If you haven’t played Coimbra yet, then it is worth just giving it a go before looking into the strategy tips (oh and check out my review). On the other side of that first game though, there are many paths to victory and here are my thoughts on the best of them and the best ways to play them:
During the Game:
Objectives; During the course of the game it would be easy to collect four of the six objective cards through purchase at the end of the round. However, these objective cards are big points scorers at the end of the game and there are plenty of strategies which will benefit from taking a fifth or even sixth objective. How then? Well using the tile that allows you to buy an extra objective and to buy all those bought this round at a discount. The discount helps, but the resource drain is material.
Scoring Tracks; The scoring tracks are points at the end of the game but only for ordinal position – i.e. first, second …. The issue then is that chasing up these scoring tracks can be a futile effort. Coming second is a meaningful drop in points, and to that end you will either want to come first once or come second three times. Don’t slip into third too often, and don’t chase first place in two columns without a fall back strategy.
Map Movement; Moving the monk on the map is a strategic play, but it can be tactical. Moving the monk to push up scoring tracks just before an income, or moving it to create an opportunity to score points in a certain order. Using this movement is the mark of really good play.
Late Game Scrolls; Scrolls are small amount of bonus points at the end of the game. A tertiary feature to each card picked up. At the end of the game though you need to watch these, and look for the opportunity to pick up one that you don’t have already. Scrolls are simple set collection, and that last marginal scroll is a big points bonus – in the last action of the last turn, it’s almost certainly better than the actual value of the card.
Castle Currency; Sometimes you just have to accept that there is no way to square the circle. There is no way to get enough income through the mechanics available in the normal part of the game – you have to take a targeted action to gain currency. Taking the castle currency is a way to nimbly shift across the necessary resources to steal the key card that came up during the game – even at an expensive cost.
Colours of the Dice; These are key for income. Mix these for most rounds, but always try to find a way to grab the white dice. Players underestimate the ability to react to others’ actions and in this one small way you can make the final choice of the round.
Sneak in Front; Jumping the queue for card selection is expensive but important. If a player leaves a high value dice in the tray then there is always the opportunity to pay above the odds but to secure the choice of card. Sometimes, the second dice you pick will be the high dice to jump the queue. If your strategies overlap then this is a good way to jump in and cause damage but at the same time you get the benefit. Sneaking in front is mainly for later rounds as the overlap gets worse. Using it is rare, defending against it should be thought about with every dice selection.
Income for Objectives; Cards and objectives will come with different currencies and you will need both. I say this not because it isn’t obvious but if you combine this with the above points this means you should either try to maximise (and be top) on one income – using the castle tile for the other. Or you should aim to be second in both columns and at least one other column. You need to define this part of the strategy from the start! If you go for the max on one income type then look out for the cards that will allow you to get bonuses from that income – these will be key to the win.