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Hansa Teutonica» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Easy to learn, Hard to Master: Tactics and Strategies to keep in mind rss

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clovis chan
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Hansa Teutonica (4-5p) is my most favourite game. One of my friends have likened it to multi-player chess: the game has rather simple rules and even though the setup is always the same (bar bonus markers), there are many possible ways the game can start and end. I have played dozens of base game and have seen an evolution of what I think are the “strongest strategies”, from the beginner’s 5-action strategy to ‘farm the plates’ and to ‘build a connected network’.

I’ll elaborate later but let me start with 3 overarching principles which I think most experienced players will not refute:

1. In the early game, get whatever unlock you can get cheaply, be it Action, Bag, Book, Key, Privilege.

- The 1st of everything is useful (except Key early game).
2. In the middle game, work towards end-game trigger(s) (Bonus Markers/Score track/Full Cities), taking into consideration your opponents’ personalities.
- So you can end the game when you think you are in the lead. The mid-game is very tactical. Block players who show that they are likely to kick you. They give you extra ‘actions’ for free. Try hard not to block players who are stingy with kicks. You will waste actions moving them away later. Follow through on what you think is the best long-term strategy based on the situation, but remain flexible.
3. In the end game, gain awareness of the clock (when the game will end) and either squeeze points in before game ends or block the leader.

To me, the game is 10% luck 65% tactic 25% strategy.
Luck refers to Bonus Markers. A +4 actions marker or +skill marker at the opportune time can tip the scale either to your opponents or you.
Tactic refers to on-ground situations that plays a big part in what you should do. If your opponent gives you an unblocked bonus marker, take it (if your downstream player can’t immediately play it). Evaluate whether unlocking a skill, while allowing other players to do is good for you in the long run. Make sure to not run into the situation not to have all your cubes on the board.
Strategy refers to how you see yourself earning points in the long run.

Strategies
While tactic is 65%, without a long term aim, you will not get anywhere in Hansa. This game is unforgiving towards a player that does not work toward particular stratgies. https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/552102/summary-strategies covers it pretty well. I think all of them are good strategies except:

Filling up Coellen is a bad strategy. A Coellen strategy means being passive and not having control over how you end the game. Not to mention, the route requires 4 pieces, so unless you have high actions in addition to high privilege and book, you are unlikely to succeed in monopolising Coellen. The strategy just requires too many investments to be worth it.

Full skill tracks is really really slow. All other strategies are faster and lead you to victory faster.

Also remember that strategies can be combined. For example, you can take a Skills city and use that as your base to build a network. You can farm a route where you control two adjacent cities while clearing plates. The tradeoff between "mixed" strategies and "pure strategies" are between speed and ease at which others can block you.

Tactics
These form the bread and butter of how you would evaluate what to do

1. go for whatever skill unlock is cheap, especially the 1st unlock
2. do not allow other players, especially the player going immediately after you (‘downstream’) to benefit too much

- (a) try not to kick your downstream - after you claim your routes and bonus markers, your downstream has free reign to teleport his pieces to favourable spots. Kicking your upstream is safer as the players before him can block favourable spots.
- (b) try to guard favourable spots from your downstream, such as an Action route very early in the game
- (c) be patient with claiming a route. If a route is crucial, you can try to set up such that you have a spare action to teleport your pieces in (which also requires you to put pieces on the board the previous turn) to that crucial route.

3. but take calculated risks and do not block ppl at all cost - otherwise you will find yourself with too many pieces on the board, where you will give opponent ‘free kicks’. Remember that you eventually have to claim some routes to get pieces to your reserve.
4. for crucial routes which you are absolutely certain you would get kicked (in the next 1-3 rounds), block with a merchant; otherwise use a trader. A merchant that is not kicked is just a piece on the board, while a trader that is kicked benefits you (extra action) and the person who kicked you. Blocking with a merchant is also reasonable when it is used on the player with the lead, as it slows him down (even if you are not kicked) and gives you time to catch up.
5. Generally, when you claim a plate, you want to put it adjacent to a city you control. The exceptions are when your opponents have pieces on the board and you will lose control of the city. Or when game will end on plates soon and you are not in the lead.

So that's it. If you have any things you want to be covered do leave your comments below, as there's really too much knowledge about Hansa to be written down.
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clovis chan
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Below is a list of things which may be helpful, but not necessary to be at least competent in the game.

