Recommend
104 
 Thumb up
 Hide
19 Posts

Innovation» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Innovation Strategy Guide (2 player) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: strategy [+] Innovation [+] [View All]
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Here are my initial thoughts on 2 player Innovation strategy after about 30 plays. I am focusing primarily on 2 player strategy, as there is significantly more time available in 2 player to build a strategy. Multiplayer is primarily tactical and is more about maximizing your gain each time the turn comes around to you, and hoping your opponents dont screw everything up.

I will focus primarily on early game strategy, as the game gets crazy later on, but often more clear, as a powerful card can provide you a way to win quickly, and you just need to use it.

Note: I use the word 'towers' to refer to the symbol that many people call 'castles'. I'm using 'crowns' for the coin symbol with a crown in it.


Symbol Types:


Towers (castles): Towers are useful early and then worthless beyond Age 3, except for scoring 'Empire'. In general, I wouldnt worry too much about tower superiority, and building up a bunch of cards that are just going to reveal towers when splayed is unhelpful.
Generally, the tower cards will be the useful cards early on, and a lot of early game powers are tower based, which is kindof a trap. If you just play these, they will provide poor symbols later. However, there is a good chance that they are your best early game powers. The key here is: play out the tower cards that you need for abilities. DOnt play tower cards and think it is building up your piles (unless they have other useful symbols in a corner that will be revealed on a splay).

By Age 3 you should be actively covering towers. For those not in the tower lead, Engineering can steal all your tower cards, and in age 4 Gunpowder will kill all your remaining top cards with towers. Alchemy can cause you to draw several 4s and probalby lose your whole hand if you have a ton of towers in age 3.

Leaves: Leaves are useful for destroying opposing score piles, preventing opponents from winning. And of course, this means leaf superiority prevents this from happening to you. Leaves also control a variety of other effects, including critical hand protection from Machinery, and a number of different scoring powers. They also have some great tucking powers, such as Reformation, Lighting, and Suburbia, allowing multiple tucking while giving other benefits as well. Leaves are very useful, and I would put a high priority on building leaf counts up throughout the game. They are very useful in both the midgame and endgame, and leaf superiority cna often determine which player is able to progress towards a win, and which player is desperately looking for a solution.

Crowns: Crowns are useful in a number of board position stelaing cards throughout the game. They also can occasionally steal points from the opponent (Navigation, Pirate Code). crown superiority is important if you wish to protect a board position from effects that would steal your top cards. Many effects do this throughout the game, such as City States, Enterprise, Banking, and Skyscrapers. If you are behind in technology, crown superiority can help yo cards. Most of these effects give compensation however, so you dont usually get completely wrecked. I put a moderate importance on crowns.

Bulbs: Bulbs are involved in a number of splaying and teching ahead powers. Often, countering an opponents bulbs will not prevent them from using their powers (they just use them and get a bonus card while you get some benefit). But it can prevent teching ahead without you getting to as well. You generally cant tech ahead (usually through blue techs), without bulb superiority. Still, bulbs generally do not interact with board position/theft of top cards or score piles, so while helpful, I dont tend to find bulb superiority critical. A lot of bulb abilities help you advance your position but not win. You have to find a good high level card with them before you can win. They are more indirect. I put a moderate or somewhat below average importance on bulbs. Also, the bulb/tech ahead strategy tends to yield a position of a couple strong cards, but not much bulk in your piles, so you often are losing in several critical symbol categories, out of leaves, crowns, and factories.

Factories: Factories are the advanced version of towers, and are critical from Age 5 on. They can both score points, and attack an opponent's board and hand. Factory dominance is often one of the most critical parts of the second half of the game, and a great deal of attention should be paid to it. There are many great factory based scoring sources, and having dominance will allow you to use these to win, or to make the game a race if your opponent has them. Factories can also lead to some dominating late game effects such as Mobility (I demand you transfer your top TWO non-red cards without a factory to my SCORE pile and draw an 8. Wreck the opponent and score big points!). There is also "I demand you trasnfer all but one card form your hand to my hand and your largest point card from your score pile to my score pile." No compensaiton, ouch! I put a high priority on Factory dominance, up there with leaves.

Clocks: Clock are important late game, and usually involve either the destruction of opposing score piles, teching ahead while scoring points or activating newly drawn and melded cards, or performing upward splays. You want as many clocks as possible late in the game, and often the first player to get 3 will score Empire. Single clocks (not very important) appear in age 7 and triple clocks (critical) start in age 8. Generally you play out all the clocks you have, and they come very late, so I cant really rank them in the list with the others. You dont exactly perform a strategy during the game of building up clocks. You play them out endgame when you get them, and if certain powers appear then they are very important.


Summary of symbol importance in general (high to low):

Leaf Scoring/Preventing scoring. Leafs are the symbol that I find most often critical to determining the winner. Also tucking/hand attacking.
Factory Dominates midgame scoring opportunities.
Crown Useful for board manipulation powers, stealing cards off opposing boards, etc.
Bulb Useful for teching ahead, splaying, a bit of scoring. Superiority is often less important to the card effects, few demands.
Towers Only good very early, can be a liability on top in age 3+.

