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Subject: Favourite Solo Cards? rss

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Jonathan Fryxelius
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When playing the solo version of the game, you have a completely different aim, so some cards become less valueable and some become more valuable. So, which ones are your favourite cards to draw when playing solo? Which ones make you feel like you can make it? Name your top 3, if can determine them. My own three are these;

1. Standard Technology - In my experience, you always have to do some standard projects to pull it off in the end. This discount has been invaluable to me some sessions.
2. Strip Mine - As long as you can get the 2 energy production needed, this gives you an incredible production as well as 2 oxygen steps. Getting this at the start of the game is a wonderful feeling.
3. Any of the "pay energy to get stuff and raise oxygen"-cards. Since oxygen is the most expensive parameter to raise, doing it with energy is a great advantage, unless you have enough plant production to pull it off without it.
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Carsten Reuter
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I really enjoy having the Extreme-Cold Fungus (#134) [German: Extremkälte-Pilze].

If I am lucky and can get my hands also on one of Regolith Eaters (#33) [German: Regolith-Fresser] or GHG Producing Bacteria (#34) [German: CO2 produzierende Bakterien] I don't have to worry about oxygen or temperature anymore.

The Extreme-Cold Fungus can feed the latter two cards and gives a "free" raise once per generation. Thats makes the costs of 13 for the fungus a true bargain. And even after my oxygen or temperature hits maximum I can still use the fungus to go for plants for some extra VP via greenery tiles.
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Sebastian Stückl
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Generally, I think all cards that increase your plant production, or increase your heat production by multiple steps, are amazing for solo play. (and multiplayer alike)

They are both needed to complete the game at all in most cases, saving you a lot of money on temperature raises and building greeneries.
Since cities/greeneries are the most reliable way to score well in solo games, I try to stay away from cards that repeatedly raise oxygen levels, as building ~10 greeneries will be necessary in most cases anyway, if you try to increase your score after terraforming mars.
Basically, you wasted resources if you end up with any extra oxygen raises, so there usually isn't room for a lot of them.


Apart from those I really like:
- Standard Technology - Almost always saves the 9 M€ it costs you
- Arctic Algae(#023) - This often gives you +19 plants throughout the game, so it's quite efficient for 15 M€
- Groundwater pump (#187) - Building oceans for 8 is love <3. It costs 85 to build all 8 oceans with this, compared to the 144 using standard actions, so it gives you a boost of up to 59 M€, which only few other cards can do.
Furthermore, the opportunity cost (missed income from TR) is extremely low, since it will cost 37 M€ to build two oceans with it, only 1 more than with standard actions.
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Jeff Noel
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I agree wholeheartedly with Sebastian's answer.

I used to think repeatable oxygen effects were great, and if you're just shooting for a win, they are. But if you're winning consistently enough that scoring high is your main concern, you'll probably be placing a minimum of 12 greeneries per game. That typically makes the oxygen raises redundant.
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Donald Cleary
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Anything that works the bottom row of resource generation is a must. The asteroid cards are handy for an early push on your base income as well as getting your end game conditions moving. That 14 starting income is harsh.
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My favourite solo cards are Deimos Down and Giant Ice Asteroid just for the awesomeness of dropping a moon or a giant iceberg on a planet.
Additionally I like Arctic Algae (lots of free plants), Industrial Microbes (energy and steel for low cost) and this awesome microbe oxygen/temperature combo.
And of course the Nuke Zone devil
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Jordan Booth
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Forgive me, I have a lot of favorites.

Number 1 is definitely Aquifer Pumping (#187), especially because I usually end up struggling for oceans if I don't get it. And because if I have any steel production I end up with extra at the end otherwise. I know there is the one for titanium too (#012), but the higher cost makes the opportunity cost a harder sell.

Cards I'm not sure are always helpful, but I love anyway:
I'm always a sucker for the Thorium Asteroid (#058), but only if I'm already holding a Jovian tag. I'm not going to dig for one, but I've paid for one that didn't do anything else.
Robotic Workforce (#086) given that each card is unique I really like being able to copy a critical building.
Adaptation Technology (#153) I just love the flexibility and getting a jump on the late plant producers.

Early plant producers:
Adapted Lichen (#048), Archaebacteria (#042), and Designed Microorganisms (#155) Cheap and able to put out right away give the best plant return.

Cards I'll always take if I see them early:
Advanced Alloys (#071), Acquired Company (#106), and Sponsors (#68) are essential if I can get them before round 5, but I'll usually pass on them later than that.

