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Subject: 25 Tips after 50+ Plays rss

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David F
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I’ve played 50+ games of Brass, of which all but 2 were online. After taking my lumps early, I do okay now, usually getting a 40%-40%-20%-0% split on final position in 4-player games. While that by no means makes me an expert, I do have several insights and tips to share, and would love to know what else you look out for, and if you agree/disagree with my strategies. I’ve discovered and figured out the game by myself with no discussion among others, so let this be the start of a 2-way conversation, as I would like to become a better player too!

Just a general note that I don’t recommend reading this article if you’re new at the game. Part of the fun of gaming, especially for one with a steep learning curve like Brass, is figuring out basic strategies yourself. This discussion is intended more for intermediate players who’ve hit a wall and are not sure why.

Unless otherwise noted, these tips are all for the 4-player game.

Canal Phase
1. You can rarely guarantee a victory after the Canal Phase, but you can definitely be out of the running! The fact that level-2 or higher industries score twice when built in the Canal Phase means any inefficiency mistake on your part in the Canal Phase (i.e. failing to build/flip that Tech 3 Cotton Mill in time because of misused actions) is magnified 2x. You can only have a chance at winning if you played a strong Canal Phase.

2. Counting a level-1 industry as "0.25 Wallaces", a level-2 industry as 0.5 Wallaces, level-3 as 1, and level-4 as 1.5, my personal objective in every 4-player game is to build 3.75 Wallaces worth of industries by the end of the canal phase. This will of course vary based on opponent skill level and whether you’re playing with 3 players instead, but I’ve found it to be a good general guideline for me to aim for. It’s also a good idea to remind newbies of this benchmark, so they don’t go building level-1 industries and fighting each other for the Liverpool Shipyard. Do you agree with this assessment? And do you have a benchmark for 3-player? I haven’t gotten a handle on 3er yet, since scores have potential to fluctuate widely.

3. On a related note, build only 1-2 level-1 industries. You might need level 1 early for some vital early income, but any more than that and you’re misallocating money and actions that are better spent on putting the high-level, double-scoring industries into play. I try to only build 1, and only do 2 if the opportunity is too good to pass up. Only 1-2 out of the Coal Mine, Iron Works and Cotton Mill. An L1 Coal Mine is important if you want to put out an Iron Works. L1 Iron Works is great early for the monetary boost, but look to develop into the much more cost-efficient L2 Iron Works if you still haven’t built it halfway through the Canal Phase. I only build the L1 Cotton Mill in the first 2-3 turns if I can flip it immediately for some early income (if one of the other players carelessly built an accessible Port or linked to one). Almost never build the L1 Port or Shipyard (see #9).

4. To get to the 3.75-Wallaces threshold, you have to develop early and often. You should always Develop as your first action if you’re the start or 2nd player on the first round of the game. You should Develop if iron costs only $0-2, you will need to do a $3-$3 Develop at some point in the Canal Phase once you get an early income flow up, and a $4-$4 Develop is always an opportunity for overbuilding an Iron Works. Simply put, Develop is very often your most viable action in the Canal Phase! If you need to Develop more than once in the Rail Phase for reasons that don’t involve Shipyards, then you’ve probably screwed up.

5. Build as few canals as possible. This is a newbie mistake I see which can take a surprisingly long time to correct. It might just seem intuitive for less experienced players to equate success with a big network (like Catan). But look again at the cover of the box. That guy is so happy because he got off a train. The point of the game is to build rails, not canals. Think of some famous railway companies. Now try to name a single canal company. Yeah… got it? Anticipate what your rivals want to do and try to get them to build the canals for you in terms of linking to the ports to sell your cotton from and linking to areas where you have the location cards. Building a canal link is a waste of an action, because it usually only gets you 2-4 VPs (as opposed to, say, an L3 Cotton Mill that nets you 18 VPs). I only build canals if my cards restrict me so, or to bring an Iron Works into play. Build industries, not canals.

6. Because of this, location cards are more important than industry cards (in the Canal Phase). You need to build canal links in order to build industries with industry cards; you probably don’t need to with location cards.

7. In the Develop-heavy Canal Phase, chaining together an Iron Works build and a Develop (in either order) can be very powerful. For that reason, I like to try and go last in the turn order in the Canal Phase, in the hope of using 4 consecutive actions to pull off the combo. If you start the game last in the 3-player game and both other players Develop, you can build a Coal Mine, then, going last on Round 2 again, do the Iron-Develop combo for some early income and cash, putting you in a very advantageous early position.

