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Subject: The Impact of Early Wood Buildings rss

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Mike K
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Apart from the initial placement of the neutral buildings and the (randomly-determined) initial turn-order, there is another factor which can greatly influence the direction of the game: the first wood building (or buildings) that come into play.

The obvious first question is, where on the track IS the neutral carpenter? If it appears at or near the beginning of the track, it is much more likely that someone will grab it and build on turn on; that close to the bridge, it is a safer move than a 'rare' (cloth or stone) cube. This is especially true of a game where the carpenter and a sawmill (or two) occupy the beginning of the road. In such cases ... and contrary to my first article ... it may be more advantageous to go with a building strategy; you can get the jump on the field, which will be delayed in getting to the castle (unless the provost gets pushed up, but this is usually at a cost of a worker or some coins).

On the contrary, a late-appearing carpenter will rarely get taken early (at least in 3pl; with many players, someone is bound to go for it early). This would seem to benefit the castlers, and particularly those who use the building track, as they will get a good jump on the 'pure' builders.

What effect does each such building have on the game ...

1) 2-food/1-cloth: Often the first building built, this is a welcome site for the castlers (who are in constant need of food for the castle) and builders (who need food for all production buildings, the mason, the architect, and the alchemist). I can't see a noticeable shift in strategy with this one, except that, as will be the case will all production buildings, it will lessen the benefits of the resource track.

2) 2-cloth/1-food: The other 'book' building, this is also the only production building that offers 2 cloth at once. Cloth invites many trips to the jousting field, so expect more favors than usual. In combination with the lawyer (see below), this can also lead to a suburban sprawl of residences. Finally, as another source of cloth ... only one appears at the onset ... this makes it easier to build in the castle, so competition will be more fierce here.

3) 2-wood: Rarely will this building come out early; wood is plentiful early, and apart from the wood buildings themselves is only good for the bank and the cloth-for-points building (I forget the name). It would seem that, if this building did come out early, that there would be a run on nearly all the remaining wood buildings; however, as I have had little experience in such games, I can't judge.

4) 2-stone: Like the 2-cloth building, this can be very potent when combined with the mason (again, see below). It also satisfies the 'rare' requirement; like cloth, stone only appears in one neutral building ... a similar castle-frenzy can occur when this comes out early.

5) peddler: An often overlooked building, this is a personal favorite of mine to get when I got the cash to use it. It earns you more immediate points for building, and (assuming you have the cash for it) offers great flexibility with resource-acquisition. If many players use this building, cash will be that much tighter, so the money track will become that much more important at an early stage.

6) marketplace: The anti-peddler (and another personal favorite). I really like to get this in a game where other players go for the money track, as its usefulness is lessened by this building. If you see it come out early (like, before your first favor), consider going for another track.

*** now for the fun ones ***

7) mason: An early mason can really hinder the building-track strategy, which earns decent points for the ability to build stone buildings. Now, with enough stone, one can beat the building-trackers to the most valuable stone buildings (like the stone production buildings, which earn you points and cubes). Don't forget: building-trackers can't build stone buildings until the dungeons get filled, and even then they'll need to earn a favor before it's too late. If I see the mason come out before I earn my first favor, I'll avoid the building track and try for something else, usually the point track. Also, early stone-production buildings means that many more cubes in circulation (thus lowering the usefulness of the resource track). Finally, early stone buildings will in turn devalue the wood buildings (and thus, wood itself). Lots of stuff to consider when you see this building pop out.

8) lawyer: The ultimate game-makeover building if it comes out early (especially if the 2-cloth one comes out early, too). The game becomes a residence-buying frenzy, which (a) increases the cash out there, (b) severely curtails cube production (as all the neutral buildings get built over quickly), (c) increases the need to build other wood buildings (to place residences), and (d) increases the potential for one or multiple Prestige buildings. The cube track instantly shoots up as THE track to be on, since cubes will be at a premium and the gold at the end will almost always be used. The money track, in contrast, dies from a lack of necessity. (The building track would seem to work well too, just so one is not reliant on the architect.)


