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The Castles of Burgundy» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Analyzing the Player Boards rss

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Doug Faust
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I certainly don't claim to be an expert, but there isn't too much discussion about the pros and cons of the various boards, so I thought this might be a good starting point for discussion. My general philosophy is that a lopsided board is best--you want small areas that you can complete quickly, large areas that you can complete late for lots of points, and not much in-between. Where to start also is a good discussion--it seems like you want to be close to mines (which, early on, seem far better than any other tile in the game) and small regions that can be completed quickly. That's just my philosophy though--what's yours?

BOARD 1


P C C Y
P P C Y B
P P B Y B B
W W W C W W W
B B M B B P
B M Y B B
M Y Y B


Comments: The start board. Even if given the option, you probably want to start in the middle anyway, due to the proximity of the mines, and just having more options in general. This board does not offer much in the way of easy completion points, with the exception of the size-1 building field. Big completion bonuses will come from the size-5 pasture and the size-5 building field.

BOARD 2


W B P C
P W B P B
P P P B Y B
B B B B B Y C
Y Y M Y M W
B B M Y W
C W W C


Comments: A builder's paradise. Starting in the lower right gives you the best access to mines, as well as a bunch of easy fields to knock out early. There are 2 size-2 water fields, a size-2 yellow field, a size-1 mine field, and a size-2 mine field in the bottom right that can be completed early. The main feature of this board is a size-8 building field, which will yield massive points if you can do it, but you'll either need to get one of each building type or the yellow duplicate building tile to do it.

BOARD 3


P P P P
W W C W W
B M Y Y W B
B B Y C Y B B
B B Y Y B B
C P M M C
B P W B


Comments: Bonuses and buildings. I'd probably start in the lower right, as it's right next to a mine field. A size-1 building field, a size-1 water field, and the size-2 mine field are probably completable early. The big completion bonuses will come from the central size-6 yellow field, as well as two size-5 building fields. If you can pull all of that off, that's a lot of points. You'll probably want to not wait too long before going after yellow tiles, as they tend to get popular late.

BOARD 4


C P B W
P P B W W
B B B W C M
P P P Y Y M W
B C Y B B B
B M B Y Y
W B Y C


Comments: Building walls. Starting in the upper right makes sense, as you're next to two mines. Aside from the mines and the water behind them, there's not too much in the way of early points from here, though. This board features two size-5 building fields. Aside from those, you may want to focus on ships, as much of the water is concentrated in the upper right.

BOARD 5


P B B W
P P B M M
B C Y W W W
B B P Y C B B
Y C P Y W B
B P B C W
Y Y B M


Comments: Jack of all trades. I'd probably start in the lower right--it only has access to one mine, but is next to two size-1 fields and a size-2 field for early completion bonuses. This board doesn't present much in the way of long-term goals, though, as no field is larger than size-3. The lack of large completion bonuses probably makes it more important to get down tiles as quickly as possible to fill the smaller regions early.

BOARD 6


Y Y C W
Y B B W B
P P M W B B
Y B B C W B B
Y B B M W B
Y M P P W
C P P C


Comments: The moat. The central castle is an easy choice for starting spot, as it's central and adjacent to two mines. Those mines are the main opportunity for early completion points. The main feature of this board is a size-6 building field surrounded by a size-6 water field. Lots of completion bonus points here--especially for those that like to max out their ships.

BOARD 7

Y C C W
Y P P P W
W M B B M P
W Y B B B P B
B Y B B P B
B W M Y B
W C C Y


Comments: Center city. The starting placement on this board is a bit of a conundrum--the bottom castles are next to one mine, but the other two mines are close to the top castles. I'd probably start in the bottom left and try to work up to the other mines, noting that there are several small fields near this castle that can be completed for early points. This board is dominated by a size-7 building field--lots of points if you can do it, but you'll need either 7 different building tiles or the yellow duplicate building tile.

BOARD 8


B B W B
W C Y C B
B Y M Y Y W
B P Y M P Y B
W P P P M B
B C P C W
B W B B


Comments: Out to pasture. Here, the lower right castle seems like the best start spot, as it's next to one mine and not far from the others. This board is ringed by size-1 water fields and size-2 building fields, providing a nice opportunity for early completion points no matter where you place. The board features the only size-6 pasture in the game, but it can be difficult to secure that many of the same animal (especially if your opponents want to deny you that). It might be worth trying giving the point values though--even if you miss out on one or two, that's still a lot of points.

