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Subject: Some thinking after 350 games. rss

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Flame Bird
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I'm closing in on 350 games on BSW and have a 44% winrate so I feel like I'm doing pretty well. Recently I've played a lot more 4er and 5er and wanted to try and post some general strategy across all player counts.

Let me know if you agree or disagree with any of the following:

Single raw goods are very weak

Unless I have a Wonder that needs stages built ASAP, I never take single raw resources. In the aformentioned case, I will take the single raw resource because I'm typically getting an economic advantage very early such as the double Trading Post or Wonder-Caravansery.

You want to be the last to flinch on manufactured resources

The worst thing about manufactured resources is when an opponent only pays one for them. You want others to pick these, and for you to pay for them, at least while you still have a shot at the triple manufactured yellow card in Age II. Forcing through these is disastrous more often than not.

Yellow cards are criminally underrated

Most players seem to like Forum and Caravansery, but the Trading Posts, Market and cash cards are all excellent too. The cash cards in particular are very strong tempo cards. That you can also pick up cash and points from the yellow VP card in Age III shouldn't be forgotten. I will take the Trading Post pointing at the Pyramids blindly I think they are that good.

You have to let Science come to you; forcing it is impossible against even vaguely competent players

Science can potentially score you the most points. It can also be cut off quickly when others build Wonders/need cash. I think you have to respond to someone staking out Science early, but if you are aware of this it's easy to do. To succeed with Science I think you need to be taking the green cards when there is little alternative (e.g. only resource cards left or small blue cards).

You have to contest the military

Clearly you want the most points for the least effort. I've found however that you also want to force opponents to contest. Going without military is doable, but worst of all it lets someone grab 9pts for very little effort. Winning on one side and losing the other can be very strategic, particularly in the mad rush for points of the third round. Consistently passing on military cards can make life very easy for your neighbours.

You need blue cards at some point

For mine, your first three or so picks of Age III should nearly always be blue or guild cards. They just score so many points. The predominant stance for Age III is to consider which cards your opponents CAN'T take, but I've gone back to having success by picking up blue cards much earlier in the game. Where cheap, 3-5VPs in the first or second Age can really give you a buffer if everything else roughly equalizes.

The B-sides are much better than the A-sides

I concur with much of the consensus: Babylon is the hardest to play, the Pyramids and Colossus are easy to win with; force Alexandria and the double Trading Post early; Ephesus and Mausoleum are excellent for strong player.

However, the B-sides are much better simply because they have the potential for more points while rarely offering less points. That they aren't encumbered by double-manufactured goods or clunky powers only multiplies that tenfold.

Anyway, these are my bare bones thoughts. Let me know what you think!









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Rich Chamberlain
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Thank you for these pointers. Its great to benefit from your experience and you've given me plenty to think about.

Thanks!
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Philip R
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My experience is the best strategy is to do what the people on your left and right aren't. Obviously you don't want to compete with the person handing you cards because that is always a losing proposition. The nice thing about the game is that there are many many paths to victory, the one lesson I have learned is don't try to do everything. It is good to have one or two themes to the cards you are laying down and use the rest to help you get there.

As for B sides being better, I would disagree, I find some B sides better, and others harder. The B side I find is just more aggressively chasing the theme of the city, which in some ways can make it easier for your opponents to break it.
 
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Flame Bird
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If you are pursuing a strategy your neighbours have ignored, you will win.

However, I think this is much harder to do in practice. There are many layers to every strategy, and its not like your neighbour 'goes Military'. If he/she takes two quick cards and you leave them alone they have won a too easy victory.

The way the cards are stepped to be more expensive each round and the opportunity to take cards away from your oppoenent mean you have to remain tactically flexible.

To that end I agree with you that you need to compete in at least two of the three major scoring areas, but I think you need to be aggressive in doing this with military at least.
 
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Paul W
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I don't think that's quite right. If you invest in military and it doesn't allow you to win but simply forces your neighbor to invest a little more, what you've really done is help out everyone else at the table. It's true that you don't want a player to have uncontested military on both sides, but you really want to make sure you're winning on at least on side if you want to be the one to step up to the challenge.

Perhaps more important in military matters is considering order of play. Trying to overtake on military when you're "downstream" of your neighbor is usually a losing proposition, while doing so when you control the flow of cards is generally possible without much difficulty.
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Flame Bird
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Yes I think you have to win at least one side. In that vein I think you have to take military cards at the beginning of Age II at the latest.

