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Subject: More strategy thoughts (update to guide) rss

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Alex Rockwell
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First of all, a link to my first guide:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/602967/alexfrogs-navegador-s...


Like before, these thoughts dont apply to the 2 player game, which is pretty different. This is for 3-5 player!


Here are some more thoughts I have had in further plays, since writing this guide:

1) Colony/factory strategy can work. I have been successful with this strategy under the right conditions, which are:

* You probably need to successfully pull off a multi-worker buy in Age 1. That is, something going to workers with like $250 and buying 3 workers. If you dont do this, a colony/church or factory/church strategy is probably a better way to go. You need lots of workers so that you can get several colonies/factories with one action.
* A multi-ship buy can also help.
* Dont be the explorer. Dont burn ships exploring, you dont have many. follow the explorers and take the colonies.
* Focus on income, hit the market a lot.

This strategy probably works best if you get off to a strong income early on, and then for some reason, going for either churches and shipyards both seem unfavorable.


Why would you choose colony/factory strategy over combining one of those with one of exploration/church/shipyard? Because they are under-represented among the other players. For example, lets say you get off to a quick income start with two sugar colonies, and a gold factory buy. You hit market and get good money. An opponent buys a church. Another one buys a shipyard, or even better, multiple people competing for each of these. The amount of people going for heavy colony or heavy factory is underrepresented. You go and buy 3 workers instead to jumpstart yourself and save actions later, and go colony/factory.


When you are doing this strategy, after the beginning, dont worry if you have colonies and factories of the same types. This will happen. So you have 4 sugar colonies and 3 gold factories, but now you cant get more sugar colonies and the sugar factories are cheap? Go colonize gold and buy sugar and spice factories. Its fine. Your income will still be good because youre just collecting income sources.


This strategy will use the following paths on the rondel:

Colony -> Priveledge (when goodones available, past the very early game) -> Market -> Buildings ->Market.

Sailing is usually skipped. Use the Navegador to position ships into multiple different colony rich areas, such that you can hopefully colonize more than once before moving again. Only normally Sail if you really need to.

Workers and Ships are usually skipped for most of the game. You dont spend ships exploring,so you only need about 3-4, which you build up to early. You had a multi buy of workers early. If you need more workers, do it several at once, your income is high.

Obviously you dont have to hit both market spaces each time around, but theyre often good for you.

In my best colony/factory game, a 3 player in which I got an early two colony buy followed buy a 3 worker buy in Age 1, I ended up with 19 colonies and 11 factories. One opponent had all shipyards and the other all churches, but thats simply not as strong as 19 colonies.
I was pretty much pushing the market to different extremes each time, using about half my things each time for ~800.


2) Differences in # of privileges needed based on # of players:

With 5 players, the number of privileges you get will be less than with, say, 3 players. This means you need to focus on having less types of items in 5 player. In 5 player your strategy is more like heavy focus on one thing, with 3 privileges, and some of a second. In 3 player, its more like 2 focuses and a backup.

Its fine to miss privileges in age 1 completely, in a 5 player game. (In 3 player, you probably want to get one). In fact, you probably don't want to get a privilege age 1 in 5 player. I have lost several times in 5 player where I got more early privileges than others, and it hurt me on worker count and economy buildup. Then later, I ran out of useful privileges and they had time to catch up before the game ended.

So large games: avoid early privileges, get economy. Specialize a TON. Honestly, I think that in 5 player, having one player get every shipyard and one get every church is probably optimal play. Splitting them and having one person get 2 extra and one get three isnt very strong, and it gets worse if others try to buy 'just one extra church'.

In 5 player, just try to get a TON of one thing, and then have some other thing as a secondary. For three player you really need two strong main focuses.



3) On Churches and Shipyards:


I believe that the worst number of churches or shipyards to purchase during the course of the game is one. Purchasing none of a type is fine, and normal. (Each game, probably only 1-2 players should buy any shipyards, and only 1-2 should buy any churches). Purchasing several of a type is doing a strategy of that type. Purchasing one extra church or shipyard is simply bad. It doesnt save you money. You couldve bought an extra ship/worker on that space for less money. It costs an action and more money and just gives you 3 points.

Why doesnt it pay itself back? First of all, the value of money decreases over the course of the game. Early on hitting the market for 150 is good, later hitting it for 300 is normal, and then 500. So if you pay 200 for a shipyard in the early midgame, and over the course of the game you use it for ships several times, it still really didnt pay you back all of the value of what you paid for it. (The value of the saved money you got those times late in the game was less).

Basically this is how shipyards and churches work. They cost money overall. Part of their cost is defrayed by getting discounts on ships or workers later in the game, but only part. They are worth points. If you get only a couple, its not enough points to justify them. If you get several, then you can collect favors and make them worth a lot.

So essentially, buying just one extra shipyard is bad. Buying as many as you can is good, or buying none is good.

