The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Race — The Near Sixes

Apart from Hailing Caesar, last night was all about the Race.

The six-point developments usually generate significant VPs. If you’ve got a reasonably amount of synergy (and aren’t just dropping them randomly), eight points each seems about average.

I’ve been thinking about the “near sixes.” These are the 4 and 5 cost developments (and planets) that generate significant and variable VPs. Needless to say, they all work via consumption. I suspect new players tend to ignore them.

I’ve mentioned Consumer Markets before, but it bears repeating … this provides amazing cardflow even if you don’t need the consume powers. But it also means that you can play cards like Artist Colony (or convert New Vinland to VPs). For 5 cost, you get at least 3 VPs. It should net you another 3 or more, not to mention 3-6 cards. In most of my losses yesterday, this card played a role.

Diversified Economy is similar (for a different strategy). It provides a massive amount of consumption in a single card, and provides income. This can easily be worth 5-8 VP (and 3-6 cards).

With the right setup, either of these can dominate any six cost development.

There are several expensive planets. Most of them just have a consumption power (in addition to production), and a handful of VPs. The Alien Robotic Factory is worth 5 VP for $6, and provides a good (that can be consumed — or more likely traded for five cards). If you could play a Six Dev for 5 Points and the promise of 5 Cards in a few turns … (and perhaps a few points of consumption later on), that’s not so bad, is it?

Galactic Trendesetters is a planet that costs 5, worth 3VP and consumes a good for 2VP. If you use it once, then it’s 5 VP (or 4 if you are upgrading from a single VP consume). But if you use it once with Consume x2, then it’s up to 7 VP (5 if you are upgrading). That’s comparable to an OK Six-Dev in VP. And if you get to use it multiple times …

Terraformed World is a straight 5 VP for $5, but it has a consume power. If you don’t need the power, then this is basically just a “monument” world. (Great VPs).

Compare that with Tourist World — 2VP for $4, but the ‘consume two goods for 3VP’ power is a a definite upgrade. At the endgame, you’d rather have a monument, but if you consume x2 twice …

One issue about the “Near Six” planets is that you can’t discount them (when you call settle). While the rebate is similar, this does have breakpoint/handsize considerations.

Anyway, I’m seeing more wins that don’t focus on the big developments — another stage in the strategy evolution.

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Written by taogaming

February 5, 2008 at 7:06 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Is it just me or do the “near sixes” play a bigger role in games with more players? I almost played 2 player exclusively until very recently, where a group of 4 of us played about 6 games straight. It seems as though the 6 development/s that you have carefully planned for will be in the hands of the other players. I tend to think the cards you suggest here (especially Terraformed World, which I dont like in 2 player games) gain added importance with more players.

    Further, I personally prefer the blue and brown near sixes (mining conglomerate and consumer markets) to their 6 development parents (mining league and Free trade association) when I am going the proactive consumer/produce route. Personal proclivity or is there method to my madness?

    zzdroman

    February 5, 2008 at 7:42 pm

  2. I think that the Near Six developments are also more important in 3+ for the obvious reason that there are 2 of them in the deck, each, rather than one. So it’s easier to get them down (also true because of cost).

    In answer to the above post, I feel that Mining League (with its 2goods>3vp engine) is more useful than Mining Conglomerate, but Consumer Markets is about even with Free Trade Association (it can generate more than 3 cards, but doesn’t give the VP bonus for your worlds).

    Phil

    February 5, 2008 at 8:20 pm

  3. Your thoughts on these cards generally agree with mine, except for Diversified Economy. It’s a card I’ve never been able to get working, because it seems so inflexible. Getting regular production of three different colours isn’t all that easy, which means the consume power will be lucky to get used twice. Novelty and rare are easy enough to get, but you’ll be lucky to get genes production if you don’t have a military, and lucky to get alien production full stop. Add to this that a tableau contaning a variety of production world types can only really use either this card or Merchant Guild to rack up the points (whereas single colours can use Merchant Guild, their specific 6-dev and either Consumer Markets or Mining Conglomerate depending on colour), and Diversified Economy tends to be more of a straitjacket than anything else. It seems very luck-dependent to me. I know that I’m missing something, because so many people sing its praises: if someone could explain what, I’d be grateful.

    Kester Jarvis

    February 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  4. Both Consumer Markets and Diversified Economy are powerful card and VP engines, if you have the right setup for them.

    Consumer markets depends on drawing multiple blue production worlds, while using diversified economy generally involves getting a couple different production worlds plus a windfall world of a third color. (A blue and brown production world, plus a green or alien windfall world works well for example).

    The most powerful thing about them is their card production I think. Generally the best way to use them is to get them down early, as soon as you start producing a couple things (2 blue for consumer, 2 types for diversified), and use them as a card generator while you do a produce/consume cycle). Early on you’re trading anyway, and thus dont care about the consume powers as much. Then late game you make sure you can use the consume and 2xVPs. Diversified economy early on making 2 cards during a produce phase is very strong. You only HAVE to get three different types by the time youre all set up and want to 2xVPs.

    I consider Mining Conglomerate in the same league as these cards. It gives income and consumes your goods, but its cheaper.

    I like the big point scoring cards like Alien Windfall worlds (especially), and stuff like galactic trendsetters/tourist world/terraformed world. I find the alien windfall worlds especially good when you havent drawn anything good. Just throw your hand away for that Deserted Alien Library and trade the good next turn. You get a new hand and 5 points for your time. Terraformed world is less exciting, its basically an endgame play, or something to use to turn colony ship into points.

    I like to pretend Galactic Trendsetters looks like this:
    Consume: 2 goods for 1 each
    Produce: 1 good. (And it happens to come with this imaginary good when you build it)

    And tourist world:
    Consume: 3 goods for 1 each
    Produce: 1 good.

    Because basically, they are like a free production+1pt consume, and then additional 1pt consume(s) for goods on your other worlds.

    Alexfrog

    February 6, 2008 at 4:26 pm

  5. I’ve been mulling over the first two comments … I’m not sure why the mini-sixes should matter more in games with more players … I suppose the fact that there are more VP chips means it’s easier to really grab a stash (since the game won’t end), but ending the game by breaking the bank would imply fewer points on a tableau, so a greater ratio.

    Brian

    February 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

  6. I don’t think they’re necessarily more important in terms of pure usefulness, but in terms of “chance that if my strategy requires it I’ll actually get it down.” If you’re playing a blue-heavy strategy in 2 player, there are 3 cards (FTA, CM x2) you can go for, and only one opponent who can get them (plus of course they could be in an unused part of the deck or on a world as a good). In 3 or 4 players there is just a lower chance that they’ll end up in your hand.

    Phil

    February 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  7. I don’t think they’re necessarily more important in terms of pure usefulness, but in terms of “chance that if my strategy requires it I’ll actually get it down.” If you’re playing a blue-heavy strategy in 2 player, there are 3 cards (FTA, CM x2) you can go for, and only one opponent who can get them (plus of course they could be in an unused part of the deck or on a world as a good). In 3 or 4 players there is just a lower chance that they’ll end up in your hand.

    Phil

    February 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

  8. I tend to find in two player games that we only go through 3/4 of the deck (as compared to 1.5 times through in 3 player), which to balance the number of opponents.

    Brian

    February 11, 2008 at 11:57 pm


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