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Subject: Strategy Guide: How to beat the AI rss

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Simon Klein
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Strategy Guide: How to beat the AI in Yspahan (Westpark Gamer’s Version)

First of all the AI isn’t weak – but sadly it rarely focus on the caravan which is a main element in winning the game against the computer player (In german I would say "Auf einem Auge blöd" ). In this short article I will explain to you how to beat the AI fair and square (no need to undo!).

The key in winning is the caravan. You get points when you drop cubes into it and you get points at the end of each week. In addition, if you manage to build the Caravanserei you will get cards whenever you move one of your cubes into the Caravan.

I played more than 100 games against the computer player now, all 4-player games, and started with again with the version 1.02 – I played 20 games today and lost only one single game with an average score of 100. So, if you follow my instruction I’m sure you will beat the AI sooner or later, too.


First week

In the first week I only concentrate on setting up my strategy. That is mainly getting some buildings done and having some camels to start the next week with.

I start with taking cards and rarely go for camels or gold directly (only if there are at least 3). Likely you will get the cards that supply you with gold or camels, those that let you build without one resource or the gold-camel-exchange card. Try to build stuff as early as possible. The order of the buildings varies from game to game when I play. Most of the times I build the Paddock first, then the Shop and last the Caravanserei (this is a must have though!).

The key here is using the cards effectively and not caring about points. If you chose to take a card as action use the dice that are the most valuable to the other players. If you have the chance to pick up lots of gold or camels feel free to do so (especially with the supporting buildings). Another key element is using the cards you can’t use right now to add to the dice value. The one camel more or less is often a crucial element and likely you have more than enough cards later anyway.


Second Week

You should have at least the Caravanserei now, if not immediately build it now! Try to get the 2 places in the barrel district now. 80% of the time the AI doesn’t use those dice. Even if there’s only 1 die for the barrel district you should take it and place one cube right in the center of the board. The strategy here is to secure to adjacent spots so that you can move two of your cubes into the caravan at the same time.

If you secured the one spot go for the Caravanserei: don’t hesitate to use money to get to your cube but always keep an eye on your camel supply. Whenever you have the chance move the single cube in the urn district out of its place (if it’s there). Likely you will also have a card that lets you place a single cube – use it to occupy the single spot in the urn district (If all that doesn’t work you can also try to get the three buildings in the bag district. And in the rare occasion that the AI has taken the barrel spots you should either go for buildings or (depending on the level of other cubes in the caravan) even work with only sending on cube at a time into the caravan.

Another crucial element is watching the caravan. You want to get to the 3x multiplier and you want to have the majority there of course. Don’t fill the caravan up when the chance is there that it will get emptied – better save resources and start again in the third week.


The last week

Start with the same strategy described above: if you can’t get a hold of the two barrel spots you might want to upgrade your buildings and go for fast points but always have an eye on the caravan. If the AI player has a lot of cubes in there you might want to try to empty it and fill it again.

Try not to save cards! Use each and every card up. Remember that the last building alone is 10 points worth. Also it’s not bad to keep one camel to prevent the AI from kicking you out of a spot.


Conclusion

Overall this should give you easily enough points to win. You still have to adjust your strategy to the cards you get and to certain extend to the other players. Try to take away the dice they might need, have an eye on districts where there is no more use for dice – you can leave those on the dice selection board. Going for buildings is not always wise. Sometimes it’s more valuable to score some points instead of spending lots of valuable resources on the buildings.

Ok, feel free to comment or ask about this strategy. I’m sure it will work for you too and help you improve your gameplay (btw: note that using this strategy face-to-face is nowhere near as easy as it is against the AI! With a lot of competition in the caravan the strategy weakens).
Ciao,
Simon

No, I don't use the undo button nor do I hack the .ini file

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Mark Haberman
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I pretty much came to the same conclusion. Getting 2 buildings across from each other is very important. If you can get to the 3x multiplier by the end of the 2nd week, you have it made.