You might say: "But I paid only $100 for this shipyard (my only one), it definitely paid itself back". I would respond: that was a shipyard strategy, you bought the first shipyard. You shouldve kept buying more instead of stopping there, gotten favors, and made them score well.


Generally the effect of buying only one of a shipyard/church is that it hurts you some, and it hurts the player collecting them some as well. You are kindof shooting yourself in order to damage one opponent. Now, maybe thats worth it, if it hurts the leader and you didnt have any other good moves. (Or if you can convince several players to all buy one, and screw some guy over while hurting yourselves equally). But generally its not a great idea.

You definitely should not feel like "I just need to get one church and one shipyard, and then I am set to buy those things efficiently". Thats not how this game works. Navegador is all about specializing. Instead of doing that, saving the action and buying more than one of ships or workers by paying the extra value (100xAge) for them is better.


4) The value of Age I extra worker/shipyard buys:

Buying several of an item (ship/worker) in Age 1, for only 100 extra per item, is very strong, once you have an income up and running. Dont do this before getting an income. If some other guy already bought the first shipyard, and you want ships, then maybe instead of competing with him and hurting both of you by buying a shipyard, consider buying several ships at once.

The strength of this move means that its really good to set up an income and get some money quickly, while its still age 1, so that you can do a multi-buy. Youre basically saving yourself multiple actions of time visiting that space again later.

Also, multiple worker buys are strong in a shipyard strategy and multi ship buys in a church strategy. Hopefully you cover all your needs for that item for the rest of the game with the one multiple buy, and then you can skip that space later on.


5) The first move of the game:

So you have the very first move, what do you do? If my group is EXPERIENCED, I think that choosing sailing and going to the gold colonies is probably best. This has several benefits:

* Sets you up for decent fast income. Gold is worth more than sugar.
* Hopefully, either you take the only decently priced gold colony and the other two are expensive, or you quickly run around the rondel in 3 moves and colonize a second colony. Early on money is tight, and a colony very fast helps a lot. You have a good chance of leaving two pretty high prices colonies behind, making the cheap sugar on the other side look more appealing for the third player who goes for a colony buy. Your gold is more likely to hold value better early than sugar.
If you can get, say, two gold colonies and a sugar factory early, your income will be strong.

With inexperienced players, I would do whatever strategy I thought they would undervalue however. I find that new players sail too much and are distracted by the shiny board, so in a new gourps would probably build a factory.
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Huzonfirst
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Very nice, Alex. The one topic I'd really want you to discuss, though, is defensive play. Once everyone realizes the value of "trying to do what everyone else isn't", people will notice which opponents are doing the best jobs of specializing and wonder if they should take one for the team by horning in on what they're doing. I've had success playing defense like this (and making the other player's speciality one of my focuses), but general rules about when and how this should be done would be enlightening.
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Anthony Simons
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I am clearly trailing in the number of plays in this one, but I have tried to dilute what I consider to be a clear winning strategy when I have seen others taking it - and it never does me any good.

With the exception of the first game our group ever played, each game essentially boils down to one of two scenarios:

1. A player goes all-out on churches and wins because nobody is prepared to challenge him/her (been "her" all the time in my case) in church building; church player wins.

2. A player goes all-out on churches and is challenged by one other (usually me), giving victory to a third player.

All my games have been three or four-player games; I almost caught the church player on an exploration/colonisation strategy, but was short by six points or so.

I'm not saying it's impossible to outdo a church builder, but unless somebody else (not you) steps in to build churches, it's going to be very difficult to challenge their position.

Please tell me I'm wrong.
 
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You're wrong!

In my last game, I successfully challenged the Church Builder and won. It was a 5-player game and while two other players had already bought shipyards, only one player had invested in churches. This, and the fact that he had grabbed two church privileges, had me worried. Fortunately, I was just about the only player who was focusing on factories, so I was bringing in good money on each circuit of the rondel. So, figuring I was the only one who could really fight him, I grabbed a church. I wound up with 3 of them and 2 of the church privileges. That, combined with 11(!) factories allowed me to win fairly easily.

The point is, I was better positioned financially to get the more expensive churches than he was, so I was able to compete with him. I felt the key was not only to play defense against him, but to use the churches as my second privilege focus for the game (I only took privileges for factories and churches; nothing else was worthwhile). A side benefit was that I was able to buy lots of workers cheaply, allowing me to get oodles of factories when I built (I bought 3 of them on my last turn).

