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Jon Theys (AnakinOU):
Posted on: 2006-01-12 13:24:30 CST
Are the cards that gives you an extra action point per turn really useful? We very well may have been playing it wrong, but every time we've played this game, these cards just get chosen every turn (and passed around the table), and have no real impact on the game other than to punish whomever forgets to take one as part of their turn.
Sterling Babcock (sbabcock):
Posted on: 2006-01-12 17:41:35 CST
(jumping in) If I recall correctly, the trouble is, it takes an action to steal the card. It is a powerful card if you have it, but to take it away from someone takes an action. So you are investing an action to get more. But if everyone does it, then the one who does not has other things they can do. (If I remember all this correctly.)
Just to set the terminology. We are talking about the Intelligence Ability to play an additional Wildlife card during your turn.
Sterling is right that it's a break even on the turn played. Actually its a bit worse in that you are replacing a valuable ability card with whatever you draw to replace it (e.g. because you are playing intelligence + Mountain w/draw2 instead of just Mountain w/draw). All turns after that its profit (and quite good profit raising your two non-auction actions to three -- or four non-auction actions if you get double intelligence).
Its worth depends on two things: (1) how often the other players in your game are going to steal it back from you and (2) the special case of being in last place on the victory point track.
In a beginners game diving into double intelligence is the most devastating play to make. If the other players don't figure out its worth and let you keep it all game you'll slaughter them. Against players with some experience expect to see lots of swapping, no one auctioning their ability cards because everyone is trying to use their ability cards to do well with intelligence (if they are not experimenting with a non-intelligence strategy like double food) and maybe the last place strategy. With experienced players they will be mostly trying to get their opponent into wasting their action on intelligence swapping. In particular they might auction an ability card to a player hoping that it will only buy intelligence to get stolen before it gets used.
(2)Last Place w/Intelligence.
I call out this special case because its such a strong move. Given there are four intelligence cards and a limit of two per player, whoever is in last place will be 100% safe from having theirs stolen and everyone else will be open once the last place player owns two. They can sit back raking in the profits from lots of cards. So how does a player not in last place counter this? Two ways. They can (1) either overbid in auctions trying to get into last place themselves or (2) race to trigger the scoring round during which the last place player will most often jump ahead in score (due to their greater progress in the game) There are some other tricks, but they get into other strategies that I haven't covered here.
Hope this helps show some of the depth to this awesome game.