8. An early L2 Coal Mine is powerful because of the 7-income (and also, see #12), but it is risky. It costs $7 up front, a steep requirement in the early turns of the game, so if you don’t flip it soon, it’s a huge wasted investment. But it’s hard to flip it soon, because you need to have gone into L2 and L3 Cotton Mills. Additionally, the other players will refrain from helping you flip the Coal Mine, and might even make it obsolete with their own Coal Mines (e.g. a Coal Mine in Warrington & Runcorn is in a world of hurt if somebody else builds a Coal Mine in Manchester, ditto for Rochdale and Oldham). You will have to use the 3 coal cubes up yourself. Hence, I almost always build my L2 Coal Mine (that cannot sell any Coal to the demand track) in a location with an empty Iron Works space. The prospect of an Iron-Develop combo for your opponents is too much to pass up, and that single piece of coal they take from your L2 Coal Mine can be all the difference in enjoying your 7-income early.

9. Do not build the L1 Shipyard. It costs more money than the L2 Cotton Mill and just 1-2 actions less (so it’s a wash in terms of cost), but the Cotton Mill provides 2 more points of income. Also, if you build the L1 Shipyard, you’re committing to a strategy that can be easily blocked in the Rail Phase by other players or by a poor card draw. I have won once after building a L1 Shipyard, but that’s only because 1) I had a poor draw for Cotton and went for Ports, 2) needed the Shipyard to flip my Coal Mine since I had no Cotton, 3) I had Ports in Ellesmere Port and Lancaster, 4) and I got the Shipyard draws I needed in the Rail Phase. Only think of building a L1 Shipyard if you’ve built L2 and up in Ellesemere Port and Lancaster, and if you can’t flip an L2 Cotton Mill at least. Otherwise, forget about it.

24. (from random user): Near the end of the Canal Phase, if you're unable to build & flip more high-level industries that score twice, build Coal Mine(s) (that are not L1 of course, you should be past them by now) and take loans. The Coal Mines will flip on the first round of the Rail Phase, allowing you to bounce back immediately on the income track from your deep loans.

Rail Phase
10. Build Rail Links early. It’s not merely because Rails are the most action-efficient at scoring VPs (1 action for 10-13 points early on), but because you need to expand your personal network. If the decision is between scoring 7 VPs for the Bolton-Manchester connection, or scoring 5 VPs for the Bury-Rochdale connection, but Bolton and Manchester are already in your personal network whereas Bury isn’t, and others are threatening to seal you off from the north through there, you take the latter choice every single time. Real estate will become scarce around Round 5 or 6 in the Rail Phase (4er), and you won’t get any sympathy if you can’t put down your L4 Cotton Mill even though Stockport and Rochdale still have empty spaces. The last round of the game can also degenerate into a Rail grab, and you’ll want to have access to that juicy but far-flung Lancaster-Scotland connection. Expand your personal network early into every location on the board (with a smaller emphasis on locations that don’t support the industries you’re focusing on). This is something I see even veteran players struggle with (wanting the extra 1-2 VPs now instead of building the personal network).

11. Industry cards are more important than location cards (in the Rail Phase), solely because you can now build multiple industries in a single location, making your personal network wider. This, of course, is a moot point if you didn’t follow #10. Location cards are still important though. If you have the Oldham location card, you can place a smaller emphasis on incorporating Oldham into your personal network, and focus on other locations first.

12. Coal Mines are the Canal links of the Rail Phase. That doesn’t mean you don’t build any of them (you had to build Canal links too), but that you try to get by with as few as possible. Do make sure that your L2 Coal Mines are out by Round 5 or so, because you’re going to need to overbuild others soon. This is where #8 can really help.

13. Do not build any L2 industries. Shipyards are exempt from this. Coal Mines are exempt only if they’re built within the first 5 rounds. Build industries which you’ve reached at least L3 in, and build rails all other times.

14. Do not Develop, unless you’re going for a Shipyard or an Iron Works overbuild. Simply put, it’s too late. Develop was big in the Canal Phase, because your L1 Cotton Mill scores 3 VPs, your L2 Cotton Mill scores 10, and your L3 scores 18. In the Rail Phase, going from an L3 Port to an L4 Port is just a delta of 3 VPs (6 to 9), and you’re almost always better off just building the industry you already have, instead of wasting an action Developing.