(Clocks are very important if certain cards come out, but they are deep endgame only).



Ancient World (Age 1: 'Prehistory')


Your goals for the early game, in the first several eras, should be:

* Build up bulk in your colors, so that they will be strong splays later in the game to provide symbol superiority. The early symbols you most want to bulk up on are crowns and bulbs, followed by leaves. More than the first 3 buried towers will not be very helpful later on, and those are helpful only to enable the Empire achievement.
* Splay colors, so that you can start taking advantage of the extra symbols beneath, and you will gain symbols with every addition. Splaying now when the stakes are low will likely save time later when time is critical.
* Tech ahead if possible, advancing to future ages more quickly, and hopefully with as much of the skipped piles remaining as possible for your opponent to dig through.
* Scoring efficiently and getting an achievement or two is helpful, but not at the expense of missing out on a lot of infrastructure. The primary benefit of scoring early is actually that you have cards in your score power to enable the use of certain powers later on, such as Calendar, Printing Press, Chemistry, etc.

The key to scoring is efficiency. Efficient scoring is awesome. This generally means scoring while doing something else of use (clothing/Metalworking), scoring multiple cards per action spent, or scoring a card of decent point size for one action.


Building Bulk (Symbol counts)
This is the #1 priority of the very early game, you simply want to get as many cards out any into piles as possible, that have useful non-tower symbols on the left side or right side, so that they will be revealed via a splaying.

The best ways to build bulk in Age 1 are powers that allow a draw and a meld: Mysticism (once you have a few colors), Domestication, Sailing. (However, these dont give much control over what cards you are building up, so they waste some time).

I would almost always meld Domestication or Sailing first and begin using it if possible.

The Wheel can be a good way to do this as well, but isnt as efficient. (Draw2, Meld, Meld gets 2 cards out for 3 actions, while the others get 2 cards out for 2 actions).

There is a second way to do this, which is the Wheel/Masonry combo. Use the Wheel to draw many cards, and Masonry (hopefully drawn off the wheel) to play at once all of those with a tower, and score an Achievement. However the downside to this is that you are getting less of the more useful non-tower symbols into play.

When building bulk, you really want to be building up the important sumbols: Leaves 1st, crowns 2nd, and Bulbs help too but arent as critical.


Splaying
The only Age 1 card which splays is Code of Laws, but it is possibly the strongest Age 1 card. It allows you to tuck a card to splay that color. If you get code of laws, get some bulk built up (hopefully with something like Domestication/Sailing), and then use Code to splay your piles (while adding to them!). This is a very strong use of your time in the early game.


Teching Ahead
There are two ways to tech ahead in the early game: Writing and Tools.

Tools is strong (in 2 player) as it gets you to age 3 right away. With tools I would tend to draw a couple cards and then use tools to discard 3 and go to age 3. Then start drawing and playing 3s, and hope you get something crazy like Engineering or Alchemy.

Writing is not as exciting, and I would definitely prefer to build bulk with a good draw-and-meld card. However, if its the best thing you have, its not terrible. You would hope to draw something strong off it, such as:
Mathematics, allowing continued teching.
Monotheism, allowing you to wreck opponents boards while building bulk yourself, since you have a low number of colors right now.
Calendar + Scoring enabler, to allow drawing two 3s.
Fermentation + Leaves, allowing multiple draw.
Road Building, allowing multiple melds at once.



Scoring

Scoring in Age 1 is limited, most of the age 1 scorers work better in age 2-3 where the cards you draw and score are worth more than 1 point. However, there are a couple good ones:

Clothing allows you to meld a new color and then score a 1 per color you have that an opponent doesnt. This is a good ability as you still are able to play a card while you use it. The 1s are useful for returning from your score pile for effects later on. If you get to the 2 deck and can still activate clothing for 2+ cards, this is amazing. A turn spending using clothing twice to draw two 2s each time, for 8 total points, is amazing.

Metalworking allows you to draw and score cards with towers until you get one iwthout, and keep that. This is good because its a draw with benefits. The card you eventually keep is a non tower card, meaning it has good symbols! Thats a good thing. You can often get multiple points off this because the 1 deck is tower heavy. It works decently later on as well.

Pottery and Agriculture are terrible. I would only use them later on in the game if I could return a low card and draw and score a high value card due to piles between them being out. But later in the game there are much better scoring cards. The decent thing about Pottery and Agriculture is that they have 3 leaves. But many cards have decent symbols while also doing something useful.
Oars is also not great, but its better than using an action to draw a card, because it might do something in addition.

Note that scoring many cards with Clothing or Metalworking is a great counter to an opponent teching ahead. If they use Writing or Tools to advance, you can use these cards to run the deck out more quickly and catch up!


Key Age 1 interactions

The important thing to remember about Age 1 is City States. If you play 4+ towers to your board, and dont have good crowns, you can get your cards stolen from you with City States. As a general rule, try to avoid walking into this. The main reasons you might want to play more towers are to leech off of Domestication or The Wheel.


