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Subject: Bonus Markers rss

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Jorge Montero
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Disclaimer: I am not claiming to have figured out the best way to play in any way, shape or form.

I've been playing this game with a bunch of different people, and a few times already we've seen how the distribution of bonus markers has made a big impact in how the game played out. As it happens, some markers seem to be a whole lot stronger than others, and being the lucky person sitting to the left of the player that draws them makes a pretty big difference.

The two markers that give a free tech increase are rarely not taken by the player to the left of the player who put them on the board, regardless of where he put them. At the very least, they are as good as 4 and a half actions :3 placements from your supply into a short action route, plus claiming the route and reclaiming 3 cubes back into your personal supply. When the action that you want is being contested heavily, or is one of those were a single upgrade doesn't grant any actual advantages, the advantages get even bigger.

the +3 and +4 action tiles require little analysis. The +4 is taken immediately almost every time, the +3 a little less so.

The remove 3 cubes action is strong, and nets around 3 1/2 actions in a two player game, but with more players, it's value dilutes, becoming a bit situational. I like its power level, in the sense that it's almost always useful, but it's not extremely urgent in every situation.

Placing an extra kontor is useful in most games, but people are rarely in a rush to get them: It allows you to do something that is impossible to do with actions, so it's hard to gauge.

Swapping two adjacent kontors is not something that seems to be valued that much: By the time someone has the ability to place the second kontor in a high traffic city, said city has already given over half of its payout, so this is typically worth about 3 vps after you spend the effort of taking that second kontor. Nowhere near as valuable as the others, at least in our games.

So my question to you all is, do you value the bonus markers in a similar fashion as the groups I play with? Is there any strategy to make the luck of having your neighbor place the bonus markers be less of a factor in our games?

Any help from people that have played this game often would be appreciated.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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I have found that flipping and placing the +3 or +4 action marker will almost always result in the next player taking it. Sometimes the next 2 players might fight over it, but it is almost certain that you won't have a chance to get them.

We have pretty much ignored the bonus markers in our last game; but that's what I like about HT--every game can be very different depending on what the players choose to focus on.
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Sean Todd
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In my first four plays we valued the bonus markers at about the same level you have in your post. In one of the games a player really ran away from the rest of us by setting up a area where he had kontors at either end. He took bonus markers when he could and if he drew a great one he put it between those cities so you had to give him 2 pts to take the marker.

Edit: I have my copy and I'm so psyched to bring it to a meetup tomorrow and get some plays in!
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jbrier
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hibikir wrote:

The remove 3 cubes action is strong, and nets around 3 1/2 actions in a two player game, but with more players, it's value dilutes, becoming a bit situational. I like its power level, in the sense that it's almost always useful, but it's not extremely urgent in every situation.


The value of this tile as a deterrent to other players should not be underestimated.

hibikir wrote:
Swapping two adjacent kontors is not something that seems to be valued that much: By the time someone has the ability to place the second kontor in a high traffic city, said city has already given over half of its payout, so this is typically worth about 3 vps after you spend the effort of taking that second kontor. Nowhere near as valuable as the others, at least in our games.


You forget to mention that controlling a city doesn't just give VPs during the game, but will also give 2 VP at game end. Once again this also has strong value as a deterrent.
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mojo shivers
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We've been playing for awhile and bonus markers for us have really surged as both a way to end the game and earn a good deal of points.

Almost always, whenever somebody takes the swap token, that person also takes the action city. That way he has a deterrent for anybody else wanting to take it over.

I have also noticed that the person who is going for largest network/keys always take one or two of the "place to the left" tokens as a way of insuring he can get into every city or, at the very least, save him the hassle of placing discs in non-valuable spots.

Honestly, 50% of our games because of the last token being taken on the board and none being available to restock the board.
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Juho Snellman
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hibikir wrote:
So my question to you all is, do you value the bonus markers in a similar fashion as the groups I play with? Is there any strategy to make the luck of having your neighbor place the bonus markers be less of a factor in our games?

