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Lets' talk about strategy


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#1 Stefan

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 08:45 AM

I want to share some of my thoughts how the game works.

In my opinion, the whole game is more about the guys playing it than anything else. The most important thing is to control the thoughts of your fellow players. I will try to go more into detail with that later. First is: fleets are nothing. Ressources are nothing. Techs are nothing. Influence is all, and I don't talk about the red numbers on the planet cards.

Fleets
Now you own a great fleet. Congratulations. What now to do? Sure, you could start a full-scale-war against someone with a smaller fleet, but that only encourages everyone to get a big fleet, too. Now say it with me: "This fleet is only for protection." That's the mantra. Your fleet is just so big you don't need to fear anyone. You would never even think of actually attacking someone with it. That's your story, and it might even be true, if you have a bigger slice of the planet cake than anyone else.
Now, if you have a smaller fleet then everyone else, someone might think of actually attacking you. That's a problem. When they see that you are weak, they will jump on you. Get a bigger fleet for your protection. You will point out whole the time that they have a bigger fleet than you, that you only want to catch up. It doesn't matter you're leading in VP or possessing three artifacts. You are so scared of the other guys you just want to secure yourself. That's your right.

Planets
Planets don't guarantee victory, but they sure help. You need ressources and influence so the others won't jump on you. So, what if you haven't it? If you have few planets, all worthless? There are two options. Going at war, or negotiating. Going at war is very risky, because you're fleet is definitely smaller than your opponents. But, on the other hand, that means you have small negotiation potential. So, what to do?

Make threats
You won't pass the game without threatening someone at some point in the game. Be reasonable. You can't threaten someone with something you are unable to do. If you want a bigger slice of the planet cake, threat with war. Threat playing nasty action cards (just hint at having them, you don't actually need to possess them. Just never lie about specific cards).

Peace
No, we come to an interesting point: people love peace. Nobody wants a war he can't control. If someone's about to take a system he wants from you, and states that he only wants that specific system and nothing beyond it, you have three possible options. First, you could preserve peace and give it to him. Second, you could fight about it. Third, you can preserve peace by threaten him about fighting for it. That sounds weird, but it isn't. Most people really only want that one system for what reason ever. What they don't want is a long war they can't control which will hinder their progress towards victory. Only short wars bring VP, long ones doesn't. So just make the system bigger for you than it acutally is. Tell him that if he takes it, you won't rest and for the rest of the game you will attack only him. Yes, you can't win that way. But neither can he. Oftentimes, people are threatened by this.

Trade Goods
Another thing are Trade Goods. Most people overrate their value. It's unbelievable that people will trade a system in first round worth 2 ressources a round (!) for three TG. But they do. Use that to your advantage. Someone wants to attack you? Offer two TG. Or three. Good chance he will back off.

Backstabbing
Backstabbing has its uses. You shouldn't do it too often. Not even in every second game. People should know that you are true to agreements. An image as backstabber is deadly. No one will deal with you. So, be true, even if you get disadvantages with it. Next game, you will profit because you have someone who trusts you. People like people they can trust. If you ever have to backstab someone, make sure it looks business. Never backstab someone out of personal reasons.
There's the other side of the metal. If you're backstabbed, **** the guy. Harass his movements, hinder his operations, help his enemies. Normally, if you're backstabbed, you don't have a chance of winning anymore (at least if the backstabber knows what he's doing). Make sure he doesn't win either. Tell everyone what an ******* he is, and make sure you do so in the next game, too. People won't backstab you very often. Punish every slice against you as hard as you can, shooting totally off the records. There doesn't need to be any context between the extend of the slice and the extent of the punishment. Always punish with the highest extent you can take.

Some people will say that's metagaming. You're hell sure it is. But it works. The real strategies are just the cream atop the cake.



#2 blarknob

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 09:11 AM

 Yeah I don't know why metagaming is such a dirty word with some people.  It is unavoidable, you might as well participate in it and enjoy it instead of fighting it every game.



