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Subject: Extra Actions and Pyramids rss

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Edwin Karat
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So, the boards here tend to love extra actions and tend to love the pyramids. I've been less enamored of them, but perhaps this is a holdover from earlier experiences, so I wanted to start a discussion of the relative merits of Extra Actions / Pyramids versus other pursuits, especially in the early game.

I've often felt that extra actions weren't that good until halfway through age II. Very early on, I've felt more limited by minerals. Enough so, that I personally am skeptical of the early wonders. (More accurately, if I have good food, such as by having Moses, I have workers and want to spend those workers. If I have less food, I have more actions and minerals than I have workers, so I can construct a wonder.) However, either way, I'm more limited by minerals than I am by actions.

As for other things to do with actions, I can take cards from the card row (and play them). However, it feels like there aren't enough yellow cards (or yellow cards that I would play in the next couple of rounds) once the age A cards are gone. I can grab technologies, but initial science rate is rather poor, such that if I pick up too many techs, I won't be able to play them all.

Some of this is that I used to value science less than I do now. (I used to value it as a medium priority, but lately I've thought of ranking it up there with getting my mineral production up.) That would make it easier to play more age I technologies, making actions more valuable.

As for the yellow cards, the extra points are good relative to early income, but bad relative to total score at the end of the game. Upgrading doesn't come in much early on. I already mentioned that I don't focus on wonders early on. Technologies are not played frequently in Age I. Building mines (and perhaps farms) is useful, but the remaining good yellow cards don't come up frequently enough.

Or is it that my opponents get all the extra actions and pick up the good yellow cards before they get cheap enough for me to want to pick them up?
 
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Alex Rockwell
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I think the main benefit is that actions are the most versatile, and can solve any need.

Actions can be rocks using a wide variety of card (Ideal building site, efficient upgrade, patriotism, the discount to new mines/farms, etc).

Actions can be research (multiple cards per age)
Actions can be food (multiple cards per age)

Lack of actions can lead to struggle to both get the cards you want and spend your resources to avoid corruption.

You need some amount of actions each turn to grow your population and put them to work.


Additional actions can also be used to take the best cards from later in the row, and to deny things to your opponents.


A mine is ONLY rocks.
A farm is ONLY food.
A lab is research, which helps in various ways...its versatile as well.
 
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karat wrote:
Extra Actions / Pyramids versus other pursuits, especially in the early game.

Pyramids gives something like 15 Civil Actions over the course of the game, at the cost of max 4 Civil Actions and 6 Rock. Easily worth it. The Civil actions allow you to pick up critical cards for any strategy, beyond that, they act as "wilds", allowing you to get all kinds of resources. Given that you are always short on something, having Wilds to fill in a crippling deficiency and turn it into a minor penalty is a good thing.
 
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Robert Voisin
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And that extra action does = 1 more card to hold in your hand. A few times I've hit a full hand and just wished I could grab one more fromn the card row!!!
 
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David desJardins
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wodan46 wrote:
Pyramids gives something like 15 Civil Actions over the course of the game, at the cost of max 4 Civil Actions and 6 Rock.


It costs more than 4 civil actions; you have to pay 1 to take the card from the track, and 3 to build the stages of the wonder, and then 1 extra action for every subsequent wonder you take.
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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I prefer to get Code of Laws -- you can usually get it into play faster, and it doesn't burden you with the extra CA to pick up future wonders.

But it depends on when it comes up in Age I of course. The Pyramids might be your bird in the hand...

Geoff
 
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Tim Seitz
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Extra actions provide flexibility + tangible benefits.

1. You can use them to pick up the yellow action cards where you get free resources when taking an action. In this manner, an extra action is worth 2-5 stone, 2-4 science, or 2-4 food. That's very sizable just by itself.

2. An extra action enables you to take cards higher up the track that you otherwise might miss out on (like grabbing the good leader or getting Air Forces).

3. An extra action enables a larger hand size, so you reduce the chance of getting your hand clogged and missing out on an important tech.

4. Extra actions enable you to complete tech upgrades faster.
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Eugene Hung
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engelstein wrote:
I prefer to get Code of Laws -- you can usually get it into play faster, and it doesn't burden you with the extra CA to pick up future wonders.


Actually, I can get the Pyramids into play much faster than Code unless I'm Aristotle. It's surprising if the Pyramids aren't up by turn 6, with all the events and yellow cards that grant rock and the ability to build a t2 mine. Science, on the other hand, is usually much slower -- t3 is usually the first turn you can bump it to 2 science a turn, and it can't go higher until you get a Sci tech down (or a wonder). The Code costs 3 turns of max sci production (and 2 actions in its own right). And usually one of Alchemy/Swordsmen/Knights is begging to be dropped down before the Code, or you're gonna be behind in the military race when the first event comes out...