Helpful, but not essential:
Restricted Area (#199) and Development Center (#014): Many times I find myself struggling to dig through the deck to find the cards that work with my strategy. These cheap cards that use leftover resources for extra cards I'll almost always buy even up to round 12.

+1 to Arctic Algea and Strip Mine.


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dave bcs
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I have actually had my best scores with a balanced strategy, though I do find certain corporations are more suited to solo play than others.

I just scored 96 with Helion. I find that the corporations that start the progression toward terraforming earlier to be the most helpful. This can be via heat or energy, as with Helion or Thorgate. I lost playing Ecoline, probably because it starts with so little money, and since there are plenty of plant cards in the deck that increase plant production anyway, its advantage is not all that special. Also it is better to get tiles out AFTER oceans come out in order to claim the money bonuses.

I actually do fairly well with making sure I get a titanium stream going, as space events are actually a really good way to push the game foreward if you can discount the price of the asteroids. In this regard I do like Phobolog, though Saturn Systems is probably better in the multiplayer game given the dearth of Jovian cards. Likewise with Teractor. Again space events turn out to be a surprisingly good strategy, if you can draw enough of these cards.

United Nations is also probably better in multiplayer competition, as are most strategies that don't focus enough on terraforming. This is true with Tharsis, and city building in general, which can attract you with the point potential, right up until you lose. Likewise I really would think Mining Guild would be great, but you can spend so much time building up your mineral resource base that you fall behind on O2, temperature, and oceans.

I do not think it is worthwhile to spend any effort on microbes or animals in the solo game. The 96 points with Helion was without microbes, animals, special effect(blue) cards, or cities except for the Capital.

In the solo game I would say the BIG THREE resources to focus on are titanium (to help the play of space events, especially those that lay oceans), heat, and plants, in that chronological order.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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drdranetz wrote:
I find that the corporations that start the progression toward terraforming earlier to be the most helpful. This can be via heat or energy, as with Helion or Thorgate.

I actually haven't played with either of those yet, but I do like anything that gives decent heat production early on, otherwise temperature really becomes a problem.

I like Mohole Area a lot for this - it's relatively affordable (20), gives 4 heat production, and placing it on an ocean spot isn't bad either. You can occupy a spot you likely wouldn't fill with water anyway, like the one in the Southeast with the 2 titanium (making the net cost a lot cheaper).

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I lost playing Ecoline, probably because it starts with so little money, and since there are plenty of plant cards in the deck that increase plant production anyway, its advantage is not all that special.

I often find getting plant production early very tricky often times - you don't always get Designed Microorganisms in your starting hand. My one Ecoline game so far (got 105, very pleased with that) did yield me 15 greeneries, which is more than I've gotten with any other corp, and I started getting them much earlier ofc. Beyond the initial plant resources and production, Ecoline's specialty to only need 7 plants for a greenery also speeds things up significantly. (And I slowed that down actually, as I was constantly shooting plants into space with the Electro Catapult. )

Speaking of Electro Catapult, that card has to be one of my absolute favourites. The amount of money it generates is insane. Better used with steel rather than plants, but hey, whatever you got, just shoot it into orbit!

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Also it is better to get tiles out AFTER oceans come out in order to claim the money bonuses.

Yeah but you can work around that by first taking spots that aren't near water anyway, like the area West of Noctis City.

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I do not think it is worthwhile to spend any effort on microbes or animals in the solo game.

For scoring purposes? Yeah, my Ecoline game was the first I got animals out at all (Herbivores, which grew nicely with all the greeneries I placed even if I only played the card at 9% O2). "Utility" microbes like Regolith Eaters and GHG-producing Bacteria are kinda cool. Other microbes I usually only play if they happen to combo well at that moment (also depending on how many generations left to play) or if I get them for cheap.

Most animals I find don't have enough time to earn decent VP in solo play because their O2 requirement is fairly high.

Quote:
In the solo game I would say the BIG THREE resources to focus on are titanium (to help the play of space events, especially those that lay oceans), heat, and plants, in that chronological order.

I agree that heat is important and you need quite a bit of heat production early enough, otherwise that parameter becomes a right headache.

Titanium can be nice, yeah (and the card that lets you hoard space fighters can also score nicely thanks to a steady stream of titanium cool ). But likewise, I've gotten great things rollings with steel production too - particularly when comboed with Electro Catapult or Space Elevator.

