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Subject: No ships - strategy question rss

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Laszlo Molnar
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Yesterday I had my very first play of Goa. Of course I lost as I was playing against 3 'experts' and that's the way it had to be. I even did realise some of my mistakes after I made them. So I won't even try to suggest that it was my bad luck that made me lose.

Still there was only one thing about luck that bothered me a bit and I couldn't really handle. I'd just like to know what I could have done.
In the first two rounds I mostly adjusted my spice and expedition markers as they seemed to be a good idea (also I had a double clove plantation and my first colony). I think once I also bought expedition cards.
Now after this... I just could not get ships however I wanted to. Mostly because of the tile distribution and player order I couldn't really get "ships" tiles, nor too many 'extra action' tiles. I thought spending actions on getting ships seems to be too expensive (especially as first you get only one and then only two) so I thought I should rely on expedition cards. I managed (with hard work because of the lack of ships) to adjust my expedition marker to the last row and kept drawing expedition cards... and while I saw others having lots of ships I just couldn't get them Nor the "2 ships" expedition cards, nor the "adjust the marker withour ship" expedition card (I got two of the latter in the A part of the game where I didn't yet realise how much I won't get ships so I adjusted my expedition track with them). In part B I just couldn't get them and was always - sooner or later - forced to use my actions on getting 2 ships which didn't seem too effective.

Can you give me some insight on what I did wrong (and/or what I should have done)? Looking back it seems I should have adjusted my ships earlier but a, I couldn't know I would be so unlucky with the expedition cards (and the tiles); b, it still seemed to be too 'expensive' to adjust the ship marker.
 
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Matt Tonks
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So how did you develop your expedition marker all the way to the bottom if you only had 2 ships? Since you need ships & spices to pay for each progression, ships are very important IMO. Therefore, I personally think you should make ships one of the first progressions in the game that you make.

Why rely on chances such as getting certain tiles and/or cards to provide you with ships? To me, that is just taking an unnecessary risk.

Next time, try developing the ships pretty early in the game, that way only getting one or two ships in an action won't feel so inefficient.
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Laszlo Molnar
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tonksey wrote:
So how did you develop your expedition marker all the way to the bottom if you only had 2 ships?

I used my first ships for the expedition cards and later as I said I used the only two expedition cards that had the 'progress without ships' for developing the expedition track.

tonksey wrote:
Since you need ships & spices to pay for each progression, ships are very important IMO. Therefore, I personally think you should make ships one of the first progressions in the game that you make.

And that's what the others didn't do. Quite possibly because they had 'luck' with the cards/tiles...

tonksey wrote:
Next time, try developing the ships pretty early in the game, that way only getting one or two ships in an action won't feel so inefficient.

It seems I'll have to... It just seems a bit to pricey to use my actions for the ships (or the money - as I did draw the 'advance one by money' cards but those advances cost so much that you won't have enough money for the next auctions if you use them).
 
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Daniel Corban
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Ships are extremely important. You took a fairly common gamble that ships would be available in alternate forms and chose to not upgrade your ship track. At some point, you would have been presented with an optimal moment to spend an action for one ship and get the ball rolling on upgrades. Sometimes the gamble pays off (you draw free ships, win a ship tile, or get "upgrade without ships") and sometimes you end up spending an entire turn on "upgrade ships, gets ships, upgrade ships".
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Matt Tonks
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Personally, my preferences for developing the tracks are (depending on how the tiles, cards, etc come out) from high to low:-

Colonists
Ships
Money
Spices
Cards
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Daniel Corban
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lacxox wrote:
I did draw the 'advance one by money' cards but those advances cost so much that you won't have enough money for the next auctions if you use them).


I find that the best use for this card is in your exact situation. I will use it to upgrade a level one track. Seven ducats to save yourself potentially three actions is a deal. It is best used on a turn you have the flag.
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Daniel Corban
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tonksey wrote:
Personally, my preferences for developing the tracks are (depending on how the tiles, cards, etc come out) from high to low:-

Colonists
Ships
Money
Spices
Cards


Interesting. I have an extremely high winning rate for this game and have played it an uncountable number of times.

Here are my rankings:
Expedition
Spice
Ships
Colonists
Tax

Colonists and Tax I pretty much avoid if possible. I will upgrade my colonist track once in the first turn or two, since it gives a significant upgrade, but after that, I don't bother. I think I have upgraded it a second time in maybe two out of my 60+ plays. It's junk.