The Age 1 cards in detail:

(Yellow)
Agriculture: Bad ability. Its fine to play this card with a Draw/Meld power or Clothing or tuck it with Code of Laws, as it builds up leaves for later. Leaves protect a score pile or allow attacing an opponents score. Dont waste an action just playing this unless you really need the leaves for some reason.

Domestication: Amazing ability, play this and just use it over and over! Builds bulk efficiently.

Masonry: Combos with the Wheel. If you have this and dont have Mysticisml, Domestication, or Sailing, then meld it at start and draw cards. Use it to later meld them all at once.

(Green)
Clothing: Best Age 1 scoring power. Use it if it will work, and keep using it for 2+ score cards with each of your actions if opponents dont block. If your opponent has this, fill out all your colors ASAP.

Sailing: Awesome like Domestication. Just keep using it over and over.

The Wheel: Good power, use it if you dont have something better to draw. If you get Masonry, go for the Wheel/Masonry combo. Otherwise, use it to find Domestication/Sailing/Tools and then use that.

(Blue)
Pottery: Terrible ability. Treat it like Agriculture, the symbols are good.

Writing: Decent way to tech ahead, but I would do Domestication/Sailing over it.

Tools: Good way to tech ahead a huge amount. Draw to 3 and then use this. High variance, can be great or poor depending on how fast you can draw a strong Age 3 card.

(Purple)
Code of Laws: Amazing. Play this out once you have some bulk built up and then start splaying. Dont play it first if youre going to bulk up with something like Sailing that draws randomly.

City States: Hold it in hand and surprise opponents who play too many towers. Try to play another crown card first while you hold this. A strong attack that builds your board while hitting theirs.

Mysticism: The strongest of the draw/meld powers once you are built up, essentially drawing 2 cards and melding one! Get out several colors then start using this! Domestication and Sailing start faster but this is better once you have many colors.

(Red)
Archery: This is a counter to teching ahead. Save this in your hand and dont reveal it. If an opponent uses writing or tools to tech ahead, and ends a turn with the advanced card in hand, drop this and activate to steal their card.
Multiplayer: Useful to draw multiple cards by stealing them.

Oars: Activating this is sometimes better than a Draw 1 action, but not by a while lot. I probably wouldnt waste time just playing this with an action, or using it either.

Metalworking: A good scoring method, burns the Age 1 pile fast. This is a good alternative if you dont have a strong draw/meld enabler. A good counter to an opponent that techs ahead.




Age 2: Classical


Age 2 is basically a continuation of Age 1, with a new goal that at some point soon, you will want to start covering your towers with non tower cards. The towers are still useful in age 2, but its good to get non-tower cards in your hand of the right colors, so that you can drop them quickly when the transition occurs.

Still continue focusing on building piles, splaying, and opportunities to tech ahead or socre very efficiently.

Key Age 2 cards and interactions:
The most important card in Age 2 is probably Mathematics, as it allows a very strong teching strategy. The Mathematics strategy is:

First action of the turn: Draw a card of your current age.
Second action of the turn: Use Math to return it, meld a card 1 higher.

As long as you dont meld a Blue card over Mathematics, you can keep going up the chain all the way to the end, advancing one age per turn.
In multiplayer, this isnt nearly as strong, because everyone lese will advance fast. But in 2 player its awesome! Your goal is probably to use Mathematics until you hit a very strong card in some later age, then use that.

Note that an opponent cant counter this strategy well with Bulbs. They get to participate, however you get to draw a bonus card from their sharing, allowing you to use it again immediately and advance TWO ages in one turn!

Drawbacks of the Mathematics strategy:
You build bulk slow and are probably behind on important symbols. The primary way you can be hurt by this is crown based cards that allow your opponent to steal your stuff. This will immediately put them into your advanced age while hurting you. Also, they might use powers that force you to draw and meld a card of lower than your current age. This can set you back if it hits you in your top are, or it can cover mathematics.

Construction:
The Empire achievement can be scored with Construction technology if only one player has five colors. You want to build up to five colors as quickly as possible (unless you get Monotheism). Road building and Construction reward the tower leader with strong powers, but other than that there isnt much to worry about.

Monotheism:
Beware of an opponent lacking colors but beating you in towers. This can allow them to steal your stuff with Monotheism, a very strong effect! If this looks like it might be coming, keep your towers and try to stay ahead.


The Age 2 cards in detail:

(Yellow)
Distilling: Combos with leaves to provide a crazy draw power. Its the Age 2 version of the wheel. Good symbol, great card.

Canal Building: Allow swapping your highest cards into score pile. Not really worth using without Calendar. Can be a good card to save for later. Has good symbols, so its worth mleding/tucking efficiently for that.

(Blue)
Mathematics: See above. Very strong, enables the Math strategy.

Calendar: Combines with a scoring power to allow you to draw two 3s! Techs ahead and draws well. This card is one reason early scoring is decent. Its a good reason to use Clothing/Metalworking early, and might give you a reason to use Agriculture/Pottery.

(Green)
Currency: Allows returning X cards to score X 2s. Thats not a good idea at this point. Not a useful card, aside from symbols.

Mapmaking: Worth using if an opponent scored Age 1 points. Otherwise just good for symbols.

