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Subject: Strategy Tidbits: The Big 3 Strategies in Brass rss

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Randy Brown
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In this bacon series, I will attempt to avoid my usual, overly-thorough approach to strategy articles, and keep a narrow focus.

There are 3 main strategies that I've seen employed in Brass: the Cotton Rush, Coal & Iron, and Ports strategies. I had considered looking at each one in its own tidbit article, but I'm not really interested in fleshing them out. I'm much more interested in future discussions, so I'm going to stash some reference material in here.

Most of you already know these strategies well; this article is not meant for you snore. It is meant to acquaint a new player with some of the concepts that I will need to reference in future articles.whistle

Enough wind up, let's get to it!

COTTON RUSH

This one has been discussed more than any other. It stems from the observation that you have more mills than any other industry, and they're worth a lot of points 5vp. The other 2 strategies tend to wheeze out at the end, meaning that you'll need to supplement them grapecamel. Not so with the rush, this one should keep you busy right up to the end.

The basic goal here is to develop mills to level d10-3, and try to get at least one level d10-3 mill built and flipped by the end of the canal era. In the rail era redtrain, you try to get the rest down and flipped. If you can manage to get some of your level d10-3 and d10-4 ports down too, then you're really riding the gravy train whitetrain.

There is one serious drawback, however. This strategy costs a lot of money 5db and time. So the bonus that it will keep you busy can become a negative if you run out of actions before being able to pull it off. You will need to focus very hard goo, and take a lot of loans. If you don't get the cards you need to place your mills, you're really in a hurt because of all of the effort you spent trying to pull this off. soblue

Like all of the strategies, competition really hurts it. However, the rush is less adverse to competition than the others because there are more spaces for you to get your mills down. thumbsup

IRON & coal

In the canal era, this is a great marriage of income 1db and points 1vp. It's a sure fire way to build up your income to respectable levels with coal coal, while not falling behind in points 5vp thanks to your iron works.

This is a canal era strategy, however, meaning that you will need to adopt another scoring method in the rail era redtrain to win. This gives you a lot of flexibility by letting you see your initial hand before committing to something (unlike the rush). thumbsup

The biggest downside to this strategy is competition angry. It is the most susceptible of the 3. There are only 5 locations for iron works in the canal era, making it impossible for 2 players to both get their first 3 down. To get all 4 down or not should be the subject of its own thread, but getting the first 3 down at least is necessary for keeping even on points 5vp.

The other problem is in games where the other players don't do a lot of developing. I don't see this much anymore, but if you do you will need to temper this strategy accordingly. ninja

PORTS

This strategy is very tricky to pull off. It requires a lot of hand-magic, meaning that you had better have the right cards for it. The basic idea is to load the game up with your ports so that anyone using the rush will need to come through you eventually. devil

The chief strength is in using another player's action to flip your industry. That's also the biggest weakness: they will rarely flip your ports in a manner most convenient to you.

Like the I&C, this strategy will require some supplemental point 5vp sources. This could mean building your own mills (expensive), or building links to bring your ports to the other players (kind of defeats the action you save by making them flip your ports).

This is susceptible to competition, but usually it's possible to avoid with strong play up front. It can also be a good rail era redtrain strategy (if no one did much port building in the canal era) for those who did I&C.

Conclusion

That's it. I hope you don't feel that I did injustice to any of these strategies. I was only trying to highlight some of their strengths and weaknesses. No one is superior to the others (thanks to their susceptibility to competition). There's obviously a lot more to each than I've gone into here.

P.S. Yes, this is actually a short article for me. blush

Edit for clarification. Rest of the series: 2) A Tale of Two Eras, 3) Opening Act, 4) Alternative Rock
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Dan
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Cotton Rush

You need to have all of your 3's down. Ideally, you'd have a hand full of location cards and 2 opponents invested in ports. Rather than rush to 3's, I usually place a 1, then a 2, and then as many 3's as possible.

Setbacks: You'll be poor in the rail era and a good player can break you down (despite your high score) pretty easily. All 3's in canal and then the 4's in rail only equals 90 points and I'd want at least 145 to feel competitive.

I could say more, but this is a snippet from a very large strategy guide I'm working on right now. Good beginner advice here though. A little hard to read.
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Randy Brown
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Just trying to make it colorful (it's pretty dry). I've edited it to make it easier to read.

