CO2 game board in mid-play

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CO2 is a board game with an unusual theme: players are CEOs of energy companies, who try to supply countries with energy without collectively causing runaway global warming. The player who supplies energy best wins, but if runaway global warming is triggered, all players lose. Below are strategy tips to help you master the game. These tips are an attempt to clean up and simplify the strategy advice at boardgamegeek.com. As such, we’ll periodically refine and improve it.

Introductory Strategy Tips

(adapted from the designer of the game, Vital Lacerda)

  1. Don’t think of the projects as your own. In fact, the player whose scientists are subject to the most takeovers often wins.
  2. Always send a scientist to learn in a project. This will give you a time advantage when an opponent wants to operate a project you’re in.
  3. It’s better to have CEPs in your hand than in a region you control. Two reasons: you can lose control of a region, and you can’t sell CEPs in a region at the best price. You must wait to the end game market price.
  4. When the market has only a single CEP, do two things in combination: buy it by using your free market move, and then install a forestation project. This boosts the market price 2 points and leaves you with 3 CEPs in your hand.
  5. Propose a project at the ‘scientist grant’ and use it to get an extra scientist move. This alone may be enough to fulfill a 2 topic summit, and will boost your expertise by 3 in one turn.
  6. Place scientists in the right projects, with an eye toward completion of the summits.
  7. When you build a recycling power plant, it only gives you 1.5 victory points and 1 expertise, because you must spend 7 coins (3.5 victory points) to get 5 victory points. However, it can sometimes be worth more if it gives you control of a region and/or allows you to claim a UN goal card.
  8. Installing the recycling project gives you 5 coins, 2.5 victory points, and one CEP for your hand.
  9. If you kick my scientist out to build, I get half of a victory points for the coin, and 1 victory point for the expertise won if I keep the scientist in my hand. Moreover I get 2 victory points for the expertise won if I complete a 2 topic summit with another player, and I get 3 victory points for the expertise won if you complete a 2 topic summit alone or place 2 scientists in a 2+ topics summit. So, not only do I get a coin, but I also get 1.5-3.5 points. And I don’t have to use any of my turn to get it.
  10. Usually points 8 and 9 occur in the same round, and if that happens, you can get 4.5 – 7.5 victory points by installing a recycling project, with the CEPs worth 1 coin.
  11. Remember: when a player builds a power plant he will get short on money and resources. As a consequence he must propose and install new projects.
  12. Try to have at least 3 scientists working in the game.
  13. You may complete a 2-topic summit alone and still have 1 learning in a project to get you expertise at the end of your turn.
  14. A single expertise can be enough to take the energy control of another player.
  15. A single expertise can give you a lot of income or victory points if you use it to jump from 3rd position to the 2nd one.
  16. A single expertise can be enough to send an opponent to 3rd place and stop him from getting much Money/VPs at the supply phase.
  17. At the beginning of the game, pay attention to the UN Cards in play. Target at least 1 or 2 and follow a strategy to get them.
  18. Use your lobby cards to help you target the UN cards.
  19. Drafting the lobby cards is critical for defining an early strategy. You may try to follow a game of summits, or or to get resources or build plants.
  20. Always remember that it costs money to built power plants, and money’s worth points. If a power plant gives you 7 points and costs 8 coins, it only nets you 3 victory points.
  21. Avoid building multiples of the same type of power plant; if you do you’ll lose time to score the UN goals.
  22. In the end of the game, if any player has a lot of CEPs in hand and in controlled regions, sell as much you can to bring the CEPs price down.
  23. Remember that the lower technologies gives you more income than the higher ones, but the higher ones give you more regional control.
  24. Summits are one of the main scoring generators of the game. They’re especially valuable because you don’t need money or resources to get them.