(Purple)
Monotheism: A great draw if you teched ahead with Writing or have few colors. I would definitely play and use this if an opponent has a card of a color you lack.

Philosophy: This can splay any color and score, pretty similar to code of laws, though it builds your socre instead of your symbol counts. Slower to use due to the discarding, but potentially more rewarding. This is better than Code in more advanced ages where you cna score a decent sized point card. Overall a good card.

(Red)
Construction: Very good attack card, one of the reasons to still want towers in age 2. Can score empire as well. Worth using if it will be efficient.

Road Building: Great card for the Meld 2 power. You usually should NOT give road building to an opponent to steal their green card. Melding a held age 1 red card and giving that to the opponent can be amazing, this is a good reason to hold Age 1 red cards! This is another reason to still want towers. The threat of Road Building to steal a strong green card later is a good reason to hold Road Building.



Age 3: Medieval


This age marks the end of towers, and is the time to cover your towers. If you arent the tower leader, you can be completely wrecked by Engineering. If you are, you can be wrecked by Alchemy.

You dont want to hold a big hand in Age 3, due to Alchemy and Machinery. Machinery can be protected against by having the most leaves (note that there are 2 on Machinery). Alchemy can be protected against by having low towers.

Alchemy is a double edged sword. If Red isnt drawn, the effect is crazy. If it is drawn, you lose your hand. Its a great card to use on an empty had, and two draws is probably the best way to use it (6-8 towers). You get to meld a 4 and score a 4 if it works!

Paper is a strong way to splay and tech ahead into age 4, and should be used if drawn. It also rewards earlier splaying. Dont use it to just draw a million cards however. Remember Machinery and Alchemy! Do something with the cards.

Teching ahead into Age 4 is very strong, as you could get a powerful card like Gunpowder, and you can get an early lead on Factory symbols, which are key to a number of very strong cards from Age 5 on. There are also no towers in age 4, which helps in covering your towers with useful symbols.


In Age 3, you are still focused on building piles, splaying, and getting good quantities of symbols (especially leaves which will be key later in the game). Slightly better scoring opportunities emerge now that you are able to score 3 cards, but your primary focus remains on infrastructure. However, even if you manage to score many points early, you cant take the later achievement cards yet, so you cant win. This will also give your opponents time to attack your score pile, generally with leaf or crown effects.

Key interactions:
Machinery will steal your entire hand if you arent ahead on leaves. Remember that Machinery being played will put a 2 leaf yellow card on your opponents board, so factor that into whether you are safe.

Alchemy will cause you to draw several 4s if you have many towers, and if you draw Red you lose your hand.

As a result, your hand is only safe if you have both many leaves AND low towers. If you dont fulfill both conditions do not build a big hand!!

Engineering scores ALL opposing tower cards on a demand effect, with NO compensation! If you dont have the tower lead, cover your towers ASAP or else you could lose them all at once!


(Yellow)
Medicine: Swapping your opponents highest score card for your lowest can be decent but often wont be useful. Not as good as later yellow score stealing cards. But the symbols are good.

Machinery: Very powerful card, can steal an opponents entire hand, then let you score something! Great symbols as well! This is a reason to keep a low hand when nearing age 3. This can wreck you otherwise.


(Green)
Paper: Amazing card. Combos very well with a multiple tuck, multiple score, or multiple meld card (Reformation, Perspective, Road Building). There are a couple traps with Paper. If you draw a bunch of cards, you can get them stolen by Machinery if you dont control leaves. You can lose them to Alchemy if you have lots of towers. More traps are that if you get a couple Age 4 cards that allow mass tucking/scoring, such as Perspective (return a card to score X cards from your hands based on bulbs), or Reformation (tuck X cards based on leaves), with these cards you can be temped to build a huge hand with Paper, looking to use those cards to tuck 6 or score 6 cards in one turn, to score Monument. DO NOT do this if you could be hit by Machinery or Alchemy!! Its much better to draw some and score/tuck them and make progress, than to build up a 6+ card hand and lose it all. Only save up and go for the '6 in a turn' achievement if youre really going to be able to accomplish it. Dont lose your big hand!

Compass: A strogn crown card that gains you leaf superiority and even might be used to cover up a key opposing card. Difficult to make it work out right because the opponent chooses the non-leaf, non-green card to take back, but can be devistating if set up appropriately!

(Blue)
Translation: Useful to build bulk if you scored a bunch early with something like Clothing, and if you can score the wonder with it is good. A narrow card however, often will be ignorable if you arent set up for it.

Alchemy: Most useful for wrecking a big hand of an opponent who has too many towers. If they have 9+ it will probably work. Also useful to tech ahead and meld for yourself if you have moderate towers. Screwing your opponent with it gives you a bonus card! Amazing! It is high variance, so you probably wouldnt use this if already winning.


(Purple)
Feudalism: Symbols arent useful, the card you steal isnt very useful either, about all it does is splay purple left. Not a high priority. This is just asking to get you wrecked by Engineering if you dont have a tower lead.

Education: Too hard to use effectively at this point, requires having multiple goiod cards in score pile and losing one to tech ahead. Ignorable card.