I agree that doing a lv 1 and lv 2 mill is a good start to the rush, especially if you can sell both to the distant market. I don't agree that it's necessary to build and flip all of your 3s in the canal era. That is very hard to do. With the building restrictions, it isn't easy to find 5 sites for your mills, especially when you will need to spend actions on loans and links to make it work.

It can be done with the right cards, and it's a worthy goal, but you can still win with a little more restraint.

Getting them flipped is even harder since you must depend on another player to build ports for you. I've seen many games where no one pursues the Ports strategy. Without that, you will not have enough actions to get it all done yourself.

Of course, you said nothing about getting them flipped. You could build them just to protect the build sites and try to flip them all with distant market sales early in the rail era. I'm not a big fan of having that many expensive industries unflipped at the end of the canal era. However, if you're able to get most of them squared away in the canal era, with only 1 left unflipped, that could work out very well for you.
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Jason Shapiro
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I want to emphasize this point because I feel it's very important. When you flip low level cotton mills, especially level 1 cotton mills, this is not a cotton rush strategy, this is a cash strategy. When you go for a cash strategy, your objective is to get tons of income so that right before the rail phase you can take a double loan and still have around 10+ income or so, preferably with some unflipped level 2 or 3 coal still on the board. This lets you build rails like crazy during the rail phase, and perhaps gets you set up for the cash intensive shipyard strategy.

To succeed with a cotton rush, you (usually, but not always) really need to develop past all of your level 1 and 2 mills. The real points in this strategy come from how many mills you can get flipped in the CANAL phase, so you can double score them.

Everything here comes with a grain of salt, since I'm certainly no expert at Brass.
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Randy Brown
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Building low level mills can do two things. It can be the basis of building up income (subject of my next article), or it can be the opening salvo in a Rush.

To get your level d10-3s down, you need to either build or develop the d10-1s and d10-2s. You certainly don't have time to build all the way down to d10-3s, but many players like to build a couple of lower level mills and develop twice instead of developing 3 times. This does allow them to get some income, which will be very important for getting the higher level mills down.

Jason, if you do pursue a high income early on, I wouldn't recommend finishing the canal era with a double loan and undoing all of that hard work. High income is supposed to save you from taking more than 2 or 3 loans. Your mileage may vary.
 
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Dan
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In the games where the cards have allowed me to drop 3 lvl 3 mills and flip in the canal, I've always been cash poor. I start with a huge lead and it slowly dwindles away. I've been overtaken before (by greg909). The games where I got some income from a low lvl mill and then rushed have been much more successful. Once you've put down those 3's you're almost 100% committed to getting the 4's out in the rail phase, which you have to do early and at high cost to get those last few spots before coal moves in. Meanwhile, everyone else is building their income and catching up.

3 lvl 3's in the canal will smash new players, but it's not hard to overcome if you're playing experienced players.
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Randy Brown
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You bring up a very good point. One of the problems with the Rush is that it takes so much work to pull it off. Even if you do manage it, you can find yourself with very little to do once you've finished your mills in the rail era redtrain. Worse yet, and this has happened to me, what do you do when your initial rail draw doesn't help you get those level d10-4s down? Then you're really in a hurt.

This is why I usually don't go all out for getting the level d10-3s out and flipped in the canal era. As Daniel stated, doing so really commits you to getting the level d10-4s down. If you build a couple of lower level mills and 1 or 2 level d10-3s in the canal era, you can still break off and do something else (rail roads, ships, ports) in the rail era redtrain with out losing much steam. Flexibility is very desirable in Brass.

On the other hand, I have gone the level d10-3 mill route in the canal era, then switched to rail roads in the rail era redtrain. This meant that I didn't get all (or even some times any) of my level d10-4 mills down, but it still worked out all right. Honestly, a double rail build early on is worth about the same as a level d10-4 mill, slightly cheaper (often), and far easier to do (only 1 action). So focusing on rail roads vs. your mills isn't too bad.

The real issue becomes money 5db. As Daniel pointed out, the Rush is really expensive. In part, you just have to hope that the other players are challenging each other (i.e. that they're not letting one person dominate links or other point sources).

The other way to save yourself is to try to get some of your IW in the mix in the canal or early rail era, so that you have a chance to squash your competition's level d10-3 IW late in the rail era redtrain.

No strategy in Brass can win every time. It becomes crucial to take advantage of opportunity, and exploit your hand for all it's worth. It's very hard to commit to a long term strategy, because you have no idea what your initial rail era hand will look like.
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