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Subject: Terra Mystica Set Piece! rss

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Chris Linneman
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Inspired by Jesse Dean's blog post here: Factions in Terra Mystica, I've decided it might be fun to randomly generate some starting bonus and scoring tiles for TM and see if there is any consensus that they suggest strategies that would be more suitable for certain factions over others.

Also, I'm interested to see what the effects of previous player choices have on the decisions of players later in turn order. So in the beginning I'm going to do this for Player 1, but later I'd like to add polls for the other players too.

In a 4p game, assuming the following bonus and scoring tiles, which faction would you pick as Player 1?

Bonus Tiles
3 power; 1 Worker
$6
3 power; temporary +1 shipping
Cult track advance; $4
1VP/dwelling; $2
2VP/trading post; 1 worker
4VP/stronghold and/or sanctuary; 2 workers

Scoring Tiles
Round 1: 2VP/spade; $1/earth
Round 2: 2VP/dwelling; 4 power/4 fire
Round 3: 3VP/trading post; 1 spade/4 water
Round 4: 5VP/town; 1 spade/4 earth
Round 5: 2VP/dwelling; 1 priest/4 water
Round 6: 3VP/trading post

Comments below justifying your vote are very much appreciated!

Poll
Which faction do you pick as first player?
Alchemists
Auren
Cultists
Chaos Magicians
Darklings
Dwarves
Engineers
Fakirs
Giants
Halflings
Mermaids
Nomads
Swarmlings
Witches
      76 answers
Poll created by QBert80


After much anticipation I see the tie has finally been broken in favour of the Swarmlings! So, I'm going to go ahead with the second poll. Assuming first player chooses the Swarmlings, in a 4p game, as second player, which faction do you choose?

It will be interesting to see if the next popular choices from Poll 1 are chosen, or if people go down a different route based on the choice of Player 1 and the seating order.

Poll
If Player 1 chooses Swarmlings, which faction do you choose as Player 2?
Alchemists
Auren
Cultists
Chaos Magicians
Darklings
Dwarves
Engineers
Fakirs
Giants
Halflings
Nomads
Witches
      46 answers
Poll created by QBert80

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Ben
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That is such a Halflings board.

Why?

1. Spade scoring. I'd like to use Spades anyway, so awesome.
2. Two spade cult bonuses. Sweet. (One in brown; double sweet.)
3. Slow scoring tile progression (spades->dwellings->trading houses) benefits races with weak Stronghold bonuses, since you aren't hindered by developing a cube base without rushing to upgrade.
4. Round 1 spade scoring benefits races that start with 9 power (for the free spade Power action). Since there are also two +3 power bonus tiles, I might even get to start with a six-power double-spade action for six points.

I would start in the East side of the board. If everything fell my way which it never does), I would ideally use the double-spade Power action + 3 cubes to turn a grey into a brown (9 points) without placing a house. Then turn a black into a brown without placing a house. Then pass for a one-worker bonus card (likely the dwelling scorer, sadly) and place four dwellings on turn 2 without terraforming (8 points). That would get me off to a great start, I think (though money will eventually become tight).

I'm eager to hear from others.
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Dave Eisen
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Haven't thought about how to vote, but the things which stand out at first glance are:

1. No scoring tiles which reward building stronghold/sanctuary. Might point in a direction of a faction with a good special ability and less reliance on a good stronghold ability.

2. All three bonus tiles which reward building are in the game. Presumably want a faction which relies on building more than one which relies on cult advances.

3. This is reinforced by the two scoring tile cult bonuses that provide a spade for every 4 advances. This seems like a relatively weak cult bonus, particularly late enough in the game so you don't have much in the way of hexes to yourself.

4. The very first scoring tile provides $1/earth. Seems worth taking a faction which gives an earth or two as part of its starting packet as this is a cheap way to make a couple of bucks.

5. Priest bonus tile not in play. Let's not go with a faction which requires priests. Not to mention: harder to advance in cult track again.

