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Subject: 'Master Solvers' 2 player #2 rss

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Alex Rockwell
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I'm totally copying this idea from Brian, cause its awesome.
But mine will be for 2 player games instead of multiplayer.


They are hands from real games, that I felt were interesting and could lead to good strategy discussion.

Choose which 4 of the 6 cards to keep, and then which TWO roles to choose (since its 2 player:

*************
You are Earth's Lost Colony, opponent is New Sparta

Public Works
Space Marines
Research Labs
Consumer Markets
Avian Uplift Race
Rebel Base
 
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Mark Delano
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Discard Research Labs and Rebel Base, play Develop, Produce.

Most likely first actions for New Sparta is Settle, Consume/Trade. This lets you play Space Marines, Avian Uplift, consume for a VP, produce on Avian Uplift and ELC on the first turn. If there isn't a Settle T1 play Public Works, planning on a T2 Develop, Consume/Trade.
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Jerry Hagen
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After discarding Rebel Base and Research Labs, I'd go Develop/Trade here, hoping to leech off the expected Spartan Settle to play Avian Uplift and keep pace in card flow. The goal here would be developing Consumer Markets on T2 before our first produce, and in the best case we even have New Survivalists or Artist Colony to play if Sparta settles again on T2 -- we have enough cards (4 - 2 on develop - 1 on settle + 4 on trade) to hold back New Survivalists and play on settle, and we can get Artist Colony down if Sparta's explored on either T1 or T2.

Explore/Develop is the only realistic opponent role choice that doesn't include Settle, and I think from the Spartan POV that's an inferior opening line to leveraging the 2 military on T1 (with the possible exception of the other Space Marines in the Spartan opening hand), so I'm almost happy to "fail" on my Trade if Sparta doesn't Settle.

(Edited to remove gendered pronouns. Yeah, I actually care about those.)
 
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Joe Huber

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frunkee wrote:
Discard Research Labs and Rebel Base, play Develop, Produce.

Most likely first actions for New Sparta is Settle, Consume/Trade. This lets you play Space Marines, Avian Uplift, consume for a VP, produce on Avian Uplift and ELC on the first turn. If there isn't a Settle T1 play Public Works, planning on a T2 Develop, Consume/Trade.


Seconded.
 
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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I discard Research Labs and Rebel Base and choose Develop, Produce. If I'm feeling adventurous I'll keep Research Labs and develop that instead, but that's a low-probability play.

Research Labs is kinda amusing because it really makes it hard for my opponent to choose Explore, but not amusing enough to be the percentage play. It doesn't synergize that well with the other cards (I already have enough Consume opportunities).

Rebel Base requires too much work. Even with Space Marines, I'm going to have to spend around 8 more cards+tempo just to get the military, and that's assuming I can find it.

Okay, role choices. New Sparta's real leech is on Explore; they can Settle about a dozen more cards than I can, meaning that I'd prefer to avoid it if I don't need the cash, and I seem to have some pretty good options in that department.

A scenario that is actually quite plausible, in fact, is New Sparta choosing Settle + Consume:Trade. If that happens, then I'll put out Space Marines (paying Public Works) and Avian Uplift Race, my Genes good goes away for a point, but guess what, it comes right back that turn because I chose Produce! If New Sparta doesn't choose Consume (but does choose Settle), I'm only one less point off -- but the only way it would be worse is if New Sparta put out a useful production world to leech of of me. (For example, if New Sparta chose Explore +1, +1 and Settle, and put out Lost Species Ark World, I'll be very impressed... we're dealing with a master opponent here!)

if New Sparta doesn't choose Settle at all, then I just temporize with Public Works. After all, I can always bring out Space Marines next turn, and Public Works means that I can get some card churn, important since I'm trying to avoid Explore.
 
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Jay Borden
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I’d discard Rebel Base and Research Labs and choose Develop/ Produce.

If my opponent Settles, I drop Space Marines and Avian Uplift Race turn 1. If my opponent doesn’t settle, I play Public Works and pick Develop and Trade/Consume round 2 hoping to drop Space Marines and Avian Uplift Race again.

This is a great starting hand either way...my opponent unknowingly needs to avoid the phase with his biggest advantage for 2 rounds or also come up with an impressive start just to keep up.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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I agree with the above posters with regard to discards. I disagree with their choice of actions.