It's largely a matter of placing the more powerful chips into more inconvenient places. A low-powered chip can be placed on a route that you intend to claim yourself to extend your network. Good chips should be placed on routes that are basically useless to other players: one that's controlled on both ends by you, doesn't have any useful office spaces left in the neighboring cities (e.g. just a single black office on one end of the route is great), and for the +1 skill and +4 actions preferably is of length 4. Someone will probably still claim them before your next turn, but they're not getting any other benefits, and you're scoring the VPs for controlling the endpoints.

So anyone playing a bonus chip-centered game should be planning their network to have suitable places for placing the new chips. While for players who are just going to pick a chip here or another there the seating order effect isn't a big deal.

This has worked pretty well for me so far, and I tend to play bonus chip heavy strategies (aiming at the 10 point bonus) more often than not.
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Vincent White
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woops!

We been playing that the bonus markers were face down and no one would know what they were except for the player that placed it on the board.

this will change things up for sure
can't wait to try it.
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JonGetsGames
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vinniebrasco wrote:
woops!

We been playing that the bonus markers were face down and no one would know what they were except for the player that placed it on the board.

this will change things up for sure
can't wait to try it.


Huh, i was contemplating trying exactly this as a variant. How did you find it played out compared to the correct way? (if you've played games both ways by now that is)
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Vincent White
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I will play the correct way tonight. However I found that the first person to get a bonus marker ended up getting the first few as it is risky not knowing what you will get. However, once another player built enough actions or cubes he or she usually took a chance and grabbed the bonus marker. Thus ending the bonus marker hoarding from the first person, as it was now more important for that person to build actions and the such than to take a risk on a blind bonus.

I think it was interesting and felt natural.
It allows for a couple of things.

1. Bluffing: The player who places it can not only place it in an area that will net that player points, but also can appear to want the marker without having enough cubes or actions to gain it in one turn. This may cause someone to displace that players cubes even though that may be exactly what the player wants.

2. Lottery: It presents a bit of a gamble for the person who takes the bait and goes for the bonus marker without knowing what it is. It is a pretty tense feeling wondering if your gamble paid off as you spend actions and cubes in an irrelevant place on the board. However the gamble is not an entire loss knowing you can put an end to the bonus marker hoarding of the other player......But who steps up to do this?

I liked it this way, but I will be back to let you know on the comparison.

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Vincent White
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Ok,
I played with the correct rules last night(4p). I don't know if it was the ideal game to say what I thought of the rules.

I did not try for the bonus markers. I made a couple attempts, but only to be displaced and gain more cubes on the table. We had one player trying for nothing but bonus markers. He also spent much of his effort displacing my cubes (even using the dreaded remove three cubes marker on me...ouch!)

I felt I could accomplish nothing. I never got to complete the "bag" route for more cubes on a pull. I never got my third action until about 3 turns remaining in the game. However I did max out my "books" and "colors". I was able to use my move cubes action to gain the 9 and 11 point merchant guys in the corner. I also had a city in an excellent location to gain points constantly.

I miraculously ended up winning by about 4 points with a final score of 50.
The guy hoarding bonus markers came in last. With around 34 points.

I think I liked the bonus markers being hidden better.
1. I think it a disadvantage to go for one of the weak bonus markers just to place a stronger one face up for others to get.
2. More tension, wondering what the guy with the bonus marker is going to get and use on you.
3. The exposed + 3 or +4 action marker or the remove one cube off of your player board results in a lot of displacement that ends up granting as much advantage to those who didn't get the marker as to the one who ended up with it.

However playing with them exposed was fine, and really gives you the best of open information on the board.
For those that want a little unknown element in the game...and a bit of surprise (both treasure hunting like and Doh! my plans were ruined!) I say it does not hurt the game to play with the markers face down.

Try it you may like it. I would happily play either way. Hope that helps.
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Bruce Murphy
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I think one of the great things about HT is that it is a perfect information game. There isn't any random chance thrown into the game. I don't believe it would improve things.

