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Subject: Monopolizing fuel rss

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Sean Franco
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If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?
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How often do you see someone buy out all of one type of raw materials, preventing someone else from winning or just making money?
 
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Max Jamelli
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If it makes a difference in the last round for me to win, I will. Otherwise, I usually try to budget my own money. If it means buying extra will benefit me I will -- but I try not to spite other people during the mid rounds.
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Dan Huffman
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If I know that I'm not using the money for building cities (it is extra change or I'm far away from open cities and don't want to spend 50 on my next city) I will buy extra fuel for the factories I'm sure to keep.

I have lost most of my 2 player games (ok I have lost them all) because I did not plan well and was skunked on the last turn. :-/
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Michael Boggs
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sigtaulefty wrote:
If it makes a difference in the last round for me to win, I will. Otherwise, I usually try to budget my own money. If it means buying extra will benefit me I will -- but I try not to spite other people during the mid rounds.


It's also a bit more likely if I only need to buy 1 or 2 more of a fuel to keep another player from being able to use all their capacity.. but this is a situation rare to pop up pre-endgame (except for nukes... which are too $$ to buy up early on).
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Russ Williams
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I see it occasionally. But my impression is that experienced players will normally avoid putting themselves at risk of having this happen to them.

But if a lot of same-fuel plants are out, it can certainly happen.
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Dave Dyer
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The key point if you try this is that extra fuel is a non-performing
asset; it just sits there. As part of an integrated strategy, buying
extra fuel can be a hedge against future shortage, and causing a fuel
shortage for other players can definitely be part of the game.
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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russ wrote:
I see it occasionally. But my impression is that experienced players will normally avoid putting themselves at risk of having this happen to them.

But if a lot of same-fuel plants are out, it can certainly happen.


Also you don't need to empty the fuel supply, I have seen somebody buy all bar two trash resources to stop another player from being able to operate their three trash plant that turn.
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Nigel McNaughton
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I'll definitely buy an extra unit if it will bump the cost up for the next player.
 
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clovis chan
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only if demand from power plants exceed replenishment. otherwise it's hurting everyone including yourself who buys fuel (compared to the situation where everyone just buys what they need to power) and benefiting those that don't use fuel.
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This is a tactic players need to be aware of, but in practice it does not happen frequently. You might stymie one or two players but often it helps a player who does not rely on the specific fuel.

i.e. You need to be able to store a whole lot of the resource, owning big plants of the requisite type, and you need a lot of money, because in this situation you need to fund city connections. So it can work in restricted situations.

4-p games where plant cards are removed and kept secret can make it more likely - I remember a game where we pulled four oil plants and coal was hammered.
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Paul Oakes
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As several have already said, it can happen, but it's a late game effect (you need a lot of large plants and cash to store the fuel), and it doesn't happen in most games.

In order of probability by fuel type, coal is by far the most vulnerable, followed by nuclear if there are enough plants in play. Trash is a rare issue, oil very sake and wind farms even better.

The map also has a big influence - coal is guaranteed to be a problem in Brazil, early resources are difficult in India while the replenishment rates in China make resources easy from round 3.
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Andrea Bampi
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PaulinTheLion wrote:

The map also has a big influence - coal is guaranteed to be a problem in Brazil, early resources are difficult in India while the replenishment rates in China make resources easy from round 3.


I strongly agree.
On some maps, the struggle for resources is almost always hard, and there's a real chance to use the "denial" strategy. BTW, I love it, since it increases direct interaction. Won several games exploiting it (and lost some too).
...much depends on how much badass the people you play with are. My group mates are lovely bastards who would launch nuclear missiles on my plants, if the game allowed them to cool
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Luis Botero
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I've seen and tried this strategy, in some cases I played against a quarterback and his minions, I had a strong position and they all played to dry up resources until somebody got the fusion plant and won the game, I couldn't do nothing about it. When I tried to do it, I ended up losing on a deluxe version, I forgot it was for 14 points, not 17. I think is a valid strategy but you end up playing not to win but to block somebody else to, can become nasty.
 
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Andy Holt
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Also with the Fabled expansion a game that starts off with no fuel problem can suddenly change nature.
If I said any more it would be a spoiler and I'd have to kill you!
 