15. Taking #13 and #14 together, what do you do if none of your tracks have reached L3, yet I told you not to Develop? You pray your opponents aren’t as bad as you. And if they really are, you might eke out a win with Rails, Coal Mines, Shipyards, and a late Develop (Iron/Iron) + Iron Works overbuild.

16. If you’re in position to do so, seal the Shipyards. By in position, I mean you’ve built (or are going to build) industries in Lancaster and/or Ellesmere Port. If you have both industries in Lancaster, build the Lancaster-Preston connection to seal; if you have Ellesmere Port, connect it and Warrington & Runcorn, and keep an eye out for a Shipyard player coming from Macclesfield (very rare). Even if you eventually decide not to build Shipyards, you’ve stopped somebody else from doing so. Liverpool, of course, cannot be sealed.

17. Going for Shipyards without being able to seal them off is a risky proposition, but can sometimes be your only chance to catch the leader. Make sure you have access to all 3 Shipyards (or at least guaranteed access to 1). After you’ve Developed into L2 Shipyard, go last/late in the turn order, because if you go early, you’re vulnerable to a double-Develop Shipyard steal. If you had to end up early in the turn order, don’t build an Iron Works, try to keep the iron track low, or take a double-loan or something else that’s cheap to guarantee you go early next turn too. If you plan to build Rail+Shipyard on your last turn, ensure you have at least $45. That's the minimum needed for a single rail + Shipyard in the worst-case scenario. You can bet that if you're in any way contending for the victory, the other players will conspire to make you unable to afford 18+ VPs if you don't have $45 or more. If you don't, have a Plan B.

18. On the last round for taking loans, make sure you have enough cash. This is the last refuel before the sprint to the finish line.. Depending on your income post-loan ($2 - $10+), $95 to $60 should be about right. If you’re planning to build 2 Shipyards within the last 4 rounds of the game, you’ll definitely need a lot more, $100 and over.

19. The Iron Works overbuild is the most devastating move in the game. Every turn during your downtime in the Rail Phase, take stock on who you think is/are the leader/s, identify where their L2 or L3 Iron Works are located, set aside that location card if and when you get it (or an Iron Works), and don’t ever discard it, even if that location becomes completely filled. I’ve pulled out miracle victories before by overbuilding the leader with an L4 Iron Works on the last or 2nd-last round. You can do the same with Coal Mines; they can mean all the difference in a close game.

25. The key metric in the Rail phase is VPs per action. Everybody has the same number of actions, so whoever scores the most VPs per action should win. Taking a loan or Develop-ing give 0 VP/action. Cash & income are important only in the sense that you might be slowed by taking 0-3 VP/action actions. Frame every action you take with respect to building rails. Early in the Rail Phase, double-Rail gives 10 to 12 VP/action, while late in the Rail Phase, it gives 6 to 8 VP/action. Try to equal/exceed this and if you can't, the income you get had better make up the difference. Double-Develop + Shipyard yields 6 VP/action. Double-Develop + getting 2 Shipyards yields 9 VP/action, which is very powerful late. Building L4 Cotton and flip yields 6 VP/action; building 2 L4 Mills before flipping yields 8 VP/action. The VP/action metric is especially important in deciding whether a double-action build is worth the action cost.

General Tips
20. Again, always look out for the Iron Works overbuild. Overbuilding L2 with L3 is a 12-point swing; overbuilding L3 with L4 is a 16-point swing; overbuilding L2 with L3 in the Canal Phase (identify your biggest rival early!) is a 24-point swing!. Going last in the turn order can make it easier to set up as you potentially have 4 consecutive actions to play around with. Also, look out for favorable situations in the Rail Phase. If Player X and Player Y both can’t build Iron Works because they’re at L1 or they’ve built all of them already, you effectively have 4 actions to set it up if you go after Player Z in turn order right now.

21. Be careful if you’re not Selling Cotton as your 2nd action immediately after building a Cotton Mill. The demand track and ports can empty out quickly before you go again, especially because Cotton Mills cost so much (which means if you go first this turn and build an expensive Cotton Mill, everybody else might take two turns each before you go again). Note how many Cotton Mills are out there, how many can potentially come out and sell before your next go, and how many more sells the Distant Market might be able to take.