(Red)
Engineering: Key card that scores all opposing tower cards if you lead in towers. Non tower leaders in age 3 must cover all their towers for fear of this card!

Optics: Strong card to allow Draw/Meld, like the good age 1 cards. Can score points, but if it does so, you become at risk of givign those points to an opponent. Its a good card to use on an empty score pile until you score something, or as long as you have the lowest score. Also, this card melds right later to reveal two crowns, which is great.


The Midgame, ages 4-6

Priorities:
Generally midgame priorities include finding a scoring engine to win the game (of which many are factory based), splaying anything you havent already, and fighting for factory and leaf dominance. Teching ahead is very strong at this point (stronger than in the early game, as it gets to superpowered cards), so if you dont have a way to win, look for a way to tech ahead. If you dont see a way to stop an opponent from winning, try to tech ahead. You might get some clock based card like Rocketry that can deny the opponents all their points.

Many of the factory based scoring engines can damage your board. If you are going to use these, but you cant get enough achievements to win even with a lot of points, due to your technology age, be careful. You might score points, get some achievements, be unable to score more due to not being far enough advanced, and then lose symbol superiority in several areas, leading to loss later on. This can especially occur if an opponent scored early achievement values. If this is the case, you'll need to put more focus on teching ahead versus ending the game by scoring.


Some key power cards in the midgame include:

(Age 4 Power cards):
Gunpowder: Factory based demand to score an opponents tower off their board AND score a 2. Can be a scoring monster if your opponent didnt cover towers up earlier! Cover your towers!!

Reformation: Tuck one card from hand per two leaves you have, and splay yellow or purple right! Combined with a multiple draw source, this is an amazingly dominant card! Can give you leads in many symbols, especially the critical leaves! Combines very well with Paper or Distillation.

Anatomy: Leaf based demand for opponent to return a score card and a matching numbered top card with no compensation! This is one reason that leaves are so critical. This card shuts down opposing scoring completely and can allow you to wreck the board too.

Printing Press: Splays blue right, and you return a card from score pile to draw a card of value 2 higher than your top purple card! This can tech you ahead to 6, then 8, etc... Can tech ahead VERY well, but requires score cards. A good reason to score early with Clothing/Metalworking!

(Other interesting Age 4 cards):
Perspective: Return a card form hand to score a card from hand per two bulbs. Requires a big draw engine to work, but can score many points. Risky because your big hand might be wrecked by things like Machinery or Alchemy if not careful! I have found that I often try to go too big with it, trying to score Monument by scoring 6, and then get my hand blown up first.

Enterprise: Crown based theft of a crown card from opponents board! Gives a 4 in compensation, but can steal good cards and allow you to dominate crowns.

Experimentation: Good draw and meld power.


(Age 5 Power cards):
Coal: Tuck a 5, splay Red right, score two cards from the top of a pile on your board. Very good at dominating factories and beginning to score/ Can also uncover a useful power that you covered up. A good scoring engine, though it eats your infrastructure to do it.

Physics: Draw three 6, put hand back if any duplicate colors. Similar to Alchemy but with bulbs, can wreck opposing hand buildups. Good against an opponent with more bulbs - if the first activation gave them cards, the second of the turn can still cost them the whole hand! Good way to make a comeback, high variance.

Measurement: Return a card to splay a color right and draw a card equal to the # of cards in the pile. After performing an earlier draw/tuck engine like Distillation/Reformation, I have been able to jump from age 5 to age 8 with this multiple times! A strong and versatile splay power that can also tech ahead!


(Some other interesting Age 5 cards):
Pirate Code: Interesting way to steal and score many points if you dominate in crowns, against an opponent who scored early.

Steam Engine: Tuck two 4s and score bottom yellow, builds some bulk and scores, but tens to lead to leaf inferiority whcih can cause you to lose all the points you were scoring.

Astronomy: Tech ahead and can potentially score Universe.



(Age 6 Power cards):
Canning: Factory based: Tuck a 6, score all top cards without factories. A great scoring engine!

Vaccination: Leaf based demand forces opponent to return all the lowest score cards in their pile. They meld a 6 you meld a 7. A powerful card to prevent opponents winning and try to mess up their plans by melding at random over their cards, while teching you ahead into the 7s!

Emancipation: Scores cards from opponents hand and gives them a 6 (for you to then score!), good splay power. Yet another factory based score power.

(Other interesting Age 6 cards):
Machine Tools: Score a card of value equal to highest card in score pile. Still more factory based scoring! Requires scoring a good card in another way first however.

Industrialization: Tuck a 6 per two factories! Good way to build dominance in all symbols if you dominate factories, and score the Monument achievement.

Classification: Steal and meld all cards of a color of your choice that you have in your hand! A reason to want bulb dominance, and a reason to not want to keep a big hand!


After this point, things get progressively crazier and you are looking to win it as fast as possible. Some notable
age 7 cards for ending the game are:
Bicycle (swap hand and score pile), and Lighting (tuck 3, score a 7 per different value tucked). There is also factory based point stealing.

Understanding the alternate victory conditions that are possible is important as well, as if you are behind or an opponent has leaf advantage or maybe factory advantage that is locking you out of scoring, you need these.

