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Subject: Me vs the forum, or "I totally should have peeked at the geeklist" rss

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Matt N

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Two player advanced game, me vs the forum, Brink of War, goals on, takeovers off

This is my fifth session report; the fourth, third, second, and first session reports are also available for your viewing pleasure.

Any commentary comes from me while I’m making the decision in question, so I’m not just suggesting certain scenarios after the fact because they actually happened.

Links are to the corresponding forum decisions points.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, first 6 cost, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop, 3 explore powers

My hand:


Me:


Picking starting world:
Uh... this could be a good starting hand with different starting worlds. As it is, there are two basic directions: military to go for uplift race, or ancient race to basically get cardflow and hope. I normally prefer ancient race with a bad hand, since I can trade/produce and force my opponent to have decent cards. The goals mildly favor separatist colony, but having cardflow will help in the long run for an early 6 cost or a discard. New military tactics is particularly bad here, even though I could get reptilian uplift race out by using it, due to the four developments goal.

I’m ultimately picking separatist colony because I can at least match a develop or settle phase call; with ancient race, I’d be behind for many of the goals right off the bat. I’m tossing deficit spending, because it’s terrible early game, and rebel outpost. While I could tech up to rebel outpost, I’d like to keep my options open. Mining world is important against a production homeworld, reptilian uplift race is a great card if I get one more military by any means, and blaster gem mines could be useful if naked traded to get that extra military (although that’s a backup plan). Rebel outpost is only useful early if I’m keeping new military tactics around, and new military tactics is better here than a five defense world that only gives one military. As I discussed in my previous session report, a one point one cost development can be better than many other cards.

Without goals, I’d pick ancient race and take my chances.

My opponent reveals new Sparta. While there’s some chance I’ll get run over early, that shows a little more bias towards settling, which helps me.


My hand:


Forum (4 cards):


Picking phases:
I’m not very excited about any of my playable cards (other than mining world, which I was more hoping to use as a counter to a different homeworld) and can’t double build without a silly gamble. Double settling for blaster gem mines and reptilian uplift race has horrible downside if I fail. Mainly, I want to take it slowly and find some new cards, so explore +1/+1 is a good option, given my explore power. For my other phase, I could play a weak settle or develop, but I’d rather play defensively and naked trade. This move is great against mediocre players; against the entire forum, it could be less reliable, because experts know that naked trading/producing against new Sparta is common. However, if I whiff, I won’t be too sad about not settling blaster gem mines.

Interestingly, in 2pa, I’m often more likely to naked trade with weak windfalls instead of good windfalls. I’m more likely to just settle/trade a good windfall myself, assuming I can play it without developing first. Naked trading with blaster gem mines sets me up for another settle/trade and leaves me with five cards for next turn, which is not too bad for a weak hand. I will cackle with glee if the forum double settles, assuming that I can’t take advantage of a second settle. Bad outcomes for me include any develops and double develop in particular, although I have a small chance to draw out for both of them.

I’m ignoring search here because I have some semiplayable cards, and a lone uplift windfall isn’t good enough to merit a military development search for me.

I pick: explore +1/+1/trade
Forum picks: explore +1/+1/develop

That is a pretty standard opening. The forum probably doesn’t have a good military windfall, unless they decided to skip the settle to make me potentially whiff. I don’t typically avoid good settles because the times you get naked traded are made up for by the times your opponent has bad cards; you’ll have enough bad starting hands that people can’t routinely expect a settle.

1st turn:

[1] Explore:


Wow. If those were my starting cards (or I had mix ‘n match), that would have been awesome. As is, that’s a very good explore. The main directions are develop spam with public works/investment credits and small military with expeditionary force and runaway robots. Both options chase large goals as well. I hate to pass up good settles, but the develop powers turn my greatest weakness into a strength, and my naked trade may make them think I’ll settle. Besides, I’m already ahead for the explore goal anyways. I keep investment credits and public works. (If the forum had to make this decision, I’d probably have to wait a day for them to decide.)

Hindsight: I strongly regretted not keeping expeditionary force and one of the develop powers (probably public works). The main problem is that my hand will be four cards again, and I’m still forced to explore to have a playable world (without tossing my whole hand). I’m banking pretty heavily on the anti-settle deterrent to make this choice work. Chasing develop goals is nice, but without good cardflow it’s dangerous.