I would expect that before you get to draft the top 3 listed bonus tiles will be gone so you're probably getting the 1VP/dwelling or 2VP/trading post bonus tile depending on whether your chosen faction has a greater need for money or for workers.

Let's see. Dwarves? Halflings?
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Ben
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Looks like we had some similar thoughts, Dave. Too bad we didn't manage to bump into each other for a game at BGG.CON.

dkeisen wrote:
I would expect that before you get to draft the top 3 listed bonus tiles will be gone so you're probably getting the 1VP/dwelling or 2VP/trading post bonus tile depending on whether your chosen faction has a greater need for money or for workers.

If that's true, my Halflings are taking the $4 + cult (brown) tile. That's $5 toward my trading houses in round three (plus I'm now at half a brown bonus spade and am off to the lead in a track when cults will probably be low).
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Chris Linneman
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Ben, you make a strong argument for Halflings. Have you considered Mermaids? There are a couple reasons for this:

The scoring tile for town-building is good for them.

The VP/spades scoring tile is in the first round. I think it's better for the Halflings in later rounds, after they have had a chance to upgrade their spade tech.

They also start with 9 power in Bowl 2.

Their stronghold bonus is also not essential.

They start two in the Water Cult, and there are two Water Cult scoring tiles out. One of them gives priests, which will be rare in the game without the priest bonus tile.
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Ben
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QBert80 wrote:
Ben, you make a strong argument for Halflings. Have you considered Mermaids? There are a couple reasons for this:

The scoring tile for town-building is good for them.

The VP/spades scoring tile is in the first round. I think it's better for the Halflings in later rounds, after they have had a chance to upgrade their spade tech.

They also start with 9 power in Bowl 2.

Their stronghold bonus is also not essential.

They start two in the Water Cult, and there are two Water Cult scoring tiles out. One of them gives priests, which will be rare in the game without the priest bonus tile.

I handnt considered them, but they make perfect sense, too. I agree that they would probably have a better shot at the town points than the Halflings (my suggested East starting spot was heavily dependent on no one bothering me), and they would otherwise benefit from essentially the same strategy of slow growth.
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Dave Eisen
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The availability of the bonus tile which provides 1 virtual shipping steered me away from the mermaids as they do not need this.
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Christoph M.
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dkeisen wrote:

The availability of the bonus tile which provides 1 virtual shipping steered me away from the mermaids as they do not need this.


I double check to make sure it IS there.

I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4
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Chris Linneman
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Flouyd wrote:
dkeisen wrote:

The availability of the bonus tile which provides 1 virtual shipping steered me away from the mermaids as they do not need this.


I double check to make sure it IS there.

I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4


This is a really creative opening. I like it. You guys are opening my eyes to how much strategic planning goes into this game.
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Christoph M.
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Another very strong choice would be swarmlings. We have 2x trading house scoring, trading house scoring bonus tile and stronghold scoring bonuse tile. On top of that we have city scoring in round 4.
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Dave Eisen
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QBert80 wrote:
Flouyd wrote:
dkeisen wrote:

The availability of the bonus tile which provides 1 virtual shipping steered me away from the mermaids as they do not need this.


I double check to make sure it IS there.

I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4


This is a really creative opening. I like it. You guys are opening my eyes to how much strategic planning goes into this game.


My fundamental surprise is how much discussion there has been here and elsewhere on the geek of terraforming without building as your action, deferring the build until it be done more profitably. I've never really considered it as terraforming a hex for later use always seemed a fine way to have it stolen out from under me.
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Jerry Hagen
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dkeisen wrote:
QBert80 wrote:
Flouyd wrote:
dkeisen wrote:

The availability of the bonus tile which provides 1 virtual shipping steered me away from the mermaids as they do not need this.


I double check to make sure it IS there.

I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4


This is a really creative opening. I like it. You guys are opening my eyes to how much strategic planning goes into this game.