They are:

Have 20 bulbs in play.
Have 10 green cards in play.
Have the most leaves if no opponent has 3+ leaves!
Have the most points, if no player has more leaves than factories.
Have the most achievementes (be winning)
Have the LEAST points (Robot takeover! Hard to achieve).

And of course, have the most points and find a way to draw an 11.

10+ green cards and most leaves might be the most achieveable if youre getting crushed in other aspects.



Conclusion:
Early on, build symbol counts as efficiently as possible in order to dominate later. Leaf > Crown > Bulb. Tower is irrelevant later. Utilize splay opportunities. Building symbol count efficiently is better than teching ahead very early!
The best way to do this early is draw/meld powers, and then later the best way is multiple-draw/multiple-tuck powers.

Early scoring is only useful if efficient. Clothing and Metalworking can be efficient, Agriculture and Pottery are not.

Cover towers up by Age 3-4, they become a liability.

Midgame, fight over leaves and factories, and look for either a scoring engine or a way to tech into the endgame.
Leaves are useful in scoring and score disruption, factories are very useful in scoring. These symbols win or prevent opponents from winning. The other symbols generally help you lead to something that might win later, but thats not as good as winning now.

Beware of losing a big hand, dont hold a big hand if vulnerable. You can lose your hand to:
Machinery Age 3 (without leaf advantage)
Alchemy Age 3 (if you have many towers)
Physics Age 5 (if you have bulb lead)

If losing, play for alternate victory conditions and try to tech ahead. High level techs could even the playing field.

If winning in the midgame, try to end the game asap. Too much can happen late in the game to allow comebacks!

The game is usually won by either a midgame scoring engine, or by teching ahead to the endgame and finding something broken.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Cieslik
United States
Arlington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Banana!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Holy crap! That's a lot of strategy I will have to read this in depth later, but from what I saw of the early stuff, good job!
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To summarize the symbol superiority priorities, here is how you will feel if you dont have superiority/have superiorty

Leaves:
Dont have superiority: Argh, you can destroy anything I score, so I cant win! I cant make ANY progress unless I can get rid of that evil (Anatomy/Vaccination/etc) card!
Have superiorty: Awesome, you cant do anything and I can use this special tuck and score power by myself!


Factories:
Dont have superiority: Uh oh, you can score lots of points with (Steam Engine/Coal/Chemistry/Canning/Machine Tools/etc)! Or: If I use my scoring card, you score as well, and then can probably grap achievements sometimes on your turn. Round 7+: And now you can destroy my hand, score pile, and board position as well!
Have superiority: I have a way to score and win now, and you cant leech off of it!


Crowns:
Dont have superiority: I cant play any of my (Insert Characteristic here) cards, because you will steal them! If I use random draw/meld powers to tech ahead, I could flip something stealable and you will get ahead of me!

Have superiority: Well, at least you cant play any awesome (Characteristic) cards that you get, because I would steal them.


Bulbs:
Dont have superiority: If I use this, we will both get to draw and meld a higher level card, and then I get a bonus. (Activates the power).
Have superiority: I can tech ahead without you getting to share.

Towers:
Dont have superiority: Round 1-3: I need to be careful to keep my hand size low, not end turn with a higher level card in hand, and cover up any towers I place. Round 4+: What are towers?

Have superiority: Round 1-3: I can (score in a couple ways/steal your hand cards/steal your board cards/meld 2 cards at once/activate The Wheel, Domestication, Masonry, Mysticism, etc without you leeching)
Round 4+: Oh crap you have Gunpowder.


Clocks:
Dont have superiority: No problem...No problem...No problem....OH CRAP, that card does WHAT!!

Have superiority: Muahahah!
29 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ted Vessenes
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with a lot of what you said, but I very much disagree with your analysis of Agriculture. The early scoring cards such as Agriculture, Oars, and even Pottery can be great when used in the right manner. An early scoring of a 2 or 3 can be really strong. These are cards that get significantly stronger once several stacks are depleted. Agriculture lets you return a 1 and score a 4, for example. It also lets you build the 1 stack back up, which in turn negates otherwise amazing mid game effects like Sailing or Mysticism. Mysticism in particular is amazing once stacks 1 through 3 are depleted.

Oars works well in the mid game in a similar manner. You can steal a 3 to 6 point card from their hand, and make them draw a worthless 1 in compensation. Pottery does seem less useful, but I have a friend who swears by it, and there are certainly some situations where I'd be happy to have it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Its true that cards like Agriculture and Oars are much better midgame than early game. There are definitely times when they are useful midgame. (Heck, I have ended a game by returning a 10 with agriculture before!) But very early on they are definitely inefficient scoring mechanisms, and are not useful to use. (Clothing and Metalworking are so much better!)

Midgame, they can be useful, but there are much better scoring engines available, and if you have one of those you generally would not want to use agriculture/pottery.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
tedv wrote:
I agree with a lot of what you said, but I very much disagree with your analysis of Agriculture. The early scoring cards such as Agriculture, Oars, and even Pottery can be great when used in the right manner. An early scoring of a 2 or 3 can be really strong. These are cards that get significantly stronger once several stacks are depleted. Agriculture lets you return a 1 and score a 4, for example. It also lets you build the 1 stack back up, which in turn negates otherwise amazing mid game effects like Sailing or Mysticism. Mysticism in particular is amazing once stacks 1 through 3 are depleted.

