Some strategy notes after about 10 plays:
To be ahead in Scepter means to be making good income EFFICIENTLY, that is, good income without 'using' too many points to make it.
Since the points leaders pay a penalty to buy artifacts and sentinels, the ideal position is to be making equal or better income as other players without being in the lead for points. This allows you to make and endgame leap ahead. If you are out in first place in points you MUST have higher income than everyone else, or you are not winning.
Therefore, when evaluating what to buy early on, you should look not only at income provided but also points used. Early on you want high income and low points. Only in the endgame do points become a benefit (really, only on the last turn, though it can be hard to score enough to make a big comeback if too far behind. Ideally you want to be just barely behind).
Lets look at some ways to increase income, and their point-efficiency:
3 Opals: 3 points for 10 income. Cost 30 and 3 gem slots.
1 Sapphire: 1 point for 5 income. Cost 20 and 1 gem slot.
4 Sapphires: 4 points for 22 income. Cost 80 and 4 gem slots.
4 Emeralds: 8+1(book) points for 32 income. Cost 120 +20(book) and 4 gem slots.
A basic 3 Opal 2 Sapphire setup is 5 points/20 income at a cost of 70 (only +30 from start). This is a good initial setup on turn 1-2.
A 5 sapphire setup is 5 points/27 income at a cost of 100 (+70 from start if you sell two opals). This is a very point efficient way to get income.
Emerald are very point-inefficient. Early emeralds will generally get you the income lead but also the point lead early. And then later, they are surpassed in income by diamonds, at the same point 'cost'. For this reason I think Emeralds are generally a poor income source choice. I would love to see someone make a case for Emeralds as a strategy, and which characters would benefit from this.
Now lets look at some knowledge track options: (All 'costs' assume youre paying $20 to start the track, assuming its your first extra track bought).
Level 3 Gem Discount track: $34 cost for -30% discount on gems. 0 points. This is good if you are going to buy a lot of expensive gems later, but doesnt provide 'true' income towards buying points in the endgame.
Level 3 Magic Dust track: $41 cost for +5 income, no points. This is kindof like paying 20 for a sapphire, 21 for a gem slot, and trading 1 hand size for -1 point (it costs no points for this income which is very cool).
Level 4 Magic Dust track: $65 cost for +10 income, 2 points. This is kindof like paying $20 each for two emeralds, $25 for a belt that gives no points. Very efficient!
Level 2 Artifact Discount track: $26 cost for $5 off artifacts, no points. A good way to set yourself up to buy artifacts without gaining points.
Level 2 Extra Gems track plus an Emerald: $46 cost and 1 point for +5 income. Has potential to give better income later with better gems. As we can see, Magic Dust track is more efficient here, though this gives a handsize boost instead of a negative to balance that.
Lets compare two early-midgame income scenarios:
5 Sapphires, Magic Dust level 4, Crystal Ball:
8 points, 37 income, Handsize 7.
Total cost: 100(sapph)+65(dust)+20(ball) = 185.
11 points (1 for book!), 37.5 income, Handsize 5 (but each handsize can hold 'more').
Total Cost: 150(emeralds)+20(book) = 170. However, its actually closer to the other because you start with one sapphire but no emeralds.
As we can see, the Sapphire+Dust strategy provides equal income at a lower point cost, and about the same cost to set up! Also, it has better capacity to expand. It can buy into Diamonds and upgrade sapphires into them, since its not attached to those sapphires. The emerald strategy has invested into emeralds and it would be a 'waste' to go for diamonds now.
I think this demonstrates that the Dust track is pretty good while the emerald strategy is poor.
All the tracks are viable for some purpose, and the key is using them well.
Gem Discount Track:
Level 3 provides 30% discount on gems for no points. Level 4 provides -40% but 2 points. This track is useful for one buying big gems, especially Rubies, which can be almost impossible to afford without it. -1 handsize is a minor drawback however. Doesnt end up providing much benefit to a strategy that never goes for either Diamonds or Rubies. Works well for a Diamond+extra slot strategy or a Ruby strategy.
Another drawback is reduces value of selling back gems, which can hurt your ability to do cool things in the endgame (see later on in this article).
I would recommend going only to level 3 early and level 4 very late, to not pick up the 2 points until the last couple turns. I would probably only buy onto this track in a Ruby strategy. Otherwise I would tend to avoid it. Maybe in a diamonds+many slots strategy.
Magic Dust Track:
Provides 5 income for no points or 10 for 2 points. An efficient deal for extra early income without putting you in the points lead. Helps to keep up in income while not paying penalties.
