Q1: The Rex Strategy Guide
Before you head to the troubled planet, I’d like to give you some strategic advice to gain the upper hand against your opponents. After all, what’s better than entering a fair fight with forewarning? Nothing, that’s what.
The first thing I must stress to you is to play your opponent, the person. Anticipate their moves based on their tendency towards aggression or preference for acting in a slow and steady manner. If you identify a weak link in your strategy, being maneuvering for an alliance with the person who can plug that hole. Manipulate the board, directly where possible by moving forces to block and intercept, and indirectly, with table talk, non-binding promises, and threats.
Secondly, remember to leverage your advantage constantly. If you are not acting 100% in concern with your super power, you’re a fool.
If you get paid for every bid occurring, you should drive up the bids where possible and act less slavishly towards the somewhat random spawn of Influence on the board. Use brute force and numbers by spending your money where others need to blind bid on cards they may not be able to use.
If you have four Traitors, you need to threaten everyone constantly. Strut about with your big stick and terrify everyone that you have their Traitor. You can even bait them if you play patiently by not using the Traitor the first time, and waiting until they commit a greater force for an even greater defeat. If you become allies with someone with whom you have all the Traitors, know that you’ll have a lesser ability to impact the game. You’ll rely on them to act in your interest, which is a dangerous notion.
If you’re playing as Sol and win by holding out, be sure to aggressively hold out. You need to disrupt your opponent’s supply lines and take the Influence, or at least make them pay for it in blood. You recruit freely to certain regions, and you regain more free Units, which means you can spend your units more recklessly. If your opponents are fat with influence and well-entrenched, your fortress on the far side won’t be so great.
If you get to see cards, use this information to your advantage. Remember who buys what. Bid up bad cards to encourage people to overpay, and purchase the counter-cards to defeat your opponents in a battle. If you know they have poison, prevent the poison! They don’t know that you know exactly what they have!
If you play the faction that can predict the winner and the end...well, do everything in your power to make that occur. Don’t just hope it occurs. Be the change you want to see in the world!
When you fight, if you have two different cards, it’s good to use one to reveal it and help your opponent see it. On a follow up battle, use a different card to surprise them. Give them a false sense of security in that they think they know what you’re going to use again. Use the card blatantly, plant it in their mind, then do something else instead. Always be deceiving!
Something that stymies new players in games like Dune, Rex, or Forbidden Stars, is that you win by conquering a certain number of important territories. Players often act recklessly and throw themselves into battles, hoping to win the game in just 3 or 4 rounds. Unfortunately, battles in this game are heavy attrition affairs. If the battle is a remotely even match up, you will lose Units. Although you’ll get some back for free, others you’ll need to pay to revive, then pay to re-deploy to the planet. The more recklessly you lose units, the more predictably you’ll play.
Why is that? Well, you’ll need Influence. Influence spawns every round. If you are cash poor, everyone at the table will know where you’re going. Hint: It’s towards the money. If you’re predictable, you might as well be dead.
Play the game such that you capitalize opportunities and weak flanks when you see them. But, don’t be foolish or reckless. Think a few turns ahead and preserve your units for when they can be spent to really take a prize worth having. Remember that you deploy to friendly zones for less, so if you own it, you can add more Units later without spending too much.
Think about it this way: If you have money, and Units in 3 or more Regions, you can move almost anywhere. Your range of threat will be immense, which will force your opponents to act very cautiously to shore themselves up (giving you more time to prepare your assault), or foolishly to lash out at you. It’s okay to sacrifice one army group if you have a few others to move into the vacuum.
Plan ahead, fight when the timing suits you, and spend your units for meaningful purchase.
Finally, do something erratic. This is a game where people can see you slowly inching towards the stronghold. They know you want it. Your opponents will see you moving towards the influence. However, they don’t know which Traitors you have. They don’t know which cards are in your hand. Some of them can provide bonus moves, bonus recruits, and other such shenanigans. Do something erratic and unexpected. Throw people off their rhythm and concern them.
If you upset the plans of others, it’ll slow them. If you force them to react, it’ll slow them. Create political capital around the board and influence others with threat: implied, real, and bluffed. If you strict to a plan and act predictably, well, you’ll be predictable. But, if every now and then you introduce a hitch into the fold, you just might find the wiggle room to jump ahead.
This last tip is courtesy of Paul Muad’dib, whose very existence as the Kwisatz Haderach was a little bit of an erratic upset. Trust me on that one.