Tax is only upgraded to get the free extra action near the end of the game. Spending an action to get money is a waste, since the instant you spend the money, it devalues all of the money in the game, making your investment worth less. I have tried a handful of times to get this track to work and each time I ended up with some of my worst performances.

Expedition cards in general are very good. A first turn double-nutmeg plantation is priceless, as it allows you to upgrade to the level three expedition track (draw two cards per action) on turn one.

Spice is a good track, especially if you are drawing expedition cards. The "harvest whatever you want" card (allows you to get colonists/ships/spice when harvesting) is extremely powerful.

Ships are just needed in general, both for normal upgrades and "upgrade without spice".
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Jason Johns
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I haven't played alot, but I tend to try to get something that others don't have especially at the higher levels where you get a free (? I forget). I tend to go for ships and spices early, unless I get one of the cards that gives one for free.
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Alex Bove
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Sorry, Matt, but I agree with Daniel. Cards and Spices are the absolute two best tracks, especially since they have such good spice synergy (you can upgrade them both to the bottom using only three different kinds of spice). The down side of the card/spice strategy is that occasionally you will get really lousy card draws. Still, that's very rare. Let's remember that if you've advanced cards to the bottom and and spices to level 3, you can get the resources you need with the following cards (odds of drawing one):

1) Ships (30%): 2 ships, advance with only spices, harvest ships/spices/colonists.

2) Colonists (30%) - 2 colonists, colonize with three card flips (avg. of 2 extra colonists), harvest ships/spices/colonists.

3) Spices (30%): 2 spices, advance with only ships, harvest ships/spices/colonists.

4) Money (20%): 5 ducats, sell spices (provisional in that you need spices to sell).

You also have a 10% chance of getting the ultimate bailout card: advance by paying cash. I agree that it is cost-prohibitive in most cases (and thus is probably the worst card in the deck), but when your card draws are bad it can sometimes save your life.

If you're drawing three cards per turn and your spice track is at level 3 or higher, you have an extremely high probability of getting at least one very powerful action every time you draw. That's why card strategists can afford to ignore all other tracks (except spices and the obligatory level 2 colonist-track bump, of course).

Even if you somehow manage to draw very poorly, you can "correct" your position in the auction:

1) If you never draw any ship-building cards, surely you will draw some cash-generating cards. You should fight for the flag so that you can place it next to ship-generating tiles in a subsequent auction. When I have the flag, I seldom fear running low on any resource because I can almost always get it via a tile in the next auction.

2) If you can't get the flag but still have a money advantage, another option is to place your own auction token on a weak tile (i.e. sacrifice your potential to earn a lot of money with your auction) in order to force the next player to a ship-generating tile. Obviously this is sub-optimal (as a general rule, one should sell his/her own auctioned tile and buy his left hand opponent's tile), but we're imagining a worst-case-scenario here.

3) If you still can't get ships via auction, try to get extra actions. Every action gets you three cards and increases the odds that you will draw what you need. You also need to be willing to dump some cards in order to draw back up to 5. I will almost always discard an "advance with cash" card in order to draw a fresh card. Almost any card is better than that one. If I'm desperate for a resource, I might even discard a useful card in order to increase my odds of drawing what I need. I would only do that if I were drawing three cards per action, but it might be worth the sacrifice. Having a lot of extra actions makes this a viable strategy.

4) If you can't get ships or actions in the auction (where in the world are you placing your token?!?), you can try for the duty or any other tile that exploits your spice advantage.

5) If you can't do any of that, you can focus on some other long-term goal (like getting colonists and founding your colonies) for a turn and then try for ships next auction. It may seem counter-intuitive to colonize and obtain more spices when what you really need are ships, but colonies score VPs, and those spices will eventually be useful. You'll need to get them somehow: why not do it now, when the opportunity cost is low.

