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Subject: Won game without any plantations & with very few expeditions rss

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Mike StClair
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San José
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I can't remember every single detail of the session, but I wanted to post a few details about this session because I feel I played really, really well and won without using what many feel is the "most powerful" strategy of abusing expedition cards. I think what I'll do is go over each aspect of my strategy and how it affected the game.

This game was played at the South Bay Boardgamers club. Three of us had played before, and the forth, my girlfriend, was trying it for the very first time. She was low balled one or two times, but otherwise, I feel she played very well. The other two players know Goa well and put up a great fight.

First, the flag. I bought the flag from someone else the first turn, and then maintained control of the it for quite a few turns, even buying it from myself once when I felt I was low balled. As many Goa veterans say, people often undervalue the power of the flag. The extra action is awesome, even early in the game - I like to think of it as one more action in my pocket for the last round - and having control of what gets bid on can really change the outcome.

Also, I acquired as many extra actions through other means as I could. I put an emphasis on advancing my tracks equally, collecting 2 extra actions that way, and actually bought 2 actions from myself during a bid for 20. When I later used one of those actions on collecting 3 ships, another player pointed out that I just spent 19.5 on 3 ships. I corrected him, pointing out that I would have done that anyway - I spent the cash on having 2 more actions right at the end of the game, which, as you'll see, probably won me the game.

Additionally, if I had only one action left, I always, always held onto it until the next round. I always had the feeling that something I acquired during the bidding could make my actions much easier and keep me from needing to use that action, say like if I bought a colonist tile.

Next, as I said in the title, I never bought a single plantation during the game. This wasn't a conscious decision or anything, but it just worked out that way. I usually bid on most plantations, but somehow I never quite had enough money and was outbid. That and there was always something more valuable on the table I wanted to buy. Because I could only rely on my colonies, I had to be incredibly efficient in my collecting and spending of spices, which is one thing that I'm really proud of how well I did.

On that note, colonies were key to this game for me. On the first turn the 1 colonist per round tile came up for auction, and I bid all my money at that point on it, something like 13 or 14. It put me at a disadvantage monetarily for a few rounds - although that was offset somewhat by having the flag - but the effects were well, well worth it. For most of the game my colonist upgrade track was only at +2 colonists, but I managed to complete the 4 colonies before anyone else and have my pick of the dual-spice-type colonies. I was also very, very careful not to waste any actions, so I always waited until I only needed 2 or 3 more to complete the colony. If I ended up drawing 5 or 6 colonists, so much the better - the next colony would be that much easier to found. On my last colony, Calicut, I drew 2, and used up every single colonist card I had (8) to found it. Now that's efficiency.

Next, expedition cards. Now, just because my strategy didn't revolve around them doesn't mean I didn't use them. My philosophy on expedition cards is that their ability decreases in value as the game progresses. My reasoning is twofold - first, while expedition cards give you cool free stuff like ships and colonists, they aren't any better than level 2 upgrade tracks. And yes, the other powers such as upgrading without ships/spices are really nice, but only if you draw them at the right time. As the game progresses, the likelyhood of drawing the "right" one decreases because your strategy becomes more and more narrow. Would you rather draw a advance without ships card early in the game when it saves you a action to advance an important track, or late in the game when you already have your ship track to +4? It just feels like you wasted an action at that point. So anyone taking cards when the B tiles are out for reasons other than endgame VPs is probably wasting their time, in my opinion.

On that note, the first colony I founded was the red/black Quilon, and I immediately upgraded the expedition and colonist tracks. Once I had Cochin, I upgraded the expedition track again and drew 2 cards. One was the advance without spices track, which I used later on to bump up my spices track to +4. The other was 5 cash which I cashed in right away.

The last turn of the game I'm especially proud of, and I remember it well so I'll describe it in detail. I managed to buy both the vice-king and the trading tile by spending every last cent I had. At the beginning of the turn, my upgrade tracks were at (counting the initial spot as "level 1"): ships: level 4, spices: level 4, money: level 2, expedition: level 3, colonists: level 2. I was also sitting on an extra action from the last round, 4 ships, my colonies were full of spices, and I had a matching pair of palm tree expedition cards.

My first two actions were to upgrade the money and colonist tracks to level 3, earning me an extra action right then, totaling 2 for me. I then used the vice-king to bump the expedition track to level 4. My third action was to draw 2 expedition cards, luckily giving me a third palm tree symbol and a shell, locking in 7 points in cards alone. I then used the trade tile to swap for the "refill 3 plantations" tile, which I used to collect 2 ginger, a cinnamon, and a pepper, exactly what I needed to upgrade the ships track to 5. My 2 extra actions were to collect 4 ships and upgrade the track to five.

At the endgame, my final score was 48, which included a 3-vp mission I had been lucky to pick up cheap (for 5). My tracks were at: 5, 4, 3, 4, 3. I had all 4 colonies, 3 matching cards, and 1 unmatched card. I spent all my money, and I only ended up with 2 spare colonist cards (from the 1 colonist a round tile, as I founded the 4th colony 2 rounds before the end) and 1 spare spice, a nutmeg that just wasn't needed. Now that's efficiency.

