The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Core Worlds — General Thoughts, Homeworlds and the Draft

or, A few too many words about Core Worlds


  • Ac = Action
  • En = Energy
  • FS  = Fleet Strength
  • GS = Ground Strength
  • A ‘pair’ is 1 action and an energy


  • While you can aim for total specialization (only drafting fleet or ground units), you shouldn’t get too unbalanced. Your deck will always have some ability towards both (until you trim out your starting cards), but it’s easy to hose yourself. Being able to get 5-8 points in your weaker side means being able to threaten most core worlds.
  • You can survive low energy with an efficient deck. In fact, high early energy  means you’ve reshuffled extra starting cards back into the reshuffle, so that tends to work out.
  • Each invasion costs a number of one actions for each invading units, plus one. You save actions by unit efficiency. 3 Starfighters provide 3 fleet strength for 3 actions.  A Claw Fighter provides the same strength for the same energy, with only one action. (A few units let you deploy secondary units as part of the same action). The better units save actions, not energy. Small units can be split across turns (if you have a spare action but are short on energy) and can also be used if you are just shy of a breakpoint OR to qualify for a tactic card.

So, the fundamental tension is energy versus actions. Extra energy is useless if you haven’t drafted and need all your actions to place grunts. Likewise, action efficient cards are pointless if you run out of energy.  If you conquer worlds quickly, you’ll have plenty of energy but a) you won’t have drafted early cards to become more action efficient and b) your reshuffle will have lots of snubs and grunts. In this case  drafting an expensive card will improve your efficiency … on the next reshuffle. Similarly, if you’ve placed your snubs and grunts and conquered few (any?) worlds on T1-2, your deck will be tiny, but you wont have the energy to draft good cards. So you’ll need to conquer something.

If you are unbalanced between actions and energy, the natural strategy will rebalance you.

On the first two turns, your energy is a slight limitation. You have four actions; each action (generally) costs one energy, but you have 3 energy. You can always discard two cards for an extra energy, so unless you’ve drafted a card that costs 2 energy (or your hero does) you can always play 4 cards a turn, or play 3 and invade. So early game energy and actions are roughly equal.

You can easily survive not conquering a world on T1 and still play 4 cards on T2. (If you don’t get either energy surge on T1, its likely easy). Can you survive without a world going into T3? If you get a surge (+2 En) and discard 2 cards for another En, you have 3 cards, 6 energy, 5 actions. That’s 3 deployments, an invasion, and drafting a 2 cost card.  Or skip one deployment (like a grunt/snub) and draft a 3 cost card. This is probably only safe if you are sure you have an energy surge coming or hold a surge.

I wouldn’t go out of my way skipping worlds on the first two turns, but if the world doesn’t provide VP I’d consider it. This isn’t a normal deckbuilder, you need to grab VPs early on. A score of 35+ is good, and less can win, so 1-2 early points could make the difference. Early worlds don’t clog your deck much (although tossing back the non-colonized cards do count a bit).

Turns 3-8 you have 5 actions, but energy will fluctuate (you production could outpace costs, or vice-versa). The early midgame will see you energy limited, Later on you may be action or energy limited. That’s the tension.

Each player starts with 4 grunts, 4 snubs, 2 energy surges, 2 tactics cards (+2 strength if you have two infantry/starfighters), the medbot, your hero and the two cards you draft. The medbot deserves some mention, because it effectively lets you prepay an action and energy. If the medbot keeps around a 2+ energy card, it’s a great deal, but even keeping around a grunt/snub may be worthwhile, since it’s let you shift an action/energy pair from early (when they are balanced) to when they could be unbalanced. In essence, the medbot is a battery that could easily provide an energy Return on Investment if you use it for a non-base unit.

The homeworlds each have one different card:

Alpha Prime / Prince Aaron (2En) — Aaron adds +2 fleet strength for free, assuming you spend him with a starfighter, star cruiser, or capital ship. That means that he and a snub can conquer a 4 fleet world.  That’s enough fleet strength to take any Stage II world, and add a 2nd snub and your coordinated assault (+2 Fleet strength if you have two starfighters) provides 7 fleet strength, which is enough for most worlds. You easily boost your fleet a bit and just take over the heavy fleet worlds, but drafting infantry lets you threaten Ra. If you get a few big ships, Anu will fall easily enough.