The Develop/Produce is a bit risky. An opening Produce from ELC in two player games is not unexpected and a good NS player may be able to leverage this.

For example, if New Sparta has both a windfall and a production world, then NS can do Explore/Settle or Develop/Settle, placing either the windfall or production world depending on ELC's action. Combinations like New Military Tactics (or the other Space Marines) & Malevolent World, Expeditionary Force & Rebel Underground, Terraforming Robots & Rebel Miners, the Lost Species Ark, etc. are all ugly; NS is both setting up a solid production leech and is often building some useful infrastructure as well. What did you get from this, 1 extra VP (2 if there was a Settle-Trade) at the start of the game? I'm not convinced this is a good trade-off.

(And, if you're convinced NS is going to Settle, then why aren't you calling Develop-Trade on turn 1 so you get your cards right away? Cards are more important than VPs at this stage of the game.)

Look at another case, where New Sparta either doesn't have a low military windfall or has a really nice windfall (say, the Alien 4 or 5, or the Rebel Warrior Race) that requires more than 2 Military. In that case, New Sparta is likely to call Explore/Explore or Explore/Develop on turn 1 (the latter if New Sparta either has the needed Military Development in hand or a good alternative -- such as Interstellar Bank or Investment Credits -- if the Explore doesn't find one). On turn 2, New Sparta will either keep looking (probably with Explore/Develop) or call Settle/Trade, depending on what NS found.

What does your Produce call net you in this scenario? 1 VP? A sale for two cards (and a second action) on turn 2? Eh. Nor am I convinced that putting down Public Works is the correct response if NS is exploring and not calling Settle. You would then need to put down both Space Marines and the Uplift world, *and* call Trade on turn 2 and you need to make this decision *before* you know whether NS found what he or she was looking for. Calling Develop-Trade on turn 2 (as one poster suggests) and counting on NS to Settle on turn 2, puts off your cards until turn 3 if NS is still exploring/developing on turn 2. When there is no turn 1 Settle, I still think you're better off putting down Space Marines and then calling Settle-Trade yourself on turn 2.

So, if I'm putting down Space Marines on turn 1, what card am I spending to do so? Both Public Works and Consumer Markets are nice cards if I head into Produce/Consume mode. PW's consume power lets me add a nice Rare production world (like Mining World or Comet Zone) into my mix and gives me some card flow on Develops, while Consumer Markets lets me leverage any Novelty production worlds I find. Calling Explore +1 gives me a card to spend instead of either of these cards, plus a chance to find a useful long term card to keep. This suggests Explore +1/Develop on turn 1.

What if NS does, in fact, call Settle/Trade? If your Explore found a Military 1 or 2 world (or Pilgrimage World), put it down for the VPs. Otherwise, just pass on the turn 1 Settle. Calling Explore/Develop on turn 1 and Settle/Trade on turn 2 (instead of Develop/Produce on turn 1 and ???/Trade on turn 2) means you effectively traded 2 VPs and a turn 2 action for a net of 3 extra cards, where one of them is the Public Works or Consumer Markets that you would have had to spend on turn 1. I think that's a fine trade-off at this stage of the game, especially since this is the worst case. When NS does something else (such as a turn 1 Explore/Explore, Explore/Develop, or Develop/Settle), you're better off.

As ELC, I'm much more likely to call Produce when I don't have to rely on a turn 1 Settle but instead can get a decent sale (3+ cards) if the action I need happens on *either* turn 1 or 2. So, I will call Produce on turn 1 as ELC if I'm holding either Export Duties or Spice World. I'll think about it when I'm holding New Vinland or Secluded World as this can lead to good leech moves where I don't have to call Trade on turn 2 and can sometimes leverage an extra card or VP from my Produce if a turn 1 Settle does, in fact, occur.

I generally agree with Wei-Hwa about not calling Explores when facing NS in 2-player games, but I think the exception is on turn 1, when NS often calls Explore (as you then aren't giving anything away).

Finally, Develop/Trade is also pretty good. If there's no Settle from NS, then there's probably an Explore, so you don't have to spend Public Works or Consumer Markets to put down Space Marines. If New Sparta does call Settle/Trade, then you also get cards right away and can keep pace with New Sparta.

So, instead of calling Develop/Produce, I'm 70% Explore+1/Develop and 30% Develop/Trade as ELC facing NS with this opening hand.
 
