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Subject: Fakirs -- Threat or Menace? rss

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Juho Snellman
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We had some discussions about Fakir strategy (and the Fakirs in
general) at the end of PBF game #3, where my ideas on how to play
the Fakirs didn't seem to get a lot of support. This article is an attempt
to flesh out that argument.

But before going into strategy, let's look at what makes the Fakirs
so different from the other factions in Terra Mystica.

Disadvantages

No other faction in Terra Mystica appears more crippled than the Fakirs.
They've got some major and fairly unique disadvantages:

1. They have the most difficult terrain to deal with. For all other
colors, there are locations where you can create a 4-hex area of your
color with just 2 bridges spades. (Sometimes a bridge is required). As a
result, the Fakirs have a very hard time creating towns.

The yellow color has further disadvantages on the map, but those can
be mitigated to some extent by the special powers of the
Fakirs. That's not the case for forming towns.

2. The Fakirs start with the lowest initial power, 7/5/0. This essentially
means they can't take a power action on the first round even with burning
power, unless they take one of the fairly weak power-providing bonus
tiles as their initial pick. (Weak specifically for the Fakirs -- for
most factions the +1 shipping bonus tile is rather good on the first round,
but the Fakirs can't use it).

3. The Fakirs have arguably the most expensive Stronghold in the game
-- 4w, 10c. (The Swarmlings with their general ultra-high construction
costs have a 5w, 8c). To make this even worse, the Fakirs desperately
need the Stronghold to mitigate their terrain problems.

This is in sharp contrast to most other factions with expensive Strongholds.
For the Halflings and the Cultists (4w, 8c) the Stronghold is a boondoggle
that's mostly not built unless the scoring and bonus tiles happen to line
up. Most factions that really need a Stronghold get it for 4w, 6c.

4. The Fakirs can only advance their worker to spade conversion rate by
one level. All other factions using workers for digging can advance
it by two levels.

5. The Fakir economy is fueled by priests. As such, they have a fairly
hard time contesting the cult tracks.

Advantages

The list of obvious Fakir advantages is harder to make. Not because
of its length, but because the Fakir's few advantages appear to be
rather compromised.

1. The Fakirs have an easier time connecting their initial starting
positions for the endgame network scoring than the Dwarves.

They don't really have a huge advantage over factions using
shipping. Sometimes 2 hexes as the crow flies is better than 3 hexes
on the river, sometimes the opposite.

2. The Fakirs have a fairly efficient point-generation engine available,
and can use carpet flight to transform a priest to 4vp. However, that's
assuming that they are able to actually do something with the hex they
fly to, which means either being within range of a yellow hex, or being
able to transform a hex to yellow.

This isn't as easy as it sounds. The Fakirs are starved for power, and
aren't often in the position to take the spade power actions. The Fakirs
have the most expensive terraforming costs in the game, so they can't
abuse this power as easily as the Dwarves can abuse tunneling. And the
only way they can easily reach other yellow hexes is by building the
expensive Stronghold.

Comparisons

The most obvious comparison points to the Fakirs are the Dwarves
(tunneling) and the Darklings (converting priests directly to points).
Both of them seem easily superior to the Fakirs.

The Darklings have perhaps the easiest terrain in the game, have no
trouble forming towns, and gain a much more direct benefit from each
priest they use. (A spade is one of the most valuable things in the
game -- players are generally happy to spend 2vp for 3 power, which
isn't even worth half a spade). The Darklings are also in a much
better position to benefit from the spade scoring.

The only real advantage the Fakirs have over the Darklings is that
their VP scoring potential per priest is higher. But it's hard to see
how that could compensate for all the disadvantages.

The Dwarves have a much easier terrain than the Fakirs, and basically
never have trouble forming two towns. They also have lots of places
where they can go straight from mountain to mountain with their puny
1-hop tunneling. The Dwarves are also able to get their spade
conversion rate to level 3, which makes abusing tunneling an awesome
end-game point engine.