22. Manipulate the turn order. Going last can be very advantageous because you get to control when you go again next round (usually), including the possibility to chain 4 actions together if you go last now and first later. Going last often is also a good sign since you’re spending the most money, which hopefully translates to scoring the most points. However, the swing from 1st to 4th in turn order can be excruciating, as so much can happen in between. Hence, the trick is to swing your turn order smoothly, but also have the illusion of performing 4 effectively consecutive actions. For example, I am okay with going 3rd this turn if the Shipyard player is going 2nd, because he’ll have to worry about my double-Develop steal; I might be 4th right now, but I don’t mind going 2nd next round, because the only other player who might bottom out distant market and ports would be going 3rd. In effect, I took 4 consecutive actions without a wild swing in turn order, because I reverse-sandwiched the only player who might screw with my plans. Structure your spending to minimize the possibility of out-of-control events hurting you in between your turns. This can be hard if you’re going 1st in the turn order, but you can still ballpark where you’re going to land in the turn order next with the amount of money you’re spending. I view the turn order as going in 2-3-4 (mostly biding my time in 4) depending on what I need, culminating in a big turn when I go 1 (e.g. build Cotton + flip all my Cottons), when I feel like that turn will wrap up my shakier objectives. Bide your time, and go for 1 only if it’s big, or you will not be harmed by a fall to 4. A good example is you don’t want to leave unflipped Cotton Mills out if you’re going 1st in the turn order, whereas if you have nothing to flip, spend all you want in 1.

23. Last but definitely the most, actions, not money, are your most valuable resource. You will only be needing more money if you spent too much in the last 4 rounds of the Rail Phase. You always need more actions. It only doesn’t seem like it, because it’s not easy to realize which action you screwed up or were less efficient in. Having played online, I’ve had countless instances where I misclicked, and it snowballed into a ton of VPs, or $1 less that would have won me the game instead of finishing in 3rd. Make no mistake: every action is vitally important in this game, even that seemingly innocuous loan you took. Think carefully about what to do with your turn, and judiciously evaluate the costs of a double-action build.
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Mark Tyler
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Re: 22 Tips after 50+ Plays
Nice job! I can't really fault any of your suggestions.

I play on-line as well (under username of renegade). I seem to have plateaued in my quest to become a top 20 player again, so I am looking for any tips to improve my game.

My guess is that the top 20 players do a better job of forming a long term strategy based not only on the cards they draw, but also the actions of the other players. For example, a really good player might realize that going with a port strategy will work nicely because two other players seem dedicated to the cotton mill strategy.

Sometimes you are at the mercy of your cards and won't be able to beat a player of similar skill who has better cards. But there is always a "best" approach given your current set of cards. The challenge is to find what that best approach should be.

What I am really seeking is for some of the top Brass players to write some AI for a computer Brass player to follow. In other words, program a computer player to make optimal moves based on cards and opponent's play. Then share that logic with the rest of us.
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Richard Young
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Re: 22 Tips after 50+ Plays
Some really good tips here. Thanks for the thought and effort!

Btw, what do you think about the combined action "wildcard" play? Only as a last resort? When it gives you a key location the cards won't support? It depends?
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David F
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Re: 22 Tips after 50+ Plays
I definitely think it's very possible to write a Brass AI. Brass, moreso than a lot of other games, is one where you can jump into the middle of a turn, study the current situation, and make an optimal move without watching how the board evolved.

Double action build - Generally only as last resort. I've stopped using it in the Canal Phase, because actions are really at a premium then. I used to think double-action building an Iron Works was worth it if somebody put a Coal Mine in a location with an Iron Works space, but it's not; let somebody else build it, and you can get some cheap Develops in. In the Rail Phase, they happen near the end, where you might not have good options with your cards anyway, and your dwindling money means it's okay for you to forego an action, since you might not have enough money to spend for that action anyway (building the expensive Shipyards definitely falls in this category). Iron Works overbuild is a no-brainer with double-action build, though it's rare and harder to set up. If double-action building a Cotton Mill, you should be aware of the same risks involved with #21. Double-action building a Coal Mine is pretty useless unless you're really that cash-strapped or you can overbuild the leader. Double-action building a Port is pushing it, but I did win a game once with it by taking Fleetwood, the last Port space on the board away from my biggest rival (who was planning to take it with his Fleetwood card), and letting the last-place cotton player flip it for me.