Since I don't build many wonders (at most 2) after the pyramids, and most of them late, when civil actions are plentiful, the extra late civil action cost from the pyramids is not as important to me as the early initial science that Code of Laws costs. Much better to spend early rock on pyramids and early science on Alch/Knights, rather than experience "science bandwidth congestion" by adding Code to the list of early techs needed.
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Tim Seitz
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eyhung wrote:
engelstein wrote:
I prefer to get Code of Laws -- you can usually get it into play faster, and it doesn't burden you with the extra CA to pick up future wonders.


Actually, I can get the Pyramids into play much faster than Code unless I'm Aristotle. It's surprising if the Pyramids aren't up by turn 6, with all the events and yellow cards that grant rock and the ability to build a t2 mine. Science, on the other hand, is usually much slower -- t3 is usually the first turn you can bump it to 2 science a turn, and it can't go higher until you get a Sci tech down (or a wonder). The Code costs 3 turns of max sci production (and 2 actions in its own right). And usually one of Alchemy/Swordsmen/Knights is begging to be dropped down before the Code, or you're gonna be behind in the military race when the first event comes out...

Since I don't build many wonders (at most 2) after the pyramids, and most of them late, when civil actions are plentiful, the extra late civil action cost from the pyramids is not as important to me as the early initial science that Code of Laws costs. Much better to spend early rock on pyramids and early science on Alch/Knights, rather than experience "science bandwidth congestion" by adding Code to the list of early techs needed.

I agree, and it's not surprising given that Pyramids is an Age A card and Code is Age I. Early, Pyramids will take 2 turns of production and Code will take 3 turns of science, before alchemy.

However, if Code comes a little later, after you've upgraded to 4 science, then it only costs 1.5 turns of science. If you can combine it with a breakthrough card, it's even cheaper. So I can understand his position.

Both of them are highly valuable and I would not pass on either, given the choice.


 
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Julien Van Reeth
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I would say that pyramids are a tad superior to code of laws, mostly because code of laws is probably the most expensive age I blue tech out there. If your science production is not that high, taking and playing Code of Laws can be a crippling move, that I've actually personally witnessed. The player ended up with one extra action that he could not use very efficiently because he spent his entire science very early on Code of Laws instead of infrastructure, and was stuck with nothing to upgrade, nothing to build, and waiting 5 turns to get his science high enough to be able to buy another tech.

It might be a border case, sure, but I don't think taking the pyramids can hurt you like that.
 
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Edwin Karat
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But why not use those resources in the early game to build more mines instead of the pyramids?
 
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Julien Van Reeth
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Couple of reasons why:
a. you can only build so many miners. Personally I tend to avoid 4, though I think it's a viable choice, and since my first action on the first turn is almost always build a third miner, I can not really spend more resources on building more miners.
b. I think that in the early game, one additional action is better than more rocks. Again, there is only so much rock you can use in age A and I, and you will usually get a lot through events and yellow cards if needed. In my games I usually need one more CA more than I need rocks.
c. Even if I had the rocks, and decided to not build the pyramids, I would spend it on labs rather than mines, since I think that science is more important than rocks in the early game.
 
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John Cataldo
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I wrote some stuff about this elsewhere (http://boardgamegeeks.com/article/2900656#2900656), but a somewhat short version is:

Pyramids are fine. I don't think they are amazingly better than other things you can do in the early game. Pyramids are NOT a way to get an early advantage.

You don't get even your initial CAs back until four turns after you finish the pyramids, and estimating that 2 rocks == 1 Civil Action (which is what Age I cards mostly provide), it's largely as if you don't profit from the Pyramids until another four turns after that. If you finish the Pyramids on turn 5 (not unreasonable nor unlikely), your break into profit starting on turn 13 -- everything up until then is just breaking even. (If you strictly compare to other Ancient Wonders, you can of course compare what they give you immediately after being finished, since the costs are all comparable.)

So the Pyramids are a way to turn early game resources into mid and late game resources. Which is fine and useful, and not the entire story, surely, but if you want an early game advantage you can probably invest a turn's worth of actions and 2-3 turns worth of rocks in something with a faster turnaround time!
 
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David desJardins
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Masquerouge wrote:
a. you can only build so many miners. Personally I tend to avoid 4, though I think it's a viable choice, and since my first action on the first turn is almost always build a third miner, I can not really spend more resources on building more miners.


I think 5 is a very reasonable number of mines. But I also think you're taking the post you're responding to, too literally. It's more a question of whether you can use the resources to build "other stuff".

If you can get the Pyramids for 1 or 2 actions (in 1st or 2nd position) on your first turn, then it sure seems pretty attractive. There can be other good stuff on the track too, though.
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Nick Anner
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JoDiamonds wrote:
I wrote some stuff about this elsewhere (http://boardgamegeeks.com/article/2900656#2900656), but a somewhat short version is:

Pyramids are fine. I don't think they are amazingly better than other things you can do in the early game. Pyramids are NOT a way to get an early advantage.

