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Thurn & Taxis is a fun game that gets brought out reasonably often in our group; but I'm finding it difficult to work out how to do consistently well at it.

My problem is that it seems like you can take any number of different paths leading in the general direction of victory. Build short routes and grab points for being the first to complete a region. Build long routes and grab points for being the first to build long routes. Concentrate on finishing one big region for a hefty points boost. Spread your houses all over the board to be the first to have a presence in every region. Play out as many houses as possible to be in the best position when the game ends early. Play conservatively to maximise the value of the houses you do play.

It just feels like any of these opposing and contradictory strategies could win the game, depending on the right cards being available on your turn, of course! But I can't believe that T&T is that random - I must just not have "gotten" it yet. Therefore, what are the best ways to sit down at a table with other relative newbies and do well at Thurn & Taxis? Mega bonus points for describing how/if this changes if you're playing with the quite different rules in the sequel ("The Power and the Glory" I believe?)

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In my experience, this is exactly the fun of the game and all its expansions (and a few others like it): there is not one strategy that is guaranteed to do well, but you have to constantly adapt your strategy to what cards are available, what the other players do, etc. I would consider this a virtue of the game, and would typically consider a game that has one winning strategy to be broken.

It often happens to me that I play a game that's new to me, lose to someone more experienced who did better in one particular area, and decide that improving that area is going to be my strategy because I now see that it is 'obviously' better than concentrating on other areas. Then in the rematch, the positions are reversed and the other player creams me with my 'original' strategy. The lesson is that the difficulty of the game is not in implementing a strategy - anyone can do that - but in recognizing which of the many available strategies is called for in a given situation.

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That being said, there are strategies that rarely work even if the whole universe seems to conspire to make you do it. I've never seen anyone who aimed to get Bavaria complete very quickly, win. –  Erik P. Mar 2 '11 at 21:04
    
The last game I played saw the player who completed Bavaria straight away winning by a large margin! I don't know, I agree with you that a multiplicity of viable strategies is a great feature of a game. I'm just uneasy, with T&T, that so far I can't see how the choice of strategy matters. I guess "adapting best to what cards come up" is a very good skill in and of itself, nothing to be sniffed at... –  thesunneversets Mar 2 '11 at 21:56
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As I see it (having played close to a hundred games), the way to win at T&T is to play all or most of your houses while getting as many bonus points as possible. Beginning players tend to focus on the carriages, but generally if you're playing against experienced players the game will end before you can get to the 7th carriage anyway.

How you get the bonus points is up to you, but I've found that (at least on the original map) the game tends to go to someone who ignores carriages and focuses on getting long routes. Personally I tend to start out (depending on the initial cards available) with a route of length at least 5, either all different colors or all grey. Usuall I try to be the first to get every color, but getting all the greys works too. Either way, my goal is to, as much as possible, place one post office for each card played and use my special actions to draw and play more cards; this way I'm maximizing my efficiency.

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