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
The Develop/Produce is a bit risky. An opening Produce from ELC in two player games is not unexpected and a good NS player may be able to leverage this.


I disagree with an opening Produce from ELC not being unexpected. Although I chose Produce in this case, most of the time I won't be choosing Produce with ELC.

And there's a amount of contradictory second-guessing in your logic here -- "I'm not going to choose Produce because I'm likely to choose Produce"? I don't buy it.

Quote:
For example, if New Sparta has both a windfall and a production world, then NS can do Explore/Settle or Develop/Settle, placing either the windfall or production world depending on ELC's action.


The chance that New Sparta has both a windfall world and a production world isn't that high -- about 42%. Furthermore, that's counting a lot of windfall and production worlds that I would be reluctant to Settle as New Sparta on turn 1, let alone keep in my hand (Prosperous World, Refugee World, Artist Colony, Deserted Alien Colony, Empath World, Secluded World). Remove those from consideration and the probability drops to 32%. And even then, it's not clear if the leech play makes sense. Let's say as New Sparta, I have:

New Earth
Alien Robot Sentry
Expedition Force
Export Duties

I choose Explore/Settle, my opponent ELC chooses Develop/Produce. Am I going to "take advantage of the Produce" by passing on Develop and Settling New Earth, leaving me with a hand of 0? I don't think so.

Quote:
Combinations like New Military Tactics (or the other Space Marines) & Malevolent World, Expeditionary Force & Rebel Underground, Terraforming Robots & Rebel Miners, the Lost Species Ark, etc. are all ugly; NS is both setting up a solid production leech and is often building some useful infrastructure as well. What did you get from this, 1 extra VP (2 if there was a Settle-Trade) at the start of the game? I'm not convinced this is a good trade-off.


Okay, let's take one of your examples. Say New Sparta chooses Explore/Settle, and puts out Lost Species Ark World. Then, at the beginning of turn 2:

ELC has:
3 cards in tableau:
Earth's Lost Colony, Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race
4 VPs in tableau
2 goods (1 Genes and 1 Novelty)
1 normal consumption power
2 Military
2 cards (Public Works and Consumer Markets)

NS has:
2 cards in tableau:
New Sparta, Lost Species Ark World
4 VPs in tableau
1 good (1 Genes)
no consumption power
2 Military
2 cards (randomly drawn with no selection)

Overall, I'd rather be in ELC's position here.

Quote:
(And, if you're convinced NS is going to Settle, then why aren't you calling Develop-Trade on turn 1 so you get your cards right away? Cards are more important than VPs at this stage of the game.)


I'm not convinced that NS is going to Settle. In fact, if NS doesn't choose Settle, then the Produce is even less useful to them.

The reason I don't call Develop/Trade on turn 1, is because I think it's pretty likely that NS will choose Explore/Explore. At which point, Develop/Produce is better than Develop/Trade -- as you say, cards are more important than VPs, and the Produce gives a good that can become cards or VPs, whereas the Trade gets bupkis.

Quote:
Look at another case, where New Sparta either doesn't have a low military windfall or has a really nice windfall (say, the Alien 4 or 5, or the Rebel Warrior Race) that requires more than 2 Military. In that case, New Sparta is likely to call Explore/Explore or Explore/Develop on turn 1 (the latter if New Sparta either has the needed Military Development in hand or a good alternative -- such as Interstellar Bank or Investment Credits -- if the Explore doesn't find one). On turn 2, New Sparta will either keep looking (probably with Explore/Develop) or call Settle/Trade, depending on what NS found.

What does your Produce call net you in this scenario? 1 VP? A sale for two cards (and a second action) on turn 2? Eh.


Okay, I'll look at this scenario.

ELC has three strategies:
(Strategy A) Develop/Produce, followed by Develop/Trade.
(Strategy B1) Explore/Develop, followed by Explore/Develop.
(Strategy B2) Explore/Develop, followed by Develop/Trade.
(Strategy B3) Explore/Develop, followed by Settle/Trade, with no intention of playing Public Works on turn 1.

Scenario 1: NS chooses Explore/Explore, followed by Explore/Develop.

Strategy A gets down Public Works, Space Marines, and has six cards in hand.
Strategy B1 gets down Public Works, Space Marines, and has six cards in hand.
Strategy B2 gets down Public Works, Space Marines, and has five cards in hand.
Strategy B3 gets down Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and has eight cards in hand (but also gives NS a Settle opportunity).

