The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Race — Production vs Windfall

I’m not just playing Race, I’m pondering it. So, let’s think out loud on production versus windfall.

How much worse is a windfall world? If you are a producer/consumer, the first windfall is free. (Equivalent). It still produces. Windfall worlds tend to be cheaper than production worlds, and you get the good out one cycle faster to trade/consume. (Settle –> Trade, which is 1 or 2 turns, vs Settle–>Produce–>Trade, which is 2 or 3). If you are “pioneering” produce, dropping a windfall first make sense. The card (and time) you save will help your engine. You’ll likely have 1 less VP from the card (and lose out 1-2 VP from the appropriate 6-development, should you play it), but time probably outweighs and earns you back the point.

If you are “leeching” produce the windfall world becomes a one-shot trade/consume power. You probably recoup your card investment, although trading means that you are also spend time. (Conquering a windfall means a generous return on your windfall).

Production worlds, on the other hand, are slower but better leeches, assuming you have consume powers. (For New Sparta, that’s a serious issue. Of all the military worlds, only Outlaw World has a general consume power. The others have to be bought or developed).

And while a production “pioneer” gets the first windfall free, others don’t produce. Are there still reasons for dropping them (for either the pioneer or leech)? So far I see:

  • It’s your first goods world, and you aren’t sure if you are a pioneer or a leech yet. Early on, the windfall/trade route is a nice burst of cards. That alone is reason to do it. If you are looking like the production pioneer, it’s especially tempting.
  • Timing — A militarist and leechers want to time the game out before the consumers really start cranking out the VPs. Windfalls, being cheaper, help the timing. This is probably the primary reason that leeches drop windfalls, beside the “burst of income.”
  • Conversion — You expect to play a card that allows production on windfalls. This can be a nasty shock when production is called. Suddenly you can leech again.
  • You’ve got a big development that will earn a bonus, making them very VP efficient. Pan Galactic League, in particular, gets a 2 VP and card bonus, making those conquered Gene windfall worlds pay off nicely.

My thoughts on this are still under flux, but that’s a good starting point for discussion.

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Written by taogaming

January 6, 2008 at 8:09 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Interesting, I was just making this point to my friend earlier today. We’ve played about 25 games of ‘experienced’ two player this weekend and I’ve been winning 80%. One suggestion I made to him was that he was playing too many windfall worlds. Largely because I kept noticing how difficult it was for him to effectively leach, but also because I didn’t have to worry about him getting enough cards produced to run a big 2x VP consume. I didn’t comment on the lower VP from 6 Dev’s issue, but you are right that that’s a hidden cost.

    Although you didn’t mention SETI, which is another 6 Dev that doesn’t differentiate. Today I had two SETI dominated games that finished with 11 planets (1 also had replicating robots). Obviously there the goal is to fill the board ASAP, so the lower cost of windfalls is worth a lot.

    Also, I think the Alien windfalls are in a different class than the rest. First, you frequently can’t play them until 3 or 4 turns into the game, so they don’t miss leaching from as many produce cycles. Second, they are worth 3 or 4 VPs, justifying the Settle action easier. Third, they get +2VP from their 6 Development. Fourth, especially in a two player game, the Settle/C:$ combo, e.g. with the 5/4 world, nets 4VP, cycles 6 cards, can’t be interfered with, and because it can’t be predicted it might throw off your opponent’s timing.

    Lou

    January 6, 2008 at 11:19 pm

  2. At the start, having a consume power can change the relative benefits of windfall and production worlds — either by encouraging production powers (since your windfall good will just turn into a VP) or windfall worlds (if I have “good” consumption that produces VPs and cards). I like having both in hand so I can adjust which one I settle based on whether a consume has been called or not.

    tom lehmann

    January 6, 2008 at 11:47 pm

  3. If I’m producing/consuming (or someone else is and I’m built around leeching) I’ll almost never play more than one Windfall without the windfall produce support. End of the game situations are of course excepted. Another exception is if I’m short consumption powers and it’s likely goods will be sitting on my worlds anyway. In that case I prefer to get more consume powers first, but sometimes that isn’t an option. Settle or Develop strategies tend to be a lot freer with the Windfall play, particularly if they need a quick shot of cards.

    frunk

    January 7, 2008 at 9:43 am

  4. As Tom notes, having both on hand is quite valuable. Particularly when behind, I will occasionally try to leech off of another player’s settle by choosing consume trade with no goods currently out, which of course requires having a windfall in hand. But I try never to collect more than 2 or so windfall worlds, unless they fit into a 6 card (such as Pan Galactic League or even Mining League / Free Trade association) which I have down or am certain I’ll get down.

    Joe Huber

    January 7, 2008 at 10:09 am

  5. Lou wrote:
    Although you didn’t mention SETI,

    True. SETI doesn’t care.

    I think the Alien windfalls are in a different class than the rest.

    Well, the Robot Alien Sentry can be gotten first turn by New Sparta (or anyone playing Space Marines, if bot develop/settle occur). But the point is well taken. Alien Windfalls (and many of the Gene Windfalls) are very VP efficient.

    Tom wrote:
    I like having both in hand so I can adjust which one I settle based on whether a consume has been called or not.

    Good point. I didn’t address flexibility, but it keeps coming up. An ideal opening hand not only has a strong play, but can (favorably) adjust depending on the other roles selected.

    Brian

    January 10, 2008 at 9:28 am

  6. Frunk wrote:
    I’ll almost never play more than one Windfall without the windfall produce support.

    I’m certainly moving towards this, but I’ll sometimes take a second hit on the Windfall/Trade bong. However, as we know, the first hit is free.

    Joe wrote:
    Particularly when behind

    Yes, you have to swing for the fences sometime. The great unwritten strategy question is “How do you come back when you are behind.” I’m still pondering this.

    Brian

    January 10, 2008 at 9:31 am

  7. Frunk wrote:
    I’ll almost never play more than one Windfall without the windfall produce support.

    I’m certainly moving towards this, but I’ll sometimes take a second hit on the Windfall/Trade bong. However, as we know, the first hit is free.

    Joe wrote:
    Particularly when behind

    Yes, you have to swing for the fences sometime. The great unwritten strategy question is “How do you come back when you are behind.” I’m still pondering this.

    Brian

    January 10, 2008 at 9:31 am


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