I think this track is a strong one to buy into very early on. Later on the benefit will be negligible, so its early or never. I like buying into this track for a Diamond strategy (while you wait for the Elixir to appear). You want a crystal ball to counteract the handsize loss anyway, which helps get diamonds. Might also work with Emeralds. Doesnt work with Rubies at all.
I would say that if this isnt your first or second track you should avoid it. But it is likely the best second track for several characters.
This is a strategy for a 'slow' game. Especially good if the artifacts block up and limit peoples access to better B and C cards like Elixirs or other income producers. This track provides access to very strong income without relying on any artifacts, so it works best if the artifacts deck stalls for a long time with people not wanting to buy them. For example, if no one buys the emeralds books (which I believe are bad), or the mirrors (also bad), the game can stall before Diamonds access shows up. This is when Rubies shines.
Because of this, they are best in games with an odd number of players where there are more cards per player in the deck, and thus more likely to stall.
Buy into the Rubies track if you forsee a game stalling out and not going quickly through the artifacts deck. You probably need the Gem discount track as well, so this strategy is primarily for the Witch and Druid characters. Druid should probably always go for it. The trick is getting Rubies early enough to matter.
Free Money track:
Best as an Endgame track imo, providing bonus money late in the game to afford sentinels and take a 'big turn'. Best with endgame free advancements from something like the Amulet, or as a way to effectively increase hand size.
I dont yet know a good way to play the fairy character who starts on this track, and who feels like the weakest character to me. You can advance on the track to give early money boosts however this prevents the use of the track later, and you have to pay a lot to buy onto a track providing 'real' benefits. I like buying onto this track sometimes lategame.
Ok early but a great midgame and endgame track. Works best if you stay behind the leaders in score to get a real discount. A valuable track to buy into. If stacked with a Mask discount and being 3rd or lower, can allow the purchase of multiple sentinels in one turn at the end, hopefully on the last turn.
One potential trap is to use it to buy too many artifacts that dont help your income. This can put you in the lead due to artifacts points, negating this benefit, and leave you ahead in points but not in income. Avoid this.
I usually buy into this track sometime during the game because its the most helpful at getting good endgame points. (Helps you buy points at the very end when you actually want them!).
Gem Slots track:
Decent way to increase income potential, but relatively high cost way to do so. Higher cost way to increase income than dust track but gives +1 handsize instead of -1 to counteract this.
Can enable more endgame scoring bonus on the gem based sentinels (especially diamonds and emeralds). A better midgame income increaser than dust track.
A good rule: early game to increase income from a track, use dust track. Midgame to increase income from a track, use extra gem track. Probably not worth buying into lategame (get belt/wand instead).
Thoughts on Artifacts:
Crystal Ball (A): Decent card that fixes the handsize problem. Good if youre on a -handsize track. Bad if youre on +handsize track.
Emerald Maker Book (A): Terrible. I am willing to buy them endgame for good points and shadow cloak discounts, if they last until then. I would love to see someoen explain a strategy of how to make emeralds work, because I havent seen it. I might be terribly wrong, please show me that I am.
A phase free advance item (A): Useful for movign to the last step of a track. I generally wouldnt advance to step 4 of a track without a free advance. Does give +1 point however so it has some drawback. I dont know whether these are good or bad in the end.
Mirrors (B): I would never buy a mirror before the late game, because they give you 2 points hurting your turn order, and do essentially nothing. They give you a free 'chip', which would cost you less than the mirror did, and they blow up a gem from your opponents, which basically lets them get rid of the crappy thing they were holding around for this so that they can now buy a diamond. It generally makes me happy when my opponent buys a mirror, so I can finally throw away that terrible opal/sapphire I was holding and buy the thing I want.
Mirrors are really only damaging when bought in multiples against an opponent who wasnt holding back any weak gems. And in that case the players who didnt buy the mirror and didnt get nailed badly buy it benefitted the most!
I will never buy one of these before the late game. Saving opals or sapphires for the eventual buy by an opponent is strong. If all players in the group reach the realization that these are horrible, then that rewards a Ruby strategy at the game is more likely to stall.
If this occurs and eventually ruins the game, my variant to fix it would be to make Mirror worth 0 points, but have a Toad and a Raven symbol. I would buy it then.
Mirror is actually a strong buy in the late endgame if it makes it there.
Free emerald pendant thing (B): Great artifact, its an emerald with a gem slot for only 2 points. A great deal!!
