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Strategy 201 in Third Cycle, Part 1
Strategy 201:  You Know Some.  Now, Know More.

Part One of Several:  Jumpingfist, VBall Michael and Imperial Tark Form a Panel of Experts to Discuss Some Strategy Questions in Alamaze.   Get your popcorn ready!

1.    Name three things you think helped you become a top Alamaze player and explain why these were important.

a.      Communicating with the top players - if you want to be the best learn what the best players do.  For me most my fundamental information came from Dusi, LT and DuPont
b.      Reading the Valhalla summaries and tips other players have written.   This helps to give a great jumpstart to learning the nuances of the game.  
c.      Really understanding the orders.  - Really read the orders and think how they can be used to help yourself.   Some orders state a side effect that they cause these are the nuances you really need to be aware of and exploit when needed.  Like double taxing to move emissaries across the board back to your capital or relocating your capital to save the orders and cost of moving your full court across the map.

VBall Michael:
a.      Practice, practice, practice. Nothing tops trying numerous positions and numerous strategies for learning.
b.      Friend or Mentor. I joined up with a friend and we played our first 3 games together in diplomacy games, bouncing ideas off of each other. Working with a mentor has that same learning effect of bouncing ideas off of someone before suffering the results.
c.       Reading post-game write-ups. It is hard to see forward in a new game, so I used the opportunities to learn backward how other folks won their games, or almost won, or messed up. I learned so much that I also spent a lot of time detailing my games that I won in case it helped others learn at least one way to move forward.
Imperial Tark:
a.   I asked a lot of general questions on-line through the Forum, read through all the questions/answers on the Forum, asked a lot of strategy/tactics questions to those players who seemed to win a lot and were vocal on-line through the Forum (for me HeadHoncho and JumpingFist were my primary mentors), and if I wasn’t sure of certain game/order mechanics, I e-mailed Rick and UM at Support.  Between those sources, I learned MOST all of the inside information out there
b. Play a lot of games and diverse game formats (Duels, Primeval, Warlords, Confederation, Steel, Diplomacy, Titan, etc.).  The more practice you get, the more set-ups you see, the more opening moves you experience, learning which regions starting capitals are in, etc.  Practice, practice, practice.
c. Don’t quit when things go wrong.  No matter how bad you’re getting shellacked, stay in the game and learn how to adapt/fight with limited resources. Become a resistance fighter! 

2.  Can you describe your preferred style of play?  Aggressive, patient, defensive?  Military, Magic, Political, Economic, Covert?  Artifact Hunter?  Is there an area you tend to ignore independent of kingdom?

I am an aggressive player overall.  But I do play the hand I was dealt with set-ups.  I always rather bring the fight to another players region so I am fighting over their PCs while my PCs are still generating income in my home region.   The type of kingdom does affect my general build up and spending of resources.  I like to play to a kingdom’s strengths.  So a military kingdom I would build troops and likely be attacking another region within the first 6 turns before they can build up.  High magic kingdoms I am more likely to sit in my region if not attacked building up mages likely shooting for 4 P6 wizards by turn 10.  Non-military kingdoms I try not to build my military to early to avoid having to maintain the troops while I build up other areas.  Other than 1 or two standing orders to raise agents I tend to ignore covert actions.  I always raise my influence no matter the kingdom.  Artifacts I take them if I find them, but I do not go out of my way to hunt the, down generally.  I value magic and political the most for the end game.
VBall Michael:
a.      My preferred style of play is fairly aggressive. I like to develop for a few turns, but I am usually invading a second region by turn 6 or 7 (or sooner if I have great luck finding pop centers on turn 1). My favorite tactic is to choose my second region where I see a conflict (enemy declarations, a region going uncontrolled), then I like to swoop in and take out 2 damaged kingdoms.
b.      I like a balanced kingdom. My best successes were with DA and GN prior to the new release (now Wizards seem to be ruling temporarily but Gnome, Dark Elf and Elf are still among my favorites).
c.      I clear all artifacts in my region by turn 6, but don’t generally do too much chasing outside of the region.
d.      I tend to ignore ships and am about 50/50 on joining the High Council. Other than that, I develop all assets of my kingdom.
Imperial Tark:
I had this discussion with JumpingFist not too long ago.  I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades. I try to build up everything simultaneously. Which is often expensive and time-consuming but can be done with a very efficient use of orders.  It tends to keep you alive early on, but, it can really become a detriment if you face someone that has gone exclusively military or just raised wizards or agents. In that instance you need sound tactics and strategy to compensate. But if you’re left alone for the first 20 turns, boy, can you pack a wallop in all phases of the game.  When push comes to shove, I’m most likely to neglect Agents.  I’ll often get them to just L4 or L7 where they can be used for all recon missions.
Part 2.  There are three parts.