Even more important than order of play is being in front. Being in front allows you to check the distribution before selecting. If you're in front, and all military cards arrive in a single hand, then you can pass on them early because one is guaranteed to come back.
 
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David Janik-Jones
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I'm new to the game (but an old gamer) an appreciate the time Fire Bird took to post this, as well as the thoughtful responses. Stuff for this newbie 7 Wonderer to mull over for certain.
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Tony Chen
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This hasn't been my experience with 3er games.
 
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Flame Bird
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
This hasn't been my experience with 3er games.


I know, it's my experiences. That's why I posted it.
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Tony Chen
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Flamebird wrote:
drunkenKOALA wrote:
This hasn't been my experience with 3er games.


I know, it's my experiences. That's why I posted it.
I believe that. So? I can't voice my disagreement? Or my opinion on 3er games?

Don't get too defensive.
 
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Fight! Fight!
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Matthew Cordeiro
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drunkenKOALA wrote:
This hasn't been my experience with 3er games.


What has been your experience with 3er games? I just got this game, and I'm interested to hear where you agree/disagree with the OP.
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Tony Chen
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cordeiro wrote:
drunkenKOALA wrote:
This hasn't been my experience with 3er games.


What has been your experience with 3er games? I just got this game, and I'm interested to hear where you agree/disagree with the OP.
Depending on your wonder, single brown or gray goods can be very useful.

Yellow cards are underrated for a reason, except for Caravansery and some other ones. Although even the "weaker" ones can be very useful in certain situations.

Going Green is only worth it if you go all out on it. (Caveat: unless the opponenets "overpay" to block you then you can win by switching into something else and collecting only one or two sets of Green. But when you start out the plan is to go all out on Green.) Half hearted Green is a losing strategy. The only reason to build Green is to either go all out (or plan to and then switch if need be) yourself, or to block someone who is (in which case it's usually better to stuff the Green card under your wonder if possible). I think this is likely more true for 3er games.

You can win by building zero military. Again, probably more true for 3er games. On average, first place builds 4 Red cards, second place 2, and last place 0. If you do better or worse than that, then you respectively score big or "overpaid."

I agree that B sides are better than A sides.





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Lo Ma
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So, I'm thinking online BSW games play differently than face-toface games.

Do any of your obversations apply to FTF games, or just the virtual games? Have you compared experiences between the two formats?
 
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Flame Bird
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How do you think they play differently?

The rules are the same. I've only played online. I own the game in hard copy but it's so far been much easier to play online.
 
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Greg Todd
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I don't have the level experience that you have, nor have my opponents, but I've won most of the games I've played and my experiences are very different.

You seem to be saying you don't like taking the single browm or grey resource cards. If you don't get these, how do you afford the age III blue and purple cards that need 6 or 7 resources?

When teaching this game to new players I always emphasise that they must build up a lot of resources in the first 2 ages, otherwise they will be screwed in age III. How do you avoid this?

Also, I disagree on science cards. If you don't plan to get these throughout the whole game, it's very hard to get enough to make them pay. I find they're an all or nothing strategy.
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Kenneth Wynne
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ok ive played around 50ish games myself and some of the points you have outlined are very valid. Im always going after military also and it really helps to know how many military cards are potentially floating around each round and for number of players. that way i can be sure i can get the military that force my neighbors to consider it and take it over stuff that they may rather have. i DONT like negative points so i try to win military or at the very least even out. i also dont like taking the single resources but will take any singles that pertain to my wonder.

Im also a fan of the yellow cards. most of the time ill take them if i need coins or if im low on resources otherwise i pick other things that go with my theme for the game.

you hit the head of the nail with the science cards. you CANT force this...and if your neighbors are going that route too its just not worth fighting over...id rather bury them for my wonder or take 3 coins then pass them. if i start that route then get cut off ill force getting one of each just to be sure that i get at least 10. if i have 2 of one type then i may forceably take any of the same type to maximize my point potential.

Blue cards are make or break really for me. if i take them im going all out cause getting 30-40 pts off of them is game winning but i dont like taking the age I ones. If i take them i start at age II and make sure they are the ones that make the age III ones free.

as for a sides vs b sides, im also a fan of most of the b sides over the a sides other than Giza...most of the time i fight to find 3 cards that i bury for the other ones but finding 4 is more of a pain. i like manniquien pis only cause i get to bury one card.
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Caleb
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The problem with Science isn't whether to go half-hearted or all-out. The problem is, it's the easiest thing for others at the table to notice you doing, and mess you up by trading them in for cash or burying them under their wonders. I just won a game (3-player) last night by seeing one of my opponents starting big in green, and I buried 3 (!) of the ones he needed under my Wonder. He did not win.

