El-ad David Amir
I'm repeatedly baffled by how different Farms and Mines work in A New Story compared to the original. I know that these issues have been touched on in previous discussions, but I am wondering what people think now that A New Story has been out for a while longer.
Farms. In the original version, I strongly preferred Selective Breeding to Irrigation. Most of the Age I techs had a longer mileage compared to Irrigation which would not provide enough food by mid-Age II or so. However, in A New Story, Selective Breeding is often an overkill? Especially if I get it early, I end up drowning in food.
Mines. Despite a couple of dozen games I still don't feel that I got the hang of mines. I agree that yellow cards can compensate for low mine counts but it seems that by now everybody else knows that as well -- in 3p and 4p games people happily pay 2-3 actions for them, especially in turns where they flip a new government. Four Bronze is doing remarkably well, especially in games with a population lead (thanks to Moses or Homer, for example). Alternatively, an early Age I Iron or Age II Coal also works well. Another benefit to mines which I feel is ignored is that they allow you to amass a higher Wonder count. Admittedly, it depends on snatching the right wonders, but it seems like Iron makes getting Age A/Carolinas/Eiffel easier, which saves a nice chunk of workers and food.
My take in 3p:
Iron is terrible, almost never take it.
Coal is great, if it happens to be 1CA and you have spare Science/CA/Rock. I would take it one in four games maybe.
Irrigation is good, so is Selective breeding. Usually if you get the latter there is no need to upgrade 2 workers, unless you have lots of happiness and CA. Either is fine.
Most games I play would end with me getting either irrigation or selective breeding, but typically not iron or coal.
My take in 4p:
Iron is still terrible, unless you have run out of useful things to do.
The others are all a little bit better, though. It is much more likely that I would end up with Coal in a 4p game.
Playing mainly 2 player games, I love both Iron and Irrigation.
In a 2 player game there's only 1 selective and 1 coal. So passing Iron or Irrigation and risk having the Age 2 version snatched from you is a very risky gambit.
You can easily go through the entire game with 4 Iron. I've heard people say 4 bronze is enough in 2-player. But having played a lot against an experienced opponent I would disagree. It might work, but you can really fall behind fast.
But a good way to do it is to pick up Iron/Irrigation for 1 action and just hold them in your hand and see if you can get the age 2 card early.
Early farming increase is necessary if you want to go for a Barbarossa/colonization strategy or a 2-3 Printing Press/Drama for a nasty Shakespeare combo (In which case your opponent would be forced to snatch him for 3 actions).
A high science strategy doesn't need much food though and you can do with Irrigation for the entire game.
M Van Der Werf
One of irrigation or selective breeding tends to be a must unless you get some great colonizations. Irrigation is usually a bit better as you can nicely develop that around the time you tend to run into population problems otherwise: the end of age 1. And then 2 irrigations are enough to carry you all game typically. Selective breeding can simply come too late.
Iron is pretty weak, you much rather be developing alchemy or some wonders. But if those don't show early iron can be ok. Coal is the same thing but even weaker, unless you got some free upgrades for it lying around you shouldn't be getting it, especially as transcontinental is just weak right now.
3 mines is fine most of the time, 4 can also work but usually not worth the effort.
My take in 3p:
Iron is terrible, almost never take it.
Coal is great, if it happens to be 1CA and you have spare Science/CA
How can coal be great in some circumstances if iron is always terrible? Difference between producing 6 or 9 resources is not that significant. Well I guess you can free a population while still getting 6 res/turn with coal. The difference between iron and bronze - 6 vs 3 resources per turn - is much more meaningful. I'd say iron is always better to have than coal.
Upgrading to coal is harder because it costs 2 science more than iron, and a whopping 6 resources per worker. It's difficult to store 6 bronze resources without corrupting, and corrupting with just 3 bronzes is a very bad thing. Age II rich lands tend to go unpicked so at least they help with coal. But then again you get the iron earlier than coal, so you get more turns of upgraded resource production with the age I tech.
Personally I prefer to get iron, and if that doesn't work out, I will opt for coal if I can get efficient upgrades or rich lands easily. Every now and then I finish the game with bronzes but I don't really like the way it limits options in age II and III, because everything, even military units, cost so many resources. Well unless your opponents let you pick most of the yellow cards, but I really don't want to count on that.
I feel that the new version has given some edge on upgrading Mines, but nothing has probably changed on Farms, as they are still important. My thoughts grouped by production building type:
General: the issue in upgrading mines is that at some point, usually when Age II kicks in, you will almost inevitably run into happiness/population issues. Barring any great colonization, you will be forced to destroy buildings/disband units to avoid an uprising or follow the arms race, and mines are the first to go. You cannot really afford to destroy a Farm neither a Temple/Arena; maybe disband a spare military unit or a Philosophy, in case you are flowing in science.
New version thoughts: the risk in upgrading mines in the old version was that you were left exposed to potential aggressions from your opponent. 5 science is a huge cost to pay in Age I for Iron. Nevertheless, in the new version it's much easier to defend in Age I and the sciene cost for Swordsmen/Knights/Warfare has gone up, thus you could be safe if you upgraded to an early Iron. Having said that, it's really important in 2-player to be close to your opponent and be ready to respond in a sudden change of tactics (Medieval Army or Phalanx), while in 3-player or 4-player games you just need not to be dead last in Military. I'd say it's somehow easier to upgrade mines in 3-player or 4-player games for this reason.