3.     Do you have a few favorite kingdoms in Full-On?  In Anonymous?  What makes them favorites and why does it vary by format?

Full-On most all kingdoms are fair game to me.  in Anonymous, I am a bit more selective.  The primary reason is you have no way to tell someone lets be friends.  So if you start in a region that has another kingdom in it most times you will be fighting from the get go and both your positions will be weaker.  I avoid most the southern kingdoms if dispersed kingdoms are in play.  both the TY and RD generally start in the south and need to fight early while they have the advantage.

VBall Michael:
 In full-on, I prefer a corner position, then I only have to get a couple of alliances. I am not that good at making 5-6 alliances. I prefer to let others lead the negotiations, and that has not always worked well for me. Thus, I do not play much full-on.
In anonymous, I like the balanced kingdoms or the mages. If left alone for 10-12 turns, watch out for VBM. I like to make sure my status points are near the bottom as of turn 6 so as to stay beneath the radar. By turn 12, I generally have 2 regions and become a target, and then I am just trying to hold on or to win quickly.

Imperial Tark:
In Full-on Diplomacy, I like to play the UN, RD, HA, or PI because you can parlay their special abilities through diplomacy; you essentially start from a position from strength if you’re talking with everyone.  In Anonymous, I tend to prefer the Wizards kingdoms (DU, NE, WA, SO, IL).  They just sit quietly in a corner building up their wizards but when they come out to play, its game over for the non-wizards.  But I eventually want to play all kingdoms in all formats. 
4.  What do you see as common mistakes by less experienced players strategically and tactically?  (not things like making mistakes on orders: deliberate decisions that are sub-optimal).

Creating to many long term NAPs at the game outset.  Not planning ahead for winter months.  Building up but no plan when they will be ready to attack.   Going along with building to long they are not scouting and divining the regions around them to be prepared if they need to mobilize quickly.   not fully understanding the sequence of actions.

VBall Michael
a.  The biggest mistake I see is half-ass invasions. As Sun Tzu said, paraphrased:  if you attack an enemy, wipe him out entirely. Coming into my region with a group or two and an emissary or two is a recipe for failure and retribution. Be friendly in the region, land at almost every pop center with a combination of emissaries and groups, and take away my control the first turn you are in the region. Denigrate me, take the region, and don’t let up until I leave the region or the game.
b.      A second mistake is defending a lost region (see above). If someone has taken the region away or they are clearly going to and they have denigrated you a couple of times, attack their region (hopefully you have done some homework and are ready to invade somewhere). Your home region is not necessarily your best target for re-invasion. Like many things in life, people seem tied to their region emotionally.
c.      Finally, prepare broadly. I have seen newbies build up their capitols to phenomenal levels but have no significant wizards or agents. I will just take everything in the region except your capitol. Be ready on offense or defense with a balanced set of assets (troops, mages, emissaries, influence, and agents).