Also, oceans. They can become an annoying money sink and really diminish your score if you can't get good cards for water. Aquifer Pumping and Water Import From Europa are amazing for this. Other than those, you kinda depend on (mostly) events to get oceans without overspending (titanium may help here as many of those are asteroid-like cards, but quite a few aren't). Failing that, at least Standard Technology (which is always worthwhile solo IMO).

Plants on the other hand aren't super important to win the game - you can get lots of O2 from things like Iron/Steel Works, and I've already won 2 games with only 5 greeneries. That said tho, plants/greeneries are definitely the way forward for winning with a decent score.
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dave bcs
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Wow, 105 is definitely higher than my high score of 97 with Phobolog. In that game I did have both extreme cold fungus and ghg producing bacteria which helped get my temp up, so I suppose a point generating microbe card could have pushed my score higher. I have not gotten comfortable enough with the short time frame of the solo game to spend much effort on non-terraforming engines, especially when I often seem to get these cards too early in the game to know if I will have time to utilize them, so I tend to get cards that have the points built in, and get the rest from lots of greenery. Two advantages of greenery over O2 generating cards are the tile bonuses and end game points.

I always seem to get security fleet too early to know if I will have enough titanium to divert to it, wanting to save the titanium for space cards. Likewise throwing plants into space with the catapult! The late game entry, required loss of energy production, and the sacrifice of throwing away plants makes it hard for me to want to keep this card early on. I prefer the space elevator- earlier game entry and +1 titanium production.

I also like space mirrors and industrial center as safe early game acquisition which can snowball your production early. I also like restricted area or AI central.

I like Helion a lot. Push heat production insanely high and all the leftover heat can be used as money late in the game.
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dave bcs
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Another sobering thought: Barring additional card draws, one will only see 62 out of the 208 project cards in any given solo game, thus thus odds of even seeing one particular card are less than one in three.
 
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Florian Ruckeisen
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drdranetz wrote:
I have not gotten comfortable enough with the short time frame of the solo game to spend much effort on non-terraforming engines, especially when I often seem to get these cards too early in the game to know if I will have time to utilize them, so I tend to get cards that have the points built in, and get the rest from lots of greenery.

I am kind of the opposite then: I always try to get some sort of economy engine going if possible, and sometimes wait too long before I actually start "getting stuff done". Getting better at that tho I think.

Quote:
I always seem to get security fleet too early to know if I will have enough titanium to divert to it, wanting to save the titanium for space cards.

Well that just depends on whether or not you're under any real pressure to get those other space cards played, doesn't it? If you have titanium production (even just 1), then Security Fleet offers VP for just 3+12+[3/VP] M€, which is a pretty sweet offer. With 4 counters, the cost is almost on par with the Colony Ship, without the hassle of collecting science tags. So if you feel you're in an overall good position, I'd say go for it. PhoboLog's ability and that Advanced Alloys card that makes steel/titanium more valuable make Security Fleet slightly less attractive.

Quote:
Likewise throwing plants into space with the catapult!

Ah, it pains at first ("mah plants!!" cry), but then you get the payout ("ooh, ANOTHER seven bucks!" ), and then it's all good.

Seriously, even for Ecoline who needs only 7 plants per greenery, 1 greenery shot into space equals 49(!) M€. That's stretched out over 7 generations of course, and requires a little energy, but I'll be damned if that isn't a trade I'll do anytime!

Quote:
The late game entry, required loss of energy production, and the sacrifice of throwing away plants makes it hard for me to want to keep this card early on. I prefer the space elevator- earlier game entry and +1 titanium production.

Are you confusing the cost of the two here? Electro Catapult costs only 17 and is therefore totally affordable early on, provided you have the energy for it (which of course needs to be added to the cost). Space Elevator is more expensive to begin with, I think something to the tune of 27.

The Catapult was, in that game, the second card I played after Deep Well Heating (which gives 1 power prod and 1 temp increase for 13), even tho Ecoline starts very money-starved - the catapult essentially got me +7 income from generation 2 on, for the price of basically delaying my 1st greenery tile by 1 turn...

Quote:
I also like space mirrors and industrial center as safe early game acquisition which can snowball your production early.

I've actually been wondering a bit whether or not I like Industrial Center. I feel the cost is a tad high, at 3+4+[7/steel prod]. Compare this to Mining Area, which gives you 1 steel or titanium prod for just 3+4 (and a placement that's guaranteed to pick up steel/titanium, whereas an early Industrial Center is likely to have to be placed next to a random city, so will be hit or miss for placement bonus).