This may do nothing to ease your fears about Navegador, Anthony, since in the end, one of the church players still won. But I think it still comes down to what Alex is saying, that the player who finds her own niche will win. I've seen games where players compete for churches (not surprising, as they're very attractive, despite their high cost). Usually, a non-church player wound up winning--for example, one time a player who bought shipyards with little opposition cruised to victory. If someone is allowed to dominate an area (just as I was allowed to buy the vast majority of the factories purchased), they should win fairly handily, assuming that they are able to find a good second area to focus on. That's why I'm so interested in hearing about good defensive play. I think that's the appropriate second level of the strategy, once the players figure out how to maximize their own scoring chances. At that stage, you'd expect good defense to be very important, but I haven't played enough games with experienced players to see just how vital it is.
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Alexfrog wrote:

3) On Churches and Shipyards:


I believe that the worst number of churches or shipyards to purchase during the course of the game is one. Purchasing none of a type is fine, and normal. (Each game, probably only 1-2 players should buy any shipyards, and only 1-2 should buy any churches). Purchasing several of a type is doing a strategy of that type. Purchasing one extra church or shipyard is simply bad. It doesnt save you money. You couldve bought an extra ship/worker on that space for less money. It costs an action and more money and just gives you 3 points.
Although buying one is generally the worst case scenario, it's not always "simply bad" is it?

Buying one shipyard (for example) only scores you a couple points, but it also denies points to your opponents and might affect their rondel movement/cash flow slightly if timed right. Also, the savings you receive buying a second boat will increase with each new area explored, partially off-setting increased income to a degree... although you probably won't be buying enough boats to make this particularly meaningful (even though each boat purchased is 1 VP or one extra movement space on the rondel - both potentially useful, although you'll probably have better VP options available).

I'm not arguing that it's a good move, but a 12-point swing versus anyone using shipyards as part of their strategy must be worthwhile in some cases? Or do these situations only arise with suboptimal play from several corners of the table?
 
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Mike K
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I think it's more about opportunity cost than anything else; the one church or shipyard you got, you might've been better off specializing.

Played my first of this just yesterday (all of us newbies; the game owner had played twice before), and I ended up going the Shipyard/Explore route, while getting a number of spice colonies late. I edged the person who went all out on colonies and factories. I bought 3 shipyards during the game and no churches/factories, and ended with the minimum 2 peeps.
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Alexfrog wrote:


2) Differences in # of privileges needed based on # of players:

Its fine to miss privileges in age 1 completely, in a 5 player game. (In 3 player, you probably want to get one). In fact, you probably don't want to get a privilege age 1 in 5 player. I have lost several times in 5 player where I got more early privileges than others, and it hurt me on worker count and economy buildup. Then later, I ran out of useful privileges and they had time to catch up before the game ended.
I am curious as to your current thinking about this, because I played 2 games the day before yesterday where I had most of the privileges. I won the first one by four points and lost the second by 1. Both games were 4 player games. Both times I was playing 'factory/church', and in one game I finished with 11 factories and 6 churches and in the other with 12 factories and 5 churches. I had 3 factory tiles, 3 church tiles and another tile by the time I finished. That last I believe now was a mistake. In both games 'factory' was under-represented. Some people were trying to get colony/church and colony/shipyard working, but I bought churches at such a rate that they couldn't afford them, since I went to the market as little as possible and only the person on my left hand side got even halfway decent prices for his raw materials.

But the person on my right hand side won one game, and came in a close second both times playing exploration/shipyard. He got nearly all the exploration tokens. And while he didn't fill his privilege board as much, in the end this did not matter. Exploration, too was under represented.

At the time, I thought it was important to deprive him of privileges he was interested in, but I now think that this was a mistake -- I would have been better off buying 3 factories every time around the wheel until they ran out. I thought I was being clever in buying churches so that nobody could afford them, but I think that I may have bought my second church too soon. Buying one as soon as I had 5 workers was, I think, a good idea but I think that I wanted to buy 2 factories when I had 6 workers, skipping privilege and getting to 9 workers quickly so I can buy 3 at a time, or a church and a factory.

In the first game, I was confident that I was winning hand over fist, and was greatly surprised when the score was close. As the second game progressed it was clear that it was going to greatly resemble the first game, and my right hand opponent and I exchanged knowing looks. *Rematch* we both thought. Everybody else thought that I was winning quite handily, looking at my privilege board, but I was worried. With justification as it turned out.

I think that it is pretty amazing that the games could be so close, which says something excellent about game balance. But, should this happen again, I want to have a better plan. In both games I took 0 colonies, and I explored once in the first game, making use of the navegador card the first time I had it. In the second game I never used the navegador card at all, and never explored. I don't think that there was anything wrong with that. But I also never bought ships, and I am now questioning that wisdom.

My greatest frustration in the second game was that I was aware that my right hand opponent was catching up, and he had control over the pace of the game, which ended when he explored Nagasaki. He was going to play until he had all, or nearly all the exploration tokens, and I wasn't in a position to deprive him of any. When the other 2 players also couldn't do so, because they were too poor to buy ships, I was stuck for a response and thought to deprive him of privileges. Now I think that what I should have done was skipped privilege early and bought 2 extra ships. Then, in the end game I could race around the board to buildings 3 times and buy 3 factories a pop, and then buy all the churches, shipyards -- whatever was left. Because I needed to end the game before he caught up with me, and the only way I had to end it was to buy every building.

It seems a tad extravagant, though.

Have and of you been in this position?

Thank you for reading.
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