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Subject: Stopping the point track strategy, cold. rss

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Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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This was another 2pl game between me and montu (I won't boldface his name this time; I'm not trying to put him on any higher a pedestal than he already is on.), and simply must be told.

We had played 2 games prior to this one; he won the first by 9 (in a game where he went with his usual point track strategy and me with my building track strategy), and easily won a 3pl game where I DFLed. (For those who don't know me, the 'D' and 'L' stand for "dead last"; I leave it to you to figure out what the 'F' stands for.)

After the 2nd game (by which time we were building a small audience), montu mentioned something about how he had proven 'his' strategy the best ... to which I took umbridge. So I challenged him to one more 2pl game, and tried a radical counter-strategy to his usual (winning) strategy.


It started off like most games; I grabbed an early castle favor for the building track, and he did likewise for the money track, soon to boost up the point track. When I hit the 2nd level on the building track, I went for the wood marketplace (as he had committed to the money track and the building would better serve my needs); my final favor before the dungeon phase ended was a food cube.

Now I have played montu many times, and I know what he likes to do ... let others build buildings (especially production buildings), stock up on cubes from those buildings, and gain many favors from both the joust and the castle, using those favors to earn many points from the point track. He also likes to speed the game up whenever he gets the opportunity, pushing the provost up whenever it suits him (without helping an opponent). He has won many games this way; indeed, his head-to-head record with me favors him. This time, I was determined to at least stop his normal strategy.

Near the beginning of the walls phase (by which time I had successfully squirreled away a couple cloth cubes), I used the carpenter to build the lawyer; I then hit said lawyer every time I had the cloth cube to spare. First move: bulldoze the neutral cloth building; second move: bulldoze the neutral stone building.

All of a sudden, montu found himself in a game where (a) there was no cloth OR stone readily available, except through the 2-for-1 neutral peddler, and (b) his opponent was far along the resource track, which could easily supply any necessary cubes. Indeed, montu felt compelled to build a wood building with the carpenter (something I have never seen him do before), and erected the wood peddler (which allows the flexibility of getting different cubes) while having money. I, meanwhile, bulldozed the neutral food building, and (in an effort to neutralize the fact that he had the only multiple-cube production building in the game) used a favor to erect the 1food/2wood stone production building. (I deliberately avoided letting any more cloth into the game.) A couple rounds later, I bulldozed that stone building to once again choke the cubes in the game. (This, I believe, was a mistake; I would have done better to get rid of the last neutral production building.)

We both grabbed gold from the mine (though I was the only one who could get a Prestige building), but I could not stop him from getting a batch or two into the castle for those 5-point favors. He maintained a point advantage for most of the game, but I hoped to win with a decent Prestige building at the end.

At the end, I have just enough resources to erect the 25-point cathedral, though he had a lead and a gold in reserve. Finally, the scores were tabulated. I ended up with +2 from gold; he had +4 from his gold and 3 wood.

Final score: 75-75.

A tie.

I think we were both shocked at the final outcome; at the least, I was shocked.

I felt I made enough mistakes (like prematurely bulldozing my stone production building) that I 'should' have won outright. Likewise, montu made some questionable moves; the one I can't fathom was when he passed second and the baliff/provost was located two spaces beyond the gold mine (on which I placed a worker). I was certain that he would either (a) pay 3 to stop my gold, which at the time he could have easily afforded, or (b) pay one to speed the game up, which would be consistent with what he usually does. Instead, he let it stay where it was.


Montu got the better of me this set (2 wins and a tie), though I still think we're evenly matched. I look forward to our next online skirmish.
 
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Thomas Cauet
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A very interesting report! Thx! I like reading non-classical strategies
 
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Alex Bove
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East Lansdowne
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I didn't say I'd definitively proven my strategy best. I said that I'd definitively proven that the building strategy is not unbeatable (or maybe I said I'd definitively proven that it's possible to win consistently without ever building any buildings). It was in response to a spectator's comment that he'd never seen anyone win in such a manner.
 
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Jason Sample
United States
Pelham
New York
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Bright, brilliant colors are to be seen everywhere, the stones and pigments undimmed by the passage of decades. The floor of the corridor is a colorful mosaic of stone, with a distinct, winding path of red tiles about 2' wide.
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When I was an absolute newbie to the game, I just sort of decided that I would not use the building favor track (I seem to remember reading something somewhere in literature that it was good "to be a contrarian" from time to time, I believe it was Emerson). I just meandered my way up the point and money tracks while my opponent worked her way across the building track.

I made a lot of newbie mistakes that ultimately led to my downfall, but I truly felt that I might have won had I know a little m,ore about the game. Montu has proven that the Building Favor Track strategy is beatable (he has beaten it many times) and I believe that my rudimentary research probably supports that.

I'll shut up now and let the experts do the talking...

Q
 
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Seth Jaffee
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Tucson
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I'll add to the support that it's possible to win without the building track. I posted a session report where I tried a VP/Money track thing and it worked great. Seems to me I also won a game, I don't recall if it was 2er or 3er, with a variety of favors off the first three tracks, and none on the building track.

In one 3er game I did avoid the building track, but when it became clear my opponents were not going to let me use the Architect in the last 2 turns of the game (when it was finally in play), I managed to run the Building track up 4 times to build 4, 6, and 6 points worth of buildings. that outscored the Prestige building my opponent built, and I managed to win that game by a comfortable margin.

- Seth
 
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