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Subject: First turn strategy rss

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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Hi guys !
My recent Automobile plays made me want to post my thoughts on the first turn.

First, about putting distributors in the first turn. To me, it's totally not worth it to use an action to put only one distributor. You have to have an almost guaranteed 2 to make it worth it. Actions are way too tight in this game.
Second, closing a factory is not a good idea until turn 2. I'd even say turn 3. You need this factory to produce as much as she can before closing it (and loosing 100$). The later you close it, the more loss cubes you have so the more losses the closing removes. And you keep the related market under pressure. Note that single factories are the best candidates for closing. Having at least one or two is always a good idea in this perspective.
Third, never skip a spot (i.e. spend 3 R&D cubes) unless you really make something great out of it. You also have to evaluate what will be accessible to other players once you did this and at what cost. I'm not saying never do it, I'm saying check carefully before doing it. 2 more R&D cubes is a full action.

About Ford.
The greatness of Ford in the first turn is his capacity to create a mid-range powerhouse. There's not much use in delaying the first build : every other player will likely delay theirs. Furthermore, putting distributors is not a good idea for him (see above). So the first move should be to build a factory on the cheapest mid-range spot (99,99% of the time for 1 R&D cube). You already have 2 options here : one or two factories. The 2 options have very different implications. One factory is either a long term option (future closable factory + heavy advanced factory) or an aggressive mid-range move (additional heavy mid-range factory). Two factories is more flexible in short term but forces a heavy investment at the beginning of the track. Whatever the case, do not build the spare parts for the moment.
If you decided to build two factories, the second action is almost mandatory : add spare parts and produce. A more exotic and aggressive option is to build a double factory + spare parts on another mid-range spot. Be aware that this last option will make you take one (or even two !!!) loan and imply aggressive ED (i.e. have R&D cubes left). On the third action, you have to produce if you went for the aggressive move. If you already produced, you have 2 main options : build (everyone has at least a factory right now, so interesting spots should be available) or produce again (aggressive mid-range selling, you have the cubes to make aggressive ED if needed). Putting 2 or 3 distributors may be an option depending on your knowledge of the next (and last) move of the other players.
If you decided to build one factory, you have 2 possibilities : produce or build a double factory + spare parts on another mid-range spot. This last option is much more viable in this case as you will produce a bit less (if not the same) than the other option for much less investment (no loan). Be careful if you don't have any R&D cube left : you'll have to rely on price reductions to boost your sales. Producing is not as bad as it sounds because it opens up nice options for the third action. If the second action was produce, your only option is to build an interesting double factory + spare parts on a forward spot (as explained above). Producing again for only 3 cars which implies a potential burden on ED and not passing first. Not worth it to me. I'd rather have the nice advanced factory and guaranteed first pick on turn 2. Obviously, if you still haven't produced, you produce...
On ED, take the double price reduction or a selling boost if you feel like you need more selling power. If not, pass and get first pick.

Ford summary :
Option A
1/ Build 1 new Mid factory
2/ Produce or build 2 new Mid factories + SP
3/ Produce if build in 2/ or build
ED : depends
Option B
1/ Build 2 new Mid factories
2/ Add SP and produce or build 2 new Mid factories + SP (VERY risky)
3/ Produce (mandatory if build in 2/) or build or 2+ distributors
ED : likely


About Durant.
First, his special build should be used on Duryea. This factory is perfect for a future (3rd-4th turn) close and is very cheap. Don't skip it. If you do, I'll very happily take the option A route with Ford using Duryea.
For the first action, you have 2 options. The most obvious is to put 3 distributors. As Durant is the only character capable of providing two types of factories along with distributors in turn 1, he is the only character that guarantees as soon as in action 1 that you will be able to use those 3 distributors while being in the mid-range business. The other move is to build another single mid-range factory. I would advise against using 3 R&D cubes for this (i.e. to get Flyer), the option to put 3 distributors is strong enough to avoid the 2 more cubes. Furthermore, no mid-range spot for 1 R&D cube mean that the track is already quite advanced, there are better chances that you will have access to some nice spots. However, if you can do it for 1 R&D cube, consider it. You will have 2 single mid-range factories that will be able to sell 5-6 cars without any effort on the ED. Note that this move puts you in the same position as the other players regarding distributors (few guarantees). Building on anything else than mid-range (i.e. low cost, I can't think of a situation that would make the National accessible to Durant on action 1) is useless as you will need distributors to sell the cars. You'd better start with the distributors and delay your build for a better spot.
If you choose to put distributors, the 2 other actions are very obvious : build low cost or luxury and produce. On low-cost, you have to decide if you want to build the spare parts along the factory. On luxury, the question is one or two factories. The choice is not as obvious as it may seem, as single factories can generate a lot of money by producing on multiple single spots and closing them later. Building 2 luxury factories will force you to use your 3 distributors on luxury (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). You won't need any ED so you can spend 3 R&D cubes if you feel it is worth it. Be sure it is, as the spot you skip will be available "for free".
If you choose to build, the obvious next move is to produce. It gives you the possibility of an interesting build for the last action. However, if by any chance there is a 3rd mid-range spot that is available (i.e. EMF if Howard just took National), consider the building of a 3rd single mid-range factory. This would give you a whooping capacity of 7-9 mid-range cars in turn 1 without the need for any ED. Awesome. Don't put the spare parts, as with 3 single factories your mid-range engine is fully in place. If you do this, the last action is obviously produce. If you produced, your last action can be either build or put 2+ distributors. If there is no guarantee to use at least 2 distributors, build is the mandatory move. Even if the 2 distributors are guaranteed, I strongly advise to take a look at the board and see if there isn't an interesting spot. If you build now, you will clearly have an action on next turn to put 3 distributors, which use is guaranteed by then. Take whatever is accessible and nice. Producing again shouldn't be an option if the other players are aggressive enough on mid-range (as they should be). However, if the opportunity arises, help yourself.
Durant allows you to make a very nice first turn without the need of any ED, so pass on ED.