Scenario 2: NS chooses Explore/Explore, followed by Settle/Trade.

Strategy A gets down Public Works, Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and has six cards in hand plus 1 VP chip.
Strategy B1 gets down Public Works, Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and has five cards in hand plus 1 VP chip.
Strategy B2 gets down Public Works, Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and has eight cards in hand (but no VP chips).
Strategy B3 gets down Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and has eight cards in hand (but no VP chips).

B2 loses in Scenario 1 but does best in Scenario 2. B1 is viable in Scenario 1 but loses in Scenario 2. B3 does well in Scenario 1 (but is a bit hard to compare because of NS's extra Settle opportunity) but is average in Scenario 2 (I'd rather have the Public Works down + a chip than 2 extra cards in hand, but both are about equal). Overall I still prefer Strategy A; it has the least variance and does reasonably well in both scenarios.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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I'm not convinced by your examples, Wei-Hwa.

First, I do see first turn Produces from ELC and do give it *some* consideration when picking my first four cards when I am an ELC opponent. For example, in your New Earth scenario (NS: E+1/S; ELC: D/P), replace the Export Duties with a Colony Ship, and of course NS will place New Earth. On turn 2, NS then calls Settle/Trade, puts down the Alien Robot Sentry and ends with 1 VP and 7 cards. Yum!

Under this scenario, ELC (with 2 cards in hand at the end of turn 1) presumably took advantage of NS's Explore to keep Public Works and is going to Develop/Trade on turn 2. NS will then place the Expeditionary Force, paying for it with their Settle bonus from turn 1, while ELC (now with just Consumer Markets in hand) will have to pass the turn 2 Settle. Both players will end turn 2 with four cards in tableau, a production world, a windfall world, and 1 VP, but NS will have +3 Military to ELC's +2, a better consumption power, 7 cards to ELC's 5 cards, and 7 tableau VPs to ELC's 5 VPs, while ELC has Public Works and can consume two goods. They're both very nice positions, but I would give NS the edge.

What's happened? Just as the NS Lost Species Ark line worked well, but ended up looking a bit weak after it ran into an ELC two card combo (Space Marines and an Uplift world) and action choices that leveraged NS's Settle tendency, here ELC has run into a two card combo (Colony Ship and New Earth) and action choices that leveraged ELC's Produce tendency.

Far from being "contradictory second-guessing", I think that considering alternatives to stereotyped action choices is good play. If I have a line that is either almost as good or very flexible and which doesn't involve my expected tendency, often that's worth taking as my opponent will be less likely to be able to leverage off my play.

But, that doesn't mean that I'm not willing to play my expected action. In the original New Earth example (with Export Duties and no Colony Ship), clearly NS should just call Settle-Trade, spend New Earth to put down Export Duties, and end turn 1 with 7 new cards plus Expedition Force. Here the payoff is so high, that one just plays the expected move. But give NS a Colony Ship in place of the Export Duties and I think Explore+1/Settle is a better move, especially when facing ELC.

Second, I disagree with your scenario analysis. In Scenario 1, strategy B3 (my preferred 70% strategy) gets down Public Works on NS's turn 2 develop. Part of why I called Explore on turn 1 (as I noted) was to preserve Public Works. So, I'm ending turn 2 with 6 cards, the same developments, and the Uplift world already placed. On turn 3, while strategy A is still settling and trading, I'm placing Consumer Markets and calling Produce (ending at 3 cards in hand). I think B3 is far better than A (in scenario 1; in scenario 2, I agree: they're about equal). (And, if along the way in scenario 1:B3, I picked up one of Artist Colony, Secluded World, New Survivalists, or Rebel Miners and New Sparta settles on turn 3, NS is in *big* trouble.)
 
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B C Z
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If we all played the game the same way... there wouldn't be a point.

All of this discussion leads me to wonder if you two have given any thought to how to code artifical intelligence for the game, assuming a computer based version that doesn't require human opponents is in the works.

We can only hope.

Awesome discussion!
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Yes, Wei-Hwa has given some thought to an AI for RFTG. He has written an RFTG simulator which helped us analyze and develop the solitaire version in the first expansion.

I will certainly agree that we're obsessing a bit in our discussion here, but that's sort of the point of a "Master Solver" problem, isn't it? ;-)

But, let me try to abstract away from this particular situation and talk about general 2-player tactics a bit.