There are plenty of other good options here too. I mainly dislike what I picked.

[2] Develop: It’s between investment credits and public works. Public works would be the obvious choice, except that the consume power works against me. If I could be sure that investment credits would stop my opponent from settling, I’d play that instead, but being able to gain card advantage from developing matters a lot to me. There’s no guarantee that my opponent has a good world anyway. I choose public works.

The forum develops expeditionary force. Now I wish that I’d kept my copy of it... That telegraphs a settle for next turn, presumably, so I’d like to try my naked trade plan again. I can explore/trade next turn or develop/trade. Develop/trade uses new military tactics and would possibly backfire, given that I’d fall a development behind. Explore/trade gives me another chance to find a windfall that I actually want to play.

All this means that I will pay with new military tactics, since I’ll probably pick up a useful development later.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, first 6 cost, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop, 3 explore powers

My hand:


Me (4 cards):


Forum (5 cards):



Picking phases:
I’m still playing defensively here until I get some more cards. The analysis is largely covered in the previous develop phase. While a naked produce would be fun, I’d be quite vulnerable on the next turn.

I really miss expeditionary force. I have the opposite of analysis paralysis, where I make a fairly quick decision and then spend a long time regretting it.

Is it bad that I haven’t seen any BoW cards yet?

I pick: explore +1/+1/trade

As stated before, I’d expect at least one settle this turn. Two settles is also possible, but less likely because the goals don’t favor it. Settle/trade is the most likely, while settle/produce is possible but difficult to predict, due to the rarity of three military production worlds. There’s also some chance of a spiteful double explore to make me whiff again, or if the forum just has weak cards. If the development wasn’t settle-related, I might explore/develop to get investment credits out or maybe draw a decent military card.

I predict: settle/trade
Forum picks: settle/trade

Whiffing a naked trade doesn’t mean you should give up. A lot of times, it just makes a settle more likely.

2nd turn:

[1] Explore: I see rebel cantina, retrofit ‘n salvage, terraformed world, deserted alien library, and galactic markets. Settle/trading deserted alien library would be cool but is impossible, and none of the others make it worthwhile for me to skip my own trade. I keep retrofit and galactic markets, in case I change my mind later.

[3] Settle: Whiffing the naked trade again might have been better, but so be it. I will settle blaster gem mines. I can keep two cards; investment credits fits the develop strategy and reptilian uplift race lets me refill my hand again, which will be important. Retrofit and salvage would be nice, given the discard goal and the develop power, but I need immediate cardflow.

The forum plays rebel warrior race. This windfall or pirate world is about the baseline I’d expect here, enabling a safe 6 cost development next turn.

[4] Trade: I pick up alien cornucopia, galactic renaissance, and biohazard mining world. No real help there.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, first 6 cost, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop, 3 explore powers

My hand:


Me (5 cards):


Forum (10 cards):



Picking phases:
Well, I really need some more cards and don’t like any of my new cards. Producing could work but is slow, and I don’t really like biohazard mining world that much in case of a settle. Settle/trade for reptilian uplift race seems about right.

I pick: settle/trade

Predicting phases after someone trades is always tough. A double develop here would give them an edge for the develop goal, an early six would be worth a lot of points, or they could settle/trade assuming that I’d pick a build phase. Build/produce would set up for next turn as well. I’ve somewhat telegraphed a settle by playing blaster gem mines, but it doesn’t do me much good to worry about that, given that I need new cards.

I predict: ??
Forum picks: develop/settle

That’s not what I expected, but it’ll do. A particularly irritating combination would be trade league and a windfall.

3rd turn:

[2] Develop: I develop investment credits and pay with galactic renaissance, which has an explore power and is otherwise useless at the moment.

The forum develops trade league. Being right sucks and I can expect a windfall shortly. However, I’m fairly close to having a self-sustaining develop strategy, which is a good counter to trade league overall. Not calling consume won’t work forever, but it might buy me a turn or two.