Beta Prime / Lord Banner (2En)– Banner is 1 ground strength, and lets you spend an energy for another +2. He’s Aaron’s equivalent although early on the fact that you have to spend energy is tough. Banner is better later on (especially if you’ve trimmed out your grunts for robots or heroes, something Aaron can’t do). The advantage for Banner is that Aaron would have to spend two deploys to get 4 fleet strength, whereas you spend 1 deploy and an energy for 3 ground. Banner’s faction will want to have a bit more energy.

Gamma Prime / Chancellor Augustus (1En)– Augustus provides up to 3 energy to pay for infantry deployments. Note that playing him costs an energy and action (as always); my gut says it isn’t worth cycling him hard. Augustus does smooth out your energy, which is nice.  At worst, he’s an action to energy  converter (if you play and discard him on the same turn). Pay an energy or two early, and save the last point for the late game.

Delta Prime / Barron Viktor (1En)– Viktor converts starfighters into ground strength. Note that (according to the FAQ), you can’t use coordinated assault (or tight formation) on converted starfighters. So Viktor is little but flexibility, and a prime candidate for just sitting in your tableau until after your last reshuffle or to snag a great world. If Viktor does anything (except drafting fleet strength without starfighters) he’ll be well placed to take over Wotan (0FS/14GS), but unless you draft a lot of infantry it won’t be worthwhile.

Theta Prime / Simon the Fox (1En) — Fox lets you reuse a tactic card (not in the same invasion). Invade with coordinated assault, then invade again with Simon and coordinated assault again. Not bad, since tactic cards are efficient (2 strength for one energy and no actions, but have some requirements). Simon is least effective if you thin your deck out rigorously and force reshuffles. You still want to colonize each time you conquer a world, but if draft too many non-starfighters & non-infantry your tactics will become deadweight.

The initial draft —

Beast Rider — 2 GS for 2 energy still saves an action over 2 grunts. -1 cost if you have no other infantry is a nice bonus. Don’t draft this with another infantry, and colonize grunts. Good.

Twin Laser Fighter — 2FS for 2energy, but a harder discount condition to meet than the Beast Rider. OK. Good combo with the Star Cruiser.

Heavy Machine Unit — At its most efficient, its 4En for 4GS, with the only benefit that you can split the cost up between 2 turns. Leans you towards an energy hog. If it helps, it helps at the end, so I think this is bad. I suspect you’d toss this for energy the first time through the deck (or play it if you have a spare energy). I could reverse my thoughts after more games, because in the late game a 4 for 4 is pretty good.

Experimental Prototype — You must declare your target before you flip; and must conquer if possible (without spending tactics). Great if you energy hog and draft big cards (and no tactics). But early on this is likely a 2En for 1.7 FS. OK to bad

Jump Troopers — 2EN for 1+1. Balanced is nice, and saves an action over a snub/grunt pair. Good.

Recon Fighter — 1En for 1FS, or 1En + 1Action (on a prior turn) to draw 5 cards and keep one. An intriguing option that will be hard to use well, but lets you cycle quickly. This can be good, as you skip a bunch of chaff. Will be great in the endgame, particularly for a hoggy deck (which will have more chaff and a few good cards). Good, especially for Simon (as moving tactics from the deck to the discard is great).

Refitted Freighter — Like the beast, a 4En for 4FS. But better early on (because 2En/2FS instead of 3En/2GS). The downside is that this is a Star Cruiser, so can’t be medbotted.

Salvaged Battle Hulk — 4En for 3FS is OK, but this also turns any card into +1 energy (when it’s in your hand). Which is better than discarding 2 for one (which each player can do once/turn). I’m going to call this Very Good.

Sword Master — 1GS for 2En and spend 1 or 2 actions for +2GS each? Originally I wasn’t sold, but look at it this way. Deploying a grunt for +1GS is an action AND an energy.  Now, he costs 2 energy, so you effectively spend 2 pair for 3GS. Very good.

