GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!

8,956 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
18 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
18 Posts

The Voyages of Marco Polo» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is Contracts the most dominant path to victory? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Madhujith Venkatakrishna
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just wanted to get a sense from people who have played this game more than me...I've played it 5 times till date and on 4 occasions it has been the person with the highest contracts who is the winner. Yesterday we had a player focus strongly on route building as she had Marcopolo+ the other character where you can split travel, but could not win....hence there was this debate about if this game is balanced or is it just a one dominant strategy game....much like the base game of T'zolkin.....

Any thoughts would help us improve our gameplay...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marty Strubczewski
United States
Mechanicsburg
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think the answer is no but it's easier to score well with a focus on contracts. The big scores come from a good travel strategy.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
trevor

Missouri
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well I don't think T'zolken is broken either but the answer is no, contracts is not the most dominant path.


This has been discussed ad nauseum in multiple other posts but the simple answer is; new players will score a lot of points with contracts because it is simpler to do and understand but more experienced players will balance contracts with travelling to have significantly higher scores.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
alan beaumont
United Kingdom
LONDON
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Expanding to contract
Well generally, a player who efficiently uses travel to establish a superior income and action opportunities will find it easier to fill contracts than one who doesn't, so a synergy to enhance your player power / the board opportunities is what you want.

This is why the game doesn't get stale.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam P
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mb
Make sure to grab one or two of the high-point contracts before they do.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin B. Smith
United States
Mercer Island
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Earlier similar threads:
Contracts contracts contracts = 100% win ???
Is the Contracts strategy broken
A Call for help - What am I missing?
Is traveling required or just sit in one spot and fill contracts?
Many paths to victory?
What is a reasonable score? (relevant because a lot of people win with low scores, not realizing that much higher scores are possible)
Contracts > Travel is truly a MYTH
A false game of exploration and commerce.
Ballanced game?

Marty and trevor are right: Figuring out how to travel effectively seems to be much harder than figuring out how to crank through contracts effectively.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As all have already said, the short answer is no.

The longer answer is, play the board and the character you get. That determines the best path to victory over anything else.

Figure out how the bonuses and actions are laid out, pick a character that synergizes with that, and do what works best.

Whoever maximizes the board + their character will win if all players are of equal strength.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brad Keusch
United States
Ann Arbor
MI
flag msg tools
badge
It's hard to remember we're alive for the first time. It's hard to remember we're alive for the last time.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Marco Polo can be played by the seat of your pants, but planning is essential if you really want to get high scores. What's the highest you've seen someone on a contract only strategy get? There are scoring break downs in some of the other similar threads, but I guarantee you'll see that more dynamic runs can score better on 99% of boards.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fernando Robert Yu
Philippines
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Contracts is the easiest way to get points, but a travel heavy strategy can also win.

In this game I believe that it is better to have a balanced strategy rather than focusing on just 1 path. For example, some contracts have travel bonuses so it makes sense to fulfill these contracts even though you are doing a travel strategy. Fulfilling contracts is a "free" action after all so if you happen to be able to fulfill a contract I think it makes sense to do so.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Madhujith Venkatakrishna
Australia
Melbourne
Victoria
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks a lot for pointing out some strategies...we played the game again today and one of my friends got Johannes Caprini, which makes your travel easier...however despite that he ended up losing due to the following reasons:
- He could not complete the route as the rules state that trading posts can only be kept in the last city where you finish your journey, so even if you've traversed through 3 cities a turn, you can effectively keep just 1 trading post
- He could not deploy all his trading posts to avail the 5 point and 10 point bonus

We're just beginning to feel that the travel is not designed as attractively as the other main actions i.e. market, contracts, etc. and makes it really though for players to focus on that alone and win (btw, my friend did have 5 completed contracts with values 7,7,6,5,4). The incentives a player gets are too hard is what we felt....may be there is something more we need to explore.....
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
A Huynh
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What are your winning scores?

For contracts only (no travel at all) I'd say a very good score is about 60-75 with 80 being exceptional. For a balanced strategy of contracts and travel goals the winning scores in my plays have been 95-120.

New players and group think always finds travel underpowered but the key is finding the right combo of city cards to use to help fulfill your contracts. The city actions are just so much better than the actions available st the bottom of the board. And yes it also depends on the character you choose.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
trevor

Missouri
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
madhujith wrote:
Thanks a lot for pointing out some strategies...we played the game again today and one of my friends got Johannes Caprini, which makes your travel easier...however despite that he ended up losing due to the following reasons:
- He could not complete the route as the rules state that trading posts can only be kept in the last city where you finish your journey, so even if you've traversed through 3 cities a turn, you can effectively keep just 1 trading post
- He could not deploy all his trading posts to avail the 5 point and 10 point bonus

We're just beginning to feel that the travel is not designed as attractively as the other main actions i.e. market, contracts, etc. and makes it really though for players to focus on that alone and win (btw, my friend did have 5 completed contracts with values 7,7,6,5,4). The incentives a player gets are too hard is what we felt....may be there is something more we need to explore.....


