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Plough Driver: Once you have a stone house, you can pay 1 food at the start of each round to plough (at most) 1 field.

Groom: Once you have a stone house, you can build 1 stable at the beginning of each round at a cost of 1 wood. You do not need to place a family member on an action space to do this.

Manservant: When you build a stone house, place 3 food on each remaining round space. At the start of these rounds, you receive the food.

Pros: These cards become powerful once you have renovated to stone

Cons: Renovating to stone too early can limit the creation of additional rooms and thus family size. This will severly constrain your ability to score points/win.

Typical rennovation to stone typically happens late-game, (round 11-14) meaning you only get the cards' use two or three times.

It seems the only realistic way to use these cards is if you happen to draw at least two of them

and you also have either:

Clay Starter: When you play this card, if you only have 2 rooms in your wooden hut, immediately pay 1 food to renovate it to clay for free.

or

Conservator: You can renovate your wooden hut to a stone house without first needing to renovate it to a clay hut.

Question: Are there any other viable (competitive) use-cases for these cards?

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I think you are being a bit harsh on these cards. Let's say you renovate to stone in round 11 - definitely doable. Ignoring any combos, for the cost of one action and 1 or 2 food, you could get:

  • Plow driver -> 3 fields for 3 food. That is likely to get you at least 6 net points (with extra if you sow at some point). It's also similar payback to one of the plow minor improvements, with the bonus that the action space required (occupation) is one that is much less contested at that stage of the game than the plow field spots.

  • Groom -> 3 stables for 3 wood. Similar to using the rooms/stables action to build stables (a reasonably common move in the last couple of rounds, in my experience), but a little cheaper.

  • Manservant -> 9 food (so 7/8 net). Not stellar, but certainly better than you'd get from something like fishing.

I think any of these could form a reasonable move, depending on the state of the game and what other actions are available. They certainly don't look horrible. Then, there are a few situations that would boost them from average to good moves. As well as the two cards you mention, there are others that might help you renovate earlier, and a few that help with playing occupations such as the tutor, bookshelf and writing desk.

I wouldn't plan my whole game around using them, but would definitely give them a go under certain circumstances, and particularly if the stone spaces crop up early, making prompt renovation more practical.

  • There is some truth to what you say. I guess I'm just confounded as to why there are so many occupation cards that are only valuable when you have a stone house. – iAndelin Aug 23 '16 at 19:23
  • @iAndelin I think the answer to that is the "chaos management" part of the game. It can be much better to pick cards that spread over two to four different situations instead of going all in on one type of theme. This allows for adjusting mid-game based upon what others do. – Jeff.Clark Aug 23 '16 at 20:45
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I agree with User2340246 and want to supplement his answer, placing special importance on the fact that this game is all about "Chaos management", so it depends on the game state. Those cards combined could potentially be fantastic in the right circumstances, but if you go into play dead set on getting all of those out, ignoring what is going on around you, most likely you'll come up short.

It is quite possible to have one game where having a "themed" card combo will work out well, and then doing the exact same thing in another game it will not because you will have to do a few inefficient moves to make it happen.

Long story short, keep it in mind but don't force it.

I had one game where I themed it around the manufacturer and the materials-to-food type of thing, and it worked quite well. I actually destroyed that game with 50 some points. At a later date I tried the same thing and I got absolutely crushed. 30 points or so I believe. I thought about it for some time and I realized that I forced the play style and had to make some really inefficient moves to get all of the cards out, which put me wayyy behind in moves. If I would have just done one or two cards around that theme to supplement something else, it would have worked out much better.

Updated Use Case

I found a 67 point use case for these cards. Could have been even more :).

I have noticed that one of the hardest parts of fast renovation is family growth . To combat this I used Farm Steward and the Reed hut. Reed hut to get an extra person out fast, and then Conservator and farm steward for the family growth without room once Renovate came out in phase 2. Using Manservant and Maid and a couple other +1 food each round cards, and I was getting 12 food per harvest for free :) Didn't have to eat a single sheep or grain. Huge points. Oh, it also helped that I got Layabout for the Phase 2 harvest :)

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