engine" running as long as possible each round. You should now consider Feature cards, especially those which give you benefits every time you make a Deal and/or Raze. Some Feature cards give you only a one time bonus; those are prime for using to Develop subsequent cards. And do Develop cards as each in essence gives you 2 victory points: 1 for the card that is discarded and 1 for the card that is placed. Continue to do Deals that give you cards/workers/pieces during the Production Phase.

A word about Razing other players built cards: do it sparingly and to deny that player a building that is important to their "engine." Not only does Razing another players buildings cost quite a few red tokens (3-5), but you also give that other player whatever the Deal benefit is, plus a location that can be developed without any need to match icons on that location. In the games I've played so far, it's rare that players will Raze other players' buildings and I've yet to do it. Again, if the other player's building is vital to their "engine," Razing might be the thing to do.

As others have noted, by the time you get to the fourth round, at least one of the players will get to the 25 victory point spot, signifying the last round. So in the third round and onward is when you need to switch your "engine" over to a victory point generator. That includes making Deals which give you victory points, and especially using Actions which convert pieces to victory points. Especially don't wait until the fourth round to start that switch or you likely won't have enough time to catch up in victory points. In fact, if you see one or more of your opponents have an "engine" that is churning out cards/workers/pieces that allows them to repeatedly "chain" actions, consider switching to a victory point generating "engine" early to hit that 25 victory point spot sooner to shut down their "engine."

My 2 cents for what it's worth. Please feel free to add other thoughts. And again, I've only had 2-3 plays so far.
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Trevor Kuehl
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Madison
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Eric G wrote:
In the first Lookout Phase, I try to concentrate on cards having 1 or at most 2 Distance. In the first round, you don't have that many contact tokens to work with, so you need to get cards that will use that limited number of contact tokens efficiently, be it by Building, Dealing, or Razing. Especially look for cards of that type which, by Building, Dealing or Razing will give cards, contact tokens, and/or workers/other pieces. Those that give you only victory points usually aren't helpful in the first round.


I agree. The first round is all about getting your engine online. Without some kind of basic production, you won't be able to get any sort of point generation going.

My favorite cards for this point in the game are the ones that have a limited amount of free resources that come with them and are stored on the card. They carry over between rounds, are difficult to destroy early on, (they all take four red contact tokens since they are "feature" buildings) and can be remodeled into buildings that will score or have other useful effects as soon as they are empty.

Eric G wrote:
In the first round Action Phase, you've got to get your "engine" kick started. After the Production Phase, you have 7 Cards (6 from the Lookout Phase + 1 during the Production Phase), some workers, 1 contact token, and 1 piece (iron, gun, fuel, or brick). That's not very much to work with, especially as you are limited in terms of Actions you can take from your Faction board. In fact, in terms of pieces, you'll only be able to do 1 Action from your Faction board with the 1 piece you get. So what I try to focus on is Building as many cards as possible (having a Distance of 1) that either provide Production (of worker/other pieces/cards) and/or more Actions unless the Feature gives you a bonus in terms of more cards/workers/pieces if you do, for example, a Deal, or allows you to store extra workers/pieces. As much as possible, for two worker Action at the bottom of the Faction board, I try to use workers to get additional cards unless there's a piece I really need to take one of the Actions on the Faction board and/or a card that was built. For Actions on the Faction board in particular, you'll need 1 of each of those pieces so you can get more contact tokens to Build, Deal and/or Raze cards. Besides Building Production cards, you should take Actions to get more Deals which not only give you immediate benefits, but also provide you with additional benefits each Production Phase.


My general strategy differs a bit here. I usually make it a priority to get the resources to activate all three actions at the bottom of my faction board the first round (and hopefully every round thereafter). This gives you the maximum amount of contact tokens to work with every round (barring cards or deals that generate them, which don't always find their way into your hand early). While it is possible to trade with workers to get the resources to activate your faction board actions, I try to avoid doing it since I'd much prefer having cards.

Eric G wrote:
Some Feature cards give you only a one time bonus; those are prime for using to Develop subsequent cards. And do Develop cards as each in essence gives you 2 victory points: 1 for the card that is discarded and 1 for the card that is placed.


This is not technically a huge benefit. You would have had the points for each building anyway, regardless of how they are built. The main benefit of doing this is saving grey contact tokens by building a 2-3 cost location. I'm very selective about what I remodel into since it can be tricky to get access to brick. However, I do agree that the features that have one-time benefits are a great target for the action.

Eric G wrote:
A word about Razing other players built cards: do it sparingly and to deny that player a building that is important to their "engine." Not only does Razing another players buildings cost quite a few red tokens (3-5), but you also give that other player whatever the Deal benefit is, plus a location that can be developed without any need to match icons on that location. In the games I've played so far, it's rare that players will Raze other players' buildings and I've yet to do it. Again, if the other player's building is vital to their "engine," Razing might be the thing to do.


I'm not nearly as hesitant about razing other players buildings if I can secure a red contact card or two from the market. If you can stockpile a couple, they are great for hobbling someone that gets an+ early lead. You just have to make sure to build up bonuses for razing before you spring your trap.
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Eric Guttag
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Hey Trevor,

Thanks for the comments. Good points about getting resources to activate the 3 "once per round" Actions on the Faction board, and using Develop Actions for placing 2-3 Distance cards that would consume valuable (and often scarce) gray tokens to place. Again, I've only played this game 2-3 times or so. But I do like it.
 
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