And it wasn't like I creamed the other players, it was a close game. I believe the scores were 40, 41, 44, and 48, all of which are high scores for Goa from what I've seen. I was proud of my girlfriend getting the 40 in her first game of Goa, she caught onto this game a lot faster than I did - I believe my first game's score was somewhere in the 20s.

Whew, anyway, I don't know if anyone wants to read that, but I absolutely love Goa. I feel I'm really, really good at it, and I only get better every time I play. Thanks for reading!
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Daniel Freeman
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Re: Won game without any plantations & with very few expedit
Congrats on the win. It's fun to try different strategies and have them actually work out.

I think you might be playing a rule incorrectly.
Quote:
I later used one of those actions on collecting 3 colonists

There isn't an action that lets you take colonist cards. The number on the colonist track is counted every time you found a colony.
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Mike StClair
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Re: Won game without any plantations & with very few expedit
thugbert wrote:
Congrats on the win. It's fun to try different strategies and have them actually work out.

I think you might be playing a rule incorrectly.
Quote:
I later used one of those actions on collecting 3 colonists

There isn't an action that lets you take colonist cards. The number on the colonist track is counted every time you found a colony.
Sorry, I meant to type "ships". Thanks for pointing that out.
 
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Daniel Corban
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Railoc wrote:
Would you rather draw a advance without ships card early in the game when it saves you a action to advance an important track, or late in the game when you already have your ship track to +4? It just feels like you wasted an action at that point. So anyone taking cards when the B tiles are out for reasons other than endgame VPs is probably wasting their time, in my opinion.

I don't really understand this reasoning. If an "important track" for me currently costs 4 ships, and my ship track is at the fourth level, the expedition card you mention saves me an action.

Yes, there does seem to be a point where one should stop drawing cards. It happens when the currently held cards either do not give a strong enough advantage or give a significant amount of end-game points.

My last game was an exception (I won with only taking the expedition action once, however gained four extra from track advancement and two from a tile), but I usually try to maintain a full hand of cards once I hit the third level of the track.
 
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Alex Bove
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Re: Won game without any plantations & with very few expedit
I don't understand any of this:

Railoc wrote:
and actually bought 2 actions from myself during a bid for 20. When I later used one of those actions on collecting 3 ships, another player pointed out that I just spent 19.5 on 3 ships.


Actually, if the bid was 19 and you paid 20, then you paid 39 for those actions (the 20 you paid plus the 19 you lost by not selling it). This is way, way too much to pay for a tile.

Quote:
On the first turn the 1 colonist per round tile came up for auction, and I bid all my money at that point on it, something like 13 or 14.


I don't see how you could have possibly done this. You said earlier that you bought the flag on the first turn, so where did you get the extra money to also buy this tile?

Quote:
For most of the game my colonist upgrade track was only at +2 colonists, but I managed to complete the 4 colonies before anyone else and have my pick of the dual-spice-type colonies. I was also very, very careful not to waste any actions, so I always waited until I only needed 2 or 3 more to complete the colony.


Again, I don't see how you did this. You start the game with two colonists, and the 1 per turn tile nets 8 more (a total of 10). If you got average card draws (2 per card), you'd need 14 colonists to found all four colonies if you stayed at the +2 level.

Quote:
Would you rather draw a advance without ships card early in the game when it saves you a action to advance an important track, or late in the game when you already have your ship track to +4? It just feels like you wasted an action at that point. So anyone taking cards when the B tiles are out for reasons other than endgame VPs is probably wasting their time, in my opinion.


Oh boy is this wrong. Advancing from level 4 to level 5 of any track is worth 4 VP. If you can do that with only ships or only spices, you've just saved yourself at least an action (half an action in the case of spices and a maxed out spice track). Plus, you're forgetting that the most powerful expedition card (harvest any combo of ships/spices/colonists) is most powerful near game's end. That card alone is worth pursuing the expedition track to obtain.

Quote:
On that note, the first colony I founded was the red/black Quilon, and I immediately upgraded the expedition and colonist tracks. Once I had Cochin, I upgraded the expedition track again and drew 2 cards.


I assume that in between these actions you were taking harvest actions to replenish your spices. What you're describing here would take a minimum of seven actions, and if you truly saved your extra actions that would mean you would have achieved this in round 3 at the earliest. If so, I don't know how/when you advanced any other tracks.

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I don't see how you accomplished this with very few cards and almost no money, especially if your opponents played well in the auction (they should have been able to bully you after you went broke in round 1, unless they did unwise things like buy their own tiles).

A final note: even development is almost always the worst strategy. Getting all columns to level 4 is worth 30 VP, but getting three columns to the bottom is worth the same 30 and gets you (probably) several expedition cards and, more importantly, the use of the tracks at their maximum level. For the expedition card track, drawing 3 cards per turn is almost game-breaking (even w/ the hand limit of 5).
 
