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Subject: Trying out deficit spending rss

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David Grabiner
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The first time I played, I won without ever taking a loan, feeding myself in a four-player game with grain, cattle, and eventually two ships. This game, I got to try the other strategy, being in debt starting on the third turn and not paying off my last loan until the end of the game.

This was a three-player game. John had played several times previously, Andy was playing for the first time, and I had played once and liked the game enough that I then bought it.

I was the third player, and with a franc appearing in the offer, I took the three francs and bought the Marketplace, with two francs left to feed myself for that turn. John's first purchase was the Bakery, Andy built the Fishery and the Joinery, and I built the Sawmill after visiting the Marketplace. I got one early Marketplace visit from each opponent because they could get three goods each, and fed myself for Turn 2.

At the end of turn 3, I had to decide whether to sell the Sawmill or take out a loan; 7 francs now or 14 VP later? I chose to keep the Sawmill, and once I was in debt, I decided to stay in debt. I would have taken a large pile of fish, but none ever appeared as John took them. Ignoring food, I took the resource piles, including uneaten grain.

John built the Abattoir, and the two buildings under it were the Black Market and Clay Mound, so he bought both, and immediately profited as I went to the Clay Mound and paid him a franc for my lack of food. (I visited the Black Market twice later to get iron and another good, so that also served him well.)

The disadvantage of deficit spending is that you may not always have cash or food on hand to enter buildings. I had to wait a turn after gathering resources before I could use the Construction Firm, but while waiting, I had one franc to visit a town-owned Hardware Store for a brick that I would need to modernize a Wharf. When I had the two francs for construction, I built the Wharf and the Local Court.

John built the other Wharf, which was right under the first one, so I didn't collect much from my Wharf. John started with a wooden ship, and I quickly modernized my wharf and built an iron ship, the first step to feeding myself. By then, I had five loans, and went to the Local Court to reduce that to three; the ship wasn't enough to feed me and I got back to five loans. Andy built a wooden ship on John's wharf, then an iron ship on my wharf.

Not feeding myself early led to large piles of goods. When I finally went to the Bakehouse, I had thirteen grain and baked twelve loaves, and I then went to the Abattoir to slaugher twelve cattle. John, who owned both buildings, had used them himself, although he ran out of food briefly and had to take a loan. Andy fed himself mostly with fish until he fed himself with the ships.

I was finally able to feed myself and thus had cash available when I needed it, so I could plan my moves better, and I set up for another double build. Six clay at Andy's Brickworks became six brick, and the two buildings which were available were the Ironworks and Steel Mill. Meanwhile, two more visits to the Local Court got me down to one loan.

With the Ironworks and Steel Mill on turn 15, I was thinking of going for a steel ship, but then I counted my food after a recent visit to the Bakehouse and realized that I didn't need food from a ship and could go for a luxury liner instead: Ironworks for three iron, seven charcoal at the Charcoal Kiln, Steel Mill burning five charcoal, town-owned Kiln to get three bricks for later, and Wharf on turn 17 to get the 38-point liner. Meanwhile, Andy used his ships at the Shipping Line to get a large pile of cash, and then bought up many of the town buildings in order to collect the benefits and keep them away from my Town Hall (not yet built, but I was sitting on three brick and three wood; if he had bought the Town Hall, I would have gone to the Marketplace for wood and iron and bought the Church instead). In particular, he knew that the town-owned Bridge over the Seine would be useful on the final turn.

Nobody needed cattle at the end, so they built up to six, and I took them with my first action on turn 18. That was a mistake because the Luxury Yacht was out and Andy took it for more than the cattle was worth to either of us. On the other hand, I caught Andy short by then going to the Abattoir with fifteen cattle; he couldn't find a better way to feed himself than the Joinery, as John had taken the Shipping Line. I built the Town Hall at the Sawmill (worth 14), and then got 20 (minus 2 to Andy) for the Bridge over the Seine for all my hides, meat, and grain, finally paying off my last loan as the game ended.