Troop Transport — 1En for 1GS and retain 1 infantry unit after invading (with the transport). Retaining the unit saves a pair (to redeploy) and makes your deck slightly better on reshuffle. So this is like a medbot with some offensive capability. The ideal use is to use Troop+2 Infantry, colonize one and save the other to colonize later. OK, since it requires a bit of comboing.

Workbot — Turns an action (to deploy the workbot) into 3 En. Great. I think it’s the best card in the draft. It’s flexible. Even if you only use the Workbot for a 2 cost card, it’s a nice deal. And note that later robots have synnergy (each robot reduces the cost of speedbots and makes the warbot better).

Repair Station — Either keep a vehicle or robot after an invasion (for 1 En) or keep the medbot or workbot (for 1En). If you just have a medbot, mediocre. If you got the workbot as well, your opponents deserve their loss. Realistically, getting this means you’ll want to draft a vehicle or robot quickly. The only vehicle in the draft is the troop transport, but getting those two is a good combo.

Finally, some random thoughts on the early game:

  • I haven’t tried spamming the 1En/0VP Sector I worlds, because by spending one extra energy/action pair I get a VP. But if you think of it as 9 pairs for 3 production and 3 colonizations, as compared to 8 pairs for 2 VP at the cost of one production and one colonization, it’s not so clear. (Particularly if you get an energy rebate). I think the VPs are better, but who knows?
  • If you hold a card on T1 and T2, you won’t shuffle on T3 but on T4 instead. Is that a good idea? Not unless you conquered lots of small worlds on T1/T2 and draft on T3. Pay attention to how holding a card (or not) causes a reshuffle.
  • The # of cards in a reshuffle is interesting. Too many, and you may not see that Sector IV card you drafted. Too few is rarer, but I’ve seen it happen (where someone didn’t colonize because then they’d only be able to draw 5 cards next turn).

Update — After another game I’ve got a bit more:

  1. Synergize. If you see a combo, take it. I mentioned Workbot+Repair Bot before, but having Superior Engineering (keep a capital ship after invading) and 3 capital ships including the world ship (which is hideously expensive but worth 5 VPs, 9 if deployed)  was decisive.
  2. You can go without a world until T3 or T4. In fact, I’m worried that ignoring Deck 1 may be powerful. Plan — Discard 2 cards, play 4. Energy Surge, play 4, Energy surge, Play 3, draft! At this point you’ll reshuffle and draw an energy surge or two because your deck is in your warzone. You do need to pound some worlds now, but if you got a workbot/augustus you can use your best unit cheaply and keep the grunts on the table indefinitely (taking them off to colonize or for the odd point). It has some pitfals hiccups, but can work.  You have to optimize for a low energy setup and run a trim deck.

Written by taogaming

April 7, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Strategy

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. I agree about combos. How much is it worth prioritizing drafting infantry and starfighters due to the 2 initial military tactics and the medbot (aka your initial combos)?

    It is difficult to get the discount for the beastriders unless you draw it on turn 1 (40% chance).

    I’m still not sold on the Swordmaster because there are few hero combo cards.

    I would spam Augustus if I picked up either the heavy machine gun or the assault infantry.

    Frederic Bush

    April 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    • 1) I’m not sure about prioritizing infantry/starfighters. But part of the reason I’m not sold on Troop Transport and a few others is that it doesn’t combo.
      2) The Beast Rider discount isn’t bad. Even if you don’t get him on T1, if you conquer a world early on T2 you can often clear your board of infantry. And even if you accept that will never happen, he’s still an expected first cost of 1.5 for 2. The Twin Laser Fighter is pretty much 2, unless you Refitted Freighter…
      3) Well, the best hero combo card is the Balthazaar World (2FS/2GS/1Production/1VP/+1 Production for each hero in your warzone) which is in Sector I. And, of course, the bonus VP for hero card. I’ll admit, I haven’t actually drafted him yet.
      4)OK, I can see that for Augustus.


      April 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      • Also, superior engineering is for cruisers, not capital ships (although there’s a 7-point cruiser out there!).

        Frederic Bush

        April 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  2. […] After another game, another re-evaluation of my thoughts… […]

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