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Subject: Coal Strategy rss

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Alex Rockwell
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This is a strategy I have played in a couple 2 player games that works very well. It would be good with more players as well, but its harder to get the actions you want frequently enough.

The strategy is to get an insane amount of coal, then make one trip to the cokery to convert it all to coke and money, then focus on shipping using coke to power and to ship for $5 each.


Keys to the game:

1) Get marketplace. Its a huge help, since then you can use it without paying people. (Plus they pay you to use it). Collect the buildings that give you more resources when you use it, and go there frequently. If you can start getting like 4+ things there, then you can get stuff like: Coal + Iron + Cattle + Grain.

Coal and Iron are the most important things to get off it, the coal is part of your strategy and the iron is extremely helpful, and hard to get a lot of. You'll also want a couple Iron ships to pay for food and allow good shipping later. You Cattle is good for shipping, so is grain to make bread, and clay/wood for building.

2) Get the Colliery. You want to use this every chance you can. Often your priority list will be: Pick Colliery if possible, else pick Marketplace, otherwise do something else. You dont want to have to pay all the time to use it.

Also you need to get one building with a hammer symbol (at least) to make the COlliery efficient. The 4 and 6 cost construction buildings can be good because they have both the hammer and the marketplace symbols.

3) Get at least 3 ships, preferably bigger ones. (You should aim for 4 ships in 2 player).

4) Collect insane amounts of coal. Insane in 2 player is 20+. WIth more players you wont get as many.

5) Go to the Cokery and convert it all to Coke, plus get a ton of money.

6) Ship the Coke. You want to make several big shipments with several ships. Cattle, Bread, and Leather/Hides are great to ship too.


This strategy is very efficient because the Cokery has no limit, and upgrades the value of your shippable goods greatly. Every extra coal you get costs nothing more to convert, but provides a big benefit, so you want as much as possible.

In the end, taking one extra Colliery action will be worth $4 (when you convert), plus $20 when you ship, at a cost of needing to ship 4 goods. Those extra shipments wouldve probably netted you $2-3 with some other good, so youre basically gaining about $12-16 to your final score by using the Colliery action.
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Geeky McGeekface
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Alex, how much do you think players can really implement an "engine" in Le Havre? After all, owning a building just reduces the cost of using it; it doesn't give you the right to use it when it's occupied. (Yes, you can always sell it and then occupy the now town-owned building, but that's a pretty stiff penalty, particularly for the nicer buildings, and I've yet to see someone do it.) So I guess my question is, trying a coal strategy sounds good, but anyone can do it, whether they own the buildings or not. Is this just a general strategy or is ownership of the buildings (yielding an "engine" of sorts) really that important?
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Eric Flood
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As you might have noticed, he's referring to a 2-player game as his basis. There is quite little blocking occurring in the 2-player game, so I'm sure he'd just mostly be getting in his own way more than anything else.
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Mark Haberman
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Alexfrog wrote:

1) Get marketplace. Its a huge help, since then you can use it without paying people. (Plus they pay you to use it). Collect the buildings that give you more resources when you use it, and go there frequently. If you can start getting like 4+ things there, then you can get stuff like: Coal + Iron + Cattle + Grain.


Almost always a good idea. A popular building, and cheap to buy.

Coke is indeed very nice to have, especially if you are not going for an all-out building strategy. Of course, turning 3 coke and 6 iron into two Luxury liners isn't bad either.

End of game points seem to come from 4 places:

Building
Special Buildings like the steak house
Shipping
Luxury Liners and Steel ships


You need to set yourself up for at least one of these, and that depends on what you have, and what the other players are letting you get. The first two seem to go well together if you ignore ships for the most part (haven't tried that yet), and the second two go well together if you get a lot of ships.
 
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Chris
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OK your Stratagy is to ship the most Valuable item that you can get. Seems like that is the basis of the game. I don't count Steel as it is VERY hard to get but the fastest way to make money in this game is shipping and if your gonna ship your going to want to ship the 5f items.

The Cokery usually comes out too late in a 4 player game to be much worth I have found after a fwe plays with 4. You would waste so much time trying to collect and store Coal that you would be deep in Loan Hell due to a lack of food to make this a viable strategy. In a 4 player long game it takes several rounds before the ships come out that would allow you to ship more then 2 good and you would have wasted two turns building wooden ships.

