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Subject: the 4th strategy: merchant rss

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Dave J McWeasely
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There are three main strategies: Developer, Military, and Captain (aka producer, shipper).

Merchant is a variant of the Captain strategy. It relies much more heavily on building and Consume-Trade, and less heavily on Consume-x2.

I've only tried it in 1v1 games, against a military opponent, where it worked to devastating effect. With equal card luck it might always beat a military or development player in 1v1. I haven't tried it against Captain, and have no idea what will happen. Really, I've only tried it in one game, so take all these claims skeptically.

The early goal is to set up the engine. An engine is just a reliable trade good, worth $5. During the course of the game you'll build up trade bonuses to about $9. You will constantly pick Produce and Consume-Trade, until the very last turn of the game, when you pick Consume-x2 and Settler/Developer instead.

Trade bonuses are key. You want the big trade bonuses for a specific type of good, not the wimpy general +$1 bonuses from Import Duties. You want to build up a huge card drawing engine. You need to start every turn with 10 cards in hand. When your opponent picks develop or settle, you have to be ready to slap down something for a lot of victory points. It doesn't matter if it's expensive and fairly worthless (e.g. Terraformed World: $5, 5vp), you're looking for VP. Come Consume-Trade you should have 12+ cards. You feed 2 or more to Deficit Spending and/or Merchant World. You ship the rest of your production for 2-3 vp.

So every turn you're clawing up 4-5 vp due to produce&consume. You're cycling a lot of cards - more than a dedicated explore+5er, so you're doing a good job of censoring the cards the other guy needs from the deck (Developer: Gal Fed, Military: Rebels, Alien Ships, NGO, Gal. Imp.). When he builds or develops, you slap down something huge. The only way he can gain ground on you is to double settle or double develop, and even then you'll probably get one big thing and one little thing to his two big things (which he only has if lucky, right?).


Why it Wins

The poor military or development player doesn't get a VP advantage on any phase. You're seeing so many more cards. All his builds help you. The early production advantage you've built ends up souring all his role choices except Explore+5 and Consume-trade, which don't get him VP.

Key cards:

Merchant World - This world rocks: $+2 trade bonus, which you need, and IV: discards->VP, which you also need.

Trade Federation - Allows you to do Consume-x2, in other words more vp for you.

Deficit Spending - Merchant World's discard power 'on a stick'. These are must-have by the midgame, since they're the only way to score with traded cards beyond the 10th.

big, monochrome trade bonuses - Things that give trade $+3 or $+2 bonii for just one color are more cost effective than generic trade bonuses.
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Alex Rockwell
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For 3-4 player, the way to make this work I think, is to get more production than consume powers, such that you can trade 2 times per produce. If no one else is producing you can do produce/trade/trade, if they are producing you can call trade every turn!

Producing every 2 turns and only trading once every 2 turns in 3-4 player is going to help someone else more than you (the 2xVPer). Its really strong to be able to trade twice per produce phase, with trade bonuses and deficit spending and/or merchant world.

The goal as you said, is to make it hard for your opponent to do anything without benefitting you. Their develops and settles mean you get big points, since you have high income and see many cards. And produce consume gives you many cards and some vps.
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Z D
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This really makes a lot of sense. I think I actually used this strategy on accident last time I played (or a horrible hybrid of it.)

I'm totally trying this on purpose tonight.
 
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Matt Davis
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I'm sure this is a fine strategy article, but I've only played RftG once. I thumbed it just for your use of the word "bonii".
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Thomas Cauet
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For me, there are really 4 strategic ways you can follow:
- quantitative production (dev 6: galactic renaissance, merchant guild, blue and brown): produce/consume*2 early enough with enough cards to sustain developpement and settle when opponents
- qualitative production (dev 6: trade federation, green and yellow - green and yellow are both good mixed with military also): stay on consume-sell most of the game (only switch if Trade league or Merchant world with green or yellow) - either an alerady valuable ressource (green or yellow) or a less valuable you increase gradually (either with generic or specific, though for now I have difficulties to implement efficiently the green world which boosts blue, probably good for double sell)
- military (dev 6: new galactic order, imperium)
- development (dev 6: galactic federation, SETI and new economy, which is really valuable when you have lot of consume development, even more than necessary)

Sorry for not naming everything but I know the cards in French mainly.
 
