Recommend
15 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Brass: Lancashire» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Strategy Tidbits: A Tale of Two Eras rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Randy Brown
United States
Manchester
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In this bacon series, I will attempt to avoid my usual, overly-thorough approach to strategy articles, and keep a narrow focus.

It was the best of times, it was the blah, blah, blah...shake

I previously discussed the basic 3 strategies in Brass. Today, I want to focus more generally on the eras. I will reference the strategies discussed in the previous article, so you may need to read it to understand this article.

Each era is composed of either 8 rounds of play (4p), or 10 rounds of play (3p). This means that you will have 15 or 19 actions in the canal era, and 16 or 20 in the rail era redtrain. That said, you better get your butt in gear, because time is your most valuable commodity in this game!

A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL

The canal era accounts for somewhere between 1/5 to 1/3 of your total points. The era serves primarily as a way to seed the board for the meat and potatoes rail era. However, you can't focus solely on getting yourself set up for the rail era redtrain, because there is a significant chunk of your points riding on how you do in this one.

There are two basic ways to approach the canal era. You can focus on trying to build up your income 5db, or you can dive right in to the race for points 5vp.

As a veteran of countless "economic" games, I immediately assumed that Brass was best approached with a "build up a stable economy, then convert to points" approach. This works great in Puerto Rico, and in Steam. However, you can win Brass without building up much of an economy at all! Some veteran players never crack double digit income, but get it all done on loans.

However, just because you don't need to go the income 5db route, doesn't mean that the points 5vp route is inherently better. That is what's so cool about this game: many valid ways to approach victory.

There are 2 ways to build up your income early in the canal era. You can go the I&C route, which uses coal mines to fuel your income, or you can take a stab at early cotton sales to the distant market. If you're working the Ports angle, or you're really pushing the Rush (i.e. you're trying to get your level d10-3 mills down as quickly as possible), then you're focusing more on points, and you'll be taking more loans.

The benefits of high income are pretty obvious. You know that the rail era redtrain is coming, and everything will cost a ton, so preparing for it with a solid income stream certainly seems worthy. The only alternative is funding everything with loans, and that costs actions.

As I stated above, actions are a very precious commodity bag in Brass. So why would you do anything but build up income in the canal era? Well, because it takes a lot of actions to build up that income, so in the end it's often a wash. With the exception of ports, which are pretty balanced, the high income industry tiles suck for points, and vice-versa.

If you build coal mines for income 5db, you're only getting a few points out of them. If you build the level d10-1 mills, they go away at the end of the era, so they're only worth a few points. That means that you'll need to spend more actions catching up in the rail era redtrain, which balances with the actions lost by the other guy to loans.

On the other hand, building up income in the canal era, will give you greater flexibility in how you approach the rail era. Since you won't know what sort of hand you'll have to work with, this can be a big bonus thumbsup.

The key is to try to position yourself to do what your opponents are NOT doing, since competition hurts everything in Brass. If you can sit back and build up coal mines in the canal era (and getting them flipped) while everyone else build mills, then more power to you. If everyone else is building mines, then it's time to focus your energies elsewhere.

A final note on the canal era from the obvious desk: location cards are you ally. Since you are just starting your network, industry cards are much tougher to use in the canal era arrrh. Be on the lookout for ways to use them, but don't hesitate to dump them for other actions. You want to have presence in several corners of the board, so don't dump those location cards too quickly. It should go without saying that I'm not talking about Birkenhead or Barrow here shake.

The less obvious corollary: experienced opponents are not going to dump locations. That is, if you see someone dumping a location early on, they very likely are just dumping a duplicate card. If you are a card counter sauron, take note.

Later on (as you get to the bottom of the draw pile), you may see corner locations (Colne, Macclesfield, Fleetwood, and possibly even Stockport and Lancaster) getting dumped. This may not be on account of a duplicate card as your opponents should have already committed to a course of development. Just keep your eye open goo.

PANAMA

The rail era redtrain is where you really start to race for points. Not only do you have an extra action, but with the double rail build, the actions just got better. The double rail build is actually on a par, both in cost and points, with flipping a level d10-3 mill (actually the links tend to be a bit cheaper and can net more points). However, to unlock this awesome action, you will need money in spades .

So what does high income mean exactly? Well, at the end of the canal era, if you're in the double digits, you're doing great. If you manage to get your income into the high teens, then you've really done well pursuing the money angle. Your job isn't over quite yet, however. You'll need to build it up to the low 20's to avoid taking loans.

On the other hand, with a new era comes a whole new decision. Do I continue to build up income to avoid loans, or do I pursue points with abandon? Again, the answer is that you can win either way. Yes you will need to go after points at some point, but if you're income is high enough, you can do both by dropping a coal mine and building 2 links each turn.

This won't be enough to win, but it will give you some time to suss out your options and see what the other players are up to.

The only thing you can't do is sit back and wait. There's no point in being conservative in the rail era redtrain. Everything is a race! You're racing for the best rail links, the open industry spots, for unflipped ports, and for building over each other's iron works arrrh. It's kind of dizzying after the relatively sedate canal era.

In the canal era, it's location cards that are your most powerful ally. In the rail era redtrain, you may find that you'd rather have a fistful of industry cards. With the single player city cap restriction lifted, industry cards are far easier to play than they were. Furthermore, as you're racing for the last couple of building sites, you may find specific locations getting locked down fast (i.e. your location cards face increasing risk of becoming deadwood) zombie. Think long and hard before dumping away any card in the rail era redtrain.

Conclusion

What? That's it? Yes it is. I said that I was only sketching the eras out in a general way. I'll flesh it out some more in future tidbits. Besides, aren't you ready for a break? It's not good to stare at a computer screen all day.

Edit: Added the bit about cards. I don't know why I forgot to mention them in the first draft, as I always make the point to save locations in canal era, and industry cards in the rail era when I teach the game. Maybe because it seems obvious ? I hope future readers will find the addition helpful.

Rest of the series: 1) The Big 3, 3) Opening Act, 4) Alternative Rock
10 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Patiently waiting for the zombie apocalypse...
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Randy,

Both strategy guides you have written, I have appreciated. Thought provoking and makes me want to play Brass....

Thanks for the effort.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
evan macdonald

st. louis
Missouri
msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Randy, thank you so much for what you've recently done on this board. I just got the game and have played twice, but I am not sure if I'm doing everything right, is there a place I can watch a video of the game being played, so I can be sure I'm doing everything correctly?

emac
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randy Brown
United States
Manchester
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Evan,

A great way to learn the game is to play some PBEm games on this site.

Alternatively, if you don't feel up to playing against others, or the email games are just going too slow, the creator of the site (BGG's very own Hammerite) also has a program that you can use for solo play here.

I've been using the PBEm application quite a bit. I've used the solo computer game a couple of times to help me get the rules down and experiment with different strategies.

Feel free to geek mail me if you want me to start up a PBEm game with you. I'd be happy to give you as much or as little guidance as you like to get your feet wet.

R
2 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
evan macdonald

st. louis
Missouri
msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Randy,

thank you so much for the information. Working at a boarding school, I had to put the game away for a while, but with the kids on break, I'm dusting it off again!! Hooray.

evan
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Holle
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
mb
My favorite palindrome.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.