Optional: Base Map analysis

The base map has skill unlocks located at the top and bottom. This means getting kicked from a route has tendency to not hurt much as you can usually migrate to another route with skill unlocks. Depending on the profile of players, this can lead to two scenarios:
(A) If your opponents are focused on doing your own things, the game becomes a scenario of putting your own pieces, claiming routes and then building your engine. In this scenario, Action tends to be strong while Book tends to be weak.

(2) If your opponents are "block-happy”, your opponents will make sure skill actions routes are not empty before they kick your pieces. This scenario may change when someone decides to do his own things. The board becomes empty, and the scenario may change to (A), or people stay in scenario (B) status quo. In this scenario, Book and Bag tend to be strong. I am ambivalent about high Actions as on one hand, Book and Actions are to some extent substitutes, while high Actions also increase your options, as your opponents can’t possibly block everything.

Ps: these scenarios will change in the East expansion map. The skills are spread over different areas, which would impact the strategy of occupying cities with skill unlocks (more below).

Optional: Possible networks

1) left side (from Duisberg all the way up to Groningen-Emden-Stade)

advantage: Once occupied the 1st slot, the red border city Arnheim is pseudo-secured since no one has incentives to put a merchant in. After occupying the 1st two white and orange slots in the bonus marker city Osna, a Kampen-Osna or Osna-Breman spot where you can "farm" (claim the route for 2 points) is secure. The left provides flexibility to extend downwards (to Duiberg which has a 2-piece route) or upwards (Bag and Privilege are good skills).

disadvantage: If someone has occupied the 1st slot in Arnheim or Osna, it is very costly to enter and provides no room for expansion. Before putting the 2nd slot in the bonus marker city Osna, someone can easily usurp control if they have orange privilege. Placing the bonus marker back at the starting position may allow someone to steal the spot.

2) “true black" (the cities near the bonus marker spot)

advantage: Much room for expansion into the middle. The second slot in the cities are black, which means they are pseudo-secured once occupied.

disadvantage: If someone else takes the middle of the cities, it would be very hard to establish a farm spot (though you could then choose to go into the middle). If someone takes the left city, you will be forced to surrender a merchant to go either for the top right route (but that is subject to taking the right border city) or the deep bottom right route (which sucks because there’s 2 routes of size 4). If someone has black privilege, the spots will be under threat. Also, you have to self-farm, as your cities are not near any skills.

3) right side (bag and privilege city until border city)

advantage: The 2nd slot in bonus marker city requires pink privilege, which makes it safe in early game to put the bonus marker back there. Placing a merchant in the orange one allows access to the middle, as well as the two cities that unlocks privilege and bag. No harm occupying cities that lead to Privilege and Bag too, as it can generate passive points for you.

disadvantage: If someone has occupied the 1st slot in border city, there is less room for expansion. Someone with pink privilege can overtake.

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Spieler Gott
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I don't understand your "nerd"-language.
What do you mean with "downstream", "upstream", "border cities"?
Your whole tips are hard to understand, at least for me.
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clovis chan
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kackarschen wrote:
I don't understand your "nerd"-language.
What do you mean with "downstream", "upstream", "border cities"?
Your whole tips are hard to understand, at least for me.

Hi kackarschen, thanks for your feedback.

'Downstream' is short form for 'Player immediately going after you', likewise 'Upstream' is 'Player immediately going before you'.

The reason for not kicking your downstream (which newer players might not be conscious of, or what more experienced players are doing subconsciously) is because
(1) you usually kick and then immediately claim a route
(2) this leaves the route empty, and the route is usually useful otherwise you wouldn't have chosen to kick
(3) which gives the player after you access to a useful route at low cost (with 1 teleport, they can fill at least half of that route)

The reason for blocking the player immediately going before you is the same reason, except you are the recipient of the benefit.

I had thought of putting in more explanations for my tips (like what I wrote above). But the cost of doing so is making it lengthy. I'm not familiar with formatting to know if there is any 'hide text' function in BGG.

In your opinion, is the 1st post at least a 4 out of 5 when it comes to clarity? I know my 2nd post is sort of speaking in my own language. I'll see if it is clearer when I actually put in the city names. The main bulk of useful tips are actually in the 1st post. The 2nd post is quite optional and only useful to nerds who want to analyse the map. But I'll try to make it less in an alien language. (Does the edits to Post #2's "Left Side" make it more readable?)
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Spieler Gott
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Hi clovis,

thanks for clarification. I do understand your "upstream", "downstream" terms.
For your first post I have to concentrate and look through it again. In the moment it's too much work to get your analyses.
 
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