19th August - Tinners' Trail

Steve's report of Tinner's Trail
The first of the four rounds in TT is by far the most critical in determining who will win, assuming the commodity prices and cube distributions do not go crazy. One reason for this is that the person who buys the first mine will go first getting the improvements, which will give him the pick of them (ie. the adit), and also possibly more of them. Consequently, the start player is in a quandary. If he puts the best mine up for auction, the bidding is bound to be intense, and he might end up paying over the odds, or letting someone else have it cheap (this assumes that no-one really knows what any mine is worth). If he puts up a less attractive mine and lets someone else have it so that there is less competition for the best mine, he won’t get the adit. What to do?

The strategy that I tried in both games was, basically, as follows:

First, I put two reasonable looking mines up for sale at 1, and dropped out of the bidding early, so that Richard and Garry got one each, leaving them with less money than me (fortunately they bid each other up, and spent 7 or 8 on each mine).

Next, I took the steam pump and removed a water from the best mine. This meant I was still last on the time track, so I then took the adit and used it to improve the best mine even more. In this way, I stole the best improvements from the players who would normally have expected to get them (and had for this reason perhaps paid a little over the odds for their mines), whilst still being able to guarantee that I would get the best mine for myself (because I had most money).

It might seem that, by developing the mine before purchasing it, I would be forced to pay more for it than if I had bought it first, because the other players would be les worried about having it ‘dumped’ on them, but I calculated that the other players were unlikely to bid me up to the limit of their money because, if they did, I might let them have the mine and then they would be unable to do any mining and thus have no money going into the next round – v.bad.

This element of my plan worked pretty much as I hoped. However, in both games I got caught out by being forced to take my ninth action before Garry, which allowed him to get a key mine for 1. I won the first game despite this, having managed to buy two adjacent mines in the first round but still get the adit (due to an error by Richard, who was the start player), but in the second game, the mine that Garry acquired was one that I had pre-developed, and I was unable to recover from the blow.

It will be interesting to see if my strategy stands the test of time, against players who are prepared for it. However, I suspect that my play in future first rounds will be geared more towards making sure that I am the player who gets the ‘free’ mine after everyone else has used their ninth action.

Richard’s chances were, as usual in TT, scuppered by the random commodity pricing. Garry and I discussed this piece of lazy design on the way home, and here are some of our ideas:

- Every time a mine is sold, the commodity prices change in some way that is related to the mix of tin and copper in the new mine (market expectations).

- Players get more actions, but selling cubes becomes an action, and prices change depending on what is sold (or on what remains unsold in the players’ yards?).

- Players sell their cubes at the time they mine them, with price modifiers determined by the improvements they have. The restriction on improvements per mine could be lifted with this one.

- Roll for one commodity price only. The other is then fixed by a rule that says the sum of the prices must be a constant. Perhaps the value of this constant could be affected by the level of investment on the investment table?

Game 1 Steve 108, Garry 87, Richard 72

Game 2 Garry 75, Steve 57, Richard 55

We had some time to spare so we had a few games of Hol's Der Geier. Steve and I managed to lay identical cards at least 2 or 3 times per hand (normally when trying to avoid the minus cards) thus forcing Richard to pick up loads of bad cards even though he'd played a really good card - what a laugh!

Score after 3 hands: Garry 60, Steve 47, Richard 11

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