#3 sigmazero13

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 12:56 PM

Metagaming depends on your group.  Some players can effectively be a nasty backstabber one game, and a saint-of-ironcladness in another game.  It's hard to metagame them.   Especially if when they DO backstab, it's with a good reason.

However, some players you can consistently tell are going to pull a fast one on you every game.  Metagaming that is part of the game.  To ignore it every game is just going to lead to more frustration.



#4 Mike_Evans

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 04:28 PM

 There are two kinds of metagaming.

One kind is when you don't trust Steve because he always breaks his deals.  That's not bad metagaming, that's just playing smart.  The other is when you attack Steve instead of Joe because Steve knocked Pepsi all over your copy of the game last week and you're still mad about it.  That's not so good.



#5 Stefan

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 09:22 PM

Just my point. :) Thanks, guys :)



#6 sigmazero13

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 03:54 AM

Mike_Evans said:

 There are two kinds of metagaming.

One kind is when you don't trust Steve because he always breaks his deals.  That's not bad metagaming, that's just playing smart.  The other is when you attack Steve instead of Joe because Steve knocked Pepsi all over your copy of the game last week and you're still mad about it.  That's not so good.

The second kind of metagaming could also be "Where's Steve this week?"  "Oh, he's been banished from the galaxy indefinitely" :P



#7 Maruk the Nomad

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 03:48 AM

A very cynical outlook on the game I'd say. The game changes all the time, and every time you play it, even if you play it with the same people again and again, because each race is played differently, and the board changes too.



#8 Stefan

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:17 AM

Of course it does. But I stayed very general and didn't refer on any race or game setup. And cynical? Mayhaps. But that's my experience. We play with humans, after all.



#9 Actuarialnutt

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 05:09 PM

Stefan, thanks for the outstanding initial post.  That is exactly why this game is so great!



#10 Beren_Erchamion

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 08:43 AM

Mike_Evans said:

 There are two kinds of metagaming.

One kind is when you don't trust Steve because he always breaks his deals.  That's not bad metagaming, that's just playing smart.  The other is when you attack Steve instead of Joe because Steve knocked Pepsi all over your copy of the game last week and you're still mad about it.  That's not so good.

 

What about attacking Steve instead of Joe b/c Steve just screwed you over in another game. (Even if you have been at peace with Steve the entire game to that point.)

(And then throwing everything you have into making Joe win since Steve screwed you over in the other game.)



#11 sigmazero13

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 11:18 AM

Or "Joe won last game, let's gang up on him."

Yeah, that kind of metagaming doesn't serve good purposes.  I think the kind of metagaming that is beneficial and not contrary to the game is that of "behavior" in past games, rather than "results" or other such things.  Refusing to trade with Joe because he always breaks his agreements, or allying with Bob rather than the same Joe because you know Bob is less likely to betray you is reasonable usage of metagaming.



#12 Beren_Erchamion

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 05:10 PM

Ok, so I'm not crazy.

 

Although I think that smiley might make me look like it...

 

Had that issue come up in a game I am playing in. That's why I have decided I don't like the "series" games, simply because crap like that happens.



#13 Zen

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 05:27 PM

Whereas in my games, the other players tend to go "Zen is sitting there quietly. He must be plotting - let's kill him."

All my friends tend to assume I will shoot up late game with some sneaky underhanded tactic. And sometimes they're right, but not after everyone's smacked down on me just because I might.



#14 Beren_Erchamion

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 06:50 PM

Zen said:

Whereas in my games, the other players tend to go "Zen is sitting there quietly. He must be plotting - let's kill him."

All my friends tend to assume I will shoot up late game with some sneaky underhanded tactic. And sometimes they're right, but not after everyone's smacked down on me just because I might.

Happens to Mike all the time in our gaming group. He always is plotting something though...