The really big difference is with the Strongholds. The dwarves pretty
much never tunnel without their Stronghold. 2 workers is just too high
a price. Meanwhile the Fakirs are gaining range, but that extra range
doesn't really translate to points. The Fakirs appear to pay more for
their Stronghold, and get less in return. It seems like the only way
for a Fakir to not just be a second rate Dwarf is to not build the
Stronghold, and instead invest those resources elsewhere.

The main advantage of the Fakir Stronghold is the endgame network
scoring. Dwarves often have trouble connecting the two parts of their
empire.

But again, it's hard to see how this minor benefit can possibly be
balanced by the numerous disadvantages.

Analysis

Given the above thoughts, it's hard to see how the Fakirs can make any
sense at all. It's even hard to see how a faction that unbalanced
could end up in the game. There are three explanations I can think of,
none very satisfactory:

1. The Fakirs are an intentionally weak faction for experienced
players to use when playing newbies, and still resulting in a balanced
game.

This seems like horrible and unlikely design to me. If this really
were the case, at least the faction would have been highlighted as
an "expert" faction in the description.

2. The weakness of the Fakirs wasn't noticed during development.

I consider this to be completely impossible. The Fakirs have clearly
been intentionally nerfed in every possible aspect. Other factions
might have a single unique disadvantage (e.g. low worker production
for Engineers, expensive buildings for Swarmlings), but also an
obvious matching strenght. The Fakirs have at least 3 unique and
rather random disadvantages.

3. The Fakirs were an extremely strong faction when played correctly
during playtesting, and needed disadvantage upon disadvantage piled on
them to be balanced.

This, then, is the most likely explanation. Maybe they just went a
little too far (wouldn't be the first time that happens during final
balancing of an asymmetric power game). It's a little odd though, that
it's the Fakirs with their fairly innocent advantages that get this
treatment, when there are steamrollers like the Halflings or Darklings
in the game.

The Master Plan

Just kidding, I don't actually have the master plan. At best a "kind
of viable" plan.

After seeing the Fakirs crash and burn a couple of times, I'd formed a
theory on how they should be played, and waited for a game where
they'd be even somewhat viable:

1. Having the last faction pick

The Fakirs are incredibly fragile, I just can't see taking them from
an early position, when you have no idea of your first round bonus
tile or what factions will be in the game. And of course due to the
low starting power, they can't even benefit from being early in the
turn order.

2. The spade bonus tile is in the game

Due to the low access to spades using other means (expensive
conversion ratio, low power), the Fakirs really need to be able to
grab this a couple of times. Critically, on the first turn to get the
economy going, since the Fakirs don't have any real alternatives
for getting their 3rd dwelling.

3. Halflings are not in the game

The Fakir engine will take a long time to warm up. You just can't
afford to have Halflings running around, transforming all the yellow
tiles away. (No brown or red at all would of course be better, but
at least you can live with the other factions being in the game).

The basic idea behind the strategy is that the Fakir Stronghold is a
trap. It's so expensive that building it in the early game is
crippling.

Instead the Fakirs should be concentrating on temples early on. A
temple each on round 1 and round 2 seems like the bare minimum.

The reason is simple -- temples give favors, and favors are really
strong. The normal reason to avoid building multiple early temples
with other factions is that there's a limit to how many priests you
can usefully spend in the early game (sure, you can send them on the
cult tracks, but then you'll run out of priest meeples in the end
game). That's not the case for Fakirs, they have a great use for
priests.

The most desireable favors for the Fakirs should be, in rough order:

1. 2vp / dwelling built. I think this is a safe first pick for most
factions, but the Fakirs in particular really want one. Whether you
take it as the first or second favor depends on what the other players
are doing. If they appear to be doing something else than first round
temples, you can afford to delay taking this tile until your second
temple.

2. 3 coin income. The Fakirs really need the coin income. Both for
saving up for a possible Stronghold later, and since they'd prefer to
upgrade trading houses to temples, which cuts down on their potential
income.