BOARD 9


B B C Y
B B P P W
B B P P W W
C Y Y M W C Y
W W Y M B P
Y B B B P
M C B B


Comments: A tale of two cities. The best starting spot here seems like the lower left castle, as it's next to one mine and near two others. That mine, a size-1 yellow field, and a size-2 water field all seem within reaching distance early. The board features two size-6 building fields on opposite ends of the board. If you complete these, they can be worth lots of points, but you may find yourself limited on which buildings you can actually place--here a third copy of any building type is completely dead.

Poll: The best player boards
1. Which is the best player board?
Board 1
Board 2
Board 3
Board 4
Board 5
Board 6
Board 7
Board 8
Board 9
2. Which player boards are above average?
Board 1
Board 2
Board 3
Board 4
Board 5
Board 6
Board 7
Board 8
Board 9
      80 answers
Poll created by Phrim
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Jeff Michaud
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Phrim wrote:
I certainly don't claim to be an expert, but there isn't too much discussion about the pros and cons of the various boards, so I thought this might be a good starting point for discussion.


Do you feel the advanced boards are balanced?

Different player boards - equal difficulty?

Are the player mats balanced?

Advanced player boards

[poll] Your favourite player board with x people?
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Bill Kunes
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Our collective average score is 180.3 +/-21.3. That makes Boards:
#8 192.0 +/-18.2
#5 185.7 +/-15.4
#4 183.1 +/-14.5
#3 180.9 +/-23.8
---- average ----
#2 178.5 +/-23.6
#6 178.4 +/-35.7
#9 178.0 +/-13.9
#7 177.9 +/-24.6
#1 172.6 +/-20.8


My personal average score in the 50 plays I kept track of is 185.4 +/-21.0 pts with my best Boards:
#8 200.6 +/-17.0 after 10 plays
#3 196.6 +/-18.7 after 5 plays
#7 189.0 +/-17.9 after 4 plays
#4 187.1 +/-15.4 after 8 plays
---- average ----
#5 184.2 +/-7.2 after 5 plays
#6 224 after 1 play*
#9 178.0 +/-13.9 after 5 plays
#2 174.4 +/-33.6 after 5 plays
#1 173.0 +/-21.5 after 10 plays.

* I put this one here as a guesstimate if had more plays compared with our collective average

If a large range and high stddev can be assumed to be a risky board our next most risky Board is #3 with a range of 84 and stddev of +/-23.8. Our least risky and therefore our most consistent board is #9 with a range of 39 pts and a stddev of +/-13.9 pts; BUT it is our 3rd lowest average scorign board.

Based on my personal numbers my best bet may be #8. Interestingly, I've only played Board #6 once and it was my highest score of 224. I think I need to play that one some more.

meeple Keep playing...
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Fernando Robert Yu
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wow great analysis!
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Carl Garber
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Great analysis Bill! Mine won't be as in depth but here is my experience/thoughts.

Currently I have played this 15 times in person and 40 times on line. I only recorded which board I used for a couple of my live plays so most of my info is from my online games. Of my online games all but 12 have been 2p.

My win/loss online is 31-9 which I feel is a decent enough mark to feel like I somewhat have an understanding of this game and the value of the boards. I'll start off with the raw data and then move on to my thoughts.

These are my scores-win or loss-for the various boards:

1) 200, 189, 183, 190
2) 168, 175, 222(3p), 235(4p), 166, 230(3p)
3) 233(3p), 210, 201, 225, 231, 197
4) 181, 202, 201(4p), 198
5) 204, 228, 200, 221(4p), 253(4p), 183, 220, 245(3p)
6) 228(4p), 193, 197, 230, 211, 204, 202, 205
7) 215, 191(3p), 186
8) 290(3p), 269(3p), 244, 231
9) 226, 215

Thoughts: The first thing that jumps out to me is that it feels like I have played this a ton but I have less than 10 plays for any board recorded here, and 4 are even under 5!