The call of develop/settle makes less sense as far as I’m concerned though; if they are countering my settle/trade, they don’t need to play settle. I would explore +5/develop to find a nice military world or good development if I was using trade league. If they thought I might produce, then the settle makes more sense, and they may have had a backup development in hand. (This is not based on peeking at the geeklist, by the way.)

Did they play trade league out of spite, because I’ve played trade every turn so far? I’ll have to wait until the match is over to find out...

[3] Settle: I settle reptilian uplift race and pick up alien uplift center. The forum irritatingly settles star nomad lair, which I could really have used. In a real life game I’d probably complain to an uncaring room. I regret not playing expeditionary force for the tenth time.

[4] Trade: I pick up psi-crystal world, lost alien battle fleet, pan-galactic mediator, and improved logistics. I’m glad that my opponent didn’t catch improved logistics, but I’m underwhelmed otherwise.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop, 3 explore powers

My hand:


Me (8 cards):


Forum (8 cards) [3 first 6? dev]:



Picking phases:
I really want to double develop, but these developments aren’t suitable. In particular, pan-galactic mediator and improved logistics have anti-synergy with each other. I need a strategy, but nothing in my hand really stands out; I don’t have the big military for the alien worlds, and getting +4 for the alien battle fleet is particularly impractical. I could set up a weak produce/consume strategy, which will probably feed my opponent masses of free cards. I could settle/trade again to get the discard goal... and watch my opponent get it as well.

When your cards suck with a big hand, an explore +5 is typically in order. (Search is a poor option since my odds of a 6 cost I like or a 4 military development are slim.) My other phase may as well be develop, since I have an advantage there; it’s predictable, but predictable develops don’t usually backfire. Also, if I pick up a good strategy-defining 6 cost or a big military development, I could get back in the game.

I pick: explore +5/develop

I still don’t know what my opponent wants to do here. A settle/trade or something/produce are both legitimate here; the forum presumably wants cards so they can keep up with my expected develop phases. The forum’s web of choices isn’t really going to influence my decision here. (I would naked trade if I knew they would settle/trade, but I don’t know that.)

I predict: settle/trade or ??/produce
Forum picks: settle/trade

Reasonable.

Hindsight: settle/trade or, better yet, E+5/trade would have definitely been better for me here. While I don’t get a relative advantage, I also don’t get a relative disadvantage. Short of picking up a great card from the explore, I’m in bad shape from explore/develop, and relative advantage of two cards is small when I don’t actually have a good development. When I saw trade league, I thought "there’s no point in naked trading", but it actually has the same impact as before (assuming settles are meant to be traded). I waste a phase against a produce, but I’m then able to settle/trade next turn without any special downside.

4th turn:

[1] Explore: I pick up genetics lab, doomed world, 2x imperium troops, alien robot scout ship, new galactic order, outlaw world, gambling world, and mining robots. There are plenty of good cards I could have caught; none of them actually showed up. NGO is four points, but doesn’t get me to the big alien worlds in my hand and eats up too much of my hand. Mining robots and genetics lab give me an extra good when producing, but I don’t have the consume powers to really justify that.

I think I’ll play improved logistics and use one of these worlds as a second settle. Doomed world could set up for psi-crystal world next turn and has an explore power; it could also be used to trick the forum into naked trading me, with them assuming that I actually have a card that I want to settle. Gambling world basically gives me a secondary explore phase with five chances to catch a six cost; if I need to get lucky, gambling world is my best bet (pun intended?). I think the consume power may actually come in handy at some point and I really do need to get lucky (G-Fed, bankers, uplift code, PGA come to mind), so I’ll keep gambling world. It’s an unorthodox play, but that’s pretty much all I have left.

[2] Develop: I play improved logistics after a vague glance at PGM. The forum can stop holding its breath about my "awesome" development. I pay with lost alien battle fleet, which is four military away and is just very unlikely. I pick up diversified economy from the develop.

(As it turns out, the forum did not stop holding its breath quite yet.)

The forum plays pan-galactic hologrid and claims the explore powers goal. Did I ever tell you about the time I threw away expeditionary force...

