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This frequently comes up when I play Alien Frontiers: both the Burroughs Desert (for its relic ship) and the Holographic Decoys are hotly-contested commodities. (Yes, it's a bit silly to use the Raider's Outpost to steal the Holographic Decoy so that nobody can use the Raider's Outpost on you except to steal the Holographic Decoy, but it's still a useful move if you have the alien artifacts that are worth victory points.) The trouble comes when I want one of those contested resources; each time I steal that resource, it's useful to me. But if that guy over there is going to keep stealing it back, then it's a waste (and the other players will pull ahead).

So: in a 3- or 4-player game, when should I steal that resource back, and when should I decide I've wasted too much time?

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In my experience, having six dice available is a powerful threat that your opponents should never ignore. Attempting to take and hold the Burroughs Desert, with its access to the cheap relic ship, will probably not be worth the cost under any circumstances unless your opponents are allowing you to get away with murder. Either judicious use of colony-moving artifacts (making the region a tie) or the Inderdiction Field should shut down the Burroughs Desert. Consider it a threat to make your opponents spend resources, not an opportunity in itself.

By contrast, the Holographic Decoy is a lot easier to steal successfully. It's wonderful to have, but you need to know if it's likely to be stolen right away. If there's another player at the table who will steal it just to have it... don't waste your own resources. Otherwise, take it if there's nothing you need more right now (maybe a low 1-2-3 with no way to steal resources you can use) and especially if you might be able to use its best power--to hold ore from turn to turn without it being stolen--in the next turn or two.

If you do grab the Holographic Decoy, try to get ore in the same turn if possible. It's less attractive to steal the Decoy if the next player will then have access to all your ore for cheap.

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  • A very late thought: what if there are two Holographic Decoys on the table? Dec 18 '12 at 23:40

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