By the way, now that you Brass Online players are here, a shameless plug for the microbadge! (will be updated soon to the right website)

Microbadge: I play Brass Online at brass.orderofthehammer.com
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Dan
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
In my heyday I was 6th on the website, but I burned out playing so many consecutive games. I think I'm in the 20s now. I don't have the ability to translate my strategies into words (read: I is idiot), but kudos to Selwyth for a job well done. I wanted to add a few things.

1. Try to score at least 25 points in repeatable scoring industries (Selwyth has addressed this with his 4.5W theory) during the canal period.

2. Shoot for a final score of 155. That will usually win a 4p game.

I clipped this from Mark's post:
Mark Tyler wrote:
My guess is that the top 20 players do a better job of forming a long term strategy based not only on the cards they draw, but also the actions of the other players. For example, a really good player might realize that going with a port strategy will work nicely because two other players seem dedicated to the cotton mill strategy.
Brass is this strange, beautiful, nebulous game of indirect cooperation and competition. Ports are a good strategy if two people are rushing cotton--not such a good strategy if just one person is rushing cotton.

You really have to play a limiting game where you get the better end of any deal. Consider coal in the rail period. Why build it unless you're cash strapped? It takes an action, scores 2-4 points, and might net you some immediate cash. I would rather pay $6 for two coal than build a mine and give someone else cheap coal. I've said it before: rail is the VP king, coal just keeps it coming. Even $10 (max to pay for coal) is almost a deal. Now you can't get away without building coal in the rail, but consider it's opportunity cost HIGH.

With the card mix, I've found the most generalist approach one can take is 2-2 ports in the canal, maybe a 2/3 iron, and a coal. Then play a limiting game in rail. Build tons of rail and do your shipyards. It's usually enough to beat a cotton rusher unless someone else is just throwing cheap ports at them.

The cotton rusher is going to be short on cash. Exploit that. Don't build coal for the rusher!

If you need practice playing to limit your opponents, try the 2p game. It really encourages that type of play and will show you times and places where you can take advantage of turn order, your opponents industries, etc.

Enough of my jawing--and thanks to Selwyth for a nice set of intermediate strategies.
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Chris Ferejohn
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Quote:
21. Be careful if you’re not Selling Cotton as your 2nd action immediately after building a Cotton Mill. The demand track and ports can empty out quickly before you go again, especially because Cotton Mills cost so much (which means if you go first this turn and build an expensive Cotton Mill, everybody else might take two turns each before you go again). Note how many Cotton Mills are out there, how many can potentially come out and sell before your next go, and how many more sells the Distant Market might be able to take.
How often do you find you do a multi-flip? I often find myself in a situation where I have to decide whether to flip one now or risk taking another turn to drop another mill and flip. Do you find that the extra action is often (usually?) not worth the risk?

Put another way: do you feel like a cotton rush strategy can succeed even if you never flip more than one mill in a turn?
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David F
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Depends. If I've been building Cotton ever since the start of the Phase, I can usually do a 2 or 3-flip. But if I'm late to the party after focusing on different things first, I do more 1-flips. The extra action is often worth it, but only if, after you've estimated how many cottons will feasibly come out and sell before your next go, you determine that even the maximum # won't leave your cottons with nothing to sell. Of course, your risk-taking attitude also depends on your VP position in the game.

There is very little risk involved in taking another turn to drop a mill + flip once you've gotten a better handle at estimating max # of feasible cotton sells.

For Cotton Rush, I try to get 2-3 Mills out in the canal phase (4er). If I get 2 out, it means I single-flipped both of them and had to tread carefully due to low demand. If I get 3 out, it's usually because somebody was very accommodating with Ports and I got to double-flip once.
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David F
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
oeolycus wrote:

1. Try to score at least 25 points in repeatable scoring industries (Selwyth has addressed this with his 4.5W theory) during the canal period.

2. Shoot for a final score of 155. That will usually win a 4p game.
1. Oops a typo as I revised how many W each level of industry was. It should be 3.75W (fixed). This is pretty close to your 25-benchmark. I assume you meant 25 Rail points in L2 and up industries.

2. 150+ is a good benchmark for winning, I agree.
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Dan
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
selwyth wrote:
For Cotton Rush, I try to get 2-3 Mills out in the canal phase (4er). If I get 2 out, it means I single-flipped both of them and had to tread carefully due to low demand. If I get 3 out, it's usually because somebody was very accommodating with Ports and I got to double-flip once.
To answer Chris, I usually try to flip 2 and then 1 later. This applies to both canal and rail--though if I can take advantage of certain situations, I won't hold myself to this.