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Game Guy
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This is a section of a longer piece I wrote about PG strategies which defy the received wisdom. I never posted the whole thing partly because my perfectionism is such that nothing I write ever seems good enough and partly because I did not need hundreds of strangers flaming me. Also, before the flame brigade shows up, yes, I know the OP posted about buying out a fuel completely, not just buying extra. But here is the section on buying extra fuel:

Stock up on extra fuel to make it more expensive for your opponents: Much like being last in turn order, there certainly is something to this advice, but I think it is the single most over-used tactic among intermediate players. The reason is as simple and basic as arithmetic: If players buy the same type of fuel after you, you can increase the prices they pay by 1 Elektro per unit of fuel they buy if you buy three extra units of fuel. This means you raise the price to each of your opponents by 2-3 Electros by spending the full cost of three units of fuel. For example, on Turn 1 if the #8 and #10 plants are both in the game along with #s 4 and 5, the #8 player gets his Coal at 3E each. He could buy three more Coals for 4E each. If he does he will raise the #10 players cost from 8E to 10E at a cost to himself of 12E. Assuming both players bought their plants at cost, #10 will have 30E to spend on building and can comfortably build two cities. The #8 player will only have 21E (50-8-9-12=21) to spend building which means he can only build two cities if he can get into a double city (or, on some maps, a 1E connection)! This is a pretty extreme example, but it illustrates the point that buying extra fuel in front of other players is usually much more expensive for the buyer than his “victims.” Notice that the traditional buying of four Coal by the #4 plant is not really subject to this analysis because the extra fuel bought only costs 3E and cannot impinge on the player’s choice between building one or two cities.

So when to buy extra fuel?

* Whenever you start with the #4 Plant as noted. In addition to not restricting building, the extra Coal effects the price for at least two, sometimes three other players.

* When a player is about to win, or looks to be sprinting into an insurmountable lead, it is necessary to collude with other players to buy out the leader’s fuel, if possible. Just making the leader’s fuel more expensive is unlikely to help for the reasons explained above.

* When you are about to move from (near) the back of turn order to (near) the front you may want to stock up on fuel since one or more players are going to buy your type of fuel twice before you buy again, so there is an excellent chance that you will pay the same amount or more for your fuel if you wait. However, even in this situation, you have to count your money and your building costs and make sure you do not need the extra money you intend to spend on fuel to complete your build. Since the extra cost of waiting to buy fuel the following turn is usually only 1-2E per unit of fuel it is almost never worthwhile to forego even one city build in order to stock up on fuel (remember, we are already assuming your build out is going to put you at or near the top of turn order). Also, notice that when you face this scenario, it is usually because you just bought a plant and wish to build more cities to make use of your increased capacity. This means that you will be spending a lot of money this turn. Extra fuel should be your lowest priority.

* Sometimes when you need to expand, you are just short of being able to buy your ideal number of cities. In this case it may be worthwhile to buy extra fuel, but you need to actually count how much you are spending now versus what the price will be on the following turn. If you will not save money by buying more fuel now, you should only spend extra if you are absolutely certain that doing so will prevent another player from building cities he wants or will cost at least two, preferably three, players more for their fuel. Raising the price of just one other player is just a way or helping the 2-4 other players win.

* Every so often, you can buy extra Coal or Oil in order to cause a player to use the other type of fuel on a Hybrid plant. This requires a little bit of psychological strategy on your part. Some players will just automatically buy the cheaper fuel. However, some players may think buying your fuel is just so darned clever and will do so even to their own detriment. Also, if a player has identified you as the leader in the game they may buy your fuel regardless of price (and be right to do so). Again, doing this is not worth hampering your own building plans unless you are concerned about a complete buyout of both of your fuels, something I have never seen. So finally....

* When you face a potential buy-out of your fuel. When this happens it means fuel is already expensive, but you just have to suck it up and pay. Not running an end game plant because you lack fuel is never acceptable. In several hundred games, I have never seen a player come back from having an end game plant idled by lack of fuel. I have seen players leave plants idle on purpose, however.

One last note on fuel buying: Another reason I consider buying extra fuel an overrated tactic is that while stocking fuel effects the short term price, the long term price and availability is driven by how much of that fuel is actually burned. It is possible for a player to hold extra fuel all the way to the end of the game, but this is not efficient. Typically, players look to burn off their extra fuel on the last turn of the game, in which case the price/availability of that fuel converges back to the no-extra-buys price.
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