Durant summary :
Option A
1/ Put 3 distributors
2/ Build 1 new Low factory (+ SP) or 1 (or 2) Lux factory
3/ Produce
ED : pass
Option B
1/ Build 1 new Mid factory (1 R&D max)
2/ Produce or build 1 new Mid factory
3/ Produce (mandatory if build in 2/) or build or 2+ distributors
ED : pass


About Howard.
To me, he should enter the mid-range arena. It is where the most money will be made through the whole game, his power can be use to sell 2 mid-range cars and building makes it more likely that he will reach a luxury spot for a second build. If he can sell luxury and mid-range cars on the same turn...ouch ! However, as you only have 3 R&D cubes, spending all of them for a single factory is not an option. You want to have some more to keep the possibility to reach another factory on your second action and have some left just in case for ED. And you don't want to help other reaching better spots, right ? On the first action, build a double factory on a mid-range spot if one is available for 1 R&D cube max. If it is not possible (VERY unlikely) or you want to take another path, put 2 distributors : they will be guaranteed whatever the case (either 4 luxury or 4 low cost).
The second action will always be a build. In case you built on first action, you have 2 options : build single luxury factory (obviously National) or add 3rd factory and spare parts to your current one. There are 2 other options : build single low-cost factory and spare parts or another mid-range factory. I'd advise against those 2 as they will very likely make you spend another R&D cube (which may prevent you from boosting sales on ED) and will be far less profitable than the other 2. Building a mid-range powerhouse (3 factories + spare parts) allow to build 8 to 11 mid-range cars at reduced price with 2 guaranteed sell via Howard. This can generate a lot of money ! If you put 2 distributors, double build on a luxury spot (which may be worth the spending of 3 R&D cubes. Or not) if available or factory + spare parts on the best low-cost spot available (1 R&D cube max). The goal here is to guarantee maximum distributor+factory usage.
The 3rd action is obviously produce.
At first, you may think that building a single mid-range factory on the first action is a good option. However, doing this would lead to wasting a bit the possibilities offered by Howard (either strong aggression of the mid-range market at low production cost or distributors and no concurrency).
If you went for the build route on your first action, it is likely that you will need some ED to help sell those nice mid-range cars. If you went the distributors route, pass.

Howard summary :
Option A
1/ Build 2 new Mid factories (1 R&D max)
2/ Build 1 new Lux factory or add 3rd Mid factory + SP
3/ Produce
ED : likely
Option B
1/ Put 2 distributors
2/ Build 1 new Low factory + SP or 2 new Lux factories
3/ Produce
ED : pass


About Chrysler.
The very strength of Chrysler is that he plays last in the turn order. He has to make full benefit of this. There are 2 ways : produce last (in mid-range) or build last. Putting distributors last is not as strong as it can wait for the next turn for a guaranteed 3. But it is still an option.
The most flexible route is to build on a mid-range spot on the first action. This will let you produce on the second action and be free for the last one. On the first action, build 2 mid-range factories on the best spot available. Spend the least possible amount of R&D cubes but don't be afraid to spend 3 (for Flyer or EMF - one can dream...) as you'll still have 2 left. If those options are not available or if you feel like doing something different, put 3 distributors. Even if one of them is lost, Chrysler will take care of him.
On the second action, you should produce if you built on your first action. Again, this opens up a very interesting third action. You may feel like that there are interesting spots that you will miss by doing this, but you'll have access to even more interesting ones if you wait. If you put distributors on your first action, build on the most interesting spot available (very much circumstance-dependant : distributors, what is available and reachable, what will be the last action of other players, ...). It may well be a luxury one.
On the third action, you obviously produce if it wasn't done on the second action. If you did, there are many interesting options as you are the very last to take an action : produce again (high expected demand and/or low overall production), build (very interesting spots should be available by now), distributors (if the other options are not much interesting and he has a guaranteed 2+ distributors on mid-range). You're unpredictable and you have all the information to make the right decision. This is where the last place of Chrysler in the turn order shines.
ED are very dependant on the situation of the mid-range market but it is likely you will need some. Depending on what other players have done, don't expect things to be available when your turn comes.

