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Subject: The Braggart Strategy rss

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Chris Long
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So I taught some friends the game last night and one of them had the Braggart as an occupation (gets bonus points for improvements). So he essentially spent a good portion of the game building up major and minor improvements. By the end of the game, he had 12 bonus points and 14 victory points just from his cards. He ended up winning by over double what everyone else scored, in part because of some other lucky improvements and good turn placement which allowed him to use up all his spaces and sow tons of crops.

But my question is... how viable is the "improvement" strategy, and how do you counter it as an opposing player? It seemed really powerful to us, and hard to stop because you're essentially wasting your own actions to stop him, and at the same time there are so many spaces on the board which allow you to play improvements that it doesn't really work.

Any thoughts?
 
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sonny sonny
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we removed the braggart from the game, but i don't see how it could be responsible for having double as many VPs.

it can't give you more than 9 VPs (your net gain is lower just considering the occupation action - i would count that as 2-3 VPs less). so in your game that player also would have been far ahead without the braggart. maybe you underestimated the value of improvements.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Its not just the bonus points from the card: many improvements (certainly the major ones) are worth points at the end in their own right.

Still, I'm a bit suprised he could do this and not have any empty spaces, have at least 2 fields plowed, etc etc.
 
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Rob Foley
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Its not just the bonus points from the card: many improvements (certainly the major ones) are worth points at the end in their own right.

Still, I'm a bit suprised he could do this and not have any empty spaces, have at least 2 fields plowed, etc etc.


My guess is that he had at least one if not multiple plows.
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Jeff Thornsen
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Most people tend to forget that improvements are worth points, or perhaps they don't realize how much of a difference they can make.

For example, buying a Well for 1 wood and 3 stone is easier than renovating a 4 room house to stone, but worth the same # of points (plus it gives you food). Similarly, the Stone Oven is only 1 clay + 3 stone, worth 3 points, and lets you bake bread when you buy it (if you have grain).
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Chris Long
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So does anyone have any suggestions on how to counter an improvement based strategy?
 
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Kenneth Bailey
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radynski wrote:
So does anyone have any suggestions on how to counter an improvement based strategy?

Send mongol hordes over to their settlement and destroy their improvements.....
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Corin A. Friesen
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letsdance wrote:
we removed the braggart from the game, but i don't see how it could be responsible for having double as many VPs.

Do not do that. Then you can find out how to counter it, or how it works!
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Jesse Dean
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I am a big fan of the improvement strategy, and have played it a few times (though never with the Braggart.)

The key in stopping it from really getting on-line is to restrict his access to stone.

Never let him get more than one stone per action. A lot of the bigger/better improvements will require stone to place, and if he gets a bunch it will be difficult to slow him down or stop him. If he is getting no more than one stone per action, it will be much more difficult for him to get his engine on-line without taking a negative points hit in other areas.
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Jay Borden
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I would first question what improvements he had at the end of the game. The minor ones you cannot do much about, but the higher point valued major improvements require stone. Was he the only one collecting it? I would guess he collected at least 3+ stone at least a 2 or 3 times.

Leaving 3+ stone is dangerous; I almost always try to take it just to deny the well, stone house, or stone oven end game victory points my opponents could get with it. That may be the first place to look to avoid the same issue next game.
 
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Chris Long
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Denying the build-up of Stone is a good, suggestion, thanks. And yes, he had 4 major improvements at the end of the game, most of which required stone. We had for the most part ignored the Stone. Thanks for the tips, I'm still trying to learn the game. This was only my first multiplayer game since I learned the rules, and its been interesting to see how different the game plays vs. the 2-player version.
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Philip Thomas
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I think most games most players should be building a number of improvements, or trying to. You get to build an improvement with Family Growth, and you should be doing that anyway. The more competition for the improvement spaces the less improvements any one person can build.
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Tim Seitz
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radynski wrote:
So does anyone have any suggestions on how to counter an improvement based strategy?

Do what they are not doing. If they are hitting improvements several times, then that frees up actions someplace else.

Also, improvements are good. Competing to get improvements that work with your strategy is always a good idea.

As a last resort, you can try keeping them from getting the resources, such as stone, needed for some of the good improvements.
 
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I know I ignore the major improvements quite a bit and may not have built the last 3 in any of the 18 games I've played.
 
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Jesse Dean
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The last three are great. They allow you to survive on some alternative resources and make it so grabbing resources in the last round (which is commonly an option) is actually worth some points, even if they are minimal.
 
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The only time I've used the Braggart to good effect was combined with Yeoman Farmer. Even then I "only" had 41 points, which was enough to win that particular game but far from a crushing score.

The Braggart was also the last move I made in the whole game (final action, round 14). That's a bit extreme, but I can't imagine getting the Braggart out before round 12, and at that point mounting a full-scale blocking campaign seems unlikely. It seems to me you can counter the strategy the same way you counter others: profit as much as you can from actions not central to it, and throw a wrench in the gears (tie up action spaces) whenever it's to your advantage.
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Randy Brown
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I drew the Braggart in one of my first games. Even with a serious misstep early on that caused me to soak 3 begging cards, I managed a 52 in that game. Effectively the Braggart cancelled my begging cards.