Those 2pt caravan squares will score 4 times, twice at 1x, once at 2x and once at 3x. That makes each 2pt space worth: 2 + 2 + 4 + 6 = 14pts!

If you get all 4 spots in the first week, thats 56pts! Even getting them in the second week will only net you 2pts a spot less.
 
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Mark Haberman
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Oops, I think this is wrong. The multiplier only counts when the caravan is full, right?
 
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Jens Hoppe
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Blimey, it works - I just got 135 points (and I am a complete Yspahan newbie)!

Which makes me wonder, how does one defend against this in a regular face-to-face game?
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Simon Klein
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The strategy is much weaker if more players go for the caravan, and the face-to-face players usually tend to have more control over whom and when they send to the caravan

The strategy works also in FtF games but again, you hav to hope that the others battle over the districts and ignore the caravan.

A counter strategy is emptying the caravan before it gets scored or trying to prevent the caravan player from getting camels (You might even consider holding some cards in a 2-player game [but I have never tried that]).

Without the multipliers the caravan players will usually end a bit lower than the souk player... (I had a hard time establishing this strategy when we first played the game - I even had to defend myself agains workers of Amigo-Spiele and show them that this strategy can actually work )

Concerning the scoring Mark: You count the cubes of your color in the caravan and multiply that value by the highest multiplier reached by any player (hope that makes sense) - So most points possible at the end of a round are 33 points (11 times three) + 12 for placing the cubes = 45 points in one week.
 
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Tommy Ryytty
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Nice strategy. It takes couple of games to fine-tune it, but at last I got over 100 points.

Have you an idea, if there are possible to get more than 135 points?
 
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Simon Klein
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Actually it's not uncommen to get more than 150 points, my personal high was 160 and Flavio, another BGG user, managed to get 185! Of course for these high scores the luck element with the dice rolled and the cards drawn plays a big element.
Also I think it's pretty important to select the dice that are important for the other players if you have to draw a card...
Ciao,
Simon
 
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Carl Anderson
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Excellent strategy! I'd been losing pretty consistently (but coming in 2nd place frequently, of late), but trying this I just won my first game. Very clever.

Thanks for the tips!
 
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Mark Delano
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habermanm wrote:
I pretty much came to the same conclusion. Getting 2 buildings across from each other is very important. If you can get to the 3x multiplier by the end of the 2nd week, you have it made.

Those 2pt caravan squares will score 4 times, twice at 1x, once at 2x and once at 3x. That makes each 2pt space worth: 2 + 2 + 4 + 6 = 14pts!

If you get all 4 spots in the first week, thats 56pts! Even getting them in the second week will only net you 2pts a spot less.


The caravan works the following way:

You get the points listed on the space when you place the marker.

At the end of each week or when the caravan clears you score the number of caravan markers times the highest multiplier you have (1, 2 or 3).

The most a caravan marker can be worth is 2 (for placing) + (3(3x mult) x3 weeks) = 11. It's unlikely you'll get the 3x multiplier the first week, more likely it'll be worth 10 or less.
 
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The Doctor is In
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I was coming here to post something similar. I have a couple of minor differences. In my opinion, the first week is all about securing the Caravanserai and trying to secure the resources for the Hammam second. With that in mind I think skipping the Paddock and Shop works out better in general. To repay the cost of the Paddock early you will have to take camels multiple times. To me, it is almost always better to draw a card unless you are getting 3 camels there so this is very unlikely in the first week. The shop just can't repay its cost ever in the early game barring some extreme combination of the camel-gold swap card and lots of lucrative gold rolls(camels are way too important). When you do take camels with dice, throw in a vp card if you have it. Ideally, you want to build the Caravanserai on day 7 of week one using any of the discount cards to save your resources as much as possible.

There are lots of situations you can be in at the start of week two. If you are flush with camels and have enough gold to build the Hammam, then the corner of the barrel district is a super high priority. Comboing with the place a guy in any shop card to get the opposite vase district shop works really well here. As long as a 3 or less is available each turn you can just stomp the Supervisor on that cheesy square over and over again.