3. 4 power income. I think this is generally a fairly weak tile, but
again it's papering over a major hole in the Fakir economy.

Without a Stronghold, the Fakir expansion will be strongly limited by
access to spades. I suspect that saving up power and angling for the 2
spade power action with early passes is going to be necessary.

The basic pattern is to carpet fly from a yellow hex to a brown or
red, and from there to another yellow. Priests will be plentiful, and
their main function is to be converted to 4vp each. So unless there
are timing issues or somebody is competing for the same hex, you
should probably do separate carpet flights for the transforming and
building the dwelling from early on. The goal should be to use carpet
flight 8-10 times, for 32-40 vp.

This indirect flight pattern will allow delaying (or completely
avoiding) the overpriced Stronghold. You should only consider building
the Stronghold in the last couple of rounds, ideally on a round with a
Stronghold scoring. The Stronghold might be necessary even if there
are no points in it, if you haven't managed to merge your starting
locations to the same network. The pattern also has a minor side
benefit of making it easier to form towns, than if you just fly from
yellow to yellow.

The spade upgrade should be avoided. For most factions the upgrade is
a decent deal since it gives 6vps for 3vps worth of resources. For the
Fakirs the priest alone is worth 4vps. Additionally the upgrade from
level 1 to level 2 is a lot less useful in relative terms than the
upgrade from 2 to 3. Few players ever use level 2 spade
conversion. Either they never upgrade spades, or they upgrade them to
the full. The Fakirs can at most get to the middle ground that nobody
else wants to use.

The Practice

I haven't yet been able to try this out more than once (PBF game
#14: http://terra.snellman.net/game/14).

This was a 5 player game where the setup was very close to what
I wanted, except for the Chaos Magicians building their initial
settlement right where my only town was planned, which was a rather
big roadblock.

I also deviated from the plan in a big way by building the Stronghold
on round 5 (for no VPs), since the eastern continent wasn't reachable
with hops of 1, and had two yellows. In retrospect that was a big mistake.
Gaining the longer range gave me basically no benefit, since right
after I committed to the Stronghold, the Alchemists blocked the
critical hex. The resources would have been better spent elsewhere.

The final score was 127 vp -- not brilliant, but decent for 5vp. (And
not enough to win either). It did convince me that something along
these lines is how the Fakirs should be played. But it still didn't
make me think that Fakirs were much more than borderline viable, and
I continue to be puzzled by how badly they've been nerfed.

So have people got Fakirs to work, either with a similar strategy
or something completely different? I'm particularly interested in success
stories that don't depend on getting the first round spade bonus tile.
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Jimmy Okolica
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I don't have anything to add, but a fascinating read! I hadn't ever felt drawn to the Fakir but hadn't thought of them as a weak faction. Now, I want to try to play them the next time I get a chance F2F (I get killed on BGG taking what I think is the best faction so I'm not even going to try to take a second best one).
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Dave Eisen
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I would add two more criteria. I suspect they are weak unless just about all 5 of these are met.

#4: You want scoring tiles lined up for a low scoring game. The fakirs are going to make the bulk of their points from carpet flight, a fairly fixed number of points, and you do not want other players swamping this because of favorable scoring tiles. So no late-game bonuses for towns. Maybe a couple of consecutive scoring tiles rewarding the same kind of building so it is difficult to get into a rhythm. Late game stronghold/sanctuary scoring.

#5: Shipping bonus tile not in the game. This tile is basically worthless for you. Might as well broaden it to criteria such as:

a. Shipping bonus tile not in game.
b. Priest bonus tile is in game.
c. Not much in the way of bonus tiles which give VP for same reason you want scoring tiles lined up for a low scoring game.
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Oxmond
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Our group's variant:
Fakirs has normal third level spade exchange rate (just like other factions).
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Juho Snellman
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dkeisen wrote:
I would add two more criteria. I suspect they are weak unless just about all 5 of these are met.