My fundamental surprise is how much discussion there has been here and elsewhere on the geek of terraforming without building as your action, deferring the build until it be done more profitably. I've never really considered it as terraforming a hex for later use always seemed a fine way to have it stolen out from under me.


It seems like sometimes this would be safe, sometimes not. By the time you need to make that decision you'll know whether your terrain is especially vulnerable - that is, say if you picked Mermaids (blue), are the black or green civs in the game, and if so, did one place within range of the tile you want to terraform + delayed build?
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Evil Roy
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Flouyd wrote:
I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4


I'm slightly confused by this post. When you refer to swamps I think you mean lakes (being the blue hexes that Mermaids can build on - swamps are black hexes).
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Eugene
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This thread is uncomfortably similar to what one would find in the Dominion forums. Is TM that sort of game?
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Ben
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garygarison wrote:
This thread is uncomfortably similar to what one would find in the Dominion forums. Is TM that sort of game?

Yes, for the most part.
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Eugene
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You're not making me feel more comfortable, Ben.
 
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Dave Eisen
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chally wrote:
garygarison wrote:
This thread is uncomfortably similar to what one would find in the Dominion forums. Is TM that sort of game?

Yes, for the most part.


Even not understanding what Gary is talking about, I cannot believe that Terra Mystica is that sort of game.
 
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Chris Linneman
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dkeisen wrote:

Even not understanding what Gary is talking about, I cannot believe that Terra Mystica is that sort of game.


Actually, I had noticed similarities as well! A lot of the decisions in Dominion are "front-loaded;" that is, it is far more strategic than tactical, and the early decisions you make are far more important than the later decisions. I think while this is not 100% true for Terra Mystica, it is true to a great extent since the abilities of the factions dictate your strategy to a large degree.

Now, obviously Dominion is a much simpler/lighter game. I believe there are many different ways to play the Mermaids, for example, and you can still exercise a lot of creativity within a given faction, as evidenced by Christoph's post above regarding the use of the sailing bonus tile.

So while every Big Money strategy in Dominion may look very much the same regardless of the board or the player, playing a given faction in TM will vary quite a bit based on the setup and the actions of the other players.

Interesting to note the Swarmlings are now in the lead, but only Christoph has advocated for them (and he also advocated for the Mermaids). I think this is indeed a very strong board for the Swarmlings, though I'm glad the choice isn't completely obvious.
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Dave Eisen
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I considered the swarmlings but ultimately rejected them because I wanted the scoring tiles rewarding trading posts to come out a little earlier. To some degree, one doesn't care when they come out as we will be building at least one per turn, but I feel like I want them earlier to reward additional builds as needed so I can get my economy more fully established.

My responses to these manifest how shallow my thinking is at this time. I look forward to deepening it.
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Ben
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garygarison wrote:
You're not making me feel more comfortable, Ben.

To borrow from your user profile, Terra Mystica is a terrific game that emphasizes the interactions of arbitrary special effects, "leveling up" player-chosen attributes and abilities, and a grand struggle against the game itself (in other words, you do your best against the game and everyone else does the same) punctuated with occasional tactical player interactions.
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Ben
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dkeisen wrote:
My responses to these manifest how shallow my thinking is at this time. I look forward to deepening it.

I'm not sure it's that shallow. In my opinion, the Swarmlings are the easiest race for many new players to use because they permit the most flexibility. I still consider myself nearly unbeatable with them. The poll results might well reflect the view of relatively new players that the Swarmlings are always a good choice. If we changed the set piece drastically, I suspect they would still come in no worse than third.
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Christoph M.
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Evil Roy wrote:
Flouyd wrote:
I would pick the Mermaids and preferable a 3 power or 1 worker Bonus. And I would put 1 of my dwellings in in the swamp that connect the 2 rivers in the center land mass. 1st round I would burn power to get the priest action. Then I would play slow (terreform 1 no build -> terrerform 1 no build -> build -> advance shipping) and pass as soon I can get the shipping bonus. 2nd round I can get my boots going with 3 shipping and settle on 4 swamps. Round 3 and 4 would then be setting up for citys in Round 4


I'm slightly confused by this post. When you refer to swamps I think you mean lakes (being the blue hexes that Mermaids can build on - swamps are black hexes).