The Luxury Yacht was the first special building out, which limited the use of special buildings. The Kiln was used several times; the other two were the Bakery and Baguette Shop, and nobody had enough bread at the right time to make either one worthwhile.

Final scores: David 151, Andy 143, John 119. I thought John had done better, but I believe he was hurt because his buildings weren't used as much as he expected. With my deficit spending, I didn't use the Bakehouse and the Abattoir much, and wood was taken in large enough piles that we used the Charcoal Kiln for energy in preference to John's Colliery, (The Cokery didn't come out in time to be useful.)

My conclusion is that deficit spending works best if you ignore food for the first half of the game. Gather large piles of goods, and plan to save actions by converting the piles all at once; go to the Local Court or do your building when there is no large pile.

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M Loebach
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Good strategic thinking.
 
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Tim Seitz
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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Unlike Agricola, there's no significant penalty for being unable to feed at harvest times, so it becomes pretty obvious tactical play to just maximize each action, regardless of harvest requirements. Ensuring adequate food at multiple harvest points in the game can be very suboptimal. Once everyone gets past that, the strategy starts to get a bit deeper since everyone is potentially playing with the same level of efficiency. Prior to playing with new players, discussing this and the Cokery is probably warranted.
 
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Scott Anderson
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Another important point regarding loan strategies (at least in my opinion): Taking loans is much more viable an option in a 2- or 3-player game than it is in a 4-player game.
 
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Joseph Cochran
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Speedracer513 wrote:
Another important point regarding loan strategies (at least in my opinion): Taking loans is much more viable an option in a 2- or 3-player game than it is in a 4-player game.


I wouldn't say that. If you are the only loan-taker in a 4-player game you can do quite well. You can't have multiple people taking loans (because then the people actually using food have far too easy access to it), and you do have to be careful, but I have done pretty well being the only deep-loan strategist in 4. I've also lost doing it, so I suppose, what do I know? whistle
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Eric Silva
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When I first played, I was wondering why there were so many loan cards (with a multiplier on the back of each one!!). The loan strategy could actually be a big part of Le Havre. Unfortunately, I do not get much play out of it (struggling to expand board gaming in Corpus Christi), but the few times I have played I noticed that the loans can make or break you. Its all in the timing.

I am really happy I took a gamble to buy this game. Oddly enough, I bought Le Havre before I even contemplated Agricola. I was so impressed with it that I ordered Agricola a few weeks later. This was probably a good thing because I think I would have been afraid of the loans had I played Agricola first hehe.

 
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Tim Seitz
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The 3 harvest games definitely have a very different feel to them when it comes to the options and/or penalties for not having enough food/cash.

In Agricola, begging cards (loans) are a sure-fire way to lose, with a 5-10% score hit each per missing food.

In Le Havre, taking loans is actually a good thing, because the penalty is so small and benefit of freed up actions is pretty high.

Whereas in the newest game, Loyang, loans can be useful, and certain viable starting plays require them, but they can also keep you from winning.

Playing each of these games teaches you to be flexible with your opinions regarding deficit spending.
 
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David Grabiner
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out4blood wrote:
The 3 harvest games definitely have a very different feel to them when it comes to the options and/or penalties for not having enough food/cash.

In Agricola, begging cards (loans) are a sure-fire way to lose, with a 5-10% score hit each per missing food.

In Le Havre, taking loans is actually a good thing, because the penalty is so small and benefit of freed up actions is pretty high.

Whereas in the newest game, Loyang, loans can be useful, and certain viable starting plays require them, but they can also keep you from winning.

Playing each of these games teaches you to be flexible with your opinions regarding deficit spending.


And in Stone Age, starvation is a distinct strategy. You can either play to have no food and lots of people, paying a fixed penalty every round for starving, or you can play to have just enough food.

 
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Rob Fores
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Actually, I think defecit Spending works better when only ONE
player is using it heavily, Even with 3 or four players in a game. When Muliple players are using Heavy Defecit Spending, the
Advantage goes slightly to the Non-Debtors. As there is likely more
food source potential (Fish,wheat,Cows) accumulated on the board compared to The non-consumption goods

 
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