Yeah, I had to narrow my criteria down to ever hope meeting them :-)

Quote:
#4: You want scoring tiles lined up for a low scoring game.

Yeah, good point. Though a low scoring setup without anyone picking Halflings might be hard to find :-(

Quote:
b. Priest bonus tile is in game.

So this was originally one of my criteria, but after some thought I gave up on it. It seems like that tile is most important to players who delay building temples. Basically the marginal utility of the first priest you get as an income is much higher than the utility of the 3rd or 4th.

Quote:
c. Not much in the way of bonus tiles which give VP for same reason you want scoring tiles lined up for a low scoring game.

Hmm... I'd be sad to not see the dwelling scoring bonus in the game. But the trading post and stronghold bonuses could indeed go.
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Chris Linneman
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It is possible Fakirs are only really viable in 2p and 3p. The only time I saw them played was when I took them in 2p. I can't remember my opponent's faction, but it was probably Witches. He always plays Witches.

Anyway, I lost, but I made some fairly major mistakes in that game. But in theory, Fakirs should be stronger in smaller player counts because their opponents will have difficulty generating power too, and they are less likely to lose their key terrain spots to other players. And of course, the confluence of other criteria like scoring bonus tiles being out, Halflings being out, and going last are more likely with fewer players.

Edit: I am aware of the double meaning of "out" here. English is such a confusing language. I meant "excluded."
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Jan B.
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Very cool read, thanks Juho. You put a lot of thought into the strategy, and it is very interesting especially for me, as I was part of game #14 and can relate to your moves even more because of that.

It is correct that the Stronghold seems to be a trap. If the Fakir is well-positioned in the game, it will definitely happen more often to get deliberetly blocked. In my case it was pure numbers, as it was quite simple to calculate for me that the bonus of getting you around me (= power) would not be enough to bring me the additional 2-6 points that I need on top because you carpet-fly through my territory.

Having said that, it only underscores your point that the Halflings or another strong terraforming race is a killer for the Fakirs. You do not want to be near someone who has a digging engine (Halflings, Darklings, maybe Alchemists, maybe Dwarfs). If that's the case, the opportunity costs of blocking the Fakir-engine are too low.

I agree as well that the Fakirs are a good race to be picked last and can only agree further on the Bonus and FAV tiles that are important. Maybe the Dwelling Bonus is not as important. I did not calculate that through, but getting a Power-Bonus could be worth more, as it enables more carpet flights in the end.

But I would like to agree to a certain extent with Chris, that the main strength of the Fakirs are games with lower player numbers. They spread out like hell and even get a high amount of points for it. On top of it, they can easier build near the other players through carpet flight, which enables them a better power income. As power income with low player counts is critical, that is something where Fakirs shine. And then there is the Stronghold, which gets better, because you can't get blocked so easily when the map is not so crowded.
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Neil Christiansen
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In my limited experience, Fakirs seem very underwhelming and therefore I have never tried to play them. In PBF 20, I picked Nomads instead (and they are by no means a favorite).

I think Juho is right that the faction probably seemed so good in playtesting that they adjusted things at set-up and overcompensated.

To be on an equal playing field, they would seem to need better resources at start and a cheaper fortress. Something like starting with 4 workers, 7 power in bowl II, and only +2 coins cost for strongholds.
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Jimmy Okolica
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chris1nd wrote:
In my limited experience, Fakirs seem very underwhelming and therefore I have never tried to play them. In PBF 20, I picked Nomads instead (and they are by no means a favorite).

I think Juho is right that the faction probably seemed so good in playtesting that they adjusted things at set-up and overcompensated.

To be on an equal playing field, they would seem to need better resources at start and a cheaper fortress. Something like starting with 4 workers, 7 power in bowl II, and only +2 coins cost for strongholds.