You have no control over what's in a player's hand, but you can compete for the major improvements. The big 3 for a builder are the well, and the 2 ovens. These are worth the most points, and help the builder with food, which can really be an issue when you spend so many actions getting resources and building. The well should be beneficial to any player as an economical way to 4 points.

The fp/hearth is less useful to the builder because it's only worth 1 point. Though a builder may go there for the food benefits. Anyway, w/ 4 available, it's pretty hard to deny access to them anyway.

The other 3 improvements would seem to be more usefull than they are. You would think that the builder would be honing in on resources as much as posible, so the ability to convert them to food should be killer. In my experience, they're better to pick up just for the 2pts. I look at them as an Outhouse or Madonna Statue w/o the negatives. That may just be the way I play though. I should try a game where I fully commit to building and see how it goes.

At any rate, if you keep one player from collecting the big 3 (or 2 of the 3), you'll hurt their builder strategy plenty. Take especial care to prevent 1 player from grabbing both ovens.
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Justin
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discoking7 wrote:
I drew the Braggart in one of my first games. Even with a serious misstep early on that caused me to soak 3 begging cards, I managed a 52 in that game.


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Randy Brown
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What isn't clear? 61 points - 9 = 52. Effectively the 9 for the Braggart covered a boneheaded move where I use the reed that was going to be 3 food to make a new room right before harvest. I had a ludicrous 27 points for cards and their bonuses that game.

Then again, that room got me another action early next phase when FG showed up. Had I not built the room, and instead ate the reed with my basketmaker per the plan, I probably would've been frozen out of FG until the next phase. So maybe my boneheaded move was the right one. -9 points for a couple of extra actions? No, that was pretty boneheaded.

And yes, the operative phrase is that it was an early game. I don't think anyone would let me build the well, both ovens, and 2 of the conversion major improvements now. Everyone was so focused on what they were doing (me included), that my building every 5 seconds was ignored.
 
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radynski wrote:
So does anyone have any suggestions on how to counter an improvement based strategy?

You're getting some good tips here I see. The most basic answer to this question is: experience. Play a lot more and learn how to pump up the points on your own farm. I think the simplest tactic here is one you already acknowledged - don't ignore the stone and the major improvements it can get you.

I also drew the Braggart for the first time the other night. The difference is I was playing against experienced players. Not only did I have the Braggart but also the Businessman who lets me play an additional minor improvement whenever I take 'start player'. On top of that I had as one of my minor imps the Broom - which let me discard the remaining minors I didn't like and draw 7 more! So, playing the Braggart with max help from 2 other cards let me win..... by 1 point. The experienced player in 2nd place had big points by cranking points from his own farm according to the cards he got dealt. And on a different night by playing the same 2 hands slightly differently maybe the other player wins by 1 point.

Definitely do not take him out of the deck. Well, anyone is free to modify any game however he wants. If you think at this point in your experience no one can counter it, go ahead. (You might take a look at the Wet Nurse and decide if you think it breaks the game as you get better at it.) But taking a card out of the deck ultimately is denying yourself a small part of the experience.
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Tim Seitz
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If you're gonna over-react and start removing cards, you'll wanna start with the village well/water carrier combo. This (along with the well major improvement) netted me a TON of food, resulting in the highest score we've ever seen!
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sonny sonny
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Its not just the bonus points from the card: many improvements (certainly the major ones) are worth points at the end in their own right.

Still, I'm a bit suprised he could do this and not have any empty spaces, have at least 2 fields plowed, etc etc.

i think your analyse of the game is wrong. he did not win because of the braggart. he won because he managed to built many improvements without neglecting building up his farm.

besides, i don't think in agricola it makes sense to "counter" a strategy throughout the whole game. sometimes it may make sense to deny someone a certain action, but in general you should play for yourself. if you usually play destructive that might also be one reason why this player won =) (this goes for 3-5 player games)
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I once had a victory where I had 12 occupation and improvement cards out, and NO animals, veggies, grain, or food at the end of the game. I got negative 1 in all of those areas (except food, but I bring it up because I had to use all of my grain and veggies to feed my people)

I typically build 3 -6 improvements in a game.

Last game I had the merchant (?) that allowed me to spend a food every time I built a major/minor improvement and build a second improvement, so I had LOTS this time.
 
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Richard Shay
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When you add it to Merchant, the other players have a problem. The Braggart player will be able to get out many improvements. I think folks have to start keeping an eye on the neighbors.
But even when I saw that and we didn't block it, several other strategies had to be ignored by the player: Pottery would have been nice, but he had to burn clay up for other things. A huge pasture ate up the empty spaces, but didn't get points (or food or hold all the other kinds of animals).
I think, in play so far, I and the other players I play with have ignored the major improvements way too much. Still a lot to learn here.
I think we will be drafting from now on. Maybe a time limit per phase would be good, but it would depend on your group. With 3 players and drafting we finished a game in just under 2 hours, and that was the first time we drafted.
 
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Bill Gallagher
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The only game of Agricola (out of 5 fo far) that I won was with the Braggart. Among the eight Improvements I played that game was Pottery (with enough clay left over to get the 3 bonus VPs). Even so, it was a close game.
 
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