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Author Topic: Figures in the Sand: Age 2  (Read 1350 times)

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Figures in the Sand: Age 2
« on: August 20, 2013, 07:39:55 am »

Figures in the Sand: Age 2

Age 2 Figure cards are quite the step up from Age 1 Figure cards. All 5 colors contain a Figure that has the two-figure Decree Karma, so if you weren't able to snag one during the Age 1 fight, you'll probably have better luck finding one here!

Let's get to it; I'll refer you to so you all can follow along.

Ximen Bao (Yellow):

Ximen Bao has the two-figures Decree Karma for Expansion, whose usefulness is suspect this early on in the game. If you've been diligently tucking cards through Soap, Perfume or the like, then perhaps an up-splay may be beneficial. Ximen Bao's inspire ability, much like Sunsho Ao's ability from Age 1, is still very useful for getting rid of unwanted Echoes cards in hand!

Ximen Bao's 'other' Karma effect is... Well, it's very unique to say the least. The ability to run off all of your Echo or Inspire effects in yellow is quite, quite nice. That said, a few issues:

1. As you are activating your yellow stack to gain the benefits of Ximen Bao, the Dogma symbol used will be Leaves; of which Ximen Bao only provides one. You'll need to make sure you have leaf support in other colors.
2. Ximen Bao really benefits from early splaying, as well as Echo effects on those Echoes cards with the Echo effects on the left-splay (read: Ruler, Umbrella, Bell, Flute, Chopsticks, Glassblowing, Almanac, Magnifying Glass, and Novel). Go for Expansion on a stack (usually Red or Blue) if you can reveal more effects!
3. For Figures cards, only 1 of the 15 Age 1 Figures cards feature a left-splay visible Echo effect (Imhotep), and only 3 of the 15 Age 1 Figures cards feature a left-splay visible Inspire effect (Shennong, Sneferu, and Sargon of Akkad).
4. Unless you have tons of Echo or nice Inspire effects visible, you are almost always better off running a single stack instead to benefit from the Dogma effect visible on the top of the stack as well.
5. Any 'execute its non-demand dogma effects for yourself' cards won't work well with the yellow stack, since doing so specifically excludes Echo effects (as they are not “Dogma effects”).

That said, Ximen Bao is great for snagging History later on. Might also be worth keeping him in your hand and see if your latter splays and tucking actions may yield some great combos. Just don't forget to keep your leaves up!

History Tip: Ximen Bao and Sunsho Ao are Chinese statesmen best known for also being China's early canal-building engineers; the fact that they both allow tucking of cards is a nice nod to that connection! Bonus points if you tuck “Canal Building” with either of them!

Cai Lun (Yellow):

An extremely handy dogma effect lets you catch up with splaying if you miss out in the early ages. Cai Lun's Karma effect can be very awesome if you've been using Echo effects to build up a nice Forecast pile (perhaps trying to get Destiny early). His ability to foreshadow a 3 when trying to claim an achievement is somewhat passable, but the ability to achieve cards in your forecast is quite, quite nice. If you find Cai Lun, you should do your best to find Almanac from Echoes!

Considerably more limited utility in a Base + Figures game, due to the lack of foreshadowing effects, and might be better off saving him as part of a Decree instead.

Ptolemy (Green):

An excellent Inspire effect to quickly build the board up at Age 2, even more so when your opponent is still stuck in Age 1. Issuing a Trade Decree at this Age is nice, especially if you are leading in Castles (oh, Engineering goodness!) though not as awe-inspiring as the almighty Age 4 Base cards!

The Karma effect of Ptolemy is nifty, especially in a multiplayer game, as it just gives you more options. Opponent has Mathematics on their board? Use Ptolemy to tech up! Opponent left Perfume on their board while they teched up? Now you can catch up! Did your opponent just meld Software? Umm... okay. Be mindful when your opponent has Ptolemy down; either build a resistance in symbols to your own blue card, or cover it up with something less desirable.

Bi Sheng (Green):

As the developer of moveable type printing technology, it is no surprise that Bi Sheng might be able to forecast Printing Press! Bi Sheng is a great card for when your board is missing certain colors; you can forecast a bunch of 4s and enable a non-Castle dogma effect to instantly tech yourself up. Super kudos if you combine this with Almanac to quickly 'tech up' your forecast pile!

Bi Sheng does work against claiming Destiny in Echoes games. If you are close to claiming it, either work towards finishing it with Bi Sheng's Inspire effect or Castle-based foreshadowers (like Bell, Bangle, and Horseshoes). You can also use Bi Sheng for claiming Monument with his Karma effect, if it already hasn't been claimed yet. However, tucking a bunch of 4 cards may not necessarily be the best play, especially considering how powerful some of them may be. Be sure to evaluate the board state before deciding to tuck them all!

