When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places. That goes for cooperative as well as competitive games, and so today you’ll find the first ever Three Basic Tips for a co-op game!
Earlier this year, I’ve written two strategy posts for Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games) – one on the Hapsburgs, one on the Papacy. You liked them and seemed to be craving more, and as ever, I was most anxious to oblige my esteemed readers. However, I haven’t won with all Here I Stand factions yet, and you’d rightfully demand that someone who tells you how to do things has done them themselves already. This is where Naty comes in. Normally, she writes about literature over at her blog natysbookshelf.wordpress.com (check it out, it’s amazing), but she’s also an accomplished Here I Stand player who’s run roughshod over everyone else at the table in her last game when she played England. Over to you, Naty!
I often teach games to my fellow players. A lot of those games are somewhat complex (and often take several hours), so I don’t only explain how the rules work, but also give a bit of direction on the strategy – nothing worse than an evening spent feeling lost in the options or getting steamrolled because you didn’t know what was important! Of course, if the rules are already quite a lot to take in, you don’t want to be further overwhelmed by a lengthy speech on strategy. One method to keep which I’ve found keeps it short and sweet is giving the new player three basic tips. That’s something everyone can keep in mind!
So, without further ado, here are my Three Basic Tips for winning as the Hapsburgs in Here I Stand (Ed Beach, GMT Games): Which victory condition should you pursue, and how will you achieve it? How does your diplomacy prepare you for military success? And which rhythm will get you to European domination instead of a second-place finish? Continue reading →
Two years ago, I wrote a little post called Three Basic Tips for Twilight Struggle. I hope it helped a few new or intermediate players of Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) to improve their strategy. Intricate strategy advice can be overwhelming for a beginner, but everyone can remember and apply three tips! As the post was quite well-received, I’ll make an (irregular) series out of it – „Three Basic Tips“.
I have borrowed the idea from someone else: My friend F. and I did not only play board games, but also pick-up soccer. In one game we were up against a much better team and had conceded ten goals in the first half already. F. rallied us during half-time saying, „Guys, it’s just three simple things“ – and when we stuck to the three things he then told us, our performance improved markedly (conceding only two more goals).
Today, the game which I will try to help you win is Friedrich (Richard Sivél, Histogame). This euro-wargame hybrid set in the Seven Years‘ War is one of my overall most-played games, and I especially like it for its seamless blend of strategic, operational, and tactical decisions. Therefore, the three tips will refer to your strategic posture, its operational implementation, and the tactical restraint needed to prevail. As Friedrich is a strongly asymmetric game, this post will only deal with one of the four roles – that of Friedrich’s Prussia. For new players that might be the biggest challenge to face off against three opponents at once, but it’s also the most fun and rewarding to pull it off successfully. Continue reading →
Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) is a game of tricky hand management. Its chief innovation in the field of card-driven games (CDGs) is that both players draw from a joint deck, and if you play a card with an opponent event, you get to use the operation points (ops) from this card, but the event is triggered nonetheless. You’ll try to solve the puzzle of how to play your cards best every turn, maximizing your gains and minimizing the obstacles from opponent events in your hand. Newcomers to Twilight Struggle often think that a hand full of opponent events is a bad hand. However, if you draw all the Soviet events as the US, chances are that the Soviet hand is full of American events, so it evens out. And you’d rather defuse many of the opponent events on your own terms than allow the other player to unleash them on you.
In addition to that, quite a few events offer a benefit even to the nominally disadvantaged power. As they also get the ops when playing the opponent event, this allows for some kind of ops/event double move – all the fun, none of the regret! These events typically fall in the categories of discarding or manipulating DEFCON. There is one event that just allows you to possibly flip a battleground to your side. Let’s dive right into the cards.
So, you know Twilight Struggle. The game has a certain fame to it – it was the best-ranked game on boardgamegeek.com for five years, after all. That’s even more impressive when you consider that a game of Twilight Struggle can easily take two hours, seats exactly two players and is a bit more daunting than most of the eurogames that tend to do well on BGG. Now, while it is not too hard to get into playing Twilight Struggle – the rules are elegant and not too complex – mastering the game is a whole different matter. There are 400+ threads on BGG’s Twilight Struggle strategy subforum. There is an entire website dedicated to brilliant little strategy essays on every single card in Twilight Struggle. When you play against an experienced player online, not only do they know every single card in the deck, they also seem to know which cards have been played already and which are still to come at any given moment of the game. So, is Twilight Struggle only for the select few, for the initiated who have dedicated their lives to the study of the game? By no means! The strategic basics are quickly taken in. See your fortunes in the Cold War improve by following these three tips.