I don't know. I think the price of the Stronghold is good, but perhaps changing their starting resources to 2 workers, 1 priest, $15? I'd never noticed how low their initial power is. Are they the only race that starts that low?
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Dave Eisen
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They are. That was the big thing that kept me from choosing them in PBF 12.
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Nice article.

One (slightly) redeeming feature of Fakirs is that they can't easily be blocked in. This means that during initial setup you can place you dwellings next to as many opponents as possible and pick up power that way. That may go some way to compensating for the initial low power.
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jbrier
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jsnell wrote:
W
3. The Fakirs were an extremely strong faction when played correctly
during playtesting, and needed disadvantage upon disadvantage piled on
them to be balanced.

This, then, is the most likely explanation. Maybe they just went a
little too far (wouldn't be the first time that happens during final
balancing of an asymmetric power game). It's a little odd though, that
it's the Fakirs with their fairly innocent advantages that get this
treatment, when there are steamrollers like the Halflings or Darklings
in the game.


This must have been the case. What is so perplexing is that the Fakirs are handicapped in several small ways, as you mention above (less starting power, no level 2 dig tech, expensive stronghold). One would think with these various small changes that the Fakirs would be one of the most finely tuned factions in the game; yet they are the worst by a significant margin (I even think that removing any one of the above 3 handicaps probably isn't enough to bring them into balance).

Equally perplexing are some of the small advantages that the already overpowered factions get. The Dwarves, who are arguably the strongest faction, get an extra buck from their 1st and 4th trading posts (WTF?).

Up to this point I've been giving the designers and developers the benefit of the doubt as far as faction balance goes, but with an increasing collective sense here that the Fakirs are so underpowered, I'd be curious to hear some of the reasoning behind nerfing them so badly, and/or perhaps hints on how to play them effectively.
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Jan B.
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It's possible, that the design team didn't get it right for the Fakirs in 5 player games. That would be a pity. On the other hand with the conditions Juho pointed out, they are very competitive. Approx. 130 points are usually enough for a top position in a 5 player game. There are some races that need special setups to work right. For example the Cultists would not work that well with low player counts and work only great with the right cult bonuses. Not every race can be a jack-off-all-trades.
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Juho Snellman
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verandi wrote:
This must have been the case. What is so perplexing is that the Fakirs are handicapped in several small ways, as you mention above (less starting power, no level 2 dig tech, expensive stronghold).

Exactly! That's what makes me think there is a Master Plan for the Fakirs out there, even if I haven't found it myself.

Quote:
One would think with these various small changes that the Fakirs would be one of the most finely tuned factions in the game; yet they are the worst by a significant margin (I even think that removing any one of the above 3 handicaps probably isn't enough to bring them into balance).

I'd be willing to consider them more often with a 5/7/0 starting power (let alone a Halfling-like 3/9/0). It's hard to gauge the effect of the other disadvantages since they'll really start to matter later in the game. It's much easier to look at the setup and see if you can even plausibly get your economy going on the first round. And the starting power makes that really hard, since by the time you have gained the power, at least the priest and the shovel will likely be gone.
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Lucio Pierobon
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Hi Juho, I completely agree with your analysis of the fakirs, I had almost the same feelings on what happened to the Fakirs in their development and it is nice to see that somebody else came to the same conclusions.

Might be interesting to try some games with a specific setup (we can try to create it to fit the Fakirs needs) and the same opponent giving the Fakirs different playing conditions (in one a starting priest, in anothers 5/7/0 pw,3/9/0 pw, a 4w 6c stronghold and the third shovel level) and see what happens.

It shurely is not a completely scientific way of verifying it but, maybe with some group thinking to the Fakirs moves it can be somehow standardised...

Let's say 3 players playing each one faction and groupthinking for the Fakirs...

Lucio
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Lucio Pierobon
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Just to add another limit of the Stronghold, it gives no power as income.

The only other two factions whithout power-producing SH are Chaos Magicians (which have a fair substitute in the double favors) and Alchemists (but they have feature that allows them to gain power while terraforming, which is somehow better than the power income because it can be done during the round).