This may work in a 2 player short game though I might try to corner the market on Coke then. Let me know how it works in a 4 player full game.
 
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Corin A. Friesen
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Larry Levy wrote:
Alex, how much do you think players can really implement an "engine" in Le Havre? After all, owning a building just reduces the cost of using it; it doesn't give you the right to use it when it's occupied. (Yes, you can always sell it and then occupy the now town-owned building, but that's a pretty stiff penalty, particularly for the nicer buildings, and I've yet to see someone do it.) So I guess my question is, trying a coal strategy sounds good, but anyone can do it, whether they own the buildings or not. Is this just a general strategy or is ownership of the buildings (yielding an "engine" of sorts) really that important?

In a 2 player game, you never want to spend a long time getting food, so paying food to your opponent is surprising hard to take, especially when you built up your food engine of bread and meat, which means you could over-pay. Francs can solve that problem, but you know how that goes.

BTW, I scored 295 francs in a 2 player game today!!! (My opponent scored 272.)
 
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Fraser
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In my second game, the colliery was the penultimate card in one of the building stacks. We were very energy deficient that game, even with extensive use of the marketplace, and I think you would have had to switch to a different strategy meeple
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Corin A. Friesen
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Karlsen wrote:
In my second game, the colliery was the penultimate card in one of the building stacks. We were very energy deficient that game, even with extensive use of the marketplace, and I think you would have had to switch to a different strategy meeple

Uwe is a master at keeping you challenged.
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Alan Goodrich
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Larry Levy wrote:
Alex, how much do you think players can really implement an "engine" in Le Havre? After all, owning a building just reduces the cost of using it; it doesn't give you the right to use it when it's occupied. (Yes, you can always sell it and then occupy the now town-owned building, but that's a pretty stiff penalty, particularly for the nicer buildings, and I've yet to see someone do it.) So I guess my question is, trying a coal strategy sounds good, but anyone can do it, whether they own the buildings or not. Is this just a general strategy or is ownership of the buildings (yielding an "engine" of sorts) really that important?


I'd agree that there aren't "engines" in this game (although this may be less true for 2 player games) because you can't be assured of access to buildings you might want to use. I never mind buying buildings from the town, if I have the cash, as the investment won't erode at all, and it frees up the building. Overall, I find the balances in this game brilliant, as they add a tactical element that prevents any one path from working all the time (and hence the thwarting of "engines"). Still trying to break the 200 mark myself...
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Joe Casadonte
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blueatheart wrote:
There is quite little blocking occurring in the 2-player game


Tell that to the guy that sat on the Wharf for a couple of turns this past Sunday night as I got more and more desperate.....
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Alex Rockwell
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I played this strategy in two 2 player games saturday.

Game 1: It was the 2nd game for both of us. We both tried this strategy and got made conversions of 15 coal (me) and 16 (my opponent). I owned Marketplace and Colliery so I was getting paid off this strategy.

I converted first and was able to grab some good scoring buildings. Final score: 339 - 308.


Game 2: My 3rd game now, vs a new player. I focused very heavily on the Colliery, and made a conversion of 27 coal to coke (grabbing several buildings from the town), and then right after it did a big coke shipment and grabbed the rest of the buildings. This set me up to score well later off Town Hall and bank.

Final Score: 390 - 290ish. My opponent did well for his first game, but didnt block me on the coal so I got a crazy score.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Joe Casadonte wrote:
blueatheart wrote:
There is quite little blocking occurring in the 2-player game


Tell that to the guy that sat on the Wharf for a couple of turns this past Sunday night as I got more and more desperate.....

I think the Wharf is a rare exception for blocking.
 
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Dylan Shakespeare
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In a 2 player game I played recently, I had two buildings while my opponent had like six. Later, he had even more buildings, but they weren't as valuable as my few; I kept building most of the good stuff. In the end, I lost anyway, but it was close.
By the way, ALL of the buildings were either built or bought in that game!
 
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Tim Seitz
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Alexfrog wrote:
This is a strategy I have played in a couple 2 player games that works very well. It would be good with more players as well, but its harder to get the actions you want frequently enough.

The strategy is to get an insane amount of coal, then make one trip to the cokery to convert it all to coke and money, then focus on shipping using coke to power and to ship for $5 each.


