The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Race Master Solvers #2 Summary

Here’s the original post, you have Sparta and Mining League (ML), Free Trade Association (FTA), and 4 worlds to choose from (Rebel Miners, Radioactive World, New Vinland, Spice World).

Peoples discards and actions.

  • Alex & Jeff G agree — Spice World and Radioactive World; Explore +1.
  • MattS & Lou agree — Spice World and Radioactive World; Explore +5.
  • Chris — Spice World & Radioactive World; Settle.
  • MattC — FTA and Spice World; Explore +1.
  • Kester & Frunk agree — FTA and Spice World; Settle.
  • Wei-Hwa — FTA & Spice World; Settle 45%, Exp +1 30%, Exp +5 25%.
  • Phil & Joe agree– ML and Radioactive World; Explore +1.

If I can count, then five people pitch Spice World and Radioactive World, although disagree on how to proceed. Four people pitch FTA and Spice World (and disagree). Two people pitch the mining league and go novelty. Explore +1 gets the nod from 5.3 panelists, Settle gets 3.45, and Explore +5 2.25.

Brian at the Table — I went with Alex and Jeff. My hand can go for either six, so I keep them and the best world for each; call the greedy explore and await further developments. I may get a reasonable military world, investment credits /expedition force (and the cash to buy it) or hit the jackpot — a small novelty/rare military world that makes my decision.

Brian with hindsight — The problem with keeping both is that you (by necessity) pitch your only windfall. It’s tempting to settle early because AC will probably consume … and that hurts Old Earth and ELC (who would consume any windfall). But to do that, I really need a windfall and a nonwindfall, which means I’m leaning towards Wei-Hwa’s play. That gives up on the T1 develop … but how many developments could I realistically want to play? Investment Credits, New Military Tactics, Expedition Force … any more? [Actually, there is one intriguing other answer … Diversified Economy. Now you use your sixes to help pay for that ASAP … you can produce/consume with just Rebel Miners, then add New Vinland and you are off to the races].

In addition, you’ve already pitched a nice card whichever way you go. If you are going novelty, you really really want spice world. (For rares, the first windfall is nice, and the ML will convert it later on). Yes, there are other worlds in deck, but not that many.

The intriguing play of Exploring +5 (while keeping both sixes) is tempting, but I think Lou’s comment about keeping Consumer Markets or NGO … how in the Wide Wide World of Sports are you going to pay for the Markets and Free Trade association with that slow a start? And if you grab the NGO, that means you are ditching both other sixes. I’m tempted by the Explore +5, but only for Runaway Robots, New Survivalists, etc (with the reasonable fallback of a <= 2 Military Gene/Alien World). Exploring +5 for Diversified Economy is tempting … but if I were going to do that I’d be tempted to keep Radioactive World instead of FTA association (for engine development).

Clearly either of these plays could work out. Depends on the other roles selected and peeking at the top cards of the deck …

So, how’d that work out, you ask? I got bupkis. I believe Bupkis is defined (by Webster) as Contact Specialist, Research Labs and some obscenely expensive world. To make matters worse, there was a develop and no settle. (AC traded, no produce).

I’d describe the following turns, but I figured I was pretty fair behind after turn two, so I tried a T3 consume (with no settle on T1 or T2). That did not end in glory, either. I did eventually drop the mining league, but without an engine built it didn’t matter.

That doesn’t prove anything, but my bad luck should be shared by all those who picked as I did, so I’m calling the correct answer — Pitch the Free Trade Association and Spice World and settle.

Ten points.

Nine Points for any other combination of cards and a point deduction for not settling. So everyone gets at least an 8.

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Written by taogaming

March 2, 2008 at 11:14 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Some day I’ll post a difficult problem where I pick the correct answer at the table.

    Brian

    March 2, 2008 at 11:20 pm

  2. I agree about your point on the bad luck risk of greedy explore, which is why I really try to avoid calling it as an explore. In my mind I try to treat it as a simple prospector, just +1 gold with no expectation of anything but duplicates.

    Your comment about my strategy’s ability to pay for cards is a good one, and may reflect my bias towards two player games. In a typical two player game New Sparta can easily win taking the first turn, or even two, to set up a really good hand. Better to skip the first develop and consume and store cards. In part though, this is because the odds on only one other opponent having a great opening hand are only about 30%, so you often aren’t getting blitzed. In a multi-player came this is probably different. The tempo will get pushed faster from the beginning forcing higher risk plays.