[3] Settle: I can play two worlds, but I don’t necessarily want to. Playing biohazard mining world takes three cards that I don’t want to spend and produce/consume is too slow at this point. Psi-crystal world eats up a ton of cards and eliminates my strongest gain from phase selection (naked trading to save a phase) because I can’t play my uplift windfall next turn. I could play gambling world and trade my uplift windfall next turn, or I could just play the windfall and gambling world this turn, to allow me to play PGM as needed next turn. The few scenarios that seem to work for me involve developing and taking at least one goal.

Gambling world is coming out first. The forum settles primitive rebel world, giving them a temporary military and a five card trade. I’ll pay for gambling world with biohazard mining world, which just isn’t going to be played at this point. I’ll also grudgingly play insect uplift race; I’d save it, but I really might need to play PGM before too long. I’m basically betting it all on finding a good 6 cost somehow.

[4] Consume: I consume for one point and ante the 5-cost psi-crystal world, which I won’t miss if I fail (and probably not if I succeed). Alien uplift center is at least playable with a few of the military developments left. Gambling five cost cards is one of the strongest plays with gambling world.

I lose the gamble... really. The forum trades for five cards. Inwardly, I swear profusely.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop

My hand:


Me (4 cards, 1 chip):


Forum (8 cards, 0 chips) [3 first 6? dev] [5 3+ explore powers]:


Picking phases:
Well... I’ve played as if I have some great 6 cost development for next turn. I might as well go try to find that great 6 cost development. The problem is, search/develop allows me to play one development at the cost of my entire hand, leaving me vulnerable to a spiteful double develop. (I’m vulnerable to everything, but they don’t have to know that.) Search/explore +1/+1 is the only way I can deal with a double develop while playing a 6 cost, at the cost of giving my opponent a prestige. If I don’t get a good 6 cost, I just won’t win.

What might my opponent do? They could double develop to try and take the goal and fill up the board, double settle to fill the board with a relative advantage, or settle/trade for more cards/to take the first discard goal and to mock my earlier efforts to trade. One advantage of improved logistics is that I can play catchup on settles later.

I can’t counter much of anything except a double develop, so I might as well assume that the forum will do that. One situation when you’re far behind is to assume a scenario where your actions actually matter... Search/explore +1/+1 it is.

I pick: Search/explore +1/+1
Forum picks: Search/develop

That’s reasonable too. Maybe they thought that playing the windfall meant that I had another windfall that I was planning to naked trade, so they tried to make me whiff.

5th turn:

Search: The forum searches for a 5+ defense military world, finds rebel base first, and keeps it. They will settle next turn methinks.

Search: I search for that lovely 6 cost I’ve been missing. My first card is galactic exchange; 6 optimistic points is no good for me. The second card is Imperium Lords. That works a little with improved logistics, although it’s not a lifesaver. Ah well.

[1] Explore: I pick up interstellar prospectors, merchant world, rebel colony, alien data repository, and drop ships. With drop ships, I could play both alien uplift center and rebel colony on the surely forthcoming settle. The other cards are too expensive to be of much use, so I keep drop ships and rebel colony.

[2] Develop: I can’t keep up with repeated develops short of playing pan-galactic mediator, which leaves me without a world during the next settle phase even if I develop drop ships next turn. The only scenario where I can envision any chance of winning involves me settling two worlds and trading next turn, to then play some miracle card. So, I’ll develop drop ships.

The forum plays imperium invasion fleet. Anything I can do, they can do better. I’ll pay with alien cornucopia, diversified economy, and imperium lords... just because I need a better six cost and a miracle win probably involves stealing the explore goal anyways. I pick up imperium capital.

Unclaimed goals:
(3) 3 alien, first discard, 5 chips
(5) 4 develop

My hand:


Me (4 cards, 1 chip) [3 tie 4+ devs]:


Forum (5 cards, 1 chip, 2 prestige) [3 first 6? dev] [3 tie 4+ devs] [5 3+ explore powers]:


Picking phases:
Well, any victory situations are getting ridiculously contrived. Exploring costs me one point but could save me a lot more than that in case of a develop. Maybe I could win in case of a develop/settle or settle/settle, where I trade and get to play a good development next round. Otherwise, there’s no chance. I’ll have to duck a settle if it’s develop/settle, but oh well. In case of a develop/develop, I’ll just lose for sure; hopefully they haven’t noticed that. It’s E+5/trade or settle/trade, but I’ll miss a develop (or alien uplift center) in case of a develop, so E+5/trade it is.