Imperial Tark:
Not understanding how important it is to take your region by T3 (this confers a HUGE advantage by having all those bonus resources for one or more turns before others do).  Not spending time thinking about what your opponent is likely to do (you are NOT playing a static AI); think about what your opponent could do to really hurt you and then devise ways to counter it.  Ignoring your fleets; I’ve taken a lot of capitals because people “thought” they were safe with a water capital and I’ve made a LOT of $$$ through 711 orders with 12 fleets of low quality on a standing order.  Not understanding that sometimes it’s better to let someone keep a PC or two in your region when they are not otherwise bothering you.  Sure you can take their PCs so you control EVERYTHING in the region but do you really need to piss off a potential ally (who appreciates you leaving his PCs alone)?  If there’s not a strategic need to take it, you can leave it be…. It might just cause them to pick someone else to go after because you’ve played nice.  Not talking in a diplomacy game; you should be spending time talking to almost everyone in the game every few turns (and probably almost every turn with your adjacent neighbors).
5. What are your impressions of the January Changes?

I like the way these changes were approached.  It felt much more like it came from the player base.  Overall the changes are a bit drastic especially how spells are being limited even beyond one per group by grouping spells together.  Balances of power will likely shift some but I do not feel the overall balance of the game will be upset.  Of all the changes I think the upkeep cost of summoned troops and spell limits are likely to have the biggest effect.

VBall Michael:
a.      In general, I like them. It is really tough to make up 24 unique kingdoms and have all of them end up somewhat equal. Any attempt to use experience to balance the kingdoms is good in my book.
b.      Having said that, we may have hit the mage kingdoms a little too hard, but hey, what do I know, only time and experience will give us the real answer.

Imperial Tark:
They will bring balance to the Force!  I like them a lot.  I think they will greatly level the playing field such that non-wizards kingdoms will be able to better compete with the wizard kingdoms.  You may see some military kingdoms get far more aggressive at the start of the game.  I’m really liking the non-dragon, low spell cap kingdoms (non-wizard) variation right now (I’m in two of them) as more of a traditional combat game with armies slugging it out on the battlefield.  These changes will make that variant even more fun!
Part 3:

6.      How do you like to organize your groups, say if you have 4 groups and after turn 3?  How many group transfers do you make?


In the early game I like to have one group strong enough to take towns with aprox 20k+ strength, so they can also have troops gain experience.  The rest are patrols so they can both move faster using free force marches to cover more ground and scout out my starting region.  On turns before reinforcements I like to make sure I have one inactive group to allow me to get reinforcements even if an invisible group was to take out my capital.  I make tons of transfer now that they are free.  Also sometimes just to keep agents away.

VBall Michael:
As I said above, I favor mage and balanced kingdoms, so I don’t play military kingdoms very well. With my type of kingdoms, I like one large group with 2 Power 7 mages to take capitals or cities, then 1 medium group that can take a town but mostly villages, and 1 small group for villages or just to throw domes or dispels or meteors or death.
 My 4th group is usually back home watching the home front with a dome or two or a couple of denigrates. If no invasion, it is recruiting or my mages are raising my ems.
I rarely transfer my troops from one group to another unless I know that one of them is being trailed or targeted. It is a good practice; I am just so busy using my orders to develop all aspects of my kingdom that this transfer thing gets de-prioritized.
Imperial Tark:
I tend to have one main power group for combat, a group for artifact hunting, a group for 565 recruiting, and then a second full division/small army group.  Over the course of the game, I use a LOT of transfer orders.  I’m a big believer that when I bring groups together, I need to organize them for optimal combat readiness in case an enemy group(s) arrive too.  So I’ll often bring three small groups together into one big group at the end of the turn.  Then at the start of the turn, I’ll divide the big groups back in to three smaller groups and send them out to accomplish different missions.  It’s a lot of extra work that many people just don’t’ do, but it can be the difference between winning and losing.  And transfers are free!

7.      Name a few things about Alamaze that have made you a fan of the game.


I mostly enjoy playing against and meeting other players.  I like the hidden complexity within the game.