The second thing that jumps out at me is that player board 8 is clearly dominant! I checked out my losses to see how many were at the hands of board 8 and 3 out of the 9 were(2 of the losses were with everyone playing the base board). Here are the scores of the player with the 8 boards that I lost to: 272, 272, 235. On top of this I just finished a game in which I beat a player that was playing the 8 board that I intentionally blocked from scoring more chickens causing them to diversify and then they were kept from finishing that 6 region and even in spite of this play that player still managed to get 220. If I take all 8 of these results you get a ridiculous average of 254! While I have had some high scores with other boards, none are consistently high like board 8. The reasons board 8 is so dominant have been stated elsewhere but I will state them again.

1) the 6 pasture gives you lots of flexibility with animals that you can switch animals and still get a crazy good score. Also, it is a 6 region that is fairly able to complete(you only need one animal tile per phase + 1 from the black depot) as long as you aren't too greedy and try to stick to only one animal type.

2) lots of small areas to complete for early game completion bonuses.

3) lots of small beige areas so you can get lots of the same type of builds for crazy good yellow bonus tile bonuses.

If I am playing a game with someone with this board I am focussing on them and know I need to keep them from completing that field to have a chance at beating them. Also, I should take ships early so they can't get the massive early completion bonuses for all those 1 tile ship sections.

And now my general thoughts on each board:

board 1

not enough upside. very limited early small zone completion options. There are decent pasture options but this isn't enough to make up for that lack of early points. You can do decently on this board but I feel you are pretty much at an initial disadvantage against pretty much any board you play against. I saw someone get a 217 with this board in one game and I was impressed by that. Unfortunately that is fairly low for a high score in this game.

board 2

There are enough small sections to complete early game to make you competitive. Unfortunately your success hinges on completing that 8 section. However, you need to get those early game small sections completed as well which makes it difficult to complete both goals. If you get the knowledge tile that lets you place same type tiles in the same zone this board is great! This is a risk takers board! Look at my scores for when I complete that 8 region: 222, 235, 230....now look at the scores when I fail to do that: 160, 175, 166. Night and Day! This is an above average board when you can finish that 8 region and the worst one if you can't.

board 3

I like this board! You got some nice small regions to get your early scoring along the bottom and then you got the choice of 3 big regions to complete. On top of this, this board naturally pushes you to complete the 6 knowledge region and many points can be had by getting good knowledge tiles. Also, if you initially build up through the yellow you can choose to complete that 4 region pasture instead of one of the other big sections. This gives you good flexibility at big scoring options no matter what your competition is doing. If you look at my scores it seems this board gives you a baseline of a solid score(around the low 200s) but with the upside to bust into that 230 range. This seems to have the upside of board 2 without the brutal downside.

board 4

I have only played this 4 times and have "meh" results hovering around 200. However, I don't think I have played this board enough yet to make a judgement either way. Seems like a fairly flexible board that might be like board 3 except my gut tells me just a little less upside.

board 5

I initially thought this board was one of the worse(which you can read for yourself in one of those links above) due to the lack of a big scoring space. however there are lots going for this board: there are quite a few small scoring spaces to complete early if you start on the bottom of the board. there are 2 3 space pastures which, if used properly, can yield a lot of points. There are 4 decent sized beige spaces alongside a one tile space giving good building knowledge tile bonus opportunities(similar to board 8). And the water is clumped together if you want to pursue a shipping strategy. If you look at my results I only have one clunker(183), 2 mediocre(200, 204), and 5 pretty decent games (220, 221, 228, 245, 253). Besides board 8 this is the only board to yield me results that are above the 230s. While I initially thought this board was one of the weakest, I now think it is the 2nd best(for me anyways it would appear).

board 6

This is a board that I think is better than my results show. I think this is because I discovered the shipping strategy and played this board at the same time which feeds well into that strategy. Also, with that strategy you can block more so I was able to win a lot with it even though my scores were lower. Out of my 8 games 6 are mediocre and hang around 200 while I had two games that were around 230. That seems like a decent baseline with some upside attached. The weakness of this board is that your small zones are mines and castles which are usually highly valued by other players. If you get denied these that will hinder your upside. I think you need to complete both 6 zones to do great on this board(plus excelling early in the ships can help you have the inside track on the mines and castles that you need to get early small zone scoring).

board 7

only 3 games with two below average results and one slightly above. Seems like there isn't a lot of small zones to complete early that are easy(your best bet is probably bottom left). And just that one big big building section with the water spread out which I am not a fan of. my instincts and early results tell me this is likely a weaker board.

board 8

covered above, this board is king!

board 9

only 2 plays but both above average and one nearing the 230 mark! There are some small zones to complete but once again many are mines and castles which are tough. On the bright side there are two big but doable beige sections along with a 4 pasture and a 4 water. I think starting on the left side middle would be the best.