How to play each starting company goal card

(adapted from John Weber)

  • #27 (points based on control of regions): The more players there are, the harder it is to win with this card. Focus on just 2 or 3 regions (sometimes you can focus on 4 regions if playing with four or more players). Develop expertise in multiple technologies and take actions and lobby cards allowing you to stock cash and tech cubes, so you can build plants. Possibly, focus on regions with high populations so you can add the CEPs from those region at game’s end to score more victory points. Since you want to construct a variety of different plants, look at the UN goal cards as another source of victory points as well, which also helps you deny them to other players.
  • #28 (points based on power plants in different regions): Spread power plants over as many different regions as possible (up to the max of five). You probably won’t be in control of many regions at game’s end.  To score points in other areas  (high income on the expertise track, UN goal cards, etc.), focus on different technologies.  Your income from CEPs in hand will likely be low, so sell CEPs to keep their price low, particularly in the endgame. That will limit your deficit in this endgame scoring category. When installing projects, focus on obtaining the necessary cubes and money to build those plants over the course of the game to satisfy the conditions of this company goal. Note: this card is removed in two player games.
  • #29 (bonus points for each UN goal card): Develop expertise in a variety of energy sources and build at least four and possibly all five types of “green” plants, to maximize your ability to obtain those goal cards. Tech cubes and money are important, but  consider getting multiple scientists into play early, to move up on expertise tracks. Remember: tech cubes and expertise requirements get tougher once two plants of each type have been built. Compared to the players holding goal card #27 or #28, power plant location isn’t critical for you, which leaves you with more flexibility to react to unexpected developments. Remember: each time you acquire a UN goal card, you need to have a tech cube, and you won’t be able play a Lobby card in that action round.
  • #30 (points for power plants built, not counting the first one): This card is available only in games with four and five players, and it’s more difficult to achieve than #28 since you need to get an additional plant down (six instead of five) to gain the max points. You almost certainly should develop expertise in at least three energy types, and try to take over projects installed for those types. In case those opportunities don’t arise, have a Plan B for earning victory points in other areas: collect CEPs, take points from income, and challenge for UN goal cards, which could undercut players with cards #28 and #29.
  • #31 (points for CEPs in hand at game end, before collecting CEPs from controlled regions): If you have this card, you’ll horde a stack of purple disks, which can give away which card you have. To prevent this, go slowly and buy at market only if the price is low. Also, focus on energy types like Forestation, Biomass and Recyling. Try to maintain control of at least one region with a sizable stack of purple cubes with which you can pay for install actions (instead of paying out of hand). You’ll likely score fewer points for building Power Plants, but this should be offset because you’ll maximize company goal points (possibly the easiest 16 points available in the game, if you plan correctly), and you’ll have a lot of cash-in-hand at game’s end. With this card, you want CEP prices as high as possible, so take actions to get CEPs taken from the market (project installs, buy actions, and moves to specific locations on the expertise tracks). Generally, do Forestation projects sooner than the other players for these reasons.
  • #32 (points for being first or tied for first on the Expertise track): This card is more difficult with more players. Bring on new Scientists as soon as possible, by using free and extra Scientist moves, and by going to Summits. Do all you can to advance on those tracks, particularly ones whose bonus actions involve advancing on another track. Remember that being tied for first on a track also counts, and getting to the end of a track guarantees four points with this card. Try to build plants and deny UN goal cards to other players.
  • #33 (points for different energy types built): This card isn’t used in two-player matches. Get expertise in a variety of energy types so you can build plants, and collect the cubes and money to build them (similar to the strategy of card #29). You’ll likely be competing with players holding Goal cards #28, #30 and possibly also #32, in addition to being in direct competition with the player holding #29. Cooperating with any of these players to gain expertise at early summits can be helpful in setting yourself up to build plants using those various energy types.
  • The tactical situation in each game may dictate deviations from the above strategies, so have a Plan B. Also track which regions need “green” power plants to avoid the “all players lose” scenario, especially in 5-player games where it’s most likely.

photo courtesy soledad

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