The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘The City

Random Initial Strategy Thoughts on Jump Drive

My credentials.

General Thoughts

Jump Drive is a (mini)-game of combos.

Income is good, but since Jump Drive is so short (6-7 turns) it is easy to over-prioritize. This isn’t Puerto Rico (or even Race!) where early throughput dominates early VPs.

The reason early VPs count? Apart from game length early VPs are VP income. (VPs/turn), not one time items.

Income can trump VPs if you can convert them.

Jump Drive is short enough that delaying income (to explore for a big play on the following turn, or by only playing a single card, or by putting down a big VP card) pays off. Delaying income to make a good scoring play is fine. Better than fine if that also gives discounts.

In particular:

  1. Spending everything for early income may work out well. Or the draw may miss you. Saving income for one turn to hold a great card often pays off. I’m surprised how often I drew 14 cards on my last turn and only had plays worth <5 points. (You can win those games if your prior turn was great).
  2. Playing only one card may cost you a point of income but it saves you a card (or rebates one) which balances out for a single turn. If the card you saved combines you’ll ramp up faster than many blind draws.
  3. Exploring nets you 2 cards plus income and digging lets you find/enhance a combo. Ideally you drop a big Dev or some other huge item to start scoring (or catch back up in income while getting points, or overtake income). I haven’t seen a double explore win … yet. I suspect it can happen.
  4. Discounts can be as good/better than income, particularly on a final turns. All the income or military in the world won’t let you play a 9 dev and a world, but investment credits may let you play two cards. A -1 Dev discount is equivalent to 1 card a turn, if you play a dev every turn. But if you don’t have cards lined up to take advantage of the discount, or have low income in general, you’ll run out of cards.

Remember — Jump Drive doesn’t limit you to one for each type of development (or world). In my first few games I automatically discarded duplicates, but you know what? Investment Credits means my next Investment Credits is free, even if I play a world! Cards self-combo!

Jump Drive is a geometric(ish) growth game. I had one game where it was nearly perfect. 1-2-4-8-15-31 .  Naturally, that means that my eyes gravitated towards cards that do not have a fixed VP, but score 1 per something. That means when you slap down a card that triggers it, you get the new card’s VPs and boost your existing cards.

You don’t need to focus on that. Cheap cards score 0-1 (maybe 2) points, mediums score 3-6, and the big devs score 10+. You’ll get a geometric-looking progression with arithmetic cards. Don’t discount dropping some Alien world for 5-7 points a turn ASAP.

The question is “will the game go six or seven turns?” Obviously if you can break 50 on T6 aim for that, but if you can’t or it will take a lucky draw, gauge the other tableau(s). With more players, the odds that someone will go out means you may want to take the higher risk/reward path and hope for a lucky draw.

If you are wrong, well, it’s a fast game.

I had assumed that T6 wins would just scrape fifty, but you can blow past it with a good combo or a bit of luck.  (The few five turn wins I’ve see scrape 50. Turn six scores can be large). It’s not too early to start thinking about VP on turn 2 or 3. After that, score score score!

There’s a time value of VP, since they score per turn.

A card that scores 10 VP a turn on your last turn is roughly the same as 2VP a turn on turn 2. A card that scores 10 VP a turn on your penultimate turn is equivalent to 5 a turn two turns earlier.  As with income, you can delay VP for a good deal. Giving up 5 this turn for 10 next turn is equal if the game ends next turn. If it goes on, well, that’s a no brainer.

The opening

Survey Team isn’t a consolation prize. +1 Military and $1.  Its great, particularly holding a 1-defense world. Survey team effectively saves a card (you still pay a card, but you get that from the game, not from your hand). Discard a weak card, plop down your 1-defense world, keep 3 cards, and draw two more (assuming your world gives 1 income). With two defense 1 worlds in my opening (there are seven in the deck, I think), this is solid.

As I’ve stated, don’t discount an explore. You’d end up with seven cards (from ten) which means you could drop something like Lost Species Ark World (2VP/$4) or a combination like Mining Conglomerate (-1 cost for brown, 1VP/brown world, $1) and a decent brown world. Both respectable starts and if you have a terrible opening (one about every ten games, roughly) its probably better than keeping three directionless cards and hoping you draw your future.

I’ve seen a decent mix of Survey Team openings (typically with a miltary world), single dev, single world, dev + world, and a few explores. (Like you would expect from Tom, all roads are viable).

Look for a combo. Preferably one that either gives you good income or sets up a guaranteed play next turn (ie, you can play a card you kept, only switching out of something better comes along). As I always say of Race “I just do what the cards tell me.”

Opening Cards of Note:

Galactic Advertisers are solid opening, with $2 a turn and a discount for Galactic Trendsetters (which score double the square you have) and a few other bonus’s trigger if you have an advertiser. They will often have a combo in an opening hand and even if you don’t have a combo in hand, you’ll likely draw one, because something like 1 card in twelve has one.

Uplift Researchers — These score $1/chromosome and 1VP/per, and provide a chromosome, and there are three of them in the deck. Typically these are turn 2 card (playing a chromosome world T1) and you are off. Again, there are enough chromosome worlds that even if you don’t have a combo in hand, this provides enough money you hope to get one … and it’s a geometric card. It’s too expensive to play of T1 (unless I have the 0 cost two chromosome world to play on T2). I’ll chuck this if I don’t see how I’ll play it on T2 or T3, but Uplift Researchers shows up in winning tableaus frequently, possibly because this is a fine mid-game card for many random military builds just aiming to drop anything that scores or gives points.

Consumer Markets is a cheaper version of this for novelty worlds, but it isn’t a novelty world. So you can’t just plop down two+ consumer markets and have them buff each other. (Still, the TaoLing’s biggest win was 2x Consumer Markets, Free Trade Association, and blue worlds).

