So – if you haven’t read my review on Container, go check it out as I flesh out some of the major actions that each player can take in thier turn. However, if you are familiar, then let’s dive right in on my thoughts as to strategy:
Block the Broker: I have been playing with the investment bank included, and frankly I think it’s a great addition. However, I think this can be a super useful action for strategic purposes. Manufactured and got some spare containers? Cash in! Got cash but want a few crates for the end game – call the broker and store them in your infinite warehouse that the broker has for you. All this means it’s also a powerful card for your opponent and people can always out bid to gain the broker. What I like to do is look out for when another player might call the broker – someone short on cash but long on crates, or the reverse. I can’t stop them out bidding me, but if I set the broker to buying the crates for my cash, then they can’t reverse that call for a whole turn. It’s got to be useful for me, but it should also be the opposite directional trade (crates to cash or the reverse) of what the rest of the table wants. This is also when the broker will be cheapest.
Factory Dominance: The end game is contorlled by running out two of the crate supplies. That immediately makes it attractive to be the major producer in the game. However, as with any dominance in this game – if you want it, you should invest early. Get three factores pretty early game and (i) that one buck to the union will go further, plus (ii) there really isn’t much point in others rushing to compete with you on production. Hopefully this means you can really start to set the price for most goods as well as restricting the supply when you need to.
Warehousing: Same story – buy up to about three early, but less important than for Factory Dominance in my view. That said there is something I think the warehouse player should try to do – buy from your left. When they manufacture (to replace the goods you just bought), they have to pay 1 buck to the player on thier right – that’s you! So by buying off the player who has to pay you to manufacture, it will feel like a permanent discount on thier goods. For me, this also means if I see the player in that position go for manufacturing early game, I am tempted to go warehousing!
Storage King: In this game, you need to know when to ship. Therefore you will be storing goods on your boat or in your broker warehouse for parts of the game. Storing lots of one type perhaps, or a deliberate spread? If you want to get some of a colour to your spot on the island, shipping two might be easier than shipping one – players who already have some of that colour will really undervalue grouped goods becuase they have to through away the colour they have the most of – therefore it’s easier for you to win the bid. Want more cash? Diversify, because then players will value that shipment more. Not only are you storing goods to manage the auction in this way, but you are storing goods to see whether there is a lot of money available to players now or not. Three auctions where the shipping player bought the goods = less money in the game and cheaper for the next shipper to buy goods. Three auctions where the shipper sold to another player = lots more money in the economy and much easier to sell the goods than buy!
Colour In Need: The other thing to note as both the “reseller” – the person buying for goods in the warehouse – and as the shipper is the least populace crate colour on the island (and Investment Bank), because it will be worth something to someone. I would argue if you are at the manufacturing stage it’s harder to exploit this – you might get an extra buck but not much. As a reseller, this is the good you are pricing at the highest level and as a shipper this is the good that should fetch multiple bids. If you need this colour though, you should buy it from the investment bank if you can – I suspect that will be your cheapest route.
Trapping Goods: That said, there might not be a single colour that’s in higher demand. I like to “trap” a good at that point either in the warehouse at a high price or on my ship (or even better both). By cornering the market in the good, you make it more valuable at every part of the supply chain. It can also take a while for the table to realize that you hold the asset in the investment bank, on your ship and in your highest price warehouse and that if they want it – they will have to come and get it. Don’t forget though, you want them to buy the warehouse one before you ship – otherwise you will get high bids from the shipping but that warehouse good may never get sold and you can’t ship it yourself. Ideally, the minute someone buys the warehouse good, you ship.
Math: Yes, I hate it when people do this, but at the end of the game every shipment has a very transparent value. Look at your card to see how much end game cash you will get and then calculate what the shipment is worth to you. See this number as a proxy of value to other players to. If a player pays the bank (or the shipper) the full value of that shipment, then they made no profit on the cash in hand and the shipper made lots from the bank. Your bidding should be based on this. Also, if you are bidding more than half the value of the crates then you are incentivising the shipper to sell – you are giving the more points, but perhaps you know you have them beat or it’s just the best trade you can do. Bids between 50% -100% of the end value of the goods make sesne to me – higher bids seem worthless, and lower bids will likely be bought by the shipper unless they are cash short. Of course, if it secures having one of each, or changes which good gets discarded then the value of the collective order is more than the sum of it’s parts!
End Game Timing: I said it earlier, but the manufacturers can end the game – so watch which manufacturer can end the game, and when. This will be helpful to knowing when to ship, what to bid and whether to take leverage.
And that’s it for now – please leave your comments on strategies below!