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Subject: An introductory strategy guide to Pax Porfiriana rss

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Pablo Klinkisch
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Note: (This is the extended version of the strategy guide delivered with the game)
Do not forget to take a look at this fantastic introductory thread! -> A guided tour of Revolutionary Mexico


So, what is this all about?
Or: how do I get into character?

At the start of Pax Porfiriana you are a wealthy landowner that has decided that money isn't enough and wants to try his luck on the political field taking advantage of the reigning chaos.

Politics in Mexico is an expensive undertaking so you'll need to expand your economical basis with enterprises. But money alone won't let you “become Presidente instead of the Presidente”: you need to use it to gain political power, be it through good political connections (Partners), friends in the military (Armies) or plain sabotage (Black and Orange cards).

Mexico is an unstable country, changing its government rather fast according to the changing world politics (Headlines) and you have to adjust accordingly: if under Díaz's regime (Pax Porfiriana) you have to concentrate on showing your loyalty to the leader in order be chosen as his successor, be it through good placed connections (Partners) or by helping Díaz increase his fortune (Enterprises); when anarchy reigns you want the people to love you (and the revolution) stirring more chaos (Orange cards), intervening on their behalf with troops (Armies), liberating slaves (Plantations) or allying with know “real” revolutionaries (Partners). Or maybe a call to order is needed and Mexico will find itself under Military Law? And you know what the military loves, don't you? Show them your command with nice Armies. If all of this fails, the US might intervene, and nothing shows the new guys in town more how you care about them than a nice pile of outrage due to all those bandidos that attacked you (Orange cards), that political instability that crippled you (black cards) and a bunch of friends on the other side of the Rio Grande (Partners).
But why wait for the World to decide when the regime changes? After all, a swift move by your friends in the military (Armies) or a call to Teddy Roosevelt (Public Card) might just be enough to move things your way.

If only that next political window of opportunity (Topple) was favorable enough for you to become Díaz instead of Díaz...

Winning the game

There are two ways to win the game: having the most prestige points during a topple to overthrow the current regime or being the richest player after the 4th topple is played.
Expect to need 3/4 Points or more in a category to be able to win and always look for the possibility of a "sneak win" (getting a bunch of points almost nobody has and buying the topple in the same turn).
A really important point to remember is that during a topple, the competition is against the weakest players. Especially in bigger games that can lead to some early or unexpected victories if you aren't careful!

Regime Changes

Regime changes are crucial: you might have all the loyalty points in the deck and still not win the game if the regime is not Pax Porfiriana, while one of your opponents manages a cheap win changing the regime into something only he/she had the relevant prestige for.
You have two ways to change the regime: Headlines and Armies. While headlines will often be played defensively (changing to a regime to avoid an enemy's victory) armies are the way to ensure the “right” regime is in place when the next topple comes.
Always try to keep an army in your hand that allows you to change to the regime you need. A specially powerful gambit is playing a partner (for that prestige point no one knew you had), then an army (changing the regime) and win the game buying the topple out of the market.
As a last resort you always have the really expensive Public cards. Don't forget about them!

Regimes and Prestige

Loyalty / Pax Porfiriana:
By far, the easiest way to win: a lot of points to get (32), the only prestige form that helps you financially (13 of those points are on Enterprises) and a lot of regime changes to Pax (22 regime changes).
On the other hand, you are vulnerable: almost all of your prestige can be easily destroyed (Enterprises) or assassinated (Partners) and most of the regime changes depend on the world's Headlines not on your play. And because those points are easy to get you'll have a lot of competition!

Revolution / Anarchy:
this is the most flexible path to victory, giving you prestige almost everywhere (38 total) if you play it right. You have to buy the right partners (and hope they don't die), be on the look up for plantations to free (through orange cards, 7 such plantations), be prepared for some straw man action and move your troops in position (5 points). Regime changes happen mostly through armies (11 out of 21), so it's important to keep one in your hand if you plan to go the revolutionary way (or one of the 4 orange cards that change the regime to anarchy too). Don't count on headlines helping you: there are only 6 that start an anarchic regime!

Command / Martial Law:
the most difficult way to win but, ironically, the most difficult to stop too. Prestige is scarce (only 18 points! 11 of those on armies) and regime changes too (13 cards). This is kind of a back-up win. Don't go for it unless you have the right army (which will change the regime and give you prestige points) in your hand. This is kind of a gamble but has a high pay: with so little points around you might get some cheap wins early in the game (first or second topple). Keep an eye on the public cards too, one of them might be just that last point you needed to win.
Conversely, always be on the look-up for a possible sneaky military win!