Yes of course. And it should be advance shipping as the 3rd action and building as the last option to delay your turn in order to maybe get the building bonus in the next round.


And on the topic of Dominion. I think the concern here is that TM plays itself after the setup like in Dominion where you make your plans before your 1st turn and then only execute them. This maybe true for the first 2 rounds or so but after then you have to adjust because people messed with your plans. I played that mermaids opening 2 weeks ago and I can tell you it sounds like a great plan to build 5 dwellings in 2 turns and then join them up into 2 towns but that central landmass can become pretty crowded in a 5 player game
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Chris Linneman
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All right, I was going to update the post with a poll for second player, but now I see the Mermaids and Swarmlings are tied with 4 votes apiece. So someone's going to need to break this tie before I proceed so we can have a valid first player selection to work from!
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Anders Gabrielsson
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I've only played five games or so, so I'm probably way off here but I'd like to make an argument for the Engineers.

* There are several bonus tiles that give extra workers and/or extra power that can be converted to workers early on.
* The scoring tiles emphasize a slow start on the upgrades, which seems good for the Engineers - if you rush to upgrade quickly you can easily be stuck with too few workers.
* Since the scoring tiles don't give a bonus for building your Stronghold it would seem they're worse off... but on the other hand, if several of the other players are ignoring their Strongholds or building them very late, an early or mid-game Stronghold can get you a few extra VP from the 2 worker bonus tile which you will want anyway.
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Riku Riekkinen
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Well to resurrect a long dead thread.... My first choice would be Auren... and since it seems I'm the only one for them here is why (basic plan):

Place the staring dwellings in the right side of middle island ; or one of them to the upper part of the lower islands right triangle). Now more important is be near/next to others & secure the ground & get easy mana. I wouldn't worry about towns yet.

Pick: 4VP/stronghold and/or sanctuary; 2 workers

1st action: Burn 3 mana to get 3 mana & get a priest (Mana 8-1-0)
2nd action: Build a trading post next to another player (Money: 12, Cubes 6)
3rd action: Build a stronghold (Money: 6, Cubes: 2) - Tile chosen 2 to earth (+1 worker, +1 mana)
4th action: Upgrade ships (Money 2, Cubes: 2)
5th action: Build a dwelling to a spot you didn't take from 3 mentioned (Money 0, Cubes 1)
6th action: Use stronhold to upgrade earth to 4

So then I'll get 4 points for stronghold ( I think this will be about as much as others get from shovels, so I don't worry for minute for that scoring ability ) & 4 money from earth track. Try to get +1 ships & 3 mana tile (and now really look at the map how many dwellings Auren can then put) or then just money or if its also gone pick up +3 mana, +1 cube

It gets all fuzzy of course because of the other players impact. Basically the plan for me would be to ignore bonus from fire & collect top rewards from earth & water (meaning 4 shovels & 2 priests at least & hopefully top scores as well). Hopefully others have also burned mana when I get to turn 2, so I could choose from good special actions as my mana is likely to have came back to pool 3.

-----

I voted Nomads for 2nd pick. They are far from Swarmlings terrain wise. They are very flexible for strategy I think and its important for latter picks. Also 2nd pick is kind of hard since you can't know whether the others will get the terrain choices far from you (I mean home hex colors here). Also even if the others will pick races that have their terrain close its not so much a problem as one can use stronghold to spread through difficult terrains. Stronghold ability is also good because there is no showel special tile for pickings.

-----

Swarmlings seem like a good choice (and it was in my head playoffs with Auren, but lost), but there is something missing (like dwelling scoring too late (I would have preferred it turn 1) & water bonuses too late). I think shovel scoring tile comes way too early for the halflings, but also a good race here.
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