The strongest Goa players find clever ways to extricate themselves from resource-shortages. They also understand that the key to winning at Goa is getting the most from every action *and* every tile you win. If you get yourself into a position in which you absolutely need boats/colonists/spices right now, you will make bad decisions and/or take inefficient actions in order to achieve your short-term goal. If you remain flexible, you will have a use for any card you draw or tile you win in auction. Then you will maximize each action (including your auction "actions") you take.
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Bruce Linsey
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Alex, thank you, that was an excellent strategy article!
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James 3
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dcorban wrote:

Expedition cards in general are very good. A first turn double-nutmeg plantation is priceless, as it allows you to upgrade to the level three expedition track (draw two cards per action) on turn one.


Great advice, but I don't fully get it. How does double nutmeg allow you to get to lvl3 on turn1?? You also need a black spice to go from 2 to 3, not to mention you need to harvest 3 spices. Seems like alot more than 3 or 4 actions! Can someone elaborate?

Looking forward to the new edition
 
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Paul Hackman
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dcorban wrote:
tonksey wrote:
Personally, my preferences for developing the tracks are (depending on how the tiles, cards, etc come out) from high to low:-

Colonists
Ships
Money
Spices
Cards


Interesting. I have an extremely high winning rate for this game and have played it an uncountable number of times.

Here are my rankings:
Expedition
Spice
Ships
Colonists
Tax

Colonists and Tax I pretty much avoid if possible. I will upgrade my colonist track once in the first turn or two, since it gives a significant upgrade, but after that, I don't bother. I think I have upgraded it a second time in maybe two out of my 60+ plays. It's junk.

Tax is only upgraded to get the free extra action near the end of the game. Spending an action to get money is a waste, since the instant you spend the money, it devalues all of the money in the game, making your investment worth less. I have tried a handful of times to get this track to work and each time I ended up with some of my worst performances.

Expedition cards in general are very good. A first turn double-nutmeg plantation is priceless, as it allows you to upgrade to the level three expedition track (draw two cards per action) on turn one.

Spice is a good track, especially if you are drawing expedition cards. The "harvest whatever you want" card (allows you to get colonists/ships/spice when harvesting) is extremely powerful.

Ships are just needed in general, both for normal upgrades and "upgrade without spice".


My strategy is identical. In fact the main reason I don't play this game as much as I used to is because I find it hard to deviate from this strategy. Part of that, though, is the fact that I'm usually playing with new players and I think the first instinct for most Euro players is to go for the security of cash and avoid anything that depends on chance.

So every time I start a game of Goa I tell myself I'm going to try to make a tax strategy work but every time my opponents bid me up on colonists and spices for the tax track and let me have the expedition spices for cheap. And then I win but don't have a lot of fun even though it's a very good game.
 
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James 3
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the new edition switches the spice costs for the money and spice tracks. so if you want to focus on advancing expedition cards and spice production, you need a more diverse crop that includes brown. I suspect that is to shake up the "dominant" strategy. I'm interested to see what veterans think the real impact of this tweak is.
 
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Daniel Corban
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flamejuggler wrote:
dcorban wrote:

Expedition cards in general are very good. A first turn double-nutmeg plantation is priceless, as it allows you to upgrade to the level three expedition track (draw two cards per action) on turn one.


Great advice, but I don't fully get it. How does double nutmeg allow you to get to lvl3 on turn1?? You also need a black spice to go from 2 to 3, not to mention you need to harvest 3 spices. Seems like alot more than 3 or 4 actions! Can someone elaborate?

Looking forward to the new edition


Action 1: colonize. Odds are, you will succeed. Take a colony which provides cloves.

Action 2 & 3: upgrade.
 
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James 3
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wait...when you buy and/or colonize a plantation, they come filled with spice the first time without having to press the spice action? wow, we've been playing that wrong the past few times

makes those 3 spice cards in the b round make ALOT more sense if so and really makes a big difference in how we've been playing...
 
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Daniel Corban
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Yes, I often buy a plantation not for its long-term use, but strictly for the few initial spice.
 
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James 3
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thanks for helping me clear up the newest addition to "rules we've played wrong". That makes tons of sense and makes the opening turns much more interesting. but you know what? I can say it still was still tight in scoring and fun (though a bit spice starved) played as we did!

the ship track in the new addition gives an extra ship at some point now. Also I think cards now have 6 different symbols instead of 5, so it should be harder to get a run of the same symbol from expedition cards. and the card for "spend money to advance a track" no longer requires an action, making cash+cards more interesting possibly? quite a few balance tweaks it seems, very curious if you think this might truly make some of the other tracks more appealing to pursue.
 
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