You don't get even your initial CAs back until four turns after you finish the pyramids, and estimating that 2 rocks == 1 Civil Action (which is what Age I cards mostly provide), it's largely as if you don't profit from the Pyramids until another four turns after that. If you finish the Pyramids on turn 5 (not unreasonable nor unlikely), your break into profit starting on turn 13 -- everything up until then is just breaking even. (If you strictly compare to other Ancient Wonders, you can of course compare what they give you immediately after being finished, since the costs are all comparable.)

So the Pyramids are a way to turn early game resources into mid and late game resources. Which is fine and useful, and not the entire story, surely, but if you want an early game advantage you can probably invest a turn's worth of actions and 2-3 turns worth of rocks in something with a faster turnaround time!


Do your calculations figure corruption avoidance and opportunity bonuses? The civil actions you pay for it in the beginning are almost throw away, but by the time it's cranking, you can keep your consumption up and still pick up cards.
 
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Tim Seitz
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JoDiamonds wrote:
I wrote some stuff about this elsewhere (http://boardgamegeeks.com/article/2900656#2900656), but a somewhat short version is:

Pyramids are fine. I don't think they are amazingly better than other things you can do in the early game. Pyramids are NOT a way to get an early advantage.

You don't get even your initial CAs back until four turns after you finish the pyramids, and estimating that 2 rocks == 1 Civil Action (which is what Age I cards mostly provide), it's largely as if you don't profit from the Pyramids until another four turns after that. If you finish the Pyramids on turn 5 (not unreasonable nor unlikely), your break into profit starting on turn 13 -- everything up until then is just breaking even. (If you strictly compare to other Ancient Wonders, you can of course compare what they give you immediately after being finished, since the costs are all comparable.)

So the Pyramids are a way to turn early game resources into mid and late game resources. Which is fine and useful, and not the entire story, surely, but if you want an early game advantage you can probably invest a turn's worth of actions and 2-3 turns worth of rocks in something with a faster turnaround time!

I don't think you are estimating the true cost of a mine.

Since everyone typically builds early mines, to build an "extra" mine requires 2 actions + 3 food + 2 stone + 1/2 happy face. It will take 2 turns to recover the stone. The actions, food, and happy faces will never get paid back (at least not directly). In fact, to cover the happy faces, you will probably need to build a temple, and that will cost yet another 2 actions + 3 food + 3 stone. So an extra mine really costs you 4 actions + 6 food + 5 stone.

Pyramids requires 4 actions + 6 stone (remember we are now only analyzing the early game requirements so ignore the additional costs of future wonders). You immediately get the extra actions, so in 3 turns you can recover the stone loss with +rock action cards. The actions will be paid back over the remaining 4 turns, or you can continue to allocate the extra action to stone recovery, which means an increasingly profitable stone source through action cards.

A 4th mine is a good early investment, it's just not as good as Pyramids when you account for all of the costs.
 
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Edwin Karat
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out4blood wrote:


Pyramids requires 4 actions + 6 stone (remember we are now only analyzing the early game requirements so ignore the additional costs of future wonders). You immediately get the extra actions, so in 3 turns you can recover the stone loss with +rock action cards. The actions will be paid back over the remaining 4 turns, or you can continue to allocate the extra action to stone recovery, which means an increasingly profitable stone source through action cards.

A 4th mine is a good early investment, it's just not as good as Pyramids when you account for all of the costs.


A couple of things:

1) It's only 2 rock for 2 actions in age I -- 1 (or potentially more) to pick it up and 1 to play it. Actually, rereading I think you mean to spend 2 actions per turn to recoup your rock losses, even though you are spending more actions than you are gaining. Still, it's 4 actions + 6 stone * 2 actions / 2 stone = 10 actions to make up.

2) There won't always be a yellow card when you want it, especially with 4-players, where there are more technologies and the same number of yellow cards.

In fact, my original point was that it felt like there aren't enough good yellow cards when you want them and that I often felt I had extra actions I couldn't use effectively. Now, some of that feeling may be due to bad luck in getting cards I actually *want* to pick up.

Oh, and age A temples are horribly inefficient ways of getting happy faces. In the early game, 1 worker = 1/4 happy face, turning into 1/2 happy face later, when you have more efficient happy faces. Personally, I'm willing to risk discontent workers in the early game.

I'm coming to a conclusion: Pyramids are better when you are short of food (wonders are an excellent way of spending minerals and actions without spending food), but an extra mine is better when you have food to spare.
 
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David desJardins
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karat wrote:
1) It's only 2 rock for 2 actions in age I -- 1 (or potentially more) to pick it up and 1 to play it.