This also causes the fact that their power production (even at full development) is the worse of the game together with the Nomads (max 6pw per income), but the nomads have no other use for the priests (except raising the levels of ships and shovels, of course).

Just some more cents fo rthe sake of the discussion...

Lucio
 
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Iago71 wrote:
Just to add another limit of the Stronghold, it gives no power as income.


I disagree. A priest is much better than 2 or even 4 power, which is what most other factions get. Particularly for the Fakirs, for obvious reasons.

Moreover, with the second print run already underway, an official fix if anything would likely involve a change that requires minimal alteration of the components/interface. I can imagine something along the lines of giving them extra starting resources (your suggestion of +1 priest sounds reasonable).

I'd really like to hear from the designers/publisher. Apparently they play tested the game over 150 times, and I'm very curious to hear why they decided to give the Fakirs all those handicaps. Ideally, they will either point us to a more effective way of approaching the Fakirs or acknowledge there is a problem and offer an official fix like they did with the spade scoring tile.
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Lucio Pierobon
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Hi John, I was not meaning to suggest a fix to be needed for the reprint.
My idea was just a way to (roughly) verify where is the real handicap of the Fakirs or if an handicap exists at all.

About the consideration on the power/priest value, I was not discussing it, I was merely stating that the power production of the Fakirs is the worse of the field.

If I really need a priest for income I'll build a temple is 2w and 5c less expensive than the stronghold...

Lucio
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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The more I read, the less convinced I am that the Stronghold is a trap (note: I've played them at most once).

If you get the Stronghold on Turn 1 along with SA/SH bonus tile, you've got a couple of extra workers while you get your economy going and you may be able to grab several yellow tiles before the halflings or darklings get their efficient growth strategy going. I still think they need a priest as a start up resource, but after reading all of this, I really want to try them out.
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
The more I read, the less convinced I am that the Stronghold is a trap (note: I've played them at most once).

If you get the Stronghold on Turn 1 along with SA/SH bonus tile, you've got a couple of extra workers while you get your economy going and you may be able to grab several yellow tiles before the halflings or darklings get their efficient growth strategy going. I still think they need a priest as a start up resource, but after reading all of this, I really want to try them out.


For what it's worth, I've tried building the SH early several times and failed miserably. One such example, where I took BON6 during setup as you suggest whoops, I actually took BON8 that game, is here: http://terra.snellman.net/game/verandi1

In that game (which the Halflings were in) I got to every yellow space on the board, plus transformed 2 spaces for an area of 13 total by game end.

The most obvious drawback to my strategy was not getting any favor tiles until late in the game (as opposed to Juho, who picked up FAV11 early and got 20 VP out of it).

The other less obvious drawback was that since I was looking to capitalize on my SH investment by setting myself up for as many carpet flights to deserts as possible, I didn't block the Dwarves, which likely contributed to their runaway victory (particularly egregious was not blocking G2).

Of course, I'm not saying my decisions were the best that one could make after taking BON6 and building the SH on turn 1. Perhaps my implementation of the strategy was too extreme and one-dimensional. Maybe there's a better way to go about it. But after trying the early SH build several times I'm inclined to agree with Juho that building temples early instead is the better approach.
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Juho Snellman
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
If you get the Stronghold on Turn 1 along with SA/SH bonus tile, you've got a couple of extra workers while you get your economy going and you may be able to grab several yellow tiles before the halflings or darklings get their efficient growth strategy going.

Sure, you have two extra workers. But what are you going to do with those workers? It's unlikely you get the priest power action, so carpet flight is out of the question, and there's nothing else you can achieve with the 2w, 2c you have remaining after building the SH.

If you're going to build a SH on round 1, the 1W/3PW bonus seems like a more sensible bonus to start with. The you at least have a chance at getting a priest to use immediately. But it'll still be a very slow ramp up.
 