VBall Michael:

The sheer complexity of the game, but with orders and outcomes defined by logic and predictability, mixed with the unknown aspects of the game and the un-guessable actions of opponents. I like to know what my actions are going to do (so I do push Rick to disclose as much as possible about the rules/dynamics/math of the orders), but I also like trying to guess what my opponent will do, and the new specialized characteristics of the kingdoms has doubled that aspect. I think it is a nice mixture of sequential thinking and orders with the chaos of trying to execute a battle plan as you meet the enemy.
 I am also a big fan of the continuing attempt to improve the game. This has caused some angst with mid-game changes, but overall I like that we continue to keep it fresh.
Imperial Tark:
First, I much prefer playing live opponents.  Computer AI in almost every game out there in the market (of all genres/games systems) invariably become predictable and many just aren’t very strategic/tactical.  Live competition is far more energizing, competitive, and unpredictable.  Second, while small, we have a good group of players.  Most are friendly, and willing to help.  They’ll crush you in one game and then be your best ally in the next. Rick and UM are willing to help as well; which is certainly not true of all gaming company staff.  Third, the game is very well-balanced with a lot of diversity in kingdoms, abilities, strategy, tactics, and so forth.  You have lots of choices and options so no two games are ever alike.  Every position in every game has a chance to win.  Lastly, and this is more personal, I like turn-based game where you have time to think, formulate strategy, engage in diplomacy, and weigh your options within a reasonable turn-around.  It allows for superior strategy and tactics to carry the day but with just enough of a luck factor that nothings a sure thing.

8.   You have one wish for Alamaze.  It is what?


Alamaze the APP. 
VBall Michael:
I am going to cheat and give 2 wishes.
a.      Twelve kingdoms that are ultimately customizable. In other words, start everyone with a common base and expand Order 11 to more points and let folks customize (choose mage and then allocate points, or choose covert kingdom and allocate them and those initial choices affected the cost of choices or even the availability of choices).
b.      Second, I would like to play a diplomacy game, so my wish would be to find a solution to our problem of 6 or more people being allied before the game even starts, thereby requiring that everyone else form a similar alliance or be crushed.

Imperial Tark:

That all my games are FREE?!  Tongue
I like options.  So more kingdoms to pick from, more special abilities/traits, more ESO options, more ESO reward options, more T0 customization choices/points to spend, more/new artifacts, more orders to pick from (and/or tweaking of current orders), more spells, more kingdom-specific spells/abilities, more game format variations, more HC motion options, more ways to earn status points, more building types, more special character types, more maps to play on (including ones where much of the world/map is unknown outside your small 6x6 square starting area), more benefits for being “allies”,  more companion brigade types (including some you can recruit in water squares), larger games with even more players that can extend beyond 40 turns, perhaps having another 26x26 map “underneath” the main surface map where you also control a traditional D&D-type group of kingdom characters that explore, fight other groups, overcome monsters and can find/unlock new artifacts, spells, personnel, brigades, and treasure that can then be used by your kingdom on the main (surface) map.  And of course, I’d wish that Rick and UM would have all of the above ready to be implemented by next Tuesday Big Grin
Thanks to our three panelists, Jumpingfist, VballMichael, and Imperial Tark for sharing their insights into The Choosing.

This is an open thread for discussion.  Feel free to post your own views, ask questions, or discuss other areas of The Choosing not addressed here.
(01-28-2017, 11:17 AM)Ry Vor Wrote: Thanks to our three panelists, Jumpingfist, VballMichael, and Imperial Tark for sharing their insights into The Choosing.

This is an open thread for discussion.  Feel free to post your own views, ask questions, or discuss other areas of The Choosing not addressed here.

Thanks, everyone for one of the most interesting discussions I have seen in the few months I have been playing.   In response to Tark's last comment about the map, I used to play a lot of World Conquest quite a few years ago.  It had an unexplored map and a wrap around world that made the game very interesting.  Until you ran into other players you didn't know who was where other than top or bottom.  There is something to be said for an unexplored map and the randomness of it but Alamaze works well too.