Elixir of getting Diamonds (B): Another great one, Diamonds are strong and it gives a free one. Hoarding money in advance of when B cards will appear is strong in order to try to get this. Worth selling a gem or two for, since it gives a diamond. Getting this early in B deck often makes you the favorite to win the game.
Belt (B): Another strong card, but often sets you ahead in points, but with strong income. I would almost always love to have this at its printed price.
Chalice of Fire (C): Free Ruby with slot! Expensive but good, as long as you arent already in the endgame.
Mask (C): 20 discount on sentinels is huge, and these are a big deal. Often buying two can be a win by itself, and you realyl want to get one of them. If you dont get either, youre playing for 1 big sentinel and a couple endgame artifacts like talismans. If you get this plus artifact discount you are playing for one big endgame turn where you buy 2-3 sentinels at a big discount, after hoarding money. These are a critical card.
Wand (C): Not as good as mask due to cost, but still can be good. Allows hoarding lots of money for one big final turn purchase. Can often come out too late to be worth it.
Shadow Cloak (D): Good endgame buy, especially with discounts. If the emerald books have stalled out and are still sitting there, buying thm and then this can be a great play right at the end. Unlike the mirror, this comes at the correct phase of the game, so its good.
Amulet (D): Its kindof like a fixed point reward sentinel. Good for the players without the masks. Useful to push the free money track to the end or get a couple pushes to level 4 for bonus points at the end. Mostly a replacement sentinel for non mask people or people who already have the sentinels that work for them.
Tomcat deserves every one of those exclamation points, as it is the best sentinel by a huge margin. 2 points per Opal, you say, doubtfully?
Here is how the strategy works:
About 3-4 turns from the end, I have something like 7 gems slots, filled with 6 diamonds and a sapphire (mirror/cloak defense). I have an income of just over 70, say with one of the emerald pendants. I have a Mask and am at the end of the artifact track. I am in 3rd place on score, as two people have more gem slots/gems and bigger income than me. I saved a turn of income, plus the income I just received.
I buy the Tomcat sentinel for $80 (two discounts of 20 each from mask and artifacts). Other people already took their turns and increased their scores by several points this turn, so my +5 from the Tomcat doesnt put me ahead of them hopefully. I save about $60 left over until the next turn.
On the second to last turn of the game, I have about $130 and I buy 6 opals. I dont activate them, they go in the inactive space. My score doesnt increase. I am in 3rd position. I save about $70 for the next turn (more if I am on the free money track and advanced it!).
On the last turn of the game I now have about $140. Other people go before me. They each buy one sentinel. Ruby guy buys the Ruby sentinel, etc. These are there first sentinels. When I bought Tomcat early, they were buying Chalice of Fire, Wand and Gems, etc.
Now I take my turn. I buy the knowledge track sentinel for $80 (120), or maybe I get bid up to 90 (130). I have $50. I auction the toad or raven sentinel and win that paying 80-90 again. I sell some diamonds to pay for it. I auction a third sentinel and win it for another 90. I sell more diamonds.
I had $120 in sellable diamonds plus $140 saved, allowing me to buy about 3 sentinels with my discounts. Now, I activate all my saved up Opals, making tomcat worth 17.
Here is the net point change from Tomcat:
Sold 6 diamonds = -12. Gained $120.
Bought 6 Opals and Tomcat for $140. +17 points.
Net gain: $20 and 5 points. I GAINED money swapping diamonds for opals. And because of Tomcat, I ended up gaining points, at a net positive in money!
This is why Tomcat is the best sentinel! If played correctly it is essentially free and provides a few bonus points. This strategy requires good turn order to execute correctly, as you must sell your diamonds on the last turn to make it work well.
This strategy works less well for someone on the Gem track, as you get less money back. It doesnt work as well in a Ruby strategy as you are losing 3 for each sold Ruby and getting 3 per Opal, so the benefit disappears. It is best with Diamonds but decent with Emeralds.
The ability to buy a sentinel and not shoot into the lead because it is not currently worth many points, and then make it worth 17 later while getting free money by selling your big gems, is very strong.
The first time you pull off this advanced strategy on your opponents, they will be in shock. You can come from last place and worst income into first place at the end by doing this!!
2 points per Sapphire Sentinel:
This is the second, weaker Tomcat. It costs $60 more to pull off. Because of that, it ends up not really being worth it if you have to buy the 6 sapphires near the end of the game.