Sun Tzu (Red):

Innovation, much like war, is a game of positioning. Sun Tzu knew this best and this card looks to gain when you would share with your opponents. The Wheel-like Inspire effect is nifty to draw up a big hand to then use with his Karma effect; building big stacks is pretty important in Echoes games, and Sun Tzu is an indirect enabler to that sort of thing.

His sharing bonus encourages players to share Dogma effects in order to meld cards as well as get Figures to do the War Decree with. Just be careful you have a way to share after drawing the first Figure that won't meld this Figure from the second share bonus!

Alexander the Great (Red):

Goodbye Age 1 and Age 2 Figures. Alexander the Great has graced the board with his 2-bonus presence. A Meld to score opponent figures followed by his Inspire effect can be a quick way to get yourself some score points if you have been falling behind. Once you're ahead, his Karma effect will allow you to essentially ignore icons and share/demand at will (one or the other, unfortunately). Alexander will eventually succumb to Gunpowder or better red cards, but do use him for strong attacks when you can (alas, one cannot have both Engineering and Alexander the Great out at the same time... would truly be madness if he worked like that!).

Be very careful of leaving him out too long in a share/demand state for too long. Being over your opponent in points means you can dogma without sharing, but means you'll be locked out of Figures. Conversely, not beating your opponent in points means your Demands will have no effect; of which some can be great ways of increasing your score/reducing your opponents score.

Confucius (Purple):

Confucius say: “Meld me with Chaturanga for Maximum Effect” thanks to his 3 bonus! Him having only 1 Leaf, as well as his echo ability to score Age 1 figures means you'll probably end up sharing the effect rather than scoring the Figure. No problem, you'll just get a Figure out of it while giving your opponent one point (maybe even netting even if your opponent had a Figure with a bonus out!).

Confucius's Karma effect is much Alexander the Great's, except with a lot more flexibility. As you can pick the icon (other than Castle), you can choose exactly whether you want something to be shared or not (and you will usually be dominating in at least 1 icon). This makes Confucius a pretty strong character and allows you to share trivial things like Oars or Bangle with your opponent for the purpose of getting more Figures. An excellent card all around!

Plato (Purple):

Another great card in Echoes games, not so much with a Base + Figures game. Splaying cards left early is great for revealing Echo effects and even some good Inspire effects from earlier Figures. Hopefully you have tucked a whole bunch of Age 1 Echoes cards and have Bell and Flute in your purple stack! Plato's Inspire effect is very, very good, and it lends well to his Karma effect.

More symbols is very good. Plato will give you at most 5 additional symbols for all five piles being splayed. Note this works even for non-left splays! His usefulness will last quite a while, since in the optimal case, his card essentially counts as 20 additional symbols. Be mindful for when he is eventually covered up as to what you'll become vulnerable to!

Finally, just as you're dominating the symbol count, you can Decree Rivalry and knock your opponent back some progress towards the next achievement. Excellent!

Archimedes (Blue):

The first of the “increase Age values”. His natural Echo effect means you'll end up drawing a 3, and the interactions with him versus many other cards can lend to more craziness. Some notable examples include:

Teching up two Ages with non-blue cards (Pencil in Age 4 to draw an Age 6 card, Charitable Trust in Age 3 to draw an Age 5 card) makes said cards much stronger.

Attacking your opponent with Clock to immediately end the game; good if you're leading in score!

Changing the criteria of some cards. Have Noodles out and a bunch of Age 2 cards? Well, good for you! Noodles, with Archimedes out, now evaluates who has the most Age 2 cards, instead of Age 1 cards!

Not sure about this, but Archimedes may interact with the 'make more achievements available' cards like Chopsticks and Toothbrush. Look out for those interactions!

As great as he is, be very mindful of attacking your opponents with most Demand effects; the compensation they will receive will be boosted by Archimedes. Hitting an opponent with Enterprise with Archimedes out will mean they draw and meld a 5 (which may be good if you're looking to steal a card from them in Age 5!).

Zhang Heng (Blue):

For I am Zhang Heng, destroyer of boards. For when you need to catch up in points and tech quick! His Karma effect adds considerably to your score and is an excellent way of claiming the Wealth bonus if you are playing an Echoes game as well. If your stacks are tall enough, you may also get lucky with claiming Monument as well!

Zhang Heng is absolute boss in Base + Figures games, where the numbered achievements are much, much more important!

But... be mindful of using his Echo effect too much. It will destroy your board, and this can be very problematic in an Echoes game. If his echo effect is revealed via a right or up splay, it may be very dangerous to run your blue stack in the late-game, especially when Age 3 cards are returned!

« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 07:45:07 am by Darthcaboose »
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