The only choice in the set up is the characters – whilst for a novice player the additional actions of moving 1 or 2 slaves is the best option, the heart of this game is the winning no matter what and so if you are experienced then try to pick more challenging characters!
During The Game:
Keep on movin’ on; The top tip for this game is to keep moving. This is a game where you need to avoid losing and the main way to lose is overflow in the “plantations”. As the slave market delivers each turn you will potentially end up with them filling up and eventually overflowing. It won’t happen till turn 3-4 but the overflow could then be significant and unless you stem the losses, you will lose. However, mid-late game you are scoring and winning from movement in the north of the map – you are trading off the winning strategy with the not losing strategy and somehow you have to achieve both!
Pull from the coasts (slave catchers); As you move, one key mechanic is that the slave catchers (which push your slaves back to the next market delivery) move towards you! They move along a fixed route though and hence the opportunity arises to keep them in the centre of the map by pulling them each way every turn. Of course, at the start of each round one random slave catcher moves but that’s just an opportunity to push more pieces up the opposite coast!
Use a card each round; If you can’t afford a card, or don’t choose a card to play, then you have missed a trick! It’s almost necessary that you buy one each round to achieve the goal. These cards will help you move, help you earn, and buy support. The only round you buy one of these cards is where you remove the red cards! These negative cards sometimes need removing, but most of the time it’s worth just letting them resolve so you can buy more movement!
Get the fundraising right; Timing the fundraising is core to single and multiplayer. Why? You can earn around 8-12 from the green southern areas in each of the first two era’s fundraising tokens – if you earn less than this then it’s almost a wasted change. So you need to push tokens out into the right places before raising money; which might mean pushing slave catchers further north to free up space! If your playing multiplayer this also means playing the fundraiser based on both of you – perhaps funding at the end of your turn and then the start of their’s or perhaps funding just before you buy key tokens! Making the most of a 12 funding, by doing it twice across players, can really boost your chances.
Move for money; If the other player is fundraising, or your fundraising in other rounds (in the solo) then now is the time to move your pieces to the cities with $ signs on them. These cities give you money in the turn. This means you can gather up enough to buy that card or perhaps that last conductor token. You will need to time this and balance it with your overall objective.
Don’t be afraid of the catchers; In any turn, it’s likely that at least two of your pieces could be caught, but if you make sure only one is actually caught (i.e. not having two or more in a city near a catcher) then you are relatively safe. Each random roll of the catchers could lead to a catch, but that’s 1 in 5 for the right catcher and 1 in 6 for the right number of spaces. Don’t panic if all 5 could capture someone or if 1 could capture someone on any role of the movement dice!
Don’t forget your free action!; Your free actions are key – extra movement, extra money – it all contributes to the final win. This is a game where small increments lead to key victories and key timing. It’s crucial not to miss step these small free actions that otherwise push that other action back a turn and means you run out of time!
Lastly, if your playing as a team, I would add to the notes from the review – remember to try not to let one person “solve” the game! Good luck!