How it can work is this:
Early in the game you go to 5 sapphires. Later you replace them with better gems (most likely Diamonds), but instead of selling them for $10, you simply deactivate and keep them.
In the end, you play the Tomcat strategy, but you buy this Sentinel instead of Tomcat. On the final turn you sell your diamonds and activate the sapphires. This works like Tomcat, but instead of spending $10 per lategame opal, you simply didnt get $10 at various points earlier for selling sapphires. Its weaker than Tomcat but can work as a backup if someone else got Tomcat.
Note that the deactivated Gem hoarding strategies of both of these are a way to effectively help out your handsize. If you dont go for this sentinel after all, you can sell all those deactivated sapphires in the endgame to buy some other sentinel!
The rest of the sentinels are pretty self-explanatory. The knowledge track one can be strong as a first sentinel buy for only 7 points or so (hopefully not putting you into the lead), and can then become worth 4 extra later when you buy an Amulet and finish a couple tracks.
The emeralds and diamonds sentinels are pretty weak and its better to do the Tomcat strategy than get them. But only one player can do Tomcat so maybe you have to get them. They are only good with a ton of gem slots.
The mixed gems sentinel can work alongside Tomcat with 8 gem slots. You just end with 6 opals, 1 sapphire, and 1 emerald or diamond. If an emerald-maker book went unbought until the late game and you were in diamonds or rubies, you can make this worth 13 by buying that and one emerald.
The primary early game strategy is to try and develop good income without using up many points. Being tied for or ahead in income while behind in points is the best position. Ahead in both income and points is ok.
Knowledge tracks at level 2-3 can be a good way to gain income or powers without hurting your turn order.
Avoid artifacts that dont help you but hurt your turn order, like Mirrors.
Tomcat is the best sentinel, used with the strategy I explained. If you arent going to get to do Tomcat and get 3+ sentinels, then a strategy of one excellent 15-17 point sentinel combined with multiple endgame artifacts (cloaks and amulets, etc), can be the best way to go.
In the endgame, a position of 3rd highest score but not far behind, and 3rd highest income but with mask and artifact track, can often be the best position. Highest score without highest income is definitely a losing position.
I've won games playing emeralds. The thing about emeralds vs. diamonds or rubies is tempo -- they're available earlier, which means that you can start boosting your income right away while the other players are still saving up for the Elixir. This is even easier for the Witch, and in fact if I have the Witch I will quite often use emeralds. I agree with you about the top level of Knowledge of Gemstones, and usually will stay on level 3 until the endgame.
Playing emeralds you want to try to rush the game as much as you can. If you give the diamond and ruby players time, they'll build up their economies above yours. Therefore you need to buy artifacts, and your second track should be Knowledge of Artifacts. You need at least one of the Crystals of Protection, and preferably more than one, also you really want a Magic Belt (or you want the other players to buy them at ruinous prices). You hope to see the Elixirs come out late rather than early.
Obviously you'll need a Spellbook, and often I'll actually buy more than one so that the group B artifacts will come out that much quicker.
I agree, the Emeralds need to go fast, you're probably going for the 'highest income/highest score' position.
But doesnt buying artifacts just help the Elixirs to come out, causing someone else to be able to get a better income than you?
Which characters does emeralds work well for?
The other players need time to save up money to afford the Elixir (60 is a high price -- really, buying the Elixir is 20 for the right to buy diamonds just as the Spellbook is 20 for the right to buy emeralds, plus you have to buy your first diamond right then with no discount) and then time to build up their economies, so having the Elixir come out doesn't necessarily hurt you if you can keep your income up earlier.
I feel that emeralds work well with the Witch and the Mage; the Witch because with her discount she can get cheap emeralds quickly, and the Mage because being on the Artifact track already he's ideally suited to pushing the game's tempo. (Indeed, you can see a session report here where I won a game as the Mage with only opals and sapphires, not even bothering with emeralds!)
I'm not sure I buy the idea of an emerald player going gung ho for artifacts. That seems like playing to their weakness, not their strength.
Emeralds have two advantages over diamonds: the income ramp up can start earlier, and they are a cheaper source of VP. The VPs are of course a dual edged sword: they're going to hurt you in turn order, but are of course rather necessary for winning the game. The way to
negate the turn order issue is by buying fewer artifacts, not more.
The emerald player should mostly concentrate on getting more gems and advancing on the knowledge tracks (cheaper artifacts, more gem slots, either of the two tracks that gives extra income, probably not the cheaper gems one though). The only artifacts they want from the A and B decks are the Spellbook and the Magic Belt. Crystals of Protection would be useful if they're cheap enough, but they probably won't be if you're in the lead.
