A random Lord, two random quests and two intrigue cards give you a starting point in this game. However, there are a few more tips through the game that you need to think about…
During the game:
Use the Harbour: The harbour is a great tactic for new and old players alike. You get to play an intrigue card and you get to take an extra action at the end of the round. Those extra actions will often get you a couple of basic adventurers (knights or rogues), but most importantly this can be a good way to steal the first player marker or indeed to take a quest as you build up. The other one to watch out for is the money – often neglected but worth one point for every two coins these options can fund buildings, some adventures or indeed nudge you into the lead at the end.
Be a Builder: There is only one space where you can build a new location, and whilst early game these seem unimportant, the builders are often rewarded in the middle and late game. The longer the buildings are left the more victory points for building them – this means there is normally three points on offer from turn three onwards. Also, when turn five kicks in and everyone gets an extra meeple – the builders of the early game will more often be rewarded with the bonuses for owning a tile another player used. This can be a great late game way of getting points or key resources. Typically bonuses of points, money or one of two types is best. Bonuses of a fixed type are much more limiting as you cannot depend on them and they can be avoided by the other players if they are obviously key.
Get the quests early – but watch out for player count: Getting quests early is a solid plan – you never know when good ones will come back around or indeed if someone else will steal the ones you want. However two things to note in higher player count (i) it’s more likely that the reset trigger is used and all four revealed quests are removed and (ii) you won’t be able to complete as many quests. Smaller player counts give each player more meeples and give each player more chances to complete quests. Higher counts make scarcity a bigger problem and drive to lower scoring games. Watch out for that if you have extra players (extra tip that Ambassador and other extra piece bonuses are more important in higher player counts!)
When to play certain cards: When looking through your intrigue cards watch out for the opportunity for your opponent to give up coins or adventurers to score points. The card relating to Wizards can give them 5 points for just one adventurer (4 bonus to end game) or the tax collector can give a one for one conversion for coins! Play them when your opponent cannot use the bonus!
Scarcity: Early in the game, start to work out what people are going for and what is going to be scarce. Getting those scarce resources and taking starting player to do it is key to this game. Of course the other option is reduce the scarcity by building the relevant option – this can give you bonuses and help you continue to complete those quests.
Lord Bonus: The lord bonus is helpful but not all Lords are born equal. Watch out for the building Lord who is more capped than the others, also watch out for ones where there is an overlap with another player – focus your energy on the lord bonus you don’t have in common!
Chain effects: Some quests give you future bonuses; extra intrigue, extra points, extra resources – get these early. More complex chains though can also be built from quests that give you more of another type – a type you need to complete the subsequent quests. watch out for quests outside your bonus that give you more of a type you need!