Here's a question for the experts:  How important is gold (you need it for just about everything), and what is your preferred way to get it?
Gold is very important and getting a net gold advantage over others is critical in being able to develop your kingdom quicker.

Look at things as a return on investment. An example of this could be create gold vs hidden ore. Even a P5 would give you 10k gold for that turn but if you have every expectation to hold that PC for 4 turns the 2500 per turn will pay off in the long term many times over. At a p3 or p2 level this should really be a no brainer choice to take hidden ore.

Other worthwhile investments
-especially for northern kingdoms build fleets and issue a standing order 711. For a cost of 12k gold you gain 4.5k gold return turn over turn. 12 fleets returns 18k gold. This is extremely useful to northern kingdoms as it is not effected by winter. If you can do this with 2 sea zones you may be almost doubling your winter gold production by turn 5.

-armies while you building up if you have some extra orders. clump them into one group. Do not pay one turn then double feed them the next. This will give you a bigger return than selling the food on open market and in a friendly region is basically break even on moral
-army maintance is the cell phone/car/cable bill of Alamaze. Avoid over building your army to the point you can not carry out basic required functions. If your jus building but no real schedule for an offensive attack or defense think about building the low maintance units first like giant bats/goblins/zealots. Your still limited to 3 per turn but your not paying for those high end units to just sit there while you continue to fill out your army.

-Take advantage of industrial or ToT traits when possible.

-for magic kingdoms consider raising a wizard to cast prestige instead of dumbing 15k a turn into your king. Some pure mages get 481 at P5 this is a bargain in the long term plus it raises the wizards.
Gold is mega-critical! Your ability to have all order options on the table really come down to how much gold you have. The less you have, the fewer options you have, and in some cases, you can't even use all of the orders you have available to you because you run out of gold to execute them. Nothing like having 22 orders and only using 15 of them because you're cash poor.

If you have a hidden capital, you should be hitting it with 602 and 603 orders as often as possible; if you have P3s that aren't otherwise pre-occupied, give them a 602/603 standing order. If no hidden capital then either a PC with mega defenses or a PC in a non-strategic "out of the way" location. Casting the Bounty spell multiple times also jacks up your Food production which then allows more to be converted in to gold (and is also a great way to compensate for both winter effects and maintaining large armies).

Build 12 fleets of 4k ships in every sea that you have a coastal PC and park them with a #711 S.O. And as JF mentioned they are immune to seasonal effects. Note that if the Pirates or Atlantians are in the game this could be risky; but even they only get $2k more for fighting you in a 705 Sea Battle then just using their fleet for a #711 trade run.

Do favorable trades in team/diplomacy games. Use Tricks of the Trade to just send 100k gold back and forth and enjoy the 25k bonus each time. When you get your wizards high enough that they can do King's Aura and Augment Title, use them to save tons of gold raising emmys and influence.

Stealing gold from cities can bring a nice return if they are unguarded.

And if you've got Adventurer Trait and Valyrian steel, you can make a fair hunk of gold grabbing up artifacts.
Maelstrom will have quite a few changes to all things nautical.  An objective is that major rule changes will be backward compatible to The Choosing.  One almost certain to happen is fleets will have maintenance costs as do brigades.

There will be different types of fleets, with different requirements.   Barges can transport, but only a % as effective at Trade, dead wood in battles.  Cheap, though.  Merchant ships best for trade, lightly armed but nimble.  A few classes of battle ships of increasing size, power and cost and requiring improvements to the naval yards of your port.

I made a major increase to the value of Trading Mission early in The Choosing as it wasn't being used.  That was an over-adjustment.  But a more common tactic for sea farers should also be Sea Patrol to whittle down the competition and provide leverage in potential alliances or NAPS.

We may have Admirals and Commodores, more naval tactical selections, but that is not likely for a while.

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