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Subject: How To Make The Naked Trade Work For You rss

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Rachel Dillon
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Introductory Material

First of all, there are already some great articles on boardgamegeek about the general ideas behind trying to play off of other people's phase selections and choosing your own phases. Here are some of my favorites:

* http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/328862 , one of BT Carpenter's many excellent articles
* http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/320347 , where Greg Meyer talks about some of the same things I've written about here
* http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/295249 , Alex Rockwell's strategy guide, much of which still holds up despite an expansion and the passing of a year
* http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/294976 , a discussion led by Milinius Corazon of a naked trade on turn 1 specifically
* http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/295174 , Mark Delano's post on "The Poker of RftG" which sadly didn't get any commentary

I'll be assuming the presence of the expansion, though I will try to call out places that the presence of the expansion specifically changes things; I will try to write advice that works for both two-player advanced (my personal favorite way to play) and three-to-five player.

What is the Naked Trade?

A naked trade, which I've also seen called a speculative trade, is playing the Consume:Trade action card when you do not have any goods out with the intent to leech someone else's Settle action and play a windfall world. In two-player games, this is at least somewhat less likely, because you have the option of choosing both the Settle and Consume:Trade options, but it can still happen.

Why would you do this? It gets you tempo, that is, it puts you ahead of the other players. You get the benefit of the Settle action --- playing a windfall world --- and you get the benefit of the trade action, getting a number of cards for the windfall good, in the same turn. The player(s) who threw Settle can't benefit from the Trade action in the same way unless it is a two-player game and they threw the Trade phase as well, and in that circumstance, you should have chosen another phase that will provide you more benefit than it did to them. For extra bonus points, an opponent who wanted to play a windfall world will be forced to consume the good immediately if she has any consume powers at all. On the next turn, you should have more cards and be in a better position than your opponents.

Why wouldn't you do this? The most obvious is that your opponents might not play Settle at all. If this happens, you'll be down tempo. If you're really unlucky, you might help one of your opponents, who had wanted to consume some goods anyway but chose another phase to play some powerful card, and then you'll be well behind.

Basically, the naked trade is a high-risk, high-reward play. First, I'll talk about how to minimize the risk, by showing some of the situations that would make the potential loss of tempo too great to risk the benefits. Second, I'll talk about how to maximize the reward, showing some of the situations where the benefit is even higher than normal. Third, I'll talk about how to mitigate a naked trade if your opponent throws one. Lastly, I'll talk about situations where you might be able to "read" a settle action coming down the pipeline from an opponent, which will alter your risk/reward analysis.

Minimizing Risk

You don't want to play a naked trade when someone else at the table stands to benefit from it. If someone has Trade League on the table, and it's not you, you probably don't want to choose the naked trade. (If it is you, you probably don't either, but for different reasons.) Even if they don't have a good out, but especially if they do, they may be able to turn your trade phase into more cards for them than you turn it into cards for you. Remember: Your opponents can play windfall worlds and consume the goods immediately, too! The expansion in particular adds in the Smuggling Lair (1 point military brown windfall world with a consumer any good for two cards power), which can allow a player to get as much advantage out of your trade as you do if she plays Settle: One card for playing the settle phase, two cards for consumption.

You don't want to play a naked trade when other players at the table have Deficit Spending, Merchant World, or (expansion only) Galactic Bazaar in their tableaus. These cards allow their owners to discard one or two cards during the Consume phase in order to get victory points, so even if they're unable to consume any goods, they can take advantage of the consume phase to score victory points. There is at least one other card in the desk with a consume power independent of having goods on the table --- New Economy --- though drawing one card is usually less powerful than gaining two victory points.

You don't want to play a naked trade when it doesn't look like anyone else is going to throw a Settle. I'll talk more later about how to guess if someone else will settle, but it belongs in this list.

You don't want to play a naked trade when you're not going to get more out of it than you would Settling and having someone else trade. For example, naked trading a blue good is generally not worth it. If you had chosen the Settle phase and then settled the same world, you would already get one of the two cards from choosing the phase, and you'd still have the good to work with. Granted, playing the Settle action migh not be the right way to go, but do you really want to risk getting no action at all for the benefit of a single card? Probably not.

Maximizing Reward

The more you're going to get out of the trade if it goes off, the more appealing it should be. If you can naked trade on an Alien world, for example, that will get you a large number of cards, so the potential reward may greater offset the risk than if you're going to play Destroyed World, which is worth zero victory points and only offers a brown good. Trade bonuses can also make the reward more valuable: Mining Conglomerate or Space Port, say, can make that Destroyed World more compelling.