#15 sigmazero13

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 07:35 PM

Zen said:

Whereas in my games, the other players tend to go "Zen is sitting there quietly. He must be plotting - let's kill him."

All my friends tend to assume I will shoot up late game with some sneaky underhanded tactic. And sometimes they're right, but not after everyone's smacked down on me just because I might.

Ah, yes.  The whole "quiet = plotting" ploy.  The worst part is, if you try to chat it up during the game, they'll say "He's being awfully chatty; that's not like him, he must be plotting something and is distracting us - let's kill him."

But (except for the "that's not like him" part), that's not really so much metagaming, really; sure, your physical actions may not be part of the game, but your lack of communication could be translated to in-game correspondings.



#16 hantei40

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 11:09 PM

Stefan said:

Backstabbing
Backstabbing has its uses. You shouldn't do it too often. Not even in every second game. People should know that you are true to agreements. An image as backstabber is deadly. No one will deal with you. So, be true, even if you get disadvantages with it. Next game, you will profit because you have someone who trusts you. People like people they can trust. If you ever have to backstab someone, make sure it looks business. Never backstab someone out of personal reasons.
There's the other side of the metal. If you're backstabbed, **** the guy. Harass his movements, hinder his operations, help his enemies. Normally, if you're backstabbed, you don't have a chance of winning anymore (at least if the backstabber knows what he's doing). Make sure he doesn't win either. Tell everyone what an ******* he is, and make sure you do so in the next game, too. People won't backstab you very often. Punish every slice against you as hard as you can, shooting totally off the records. There doesn't need to be any context between the extend of the slice and the extent of the punishment. Always punish with the highest extent you can take.

Some people will say that's metagaming. You're hell sure it is. But it works. The real strategies are just the cream atop the cake.

Allow me to extend upon the backstabbing discusssion.

An effective technique for me is to, when backstabbed in games of at least 4, make sure EVERYONE at the table understands JUST how screwed you were!  I just don't think you can overstate this mental part of the game.  As part of the harrassment, make  them look bad, feel bad (in games terms of course), point out to them how their backstabbing cost them at every turn- things they had and lost or lose, deals they can't have anymore, everything negative thing that their actions have resulted in.

This production is just as much for the rest of the table as it is for the backstabber.  When the rest of the table understands (rightly or not) just how untrustworthy the backstabber is, it's easier to turn public opinion against him and swing the power out of their hands.  Point out what you see as the backstabber's real agenda, and how the ally was played.

The backstabber may have an ally, but backstabbing allies don't tend to develop a lot of trust.  Played appropriately, the backstabbers ally will inevitably turn on the backstabber as well. 

That creates a vaccuum, and of course, Nature abhors a vaccuum. 

Then, when no one will work with them ever again, join them in backstabbing the guy with the most VPs (assuming it's not you).



#17 Stefan

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 02:06 AM

Nice point. I will consider that the next time I play.



#18 Zen

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 11:26 AM

Also...

Trade Contracts As An Alliance

Trade Contracts are the closest you get in TI to forging a permanent non-aggression pact with a neighbor. If you have a bunch of valuable systems close to you, but between you and a powerful neighbor, try to exchange both your contracts with him/her to discourage his attack. This will allow you to keep a bare minimum of your warships on that side (to act as a deterrent and to slow an assault) and focus on taking down your other neighbor.

Of course, this tactic falls apart if you and your "ally" both seek Mecatol Rex.



#19 Zen

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 02:01 PM

My mistake, I have just read the portion of the rules that say you can't make both trades with the same player. Spot the newbie! I guess then you just make an unfair trade in their favour (you give 3, they give 1). That way, it's not in their best interests to attack.



#20 Beren_Erchamion

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 09:24 AM

Zen said:

My mistake, I have just read the portion of the rules that say you can't make both trades with the same player. Spot the newbie! I guess then you just make an unfair trade in their favour (you give 3, they give 1). That way, it's not in their best interests to attack.

That's how the Hacan do business!






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