A Few Words on Colony Strategy
I haven’t played nearly enough to warrant this, and its not a hyper deep game, but I am amused. So here are my thoughts on Colony Strategy. I don’t have much experience with Attack cards, because the TaoLing prefers to leave them out (so, not much experience with Defense, either).
Upgrades — Right now I’m very consistently upgrading Construction (so you can build 2+ cards a turn OR get 2 CHIPIs instead of one unless you build). The TaoLing likes to upgrade the upgrade card. I originally scoffed at this (all this does is save you a single die when you upgrade), but the died that it saves you is a ‘1’, and there’s no way to get a one die consistently. So I still scoff, but a bit less. The problem is that you the construction upgrade allows for come from behind victories (which need multiple buildings in a turn) and it gets you extra dice. Balanced against that, it isn’t a VP, but that’s not necessarily a downside, given the come-from-behind ability to discard a card. If I have a roll for an early upgrade, I upgrade Construction (unless I can buy a good building).
I rarely Warehouse or Supply Exchange. Or Upgrade.
The dice situation — The basic cards are the “big money” strategy of Colony. If you buy a 2-6 die (the 3-5 are the cheap ones) then you get a) an unstable die and b) a VP. If you upgrade that you get to stabilize a die and another VP. These are good deals. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them auto-buys, because many of the cards that vary each game cost less for similar effect. Often you’ll want to get another die and then a blue card that can stabilize a die. (The pawn shop turns any die into a stable 5, the Recycling Bin lets you turn an unstable die into a chip, the Tweaker stabilizes a die while it adjusts a pip, etc). You can just pile on unstable dice, but some manipulation is in order. I’ve spent a game cursing my inability to roll a two.
One nice thing about the game is that I’ve seen some games where you win with just a single extra die (or so) card, using manipulation or big VP cards to score. There do seem to be a reasonable number of strategies.
Don’t be afraid to turn two dice into one that you’ll need (usually a 1,2, or 6).
CHIPIs — You can get too many of these, (especially if you upgrade construction, as I do), so I spend them somewhat aggressively in the early game.
The early lead — Because you can discard a card to get unstable dice equal to the difference between you and the leader, jumping up to an early lead isn’t necessarily good. In my last game the TaoLing grabbed up the Prize Vaults and then upgraded them for a quick lead. But I simply sacrificed my upgrade card for 8! unstable dice and used them plus a warehouse to buy three fallout shelters (already having one). Lead demolished. If you have an early lead it’s better to build up a few more dice (etc) and try to push for the win later, instead of building up an exploitable VP point lead.
Fallout Shelters — These don’t grow strictly triangular (1-3-6-9-12-16), but are basically 2 VP a pop until you get to the fourth. The problem is that you can’t really upgrade them efficiently. Still, grabbing an early shelter can start an arms race because people do not want you to monopolize them.
Thoughts on the numbers (yes, the do have differences!)
You need a ‘2’ (or two) for every basic die producing card! You never need a ‘1’. In fact, you always need a ‘2’ for a green cards, and only the Experimental Generator (1VP, 1CHIPI/turn) requires ‘1’.
Exchange cards (blue) all need at least a pair of ‘4s’. Trade cards (purple) need a pair of ‘3s’. Attack cards need ‘5s’ and ‘1s’. Paragon/Scoring cards (orange) need ‘6s’. Defensive cards need ‘5s’.
Thoughts on individual (non-basic) cards:
Scrap Shack — 6-2-2 gets you a 5 when built and an unstable 1. Great deal. Cheapest die in the game.
The Black Market‘s ability to turn 1 die into 2 (or three) while stabilizing and preserving pips is useful. In particular, it let you make 6=1=1=1=1 or 6=2=2=2=2 combinations to get fallout shelters. But it is expensive.
The Pawn Shop, Stabilizer, and Recycling Bin all basically let you stabilize a die. The Pawn shop turns it into a five, or lets you turn a (stable) five into whatever. The Bin makes it a CHIPI (which lets you ignore storage limits, but may be an issue if are at the limit of 3), and the Stabilizer just stabilizes anything. All useful. I like the Recycle bin because it upgrades and lets you spend all your CHIPIs each turn, and if you don’t get a great roll, you just convert them back.
I’m not a huge Transmogrifier fan. One more cost for a re-roll. But the upgraded version is nice. The Tweaker‘s ability to stabilize and modify is great.
Trade cards effectively give you a die (assuming you are in a 3+player game you’ll likely be able to trade) and give a bonus VP (2VP + 1 if upgraded, instead of 1+1).
I had a question about Gambling Den, now that I understand it I think its OK.
Time Lock Vault — First of all, any three dice gets a VP, so if this is in the game buy unstable dice if other people aren’t snapping these up. Cheaper to buy these than upgrade your warehouse. Also, this lets you build a big turn, which may let you avoid jumping out to a VP lead (or let you coat-tail an opponent).
Prize Safe — Game changers. These are nine dice (5+4 upgrade) for usually 5-6 VP, but you could get unlucky. Or you could get lucky and get 4 VP for 5 dice. Do not upgrade prematurely.