While there is luck in the game, it is possible to minimize it. I find that not building if you don't have a good choice is sometimes good. If everyone else builds and has no cards left, you can usually try for another card and build quickly before they can do their own build. Usually someone who always builds no matter what is stuck with too many low point buildings. I've often won the game with only 10 or 11 cards, so you can let yourself get behind by 1 or 2 and still be okay.
Also, with 4 players, you know 4 out of 5 phases will be chosen, so you don't have to worry if a phase is skipped as much. This means
Trade cards are a bit better.
On average, the winning score in the games I play is above 32. A score of 40 happens every 4 games or so, and I think we've had a high of 48.
If you want to remove as much luck as possible and if playing with only the original set, I would suggest the following rules:
- When building, allow one to build any building they wish, regardless if it is in the hand or not.
- If built on the same turn, you may exceed the card limits for specific buildings.
- 3 people want to play
Guild Hall at the same time, they all get to. After that, it can't be played.
Wells have been played. A 3rd player wants to play it, so the 4th player must either play it now or not at all.
This takes the luck of the draw out of the game and focuses your play on a well designed schedule of building. You have to balance high point buildings with buildings that get you cards in your hand. I find that focusing on getting cards for the first 6 builds and then switching to high point buildings after that works best (even in the regular game.)
You would also have to tailor your strategy to how you think your opponents will select their phases. If they have the
Market Stand, they may choose
Trade more often. If they have the
Prefector, they may choose
Consular more often. You can attempt to piggy-back your buildings on what they might choose.
Here's the best way to accomplish this variant:
- Organize all cards so that you have 2 of each face up, left out of the draw pile.
- Use 3 or 4 of the production buildings, depending on number of players.
- With more than 2 players, when the face up stack runs out, attempt to replace it.
- Favor production buildings when burying cards in the
I've played this variant with 2 players a few times and it is quite fun. You really get a sense of which card combinations work best together. This helps when playing normal because you can spot good combinations more often if you've tried them. The average score with this variant is over 40.