Chrysler summary :
Option A
1/ Build 2 new Mid factories
2/ Produce
3/ Produce or build or put 2+ distributors
ED : likely
Option B
1/ Put 3 distributors
2/ Build
3/ Produce
ED : pass


Kettering is much harder to analyse. He has neither a specific power (that you want to get the most out) nor an extreme turn order position (first or last). That doesn't mean that he is not strong : he gives you one action and a half (the 3 R&D cubes), which is always nice.
I can see 3 possibilities on the first action : build a single or a double mid-range factory on the lowest spot available or put 3 distributors. The choice between single or double depends on your likeliness to depend on ED and what route Ford took. If Ford went for B (2 factories), I would go for 1. Beware that putting distributors will constrain your next actions heavily (build on low cost or luxury and produce).
If you built a double factory, I would produce on the second action to have the free 3rd action (likely a build, even more if Ford has produced on his second action in option A). Note that Kettering is the only one that can build on 2 spots for a total of 4 cubes and still have the cubes to buy the sale boost in ED.
If you built a single factory, look for another mid-range spot where you could build another single factory. If there is none, produce and build on your last action.
You will likely need ED if you went the double build route on your first action. Note that you can have some early guarantees on ED and first pass depending on what Ford does.
Kettering is the most creative character in turn 1.

Kettering summary :
Option A
1/ Build 2 new Mid factories
2/ Produce
3/ Produce or build or put 2+ distributors
ED : likely
Option B
1/ Build 1 new Mid factory
2/ Produce or build 1 new Mid factory
3/ Produce if build in 2/ or build
ED : pass
Option C
1/ Put 3 distributors
2/ Build
3/ Produce
ED : pass


Sloan has no interest in the first turn. His capacity is useless at this stage of the game compared to what others can do.

Sloane summary : don't take him !


All comments are welcome !
This thread is as much to help people to have a clearer view of what to do on the first turn as to initiate a discussion on my thoughts.

Thibaut
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Riku Riekkinen
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Getting 1 distributor means getting extra 80$ while denying that from some opponent. Double produces seem really weird as players can sell about 5 cars max first turn (+Howard 2 more). I could see them somewhat working, if one builds just one factory at turn one. Now every tip block except Durant A seems disastrous to me.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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6 years after this post, here is my take on this.
Still 5 players.

Ford should go all in in Mid range.
Put 3 distributors, build 2 factories + spare parts on the most advanced Mid range spot at reach (dont hesitate to spend 3 R&D cubes for the $350 spot), produce 7 cars.
The cost in loss cubes will be offset by the benefits generated by this powerhouse. You can easily avoid taking loans with this setup, which is worth a good amount of money by itself.
You may lose 1 distributor. Or not.

Kettering is the long term option.
The main strategy is to put 3 distributors and shoot for Low range - and the cheapest one in R&D cubes. You will start turn 2 loaded on R&D cubes, with 3 distributors ready and Ford.
There is another, much weirder, which is to build without producing. If you look at the strategy above, the main purpose is not to make money ($150 of benefits for 2 actions - produce and place distributors - is very poor) but to setup distributors. One could argue that it is just better to setup yourself on the factory spots for the next rounds. Which could make sense depending on what you get access to. Setting up a monopoly on low cost can make sense. Getting 2 Mid range spots can make sense also, but then it is criminal not to produce as a 3rd action.

Sloan is useless in the first round.

Howard should attack the Mid range.
He has absolutely no guarantee of having access to Lux, and using him on Low is just a waste. Mid can get a good amount of benefits, especially when the spare parts are involved. Depending on the circumstances, he can go really heavy on Mid.

Durant should always consider the opportunity to take multiple Mid range spots with a single factory.
My strongest plays involved having him get 2 additional Mid range spots and produce on round 1. Your cars sell on demand as easily as possible.
The other option it to access another market (Low or Lux) and place 3 distributors. I still think I would go for the first option unless the first Mid spot available is really crap.

Chrysler is another type of long term planner.
The 1st option is to delay his first build through taking R&D cubes. I don't like placing distributors with him, because it damages the benefits of going into the Mid range. Having that many R&D cubes will actually open up interesting options, like setting up a monopoly (or breaking one).
The 2nd option is the one I already mentioned for Kettering : just build. And maybe not produce. Chrysler should be stronger than Kettering at that considering his position on the turn order. Also, getting loss cubes through factory decay is a bit less of an issue, thanks to his power. Depending on the Mid range spots you had access to, produce on the 3rd action. Or just keep on building.
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