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Subject: Beating Plowshares into Towers rss

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Tony Russell
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The Tall Grass Sways in the Walls. I like Masons. Each time I play it, the distribution of points always seems to be fairly close. However, I have found a few things that work better than others and seem to provide an adequate edge for consistent victories.
meepleTo add to your reading pleasure, I have punned a song throughout this entry. If you're the first to respond with the correct answer, it may be worth a small tip to you.

Your Best Defense. This should be something of a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it is not always the case. If someone starts building along the water, they have the towers-on-the-water card (or maybe two)!
You don't just build on the water for no reason in this game, particularly since it means one less house to place on the board and thus potentially score for.
So if someone starts building along the water, provide yourself with a little nugget of joy and start making small cities out of their walls and make their card(s) worth little or nothing.
For this very reason, if you have the towers-on-the-water card, either play it sneaky, or, in a 2- or 3-player game, flood those pieces with your walls/towers as the other players will have a hard time keeping up, and you will still eek some points out. This strategy will not, however, work in a 4-/5-player game.

Dwelling on Small Details. Here, you will think me rotten. And I hereby confess that I amdevil. Always place the dice into the hands of the next player. What!?! Why, you ask? Remember: if a player rolls before placing a wall, s/he loses one point. No need to say, "Go ahead and roll," or "Roll the dice," just hand over the dice to their outstretched hand. Trust me, their inclination is roll immediately.
In a game where just a few points count, you'll appreciate when another player balks one away.

Armchair-Warriors-Hyperforce-Go. A word of caution: over-specializing in something is nearly always a bad idea; however, do not be found without tower cards. (Dr. Freud, by the way, would have loved the shapes of the pieces in this game. Fat people like myself also like the way the walls look like French Fries.)
Tower cards can potentially score very big. There is a great variety of tower pieces, and you tend to score higher on these cards than on houses/palaces unless their is a megalopolis or two on board. I have never had higher gains on house cards overall than on tower ones.
If you have no tower cards, discard one and take two. Or, if you are in last place, switch out your cards. You cannot win a tower-less game, and as players have a tendency to megalopolize, the potential for high-scoring towers only increases.

The Elected King. Stay back or stay forward? This game definitely has its advantages as far as staying at the end of the pack. You can really stockpile good cards, and you get to switch your cards out for better ones.
However, while I find that the pack normally stays reasonably close together, the right card or two can make the game very difficult. Don't stay too far behind. The gains in Masons are never huge. They tend to average about 6-12 on good turns and 1-4 on really bad ones. I always aim for at least 6.
I tend to attempt a big lead early. Then I maintain it with small gains. I play with a smaller hand, but if you are in the lead, you can stand to discard (and not score) and pick up two if your cards go sour.

Small Details.
* The logic surrounding house/palace placement is fairly straightforward. The player who places mostly in this realm will go the megalopolis route.
* Contain large cities by building smaller ones on the peripheries. This will foil players who save up house/palace cards a bit.
* Save your completed-city-tower cards for these megalopolises and watch players faces go sour as you score 16=18 points, thus teaching them to quit making those huge cities.
* Try not to ever have to take minimal gains, e.g. 1-3 points. In that case, it is better to switch out cards or discard and two.
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Adam Daulton
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Agree with not taking the small points. In my estimation, 1-5 points per turn is bad, 6-7 ok, 8-12 is good, 13-17 is excellent, and 18+ is great! I've usually tried to stay within 15 points of the leader, because by getting further behind then that I feel it really makes it difficult to catch up even with the last place balance.

Disclaimer: All these observations are completely from my gut feeling and are in no way to be taken as gospel.
 
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Tony Russell
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Excellent points! I really like the way you break down the points like that. I completely agree.
15 may be right on as well. I have been 20 behind in one scenario, and it was just over at that point.
 
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Iain Cheyne
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tonetonitonyrussell wrote:
Always place the dice into the hands of the next player.


Pure evil!
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Liz Rizzo
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Thanks for the tips. I'm not a big fan of Masons, but I'm always playing it on Yucata.de and there were a couple things here that I hadn't considered.
 
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Liz Rizzo
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Oh, and I'm sure someone pm'd you, but it's Don Henley, The End of the Innocence.
 
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