In the experienced 2-player game, each player gets to choose two actions in a turn. However, as in many Euros, players often want *three* things to happen in a round. There are three basic approaches to handling this:

1) Direct approach. Do these three actions (and something else) over two rounds.

2) Gamble. Try to do all three actions in one round, counting on your opponent to help you out. If you guess right, you're essentially up an action (and often gain in game tempo as well). If you're wrong, you've lost an action (and will often fall behind in game tempo).

3) Flexible/finesse approach. Pick useful actions, trying to position yourself to gain from your opponent's actions as well, but not depending on them.

If we consider these approaches over two rounds, #1 yields 4 actions; #2 yields 3 or 5 actions; and #3 typically yields 3.5-5 actions, and often averages 4.5 actions, if you are reasonably good at predicting your opponent. Sometimes, of course, the finesse approach backfires slightly, which is why it only yields 3.5 actions at the low end.

As players get used to the game, they will find that the finesse approach generally works best (learning when and how to do it well is a skill that one gradually picks up). The finesse approach is particularly valuable when you are slightly behind, as you can often catch up a bit on your opponent.

In this particular example, the three actions that ELC wants to happen are: Develop (Space Marines), Settle (Uplift world), and Trade (get 4 cards from the Genes good). I'm arguing for the direct approach (70%) and Wei-Hwa (and others) are arguing for the flexible/finesse approach, where they are letting NS call Settle, planning to leverage this but not, as in the gambling approach, counting on it.

And, the finesse approach works pretty well. If you don't call Explore, you gain a card if NS calls Explore. If you end up putting down Public Works before the Space Marines, you'll gain a card there. If NS doesn't call Settle, then -- oh well -- you just pick up two cards on your turn 2 Trade, but if NS does call Settle, then you get an extra two cards and 1 or 2 extra VPs (that's the high end 4.5-5 "worth" of actions). Since NS tends to call Explores and Settles, you're good odds to gain some, but if NS doesn't then your Trade is a bit below par (that's the low end 3.5-4 "worth" of actions). Wei-Hwa is essentially arguing that the low end is acceptable (more 4 than 3.5) in almost all cases and pretty darn good (more 5 than 4) in many cases.

In this case, I think ELC has a strong opening hand and that a finesse approach is not needed and, because ELC has an overall tendency to call Produce, slightly risky. Since neither Produce nor putting down Public Works is one of the three actions that ELC wants to happen, why mess around? Get on with it. Speed often matters in 2-player games.

In actuality, I think both approaches will probably work just fine, which is why we're obsessively arguing over minor nuances... ;-)

I'm also arguing 30% for the gambling approach. Many players won't do this, preferring finesse to gambling unless they are far behind. My own attitude on this is slowly changing. I think if you're going to gamble, it is often better to do so earlier than when you are behind, as your opponent is less likely to play defensively. (The first turn may be an exception to this, particularly if your group often gambles on turn 1 Settles to set up Trades.) Here, I think the downside isn't too bad, as you sort of have a spare action among your first four actions, and the upside is quite nice. Your mileage may vary.

I'm not advocating this sort of exhaustive (and exhausting) analysis on every turn, particularly for new players. But, one of the nice things about Race is that it is so short that many games can be played so that players begin to get an intuitive "feel" for these sorts of trade-offs and, thus, can often make very quick, but fairly deep decisions. It's just the explicating of all these trade-offs which becomes hard! ;-)
 
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
For example, in your New Earth scenario (NS: E+1/S; ELC: D/P), replace the Export Duties with a Colony Ship, and of course NS will place New Earth. On turn 2, NS then calls Settle/Trade, puts down the Alien Robot Sentry and ends with 1 VP and 7 cards. Yum!


You missed the point of my example. The point of my example is to counter your claim that if NS has a production and a windfall, choosing Explore/Settle (or Develop/Settle) is viable -- which is part of your general argument that a good NS can leverage a Produce from ELC.

In other words, using the hand that I provided, can you leverage a Produce from ELC? I don't think you can. Saying that you can if Export Duties becomes a Colony Ship is irrelevant -- I've already conceded that there do exist hands where NS can do well against a Produce. I just don't believe they're common -- at most 30%.

