This is a cut throat game of bidding and placement – if you have played this a couple of times and keeping coming in with negative scores, these are my tips to steal the win!
During the Game:
Two Streets; This game is about spreading your risk. You almost certainly will not achieve the perfection of backing a complete street and having no exposure to an incomplete street. To get the best results spread yourself across two (but not three) streets and try to push the other players across all three streets. This will help them be invested in your success whilst giving them too much to do on the rest.
Big Permit Early; This is potentially controversial, but I would advise players to get the big permit out to the table early. If you over commit to a street and then someone plays this you are in trouble. If you play this early, you can always use the other permits to bring this back. As you improve in your bidding strategy you may be able to afford to let this slip until later in the game, but for me it has too much of an impact to leave it in play.
One Space; Some pieces can only go in one space. When you want to place a piece in that spot regardless of the bidding, you can pick such a piece to force the issue. You might even get paid for it by a player who doesn’t notice! Don’t, however, pick a piece like this and expect to get any money – or worse, pay for a piece you couldn’t put anywhere else. If you are thinking this doesn’t happen, because of the sand plots and the rules on building upwards, I see this at least once per game.
Sand Banks; Think of these as friendly places for moderate scoring. High numbers into the sand cannot be built upon but give you a firm foundation for the future. When you see a sand bank can be placed next, find a high number and secure the bid (or make some cash from the sale).
Swap Owners; It’s not just about gaining control of the buildings that score, but it’s about losing control of the buildings that will be negatives. Find your opponents pieces and bring them into play just when you can sabotage them and swap out your losses for theirs.
Don’t Overpay; Money is a closed system in this game – no new money during the game. Like all games of this type, that means that relative (and not absolute) value matters. When you have a dollar it is only valuable if your opponent is already poorer than you. If you have more dollars, spend frugally and your money will still go far.
Tighten the Supply; During the game you can take money out of the game during your turn. When you have more money than others this is a way to increase the absolute value of every dollar you have. Use this to increase your control and score points at game end.
Money Auctions; Sometimes the best tile is the one you don’t care about but your opponents do. Let them bid up the price, and as auctioneer you can profit by simply taking the money of the most full-hardy player. These are good times to sell pieces.
Count the Roof Tiles; There are only so many roof tiles and only so many of each number. You know how many are needed to complete the streets and whether the ones left are worth more than the one you are holding. Judge where you should place and how by what is left. Completing your neighbour’s house makes sense if it is still better for him to put the 6 roof on your house next round.
Double Low; Just like the big permit, I would try to minimise the swing factor of this. Pick a short street, and pick a low points score. The more the mayor’s hat doubles a potentially high value street, the more the game becomes a zero some game about whether that street completes or not. Keeping the spread of the points across the map will generally favour strategic play.
Own a Company; Getting above zero is important, but owning a company is only good if you don’t get ransomed into losing all your cash. Buy nice and early for a reasonable price. Even a small company is worthwhile. Watch out though, owning all the companies sounds good but that can be a lot of negative points and usually is!