In the two-player game, there are a few special things you can do to maximize your rewards. Sure, you can Settle/Trade and make sure your trade happens, but look at these:

* An explore/trade can get you the cards you need to play your windfall world where a settle/trade would not, or it can provide you with the cards you need to leech a potential develop phase as well.

* A develop/trade might get you a trade bonus, might get you a settle bonus, or might provide you with the military you need to settle your world at all. For extra heinous, in the expansion, you can drop an Improved Logistics here...

* A trade/produce can actually be really heinous. I'm not recommending this play, but imagine a first turn trade/produce, leeching settle, and dropping Alien Toy Shop. If you're Earth's Lost Colony that's essentially game over, but even if you're not, that's a compelling opening.

Some of the cards that you don't want other players to have if you're going to play the naked trade are also beneficial if you're the one trading. If you have some cards in your hand already and you want to naked trade an expensive Alien windfall world, you should consider the naked trade even more if you've already got Deficit Spending and/or Merchant World out. If you can get two victory points instead of nothing out of a failed naked trade, you've made sure you get some consolation prize even if you fail. In another thread, someone recommends what I'll call a "Scantily-Clad Trade:" You hope to trade a windfall world, but you have a blue good already just in case, and two cards are better than nothing. That's not quite what I'm focusing on, but much of this advice applies in similar situations.

Replying to the Naked Trade

If someone plays a naked trade in a game you're in, leeching your or someone else's settle, here are some things you should keep in mind:

* Cards that take advantage of the trade phase are valuable. Deficit Spending, Trade League, Black Market Trading World... these kinds of cards dropped down before the Consume phase can minimize the tempo gain of the naked trader. (Of course, if they ruin your perfectly good strategy, they're not worth it, but if you need to catch up...)

* Don't play a windfall world unless you are OK with it being consumed, or have no consume powers. I know this seems like it should go without saying, but I've seen experienced players screw this up more than once recently. "Oh no! There's a consume phase out!"

* If their naked trade failed, don't play Settle the next turn, either, unless you think it's definitely going to help you more than it helps them. Everyone wants their naked trade to work the second time. I won't do it a second time against experienced players unless I'm really convinced that they're going to Settle, but only because I've been burned by this a lot. I've seen people play the naked trade six or seven turns in a row while their opponents just traded and produced on their one world, or explored and developed. Even when you finally Settle, you'll be way ahead of them, because you'll have a bunch better hand and more information.

How to Detect an Upcoming Settle

So you've got your windfall world, and there's no particularly bad reasons not to try the naked trade, and you stand to get a fair bit from it. How do you guess that an opponent is going to Settle? Well, if there hasn't been a Settle in a while, it's more likely that someone is going to throw one, since only one opponent can have Galactic Federation, and worlds are an important part of every tableau. If someone has Improved Logistics, Replicant Robots, Terraforming Guild, or other cards that make settling easier or reward the sette action, you should also be suspicious of a settle. Military players will generally be calling Settle actions fairly frequently, given that some of the biggest point plays for a military player are large military worlds. If someone has Doomed World or a Colony Ship out early in the game, look for a high-valued world coming very soon --- quite possibly from a Settle action. You might also expect a Settle action in a many-player game if someone looks likely to call Produce --- a first-turn Settle is more likely if someone has Damaged Alien Factory (and the local metagame involves a lot of first-turn produce). Without the expansion, this can sometimes happen with Earth's Lost Colony.

My two-player opponents will sometimes Settle when I start with Alpha Centauri or Ancient Race, because I have a tendency to throw Trade/Produce. If I have, say, Alien Toy Shop, this makes me very happy. (I once threw develop/trade to an explore/settle, developed Space Marines, settled the two-point Alien windfall, traded for five cards, and then traded again off of Alpha Centauri the next turn while dropping a powerful development.) However, beyond the general, a lot of figuring out if someone is likely to Settle or not is knowing the player, knowing the local game, knowing how to read people... when I start playing with new people, I'm often extra aggressive about naked trades to see how they react and to signal "You won't be able to get away with questionable Settles when you are playing with me."

Further Research

Having settle awareness can also be useful for leeching settles in other contexts: I'm fond of playing Develop and playing Replicant Robots or Improved Logistics if my opponent(s) choose Settle, but playing some other development and waiting for the next turn if there is no Settle phase.

You can throw other naked phases, too: a naked Develop paired with an Explore and/or Interstellar Bank with the hope of drawing something worth playing, a naked Settle with similar ideas, or a naked Produce with the expectation someone will throw Settle. An example there: You've Epsilon Eridani versus New Sparta in a two-player game. You choose Develop/Produce and your opponent chooses Settle/Trade. You play Colony Ship, convert it to Lost Species Ark World, watch some military world come out, and then end up with a green good and two cards.