Losing is less pleasant when it takes more than a week... One of the big advantages of Race is the ability to get even quickly (or after eight games in one particular case), but I digress.

I pick: E+5/trade

Any two build phases are fine to force the end of the game. Dev/dev is my weakness, counterintuitively, due to the goal. I’m being "optimistic" here, again.

I predict: dev/dev, dev/settle, or settle/settle
Forum picks: settle/settle

That defeats the point of improved logistics, but otherwise it’s fine. They will sadly get a windfall into trade league, which will make me sad. Trade league would be much fair if it was more egalitarian and the cards were distributed evenly, rather than the capitalist development it currently is.

6th turn:

[1] Explore: I pick up refugee world, secluded world, alien booby trap, spice world, federation capital, consumer markets, and pan-galactic league. PGL would be six points, but lacks that key explore power. I will keep terraforming engineers for that longshot moment.

[3] Settle: I settle rebel colony on the first settle and skip the improved logistics settle, just because I don’t want them to see I have an explore power (not that it matters). The forum settles rebel stronghold, completely removing any slim chance of victory. Oh well.

[3] Settle (2nd): I play alien uplift center. The forum plays aquatic uplift race.

The log stops here, since I have no chance of winning. Trading that windfall allows the forum to play a 6 cost, and even incredibly contrived situations require that the forum not play one of those.

Final result: I lose, 37-74. I don’t get doubled very often at all, but sometimes going for the 5% chance of winning means that you lose by much more the other fraction of the time.

Questions:


Why do you suck so badly?
How rude! I’ll have you know that even the best Race players lose badly from time to time.

How do you deal with trade league in a two player game?
Well, one option is to not play consume. That only really works if your opponent is sitting on a trade good and it looks like you’ll consume, or if they are too busy with build phases to consume. The latter case pops up sometimes against military players who are overflowing with good worlds. A lot of times, you just have to suck it up and let your opponent leech.

Cards from produce powers help a lot in skipping consume, but there are not that many of them available. If you can draw 3+ from produce, you really can just skip consuming in most cases. Trade league is quite a weak card without the ability to leech trades; it will often be worth five points or less at the end of the game and the trade power is very weak by itself.

Another option is to ignore it and play normally. You won’t get ahead, but at least you won’t fall too far behind. Letting your opponent pick the phases hurts, but unchecked settle/trades hurt too, as demonstrated. Produce/consume strategies are often in too deep to avoid feeding your opponent cards.

A third option is to use a speed strategy, mainly a develop strategy. Although trade league scores very well with trade power developments, there just aren’t very many of those in the deck. While new economy works well as a counter to develop spam, trade league often lacks synergy with the developments you pick up. Picking settle/trade against develop/develop usually means that three new cards get placed, leaving you without much time to spend your new cards. I was trying vaguely for this strategy, but you need some cardflow or really strong discounts to make the strategy work.

When do you use early search?

I’m still working on this myself, actually. I might search for an early military development if I need exactly two military to play a good windfall or if I have several solid military worlds to play that require at least one more military. I’m often reluctant to burn an early search if I am going for big military, because the opportunity cost of the 5+ defense world is rather high. It also tips your hand in that you’ll settle next turn in a 2pa game. (Feel free to bait me into a naked trade by doing this; I’d be happy to have you waste your search card to make me waste a single phase.)

Are you out for revenge in the future?

Sure, but not the near future. It’s kinda stressful to keep checking for new decisions. I do enjoy contributing occasionally to these matches and then second-guessing the forum consensus.

Edit 1: Added in links to geeklist items.
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Matt N

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Incidentally, I'd like to link to the corresponding decision points in the forum geeklist, but I don't know how to link to a specific section.

I'll chip in more tomorrow, but to clarify: I dumped the windfall to be eaten because I needed a near-perfect 6-cost to win, and if I picked up a good settle-based 6 cost I'd prefer to have the card out already, for the purposes of producing for cards (uplift code mainly...). The bluff aspect occurred to me only as an afterthought after I made the decision.

