Friday, November 09, 2007

A River Runs Through It

After a break of a couple of months I pulled down Roads and Boats again for a bash. I haven't played for a couple of months and was afraid I might be out of form so I didn't attempt Lord of the Ring which I was previously studying. I decided to play a just-for-fun game, so set up "A River Runs Through It".

Of course, no solitaire session of Roads and Boats can be started without a plan, and as I started to decide what needed to go where I wondered whether maybe I wasn't taking this just-for-fun game a bit too seriously. Well, as I don't ever recall my mum saying, if a thing's worth doing it's worth doing well.

The obvious feature of the map is that there's not very much space - just seven places to build until you can get irrigation. I figured I didn't have enough room for a stock market, and didn't think too hard about a mint, so I planned to build one gold mine and score 40 for the gold, and to see what else I could achieve. I thought it might have been a better idea to only go for Wonder points, but afterwards I realised that the Wonder only has 11 rows to score from in solitaire, so my maximum possible score would be 110.

Upon starting I recognised another feature - a river runs through it! The river almost cuts the map into two parts. So bridges needed to be made. This uses a lot more rock than just roads would. For donkey-breeding reasons the first bridge had to be built in the home space. (What happened was the donkey was on his way to a hot date but had to build a bridge, so he took the rock with him and built the bridge while his date was in the powder room. True story.) Throughout the game there were never quite enough roads, but conversely everything was close so there wasn't often a need for more roads.

The other feature of the river is that it supports water transporters, i.e. rafts. I thought they'd be useful, but on reflection I'm not sure that they were. It took a lot of resources to build them, they used spaces for the (second) woodchopper and the raft factory, and I don't think I got value for money from them. It seems strange to have a river without any water transporters, but I think I would like to try again with a better road network and no rafts.

For the connoisseurs, here's my time-line:

Turn 1: build quarry and woodcutter
Turn 2: build saw mill
Turn 3: build donkey
Turn 4: build donkey
Turn 6: build second woodcutter
Turn 7: build raft factory and paper mill
Turn 8: research specialised mines
Turn 10: build mine and raft
Turn 12: build raft
Turn 14: build raft, 2 bricks in Wonder
Turn 16: build 2 bricks in Wonder
Turn 18: build clay pit and stone factory
Turn 20: build 4 bricks in Wonder

As you can see, on Turn 17 I reached the irrigation space in the Wonder and built a clay pit and a stone factory on the newly irrigated spaces. Obviously to do really well one of those spaces will need to be a mint, and so the other will need to be a coal burner. I also have a feeling that I need to produce a clay pit and a stone factory instead of a quarry so that over the course of the game I can produce enough stone to build a proper road network and to feed the Wonder so as to get to the irrigation level soon enough to build the mint in time to make a coin. I'm not sure how I'll fare with initial resources, so I'll need a better plan next time. Maybe I'll also be able to put a second gold mine in where the raft factory was.

Hmm... back to the current session. My score was 40 points for 4 gold nuggets plus 70 points for 7 rows of the Wonder, which is 110. I think I'm obsessed again!

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