There's also, as always in RftG, more detail that you could go into here, and more edge cases you could look at. I'm curious to hear if any of you have run into exciting situations where the naked trade was an excellent or terrible idea. All of the examples I've mentioned came up over the board, so to speak, but I've only played a couple of hundred games; I'm sure there are things I am missing. I hope you find this advice helpful!

(edited to fix a typo, grr)
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Dave J McWeasely
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The other purpose of this action is to force the other guy to ship consume their goods before they can trade them.
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Kester J
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Another small thing to consider is that more expensive worlds with more lucrative goods are slightly better to try this manoeuvre on than cheaper but less lucrative worlds. It's to do with card flow.

Say I want to settle a world and trade its good, and I have 5 cards in hand. If the world is Radioactive World (a brown windfall which costs 2), I can choose settle, still have three cards in hand to play on the next develop/settle, then trade next turn to get up to 6 cards. If, on the other hand, I have Deserted Alien Colony (a yellow windfall which costs 4), then settling this turn would leave me with only 1 card to play with next turn, even though I will have 6 cards after my trade just like with Radioactive World. I'm very unlikely to be able to do anything with that single card if develop or settle are called next turn. So I'd argue that the naked trade is a better idea with DAC than with RW, because even though it's a risky play, going the more laborious route of settling yourself is also more risky.
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BT Carpenter
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Thanks for the quote!

Don't forget the semibluff, where you have a small trade good ready to go but if someone Settles for you, then you can drop a nice windfall and replace its costs with your semi-bluffed trade.

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Rachel Dillon
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byronczimmer wrote:
Thanks for the quote!

Don't forget the semibluff, where you have a small trade good ready to go but if someone Settles for you, then you can drop a nice windfall and replace its costs with your semi-bluffed trade.



Your articles were one of the major factors in my going from "enjoys Race" to "mostly just wins against people in my local gaming community." (That and two hundred plays.) I think what you're describing is what I called the "Scantily Clad Trade" --- or am I missing a subtle distinction? Admittedly I don't expect my name for it to catch on :)
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Rachel Dillon
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Kester wrote:
Another small thing to consider is that more expensive worlds with more lucrative goods are slightly better to try this manoeuvre on than cheaper but less lucrative worlds. It's to do with card flow.

Say I want to settle a world and trade its good, and I have 5 cards in hand. If the world is Radioactive World (a brown windfall which costs 2), I can choose settle, still have three cards in hand to play on the next develop/settle, then trade next turn to get up to 6 cards. If, on the other hand, I have Deserted Alien Colony (a yellow windfall which costs 4), then settling this turn would leave me with only 1 card to play with next turn, even though I will have 6 cards after my trade just like with Radioactive World. I'm very unlikely to be able to do anything with that single card if develop or settle are called next turn. So I'd argue that the naked trade is a better idea with DAC than with RW, because even though it's a risky play, going the more laborious route of settling yourself is also more risky.


The "same number of cards post-trade" isn't actually a metric I had thought that much about --- aside from the victory point difference and the risk you've mentioned, paying more cards and trading for more cards allows you to get more information in terms of what cards are and aren't available to you. So yes, definitely.
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raxvulpine wrote:
byronczimmer wrote:
Thanks for the quote!

Don't forget the semibluff, where you have a small trade good ready to go but if someone Settles for you, then you can drop a nice windfall and replace its costs with your semi-bluffed trade.



Your articles were one of the major factors in my going from "enjoys Race" to "mostly just wins against people in my local gaming community." (That and two hundred plays.) I think what you're describing is what I called the "Scantily Clad Trade" --- or am I missing a subtle distinction? Admittedly I don't expect my name for it to catch on


The term for this definitely needs to be "semi-buff."
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Paul Bryant
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MrWeasely wrote:
The other purpose of this action is to force the other guy to ship consume their goods before they can trade them.


This is a brutal tactic in and of itself. Choosing 2XVP or selling even for low pay-out to kill someone else's green or yellow windfall sale can mess with them big time. At that point they have lost the utility of the card and are just left with the VP value. This is especially harsh with those 0 VP value green winfalls.

I am generally now hesitant to settle a windfall for trade when anyone is sitting on goods.

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Eric Jome
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If you can predict that I will play Settle and you will choose Consume:Trade to take advantage of it, what is to stop me from seeing the same thing and choosing something other than Settle?

Very quickly, you'll learn that you'll never pull off a naked trade, because every time you think you will, I'll not Settle. Suddenly, naked trades are no longer getting you anything other than a tempo loss.