B>
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Lukasz Sobczyk
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Drawing random next tile is random

But i agree, random bonuses suck - especially place next to the city and swap cantor bonuses are virtually useless unless they work well for your strategy. I find place kantor next to the city crucial when attempting to join red cities, and swap is a strong deterrent especially for the action city - you place a merchant i swap you get nothing... so you'd better not and status quo is good for me

If you find a bonus too powerful just place a merchant on this route, is spending 3 cubes and giving you 2 more enough of a price?

I dont find remove 3 cubes especially strong. I don't like it as it is like the only game mechanics that allows you to hurt only one player with no additional effect like with displacement, but it doesn't really give much of a boost to the player who uses it. If you really want to score a route you can use the bonus then move your cubes then score...
(i had a plan involving using +3, +4 action and remove 3 cubes to clear out coellen route, move cubes and merchant there, score, move some more and score once again for 20 pts total in one turn (i had enough merchants and black priv); hoarded bonuses are fun) but usually doing sth else isn't really that much worse.

About drawing a bonus for others i feel you are completely wrong. If it's good just place it on a length four route where you control one of the neighboring cities... is it still to strong?
I claimed two cities with black and white kantor spaces only, i got white but no other players got black priv yet - so i placed all new bonuses on that route - you take it = i score 2 points, you don't = i'll take it, score 2 points and take a bonus as well

You can play sth really strong if you plan carefully, but then will the players let you do it or just dump a merchant on a golden route to stop your engine devil
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James Ludlow
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z3phyr wrote:
I dont find remove 3 cubes especially strong.


It's the strongest of the starting bonus markers early in the game. You clear a trade route without giving extra resources to others, plus you end up costing them extra actions to get those resources back on the board.

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Lukasz Sobczyk
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i personaly much prefere +3 actions. For one action i get 3 cubes (at least, rather more as advancing bag to at least 5 is quite important), then i can displace virtually any traderoute even when all 3 cubes are present and still have two-three actions to score it.

Yeah, i've given many cubes to ma opponents but if you play a 4er or 5er you should focus more on geting points and less on not helping others. Especialy with deals that benefit both sides.

With remove 3 cubes i sure have hurt some players, but i dont get anything for me. If i want those now empty spaces i still need to use a load of actions...

But thats HT for you - this game is all about interaction and how other players play. If they block everything and never displace getting clear 3 cubes might be the best choice.

edit:
usefull observation - if i displace you ant then you displace me we basically both got an extra action displacing is really a great and not so easy to grasp mechanics that makes HT what it is
 
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James Ludlow
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z3phyr wrote:
i personaly much prefere +3 actions.


Obviously. I'm talking about the starting 3 bonus markers.
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KAS
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jdludlow wrote:
z3phyr wrote:
I dont find remove 3 cubes especially strong.


It's the strongest of the starting bonus markers early in the game. You clear a trade route without giving extra resources to others, plus you end up costing them extra actions to get those resources back on the board.

Agreed. Just having it unused in your possession can be a big help. Players are often less inclined to leave a lot of resources on the board on routes they think you may want. The Swap Kontor tile is also nice.
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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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I think much of this valuation analysis is situational. Normally, I'd vote for the remove 3 bonus marker as the best of the initial ones, but in our last 4-player game, we had an early, long, vicious fight for the swap kontor bonus marker. The first player had placed a kontor in the action skill city, and I had taken the next office, so I was scoring points for the action skills. For the next 5-6 turns, we were both fighting over the bonus marker to gain control over the city (the extra kontor markers became very valuable also). I ended up getting it, but had to use it since a third player had subsequently taken the next office. Then the first player used the extra kontor to take control again! Fortunately, I had gained most of the points from the city and went on to win.

It's useful to point out that fighting with another player is mutually beneficial as both players gain net trader placements over the other non-fighting players. That's highly unusual for a eurogame, and requires players to change their mindset and actively seek out conflict to engage in, rather than just filling an empty route unmolested.
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