On the other hand, I've had 30+ points in Green before too, but I always feel when I score big in green it's because my opponents weren't paying attention
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Greg Todd
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It's true that science cards are the most obvious thing to bury when people do get rid of cards, but I don't think it's as easy to do as people on here say.
Throwing a card for 3 coins is a pretty bad turn - if you do this more than about once per game I think you're unlikely to win. I almost never do this.
Building your wonder is a far better way to bury a card, but it isn't always an option - in some games it's better to ignore your wonder completely. And for some wonders the timing for building them has to be based on your own needs, not on damaging your opponents.
Overall, I don't think science is that easy to stop if you really pursue it. They can slow you down, but it's hard to stop you getting reasonable scores from it.
Military on the other hand is very easy for adjacent players to overtake you on and make your investment entirely worthless. So I'd say military is a much more risky strategy.
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Tony Chen
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luckyjim wrote:
It's true that science cards are the most obvious thing to bury when people do get rid of cards, but I don't think it's as easy to do as people on here say.
Throwing a card for 3 coins is a pretty bad turn - if you do this more than about once per game I think you're unlikely to win. I almost never do this.
Building your wonder is a far better way to bury a card, but it isn't always an option - in some games it's better to ignore your wonder completely. And for some wonders the timing for building them has to be based on your own needs, not on damaging your opponents.
Overall, I don't think science is that easy to stop if you really pursue it. They can slow you down, but it's hard to stop you getting reasonable scores from it.
Military on the other hand is very easy for adjacent players to overtake you on and make your investment entirely worthless. So I'd say military is a much more risky strategy.
In short, that.
 
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Flame Bird
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cannoneer wrote:
The problem with Science isn't whether to go half-hearted or all-out. The problem is, it's the easiest thing for others at the table to notice you doing, and mess you up by trading them in for cash or burying them under their wonders. I just won a game (3-player) last night by seeing one of my opponents starting big in green, and I buried 3 (!) of the ones he needed under my Wonder. He did not win.

On the other hand, I've had 30+ points in Green before too, but I always feel when I score big in green it's because my opponents weren't paying attention


Agreed.

Throwing a card for three coins is great when you are setup to take advantage. I typically play with 1-2 trading post/marketplace so the coins are welcome (I'm also not picking resources as much as everyone else).

This is a game of relativity, but the Science cards are the hardest to make work. It doesn't mean they CAN'T work, just that it's easiest to hate out because they are all about quantity.

In the original post, I wasn't saying Science is unplayable; I was saying you can't be picking your 5pt third science card over a 6pt blue card. You need to be picking them later when they are useless to everyone else.

Essentially that is what the game is all about; managing the value of your cards against the value of your opponent's.
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Flame Bird
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luckyjim wrote:
Building your wonder is a far better way to bury a card, but it isn't always an option - in some games it's better to ignore your wonder completely.


This is becoming rarer and rarer for me. In fact, I'd say the first mistake you can make in 7W is misplaying the advantages of your Wonder.
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Flame Bird
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luckyjim wrote:
You seem to be saying you don't like taking the single browm or grey resource cards. If you don't get these, how do you afford the age III blue and purple cards that need 6 or 7 resources?


I take the trading posts/marketplace aggressively. I will take a trading post pointed at Pyramids before they play resources. I will preemptively take a Trading post when I know my opponent will take the double resource card (if it isn't crucial for me). I will also take Marketplace anytime I can hit two manufactured resources with it.

This is my style, and others might not like it, but I've been winning a lot with it. I also pick the coin cards when they are 5+ over most things.
 
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Greg Todd
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Flamebird wrote:
I take the trading posts/marketplace aggressively. I will take a trading post pointed at Pyramids before they play resources. I will preemptively take a Trading post when I know my opponent will take the double resource card (if it isn't crucial for me). I will also take Marketplace anytime I can hit two manufactured resources with it.

This is my style, and others might not like it, but I've been winning a lot with it. I also pick the coin cards when they are 5+ over most things.


I think that sounds like an interesting strategy, I may try it next game.
The thing I'd be worried about with with relying on your opponents' resources is that they may not play the right ones. If you don't get access to all of the 7 resources it can be difficult in Age III. Again, I've seen enough new players get screwed by this to be afraid of it.

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Tony Chen
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When I go Green, the standard is 48 points.
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