Also, your ability to take advantage of the naked trade really depends on luck of the draw. That is, if you detect I am going to Settle and you play Consume:Trade and you get Destroyed World and three cards, that is nowhere near as good as the Lost Species Ark World I managed to play... you didn't gain tempo, you only managed to minimize your losses or perhaps hurt yourself by filling up your tableau with a poor quality windfall world.
 
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Dave J McWeasely
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Agreed, its nothing to write home about. But hey, if its 3+player, and people are constantly throwing Consumes out there, you have to hang your own Consume and leech a Settle in order to really break open the game with Alien Toy Shop. I like that. Too bad there's no equivalent dynamic in 2-player.
 
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cosine wrote:
If you can predict that I will play Settle and you will choose Consume:Trade to take advantage of it, what is to stop me from seeing the same thing and choosing something other than Settle?


Nothing. But if you do this then I've stopped you from playing Settle when it was probably your best play, which is a result.

Quote:
Very quickly, you'll learn that you'll never pull off a naked trade, because every time you think you will, I'll not Settle. Suddenly, naked trades are no longer getting you anything other than a tempo loss.


So you're never going to Settle when it's your best play? That sounds like more than a result, that sounds like a coup. Hurrah for the naked trade, eh?

Of course, the real result is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes you Settle and I settle something decent too (pretty even). Sometimes you Settle and I trade off of it (hurrah for me). Sometimes you Settle and I miss it entirely, due to poor preparation or occasionally bad luck (hurrah for you). Sometimes you don't Settle and my Trade fails (hurrah for you, but you've also avoided your best play). Sometimes you don't Settle, but I didn't try to Trade either (hurrah for me - you've avoided your best play).

Quote:
Also, your ability to take advantage of the naked trade really depends on luck of the draw. That is, if you detect I am going to Settle and you play Consume:Trade and you get Destroyed World and three cards, that is nowhere near as good as the Lost Species Ark World I managed to play... you didn't gain tempo, you only managed to minimize your losses or perhaps hurt yourself by filling up your tableau with a poor quality windfall world.


This is a great example of how it actually comes out in a game. You're right that you still end up in a slightly better position, even if I correctly read your Settle and picked Trade. That's the point though; you had a great world. If you'd just had an OK to good world, my Trade would have put me in a better position, and that would have been on your mind when picking Settle, making you less likely to do it. (And note that it's not quite that clean-cut that you're in the better position. I now have a turn to press my large card advantage unanswered, hopefully to place something that will draft your coming Produce.)
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Rachel Dillon
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cosine wrote:
If you can predict that I will play Settle and you will choose Consume:Trade to take advantage of it, what is to stop me from seeing the same thing and choosing something other than Settle?


Nothing! Except that if no one plays Settle ever it will be a very different game. "Race for the Galacticfederation!" If I detect that I will never pull off a naked trade against you the individual player, OK, I'll watch other player's tableaus and trade off of them instead. Or not! This isn't the only tactic in the game, it's just one of them.

Quote:
Very quickly, you'll learn that you'll never pull off a naked trade, because every time you think you will, I'll not Settle. Suddenly, naked trades are no longer getting you anything other than a tempo loss.


I'd be happy to play fifty or sixty games with you and see if it works out that I "never pull off a naked trade." :) You can certainly play defensively to mitigate the value of this tactic --- or, in the extreme, never throw the Settle phase at all and render the tactic useless --- but chances are doing so will open up other holes in your game. That's part of the fun of Race.

Quote:
Also, your ability to take advantage of the naked trade really depends on luck of the draw. That is, if you detect I am going to Settle and you play Consume:Trade and you get Destroyed World and three cards, that is nowhere near as good as the Lost Species Ark World I managed to play... you didn't gain tempo, you only managed to minimize your losses or perhaps hurt yourself by filling up your tableau with a poor quality windfall world.


If you're settling Lost Species Ark World, I'd still rather be trading off of your settle with Destroyed World than having played Settle in order to play Destroyed World. But yes, sometimes your settle will be better than mine: This does depend on the luck of the draw. Random games are random. I mean, what do you want? :) I don't mean to suggest that the naked trade is going to clean your bathroom and solve world hunger. It's a tactical gamble that can put you a little bit ahead, and being intelligent about when you make or don't make the gamble can help you maximize the benefit of the play in the long run.
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Kester wrote:
Sometimes you don't Settle and my Trade fails (hurrah for you, but you've also avoided your best play).

No, hurrah for the other players in the game who are probably doing something more useful with their Develop/Consume/Produce phases... while both of you are second-guessing each other.
 
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