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Subject: Two basic strategies rss

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Jason Arvey
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Yesterday, I played Web of Power twice, one game involved four people, the second only three. The game is a solid one. There's lots to do with only a few simple, but intriguing rules. And despite a heavy element of luck, there's some thinking to be done.

The luck element, in a weaker game, would be fatal. You can only play in the manner prescribed by the cards you draw. However, the doubling up of territories on most cards (for example, the pairing gof Franken and Aragon) and the rule allowing a pair of identical cards as a wild card, make the cards versatile enough that they are usually useful. (Only one of us complained about the lack of options available to him, and he claimed to have drawn very few card pairs, denying him wilds. This is a bit of a vicious circle, in that playing only one card allows you only one draw and thus minimizes your chances of drawing a duplicate.)

So, what can one do, particularly with a good pair to use as a wild? There are, to me, two good ways to maximize the scoring of individual pieces. The first is to watch a player tryign to build a long chain. More often than not, a long chain will occupy a large portion of one territory. As that territory fills, play a card or a wild to drop a single cloister in it. If Briatin has a chain of four and a singleton, the leader will get nine points for his four cloisters (assuming they form a continuous chain), slightly more than two points per cloister. The owner of the singleton, however, will get four points for one cloister, a far better return for labor. It is possibly far more lucrative to drop only individual cloisters judiciously than to try to build long chains, particularly when there are three or more players acting in between your turns.

The other strategy is either to invest heavily in advisors or not at all. To invest a number of advisors and then score only one alliance -- or no alliance -- is inefficient. In a one alliance situation, each of your advisors scores once. If, however, your advisors score multiple times, the efficiency of those plays multiplies. Perhaps teh best places to invest advisors are in Franken and Frankreich: five advisors in one of those locations scoring twice are quite a powerhouse that can't really be duplicated in the smaller territories.

The first game we played was won with four groups of two advisors each in alliance with two others, combined with a big minority score in Frankreich. The second game was won with five advisors in Franken scoring three alliances. I expect that successful strategies along these lines would consistently be big winers.
 
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Gary Pressler
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I'll not claim to be an expert on the game, but you're certainly learning some of the tricks of the game. As in many area control games with second and third place scoring (El Grande, Mexica, etc.), it is very often better to be in second place in many regions than to focus on being the leader in a couple.

For advisors, you want to try to focus on "triangles" of connections. For example: Frankreich, Italien, and Aragon. All but one such triangle (Franken, Bayern, and Schwaben) involves Frankreich, so that is the key location for advisors. Still, you don't want to invest too many cards there. Also, you usually don't want to bother making sure you are the only player with a majority of advisors. Just try to tie for majority, when possible.

Chains, to me, are just bonus points. They are are usually easy to block, so you cannot afford to rely on them for points. Plus, unless they bridge at least two regions, they are rarely worth playing, as you would usually be better off playing advisors in that region or cloisters in a different region. If they happen to work, great, but chains do not win games in my experience.

It really is a great little gem, isn't it?
 
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J C Lawrence
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Der Ubermolch wrote:
And despite a heavy element of luck, there's some thinking to be done.


I'd argue that the luck element is relatively small. Experienced players will invariably slaughter novice players. The core of the game is playing off the draft pool against the player on your left while also fighting against the player on your right.

Quote:
The luck element, in a weaker game, would be fatal. You can only play in the manner prescribed by the cards you draw.


While true, you have considerable influence over what cards you draw when, as well as over what cards you make available for the player to your left to draw. Add in a little card counting (how many cards have been played for each territory) and you have the core of the game right there.

Quote:
Only one of us complained about the lack of options available to him, and he claimed to have drawn very few card pairs, denying him wilds.


While possible in extreme cases, this is quite unlikely. An example may illuminate. Consider the case in which you've just played three cards and thus have to draw three new cards. Let's say that the draft pool is full of single colours (ie three different colours). As there are 5 colours on the board a draw from the face down set will usually give you a double with one of the face up cards, and in the very few cases it doesn't, a second face down draw will either match your prior draw or one of the draft pool. The odds of the second face down draw filling out the full five colour set is quite remarkably low.

Quote:
The other strategy is either to invest heavily in advisors or not at all.


Invariably Web of Power is won and lost in the advisor fight. That simple.

Quote:
The first game we played was won with four groups of two advisors each in alliance with two others, combined with a big minority score in Frankreich. The second game was won with five advisors in Franken scoring three alliances. I expect that successful strategies along these lines would consistently be big winers.


Yep.
 
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Sight Reader
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Der Ubermolch wrote:
It is possibly far more lucrative to drop only individual cloisters judiciously than to try to build long chains, particularly when there are three or more players acting in between your turns.

From my experience, this parasitical approach is the primary concept of this game. Basically, you need the help of others to bolster your score, so you deliberately invite them to do all the work then jump in to score big at the last second. Chains aren't very useful since they're only scored once, although this problem is fixed by the fortess mechanism in the companion game, "China".

Der Ubermolch wrote:
The other strategy is either to invest heavily in advisors or not at all.

I would suggest that this is probably not the best way to approach the advisor game. Rather, it's an approach more like what you suggested for the cloister game. You need the help of others in building up the advisor numbers. Basically, invite others to join you in playing advisors in as many networked countries as possible, making sure you are always in a position to at least tie for first place. If you're tied for first in a lot of different regions, then you'll at least double (and perhaps even triple) the contribution those regions have to your score. Then, at the last possible second, take outright control of a critical country in the network, disconnecting everyone else's web and turning all their moves into a huge score for you and ONLY you.

In my experience, the cloister scoring tends to even out between players, so it's not decisive, even though it contributes the most points to your total. The advisor scoring, on the other hand, tends to be extremely lopsided, and thus it tends to decide the winner unless you made that disconnecting advisor move too early and scared everyone off from contributing to your advisor score.
 
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