If you have not played Crisis, this is a game of an economy on the brink of collapse while you try to make a profit. Therefore my thoughts are focused to the varying success of keeping the game running to a positive end (and not having the economy collapse) and then trying to snatch the win…
During the Game:
Leverage; This game allows you to take loans to invest. As the game intends for you to build the engine through each round, an early investment in your own cash funds can be a significant boost to your gameplay. The more players, the bigger the impact as players scramble to have enough money for buildings and workers by turn three. Indeed this is so much so that in the higher player counts you may want to get the first player space just to use it to take leverage in the second or third turns.
Late Stage Building; This game is going to run away from you but the buildings that come out later are more efficient. The game rewards you for just about getting through and being in a position to capitalise on the final rounds. Try to earn points to stay near the objective, but keep a store of cash and some basic resources in order to score big on chemicals and other complex resource contracts from the final buildings. A little knowledge of the late stage buildings and markets goes a long way!
Market Contracts; Everything about these matters. How many goods you can sell, how many contracts there are and also in what order players will be able to select them. Placing a piece on this area early might seem aggressive but being able to block the other player from the last bread contract can be the difference between winning and losing (even if it meant you made less bread). At the end of the day, if you can’t ship then there is no point to producing it!
Sell Early; A common mistake from new players is to not participate in market sales for the first few rounds. However, selling resources through the contracts is how you will keep up with the ever increasing goal. If you can sell a few goods each round or a lot every other round then this will help you keep up. This is even more important if the economy is going to sink as you can still win by being ahead of the goal at the end when no-one else is.
Sustainable Economy; Try to take a few basic resources that produce higher grade resources, and then feed into the later stage buildings as inputs. If you can generate power one round, to use it in the next three rounds, this will set you apart from the other players buying power piecemeal each round. To that end, your labour force should be permanent and well purposed to your buildings. Try to get the double usage workers, and reduce your reliance on that special robot worker who is only yours for one turn and cost a whole worker placement.
Efficiency; The challenge is to run an efficient economy – a few buildings, a few workers, a few inputs and a maximum output. Buying buildings is costly, buying inputs takes time, but if you can use the workers you have to make a big impact from a single processing then you can pay for a couple of rounds in one go!
5th Meeple; In a worker placement the conventional wisdom is to get the extra worker as soon as possible. However, the worker is a product of the economy and the expensive buildings. It’s almost an acknowledgement that these economies are harder to run and need more actions. Used well, that player will excel in the final rounds but it’s a tough journey to get there and best reached in rounds 3-4 as a gradual development of the strategy. It is not essential for the win.
Money + VP; These are the buildings I look out for. Money will fund the rest of your economy and other purchases, and if the VP can be multiplied by your workers then these buildings can be a steady contributor to your score – and you don’t even have to visit the market. Run well, it saves you actions and gains you enough points.
Slingshot; I said it in the review – ideally you really on the other players to fund the short term, and you fund the long term with a better engine. However, be careful that you don’t bring an early game to the end – you have to try to build for the correct finish and loading too much debt / too much of an engine can leave you with too big a mountain to climb in order to win.
Narrow Victories; Ina similar to vein to the slingshot – if you are going to be above the target at the end of the round, only be ahead of it narrowly. The economy can take slight knocks, and it can even make resources cheaper. You will want to be ahead in case the game ends abruptly, but only marginally ahead such that you are investing enough in resources and money which will fund your future growth.
Shady Business; Look out for the cards and trigger the opportunities for free resources. You might just ship them or build them into your economy, but I think it’s worth trying to be ahead in the rounds when these cards are available. Ultimately it can help the leaders to compensate for the slingshot strategy of other players, and can even mean that they snowball to the win!