You'll probably want to use it at least 2-3 times to get good mileage out of it, but then you've spent 21-28+ M€ on it, and are quite dependent on building cards coming up. Many buildings then require energy, so you spend turns getting that up too, and before you know, time's almost up and Mars still is far from a lush paradise... well at least that's my experience with Industrial Center. shake
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dave bcs
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I see your point about the security fleet.

What I mean about the catapult being later game than the more expensive space elevator is that the catapult has an O2 level requirement making it hard to play early. Anyway, with an early card I would rather gain a titanium production than lose an energy production. Sometimes I end up early on with a lot of lose energy production cards, when I have 0 energy production, such that I have to pay an extra 11 just to get such a card out.

Regarding the industrial center, I find that in a lot of games I end up with unusable steel, which I can then convert to cash.

With your focus on point engines early on rather than terraforming, are you winning bigger than me but losing a higher percentage of games? I am winning a little over 50% of the time, perhaps 2 out of 3.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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drdranetz wrote:
What I mean about the catapult being later game than the more expensive space elevator is that the catapult has an O2 level requirement making it hard to play early.

Off the top of my head, the requirement is a max O2 level, not a minimum one (max. 8% if memory serves right). At least I sure hope so, otherwise I played it all wrong, which would invalidate my 105 score. blush

Quote:
Anyway, with an early card I would rather gain a titanium production than lose an energy production.

Sure, but the benefit is smaller as well. It comes down to how cheaply you get your 1 power production - in my case, I paid (3+17)+(3+13)=36 M€ to get the catapult online plus 1 temp/TR increase, with which I could then earn 8 M€/generation (1 from the TR) and got 2 VP (1 from the catapult, 1 from TR). The elevator for (3+27)=30 M€ would also have been worth 2 VP, and it would earn me 5 M€/gen plus 1 titanium/gen (well, if I had had steel to sell in that game, which I hadn't).

So in that scenario, Space Elevator would have been overall more cost-efficient, with the small downside of the titanium being used for space cards only (and without the ability to sell plants). The two cards end up to be very similar - gee, it's almost as if Fryxgames has some kind of FORMULA with which they determine card costs. surprise

Long story short, I love both of these cards and will probably buy and play them ASAP whenever I have steel or plant production available. If it does come down to an either-or-choice (although, when do you ever get both of them at once?), it would depend on whether I have energy to spare or not.

Quote:
With your focus on point engines early on rather than terraforming, are you winning bigger than me but losing a higher percentage of games? I am winning a little over 50% of the time, perhaps 2 out of 3.

I didn't mean to say I'm building point engines early on per se, rather just economy/infrastructure to make stuff cheaper, increase income and the like. I wouldn't say I play in a high-risk way, I always focus on winning first and highscore second. My winrate after a dozen or so plays is somewhere around 60-70% too, with most of my winning scores being in the 80s, so nothing to write home about. The 105 Ecoline game was my first triple-digit score. Personally tho, I like to think the Deep Well Heating / Electro Catapult combo on gen 1-2 is what made it happen. cool (Well that and some high-scoring science cards I managed to bring out at the end.)
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dave bcs
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My bad about the catapult O2 requirement. I looked it up and you are right.

I follow your cost analysis, with both the elevator and the catapult/ deep well producing 8 money a turn, assuming a use for the titanium. With the giant deck, you never know what cards are going to come up, though I suppose one could always buy a power back for 11 without a card, changing the cost to 31 total for the catapult and reducing the return to 7 a turn.

So many ways to analyse returns on cards, but so much of it depends upon what cards come up later. I wonder what score you could get by playing open deck, buying up to any four cards you want from the deck each turn?

Loving Terraforming Mars right now, one of the best solo versions of any game I've seen.
 
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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I have tried that I wanted to see if it was theoretically possible to play all cards in the whole deck in a solo game if I could choose any order I liked. It didn't work. But that was not because I couldn't afford them (I had over 400M€ after the game end, and the score was over 400 as well, and the board was full of tiles, so I couldn't do anything with the money). My problem was that even with all available card-drawing effects, I couldn't get all cards into my hand in just 15 generations. That said, I was playing with a prototype expansion which adds about 60 cards to the deck. On the other hand, it also gives some new card-drawing effects, and also extends solo play to 15 generations, so I think it would even out in the end. I have been wanting to try the same thing with the base game, but haven't got the time for it. Anyway, now I know that the problem is card-drawing, not engine-building
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So, an expansion will extend the game to fifteen rounds? My current win percentage is about 30, but that includes me trying to do things just to boost my score. I typically find myself in a position where one more generation would do it. I agree that it would be nice to get ahold of more cards, but I really like the way I am really up against the wall for those last 2-3 generations at the moment.