Speaking of rushes, how do you usually spread out the cotton?

There's the traditional race for the 3's, which used to be a scary beast, but is very fragile to bullying in the rail phase because the income can be really tight.

I've found 1-2-3 is really nice. I'll lay a mill in W&R until someone puts a port in there. Someone will go to Preston or Lancaster, and then you can drop a 2 (after development). Rinse and repeat for 3. This seems to be a much more balanced approach to the rush--and usually has room to ship one more 3.

I've done 2-2-3 before too, but I usually abandon cotton in the rail with this strategy.
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Fred Heis
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
My word Selwyth, that's some gold there. It explains why you so often kick my proverbial. I'll digest these tips in the name of giving you a better game next time we meet online. Very impressed that you're sharing.

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Ed Chen

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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
I like most of your tips, but I had a couple of thoughts:

- in certain circumstances the level 2 coal mine is often very good to place in a strategic place even if it won't flip, as it allows you to take a double loan on turn 8 of canal to get deeply negative, go first in rail to get the best rail links, and flip your l2 coal to get back to a reasonable income score. It really depends on what type of game you are playing though.

- I really really hate giving people a free pass to flip iron in a single action, and on the flip side, I love it when people give me that opportunity, though instead of iron/develop, I will generally loan/iron, which is often a stronger move, imo

- loan management is very important in this game

- the l2 coal mine can be very strong at the start of rail for the income it generates over the course of the game vis-a-vis a loan. The disadvantage is that it comes over the course of the rail phase, and sometimes you need it immediately. I don't think it's wise to automatically discount it.

- in regards to how many mills, placing a low level mill and then selling it is almost never a winning move, imo. The only time you do that is to deny your opponents access to the DM or a port.


In regards to the top players, I'm not sure how you would really come up with who are the top players at current. The online site does have a rating system, but it's not foolproof, so take the ratings there with a grain of salt. With that said, here is my tidbit of advice, which you can take or ignore as you see fit:

I think the biggest jump that you can make as a player is that when you decide what move to make, instead of being constrained by the cards in your hand, you are constrained by the strategies of the other players. (This only works in intermediate+ games. Beginners will make enough random moves that you can't really account for something really stupid.)

Just my 2cp
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Dan
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
random user wrote:
I think the biggest jump that you can make as a player is that when you decide what move to make, instead of being constrained by the cards in your hand, you are constrained by the strategies of the other players. (This only works in intermediate+ games. Beginners will make enough random moves that you can't really account for something really stupid.)
I was going to mention the unpredictable noob. This is where the website is really helpful though because you can look through the logs of previous plays and get a characterization of their play.
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David F
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
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Jason Gische
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
selwyth wrote:
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
I just lost a game because of that same guy. It's very frustrating. And no, don't let my first name confuse you...
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Randall Bart
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
selwyth wrote:
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
Are you complaining about a fault in the game? Can you propose a rule change to correct it?
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Philip Eve
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Re: the site's rating system, I would like to implement a better system, probably a variation on elo (although most systems you could come up with would easily be better than the current one).

Barticus88 wrote:
selwyth wrote:
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
Are you complaining about a fault in the game? Can you propose a rule change to correct it?
I don't really understand where you're going with this comment. I think it's plain he's complaining not about the game, but about the behaviour of a player who failed to play in the spirit of the game, by making no attempt whatsoever either to win or to attempt to attain a reasonable win-approximation (going all clearclaw here). This is something that could easily ruin one's enjoyment of a wide range of games.
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Mark Tyler
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
gische wrote:
selwyth wrote:
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
I just lost a game because of that same guy. It's very frustrating. And no, don't let my first name confuse you...
I believe it is inevitable that every online Brass player will encounter a game with "jason". As you can see here, jason is currently playing in 52 games and seems perfectly content to finish last in all of them if he can agitate players in the process with his bizarre strategy of building cotton mills with no intention of flipping them.
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Ed Chen

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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
The website does have a feature to deal with this actually, which is that instead of passing out the rest of one's turns, one can simply quit the game.

When that happens, the site will put up a notice that the game is seeking a replacement player, and once one is found, the game can continue as normal.

In regards to a rating system, to be clear I don't think that the system is awful. What I meant by my comment was that it just doesn't take some possibilities into account, so one shouldn't just look at rating on the site as the final determinant of how good one is.