So after all that, based on my experience and gut I would rank the boards like this:

board 8
board 5
board 3
board 6
board 9
board 2
board 7
board 4
board 1

Although I need more experience with 4,7, and 9 yet. I think there is a pretty clear line for me between those first 4 and the bottom 5(with 9 potentially being able to jump groups). When I get my plays up to 100 I will have to share my thoughts once again!

Hope this helps! Would love to hear your response!
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Carl Garber
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It is interesting that while Bill and I have different impressions of some boards, both of us have rated boards 8 and 3 highly with 8 being the best. If you had asked me my impressions without me checking my actual scores I would have thought 8 and 3 were the best as well(while the data shows 5 is actually stronger for me). Also we both agree that the base board is the worse. So if nothing else there is at least that to go on with the info that two guys that have played 50 games have given you
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chrisr
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board 8 is worth 30-50 points over any other board, i've suggested some sort of bidding with VP at the beginning of the game to select the starting board
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Bill Kunes
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A similar thread: [stats] avg points, win%, etc. per player board (based on a few 1000 games on boite-a-jeux)
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Andrew Norgren
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Something that hasn't been mentioned yet, is the impact of player position vs. Board. Players who are in seat 4 and perhaps even seat 3 will want boards with castles near water of size 1 and 2. Some quick 1 pop water tiles can yield some of the most explosive starts in the game from seat 4. The idea being in the second tile grouping you use your first player spot totake the mines (mines are always a good investment, not because so much the money but because they are basically always size 1 or 2 areas, and hencemaximum pts/dice).

In seat 2 especially, and seat 1 if dice cooperate, or seat 3 if player 1/2 didn't get them, going for mines is the strongest possible opening on nearlyevery board, barring the existence of the 2 coins per shipped good and3 pts per shipped good type, which are extremely overpowered and need aggressive persuit. But, slightly off topic.
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Bill Kunes
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REVISITING MY STATS SINCE 4/10/13 POST (after 19 more plays):

Our collective average score is 180.3 +/-21.3 183.7 +/-23.6. That makes Boards:
#8 192.0 +/-18.2 195.1 +/-19.0
#5 185.7 +/-15.4 188.4 +/-18.0
#6 178.4 +/-35.7 186.4 +/-30.7
#4 183.1 +/-14.5 185.7 +/-18.4
#9 178.0 +/-13.9 184.2 +/-19.5
---- average ----
#2 178.5 +/-23.6 181.9 +/-27.9 Dropped from 5th to 6th
#7 177.9 +/-24.6 180.9 +/-32.6
#3 180.9 +/-23.8 178.4 +/-24.1 Dropped from 4th to 8th
#1 172.6 +/-20.8 174.4 +/-21.7


My personal average score is 185.4 +/-21.0 188.3 +/-22.8 pts with my best Boards:
#7 189.0 +/-17.9 199.8 +/-28.7 Moved from 3rd to #1... for me.
#8 200.6 +/-17.0 197.8 +/-16.6
#3 196.6 +/-18.7 193.2 +/-22.8
#5 184.2 +/-7.2 192.2 +/-17.9
#4 187.1 +/-15.4 190.7 +/-15.4
#6 224.0 (1 play) 190.7 +/-25.5 Up after >1 play
---- average ----
#9 178.0 +/-13.9 184.2 +/-19.5
#2 174.4 +/-33.6 179.7 +/-36.0
#1 173.0 +/-21.5 176.1 +/-22.9

One thing worth noting is that more boards are above the average, compared to last check point. However, some boards obviously work better or worse for me than my wife. For example, #3 continues to rank fairly high for me but has dropped significantly overall. Surprisingly, #7 rose to the top for me but continues to rank low overall and has shown itself to be swingy/risky. Board #6 moved up to third overall mostly due to both of us getting in more plays and it continues to be a swingy board.


I could spend more time analyzing the data, but I thought an update might be appreciated for others. Regardless, Castles continues to be a favorite around here. We'd really like to get our kids interested one of these days. This or Bruges would be a good introduction to Feld... when they are ready.

meeple Keep playing...
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