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Subject: the basics rss

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David Pearlman
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I've played seven 4 or 5 player games so far, and I've begun to understand how the game mechanics are designed to reward different behavior at different points of the game.

Age 1 is pretty simple. The primary goal is to improve your inventors as efficiently as possible. First look at your team and see which counters you need. The higher the score of the inventor, the higher the VP/marker ratio is, so you want to aim for your 6 point inventor and/or your 9 point inventor. Some teams are better than others in this regard, because they require more generic 1 markers and fewer specific markers. Einstein, for instance, requires two 2s, two 3s, and no generic markers. So he's much harder to arrange than Lavoisier, who requires one 3, one 4, and two generic markers. Scpring your 9 point inventor costs 1 less marker than scoring your 6 point inventor and a 3 point inventor, but it can be somewhat top heavy and difficult to use effectively later in the game, compared to having two inventors advanced. Getting cards in age 1 is strictly a 3rd place prize, and is more or less a waste of time compared to getting tokens to advance your inventors.

That dynamic begins to flip in Age 2. The cards are worth twice as much, and there's less time to use any inventors that you advance. You do want to look at the initial setup of age 2 and make sure that you grab the specific tokens that you need to fill in any holes in scoring your target inventors. Once you have that assured, the game is more about tactics than strategy. Many prizes are of approximately equivalent value, so sneaking in and getting a 2nd or 3rd place prize on the cheap is often a good idea. Getting some cards and 2 and 3 VP tokens is nice, and also having a coffee and/or a cube placement token ready for the 3rd age is nice.

In Age 3, it's all about VPs. Look at the initial setup and figure out what holes you want to fill in your run, if any. A good run is not necessary in order to win, but if it's available go for it. Unless there are 2 and 3 VP tokens, many of the prizes in age 3 pale in comparison to the cards, so you want to make sure you get the plurality of the cubes on those cards that do not have good tokens, or avoid them entirely. It's important to note that a fully utilized 9 point inventor gains a majority on an age 3 card with one placement. This is once again a tactics game. If you pay attention, you can infer your opponent's plans by their actions. There is no hidden information in this game, so you can plot things out at least a couple turns ahead in many cases.
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