The above guidelines can help you in two ways:

(a) If you're building an early wood building, look to see what favors others have embarked on. If opponents are going ape for the money track, get the marketplace and try for other favors (or get the lawyer out to blunt the track's usefulness). If builders are coming out, consider the mason (and grab some stone while you're at it).

(b) Contrarily, if you just got your first favor, look to see what wood buildings are out (or which are likely to come out). Did someone just build the peddler? Go for money to take advantage. The 2-stone building came out? Chances are, the mason will follow, so proceed with caution if going for the building track.

Either way, the idea is to taylor your strategy to what others do before you commit. (Imagine playing Rock-Paper-Scissors by letting the opponent shoot first!)


As was the case with my first article, I am more than curious to hear what others have to say on the subject.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Nice article.

This is a very important part of the game, and there are quite a few things to think about even in addition to the ones you mentioned. First, it's important to note that delaying your favor choice is good strategy. Being the person who builds in the castle turn one is maybe not ideal.

Secondly, it raises the question of which buildings are good to construct in general. Is it better to make a production building or a utility building? There are several factors to consider, but I'll ignore how it affects different strategies for now.

1) How many points will it bring you?
2) How much power will it introduce into the game?
3) How does the building fit into the power hierarchy of all the buildings that (will) exist?

Point one is the most important one, but it's pretty hard to answer. The production buildings have a lower base value, but will certainly be used every turn. The utility buildings are worth two more points, but might go unused for a turn. (On the other hand, if people are sometimes passing early in the round, then your building can end up saving you some money.)

Point two is pretty much irrelevant, yet people seem to think about it quite a bit. Imagine a simplified view oft all buildings giving some number of points directly, such as 2.3 or 2.7. Say the game starts with 1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, 1.6, 1.7 in play. In turn oder, players pick from best to worst. Now say you build another building, worth 1.9. People are still going to pick the buildings from best to worst, and everything is distributed evenly. The player who is going first gets a better building, but so does everyone else because the first player passed on the second-best building which he otherwise would have taken.
The point is, it doesn't matter how powerful the building is, because it's a public resource and all players have equal access to it.

What can matter is point number three, which is where the building you build falls into the rankings. Let's say the buildings currently in the game are worth 1.1, 1.2, 1.2, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0. Which one do you want to own? Well, not the 1.8. Say you're going third, and the two players before you picked the top two as expected. But now it's your turn, and if you pick your own building, you effectively lose a point. But if you skip your building and pick the next highest, there's a very large quality gap! Now, real buildings aren't worth points, but the production buildings are often rankable. I think that ideally, you do not want to own the worst of the wood producers, and you do not want to own the worst of the stone producers. Note that quality is not completely determined by the type of good produced, but also the position. If the provost in still a factor in the area, the earlier buildings are much nicer to place on than the later ones.

Anyway, all this is ignoring the fact that different players are committing to different gameplans, and different gameplans are supported by different buildings. You already covered a lot of this, but I think I have some additions.

1. Building track players do not want to see wood production buildings. Coyotek already covered why they don't like the mason (this is not difficult btw ), but note that they also want to have less cubes in the game. Why? Two reasons. The first is that in addition to build opportunities, the build track is giving resource discounts. The fewer resources in the game, the more powerful a discount is.
The second reason is that (barring a mason), the build track players will be the ones who own the stone production buildings, which give cube income. Again, the steady stream of free cubes is that much better if there are fewer cubes total.
Of the production buildings, build track players are least happy to see the Quarry, because the stone cannot be spent to build stone buildings (ironic, huh? ). Food is their favorite (obvious reasons), then cloth (jousting and residences), and then wood (bank and weaver).

When I am a builder, I tend to build the market, because I ignore the money track. If you are going for a build/money combination, the peddler is an ideal build. I am also looking into the lawyer as a possible good first building for the build track strategy, because it lessens the cube supply. Not sure on this one yet, because its effects are just so bizarre and far-reaching.

2. Because of the above, I think the best you can do as a non-build-tracker is to build the Quarry followed by the Mason. Then build the workshop more crappy resources for the build tracker, plus you can get stone without having to place on a building, plus it doesn't introduce food into the game).Nice article.

