The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Race — The initial Settle

Seeing as how the point has come up.

The first settle is tempered by the fear that someone may call trade, drop a windfall, and be off to the races. It’s a real tension. (This reminds me of the poisoned craftsman in Puerto Rico). I’m not sure if there’s a hard and fast rule.

If you don’t have a consume power (and a windfall of your own), then it’s less of a problem. You may give up a trade, but you’ll get one later on. (Of course, the tempo means that you won’t be out of cards). Sparta can settle, but may be better off just exploring to get a few more military cards. The issue there is that Sparta really doesn’t want to let those pesky developers get a head start.

Alpha Centauri and Earth’s Lost Colony have less incentive to settle, since they can trade/produce without helping anyone else. (ELC is, admittedly, less likely to do this).

Epsilon Eridini (and, amusingly, Earth’s Lost Colony) don’t necessarily mind getting a poor windfall consume. Eridini gets a card (and a VP), but saves a tempo. ELC gets a VP but can then produce and trade for a bonus VP.

Looking at this from a Game Theoretic point of view, I suspect that you just have to toss a bit of effective randomness in. You don’t have to actually be random … you can use information only you know … like the cards in your hand.

But if we took a situation where we knew all the cards (say, set hands, but changing them around so that there were windfalls aplenty) then I think the optimal play would be Settle X%, Trade Y% Other Z%. Early on the Trade play will be surprising, and work fairly often. Then people will become suspicious and the Settle % will fall. This will, in turn, make the Trade % plummet. Which allows the Settle % to rise.

So … no real answers.


  • I’m more likely to settle if I can pick a windfall (if no trade hits) or a nice production world (if it does). And if I’ve got the matching “produce on a windfall” card, I’ll almost certainly do it.
  • If my developments are poor, then part of me wants to explore (to get a good one), but that still leaves reasonable odds of coming up empty and seeing only developments.
  • Earth’s Lost Colony can always produce, for a mini-trade (less upside, but less downside).


Written by taogaming

February 21, 2008 at 7:41 pm

3 Responses

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  1. There hadnt been a race for the galaxy post on your race for the galaxy blog in 15 days! Now everything is right in the universe again :p

    On the settle issue, I tend to like the safety of explore, or develop very early on. I hate enabling somoene elses/windfall trade, and not very fond of taking the risk myself.


    February 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

  2. Depends on which start world and who I am playing. I often settle with EE and a 1 military windfall, as I consider 2 cards and 1 VP a good return on an action (assuming AC is in the game and calls Trade on turn 1). I then typically have enough cards to respond to other player’s actions and can call produce on the next turn (especially if I have a nice production world that can come out if another player calls settle on turn 2).

    However, I like this move even when AC is not in the game and no one calls Trade; why because then the other players will call Trade on turn 2 while I can call Produce. Except for ELC, they typically won’t benefit (since they put down windfall worlds on turn 1). I can then sell my windfall on turn 3 for cards.

    Similar logic holds for someone gambling on an early Trade when I play EE.

    If I’m playing OE, then I’m far less likely to call a first turn Settle. NS will depend on the other players, as per the metagame reasoning you describe.


    February 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  3. My general rule is if I can either Settle twice or Develop and Settle without more cards I don’t mind picking Settle the first turn (or, as Tom notes I’m Epsilon Eridani). If someone else guesses right and picks Trade they’ll more than likely pick Develop or Settle on the second turn. If I don’t have a decent chance of taking advantage of one or both of those phases that could be a critical tempo I’ve lost.


    February 23, 2008 at 7:10 am

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