I believe that the chances of a Produce coming from ELC, and NS having a hand that can leverage it, are both low enough that usually there's little risk in ELC choosing Produce.

Now, for a start world that is really biased towards Produce (such a certain you-know-who in the expansion) things are different. If I were NS versus them, I'd definitely be trying to leverage Produce.

Quote:
Far from being "contradictory second-guessing", I think that considering alternatives to stereotyped action choices is good play.


I agree with you on this statement. I think we disagree on what the stereotyped action choice is for ELC. I think the stereotyped action choice for ELC is Explore/Develop, actually; it's certainly what I do most often.

Quote:
If I have a line that is either almost as good or very flexible and which doesn't involve my expected tendency, often that's worth taking as my opponent will be less likely to be able to leverage off my play.


Yup, that's why I choose Develop/Produce. It's almost as good and more flexible than my expected tendency, which is Explore/Develop.

Quote:
Second, I disagree with your scenario analysis. In Scenario 1, strategy B3 (my preferred 70% strategy) gets down Public Works on NS's turn 2 develop. Part of why I called Explore on turn 1 (as I noted) was to preserve Public Works. So, I'm ending turn 2 with 6 cards, the same developments, and the Uplift world already placed. On turn 3, while strategy A is still settling and trading, I'm placing Consumer Markets and calling Produce (ending at 3 cards in hand).


Even granting that you have Public Works down, you're ignoring the fact that your opponent has also had one extra Settle opportunity. So you might be ahead of the ELC in strategy A, but it's unclear if you're actually ahead of your opponent -- heck, NS might have Lost Species Ark World down, which he certainly doesn't have down if I'm playing strategy A.

Let's say, for example, that in Scenario 1, Strategy A, both players choose Settle/Trade on turn 3, which is not unreasonable as there hasn't been a Settle yet and both players are itching to get something out. Then ELC ends up with: Public Works, Space Marines, Avian Uplift Race, and ten cards in hand. I think it's reasonable to argue that this is the actual position to be comparing with Scenario 1, Strategy B3, turn 2 -- each player has had two Develop opportunities and one Settle opportunity.

In other words, in Scenario 1, Strategy A the whole game is about one tempo behind Scenario 1, Strategy B3. A slower game start is generally a positive thing for ELC, so I'm not convinced that B3 is better.

Incidentally, if I were playing strategy B3, I'm not sure why I'm bothering with Public Works at all, once Space Marines is out first. The Development power needs at least two more developments to pay for itself, but there's only one planned (Consumer Markets). The Consume power is nigh-useless, also because I'm planning to play Consumer Markets. If I'm going to be playing Consumer Markets and choosing Produce on turn 3, why not keep all eight cards? That way, when I do play Consumer Markets, I can keep three cards, as opposed to just 1 -- probably just enough to leech off of NS's turn 3 Settle and put out a second Novelty production world.
 
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Wei-Hwa Huang
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
In actuality, I think both approaches will probably work just fine, which is why we're obsessively arguing over minor nuances... ;-)


Yup, I completely agree.
 
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Tom Lehmann
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>> I believe that the chances of a Produce coming from ELC, and NS having a hand that can leverage it, are both low enough that usually there's little risk in ELC choosing Produce.

That's *exactly* the reasoning, turned around 180 degrees, that you claimed was "contradictory second guessing" when I did it. It's ok when you do it, but it's not ok when I do it? ;-)

Yes, we disagree on ELC's stereotyped action. You apparently play Explore/Develop a lot as ELC, so that's ELC's stereotyped action. That doesn't match my experience, where many of my opponents often select Produce as one of ELC's starting actions. Enough, that I've learned to look at countering this, when possible, as ELC's opponent when I select my first turn's cards and actions. OK, so we play different people with different ELC tendencies and this informs our action choices. Shrug.

I did respond to your constructed NS hand by saying that NS would Settle and Consume:Trade (and, therefore, not try to leverage the ELC Produce). As to whether your constructed example is "typical", especially if the NS player is partially selecting against an expected Produce call, who knows? My overall point is that there is *some* risk involved and that the Produce is not essential to the Space Marines/Uplift world/Trade sequence, so why take this risk?

As my later, more general post noted, your line (which I consider a "finesse" approach) does work reasonably well, as does my more "direct" line (IMO). The reason I'm choosing a direct line is that I think that ELC, with these starting cards, has a stronger than average hand and should therefore press this (presumed) advantage and speed the game along. Thus, yes, I do give a turn 2 Settle to my opponent, but I'm getting Consumer Markets out on turn 3. I think that's worth it.