Outrage / US Intervention:
the second most difficult path to victory: you have a lot of points in the deck (36) but only 10 regime changes (!). This, like command, is a gamble but if you have a US army (or know you'll be able to buy Teddy Roosevelt) there are enough points around to go for it more easily. You want outrage, a lot of it, and you'll get this mostly through straw men (27 points in black and orange cards). You are the Machiavellian player par excellence. Beware, though, you'll need a fare share of points, given that those orange and black cards will be played on other players too!

Money / Default Victory:
it is really risky to play only for the default win, specially with less players. If you are playing a 5-player game, though, it might be worth giving it a try. Get your economy running fast and try to cumulate prestige in all four regimes: not for you, but to stop other players from winning). And try to go for an economy-friendly regime.
Beware of the orange cards that might cripple your economy!

Prestige Points:
Never forget this: Victim-Awarded prestige points can never be lost, all the other ones can (and will) be stolen, killed, sacked, etc.
Be careful with mixing too much political points, though: a strife yould really harm you!

Economy:

You need a big economy to win, period. That means: Enterprises. Build them early and defend them with your armies. Ranches can be a money machine if you invest enough turns expanding them but never let your economy depend only on them as they are sweet objectives for armies and orange cards.
Do not overlook connections: they might be expensive, but getting money out of somebody else's enterprise is really sweet (and the other player won't just dump his enterprise because of one lousy point).
Sometimes you'll want a regime that won't help you win the game but help your economy (US intervention comes to mind)

Speculation:

You'll want to speculate in order to get some money from time to time and, more importantly, defend some cards. You can't buy that topple this turn? Speculate! Worst thing that can happen is that you'll get rich while the other players buy the card to stop you!

Armies:

Essential to plan regime changes, so it is useful to keep one in hand for that final blow.
But armies are useful as prestige points too or as a way to drain another player some “protection” money, to protect your own Enterprises from other player's “protection” or to fight unrest (really important to keep the money flowing).
Think about improving an enterprise's connection in order to make it more friendly for your troops (and cheaper for you).
Armies do have a small draw-back: they can be killed. Do not forget that if you want to stop that player going for a win under a military regime or when you are that player!
Forcing a redeploy is the other way (together with topples) to force a player to commit his hacendado politically, which is always a good thing.

Be sneaky

Use the straw man tactic whenever possible, play Orange cards to sabotage the economy of your enemies (and improve yours), be on the look out for the big screwing cards that discard all the cards in one region: who knows? you might get hurt but you might very well destroy the whole economy of your enemies. And there is no win without a good economy!
Buy headlines to stop someone from winning, or just cripple their political support (Strifes!) or use topples creatively: you might not win this round but your toppling attempt might disrupt other players' plans.
And last but not least: never overlook the real possibility of a "blitz-win" as soon as a Topple is on the market: playing an army for the right regime, followed by another card that just gives you that point you need for the win and buying the topple on the board.

Final note:

do not get fixed with just one path to victory and always be prepared to change your objectives. But if you see a chance to go for the victory, go all in: worst case scenario, you'll have made all the players commit their hacendado (thus losing 2 income!)

Be flexible and remember: the deck will hate you!
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Matthew Eklund
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good stuff

Strife is really something that players should pay more attention to... it can be devastating, but seeing the opportunity sitting in front of you can be difficult to spot sometimes...
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Martin G
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Matthew_Eklund wrote:

Strife is really something that players should pay more attention to... it can be devastating, but seeing the opportunity sitting in front of you can be difficult to spot sometimes...

Yeah, we started seeing this today. It's particularly nasty if you force someone to commit their hacendado early to block a win, and then cause Strife between their flipped hacendado and their partners!

Great article Pablo, and thanks for linking mine.
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Andrew S. Fischer
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So, it sounds like the normal (only?) way to win is to accumulate prestige points on the table, keep one or two in your hand for surprise purposes, play them when a topple card appears after buying the topple card--after calculating that you have enough points to beat the other players.

In other words, let's say a topple card appears and you can buy it. Do you look at the other players' points, add them up and know you'll win the game if you play the topple card?

Thx.

[Please note that I don't have the game yet and have only gone through the rules a few times.]
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Martin G
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asfhgwt wrote:

In other words, let's say a topple card appears and you can buy it. Do you look at the other players' points, add them up and know you'll win the game if you play the topple card?

Yes. Though sometimes, you know you won't win, but the other players will have to flip their hacendado card (losing income) or discard a 'during toppling' card in order to stop you.
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