I see a few people say that this game has a clear single approach to the game’s strategy and I have to say I am not sure that’s true. When I think about the games of Escape Plan so far I think about a number of variables that can be used and a lot of situational benefits. With that in mind, here’s a few of the tactics I would look at:
During the Game:
Manage the Damage; Taking too much damage can be punishing in this game as you lose items / item slots when you are caught too many times. There is no way that you will not take damage in this game, so you need to be ready to use your free heal once or twice in the game, plus probably another means of healing through a card or other action (e.g. Hospital). Make the turns spent healing count for something, and knowing that you will need to heal, plan your journey to be able to!
Get Extra Actions; The extra actions are significant. Having two more actions in the game than another player would be huge – even if one of them is just to cover for the rest you need to take. The easiest way is to flip the asset that you are given at the start of the game – this costs money but gives you end game points and an extra turn. Aside from this, you will get it from visiting 3 safe houses or from visiting 3 businesses from a group. these are good but harder to get both. You will probably get 3 extra actions in the game, perhaps a 4th if lucky. More may mean that you are going too far out of your way for these actions.
Take Extra Actions; I think that one big mistake is to hold the extra actions for the final round. It can be very difficult to use all your actions on the final day – not wanting to move too far from the exit and needing enough income to come out last. So take some of your extra actions earlier in the game and perhaps just have the basic three turns in the final round – using it as a chance to get out early rather than taking extra turns there.
Key & Locker; Clearly the biggest single points strategy on the board – if you are playing with a high number of cards in your player board then you will get lots of choices when you raid the lockers. So, a big part of the game that I can see being present regardless is to get 4-5 cards by the late game and raid the two highest value safes for some big prize money. The certainty of high values and the benefit of the cards for movement and end points all comes together really nicely. You can combat this with visiting the businesses for money and actions, but this will be situational as to whether safe houses and stores come out early.
Income Early / Prize Money Late; The other key mini-strategy is that you want the businesses that score you income to come out early and the ones that score you points to come out later. The earlier you go to the income ones the more income you get, but the order of the points scoring placements are irrelevant. Therefore this is a clear advantage to play in this way, but it’s only possible if you pick up the tiles with businesses and place the preferred business on there. The risk is that you never get to the other businesses and score less points! I would only actively worry about this for the first income of the game – if that’s your first building then you will have enough money regardless of when you get to the second!
Moving the Police; The police are not just there to stop your movement but to stop your opponent. Manipulate the police to be the type that you can move past and push the police that your opponent struggles with towards them. Also if you know that they are heading to a store to get the safe then pushing the police towards the store can be worthwhile. Moving the police can be triggered by notoriety but also by the cards drawn – it’s important to use these opportunities against all opponents and not just the one triggering it.
Increase Notoriety; High notoriety means that your token passes through steps to unlock assets and eventually extra actions. If you can do this quickly there is a lot of extra opportunities from early actions and from additional assets. This is the reason players go for high notoriety, but there’s a danger to this once at the top – extra notoriety causes damage and as per my first comment, damage is very dangerous already!
Low Notoriety; The opposite is to go for a low notoriety strategy. There’s a lot of disadvantages to this, but of course there is a cost to notoriety at the end of the game. Avoiding that cost is the critical part of this strategy. In the interim you will want to move up and down over the 2-3 notoriety bonus to unlock assets, and then end the game below two. It can also give you some bonuses early game if you can keep the notoriety low.
Assets & Contracts; Filling up the areas gives you in game advantages on movement or control of the police, assets can offer additional bonuses as well. The big addition is that this will start to give you additional points for the end of the game. Doing this thought requires that you clear the assets early in the game though and hence a clear notoriety strategy is required.
Rest Little; Resting is helpful to refresh your cards / tiles, but the reality is that this costs you a turn. These are precious and whilst a rest on turn 4-5 is probable, there is no need to rest twice. Position yourself to cope with one rest in the whole game if you want to be in the final run down.
Turn Order; This matters more than you expect – the control of the map is important at times and so this can become instrumental. This is particular for day 3 so be aware that notoriety will determine turn order and it may be worth gambling to control where the exit is.
Get out early; My preference is to get our early. Turn 2 of day 3 is a great time to go if you are going to be first. However, this is a key choice – low income and get out early, or higher income but 1-2 extra turns in the final day before getting out. I think it’s a balanced choice and both can win.