clans of caledonia strategy

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cs2376jr
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clans of caledonia strategy

Post by cs2376jr » 19 September 2019, 20:11

It has become apparent to me that there are two different metas in Clans of Caledonia. Completing contracts all game long from round 1 to round 5, picking up money producing contracts, and completing them right when you can. The other meta is big economy (econ). The first 3 rounds you focus on production and the last 2 rounds you complete 6-8 contracts for you points.

Contracts strategy- You need to pick up contracts that are easy to complete that give a good return. This strategy involves a lot of luck because if the contracts aren’t good, you will spend so much money buying the goods that it costs and not have much of a return. If multiple people do this strategy, the market gets driven up very quickly and you will only be able to complete one contract each of the last 2 rounds. From what I have seen, a realistic score for this strategy is 150 with a good game, depending on the contracts it can be lower.

Econ strategy- the first 3 rounds of the game you place down a ton of units that give you a ton of pounds and manufactured goods. This will let you complete a bunch of contracts rds 4 and 5. From what I have seen it is much more effective than contract spamming all game long. You will get more settlements, more imports, more hops, more resources end game, overall you just score more points all around when going big econ than when you don’t. I use this strategy and most of the other top players use it as well. The average score with this strategy is about 180 when played properly. I would encourage everyone to give this a try. You will probably lose the first few games you try this because it takes some getting used to, but it will probably take your game to the next level. If you want to see this gameplay in action, I would recommend watching some of viper’s or logus30’s games or even my games.

I mentioned contracts earlier in the article, there is a huge amount of luck in contracts, the most in the game. Other than that there is not much luck. So with that being said, these average scores can be changed due to them and also due to ports, glory track, and clans in the game.

I hope everyone who reads this finds it helpful and if you have any questions, just post a reply and I will answer them as best I can. :)

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RicardoRix
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by RicardoRix » 20 September 2019, 10:18

The sliding scale of contract cost tries to allow for both strategies. The balance is just to consider the benefit of cheaper contracts earlier. The contracts with a money bonus allow for a snowball effect. For example, you may get a whiskey and cheese contact with 15 coin bonus. In round 1 this almost pays for itself.

I am really not a fan of the round scoring tiles as they have little effect, much better is Terra Mystica where they have some development rewards too as well as the final scoring not being so much of a factor. I wish these tiles were development rewards rather than glory rewards.

The same can be said with the merchants and the market, this could have much more of an effect with the gameplay. As a house-rule I would suggest 1 merchant can buy any number of goods each time they go to market - makes sense, and / or allow for an action that buys back all the merchants from the market to stop any Round 5 minus 4 from any sell action when you've run out.
I only look at the market to see what is cheap to help with contracts, I can't really see how a viable strategy can be played that takes any advantage of buying lots of merchants. Why are merchants so expensive? I look to how to get around using them like meat contracts, so then contracts that have wool and cheese seem to offer a bit more wiggle room to fulfil (as you make these at round end just before the next round meat sacrifice).

Why have 2 mechanics in your game that don't add much to the game play? Essentially it's nice idea, wrong implementation. Games that funnel you down your thinking into making certain inevitable strategy choices are the ones that don't get replayed. Overall this game has far more potential (especially with the market board), but unfortunately does not ultimately deliver. The 2 different strategies you describe aren't even that different, they still both try to maximise the 'score as many contracts as you can', it's only a decision about when to go for scoring over development which is probably best done considering all the factors at the time. So it's again more of a tactical decision rather than strategic.

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cs2376jr
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by cs2376jr » 20 September 2019, 20:41

I would have to disagree with a lot of what you said-

Glory is a very key part of the game. You need to be scoring at least 25 glory in a game to get those 180 scores that you need to beat other good players. Sure, they don't give you resources that boost your economy, but if you ignore the glory track, you shouldn't win.

The point on the market. You need to use the market all game long! Usually, the player that is able to use the market the best will win. When I say use, I do not just mean buying, it mainly means selling. Early game you want to be selling your goods, making your economy much stronger. If you are able to sell your goods for more than your opponents and buy resources cheaper than your opponents, then you will have a better chance at winning than your opponents.

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RicardoRix
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by RicardoRix » 20 September 2019, 21:02

I don't disagree, but those are all tactical decisions rather than strategic. I went on the thread title that you were debating general strategy. I commented on the fact that the various game mechanics don't allow much in the way of varying strategy. For example you can't win by getting a lot of merchants and heavily manipulating the market to win the game.

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nandblock
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by nandblock » 28 September 2019, 20:10

You win the game often through the accumulation small efficiencies and profits. For instance: build next to an opponent and buy 3 resources off them at a 2 or 3 pound discount, jacking up the price. Next round, if you have no immediate use for them, sell them off, and use that money to place something on the board.