This is another point where we differ, you prefer a slower game for ELC, whereas I prefer a faster game, leveraging it's produce/consume powers, as long as I have a decent source of card flow (which I'm getting from Consumer Markets, plus a bit from Public Works).

As to why I'm putting out Public Works on turn 2 on NS's Develop (in that line), it is partially for its Consume power (as I noted in my original post). I already have one non-Novelty world in my tableau (the Uplift world); if I draw Mining World, Comet Zone, or Rebel Miners instead of a Novelty world, then I will need Public Works' consume power. Since I am getting one card back almost immediately from Public Works (due to Consumer Markets) and not losing a tempo, I think this is an acceptable trade-off. Of course, if I have seen a cost 2 Novelty production world by this point, then I won't put down Public Works (as I now know I won't need its Consume power and I agree that I will want to leverage a possible turn 3 NS Settle to gain another good, plus a second card from Consumer Markets).

However, if I have seen a cost (or Military) 1 Novelty world (Artist Colony, Secluded World, or New Survivalists), then I do still put down Public Works on turn 2 (for the tempo and card flow, even though the expected net gain is marginal), as I can *still* leverage a turn 3 NS Settle. Why? Because the difference is not between 3 and 1 card, as you assert, but between 3 and 2 cards (due to the Public Works' rebate for Consumer Markets: 6-5+1=2).
 
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Tom Lehmann wrote:
>> I believe that the chances of a Produce coming from ELC, and NS having a hand that can leverage it, are both low enough that usually there's little risk in ELC choosing Produce.

That's *exactly* the reasoning, turned around 180 degrees, that you claimed was "contradictory second guessing" when I did it. It's ok when you do it, but it's not ok when I do it? ;-)


What I meant was, "there's little risk in ELC choosing Produce occasionally, as long as it's not too frequent."

I think overall this points towards that the "optimal" balance is going to be some sort of mixed strategy. If I shouldn't choose Produce because I choose Produce too often because I don't choose Produce too often, then eventually it's going to settle on me choosing Produce X% of the time.

Quote:
My overall point is that there is *some* risk involved and that the Produce is not essential to the Space Marines/Uplift world/Trade sequence, so why take this risk?


Because I think it's worth the reward -- which ends up working out to around a card in Scenario 2, which I think is the more common NS play.

In other words, I'm willing to risk that NS might have one of the rare hands that can leverage off of my Produce (and can't leverage off of your Explore -- as a NS hand that can leverage off both doesn't swing it one way or the other), so that I can gain one card in the cases where NS is making what I consider to be their stereotyped action.

Is the one card worth it? Who knows until we have a decent AI player. :-)

Another way to see it is that I'm advocating "Develop-Produce-Trade", where you're advocating "Develop-Settle-Trade", both of us having defenses against any phases NS is going to throw in. When I ask myself which one is NS more likely to be taking advantage of, the Produce or the Settle, I find myself weighing towards the Settle -- so I lean towards choosing Produce.

Quote:
This is another point where we differ, you prefer a slower game for ELC, whereas I prefer a faster game, leveraging it's produce/consume powers, as long as I have a decent source of card flow (which I'm getting from Consumer Markets, plus a bit from Public Works).


Wait, you're advocating Settle, I'm advocating Produce, and therefore this shows that you prefer leveraging the produce/consume powers of ELC? Um.

Not that I disagree with your general sentiment that I prefer a slower game. But it's more because I prefer a slower tableau-growth game for ELC, not because I'm not valuing its produce/consume powers.

Quote:
Of course, if I have seen a cost 2 Novelty production world by this point, then I won't put down Public Works


The timing's not right. In your hand, you have Public Works, Consumer Markets, Avian Uplift Race, and one other "junk" card (that you got on the Explore on turn 1). You know you're getting five cards from a Settle bonus plus selling your Genes good, but you have to decide on Public Works before you see those four cards.

Quote:
Because the difference is not between 3 and 1 card, as you assert, but between 3 and 2 cards


Okay, so the difference is between 3 cards that you've seen at the end of turn 2, versus 1 card that you've seen at the end of turn 2 plus one unknown card that you'll get from Public Works.
 
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