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Subject: One and a quarter trade missions rss

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James Casey
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Me, Baz, Ian and Steve played this last night. Twice in fact, sort of.

In the game we took the role of traders trying to broker deals to be the richest by the end of the game. This is achieved by delivering messages and goods to buildings, by taking control of buildings (earning money when others use them), and also by selling the right to use buildings to the other players; each player gets to "wander" a tower around the board during their turn, and each player can take one action during the turn in one of the buildings - but must pay the active player for the privilege. Almost everything in the game (money, goods, delivery contracts, special action cards) is considered a tradeable commodity.

I had misread the rules, and in the first game we moved the turn marker on after each players turn, rather than after each "round", so the game was about a quarter as long as it should have been. We thought the game seemed biased towards the earlier players (since they got more "active" turns), wondered how you ever managed to get anything done, and were bemused by the listed playing time of 1-2 hours, since these tend to be underestimates if anything. Then I reread the rules and realised my mistake, so we considered it a "learning game" and started again from scratch.

In this second proper game, I had a vague strategy to try to "buy low, sell high" - i.e. I would try to get my actions on the cheap, not get into bidding wars, and I would go to places people actually wanted to try to get the best price selling my actions. My reasoning was that you only get one action per turn, but you can sell up to three (one to each other player). This was sort of reasonable, but I don't think I stuck to it firmly enough, sometimes being tempted to take routes that allowed me to deliver messages or complete contracts of my own. Also, it turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought getting people to pay premium prices for actions, and there was only one round where I really raked in a lot of money from selling actions. I did do quite well completing my contracts, and made quite efficient use of my actions, so I made a good amount of money as the game progressed, but at the cost of the longer term strategies.

Baz went for the possession strategy, taking control of various buildings, which allowed him to use them by way of the Palace special action card, and earning him dribbles of money as people used the buildings - this didn't seem like much, but it probably added up over the course of the game to a tidy sum. He also stockpiled quite a lot of goods, and later in the game switched to delivering the big contracts which earn big money.

Ian went heavily into gathering privilege cards from the villas in the corners of the board. These earn nothing during the game, but pay out a bonus at the end of the game, making a lot more if the buildings they name are connected on the board. At one point he did a swap of cards with Steve as part of a deal, and they were both very happy, the deal having connected chains for both of them, earning a big increase. Later in the game Ian started taking over buildings, and Baz tried to make various deals relating to the route the active player took so that Ian could not take over his buildings.

Steve went for a bit of everything - he looked to be an early winner after he completed a large contract very quickly, but soon after seemed to go off the boil, and I think we underestimated his position a little. He also got quite a few privilege cards, not as many as Ian, but still enough for a hefty bonus at the end.

Estimating who is winning is quite key - I had thought Ian was ahead with his big pile of privilege cards, so I favoured Steve at least once at Ian's expense. Baz was quite cavalier with his privilege cards, at one point practically giving one to Ian, and I was convinced by the end that Ian had won. I thought I had the biggest pile of cash, but controlled no buildings or privileges, Steve had almost as much cash as me, plus a small stack of privileges, Baz was looking about level with me when you factored in his buildings, Ian had a lot less cash, but I thought his huge stack of privileges would make up for it.

The final count though saw me on 675, Baz on 700, Ian (whose privileges were all connected but still didn't quite earn enough) on 730(ish) and dark horse Steve on 830(ish) after adding on his privileges (also all connected).

Sign of a great game: I lost handily, but still had a great time and can't wait to play again. The negotiation was very funny, and never seemed "nasty" - even if someone went the opposite way to the way you wanted, it was usually because it made financial sense for them, so it was rare to feel someone was working against you. Even if they were



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I find that it's a mistake to appear to be a shark in this game - and the buy-low/sell-high strategy doesn't work, unless everyone thinks you are doing them a favour. What I have learned is that fluidity is more important than anything else - you want to get an action on every person's turn, and you want to sell every tower action you can (other than your own if you want or need it).

The game is actually very much like real business - both parties should be happy with their side of the deal. What makes it tricky is to ensure that for you, your side of the deal is sweeter than it appears, such as getting moves that complete both a message and a small-order, etc.

So, I guess efficiency is really important. Making the most of what you can get, and not being stuck into choosing a particular strategy. Especially with four or five players, you often won't get as many choices as you would like in order to 'work' a strategy, unless you are playing with really naive players. A good winning score for us is about $1250

This really is an east-ender's game. ducking and diving, bit of this, bit of that, wide boy stuff. I love it. I'm planning on doing a '70s London East End board, with Henry/Charlie instead of salt/pepper, etc etc.

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James Casey
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Yeah, I'm definitely going to play differently next time! I think everyone will to be honest, which is another thing that makes the game great - it strikes me that it has a very strong "meta" component where previous games (or more importantly players activity therein) have a profound effect on future games.

I like the sound of your 70's board. Traders of Peckham?


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William Dunning
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westbrookgamer wrote:
A good winning score for us is about $1250


I'd be interested to know how many people you have been playing the game with. I generally have a full game, and $800 seems like a good score for a winner in our games. If you are playing with a full game, too, then I need to review my strategies.
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wcdunning wrote:
westbrookgamer wrote:
A good winning score for us is about $1250


I'd be interested to know how many people you have been playing the game with. I generally have a full game, and $800 seems like a good score for a winner in our games. If you are playing with a full game, too, then I need to review my strategies.


Well, that's with three and four player games. I don't get to play five player very often - so I cannot say whether or not $800 is a good score for that. With three player games, an experienced player can get more than $1250. Bear in mind that we play with the 'house rule' of allowing $1 increments (keeping the $5 floor for trades). As I have said before, $1 increments allow for a great deal more finessing, which often leads to better deals being struck.

Having said that, some people say that I could offload a used nissan to a ford dealership, sell a sack of coal to a miner, 5000 chinese reprints of the Qu'ran to the pope, make a healthy profit and get them recommending me to their friends. Of course, I'm not sure that has anything to do with Traders of Genoa....
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