If the rating system is changed, I hope that you will break it into separate ratings for 2, 3, and 4 person games. I know for example, that I'm much stronger at 4p games than I am at 3p games, and a blended rating would have a hard time accounting for that.
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Raman Ohri
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Great tips. I've been trying to curb my #12 bad habit lately (too many coal mines in rail).

I'm no authority, but the double action build is just a last resort thing. If I'm in a situation where that's my best move, the problem is something I did several rounds ago.

Regarding what separates the best players on Brass Online ... I see two things consistently:

1. Those guys are constantly leaving you in non-ideal situations (i.e., they're playing you, not just their cards and their strategy).

2. They aren't married to a particular approach, and will choose a strategy that makes sense for the situation rather than stick to a script.

And finally, thank you Phillip! 191 games in, I'm still having a blast with the site.
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Jason Gische
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
If you're going to revamp the scoring system, I'd also think it worthwhile to take your opponents' ratings into account.
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AlexL
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
m_r_tyler wrote:
gische wrote:
selwyth wrote:
Yeah I had a game where somebody gave up and passed on all his turns midway through the Rail Phase, and all the Ports I had built for his Cotton were unflipped, keeping me out of 1st
I just lost a game because of that same guy. It's very frustrating. And no, don't let my first name confuse you...
I believe it is inevitable that every online Brass player will encounter a game with "jason". As you can see here, jason is currently playing in 52 games and seems perfectly content to finish last in all of them if he can agitate players in the process with his bizarre strategy of building cotton mills with no intention of flipping them.
If you want, you can block jason from your games, either by unticking the auto-start and "any player can start" boxes, and kicking him if he joins, or by setting the minimum rating to just above his (1200 ish at the moment). It's not an especially pleasant thing to suggest, but it stops the game being skewed by a wilfully bad player (as opposed to an inexperienced or sincerely trying but poor player).

Back to the OP - thanks! I had a decent-ish (20s) ranking when I stopped playing last year: now I've restarted and my ranking is terrible. I'm trying consciously to apply these to get back up to speed. Being out of practice is a bit of a shock...
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Philip Eve
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
If this jason is really intentionally playing badly in order to annoy other users, can you give me links to a few games where you have reason to think he has done so and I'll consider whether to ban him.
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
In 8209 he passed his turn for no reason.
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Jason Gische
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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
Hammerite wrote:
If this jason is really intentionally playing badly in order to annoy other users, can you give me links to a few games where you have reason to think he has done so and I'll consider whether to ban him.
As much as he is a huge force of randomness, I don't actually think he is intentionally playing badly to annoy other users. He's becoming a better player, actually, although he's still not winning. The basic problem with his typical play is that at some point in the rail period he surveys the board and determines "I cannot win" and at that point he just starts passing his turns. This includes leaving (sometimes up to 3 or 4 in games I've seen) unflipped cotton mills even if there are unflipped ports available. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that he plays 50+ games at a time, which is its own separate issue with a player of this ilk.
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Ed Chen

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Re: 23 Tips after 50+ Plays
I do also think that he has somewhat gotten better. When he first started I'm pretty sure he didn't realize rail links counted for points, which led him to pass the last turns, as he had nothing to build.

At his apex, he had 80+ games going at the same time. Though he's still in 35+ games at the moment, it's an improvement from before. Since I usually play a fair number of games at a time, he ended up being in 10+ games with me, so I got to see firsthand a lot of his evolution as a player.

I'm pretty sure he's not maliciously trying to mess with people. He's been trying different strategies; unfortunately, many of them randomly gift one player a lot while hurting others, and, imho, he doesn't have a firm grasp of how his actions affect other people... this leads him to for example, build 4 mills and 4 ports, and then not ship them in a timely manner and allow another player who had no legitimate way to ship his mills swoop in and steal a win, or to give up and not ship his cotton on his ports on the last turn when he knows he's already coming in 4th place, but the lack of rail points from flipping those tiles causes the rail-heavy player to come in 2nd instead of 1st because he passed instead of shipped.

I think many people make at least some of these mistakes when they are starting out. The fact that he plays so many games as a beginner really makes his mistakes stand out, however.

Edit: with that said, I've started not autostarting non-rated 3 and 4 player games because I don't want him in more than 5 or 10% of my games. I'm ok with a little randomness, and to be fair, there are other beginners who probably are just as random, but I don't love it either.
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