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Alan
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I have an instictive, gut negative reaction to this strategy. It's a bit too dependent on your opponent(s) for my taste. You're exclusively relying on your opponent's develops and settles in order to score the majority of your points. If an opponent doesn't play develop or settle, you're S.O.L. In addition, it isn't compatible (at all) with an opponent who's in a consumex2/produce cycle (which makes me very wary of this strategy in a 2-player game).

I just don't think there's a great need to constantly be drawing cards, particularly if you've already found something good. I would much rather utilize a cohesive strategy that has some synergies.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Alan Stern wrote:
You're exclusively relying on your opponent's develops and settles in order to score the majority of your points. If an opponent doesn't play develop or settle, you're S.O.L.

The assumption of this strategy is a production advantage. If your opponent doesn't play develop or settle, they lose: the only other way to get VP is by the consume step, which you win at by the power of the assumption.

Alan Stern wrote:
In addition, it isn't compatible (at all) with an opponent who's in a consumex2/produce cycle.
Theoretically I agree with you. Last night, though, I got Merchant World and Deficit Spending, and tied my Captainy foe with 27: 8 tableau, 7 shipped, and 14 in the Chapel/MerchWorld/DefSpend! So maybe the jury is still out. But yeah, again, I theoretically agree with you pending more testing.

Quote:
I just don't think there's a great need to constantly be drawing cards, particularly if you've already found something good. I would much rather utilize a cohesive strategy that has some synergies.
The strat might not be for everyone. Instead of full out roaring economy, this one relies more on a slow, boa-constrictor envelopment of the opponent's possible moves. It is, as you say, a more reactive and defensive strategy.

And if you pick cards your opponent really needs and keep 'em till after the shuffle (Galactic Federation), then they're in trouble.
 
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Alan
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I play a number of 2-player advanced games and the most common winning strategy is consume x2/produce. Military and Development strategies have also won at times, but they tend to be more difficult to realize (since they're generally more dependent on specific cards). Since the 2-player advanced game is pretty fast and somewhat easier to end, I'm wary of any strategy that's comparatively slower than a consume x2.

It's definitely a valid strategy, but I suspect it's much stronger/more capable in a 3-4 player game rather than a 2-player advanced.
 
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I H
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I've certainly found it useful to make use of aspects of this strategy in games (mostly four player) I've played -- those key cards are a combo I find works beautifully (and Black Market World, though no Trade Federation, is also a solid card for this strategy).

In multiplayer this is really just a specialized variant of the Captain strategy and not something standalone. Instead, I've found the primary route to victory to be the ability to Trade when playing a Consume 2X action -- even with Black Market World (as opposed to the pricier yetsuperior Trade Federation), I'll be drawing seven or more cards during that action. I've found, I'll be pulling in 6+ VP from the 2X and 2-4 more from Deficit Spending/Merchant World. And, as you note, I'll be cycling through a good number of cards as well.

Perhaps in the two player game (which I've played less), there is a window of turns wherein double (or triple, with Black Market World) trading with the Consume-Trade action is a solid tactic. In my experience, however, the 2X action (with a 'free' single trade) remains the superior approach, providing more than enough cards to fuel the "Merchant" strategy.
 
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Philip Goldfarb Styrt
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I've won with what amounts to this strategy, against a consume-2x player. The key was that I had (because of card flow) enough production/consumption down to be pulling about 2VP/round [against 6 from my consume-2x opp...I know that's not a high-VP consume-2x, but I won by quite a bit], which when combined with the much higher value of my worlds (being able to play New Earth or Lost Ark World instead of Spice World etc due to card flow) allowed me to pull out the victory. But if I hadn't had that additional produce/consume (plus the Consume-2x on the last turn) I'm not sure if it would have worked.

Interesting idea.
 
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