If you are camel shy in week two, then going for multiple placements at once is key. Just grab the most dice you can get and get as many streetside workers as possible. You won't be camel protecting the guys, just using them to keep drawing cards while at least pursuing some vps.

In either case don't build any buildings that aren't free in week two other than the two core infrastructure(hammam, caravanserai). If you get a pair of no-gold, no-camel cards, you can build one of the 4 casting costs ones(bazaar will be superior heading into week three unless you are totally hosed on camels), but other than that wait for week three to commit to your building strategy.

If you can arrange it, it is better to avoid finishing of the caravan in week two. Sometimes the AI is sending guys too, so it will be unavoidable, but your score will generally end up higher if you can wait. In most cases towards the end of the week it is better to sacrifice your workers on the board to hoard up camels for the final week.

Week three should hopefully play out similar to the camel rich case of week two (except you already have the hammam). Don't commit to buildings until you only have enough days left to finish all of them. At this point, consider carefully. The Paddock is a no brainer giving you 5 vp for 2 camels, but if you have camel-vp cards, the others are not so good unless you have discounts. You can use excess place a worker in any shop cards to block lucrative areas after setting up your facing shops. The 6 in the vase district is very nice for this since if you draw another of those cards, it isn't just a really lame camel substitute, it gives you 6 or 8 vp.

Last turn try to keep built groupings intact on the board (the most efficient transfer of camels-vp at that point). Second priority is a discounted building. Third priority is the camel-vp card. Fourth priority is a full cost building and last priority is the gold-vp card.

My high score playing like this is 162 and I'm also winning around a 95% clip. I'm having success even when getting hosed in the beginning (first three cards are vp etc.) so I think the strategy is pretty robust.
 
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The Doctor is In
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New high score:



Just ignore the number of games played.
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Inno Van
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I'm finding filling the 3 point barrel space at the corner the best opening for week 2. It's pretty common to get the "Place 1 anywhere" card, place it on 4 point vase space, and then you can double deliver to the caravan with one move.

Shouldn't the far left space on the board of the 6 chest and the 8 sack also be a double deliver space? It doesn't in the PC game.

But the PC game (correctly) teaches that caravanserai owners playing the "Send a good to the caravan" card do not give you another bonus card for doing so. Which Rio Grande's cheat sheet to the cards also emphasizes. Darn!
 
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Guenther Rosenbaum
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Innovan wrote:
I'm finding filling the 3 point barrel space at the corner the best opening for week 2. It's pretty common to get the "Place 1 anywhere" card, place it on 4 point vase space, and then you can double deliver to the caravan with one move.

Shouldn't the far left space on the board of the 6 chest and the 8 sack also be a double deliver space? It doesn't in the PC game.


Hi Innovan,
There are only the 2 well known double delivery spaces - not more !
Bye the way, there will be an update of the PC game in a few weeks with some variants (weaker caravanserai) and some modifications in respect to the " only caravan" strategy: The 3 point barrel space will then be used by the AI more often ...

Guenther (Yspahan PC game developer)
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David C
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Baron Muenchhausen wrote:
Innovan wrote:
I'm finding filling the 3 point barrel space at the corner the best opening for week 2. It's pretty common to get the "Place 1 anywhere" card, place it on 4 point vase space, and then you can double deliver to the caravan with one move.

Shouldn't the far left space on the board of the 6 chest and the 8 sack also be a double deliver space? It doesn't in the PC game.


Hi Innovan,
There are only the 2 well known double delivery spaces - not more !
Bye the way, there will be an update of the PC game in a few weeks with some variants (weaker caravanserai) and some modifications in respect to the " only caravan" strategy: The 3 point barrel space will then be used by the AI more often ...

Guenther (Yspahan PC game developer)


Thread: rise from your grave!

The AI is improved quite a bit, and most of the tricks in here don't work, straight-out. Pretty impressive.
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