This is a very important part of the game, and there are quite a few things to think about even in addition to the ones you mentioned. First, it's important to note that delaying your favor choice is good strategy. Being the person who builds in the castle turn one is maybe not ideal.

Secondly, it raises the question of which buildings are good to construct in general. Is it better to make a production building or a utility building? There are several factors to consider, but I'll ignore how it affects different strategies for now.

1) How many points will it bring you?
2) How much power will it introduce into the game?
3) How does the building fit into the power hierarchy of all the buildings that (will) exist?

Point one is the most important one, but it's pretty hard to answer. The production buildings have a lower base value, but will certainly be used every turn. The utility buildings are worth two more points, but might go unused for a turn. (On the other hand, if people are sometimes passing early in the round, then your building can end up saving you some money.)

Point two is pretty much irrelevant, yet people seem to think about it quite a bit. Imagine a simplified view oft all buildings giving some number of points directly, such as 2.3 or 2.7. Say the game starts with 1.3, 1.4, 1.4, 1.6, 1.6, 1.7 in play. In turn oder, players pick from best to worst. Now say you build another building, worth 1.9. People are still going to pick the buildings from best to worst, and everything is distributed evenly. The player who is going first gets a better building, but so does everyone else because the first player passed on the second-best building which he otherwise would have taken.
The point is, it doesn't matter how powerful the building is, because it's a public resource and all players have equal access to it.

What can matter is point number three, which is where the building you build falls into the rankings. Let's say the buildings currently in the game are worth 1.1, 1.2, 1.2, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0. Which one do you want to own? Well, not the 1.8. Say you're going third, and the two players before you picked the top two as expected. But now it's your turn, and if you pick your own building, you effectively lose a point. But if you skip your building and pick the next highest, there's a very large quality gap! Now, real buildings aren't worth points, but the production buildings are often rankable. I think that ideally, you do not want to own the worst of the wood producers, and you do not want to own the worst of the stone producers. Note that quality is not completely determined by the type of good produced, but also the position. If the provost in still a factor in the area, the earlier buildings are much nicer to place on than the later ones.

Anyway, all this is ignoring the fact that different players are committing to different gameplans, and different gameplans are supported by different buildings. Coyotek already covered a lot of this, but I think I have some additions.

1. Building track players do not want to see wood production buildings. Coyotek already mentioned why they don't like the mason (this is not difficult btw ), but note that they also want to have less cubes in the game. Why? Two reasons. The first is that in addition to build opportunities, the build track is giving resource discounts. The fewer resources in the game, the more powerful a discount is.
The second reason is that (barring a mason), the build track players will be the ones who own the stone production buildings, which give cube income. Again, the steady stream of free cubes is that much better if there are fewer cubes total.
Of the production buildings, build track players are least happy to see the Quarry, because the stone cannot be spent to build stone buildings (ironic, huh? ). Food is their favorite (obvious reasons), then cloth (jousting and residences), and then wood (bank and weaver).

When I am a builder, I tend to build the market, because I ignore the money track. If you are going for a build/money combination, the peddler is an ideal build. I am also looking into the lawyer as a possible good first building for the build track strategy, because it lessens the cube supply. Not sure on this one yet, because its effects are just so bizarre and far-reaching.

2. Because of the above, I think the best you can do as a non-build-tracker is to build the Quarry followed by the Mason. Then build the workshop more crappy resources for the build tracker, plus you can get stone without having to place on a building, plus it doesn't introduce food into the game).

Perspective:
Note that I have been using a build strategy almost exclusively (and have done very well with it). I often get one or two levels of Cubes, and spend the rest of my favors on building. I only build one wood building, then try to be the first with a stone producer by jousting after the dungeon scoring. I believe that getting the stone production buildings is extremely important.

I don't have a lot of experience playing non-building-track strategies.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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My question to everyone is: Who the heck benefits from building the production buildings as opposed to utitily buildings?
 
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Alex Bove
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Just a few criticisms:

SevenSpirits wrote:
First, it's important to note that delaying your favor choice is good strategy. Being the person who builds in the castle turn one is maybe not ideal.