Oars works well in the mid game in a similar manner. You can steal a 3 to 6 point card from their hand, and make them draw a worthless 1 in compensation. Pottery does seem less useful, but I have a friend who swears by it, and there are certainly some situations where I'd be happy to have it.


It sounds to me like you're describing a 3-4 player game situation. I don't think all those stacks usually get depleted as you suggest in 2 player.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The stacks usually are NOT depleted in 2 player. Usually at least one person techs ahead.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Update:
Several games I have played recently have featured very important Crown effects throughout the game, and games being dominated by Enterprise, Banking, Pirate Code, Combustion, Skyscrapers. There are quite a number of good crown board control effects, and several score theft effects as well that are quite strong.

I have experienced this before as well, I went through a Crown phase before the leaf phase (and there was a factory phase as well, all three of these have potential to dominate).

It making it quite difficult deciding between the three for which is the most critical to lead in overall. In any given game, it depends on the cards in play.

Here is a summary of the powers of each:

Leafs: Score attack (removing opponent score), Multiple Draw, Multiple Tuck, Hand card stealing, Scoring.

Crowns: Board control with compensation (steal cards from board with a property), Score theft, Splaying powers, Hand/Score pile swaps.

Factories: Scoring by consumption of board position, Multiple draw&tucking, Board attack/scoring (cards from opponents board to your score).


I'm kindof feeling like Leaf > Crown > Factory now, but with small gaps between the three. Leafs are very versatile and very strong cards spread throuhout the game: (Distilling 2, Machinery 3, Anatomy/Reformation 4, Vaccination 6, Lighting 7, etc).

Crown is also great throughout: (Code of Laws/Sailing 1, Navigation/Optics 3, Enterprise 4, Pirate Code/Banking 5, Combustion/Bicycle 7, Skyscrapers 8). Not as many of those I listed are superstars like the leaf card list, but its a lot of strong cards.

Factories are really good at scoring but often with drawbacks: (Gunpowder 4, Coal/Steam Engine 5, Canning 6, Mobility 8).

Ultimately, factories tend to have strong effects but remove cards from your board to use them, which makes you the 'aggro' player (Magic terminology). You threaten to win by at a cost of reducing your long term chances. If your opponent can play control and stop you they have a stronger chance to win later. Factories are great if you got an early lead or if your opponent doesnt have a strong score control effect out there to stop your win.


Bulbs are far behind. They dont tend to stop the opponent from using their bulb powers, they just let you give them a bonus to join in (or even force you to, sometimes to your deteriment). If I join in your random draw/meld effect it might cover my power card and screw me, while giving you a bonus card! Also some bulb effects have conditions that might not be meetable, like returning a card from hand or score pile, so sometimes it doesnt matter at all that the opponent has more than you. Getting wrecked by Physics because you had more bulbs feels pretty terrible. Having your win condition covered up by draw/meld because you happened to have more bulbs is also terrible.

Towers are really good early before becoming a liability (on top), and then irrelevant except for scoring Empire.


Early on, some of the best cards to get into your board for the long term are the cards with two Leafs and/or Crowns on the left side of the card. These become active once you splay the pile right in the midgame, and are then amazing! I definitely think the primary goal of the early game is to build a position with splayed piles showing as many leafs and crowns as possible. The other goal is to try to score the early number achievements.

7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
linoleum blownaparte
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmb
So speaking of splaying, are you noticing the position of the tech graphic (black n white hex) having any effect?

The hex can be in the A, B, C or D position (counting from top left to bottom right) and each position means a different combo of symbols when you splay left, right, then up.

A (e.g. Clothing): 1, 1, 3
B (e.g. Construction): 1, 1, 2
C (e.g. Archery): 1, 2, 2
D (e.g. Education): 0, 2, 2

Do you ever consider what will be revealed or is it more like "Splay left asap, then right asap, then up asap"?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Occasionally you need to look through the pile when deciding whether to splay or do some other action, generally if you really need to find more a specific symbol on this turn.

In general, getting things splayed is a priority, and right is better than left.


As to where the symbols are located, splaying up is rare and only happens at the end of the game if it happens, so its not really a consideration. It is best for a card to have its tech symbol in the bottom middle, so that it will reveal one symbol splayed left and two splayed right.

Most early game cards reveal one symbol when splayed both right and left, while most midgame cards reveal two symbols if splayed right. (obviously there are exceptions). I would put a bit more priority on cards that have two symbols on the left side, as these will be most helpful in the midgame when you probably are able to splay the pile right and reveal them. All of the cards with two leaves on the left side are basically awesome, and interestingly tend to have strong effects as well! (Sailing, Machinery, Reformation, Anatomy, etc).


Overall, symbol location isnt usually the determining factor in playing out a card, but it is one factor.