Only once the gem slots are capped out should they start pushing the artifacts (since there's nothing more to do).
(Note: I'm note saying that emeralds are a good way to win. But if you end up going for them, it seems to me that a low artifact strategy is the way to go).
Nice article (though I skipped the math portion).
Regarding emeralds, I think they can be effective, and I've seen them win or come in a close 2nd many times.
I'd echo the other posts that it's about tempo.
But what I think Emeralds do is give you flexibility with respect to tempo. With Sapphires you want the game to zoom along. With Rubies and Diamonds (to a lesser extent) you want a slow game.
Emeralds are perfect for a medium paced game. Since the pace is sometimes out of your control...it's nice never being too far from where you want to be. If it's a slow game, and the masks and elixirs aren't coming out for a long time, you can always go into Diamonds when the elixirs show up (or maybe rubies)...as you may already be reaping the income benefits of an early Emerald strategy. If the game is zipping along, and there is at least one sapphire player, then you can stop investing into more emeralds...and start targetting Masks and Sentinels. If the game is going at the right pace...it's all good. You're right where you want to be.
i have played this game very often (with all experienced players), but not within the last 1-2 years. in general it seems to me that you don't value development actions high enough. you can only develop once per turn, and you compare knowledge tracks to other stuff that doesn't need development often.
Lets compare two early-midgame income scenarios:
I think this demonstrates that the Dust track is pretty good while the emerald strategy is poor.
while you are right that emeralds are usually weak i think this says nothing :-/ it's very incomplete in that you simply ignored start conditions and development on other tracks (that i can do while you raise your dust track).
knowledge of gems (cheaper gems)
if you plan on buying any other gems then opals and sapphires this one is almost a must. since NOT getting any of the expensive gems is usually a bad choice this means this track is needed by almost everyone. you will have a hard time saving enough "money" for a diamond without it.
knowledge of energy (income)
compare cost to income. you need 20+3+6(-2)+12(-5)+20 = 52 dust to generate 10 income per round (i substracted the return after reaching step 2 and 3 in brackets). add another 15-20 dust for the crystal ball to offset the hand limit reduction and you start to generate a real income 7 rounds later, that is in round 11. a usual game has around 15 rounds. the benefit is really small. if you don't buy this track in turn 1 don't bother getting it later. we usually avoided this track until we houseruled that you get a (sapphire/diamond) card instead of dust income and the elf is the weakest character in my oppinion.
knowledge of fire (rubies)
look at the ruby rush threads here. this track dictates your strategy for the whole game, it should be your 1st or 2nd one to buy in. being the only one with rubies secures you the best sentinel in the game which is a very serious benefit. if someone else is on the track already i usually don't take it. since you have to buy it very early you can't predict if it will be a fast or slow game.
knowledge of sages (free cards)
in my oppinion this is a good track to get 2 VPs for free if you don't know what else to buy in. the return from this track about equals its costs. it also helps if you need one-time money boosts (for example to buy an expensive artifact or your first diamond). don't get the last stage until the endgame.
i basicly agree with the analysis of the other 2 tracks.
Crystal Ball (A): Decent card that fixes the handsize problem. Good if youre on a -handsize track. better discard 2 dust each round than get a +5 price modifier for artifacts because of the VP (and at the same time make it by 5 cheaper for another player!)
runestone: there are very rare occasions where this is a good choice. almost only when you go for rubies and don't care about your position because you don't plan on buying other artifacts for a while.
belt: this often goes to 40-50 in our games. sometimes even higher if it shows late. the wand offers (almost) the same benefits and starts at 60!
wand: not sure where your analysis comes from. one important point is that 2 extra gem slots is cheap VPs from extra gems. its also income, and the wand itself has VPs too. i wouldn't compare it to mask because they are completely different. the mask is better in games with lower player numbers (where you are likely to get more than 1 sentinel), the wand is good for players who have better use for gem slots (knowledge of gems maxed, need slots for sentinel bonus).
shadow cloak: only worth it if you get a discount from book(s). the (D) artifacts are just VP items and the ratio on the cloak is not good otherwise.
