Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Tuesday 30th May - Industria

I was still on holiday in Austria last week. So Steve has written the report for Industria. Take it away Steve.

This is one of those games that ought not to work. Money is very tight – more so, possibly, than in any other game – and to give even one or two talers more to your opponents than they give to you will likely scupper your chances of winning. The obvious way to proceed when you are the auctioneer is therefore to auction all of the tiles that you are fairlysure others will be prepared to pay for, and then take the one you want for free. When someone else is the auctioneer, you should decline to buy anything unless you absolutely must have it, eg. the reource you need to play a technology that you already own. However, the same logic applies to everyone. All of the players get the same income, so there seems little to be gained by moving it around in the auctions. Consequently, the auctioneer should conclude that it is too risky trying to sell off other tiles before taking the one he most wants himself, with the result that the auction phase should consist simply of each player taking a tile in turn. Even if the resource tiles are deemed to be worth less than the buildings and technologies (and I would argue that they are not, since no-one can possibly play a building or technology tile every round), it will not do a player who sees one coming his way any good to
bid for an earlier tile because, even if his bid is accepted, he will end up giving the auctioneer a taler in addition to the resource, and will have less money himself with which to build his purchase.

Despite all this, for some reason most tiles attracted at least one bid in our game – except when I was the auctioneer, when there seemed to be a conspiracy to make me take a tile I didn’t really want (it must have
been concocted when I was making the coffee); even when I wasn’t the auctioneer, I found myself the owner of buildings that I only bid on to push the price up. As a result, I ended up with a lot of tiles that I couldn’t afford to play, including both the Bank and the Bourse, which cost me a total of 1 taler. Fortunately, my poverty put me well back on the scoring track, and towards the end the conspirators began to abandon
their principles and buy my tiles, in order to maximise the VP earnings from their remaining money. This enabled me both to play tiles from earlier epochs that were linked to my existing tiles and, more
importantly, to build all of the factories with anchor symbols, and since I had both anchor tiles, this gave me the victory.

Industria fiends will have noticed, of course, that we were ignoring an important rule - you can only count one symbol tile of each type when scoring bonuses. The reason for this rule is clear – that one tile,
which cost me only 1 taler to buy and one to play, yielded 20% of myfinal score. Normally, the players would make sure that such a valuable prize was not allowed to fall into the wrong hands, or that, if it did,
a high price was paid, but money is so tight in Industria, particularly at the end, that no-one can afford to make the necessary spoiling bids. This is a problem throughout the game, actually, but it seems to me we
could go some way towards a solution simply by saying that any tile not yet played can be sold to the bank for 1 taler. You might argue that this would simply result in an automatic bid of 1 taler for every tile, but I don’t think so. If you pay 1 taler for a tile and then promptly sell it to the bank, it is effectively the auctioneer who gets the taler, not you. Also, not bidding would remain a more attractive option,
particularly for those early in the turn order, because if no-one bids, the desirable auctioneer role moves around. The key effect, I think, would be that spoiling bids would become worth considering, and this would add to the tension in the auctions, which are, after all, the main feature of the game.

Final scores:
Gary (start player) 33; Joe 38; Steve 41 (of which 8 came
from the second anchor tile); Richard 38

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