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Subject: Castle Strategy rss

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Jonathan Degann
United States
Tarzana
United States
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I am finding that a focus in building up one's castle can be an irresistable winning strategy. One player ran away with the game this way. Since then, I've adopted it and won handily three times.

Building the castle is the closest thing you get to a real engine. While taking a new "1" knight or promoting one does build you up, you can churn 'em out in a castle if you:

Choose the "2 squire income" along with the "earn a promotion for 2 squires" pieces. Now you get a promotion every turn for no effort.

As you build your castle and use the two end pieces which help get you promotions and "1" knights, you achieve three things:

1) The 8 point castle bonus
2) The 8 point largest knight force bonus
3) A generally strong knight force which you can spread around England and on conflicts.

What you WON'T have is a good collection of squires. You then need to play a cautious game in England. Last night I was successful in doing that by:

1) Getting a play or two into England early. I knew I'd be kicked out, but this helps draw out other squires.

2) Then focusing on conflicts - partly to take Favors, and partly to let people fight and deplete more squires.

3) Holding back strong knights to kick people out of the counties needed as the round is winding down. When I still had problems, I might toss a knight onto a conflict at the end to send it over the top.

Now things did work well for me. I could often take the "Noble" favor. The one area of weakness was that I might sometimes have to go into an area that didn't help my Noble situation either because I needed to take another castle piece to support my strategy or because it was the only county I could contest (with few squires). Even so, I was able to accumulate the largest Noble force (better players might not have let me get away with it, but I still had a commanding lead.)

I've found the castle strategy to be so reliable that it gives me concerns about the game - however, nothing stops my opponents from challenging me there should they choose to.
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Joel Schuster
Germany
Bretten
Baden-Württemberg
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I think this game is more about tactics than strategy. You can have whatever plan in mind, if other players want to do the same thing, taking castle upgrades, you have to adapt. Whoever adapts best to the situation at hand will win the game.

So, upgrading your castle can be very successful - if others let you have it. Starting a game with a set mind to go for this strategy may end in disaster just as well though.

What I find particularly misleading is that you state that you'll win the largest knighthood bonus as well if you go for castle upgrades. There are so many options to get knight promotions, its nowhere true that you achieve the largest knighthood simply through taking castle upgrades.

You need to face some real competition with this and you'll be sunk if you dont adapt. I always start my games with an idea in mind, or maybe develop that idea during the first turn, to see what options are presented and go from there. One game I decide to focus on nobles, the next I go for upgrades and so on. There is no winning strategy in this game. Best tactics wins Lancaster, not best strategy. My 2 cents
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Jonathan Degann
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Tarzana
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The there was a perfect strategy for any given game, the game would be broken.

This is however a guideline which can give very favorable results. You must of course always be adaptable.

Even if you can run away on the castle you are not guaranteed to get the largest knight force. However, with an automatic promotion or "1" each turn you can pursue the largest knight force as though running on a conveyor belt while other players are on stationary ground. If you both run at about the same pace, you'll win the race. If there's a very determined opponent who pursues that race aggressively and does his best to elbow you at every opportunity, you'll have trouble. But you might get the 4 point bonus anyway!
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Eddy Sterckx
Belgium
Vilvoorde
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In our gamegroup it's more a case of : Largest castle - largest army - most nobles : pick one

Last week I won a game with largest army and second in the castle build, but the price was zero nobles, so I got seriously clobbered in the vote.

The thing is : this wasn't my plan from the outset, but the game evolved that way - which it always does - you just can't rely on a particular starting strategy to work every time.

Multiple paths to victory and no winning strategy discovered yet - that's all I ask for in a game.
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Eddy Sterckx
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Sorry, can't remember those details of a game played many weeks ago. We were probably 4 and the scoring was close as we were all Lancaster veterans
 
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