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Subject: Help with 2 player strategy rss

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Jeff Carlson
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So a friend and I are playing two-player San Juan a lot, and lately he always has the edge on me. A lot of our games have degenerated into Big Violet races...with Builder, Counselor and Prospector being the only phases taken.

When he's going Big Violet, I have trouble scoring enough points with a production strategy to keep up. Any advice on how to counter it would be appreciated.
 
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Paul Kidd
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Re:Help with 2 player strategy
JRedGiant (#465717),

Well, I'm no expert, but one thing I would suggest is that if you are being beaten, then don't play his game. One of the principles of PR and SJ is that if someone needs particular roles then you need to make them choose the roles themselves. That is, you focus on production and make him choose Counsellor and you should get ahead in the production race.

Just shake things up - try going a different way altogether.
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re:Help with 2 player strategy
JRedGiant (#465717),

In four phases, a production person takes craftsman/trader, earning X + Y cards, where X is the first good sold, and Y is the second good sold.

During these same four phases, the violet person has taken prospector and builder. Assuming no Prefecture or Library, they have earned at 3.8 cards: one from builder, one from prospector, and 1.8 from trader, assuming they have tobacco. That's 3.8 cards.

So for the production person to have a viable chance of winning, they must be making at least 5 cards out of this cycle, which means two Silvers (each earning 2.6 cards a trade).

That's tough, but if it works, and you get Guild Hall, you can win. If you don't have two Silvers, odds are it won't work.

Yehuda
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Jim Campbell
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Re:Help with 2 player strategy
Shade_Jon wrote:
In four phases, a production person takes craftsman/trader, earning X + Y cards, where X is the first good sold, and Y is the second good sold.

During these same four phases, the violet person has taken prospector and builder. Assuming no Prefecture or Library, they have earned at 3.8 cards: one from builder, one from prospector, and 1.8 from trader, assuming they have tobacco. That's 3.8 cards.

So for the production person to have a viable chance of winning, they must be making at least 5 cards out of this cycle, which means two Silvers (each earning 2.6 cards a trade).


I don't see why out-earning one's opponent by 1.2 cards per turn is necessary to have a chance of winning. That's something like 18 cards over the course of the game, which is more than a "chance" of winning. To earn ~3.8 cards in the craft/trade cycle described requires silver/indigo (3.6), tobacco/tobacco (3.6) or coffee/tobacco (4.0), just to name a few examples. While it's true that production strategies are harder to pull off in 2-player, the situation is not as bleak as you described.

The 4-role cycle described is also a bit limited in its assumptions. There are some variations which can make a trading strategy competitive in a 2-player game. For example, a player with 4 production buildings can do producer/producer/trader/trader. Against a player with tobacco/indigo, a player with silver/tobacco/tobacco/indigo gets 7.2 cards against 2.8, for a margin of 1.1 cards per move. Prospector offers only a 1.0 card per move margin. Against a Big Violet opponent who refuses to build a second production building, the margin is 1.35 cards per move.

Another fine option is the silver/indigo/indigo/well/black market setup. In this scheme, you produce silver and indigo and draws a card, with the indigo effectively already worth 1 card, while your opponent with tobacco/indigo gets 1 tobacco. A BV opponent will build, allowing clearance of your indigo. Then you produce again for 2 indigo and a card, or 3 cards; your opponent gets 1 indigo. If your opponent gets tired of that and trades, you trade silver for 2.6 against their tobacco/indigo for 2.8. I've described the full setup here, but smaller subsets of that can also be very effective. The well alone is a great addition to production strategies.

The above are just two ways to force a Big Violet player to care about production and alter their behavior so that they can't merely focus on their narrow strategy.

Jim
 
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Yehuda Berlinger
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Re:Help with 2 player strategy
jimc wrote:
I don't see why out-earning one's opponent by 1.2 cards per turn is necessary to have a chance of winning. That's something like 18 cards over the course of the game, which is more than a "chance" of winning. To earn ~3.8 cards in the craft/trade cycle described requires silver/indigo (3.6), tobacco/tobacco (3.6) or coffee/tobacco (4.0), just to name a few examples. While it's true that production strategies are harder to pull off in 2-player, the situation is not as bleak as you described.


Because the violet person also has either carpenter or quarry, probably both. You need to make up the difference. You probably have smithy, which helps, but doesn't help you build the big buildings, prefecture, or library, which are violet. I wouldn't do it without at least silver/coffee, or as you described further, below.

The 4-role cycle described is also a bit limited in its assumptions.

*snip*


All good analysis.

Yehuda
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Alan Kwan
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Shade_Jon wrote:

Because the violet person also has either carpenter or quarry, probably both. You need to make up the difference. You probably have smithy, which helps, but doesn't help you build the big buildings, prefecture, or library, which are violet. I wouldn't do it without at least silver/coffee, or as you described further, below.


Why is it that the violet person has got carpenter or quarry, but the producer hasn't got carpenter, quarry, well, market stall, or market hall, etc.?
 
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Greg Jones
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Shade_Jon wrote:
JRedGiant (#465717),

In four phases, a production person takes craftsman/trader, earning X + Y cards, where X is the first good sold, and Y is the second good sold.

During these same four phases, the violet person has taken prospector and builder. Assuming no Prefecture or Library, they have earned at 3.8 cards: one from builder, one from prospector, and 1.8 from trader, assuming they have tobacco. That's 3.8 cards.

So for the production person to have a viable chance of winning, they must be making at least 5 cards out of this cycle, which means two Silvers (each earning 2.6 cards a trade).

That's tough, but if it works, and you get Guild Hall, you can win. If you don't have two Silvers, odds are it won't work.

Yehuda


The production person should not make those role selections. Whenever they get one role selection, they should take Prospector or Builder. When they get two, they should take Prospector or Builder for one of them and alternate between Producer and Trader.

The violet person is left with Prospector or Builder at most once per round, and Councillor for the second pick.

Over 4 rounds, the violet person gains 4 cards plus the value of their trade, let's say 1.8 as you have. So 5.8.

Over 4 rounds, the production person gains 4 cards plus the value of their trade, let's say for fairness it's Tobacco + Indigo, so 2.8. 6.8 cards.

Even when you have production buildings, taking Prospector and Builder is better and there's no reason to require that the person who has production buildings plays inferior tactics.

Now you might say that the production person is helping the violet person by taking Builder, which the violet person is likely to have a lot of bonuses on. But it really doesn't matter. The violet player can take builder every round if they want to and they can keep up the pace of building. You can't stop them.

The only way the production person taking Builder can help the violet player is if it frees the violet player up to take another role that they also want to happen. That's not Producer or Trader we assume. Prospector after successfully building off another player's Builder role is only marginally better in some circumstances than choosing Builder yourself; you end up with the same number of cards but get one more new card that might be one you're looking for. There is only one card that has an impact on the advantage of the Prospector phase, and that's a small impact. If the violet player doesn't have the Prefecture, then taking Councillor following Builder results in one less net card gain than taking Builder themself.

If they do have a Prefecture, then it can alter the tactics a bit, but if we assume the violet player gets a Tobacco, I think it's fair to assume the production player also gets a Prefecture to leach that action.
 
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