That's just not true. Age I Efficient Upgrade is 2 rock for one action (you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [the upgrade action] plus 2 rock [discount]). Age I Engineering Genius is 3 rock for one action (again, you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [building a wonder stage] plus 3 rock [discount]). Age I Ideal Building Site is 2 rock for one action (as above). Age I Rich Land is 2 rock for one action (as above).
 
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out4blood wrote:
Since everyone typically builds early mines, to build an "extra" mine requires 2 actions + 3 food + 2 stone + 1/2 happy face.


That depends on how much population you have. If you have Moses (e.g., because you took him instead of the Pyramids) then the calculation is way different, for example. If you're building the Pyramids, sometimes you do end up with extra citizens just sitting in the worker pool while you're finishing the wonder, which has to be counted in the cost.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
karat wrote:
1) It's only 2 rock for 2 actions in age I -- 1 (or potentially more) to pick it up and 1 to play it.


That's just not true. Age I Efficient Upgrade is 2 rock for one action (you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [the upgrade action] plus 2 rock [discount]). Age I Engineering Genius is 3 rock for one action (again, you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [building a wonder stage] plus 3 rock [discount]). Age I Ideal Building Site is 2 rock for one action (as above). Age I Rich Land is 2 rock for one action (as above).

Exactly. You want to focus on the cards that you can play for free so that you can use your extra actions efficiently.
 
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Edwin Karat
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DaviddesJ wrote:
karat wrote:
1) It's only 2 rock for 2 actions in age I -- 1 (or potentially more) to pick it up and 1 to play it.


That's just not true. Age I Efficient Upgrade is 2 rock for one action (you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [the upgrade action] plus 2 rock [discount]). Age I Engineering Genius is 3 rock for one action (again, you spend one action to pick it up, and one action to play it, but then you get an action back [building a wonder stage] plus 3 rock [discount]). Age I Ideal Building Site is 2 rock for one action (as above). Age I Rich Land is 2 rock for one action (as above).


Point taken, but the counter to that point is that Efficient Upgrade is useless if you don't have a technology to upgrade yet. Engineering Genius is useless if you don't have a wonder to build (and it's likely that you have more pressing things to do after finishing the Pyramids). Ideal Building Site and Rich land are great, except that you need them at the right time and for your opponents to not pick them up first. That's 2 good cards in Age I, divided among 4 players, so you have a 50% chance of making up 2 rock with one action.

Of course, when I was thinking of 2 actions, I was thinking of mineral deposits, which are 2 rock for 2 actions, and there are two of them in age I-- equal to the ideal building site and rich land combined.

The point is that the cards are great when you can get them, but you're not going to be able to get them reliably, especially with 4 players. That's the impression I've been getting in my past games.
 
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David desJardins
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I think you're doing something really odd if you don't do any upgrades in Age I.

Theres's no question that Mineral Deposits is a weak card, because it costs an action to take and an action to play. No one was holding that up as the best use of actions, the OP specifically referred to the other cards. Bountiful Harvest and Revolutionary Idea have the same weakness, although the latter can still be good because early science can sometimes have a multiplier effect.
 
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Edwin Karat
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I think you're doing something really odd if you don't do any upgrades in Age I.

Theres's no question that Mineral Deposits is a weak card, because it costs an action to take and an action to play. No one was holding that up as the best use of actions, the OP specifically referred to the other cards. Bountiful Harvest and Revolutionary Idea have the same weakness, although the latter can still be good because early science can sometimes have a multiplier effect.


The only possible urban building upgrades in Age I are the temple and the philosopher. Personally, I am not a fan of temple upgrades. That leaves the philosopher, which I will concede is a good choice to upgrade, but it's not hard to get shut out or to only get it late in the age.

I think I've nailed down the source of why I don't value extra actions. They feel risky to me because I've seen too many times where there wasn't an action card I could use in the 1-action spots. (At the very least, it is rather unlikely that you will get 6 minerals back in 3 turns.) I feel like the extra mine is more reliable and that I can do what I need to if I'm clever with how I use the actions I already have. (Also, military heavy games use the same pool of resources via military actions instead, so that is a factor.)

Perhaps I am being too risk-averse. Perhaps I should consider experimenting more with getting extra actions *before* the main concern is avoiding corruption. Success with this game requires not following a fixed strategy each time, but adapting to the situation instead.

Thank you for the discussion.
 
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I think efficient upgrade works on mines and farms too. Thats two more things you definitley wantto be upgrading. You should be getting at least one of Alchemy, Iron or Irrigation in age I!
 
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David desJardins
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karat wrote:
The only possible urban building upgrades in Age I are the temple and the philosopher.


As Alex said, you may or may not upgrade laboratories in Age I, but you're almost certainly going to upgrade farms or mines. At least in my experience.
 
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