Gambling world isn't nearly as bad as some people make it out to be, particularly with military and free settles. I still have a hard time using it effectively though.

Ntnscissors seems to have a good read on me, for this game at least...

And my favorite quote:
Rainstar wrote:
Our only serious concern is that he calls II/II and we are unable to keep up with him. If he calls anything else, it is because he has a bad hand.

Nailed it.
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Børge N
Norway
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(I haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks like it will be very interesting to see the detailed thoughts of an opposing player.)

Stunna wrote:
Incidentally, I'd like to link to the corresponding decision points in the forum geeklist, but I don't know how to link to a specific section.
Look up the geek list item, right click on the number in the title, select "copy link location" (or similarly). Choose "Add GeekList Item" in the reply dropdown, insert the copied link and trim everything but the latest number. You should get something like this: Item for Geeklist "Team BGG_Forum (vs Stunna) [RftG PBF#19, 2pa BoW Goals on Takeovers off]" .

(Or you could insert some text to get a more reasonable link text.)
 
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Serge Levert
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Stunna wrote:
Incidentally, I'd like to link to the corresponding decision points in the forum geeklist, but I don't know how to link to a specific section.

The number of a geeklist item is clickable/linkable. E.g.: decision point #1.
 
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Andrew
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Fantastic session report of "the other side", particularly the commentary written at decision time!

I especially liked the humour/self-recrimination...
Stunna wrote:

I strongly regretted not keeping expeditionary force and one of the develop powers (probably public works).
...
The forum develops expeditionary force. Now I wish that I’d kept my copy of it...
...
I really miss expeditionary force. I have the opposite of analysis paralysis, where I make a fairly quick decision and then spend a long time regretting it.
...
Did I ever tell you about the time I threw away expeditionary force...


Stunna wrote:

A particularly irritating combination would be trade league and a windfall.
...
The forum develops trade league. Being right sucks and I can expect a windfall shortly.
...
Did they play trade league out of spite, because I’ve played trade every turn so far?


Stunna wrote:

(If the forum had to make this decision, I’d probably have to wait a day for them to decide.)
...
Is it bad that I haven’t seen any BoW cards yet?
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Børge N
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A great read!

As you also noted ("A particularly irritating combination would be trade league and a windfall."), Trading League was the turning point in this game. Also:
Stunna wrote:
Trade league would be much fair if it was more egalitarian and the cards were distributed evenly, rather than the capitalist development it currently is.
So true! You had mostly bad luck with your cards (and your gambles), and had almost no chance of winning during the last couple of rounds.

Thanks for playing anyways! And hope you had fun reading the forum discussions!
 
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Serge Levert
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Great read, thanks for writing it. I like this a lot better than playing someone and not hearing much about their perspective.

Stunna wrote:
The call of develop/settle makes less sense as far as I’m concerned though; if they are countering my settle/trade, they don’t need to play settle. I would explore +5/develop to find a nice military world or good development if I was using trade league. If they thought I might produce, then the settle makes more sense, and they may have had a backup development in hand. (This is not based on peeking at the geeklist, by the way.)

The plan was to play Pan-Galactic Hologrid, but we had Trade League backup if you chose IV.
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Matt N

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entranced wrote:

The plan was to play Pan-Galactic Hologrid, but we had Trade League backup if you chose IV.


Yeah, I saw that after peeking, and it made sense. However, I couldn't really figure it out at the time, since it's hard to pick out another good early 6 cost that could come out. Hologrid does fit the bill.
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NtN Scissors
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Wow, epic report.

Yeah, keeping Expedition Force (card name isn't Expeditionary Force) would have led to a very different game. Surprised to see that Gambling World was actually a plausible desperate line; I thought you played it only because I mentioned it in my post!

Edit:
Stunna wrote:
(If the forum had to make this decision, I’d probably have to wait a day for them to decide.)

For sure. Nearer two, I'd say, like the decision for actions Turn 4.
 
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NtNScissors wrote:
Surprised to see that Gambling World was actually a plausible desperate line; I thought you played it only because I mentioned it in my post!

I'm actually also a fan of the Gambling World 5 cost "explore". Rarely comes up, but it has its moments.
 
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