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The title says it all -- maybe it's just me, but the difficulty from going to Normal to Elite difficulty is more than a little challenging. I've played with a combination of player combinations, but haven't been able to beat the game on Elite yet.

I seem to be struggling to win on either Elite or Legendary difficulty based on the following things:

  • keeping up with three flooded areas per turn right off the bat (instead of the usual two)
  • only able to hold 10 treasure cards (2 people * 5 cards per person)
  • being too spread out to keep shoring up flooded areas

Does anyone have any tips or strategies for dealing with three- or four-flooded areas per turn, and how best to trade and use special abilities?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Your limited power to hold cards is still going to be one of the most important parts of the game.

  • Since you're guaranteed to go through the deck at least once and probably more, don't be afraid to use your special action cards (helicopter and sandbags). You might already be doing this, but I know my group sometimes tries to save them when we could have easily gotten them again when the deck cycled through a second time and gotten almost double the benefit. The big exception is if you're toward the end of the game, have only 1 helicopter, and know you won't be drawing one soon.

  • If you have the cards to get a treasure, get it ASAP. Having to hang on to 4 cards essentially gives you a 1 card capacity and means you'll have to discard a lot of things you'd rather have kept. The sooner you can dump those cards for a treasure to free up hand space, the better.

  • Time is your enemy. You probably already knew this, but it's worth reiterating. You need to manage the cards that you draw as effectively as possible by getting treasures as soon as possible, because once you discard 2 cards of one color, you have to wait until the next reshuffle to even have a chance at getting them back. And with 3-5 tiles flooding per turn it's extremely difficult to shore them up fast enough. Thing will get worse every turn, so do whatever it takes to avoid having to wait a long period of time for a certain card.

  • Figure out what part of the island you really need to save. There are virtually always some tiles that are less important that you can let sink without much consequence. Since movement is so expensive, be very wary of what's worth moving for. If you're going to use your whole turn to move to a tile to shore it up, make shore its a tile that's actually worth it.

  • However, if you don't have to move to shore up a tile, I'd always do it unless you have something more urgent, like getting a treasure. Shoring up a tile guarantees that it will stay afloat at least until the next Waters Rise! card comes up, and having its flood card in the deck means that more important things won't be sinking. Any turn you shore up 3+ tiles, even if they're non-essential, is a well spent turn as long as you won't be forced to discard anything valuable.

  • As for trading, try to identify one part of the island you can keep afloat and both stay in to reduce movement needed to reach the other player. If you have 4 cards of one color between you, do whatever is necessary to get that treasure FAST so you won't be forced to discard 2 cards of one color and have to wait for another reshuffle.

I'd definitely say the game is most difficult with 2 players, so don't be ashamed if you have trouble winning. I'd probably leave out the navigator and messenger as Bryanjonker stated in his answer as their powers will be the weakest in a 2 player game. You'd probably have better odds of winning if you gave yourself a small handicap. My preferred way to playing is with 4 actions per turn and the initial water level cranked up 1 level. Things tend to stay about even, the game goes quicker, there's more tension, and IMHO more strategy. If you like you could also allow sandbag cards to be used as any color treasure to reduce the dreaded long wait for that one card you need to complete a set.

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Very nice answer. I really like your alternate rules too. –  Tanner Jan 14 '13 at 7:42

A lot of it depends on what roles you choose. Engineer obviously is going to have a greater ability to shore up areas, and Explorer is good with that as well. I'd say these are the two optimal roles -- stay close together, and plan to go through the deck at least once.

Pilot and Diver, you are focusing less on shoring up (although that's important), and more on making sure you are together, shoring up the vital areas, and trading cards. I'd say these two roles are more challenging, because more of the island will sink.

The other two roles, I'd skip for a two player game on Elite -- too challenging.

But, it's difficult in any case. Not sure if any of this helps.

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