As a general rule, if you manage to tuck/meld a lot of cards early in the game (with something like Sailing/Domestication/Mysticism, etc), then you should put a high priority on splaying left to get them revealed. But splaying those crds right will generally not reveal an extra symbol! If you manage to splay a lot of cards midgame, with Paper+Reformation, or with Steam Engine, Coal, Industrialization, etc), then you will want to splay your piles right, as most of these cards will reveal 2 symbols if pslayed right and many will not reveal any splayed left.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken Boone
United States
Berea
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
SevenSpirits wrote:

It sounds to me like you're describing a 3-4 player game situation. I don't think all those stacks usually get depleted as you suggest in 2 player.


I agree. Because of the way the stacks get depleted with 3 or 4 players though, Agriculture seems to become really powerful since midgame comes so soon.

Maybe for 3 or 4 player games, you could buy 2 copies of the game so that you can make each age's deck a little bigger by adding in duplicate cards.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hubajube wrote:

Maybe for 3 or 4 player games, you could buy 2 copies of the game so that you can make each age's deck a little bigger by adding in duplicate cards.


That would probably work well!

On agriculture midgame: It can be good, but if you compare it to many midgame scoring cards it is still weaker than them. Its definitely stronger midgame than it is early however.

Agriculture is also interesting in that it can end a game with a 10 card. I've had this happen.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another thought:

Crown superiority is the best counter to someone teching ahead. You can use something like Compass, Enterprise, or Banking to steal their high level item and catch up.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sean McCarthy
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To generalize unnecessarily:

Leaves > Factories (by undoing the points)
Factories > Crowns (by winning instead of caring)
Crowns > Bulbs (by catching up via theft)
Bulbs > Leaves (by reaching better cards instead of caring)
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Rockwell
United States
Lynnwood
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SevenSpirits wrote:
To generalize unnecessarily:

Leaves > Factories (by undoing the points)
Factories > Crowns (by winning instead of caring)
Crowns > Bulbs (by catching up via theft)
Bulbs > Leaves (by reaching better cards instead of caring)


Hmm.

Leaves > Factories (by undoing the points). YES.
Leaves > Bulbs (steal your nice high level hand cards).

Crowns > Leaves (steal your leaves. now I have more).
Crowns > Factories (steal your points. steal your factories).

Factories = Try to win, YAY. You are the aggro strategy, sometimes it works.

Bulbs = Oh crap I'm losing, hope this techs me ahead into something powerful.



Leaves do everything. Multiple draw, Multiple tuck, Multiple score, Steal your hand, destroy your points, alternate win.

Crowns are control. Control the board, steal your strong cards, steal your points, splay for symbols.

Factories are aggro. Score lots of points, in ways that damage my long term infrastructure. The sometimes do various other things as well, generally in ways that also destroy your or others infrastructure.

Bulbs tech ahead. Sometimes thats useful. Sometimes they splay a color you don't care about like Blue, netting you more silly bulbs.

Towers rule early and then suck.
Clocks are weird. Dominance in clocks often doesn't matter, or it lets you also do the broken thing, or also screw your opponent while you got screwed (instead of preventing you from getting screwed).
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mont A.
United States
Carbondale
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Wow, that was an odd sensation.

Having opened this thread a while ago, only to have been immediately interrupted, and now sitting back down to it after a long hiatus, I became VERY confused by seeing the avatars of Alex Rockwell and Sean McCarthy. Why, you ask? Because these two gents are very active in the War of the Ring forums; and having spent so many hours poring over their threads there, I recognize their avatars immediately. So here I was, sitting down to another thread by them, and trying to figure out what the heck new variant of War of the Ring they were discussing.... laugh
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Draper
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
It's interesting to read this over two years later, with not only a ton more experience, but the Isotropic implementation and its objective data that will make more high-level analysis possible.

I do wonder if your focus on building up piles for later playing is related to local groupthink. While this is obviously a consideration in the early game, I find that scoring/achieving and teching ahead are far more important. How has your thinking on this subject changed (or not) in the interval?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pap Qaq
United States
Park City
Utah
flag msg tools
BennyD wrote:
It's interesting to read this over two years later, with not only a ton more experience, but the Isotropic implementation and its objective data that will make more high-level analysis possible.

I do wonder if your focus on building up piles for later playing is related to local groupthink. While this is obviously a consideration in the early game, I find that scoring/achieving and teching ahead are far more important. How has your thinking on this subject changed (or not) in the interval?


Yes. The advice in the original post generally isn't very good. I would recommend playing the game quite a bit without the 'benefit' of this analysis and only then returning to see what nuggets might be there.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clyde W
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Red Team
badge
#YOLO
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I ran this article by a guy who has played hundreds of game online (and mostly just learned what all the top players do there).

Alex appears to be undervaluing Towers, specifically in regards to Wheel.

Quote:
Almost every game I play, the initial part of the game revolves around either being able to activate the wheel or being in a position to share in the wheel. Basically, the initial few melds the players will "castle up" as much as possible to share/protect against/use the wheel. Being able to churn the deck like that is extremely powerful and allows you a better chance of getting the more helpful cards or, just as importantly, keeping them from your opponent (math, engineering, machinery, etc.).


But...hard to say. That might be Isotropic groupthink too!
 
 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.