This is pretty powerful as it appears to require fewer actions:

1. You don't need to get spend actions to also get energy for shipping; you just use what you don't ship.

2. The conversion from coal to coke is unlimited, so you can get away doing it once.
 
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Darrell Perrins
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I've played three games so far (4 & 5 player), may be we've just been unlucky but the coke works has always been among the last buildings to come out or not been built at all. It would be high risk to accumulate coal in the hope of converting it to Coke in the last few rounds after the coke works is built. Better to stay flexible and be in a position to grab the best opportunities as they come up.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Well you can always look at the cards and predict the likelihood of the building coming out early enough to take advantage of it. Of course, if EVERYONE were playing this strategy then it would not work. One of the great things about Le Havre.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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You can have the Cokery come out very near the end and still do it. (Probably). You DO need the Colliery to not be late though.

Each game I've played all buildings have been built, sometimes well before the game end (in the 2 player games).
 
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Dave Eisen
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Yes. Probably. You still need time to get to the shipping lines enough time to ship everything you want.

I also still have a steel compulsion so tend to split my focus toward the end. It sounds like you (Alex) has decided that steel just isn't worth it, but it is not like anyone has run the numbers and published anything.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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I was in Alex's first two-player game and did the steel thing in addition to the coke thing, because I owned the Iron and Steel buildings. I used 7 of my coke to convert 14 iron into steel.

This seemed pretty powerful to me, and perhaps I would have won (despite Alex getting the Marketplace (turn 1) and Colliery if I hadn't miscounted turns and let the town build the Bank, which I had almost all the scoring buildings for.
 
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Alex Rockwell
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dkeisen wrote:
I also still have a steel compulsion so tend to split my focus toward the end. It sounds like you (Alex) has decided that steel just isn't worth it, but it is not like anyone has run the numbers and published anything.


No, steel is awesome. And its easier to get in this strategy as well.

You hoard some iron via all your marketplace visits + a couple actions grabbing iron. Then when you get coke, you can do one action to convert a bunch to steel, very efficiently, using coke.

Then you use the steel to buy steel ships(s), with which to ship the coke
 
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Alec Clair
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The coke + Steel strategy also works very well for solo games.


I think that building Iron Ship use too much Iron wich I'll rather convert to Steel and sell later.

So I rather Buy Iron Ship.

To some extend the same is true for buildings requiring Iron, I will rather try to Buy them rather than to build them.

That way I maximize my Iron for Steel conversion wich works well with a coke intensive strategy.
 
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Rick Holt
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Like some other people - I am concerned that the cokery is a problem with game balance. I have been toying with the idea of putting a limit on the number of coal to coke conversions. Has anyone tried playing with a limit? How did it go? Thanks
 
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Jon W
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This strategy has decreasing effectiveness as the number of players increases, but I do think the balance is off for the 1p and 2p games. By "balance" I mean "viability of different approaches"; not that it's broken, just that it's too strong a line to not pursue. There are too many false choices presented. I wonder if the game was primarily tested in 3p and 4p configurations, where the coal-coke-steel line has more competition, so opportunities arise pursuing alternate courses.

I'm not sure that the Cokery is the issue here, but perhaps the shipping value of coke itself is too high. Steel seems right, but what if coke was only 4 francs to ship? Or even 3 francs? Energy seems somewhat under-utilized in the game; coke should be part of the steel strategy line, and not an end in itself.
 
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Rick Holt
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Lowering the shipping value of Coke - that is an interesting idea. That said - I still prefer the idea of putting a limit of 6 of the cokery - it seems to be a more narrrow/targeted solution.
 
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Jon W
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rickloginname wrote:
Lowering the shipping value of Coke - that is an interesting idea. That said - I still prefer the idea of putting a limit of 6 of the cokery - it seems to be a more narrrow/targeted solution.

The Colliery is (I think) intended to be the restricting factor. I like the idea of being able to scrounge for coal however and whenever, and then going nuts and having a huge pile of energy (coke) lying around. But I don't like that as the end in itself. 4f coke creates an organic disincentive to extreme coke production, and opens up challenging alternatives to use the energy profitably or have to settle for shipping some of it. 3f coke might even be better (and I personally like the idea of a having an upgraded good with the same value as the basic good, just because that doesn't appear currently).

But you're right: this is more intrusive than just limiting the Cokery. OTOH, I think it fixes more things, and opens up the game even more.
 
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