I also agree that it is a mistake to ignore the end-of-round scoring--they are often the source of significant points.

My main issue with the game is the poorly balanced clans. Cunningham in particular is way overpowered, and Buchanan and MacDonald are very weak.

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cs2376jr
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by cs2376jr » 02 October 2019, 23:00

people complain way too much about cunningham. Sure, they are good in every setup, but they are not too hard to stop. Just take a few hexes away from them and make it harder for them to expand. You will find that if you do that, they will win a lot less frequently.

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nandblock
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by nandblock » 03 October 2019, 05:14

It's not so much that Cunningham is good (though it is very good), but that several other clans are quite bad, and if the initial random selection of clans contains Cunningham and some of the weak clans, then it won't be a very fun game.

This is an economic game, and the general rule is that early investments and engine-building will pay off later. Cunningham will typically be earning 70 to 90 pounds per round by midgame (round 3). The main danger, as you note, is that in a 3 or 4 player game the other players gang up and cut off room to expand, so by the time their money becomes unbeatable, Cunningham loses out on the 18-point settlement bonus. If Robertson is in the game (cheap delta placement / slaughtering), they can probably snipe the 12-point most-contracts bonus from under Cunningham. If it's a 2-player game and the 2nd player has a weak clan, it will be hard to rein in Cunningham even with the tighter map.

By contrast, Buchanan earns you 5 extra quid in round 1 (maybe another 5 if you sacrifice engine-building for fulfilling a contract, which I don't advise), and nothing at all in round 2. It saves you 10-15 pounds in rounds 4/5, long after you needed to get going. I can't see the way around this math: it's terrible.

MacDonald's fishermen permanently stunt your income, and do nothing area-control-wise you can't do by paying for shipping. I can't see how this is a competitive clan. I guess you're supposed to use the 2/4-pound savings on cheap workers to put out more of them faster, or place animals/factories. Dunno.

Stewart--you get 3 free merchants (= 12 pounds), and minor perks in the market. I'd suggest ignoring the advice in the rulebook to constantly do small transactions, as (1) the benefit of going to market is to take advantage of large swings in single, efficient transactions; (2) doing lots of small micro-transactions means you will pass later, getting less money and thus nullifying the teensy 1-pound gains you get from the market.

Anyway, I realize the game is not purely about the math--it's also about area-control and taking advantage of opportunities--but the backbone is still math/economics, and the disparities I've mentioned seem glaring. It's possible to win, or lose less badly, by CONSTANTLY targeting Cunningham, sure... but I find this very unsatisfying as a game dynamic.

In addition, I don't like the pacing of the game when there are huge income disparities: it's less annoying in a turn-based game, but in a real-life or online real-time game, sitting around after passing, waiting for Cunningham to finish spending all that accumulated money, is tedious. It's poor design to repeatedly force players to twiddle their thumbs through no fault of their own.

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cs2376jr
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by cs2376jr » 03 October 2019, 20:10

I would say the other clans have just as long a round as cunningham. Sure, they get lots of money, but they don't have any other bonus. so they will have like 30 more pounds than the other clans, but they will have other bonuses like campbell with their cheep factories and macewen with they beers. The main thing about cunningham is they are simple. Most people can just pick them up and play them decently, but other clans like mackenzie and macdonald, can take more skill to use, but can be just as good, if not better. overall I think the clans are fairly balanced, maybe just robertson and cunningham just a little better, but not a huge difference.

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Innovatormentor
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by Innovatormentor » 09 October 2019, 09:53

game designer here :)

Due to the export bonus scoring for most fulfilled contracts, there is a certain incentive to fulfill many contracts.
When one fulfills contracts in the last 2 rounds only, one tends to go for big contracts due to the steep cost of acquiring contracts.

By fulfilling contracts throughout the game (small contracts with direct return in the early rounds) one can fulfill more contracts but one might hurt one's engine a bit.

In addition the meat scoring tile and the rare import good scoring tile can give extra incentive to fulfill contracts before late game. Furthermore, if one produces many processed goods and the price is down, exporting is likely better idea than selling it at low price (often the case for MacKenzie and Campbell).

And sometimes it is feasible to achieve a high score despite fulfilling very few contracts:
https://boardgamearena.com/table?table=58373762

Regarding Cunningham:
It is easy to play but among strong players it is not the best at all. In the European Championship Tournament Clan Cunningham's average score was below average!

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nandblock
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Re: clans of caledonia strategy

Post by nandblock » 12 October 2019, 21:48

In the Championship Tournament was the clan auction variant used, or was the below-average score unadjusted?

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