Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

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michal984
Posts: 4
Joined: 06 April 2022, 00:13

Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by michal984 »

Hi players

As of starting this forum, my ELO in Stone Age is 985 while 2nd and 3rd players have 943 and 867. I guess playing this game well isn't an interesting challenge for me anymore. But I see another challenge - helping others to play on an excellent level.

Feel free to use the opportunity and ask me questions to help you play better. I will try to answer your questions related to Stone Age strategy and tactics due to best of my knowledge.

Btw, the settings I play with:
1. all the extensions turned on
2. 2 players
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Devine Design
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 December 2023, 18:01

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by Devine Design »

What a great opportunity. Thank you for your post. As for my first questions:

What were the most important factors in your case for reaching this skill level? I.e. watching replays, crunching numbers, just plain lots of games gaining experience, perhaps other reasons.

How do you find a balance in finding what's good to do for you and blocking the opponent from doing what's good for him?
michal984
Posts: 4
Joined: 06 April 2022, 00:13

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by michal984 »

Devine Design wrote: 13 January 2024, 15:20 What a great opportunity. Thank you for your post. As for my first questions:

What were the most important factors in your case for reaching this skill level? I.e. watching replays, crunching numbers, just plain lots of games gaining experience, perhaps other reasons.

How do you find a balance in finding what's good to do for you and blocking the opponent from doing what's good for him?
0. What a great opportunity. - Sure, you are welcome :)

1. most important factors in my learning - I think it might have been these: a) finding out my preferred settings (all extensions); b) choosing the right strategy for those settings (go for meeples primarily, exchange skill secondarily + starvation); c) having strong mathematical thinking, especially probability and expected value concepts were always very intuitive for me (but for the needs of this game, it should quite easy to learn and "memorize" if you don't "count it"); d) finding out some "half-algorithm-half-intuition" how to estimate the expected value of each option on the board (which is very dependent on the stage of the game and which is quite hard to get - probably still iterating and doing some changes on the intuitive level); e) losing some games badly and learning from those; f) haven't watched many replays - but once I was among the best players, I analyzed every lose - not many learnings in the past few hundred games, but maybe: a) that the 10th meeple isn't that necessary to always go for it; b) use more often the "place all 7 places on the mammoth resource" not giving the opponent any chance for the strong reward and even not giving him the weaker reward; c) learning that fewer resources in the pool are sufficient to not get resource-controlled (see below) than what I used to think; d) go more often for paying extra (3 resources) on the 5th card for an additional extra card than I used to... Plus that all the opponents who have beat me in the last few hundred games played very, very similarly than I play and/or had extreme levels of luck.

2. balance in finding what's good for me and blocking opponent - a) with all the extensions, it's usually "what's good for me is good for opponent" - especially if the opponent is strong (which means using the same strategy as me of building many meeples quickly + starving them); b) resource control - you usually want to place meeples on good cards or good buildings before placing them to produce resources like wood and others. And by control I mean risking you (or the opponent) won't have how to pay for those cards or building (or the need to pay with expensive resources like gold instead of the cheap resources like wood) - To risk I might get controlled by the opponent, the possible reward needs to be very high; and if the opponent is too greedy, I often go for control myself. The beauty here is that once you start resource-controlling your opponent like this (e.g. she ends her turn with 0 resources), you can often keep this control for several rounds; c) I find it funny how some opponents place their meeple on a "green card" which they don't have the "pair card" yet even when it's more expensive than other green card which they already have the "pair card" and the two green cards have the same benefit or the more expensive one has weaker benefit. Considering I play always 2-player games and that usually the games end up on lack of cards, not lack of buildings, then all the green cards (not counting their extra benefits) give a little below 9 points expected value. Like specific example - the difference between 1+1 and 8^2+8^2 (64+64-2 = 126) is the same as 2^2+0 and 9^2+7^2 (81+49-4 = 126).

Hope this helps
Urgmurg
Posts: 5
Joined: 07 May 2023, 22:44

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by Urgmurg »

There would be an easy option to make the game challenging again: Play different settings. In particular, those where competitive play typically takes place.
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Devine Design
Posts: 3
Joined: 06 December 2023, 18:01

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by Devine Design »

Thank you for your extended answer.

To add onto the remark by Urgmurg. Will you compete in the following tournament? https://boardgamearena.com/tournament?id=241404

I myself was looking for a challenge, and will compete in all 20 games of the Family category, see how many medals I can rake in for my country :)
Seeing as you have a good intuition for the math and plays to make, scoring well should be easy, but excelling and winning medals could be an exciting challenge.
michal984
Posts: 4
Joined: 06 April 2022, 00:13

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by michal984 »

Thanks for suggesting me the "alternate challenges for myself" :)

Anyway, if someone else has questions on the topic of this thread - strategy & tactics - feel free to ask and I will try to reply.
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campusclimber
Posts: 15
Joined: 18 May 2020, 23:24

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by campusclimber »

I can definitely see how you can get bored playing the same version of this game over and over again. I definitely agree that starving is usually the best way to win and that 2 player games offer the best way to compare your "skills" at Stone Age against another player. If you want to have more fun, I would recommend trying other options. I quite enjoy 3 4 and 5 player games with all different combinations of extensions. I enjoy tournaments with all sorts of different options. I also enjoy playing arena games. Then again, I'm not trying to be the number one player on the site. I play to have fun. If I had to limit myself to two player games where I starve my people every game in order to try to climb to the top of a leader board, I would probably give up after a month or so because I would be so bored. I'm really happy BGA offers all the different extensions so I can keep playing different versions of Stone Age and keep things fresh!

Anyway, congrats for being number 1! I don't doubt that it took a lot of dedicated work. Thanks for the post and the explanations on everything (green card strategy in particular)! Good luck moving forward!
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Meeplelowda
Posts: 1166
Joined: 14 March 2020, 10:31

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by Meeplelowda »

michal984 wrote: 13 January 2024, 22:31if the opponent is strong (which means using the same strategy as me of building many meeples quickly + starving them)
I want to ask a direct question here, because there seems to be a controversy about starvation. Some people think it should be banned. Other people argue against the ban by saying "you just don't know how to defeat starvation."

Given that you say above that a strong player is someone "using the same strategy as me of building many meeples quickly + starving them," do you think anyone can beat your starvation strategy without themselves using it? How often does anyone beat your starvation another way?
michal984
Posts: 4
Joined: 06 April 2022, 00:13

Re: Q&A with #1 BGA player on strategy and tactics

Post by michal984 »

Meeplelowda wrote: 10 February 2024, 08:16 I want to ask a direct question here, because there seems to be a controversy about starvation. Some people think it should be banned. Other people argue against the ban by saying "you just don't know how to defeat starvation."

Given that you say above that a strong player is someone "using the same strategy as me of building many meeples quickly + starving them," do you think anyone can beat your starvation strategy without themselves using it? How often does anyone beat your starvation another way?
Note I am speaking for a game with all the extensions here. I guess it has been several hundreds games (maybe more than thousand) since someone not using the starvation strategy has beaten me in this setup.
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