Also, I like how the board is marked for where the solo game ends.
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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Mokey D Luffy wrote:
So, an expansion will extend the game to fifteen rounds?

Whoops modest What I mean is that there is currently a very unofficial prototype expansion in an unofficial beta-testing phase which currently holds a preliminary rule which may extend the solo game to 15 generations.
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Chris Rennie
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Lord_Aethan wrote:
Mokey D Luffy wrote:
So, an expansion will extend the game to fifteen rounds?

Whoops modest What I mean is that there is currently a very unofficial prototype expansion in an unofficial beta-testing phase which currently holds a preliminary rule which may extend the solo game to 15 generations.


I would like to unofficially put myself forward to beta test this unofficial expansion
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Sebastian Stückl
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CRennie wrote:
I would like to unofficially put myself forward to beta test this unofficial expansion


Who wouldn't want to? laugh
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Bob Nelson
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I would also being willing to beta test, you know if push came to shove, and the fact that I have no qualifications and am not half as smart as most people on this board are, didn't matter well I could see myself getting pressed into service...zombie
 
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dave bcs
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Lord_Aethan wrote:
I have tried that I wanted to see if it was theoretically possible to play all cards in the whole deck in a solo game if I could choose any order I liked. It didn't work. But that was not because I couldn't afford them (I had over 400M€ after the game end, and the score was over 400 as well, and the board was full of tiles, so I couldn't do anything with the money). My problem was that even with all available card-drawing effects, I couldn't get all cards into my hand in just 15 generations. That said, I was playing with a prototype expansion which adds about 60 cards to the deck. On the other hand, it also gives some new card-drawing effects, and also extends solo play to 15 generations, so I think it would even out in the end. I have been wanting to try the same thing with the base game, but haven't got the time for it. Anyway, now I know that the problem is card-drawing, not engine-building


First off, I do want to say that Terraforming Mars is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

That being said, you already have a giant deck of over 200 unique and interesting cards. Do we really need more project cards? Isn't the current deck already too hard to shuffle?

Perhaps any expansion could focus on more corporations, map area (the other side of Mars?), or some separate and new game element, such as a separate deck or map display representing transports and shipments from earth or other planets, or even a stock market. But more project cards?

How about a mini map of other planets/moons/asteriods with some sort of mining mini-game?
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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drdranetz wrote:

First off, I do want to say that Terraforming Mars is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

...

Perhaps any expansion could focus on more corporations, map area (the other side of Mars?), or some separate and new game element, such as a separate deck or map display representing transports and shipments from earth or other planets, or even a stock market. But more project cards?

How about a mini map of other planets/moons/asteriods with some sort of mining mini-game?


I will try not to spoil too much here, but I can tell you that all of your suggestions have been thought of (along with dozens other ones) This game has grown from an idea to a finished game over five years, and through that process there have been multitudes of expansion ideas. Our work is currently to try to find the best ones and bring them to you ASAP. Let's see how that works out
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dave bcs
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Lord_Aethan wrote:
drdranetz wrote:

First off, I do want to say that Terraforming Mars is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

...

Perhaps any expansion could focus on more corporations, map area (the other side of Mars?), or some separate and new game element, such as a separate deck or map display representing transports and shipments from earth or other planets, or even a stock market. But more project cards?

How about a mini map of other planets/moons/asteriods with some sort of mining mini-game?


I will try not to spoil too much here, but I can tell you that all of your suggestions have been thought of (along with dozens other ones) This game has grown from an idea to a finished game over five years, and through that process there have been multitudes of expansion ideas. Our work is currently to try to find the best ones and bring them to you ASAP. Let's see how that works out


Take your time. Terraforming Mars is a great game as is, and I, for one, am in no hurry for an expansion.

How do YOU shuffle all those cards, by the way?
 
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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I usually do the following;
1. Divide the cards into pile A and B.
2. Shuffle A.
3. Divide A into 3 piles 1, 2, and 3 in front of you.
4. Shuffle B.
5. Divide B into 3 piles and add them on top of pile 1, 2, and 3 respectively.
6. Shuffle 1 and place it in a finished pile F.
7. Shuffle 2 and place it on top of F.
8. Shuffle 3 and place it on top of F.
9. Voilá, ready deck.

Each shuffle is very fast, so this setup takes less than 1 minute.
 
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