Well if you are only using the travel action to travel you will have a tough time. You need to utilize contracts that let you travel and action spaces so you can travel multiple times per round and place more houses, also maybe sneak a "1,1" black die combo in there
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
alan beaumont
United Kingdom
LONDON
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quickly going nowhere
madhujith wrote:
...one of my friends got Johannes Caprini, which makes your travel easier...however despite that he ended up losing...
Most of my worst scores have been with Caprini. We warn newbies off him as he is hard to play well.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oskar Arnason
Iceland
Reykjavík
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Contracts = Dominion's Big Money™ ?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bigGameGeek wrote:
madhujith wrote:
Thanks a lot for pointing out some strategies...we played the game again today and one of my friends got Johannes Caprini, which makes your travel easier...however despite that he ended up losing due to the following reasons:
- He could not complete the route as the rules state that trading posts can only be kept in the last city where you finish your journey, so even if you've traversed through 3 cities a turn, you can effectively keep just 1 trading post
- He could not deploy all his trading posts to avail the 5 point and 10 point bonus

We're just beginning to feel that the travel is not designed as attractively as the other main actions i.e. market, contracts, etc. and makes it really though for players to focus on that alone and win (btw, my friend did have 5 completed contracts with values 7,7,6,5,4). The incentives a player gets are too hard is what we felt....may be there is something more we need to explore.....


Well if you are only using the travel action to travel you will have a tough time. You need to utilize contracts that let you travel and action spaces so you can travel multiple times per round and place more houses, also maybe sneak a "1,1" black die combo in there


This. You need to pay a lot of attention when the +1 travel contracts come out, and make sure you are maximizing them. While it's nice to turn one in to make the cost and die pips required to make a journey smaller, in reality these should be used to extend a trip that you make (or initiate one) by one length when that one length lets you drop another trading post.

For example, if Moscow has the +1 move bonus tile, get there and use it to place in Anxi, dropping two trading posts with one move action. Or stock up on +1 travel contracts, and when you get to Beijing, use one to hit Xian. Etc.

As was noted, with relatively new players, a contract only strategy will consistently yield a score in 50's-60's or slightly higher which amongst new players is considered a good score. Once players start understanding the synergy and how to plan out their game (more or less) to maximize their character and the actions/bonuses on the map, you'll see scores starting to get upwards of the 80's-90's, and there is no way that a contract only strategy can compete with those.

It's kinda like when you pick a character in one of those old school one on one fighting games -- if you were playing Soul Caliber and picked the dude with the big axe, he was unbeatable if you were playing against someone without a huge amount of skill. But as soon as you're playing someone who has some element of strategy, his depth was so limited that he just didn't scale well with higher skilled opponents, and it flipped to can't win.

Same sort of thing here. Take some time to really understand the game, and you'll find that contracts only is the strongest of the weak plays, but it's still a weak play. (Unless, of course, the board and your character support that, but it's relatively rare, and still requires the right character and a LITTLE bit of travel to support it).
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt D
United States
Peachtree corners
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Angurvaki wrote:
Contracts = Dominion's Big Money™ ?


A better example than my Soul Caliber one. This was actually the example that was on the tip of my tongue and for odd reason couldn't recall.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Christopher
United States
North Tonawanda
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Contracts are obviously a big part of the game but I feel I should share my come from behind travel game played just a couple days ago.

My wife played as the 3 player version of Mercator ex Tabriz, gaining a good everytime someone went to market or king's favor. My friend played as Matteo Polo, gaining a white die and contract each round, and I played as Gunj Kokochin, who had 2 dice options on her card, one to travel 1 space and second to get 2 goods and 2 camels while the other players received a good.

I received aggressive travel cards, with one being worth 8 vp and another worth 5 vp. With the travel spot on my card, I would proceed to travel 2x every turn, thus hitting my 10th outpost on my final turn.

My wife, receiving all the goods from the market, moved very little, as she cashed in a ton of contracts.

My friend was doing a little of both.

One thing that helped me travel so much was having an outpost in a city where I could trade in 1 gold and 1 camel for 9 coins. I did this a few times to get coins. Because of this I reached the city with 3 dice options, and one of them was 1 gold and 1 camel for 4 vp. I did this 3x my last turn for 12 vp which was huge!

So at the end of the 5th round my wife is beating both of us pretty big due to contracts. I want to say she had just collected her 50 point card and had 54 points or so. I had roughly 38ish points and my friend was in the high 20s.

I got to Beijing first and she also did so I got her there 10-7..

I completed both my travels for 13 points plus 10 points for hitting all 4, giving me 23 points!

She received 7 points for contracts and 1 more for coins.

At the end she only reached one of her cities for 1 point. The final score of the game was something like 80-79...pure travel strategy had beaten her pure contract strategy.

I never bought contracts and only completed the starting one given.

I will say this, it is a very risky attempt to go pure travel. You need the money, the camels, etc.. I think my wife and I both played our characters well. She had resources coming in quite a bit and I had an ability to move an extra space each turn.

If she had 1 more resource she would've earned another point and it would've been a tie. She also had 19 coins, so 1 more coin she would've had another point and beaten me.

Just goes to show how great this game is, where every dice matters.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Christopher
United States
North Tonawanda
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
freddieyu wrote:
Contracts is the easiest way to get points, but a travel heavy strategy can also win.

In this game I believe that it is better to have a balanced strategy rather than focusing on just 1 path. For example, some contracts have travel bonuses so it makes sense to fulfill these contracts even though you are doing a travel strategy. Fulfilling contracts is a "free" action after all so if you happen to be able to fulfill a contract I think it makes sense to do so.


You are right about the bonuses...I didn't really pay attention to them as much as I probably should have...getting the right contracts can be huge at turning the tide of the game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.