    I’m curious if that affects your thinking in 3 vs. 4 player games. Is the impact of an extra set of starting hands noticeable on the pace?

    Lou

    March 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

  3. I would say it is. As I noted in the previous Master Solvers I’m more inclined to try a speculative Consume/Trade in a 4 player than a 3 player, particularly if Alpha Centauri or ELC isn’t in play.

    In this situation I don’t like the Consume/Trade play, as both ELC and AC are out and you’ll be hoping for both an Explore and a Settle to keep Robot Miners and ML in hand. Better to bull ahead, pick Settle. If someone else explores play Radioactive World instead of RM (barring a better draw on the Explore), otherwise stick with RM. I can see going for Explore, but I like +5 better than +1,+1. It gives you more shots to get a good military windfall. Playing that in preference to RW can save you one more card than the extra card from +1,+1. The value of +1,+1 in the situation is getting two keeper cards or very lucky on one, which is a lot worse odds than one good card in +5. Regardless I would always prefer the FTA/Spice discard to the novelty or 6 Dev hedge.

    frunk

    March 3, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  4. If someone else explores play Radioactive World instead of RM (barring a better draw on the Explore

    add “and no Produce picked”

    frunk

    March 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  5. If someone else explores play Radioactive World instead of RM (barring a better draw on the Explore

    add “and no Produce picked”

    frunk

    March 3, 2008 at 2:20 pm

  6. Getting unlucky doesnt make your choice the incorrect one.

    I’m not sure anymore wether its best to keep the FTA or the Radioactive world, though I think at this point I’d lean towards discarding FTW and Spice world, and keeping all the brown stuff, because the rebel miners is your best card of your current worlds (due to 0 cost), and given that, there isnt a very good reason to go blue over brown.

    Playing explore gave you the best chance of getting a development that you could afford without destroying your hand?

    In fact, I think that what happened isnt bad. You could play (omg) research labs and hold rebel miners, and do explore +1 next turn to get cards, followed by explore 5s in the future. No one can really get going without a settle, and you’ll get a free world on that.

    Alexfrog

    March 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

  7. Getting unlucky doesn’t make your choice the incorrect one.

    Yes, it’s like we always told the newbie players in our Bridge group, “Don’t be a results player.” Advice, by the way, which was never heeded. “Waddya mean, that was the wrong play? I won the hand, didn’t I?”

    Larry Levy

    March 3, 2008 at 4:51 pm

  8. Getting unlucky doesn’t make your choice the incorrect one.

    Yes, it’s like we always told the newbie players in our Bridge group, “Don’t be a results player.” Advice, by the way, which was never heeded. “Waddya mean, that was the wrong play? I won the hand, didn’t I?”

    Larry Levy

    March 3, 2008 at 4:51 pm

  9. Yes, the result was bad, but it was a stretch to suggest that explore is likely to get you a good development. As Brian notes in the post, there’s very few developments that would be that great for you. I’m not going to calculate the actual chance of getting one in a +1,+1 explore, but I’m guessing it’s 20-30%. I’d be careful of making the opposite mistake to the one Larry mentions, and suggesting that although the draw was bad, your play was still a good one. “Bad luck” was actually pretty likely.

    Kester Jarvis

    March 4, 2008 at 5:33 am

  10. Larry, our phrase was always “Results Merchant.”

    Anyway, we are dangerously close to discussion Moliere’s doctors. So lets do some math. If we agree that any 1-2 military world is a “Good target” on explore, and also that either investment credits are good, that gives us have 14 good cards out of 104. Plugging into the Hypergeometric distribution, the chance of drawing no good cards is … 65%. (Amazingly, the chance of drawing 0 with the explore +5 is 35%!)

    Since there are probably a few other good cards (we can debate what they are), let’s call it 20 good cards. That makes Explore +1 52% chance of coming up empty (and the Explore +5 hits 80% of the time … although that’s likely lower, because a few of the ‘good’ cards may only be good if you bag the additional card”

    If we say there are 30 good cards, Explore +1 fails over 1/3rd of the time, while +5 fails only 1/12th of the time.

    And I’ll admit that playing research labs (as Alex suggested) didn’t enter my mind.

    Brian

    March 4, 2008 at 6:50 pm


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