2-players: I feel there are enough yellow cards for everybody, thus neither Iron nor Coal are appealing. Coal may be fine if it comes out really early in Age II and you have a Breakthrough and/or Efficient Upgrade lying around, as 7 science and 6 resources are A LOT!
Naturally, the classic risk of "should you miss out on Iron, you risk getting your Coal hated" devolves into "you risk getting your yellow cards hated"; true, cards like Patriotism and Wave of Nationalism/Military Build-Up are huge here, but Reserves would do in a pinch.
Nevertheless, there will be eventually be abundant yellow cards for both players, except if both decide to contest, which usually happens in "Expert" games.
Finally, being flexible is the key in a 2-player game, to quickly respond to your opponent's actions. Yellow cards offer this flexibility. Furthermore, since it's a zero-sum game, any useful yellow card you draft is automatically hated from your opponent, like Patriotism or Wave of Nationalism.
3-players: here it's harder to get locked out of both Iron and Coal, as there are two copies of each.
I believe that the key is reading your two opponents carefully: have you seen both of them jumping up on Iron? Great, the yellow cards will go uncontested and most likely you will get Coal, so having an Efficient Upgrade standing-by could be a good idea. On the other hand, are both opponents jumping on yellow cards? Great, then Iron/Coal will be uncontested, it could be a good idea to upgrade to either, maybe coal.
Naturally, the most difficult scenario to evaluate is when one opponent (Alice) relies on yellow cards and the other (Bob) on upgraded mines. Should you go for yellow cards, you will contest each other with Alice, while Bob will get the Efficient Upgrades; should you go for mines, you will compete with Bob, while Alice will get her resources from yellow cards uncontested. Here, I would probably look who was running away with the game and contest with them.
4-players: I don't have much experience here, but it's evident that there are not enough yellow cards for everybody. You WILL be contested for yellow cards. Thus, I feel that one of either Iron or Coal is imperative here; there are 3 Iron and 2 Coal technologies, so you can get one of those.
Regarding yellow cards, the key word here is Civil Actions. The card row moves very slowly with 4 players and you can never guarantee that a Patriotism will fall on your lap for 1 CA. You will have to draft yellow cards from the 2-CA, or even the 3-CA area. A 5th Civil Action is gold in doing that. Therefore, should you get an early 5th Civil Action, you could deviate and invest more in yellow cards.
General: Farms are so much more important than Mines. With tons of resources but no population you can do absolutely nothing except following a Wonder strategy, which is inflexible and takes a serious toll on your Civil Actions. With population and few resources you can always find something cheap to build and upgrade it later.
When Age II kicks in, you WILL run into population/food/happiness issues. That's a given. Your two Agriculture Farms will only take you that far, as you will enter the 2-food consumption now and new Workers will cost an immense 4 food.
Yellow cards on their own are not an option here. Frugality (2/2/1 in Ages A/I/II) is useless for you as you won't have enough food to increase your population in the first place. Reserves cards are not many either (2/2/3 in Ages I/II/III) and you will most likely need two of them anyway, as 3 food from Reserves II won't be likely enough to increase your population. Not to mention that you might need Reserves for rock, instead.
Therefore, there are two ways left:
- The obvious one, upgrade your Farms to Irrigation/Selective Breeding. Mechanized Agriculture just comes too late.
- Great colonization: get "Vast/Inhabited Territories I" to provide you with yellow tokens. Extra yellow tokens are gold in the game, as they alleviate the happiness issues, drop consumption and make new workers cheaper to produce. "Vast/Inhabited/Developed Territories II" are even better, but may come too late.
Extra yellow tokens mean that you can survive without Irrigation, but you have to use yellow cards probably, as you will inevitably need Selective Breeding. Nevertheless, unless you have one with Columbus in hand, you need to prepare for that and either seed Territories on your own, or hope that someone else has done so.
2-players: relying on colonization is risky here and probably a no-go. In competitive play, your opponent will probably hold on to her Vast/Inhabited territories and aim for Columbus; if she doesn't get him, she'll probably discard the territories anyway, unless she's also desperate for tokens.
Therefore, Irrigation is hugely important here, like Swordsmen. You don't want to miss out on Irrigation. There are two Irrigation technologies, but only one Selective Breeding and is very easy to get it hated. I still feel that Selective Breeding is better than Irrigation, as you don't need extra food in Age I, therefore you could just keep Irrigation in your hand and still take Selective Breeding if it shows up, or delevop it in mid Age-II.
3-players: here there are two Irrigation and two Selective Breeding technologies, thus it's really difficult to get locked out of both. I would just say grab the first one one that falls for cheap. I wouldn't pay 2 CA for Irrigation, but I would for Selective Breeding.
4-players: not much experience here, but you could gamble for a good colony here! There are more events played on average, thus you could anticipate that a good colony may be seeded by your opponents. Cartography can be useful here to give you a small Military boost, to avoid being last (death in 4-player) and a colonization edge.
Apart from that, with 2 Irrigation and 3 Selective Breeding technologies, it's quite easy to get one of them.