Early in the game you go to 5 sapphires. Later you replace them with better gems (most likely Diamonds), but instead of selling them for $10, you simply deactivate and keep them. never ever do this!! spend the money to generate more income! this sentinel is either for someone who play with sapphires only, or who gets no better sentinel in the last round and switches some slots for sapphires. or for someone who has many slots and didn't get to upgrade them all to something better while it was still worth it.
while i basicly agree with you, i think it's more a situational decision than a strategy to pursue. there are a few questionable points in your analysis:
1. you need 6 diamonds, 7 gem slots, a mask and the end of the artifacts track 4-5 turns before game end without knowledge of gems. i think this is very unlikely unless you're already in a very good position.
2. if you bought so little artifacts you don't have much use for the toad or raven and you won't get the knowledge sentinel cheap.
3. if we assume all players have about the same income (just above 70) in round x-1. you save your income, others increase their income to at least 85 and make some VP. like you, i also assume everyone takes some leftover dust with him to the next round. in round x you get the tomcat, others increase their income again to at least 100, and some VP again. seeing that you already bought a sentinel they will buy sentinels in round x+1, or get ready to buy multiples in round x+2 (mostly depending on player number). at least one of them will have a mask too, and i expect everyone to have the artifacts track finished by that time. so you will either have to make your finishing move in round x+1 or face much fiercer struggle for sentinels in round x+2.
finally, what you completely ignored: often you don't know when the final round occurs. when you go 2nd or 3rd, 3 sentinels are bought and 2 players go behind you, you have to decide on activating the tomcat or not. either decision will go against you because others react to it and likely decide the game against you. this can be serious problem, but of course this situation doesn't happen too often. so if you just want an above average victory chance, it won't matter for you. i personally don't like when i depend on how the game develops.
- Last edited Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:07 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:49 pm
a copy from a post of me in the complex strategies thread concerning emeralds:
looking at the typical druid strategy (easy 'cause it's very independent from other players):
1 (20+10): +opal, +sapphire
2 (0+20): free knowledge stone
3 (0+20): gems_1
4 (18+20): gems_2, +2 sapphires
5 (2+24): gems_3, + sapphire (3 opals inactive)
6 (4+27): fire_2
7 (21+27): fire_3, +ruby, -3 opals (sapphire inactive)
8 (0+37): fire_4
9 (17+37): -sapphire, gems_4, +ruby (sapphire inactive)
10 (9+45): +ruby, (2 sapphires inactive, first time over 10 VPs)
11 (18+55): +2 rubies (3 sapphires inactive)
note that magic mirrors won't stop you because you always have extra inactive gems.
now lets have a look at druid with spellbook:
1 (20+10): +opal, +sapphire
2 (0+20): free knowledge stone
3 (0+20): gems_1
4 (18+20): gems_2,+spellbook
5 (14+20): -opal, gems_3, +emerald
6 (9+22,5): gems_4, +emerald, -opal
7 (0+27): +emerald, -opal, fire_2
8 (2+32,5): fire_3
9 (19,5+32,5): +ruby
10 (16 + 42,5): fire_4, +2 rubies, -sapphire, -emerald (1 sapphire active again)
11 (0+57,5): +2 rubies, -emerald, -sapphire
we see that the setup is almost the same. you have less security reserves (magic mirrors - if bought - will delay you) and 18 dust less at the end. but you do have a spellbook that's 1 VP and offers better options for the future. if you increase your gem slots (somehow) the emeralds provide better income and VP than sapphires.
the witch (as the only character) can play a good emerald stragegy. maybe i'll post it later.
1. (20) +gems_2, +opal
2. (8+15) +gems_3, +saphire
3. (1+20) +spellbook
4. (1+20) +emerald (opal inactive)
5. (0+22,5) +emerald (2 opals inactive)
6. (1+27) +accumulation_1 (2 opals inactive)
7. (6+27) +accumulation_2, -saphire, -2 opals, +2 emeralds
8. (8+39) +artifacts_1, -opal, +emerald
9. (2+44,5) +artifacts_2, +emerals (1 saphir inactive, 19 dust)
that's income 47 in round 10. and good potential. the druid on his ruby rush has 45 income at that point, less dust and no invest in the artifacts track.
in rounds 6-7 you are still below 10 VPs and in a very good position to buy any good artifact showing (belt, crystal). you can even wait one round (just get accumulation_2 and activate an opal again) to see if any good artifacts are available next round.
in the long run you focus on getting many emeralds (belt, wand) and artifacts that produce income. one big advantage is, while the ruby and diamond players are struggling to get their gems, and thus have little money for artifacts, you are already developped and can spend your money for artifacts.
i think it should also work with the kobold, but then i think the kobold is the very best character and can play any strategy anyways =)