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Mike StClair
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Re: Won game without any plantations & with very few expedit
dcorban wrote:

I don't really understand this reasoning. If an "important track" for me currently costs 4 ships, and my ship track is at the fourth level, the expedition card you mention saves me an action.

Yes, there does seem to be a point where one should stop drawing cards. It happens when the currently held cards either do not give a strong enough advantage or give a significant amount of end-game points.

My last game was an exception (I won with only taking the expedition action once, however gained four extra from track advancement and two from a tile), but I usually try to maintain a full hand of cards once I hit the third level of the track.

My reasoning is that you basically took an action to draw cards and didn't really gain much, as you could have collected 4 ships using the ship track anyway. Maybe saying you wasted an action is a little harsh, but it's certainly not as helpful as some other cards you could get or as helpful as it could be earlier in the game when your ship track wasn't quite as low.

Anyway, I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just giving my reasoning. Expedition cards are still powerful, but not always game-winningly so.

montu wrote:

Actually, if the bid was 19 and you paid 20, then you paid 39 for those actions (the 20 you paid plus the 19 you lost by not selling it). This is way, way too much to pay for a tile.

There was a LOT of money in the game at that point - someone had used the sell spices for 3 ducats card twice with 8 spices - so inflation was way up. Plus there wasn’t much else I really wanted on the board. I agree it was a lot to bid on a tile, but "too much" is in the eye of the beholder - especially considering that those two actions probably won me the game. I still had enough to buy the trade and vice king on the next bidding round through a little luck.

montu wrote:

I don't see how you could have possibly done this. You said earlier that you bought the flag on the first turn, so where did you get the extra money to also buy this tile?

My tile's auction came up before the colonist tile, giving me the extra cash needed to buy it. The person auctioning it was sitting to my left.

montu wrote:

Again, I don't see how you did this. You start the game with two colonists, and the 1 per turn tile nets 8 more (a total of 10). If you got average card draws (2 per card), you'd need 14 colonists to found all four colonies if you stayed at the +2 level.

Through tiles that I won in the auction giving me 3 colonist cards.

montu wrote:

Oh boy is this wrong. Advancing from level 4 to level 5 of any track is worth 4 VP. If you can do that with only ships or only spices, you've just saved yourself at least an action (half an action in the case of spices and a maxed out spice track). Plus, you're forgetting that the most powerful expedition card (harvest any combo of ships/spices/colonists) is most powerful near game's end. That card alone is worth pursuing the expedition track to obtain.

Again, I'm not saying they're weak, I'm just giving a theoretical situation where an expedition card you drew late in the game would have been much more valuable earlier in the game. Its weakness is that if you don't draw the right cards, you end up wasting actions that could have accomplished the goal much sooner.

montu wrote:

I assume that in between these actions you were taking harvest actions to replenish your spices. What you're describing here would take a minimum of seven actions, and if you truly saved your extra actions that would mean you would have achieved this in round 3 at the earliest. If so, I don't know how/when you advanced any other tracks.

I don't remember the exact order, but I was rather weak on several tracks early on, including spice, because of my lack of plantations. I believe I actually did this in round 2 because I bought the flag from myself, gaining another action card, and therefor had 7 actions with the spare 1 left over.

montu wrote:

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I don't see how you accomplished this with very few cards and almost no money, especially if your opponents played well in the auction (they should have been able to bully you after you went broke in round 1, unless they did unwise things like buy their own tiles).

They did bully me a bit, out of all the plantations, obviously. But I just played very wisely in the auction, placing the flag for my best benefit and selling stuff worth a lot.

It's not like I play like this every game. If I could have drawn more cards and made more money I would have, but I just had to play with the hand dealt to me.

montu wrote:

A final note: even development is almost always the worst strategy. Getting all columns to level 4 is worth 30 VP, but getting three columns to the bottom is worth the same 30 and gets you (probably) several expedition cards and, more importantly, the use of the tracks at their maximum level. For the expedition card track, drawing 3 cards per turn is almost game-breaking (even w/ the hand limit of 5).

If you think so. It's served me rather well, and the guy in this game that did get his expedition card track to 5 had the 41 points, I believe.
 
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Iwan Tomlow
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Re: Won game without any plantations & with very few expedit
I happened to play my first game of Goa yesterday (2-player, looking forward to play again), and I was wondering about this little bit:

Railoc wrote:
I was also very, very careful not to waste any actions, so I always waited until I only needed 2 or 3 more to complete the colony. If I ended up drawing 5 or 6 colonists, so much the better - the next colony would be that much easier to found.


If you try to found a colony, and your colonist-track + card-draw isn't enough, you can add colonists from your hand.
Are you saying here that, when your colonist-track + card-draw is more then needed to found the colony, you also receive the excess colonists in your hand?
 
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Daniel Corban
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No, he is saying that the next attempt at colonization will be more likely to succeed since he will still have the existing colonists (instead of having to spend them this time).
 
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