If you have not played this city builder yet and don’t know whether to go for it – check out my review for how the game works and feels.
Otherwise, here’s my thoughts on the tactics for the game…
During the Game:
Chain Game; This is a game with a trickle down points system and making sure those points trickle down to you is key. You want to ensure that when an item delivers to a prestige building you own at least two parts of the chain. It’s important to own as much of a few changes as possible. Owning these chains is not enough though, you must then prioritize that these are the chains that deliver the most often. More on that part below!
Houses; The next step in this plan then is to have influence at the prestige votes to get the building you want and place it where you need it. To do this you will need passing influence or lasting influence. The first of those is best to get from the houses; every vote called by others will give you income which includes the influence from houses. In a limited influence game this is enough to ensure you have a good chance of winning some of the votes. Get one before the first vote if you can as this will set you up for the rest of the game – an early house strongly helps your chances!
Call to Vote; Once you need cards back, you will need to vote. Think about taking some basic actions for influence in order to win your vote, or be willing to lose your votes and focus on being well placed for other peoples’ votes. You don’t need to win every vote but about half of them should see you through!
Keep Track; Knowing your enemy isn’t just for war games. If you know the cards the other players have left you can make the most of them (being ready to follow) or counter them by blocking their move on the map. These tactics will get advanced players further ahead – a call to vote might allow a prestige building that blocks your opponents road network, or a recruit might give you lasting influence just before your opponent calls their vote!
Basic Actions; Sometimes though the basic actions are the best for the situation. You know your opponent is going to play develop and you can upgrade as a follow. You also know that one player around the table can upgrade twice – playing a basic action to gain influence or money might be better than letting two upgrades happen in quick succession. Also, basic actions have no follow, which can block cash hungry players!
Early Upgrade; Get access to another player’s basic resource and combine it with yours for the early upgrade, it will block them out and make you more likely to own the chain of resources for the victory point delivery above. An early upgrade is also much harder to follow – when players lack access or money!
Blocking Access; Keeping others away from your resources by placing them on the most expensive region can be key. In the green / stone tiles the follow action does not allow the player to gain access – they could on the coast or in the entrance tiles. This means that players needing access to your goods will have to play their own trade card to get them, slowing them down and giving you more opportunities to develop first! They will also have to pay you more for the access!
Recruit in Poverty; Recruiting gives you more cards between votes (can be positive or negative), gives you an improved action (strictly better) and gives you a lasting influence. Given the usefulness of spending that influence to win prestige buildings, and the importance of this for the end game – I would advocate getting a few of these during the game and spending them on influence. The extra point at the end is tempting, but the importance of the chain game is key! Recruiting when other players have no money is a good way to maximise the benefit – preventing them from following.