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Jerry Hagen
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Or the priest bonus. Spending 3 power for the seventh worker is nearly guaranteed, the only contingency being you have to leech at least 1 power from another player by your third turn. And there's a decent chance you'll get the 2 worker power action which is more likely to be available later in the round than the priest, 7 coins, or one spade.
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jbrier
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jsnell wrote:

If you're going to build a SH on round 1... it'll be a very slow ramp up.


I think this is the crux of the issue. You blow your wad on a turn 1 SH build, which gets you a priest income and the ability to fly to other deserts. Now, you have to develop a worker + money income from scratch (not to mention scramble for more priests than the measly one each round from the SH). It basically takes the entire first half of the game to get your worker + money engine going, and that's without even building any temples, which means you've got no favor tiles to assist you. I suppose you could instead invest your next available resources on a trading post > temple, but then you're looking at starting your worker + money engine from scratch when the game is already half over. Not to mention you haven't expanded yet so you are unlikely to be leeching much if any power from other players. It's a very steep hill to climb that allows you very little flexibility to mess with other players, which is a serious drawback in itself as evidence by my session above.
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Matthias Reitberger
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The unique benefit the Fakirs have is that they can reach 9 Fields of home terrain with extended carpet flight.
Halflings have only 4 consecutive Fields and another 2 somewhere else.
We have to maximize that potential, so don't care about Towns or Cult Track or Bonus for SH/SA.
The Goal is to maximize points for Building Huts and get the largest Terrain.
The Key is gettting the Fields D3, F3, E8.
I want to be starting player and go straight to E8 and then take either D3 or F3 whatever is more contestet.
Hopefully I can get the Round Bonus of 3PW/1W, then I will burn 3 PW to get a Priest, Upgrade to Stronghold and Fly to the left over key Field.
For Round 2 I need a Bonus that will at Least give me 2 Coins.
I will fly to G4 and If I can get the Money build a Tradingpost,
Next Round Temple, Favor for 2 Pts each Hut and another Flight.
Key Problem is Money, not Workers.
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Jimmy Okolica
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verandi wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
The more I read, the less convinced I am that the Stronghold is a trap (note: I've played them at most once).

If you get the Stronghold on Turn 1 along with SA/SH bonus tile, you've got a couple of extra workers while you get your economy going and you may be able to grab several yellow tiles before the halflings or darklings get their efficient growth strategy going. I still think they need a priest as a start up resource, but after reading all of this, I really want to try them out.


For what it's worth, I've tried building the SH early several times and failed miserably. One such example, where I took BON6 during setup as you suggest, is here: http://terra.snellman.net/game/verandi1

In that game (which the Halflings were in) I got to every yellow space on the board, plus transformed 2 spaces for an area of 13 total by game end.

The most obvious drawback to my strategy was not getting any favor tiles until late in the game (as opposed to Juho, who picked up FAV11 early and got 20 VP out of it).

The other less obvious drawback was that since I was looking to capitalize on my SH investment by setting myself up for as many carpet flights to deserts as possible, I didn't block the Dwarves, which likely contributed to their runaway victory (particularly egregious was not blocking G2).

Of course, I'm not saying my decisions were the best that one could make after taking BON6 and building the SH on turn 1. Perhaps my implementation of the strategy was too extreme and one-dimensional. Maybe there's a better way to go about it. But after trying the early SH build several times I'm inclined to agree with Juho that building temples early instead is the better approach.


Thanks for the link. I wasn't actually suggesting taking bon8 for the Priest Bonus; i was suggesting changing the starting resources to take away a worker and add a priest. I agree it's not much and as seen in your game, may not be enough. However, I am curious about you turning down all of the free power. I understand the cost in VPs, but I wonder if that extra power might have let you take more power actions (like spade and cash) that would have helped block the dwarves. I see the issues with not getting a favor tile til late and shooting your whole wad on the SH will make an early temple difficult, but I think that may be the way to go. Anyways, I'll try and probably fail and add the link to this discussion as yet another failed Fakir attempt.
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