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Subject: Session Report rss

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Eric Brosius
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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ST. PETERSBURG
(Anton, Dan, Eric, Mike)

Mike and Evan arrived at MVGA, bringing our count up to 8, so we split into two groups of 4 to play two games from Walt's new Adam Spielt order. Eric, who has been taking every opportunity to play St. Petersburg, cheerfully volunteered to teach it to three new players. As we play this game, we're starting to develop a feeling about which courses of action are most likely to succeed, so Eric explained the rules and added several bits of advice:

(1) Build up an income base early in the game. In particular, take two green cards in the first phase.

(2) Don't load your hand up with expensive cards you can't afford to build. Leave some room to give yourself flexibility.

Mike had first crack at the green cards and started off with a cheap woodcutter. The numbers were well distributed, so no one got a discount in this phase for having two of a single card. Anton then started off the blue card phase by taking an Observatory. The Observatory is an expensive source of 1 VP per turn, but its special power allows you to draw a card from a stack of your choice. You may then either play the card, put it in your hand for later, or discard it. Anton used this card to good effect to draw extra green cards, gaining an income advantage over the other players, but he forgot to use it several times, much to his disgust.

Anton also started a Tollhouse collection; he finished the game with four Tollhouses, which is an advantage because you get a discount of 1 for each card you have already built that matches one you are building. Mike paid 11 for a Firehouse on the first turn; this paid him 3 VP each turn for the rest of the game, but it left him cash poor and hindered his progress in other areas.

Eric saved his money, buying no buildings on the first turn because he had first shot at the nobles, and indeed he was able to build a Controller with his first action. Dan had first shot at the Exchange cards (we call them "Upgrade" cards to help us remember their function) and used one to upgrade his Shipbuilder, gaining extra income. Thus, the first turn set the theme for the game, with Mike gaining from blue cards, Anton and Dan leading in income, and Eric pushing for the most orange nobles with the attendant endgame bonus.

Mike clawed his way back, buying a stash of Markets for prices that kept getting cheaper as the bonus mounted. Anton used his high income and his Observatory to get into the noble game, and he finished with seven different nobles, second to Eric's nine. Dan used his substantial income to buy buildings, gaining many VP at the end, but he had only three nobles. Mike finished with six nobles, including a number of cheap upgrades, but his early poverty left him with too much of a gap to make up. Dan and Eric bought Shops, allowing them to buy VP cheaply. Dan bought about 10 VP while Eric with his lower income bought 6 VP. The Shop is useful only near the end of the game, but for its price of 1 you can turn 10 in cash into 5 VP instead of 1 VP each turn; even if you use it only once it seems worth the cost.

Final scores: Eric 96, Anton 73, Dan 66, Mike 61.

Eric's rating: 9. It seems clear that the orange-card strategy in St. Petersburg is like the elephant strategy in Taj Mahal; if one player is left alone to pursue it, the other players will have a hard time keeping up. Games with new players will be less lopsided if you point this out. On the other hand, if several players are all trying for nobles, they will take opportunities away from each other. The competition for orange cards should then allow strategies that involve blue cards to succeed.
 
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Geo
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Re:Session Report
Eric Brosius wrote:
The competition for orange cards should then allow strategies that involve blue cards to succeed.



That's what happened in our last game. I concentrated on Aristocrat cards to get the most different types at game end and ignored the Buildings for almost half of the game.

I had a better income compared to my opponent (who was ahead in Buildings) but i still lost by a few VPs.

This game requires a fine balance and that's what we like!
 
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Alan Kwan
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Aristocrats vs. Buildings
I have yet to play the game, but it seems to me that, the best timing to go (seriously) for buildings seem to be the mid-game.

In the early game, the money income from aristocrats may be worth more than the buildings.

In the late game, the VP bonus from Aristocrats may be worth more than the buildings.

So it seems to me that, during some periods in the mid-game, the buildings would yield more points than both the endgame bonus of aristocrats, and the points that the money income from aristocrats can buy for you in the future.

Am I right?
 
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Geo
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Re:Aristocrats vs. Buildings
Alan Kwan (#37942),

Buildings on the other hand offer valuable VP's, so you can't ignore them. If you buy a 2 VP building on second turn for example, it will give you 18 Vps in nine turns...

The best approach is a balanced game where you build your income base while you also invest on buildings and aristocrats at the same time.

You should keep a careful eye on your opponents, don't let them move far ahead in VPs or income, and try to buy cheap.
 
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Doug Adams
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Re:Aristocrats vs. Buildings
GeoMan (#38038),

I tried a building only strategy just to see what would happen. I picked up a quick set of 3 aristocrats on the last turn of the game for 6 points. I won by four points. A valuable early building is very nice to have.
 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:Aristocrats vs. Buildings
dougadamsau (#38143),

The rules say a game is 7 to 10 turns (we haven't counted to verify this.) One strategy would be to buy the Academy on the first turn (using $23 of your initial $25) and then sit for the rest of the game. This would be boring, but would it win?

You get 7 VP each turn for the Academy, so you'd get 49 to 70 VP with this strategy. My experience is that a game takes 80 to 120 VP to win, so the simple Academy strategy loses, but not horribly. This suggests that if you build up cash for a little while buying green cards, then switch to buying buildings, you should do reasonably well (though I haven't seen the strategy in action yet.)

Eric
 
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Eric Brosius
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Re:Aristocrats vs. Buildings
We're now seeing 4-player games finish in 5 or 6 turns. The game typically ends with the green, blue and orange decks all gone or nearly gone, and with cards left in the upgrade deck.

We seem to have gotten past the "aristocrats are everything" phase. The Saint Petersburg guru in our group, Evan, has been buying large buildings off the discount rack early in the game. He makes sure he has enough income that he can afford the purchase without hurting his ability to buy green cards in the first few turns.
 
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