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Subject: Session Report: Opportunistic Orange Explosion. rss

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Peter Dorsett
Australia
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Queensland
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Session Report: Opportunistic Orange Explosion.

This game is so orange it’s hard to believe that selling oranges is actually NOT inherently any better than selling zucchini. However, the orange really works with the small caveat that some of the cards look incredibly similar to the colour-able eye. I ended up sleeving some of the ‘order cards’ simply to better tell them apart (using orange sleeves of course!).

On our first play, we noticed that the game did set some players ahead of others from the outset, as each player is dealt a unique special order card that may (or may not) correlate well with the randomly setup market prices. We each scored around 160-70 points, essentially dwarfing any starting disparities, however these would probably decide the winner in a ‘close game’ and have a bigger impact with new and younger players (who would likely score much lower). All-in-all, it didn’t bother us much and could probably be solved with a pre-game card draft (or as a method of handicapping stronger players). Rule clarification below :O

Cinque Terre felt like a very friendly game, with players being able to share spaces and the game rewarding good play (efficiency = more points) while not punishing poor play (e.g. no penalty for failing to feed workers). As my partner and I raced our hot pink and baby blue trucks through the rondel of farms and towns (delivering cubes like fruit/veg ninjas), we each pursued one of the two core point-scoring paths. I was the pragmatic family business owner fulfilling food orders, while my partner chased popularity by selling a few select (and expensive) food types in bulk. It was close, but my partner had a narrow victory.

During a post-game debrief, we both reflected on the choices the game had thrown at us. We had originally thought that the game really only posed players with one major choice: do I chase food orders or popularity (or a bit of both)? However, we realised there were actually quite a few more subtle decisions constantly being made.

For example, it was generally less efficient to be working on only one goal at a time – so if you’re chasing food orders, you want to simultaneously work toward a few (and perhaps even your personal order cards too). Doing this is a LOT slower though, so you risk someone else beating you to an order card. This can be important, as each order card can net you better/ worse point outcomes according to the market prices. Do you prioritise completing orders first, or most efficiently?

Alternatively, you might decide to chase popularity by selling loads of (the same) expensive items to the same town. This reduces the number of stops you need to make while netting you big sales. However, gaining popularity can often mean boxing yourself out of fulfilling orders (as you’re stuck with 1 produce type that doesn’t match anything). So there’s a balance between maxing your sales in a town now and leaving spaces open for orders (and balancing high sales with item diversity). Following a popularity strategy also reduces the number of card types that will help you, so what do you do if the cards you’re chasing don’t show (or others take them)? Do you draw randomly from the deck, or take the time to chase something else? You’ll also need to stay aware of what towns you’re opponents are filling up on, so you can prioritise beating them to popularity there, even if that results in less direct sales.

Then there’s the card market. Given the market prices for particular food items vary, some food cards will be more valuable than others. So… do you take that high value food card that just appeared, or quickly finish an objective before an opponent? You might also be deciding between using a card pair now, or waiting for the single card you need.

Another viable strategy is to simply waste time, drawing a huge hand of cards with the understanding that they’ll be helpful later on. Having cards in your hand presents you with a LOT more options than a player with only a few, allowing to you to capitalise on opportunities much better. If you have a range of cards, than you’ll very likely have everything you need when the next order card that appears. This may not seem powerful, but try it one time, it really is!

Over a few plays, all these wonderful ideas and choices came alive. The best decisions are often going to be those made when you spot a ‘good opportunity’.

Summary: This game is one big Opportunistic Orange Explosion.
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john newman
United States
Lafayette
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Peter, thank you for your sessions report. As you mentioned, Cinque Terre is a game the revolves around efficiency.

I believe the winning long-term strategy revolves around filling open contracts. With filling open contracts, you receive hidden contracts. As you mentioned, you cannot merely focus on one goal at at time. The question is how to fill your contracts most efficiently and what else can you get done while your fulfilling contracts. Can you drop off a bunch of expensive fruit in the same city, working on being the most popular vendor?

I would suggest that drawing cards is not wasting time. If there is a card you need that is showing you should almost always grab it, unless you are in a race to complete an open contract. The cards can really slow you down, especially if you are relegated to drawing blind of forced to use two cards to get one item. Even if you aren't planning on delivering the good for several turns, its always good to have it now, when its available.

I agree with your assessment. Cinque Terre is strategic game that revolves around tactical opportunities. It is one of my favorite pick up and deliver games. It certainly deserves more love. Thanks for the write up.


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Joe H
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Very nice review.

I would point out that the value of the opening contract cards is adjusted downward by market prices. The value of these cards is “30-?” so if all 5 of your goods were market “1” then you would receive 5 points as you sold them and 25 at game end for a total of 30 points. If all 5 of your goods had a market price of “6” you would receive 30 points as you sold them and 0 at the end for a total of 30.

I totally agree with you about the contract cards that come available through the game but, at least, there is stiff competition for those cards with high value produce in them.
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Peter Dorsett
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Thanks Joe for that clarification - I'll try to make an edit.

@John - Not a problem and apologies I didn't get time to touch on the hidden/ personal order cards too. I think we're in agreement about spending time drawing cards... give me CARDS!
 
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