I understand your logic here, however an early money favor doesn't give much away as almost every player will have to take at least one money favor over the course of the game. Taking it early or late doesn't matter much.

Quote:
But now it's your turn, and if you pick your own building, you effectively lose a point.


This point has been made many times in early strategy articles, but I think it's fundamentally wrong. If builders insist on not taking their buildings because they want the 1 VP bonuses, they will lose to other players who make more than 1 VP out of the resources/abilities those buildings grant. I'll happily give you 1 VP for two cloth which may earn me 10 VP in jousting.

Quote:
the build track players will be the ones who own the stone production buildings, which give cube income. Again, the steady stream of free cubes is that much better if there are fewer cubes total.


Yes, but if the stone production buildings are in play there are a lot of total cubes available. Who gets the better end of the deal, the player who uses the building to get 3 cubes or the one who gets 1 cube and 1 VP? I'd argue the building's user gets a much better deal. The stone production buildings actually make a builder strategy less effective because they are a windfall for castle builders, especially for those who take VP-track favors.

I have won many games of Caylus hoarding cubes and beating the builders to castle favors. Even if those builders joust, they're going to lag behind in favors, which makes life very hard for them. Of course, I almost never build any buildings at all, so perhaps you'll take my advice on building with a grain of salt.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Montu, I'm sure you are better than I am, but I think you missed some of my points.

montu wrote:
Just a few criticisms:

SevenSpirits wrote:
First, it's important to note that delaying your favor choice is good strategy. Being the person who builds in the castle turn one is maybe not ideal.


I understand your logic here, however an early money favor doesn't give much away as almost every player will have to take at least one money favor over the course of the game. Taking it early or late doesn't matter much.

I hardly ever take a money favor, and certainly never plan on it.

Quote:
Quote:
But now it's your turn, and if you pick your own building, you effectively lose a point.


This point has been made many times in early strategy articles, but I think it's fundamentally wrong. If builders insist on not taking their buildings because they want the 1 VP bonuses, they will lose to other players who make more than 1 VP out of the resources/abilities those buildings grant. I'll happily give you 1 VP for two cloth which may earn me 10 VP in jousting.


I am not suggesting at all that you would skip your own building to take a worse one. I'm pointing out that if you build a building that's just a tiny bit better than (or about the same as) someone else's, then you CAN skip it without consequence (for example, if you own the SS and there is a WW, and no one currently cares between stone and wood).
If you own a WW, and the next best building is a neutral farm, then obviously you will go for the WW.

Quote:
Quote:
the build track players will be the ones who own the stone production buildings, which give cube income. Again, the steady stream of free cubes is that much better if there are fewer cubes total.


Yes, but if the stone production buildings are in play there are a lot of total cubes available. Who gets the better end of the deal, the player who uses the building to get 3 cubes or the one who gets 1 cube and 1 VP? I'd argue the building's user gets a much better deal. The stone production buildings actually make a builder strategy less effective because they are a windfall for castle builders, especially for those who take VP-track favors.

I have won many games of Caylus hoarding cubes and beating the builders to castle favors. Even if those builders joust, they're going to lag behind in favors, which makes life very hard for them. Of course, I almost never build any buildings at all, so perhaps you'll take my advice on building with a grain of salt.


I don't understand where this huge cube supply you speak of is coming from. I'm suggesting that the builders not build any wood production buildings. You are saying that the castle builders won't build any wood production buildings. So, there won't be any.
I am suggesting that the build trackers will build 2-3 stone producers. Yes, this will increase the cube supply, but it will result in (take a hypothetical 3-palyer game) the castle person getting 4 cubes per turn (3+1 from neutral), and the builders both getting 5 per turn (3+1 from beutral + 1 bonus). I don't see how this is a big advantage for the castler. It's even wprse if there are 2 castlers and one builder, who gets 1-2 bonuses.

I would not ever advocate skipping your own stone production building to go to a weaker production building. Obviously the user of such a building gets a better deal than the owner, but the owner is allowed to use it too. If, over the course of 3 turns, 3 different players take the building, then the owner gets two bonus cubes. This is good.

If there are multiple stone building owners, it's even better for them because they often end up "trading" buildings, and get the bonus even more often.
 
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