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Subject: 1 Paragraph of Basic Strategy: Alchemist rss

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Andrew Drummond
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I discovered recently as I was preparing for a tournament with many games I didn't know that there are not too many strategy articles on the geek for some games. My objective here is not to provide a detailed analysis of the game, only to give a newbie a very basic outlook of general strategy.

Alchemist is a simple game with some subtle depth. The basics of the game are that you are trying to both collect the resources that you need to copy your opponents high scoring potions, while at the same time ensuring that your high scoring potions are difficult to copy. One popular method of accomplishing this is to try and monopolize a particular resource. If you can control the supply of 1 of the 5 resources, when you build a potion using that resource, it can be very hard for others to copy your potions.
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Todd Redden
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"One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don't go into government." - Donald Trump
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I like this idea a lot, and tried it myself unsuccessfully once. Sometimes it isn't easy to put the main strategies of a game into few words.

This would make a great theme for a growing geeklist! The first post of each game would include a succinct synopsis for achieving the goals of the game, and readers could comment as they wished.

Great idea.
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Andrew Drummond
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Thanks a lot for the feedback.

I hadn't thought about starting a geeklist of it (I only have 3 of these so far) but I think that's a great idea.
 
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Christopher Boat
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I would also be interested in a geeklist of this nature. I'm sure you could find a few geeks to help fill it out.
 
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Chris Berger
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I wonder if anyone else has any ideas about the strategy in this game... I'm rated decently but not great in Alchemist on Yucata (#50 out of about 900, though obviously a lot of the lowest rated people probably only played the game once and lost), but I really don't know what I'm doing.

Any rules of thumb as far as number of ingredients required vs. points given by a potion? I mean, there's nothing stopping you from making a 1 ingredient potion that gives 10 points - it would make for an extremely weird game and you would lose, but you can do it.

I tend to always use 5 ingredients for the 9 or 10 point potions (I made the 10 with only 4 ingredients in my last game, because the 10 was the last token left and I didn't have the right mix of ingredients to be able to use 5 - I won that game, so it feels like the right choice, but normally I wouldn't make the 10 with less than 5 ingredients). I will use the 1 point potion just to turn an ingredient I don't need into 2 ingredients I do need. I guess I use something like the following:

1-2 points: 1 ingredient
2-3 points: 2 ingredients
3-6 points: 3 ingredients
6-8 points: 4 ingredients
8-10: 5 ingredients

With a little overlap. But I don't know if there's a good reason for those ranges or if I just pull them out of the air. Obviously there are situations where you can go outside the range for strategic purposes - like if the game is almost over and you want to snatch up some points, or if you *want* someone to use a particular potion, maybe to use up particular ingredients.

On a different topic - playing with schools isn't as straightforward as it first seems. Using an ingredient as part of a recipe is not guaranteed to remove any of the ingredient from the game - people might just tribute it to you. You can only guarantee to remove it if you double it in the recipe. But if you double it, people are even more likely to tribute it to you because they can tell that you either have plenty of that ingredient or are trying to deplete it because it's your school. Using a doubled ingredient in a high-point potion with another doubled ingredient is a pretty good way to ensure at least some depletion. Creating the potions that YIELD your ingredient is both better and worse - on the one hand, it will only grab one of your ingredient from the supply per use and it doesn't actually deplete it. But it does give incentive for the person that copies your potion to use that ingredient in a potion, so they'll help to do some of your work for you.

So basically, the point is that to deplete your school's ingredient, you have to use it as both part of a recipe and as the product. But the thing is - if you make a high point potion, you're using all three ingredients that aren't produced by the potion as the recipe, doubling two of them. So in order to make your ingredient get used a lot, you're also making other ingredients get used, so the finesse is in making your ingredient MORE ACTIVE than the others. Which is kind of hard for me to wrap my head around.

The problem with making potions that mostly or exclusively use your ingredient is that you can only include the same ingredient twice, which makes it a lower or at best medium-point potion - which is unlikely to get used as much. Or if it does get used a lot, then you have to worry whether you're giving away too many points. Which again brings us around to the question of whether or not to make high-point potions and how many ingredients to put in based on the point value - I suppose you want it to be efficient enough to have people use it, but not as efficient as whatever you are doing with your own actions.

Ugh... This game... so weird.
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Lou Mad
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arkayn,

I've just dug this game out again, and realised it might suit the people I get to play with at the moment. Only managed to play it a handful of times when it first came out, and always really liked the strange mechanics, but wasn't quite sure whether it's all luck or not.

I haven't even reread the rules yet, but enjoyed your comment.

My enduring memory of the game is that it's about gently nudging the flow of ingredients round the table. You might give a potion a disproportionately high point value because you want to encourage players to use the potions upstream of it. Or put out a potion with outputs that are essential to make high value potions on the current board, and give it a low point value - people are still stuck having to make it. Or create a potion that competes with your opponent's but is a bit cheaper or higher point. Early in the game you'd like to monopolise the potions that output your own school's ingredient, but don't want it to be too obvious what you're doing.

But this stream is completely separate to trying to get access to a decent point scoring cycle for yourself.

HOWEVER, I never did figure out whether this makes much difference I thought myself and the other player that took interest in the strategy of this game seemed to win more often than others. But that might also be in my imagination!
 
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