Survey HQ — similar to Uplift Researchers, but instead of chromosome’s its pairs of explore icons. And, what do you know, Survey team gives two. It’s a slower growth, but same idea.

Space Marines — I spend a few dozen games automatically tossing these into the discard. No VP. No Income, just two military, when I can get one military from Survey Team? Well, the road from +1 military to +3 isn’t nearly as easy as I’d hoped, and to get to the big worlds you’ll likely need this or a Drop Ships.

War Propaganda — +1 Military, 3VP & $1 a turn, but it moves to whoever has the biggest military each turn before scoring. Not be scoffed at since it’s cheap. Play this on T1, conquer a +1 Mil world (or the +2 military world, if you have it and a good target next turn). Not much income but with a few more worlds to conquer you can make that up and a huge start on VP. In fact, this card is one reason to keep Space Marines.

Comet Zone — 3 cards a turn income is not to be scoffed as a turn one play (and you’ll get a rebate). If you can play this and keep a mining conglomerate or some brown combo (or just a big VP card that you can play after getting T1 income + Explore + T2 income) that’s fine. Playing it and hoping to draw a combo or target is certainly viable.

Trade Pact — In a 4er game, I’d be tempted to gamble on this hitting and letting you drop a 5 cost card on T2. Or you could play this and a small world. The VP/turn is a nice bonus, which may push you over fifty on T6.

Replicant Robots — No income, so you presumably are planning on using your discount next turn for a world that provides it. Also, 2VP a turn gives you a good shot at hitting T6.


Obviously in the endgame you ignore income considerations entirely. Big cards are key. And they can be be big. Galactic Federation scores 2VP per dev for you and 1 for an opponent. Costs 9 (8 if you don’t play a world, which is typical).  This can average 10-15 pretty easily on the last turn. But a Galactic Salon (6 cost, 5VP a turn, -1 Dev discount) 2-3 turns earlier, that’s the same, and it provides a discount.

Endgame cards can be mid-game cards with an explore to save up. If your opponent plays “Your” development and can score it as well, then that’s probably it. TaoLing dropping Galactic Imperium to score all his 1-2 defense uplift worlds and the worlds my 9 military conquered was ugly.

Written by taogaming

February 17, 2017 at 10:33 pm

Unconditionally Surrendering A Love Letter to The Hanseatic Cities

Played Training Scenario 1 of Unconditional Surrender against a person. It took maybe 30 minutes (he’d read the rules online), and 10 of that was setup.  30-40 minutes per turn (Training Scenario 1 is really half a turn) seems reasonable, at least for smaller scale stuff, so we’re going to try and play France 1940 or the Balkans in a week or two.

Played another game of Rasta Electronica (the name of my next band). I asked to reduce the VP value of the tokens to zero, and it was a good change, I think. People still fight over them, but the “Take two cities, grab a token, put the next one between your two cities” gambit looses tome value (because people are content to just block it, instead of blocking and grabbing). And the tokens kind of peter off mid game as people concentrate on points. This game will likely make the 50 by 50 list, but probably in a few years.

Also played Love Letter and the City.

And over the weekend got in another game of Mage Knight. I was rusty and made bad choices, so the TaoLing scored ~50 points more than me (although he gave up half of that in wounds). Good thing it was a co-op.

Written by taogaming

April 28, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Why I’ve got little to say

I’m playing the same games over and over. Right now I have five Quarters for the year, and only one of them (Coup) is short (and I have almost 50 plays of that). Netrunner is fairly fast (~20 minutes) but  I’m over 80 games so far. The others are Bridge (2-3 hours per session), Sentinels of the Multiverse & Mage Knight,

At my current rate, The City is likely to make it to 25+ games but that’s it.

And none of the newer games have really captured my attention (except Federation Commander).

I suppose at some point I could write a few thousand words about The City, but honestly I’m not sure that anything I say would be non-obvious. I do believe that fountains win slightly more than any of the alternate strategies, possibly because of the number of synergy cards.

But that’s all I’ve got right now.

Actually, while I’m rambling I’ve slightly burned out on Bridge, and have cut back my number of club games in the last month or two. It was bound to happen after ~5 years of pretty constant play. Having a terrible regional didn’t help.

Also, while I’m thinking about it. Congrats to David Grainger on his first (US) National Victory. (He’s won a Canadian National event). I met David at the Gathering this spring, and he was at the San Antonio Regional, where his team unsurprisingly destroyed mine in the evening Knock Outs.

Written by taogaming

August 17, 2013 at 11:13 am

Living Just Enough …

… for The City.

At the bonus game day I managed to get in 3 games of The City. The shame of the City is that it’s a german city, full of Engomlecht and Beningbotten and “juede wuerte,” and just enough foreign language to feel really offputting. I’ll be printing out the English paste ups pretty soon and sleeving them with the cards, which will hopefully get the game more play.

As Larry Levy once said, “Just like Tom to build a filler with a learning curve.” The city is a primal “Build Money then convert to VP” engine, with enough different cards and combinations to make the 8 buildings you create interesting. I just wish I could get a copy in English.

Rating — Suggest.

Also played two more games of Eclipse, and a game of Starship Merchants. Still enjoying those. (We’re seeing more early/midgame attacking and traitors in Eclipse, which makes it more interesting).

Finally, got in another game of Age of Industry, and it’s growing on me. Shockingly (for a Wallace game), cash feels a bit too free. And the rules just don’t stick in my mind as well as other games, but I’ve upped my rating. It’s a (mild) suggest. I do like that (for the expansion) all the relevant changes are printed on the map. About time.

Written by taogaming

August 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm