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Chinetter
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A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 13 June 2017 00:19
Having played about 1,400 online games of Ticket To Ride, I've gotten to being a consistent mid-level player. My overall ranking fluctuates from the high 1300s to the mid 1400s (best thus far is 1460). I'm a little better at multiplayer than one-on-one and I win a bit more on the Europe map than USA, but those difference are modest.

It does feel though as if I've hit a wall: my overall rating has been bouncing between 1360 and 1460 for a while now. My general level as a player hasn't changed since before I'd played 1,000 games.

The T2R strategy guides posted here or elsewhere now seem pretty basic. They describe tactics and strategies that I'm already using (or put another way, somebody who _isn't_ following that advice is probably at 1300 or lower in the ELO ratings).

So I'm curious as to what the experts around here, let's say those with ratings of 1600 and higher, would say are the key learnings to get from intermediate on up. If you were advising a 1400-level player on how to get up to your level, what would you suggest?
      
FLOP Hecki
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 13 June 2017 02:45
Intresting question. But it mainly depends on the maps. Each map needs its own strategy. A good US player might be bad at Swiss or EU.

But some key skills at all maps might be:

1.) You should accept that blocking can be a good strategy. I've heard that there should be some good blockers here. Smile So don't have a guilty conscience about blocking. High-level-games between two good blockers are still the most thrilling part of this game. At least i've heard so. Smile

2.) Learn to "read" your opponent and to conceal your own targets. (You can learn that only by playing many, many games against different opponents.)

3.) Wait for your chance. It might come late in a game - but you should hold some Aces on your hands till the end. Smile Most bad players are starting their routes too early.

4.) Don't trust anything what your opponent says. Some players say "grats" even if they will win.

Greetings
Hecki
      
SuperPello
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 13 June 2017 12:46
Everyone has a different approach.

It's important to play with expert players but is important to observe them when they play too. During tournaments it's mandatory the free observing by all so you can see how they play.

Tonight from 21:00 cest there will be a nice fight to observe best of nine games between RUS Will and FLOP Hecki . Should be on Java Platform. If you'll have time will be 2 hours of strong Learning.


Marco
      
onyx puffin BAM
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 13 June 2017 16:06
Chinetter wrote on Mon, 12 June 2017 18:19

. I'm a little better at multiplayer than one-on-one and I win a bit more on the Europe map than USA, but those difference are modest.

So I'm curious as to what the experts around here, let's say those with ratings of 1600 and higher, would say are the key learnings to get from intermediate on up. If you were advising a 1400-level player on how to get up to your level, what would you suggest?



Hecki makes good points. Here is one that you may not hear: It is tough to be both a top two player and multi player. Rare are the players who are truly great at both. (Currently in top 20 in both are: Volleytom, ametier, & Bry Guy)

So just as Hecki indicates the various maps have different strategies for getting ahead, so too are there different strategies for multi and 2-player (or one-on-one as you put it).

I say this because I think you have to decide which way you prefer to climb the ranks. I can also tell you I am not one to advise on 2-player as my rank there is 126. My rank in multi is 20.

So for multi, I would tell you two things:
1. Remember that finishing 2nd in a multi is all right. So as it gets close to the end, look and figure out where each player is. If you may be 1st, 2nd, or at worst 3rd, keep rolling and get out. BUT if you are looking at 3rd, 4th, or 5th, DRAW tickets or BLOCK. Figure out what strategy will get you ahead. Draw tickets has best chance to move you up into 1st or 2nd, but blocking can also change the dynamics of positioning at the game end.

2. To get rating up, Never enter a multi game with a player 100 points below you. if you are at 1460, do not play in one with a 1320 player. Reason: if you finish behind this player, you lose a lot of points.

Finally, remember the game is for fun! So I do play a lot of 2 player, because I find it fun. I enter 2-player tournaments and rarely win them (except captain's tournaments) but have a lot of fun.
      
Chinetter
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 13 June 2017 19:06
Good stuff folks, thank you. Very interesting comments, moreare welcome!

Regarding Onyx Puffin's question of multi-player vs 2-player...yes I have wondered whether those two skillsets might be different at high levels. Given the choice I would definitely choose multi-player which I find more interesting and enjoyable. But also I agree that playing head to head is fun and I will continue to do that (e.g. I entered the recent USA tournament).

Similarly I enjoy playing both the USA and Europe maps and both the vanilla and "mega" versions of each. (Also enjoy the Pennsylvania map but there aren't many games of that online.) I've decided to stop with those however; for now I don't plan to get into the Germany or India or other maps.

The "finishing 2nd in multiplayer is alright" point is interesting...I had come to that basic attitude already. But your tactical choice about deciding to block or draw as a fallback late in the game is a new way of looking at it and I will try that approach.

The points made by FLOP Hecki are each valuable and none of them are completely new to my experience. However I suspect that I should emphasize each of them more than I have thus far, particularly the point about not rushing to play cards. And the blocking, which I have taken to but not very aggressively -- some of you people are absolute sharks about that! But yes I am firmly on the side that blocking is part of the game.


P.S. I am unfortunately unable to get the Java version to work. (Have tried, including trying various fixes suggested on here, but it just won't run in any browser.) I realize that Java has been the platform of choice for most top players. However during 2017 I am noticing more 1500- and 1600-level players appearing on Steam than was true last year.

[Updated on: Tue, 13 June 2017 19:07]

      
DrakeStorm
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 14 June 2017 03:45
For multi-player USA you really need to know the opponents to do well. You have to know whether the game is going to end quick or if all (or most) players are going to draw more tickets. Also you have to know which players block and which don't. As the years have gone by, it has moved from quicker games where players will gang block you, to nowadays more players draw tickets and don't block.

You also need to know when to give up on longest and just go for points (long tracks), or have the right colors in hand when you decide to draw tickets so you can actually complete any new tickets.

You need to pay attention to what players are drawing and playing, so you can gauge whether it is safe to pass up playing down a crucial route (usually a 6er) and wait a few turns (sometimes it backfires because someone will take what you thought was fairly safe using a bunch of wilds).

You have to manage your colors well. Being left with singles at the end of the game is the worst.

In any version, it is crucial you pick the best starting tickets. Most novices do not know what is good to keep (even in the 1300-1400 ELO range).

You need to know all the tickets to know whether you have a chance at hitting one you need or could complete.

5 Player plays different than 4 player. In 5 player it gets tight very fast, and you can't wait as long to get into your key spots. Also taking random long routes for points is more useful.

You need to not be afraid to give up on a ticket (at least mid to small ones). It might take more time and effort to complete a ticket, than if you just went for big tracks or drew new tickets).

Playing multi-player, your ELO can have massive swings. Because of the luck in the game you will have good and bad streaks, so just moving up from 4th to 3rd in a bad multi-game is important. You can't play to win all the games (drawing more and more tickets in hopes of winning, but then not hitting anything and ending in last, when you could have settled for 2nd).

Draw face up for the 1 or 2 6ers you hope to get, otherwise draw face down. As mentioned above, pay attention if another player is drawing the same color face up and how many, and then you need to decide how many wilds to waste to get into that 6er before them. Some games, you have lost the minute someone gets a 6er you needed, but that's when you play for 2nd or 3rd.

Playing lower level players is dangerous, because at least one of them is going to get lucky with ticket fiending and then you will be playing for 2nd which will only net you a few points at best, and a 3rd or 4th with kill you. Onyx says 100 point difference, I would say maybe 200.

      
RUS Sivorro
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 14 June 2017 10:08
I'm not a big expert, but can add my 5 cents:

1. You need to know all tix on the map
2. You need to count:
a) colors your and opponent(s) to block or not be blocked
b) potentially opponent(s) score after you ending to decide draw tix or not
c) turns! usually on USA 2er you have not more than 10 turns only to build your track
d) lokos (how many was played, how many burned)
3. You need to manage your colors not in the ending
4. You need to know most popular 8-turns and 9-turns ending tracks
5. You need experience against high-ranked players

cu

Stas
      
onyx puffin BAM
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 14 June 2017 14:34
DrakeStorm wrote on Tue, 13 June 2017 21:45


In any version, it is crucial you pick the best starting tickets. Most novices do not know what is good to keep (even in the 1300-1400 ELO range).



Drake makes some great points on some of the finer techniques. His statement here is a big one. It seems almost innocent; Like, "of course pay attention to if your routes are close to each other." But it is not. Some tickets do not go well with each other since you end up needing too much of one color.
Great examples: In US game, keeping Win-Hou, Cal-Phoenix, Seems like a great set; but know you will be white and green dependent. In Euro: some tickets combine seemingly well except you may need 6 lokos to complete, or other combos will mean you have to do so many 2ers that scoring track points will hurt you.
      
Chinetter
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 14 June 2017 16:19
Thanks all!

Could we tunnel in a bit more about choosing the initial tickets, that is something that I'm often unsure about. What are the considerations that make you like or dislike certain combinations of tickets at the start?

Are those factors different when choosing starting tickets for one-on-one play compared to multi-player?

Are those factors different when choosing starting tickets on the USA map versus USA Mega versus Europe versus Europe Mega?
      
FLOP Hecki
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 14 June 2017 23:13
Chinetter schrieb am Wed, 14 June 2017 16:19

Are those factors different when choosing starting tickets for one-on-one play compared to multi-player?

Are those factors different when choosing starting tickets on the USA map versus USA Mega versus Europe versus Europe Mega?



Yes, that's a big difference. In 2er i usually pick "fast" tickets: stuff i can finish in 8-10 moves. And i usually take only two tickets.

In Multis i usually play with a higher risk and sometimes three tickets.

But it depends on the opponents too. Playing 2er against DrakeStorm needs another tactic than playing against OnyxPuffin. I know Drake usually blocks and plays aggressive - so i will prefer easier tickets which are not so blockable.

Onyx is not such a damn blocker (i hate blockers Very Happy) - so i might take longer tix against him than against Drake. Razz
      
RUS Sivorro
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 15 June 2017 00:06
"I hate blockers!"

The inventor of block, Thomas Heck

Smile Smile Smile

[Updated on: Thu, 15 June 2017 00:06]

      
DrakeStorm
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 15 June 2017 01:39
I don't suggest Multi player USA Mega - that is a high variance game.

The same is probably true of Europe Mega.

In fact any game that has the 15 points for "most ticket" bonus is going to be a lot more luck based.

In 2P USA, take tickets that require the least number of small tracks to complete (3ers and less). Looking at both your preferred route, and an alternate route in case your primary one is taken by your opponent first. Which means usually west coast or middle tickets. Some big tickets are good (Van-Mon), others seem good but really are not (LA-NY - unless your other ticket matches up well), and others are good IF you don't get blocked (LA-MIA, Sea-NY). And then there are bad ones (SF-ATL).

In 4P you can be a little more aggressive in ticket choice because the double tracks are available, and most people don't single out one player and block them on purpose (still have to be careful about players taking 5ers and 6ers that you want).

In 5P the big tickets start to be a bit less attractive because it gets crowded and even if no one is blocking you on purpose, you can easily be blocked out of popular cities like NY, Chi, LA, MIA, etc.

I'm not an expert on Multi Europe, but I know the 4ers in the north east are important, not only for a lot of ticket destinations, but also for points (since there are no 5ers and the 2 6ers and 1 8er get taken quickly). If you cannot get one of the 3 big tracks, you probably need to draw more tickets or get longest to make up for it.

2P Europe, one skill to learn is - winning without taking a big ticket - I have not mastered that yet. A few of the big tickets are not good (or none of your other tickets match up well with your big ticket), so you have to settle for 2-3 small tickets. In that case you really need to get 2 of the 3 big tracks I think, and go out quick and hopefully get longest .

      
FLOP Hecki
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 15 June 2017 12:03
Aaaah, one more big lesson against Sivorro & Co. Very Happy :

If you start blocking once - then you should continue it. You should be sure that you have the colors for a second or third block later.
      
FLOP Hecki
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 15 June 2017 20:17
RUS Sivorro schrieb am Thu, 15 June 2017 00:06

"I hate blockers!"

The inventor of block, Thomas Heck

Smile Smile Smile


Maybe i should block you for this opprobrious imputation. Smile
      
KristofBD
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Sat, 17 June 2017 14:20
Excellent points.

I specialize in the German map (where I am currently number 1). Ever since specializing, I noticed that my skills on the USA map became a wee bit rusty Rolling Eyes , so I support that point: you can't be good at everything.

I also support the point about blocking. You have to be ruthless when you opt for the blocking strategy. And you have to know what to block. To train your blocking skills, try though experiments: if I do this, what can the other player do? This also helps to figure out which tracks to play first and to determine which destinations go together.

Something that has not been mentioned is simply knowing yourself. I become tired in the evenings, play more aggressively, chase my losses etc. As a result, my losing streaks were always during the evenings. So now I avoid playing at that time of the day.

Similarly I also learned that I am less concentrated when I play multiple consecutive games, so I try to play fewer games a day. A good night rest also matters and I make sure that there are no distractions in the room.

Something that is also worth stressing: learn from your mistakes. So now I take screenshots of the results of my games and analyse these, trying to come up with alternative strategies to improve my playing. It's actually great fun doing that and trying out the new strategies Razz

      
AWT allan BAM
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Fri, 23 June 2017 17:54
Here are several things that helped me rise to one of the top:

1. Be a student of the game: watch top player matches, including 1600+ multi games and 1650+ 2p games. Personally, I learned a lot from stalking (Yes! I admit) Kasi, Sysyphus, and WhiteTrain's games. I picked their brains and rationalized their decisions. There's a reason they are on the top for a long time, so watch their plays.

1a. Avoid lower rating games if you truly want to get better. Tougher players will put you to the test and you will learn more that way.

2. LONGEST LONGEST LONGEST. Longest is 10 points added to your point total while denying your opponent that 10 points. It's a 20 point swing - same as having van-mont/la-mia added to your hand. In 2p, contest longest early by taking key 6ers (usually 6 oranges).

3. Understand the player you are playing against. Some are very straight forward with little to no deception, so it's much easier to deduce the route they are on and take the key routes one step before them.

4. Be unpredictable, so you will be less likely to be exploited. Make them PAY for incorrect blocks.

5. End game as soon as possible 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time if you sense your opponent is ending the game, you might want to defer ending and draw for matching colors for more track points IF it doesn't hurt your longest.

6. Multi Strategy: I get accused of going for 3rd/4th a lot in 5p multi game, but I see nothing wrong with that strategy. I believe when you have a hopeless multi game you should limit the damage by dragging someone down, not drawing tickets like a madman.

7. 2P Color guessing: Predict what colors your opponent has by doing an expected value of each color out then minus the colors you have in your hand. You likely won't be far off. Then use that information in addition to the colors your opponents used to predict what color your opponent is LACKING, and then block appropriately so that your opponent has to use the lacking color. This way you will force your opponent to burn locos or risk getting blocked.

8. Have a good study circle. I learned a lot from sysyphus and ommie by talking to them on skype. Then in the past Nations Cup, I trained with Nicolas21 a lot in 2p games and both of us had breakout years.

[Updated on: Fri, 23 June 2017 17:59]

      
Chinetter
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 27 June 2017 20:21
Very interesting stuff, thank you.

AWT allan wrote on Fri, 23 June 2017 11:54


7. 2P Color guessing: Predict what colors your opponent has by doing an expected value of each color out then minus the colors you have in your hand. You likely won't be far off. Then use that information in addition to the colors your opponents used to predict what color your opponent is LACKING, and then block appropriately so that your opponent has to use the lacking color. This way you will force your opponent to burn locos or risk getting blocked.


Not sure I followed this one...could you describe an example of doing this?
      
general7star
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Tue, 27 June 2017 21:09
Chinetter écrit le Tue, 27 June 2017 14:21

Very interesting stuff, thank you.

AWT allan wrote on Fri, 23 June 2017 11:54


7. 2P Color guessing: Predict what colors your opponent has by doing an expected value of each color out then minus the colors you have in your hand. You likely won't be far off. Then use that information in addition to the colors your opponents used to predict what color your opponent is LACKING, and then block appropriately so that your opponent has to use the lacking color. This way you will force your opponent to burn locos or risk getting blocked.


Not sure I followed this one...could you describe an example of doing this?



You can predict statistically how much cards your opp has. You can use Excel or a calculator... If you have one black in your hand, your opp might have more than 6 blacks. It is what Allan meant.
      
AWT allan BAM
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 28 June 2017 20:35
chinetter,
I always make a mental snap shot of what colors you have at 30 cards. I know that the deck has 110 cards (12 of each of 8 colors, 14 locks)

Say the open 5 cards are red, red, lok, yellow, black

I then know that out of the 105 cards unknown of in one of our hands, there are 10 reds. So expected number of reds out is 60/105*10=5.71. Say I have 4 reds already, I would guess you have 1 or 2 reds. Expected number of loks out is 60/105*13=7.43, so say I have 1 loc I would guess you have 6 or 7 locs.

then I will block accordingly by limiting colors.

[Updated on: Wed, 28 June 2017 20:36]

      
Chinetter
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 29 June 2017 06:52
Well thanks guys but apparently this isn't for me. I sorted your comments into a short document, printed it out, have it right here next to me. While attempting to deploy those tips I played tonight 10 games on Steam...and lost every one of them. Badly. Lost eight H2H games and finished dead last in two multiplayer games. Literally the worst single night of T2R I've ever yet played.

I'm sure the problem is me, not your advice, but anyway it looks like T2R is just not a game that I'm going to be good at.

[Updated on: Thu, 29 June 2017 07:28]

      
KristofBD
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 29 June 2017 08:47
Try to analyse what went wrong after you played a game, may be this will help you improve.
+ Don't forget: blocking takes a lot of practice. If you just start blocking without a long term strategy, you are actually more likely to lose (others will still be able to complete their ticks, while you spent valuable resources trying to block them in vein).

Oh and if it makes you feel any better: I guess all of us have these bad nights where they drop (e.g. last year I dropped 80 points in 3 days).

[Updated on: Thu, 29 June 2017 08:48]

      
DrakeStorm
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Fri, 30 June 2017 05:28
Chinetter wrote on Wed, 28 June 2017 21:52

Well thanks guys but apparently this isn't for me. I sorted your comments into a short document, printed it out, have it right here next to me. While attempting to deploy those tips I played tonight 10 games on Steam...and lost every one of them. Badly. Lost eight H2H games and finished dead last in two multiplayer games. Literally the worst single night of T2R I've ever yet played.

I'm sure the problem is me, not your advice, but anyway it looks like T2R is just not a game that I'm going to be good at.




First problem is you played 6 of those games on MEGA USA map. Most of the advice given does not translate 100% to that map.
      
AWT allan BAM
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Wed, 05 July 2017 01:27
Did you join other people's games? I played on steam and I never started a single game, I wonder why. Rolling Eyes

But I expected this to happen when I join other people's games haha.

Starter has a slight advantage in TTR.
      
Chinetter
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Re:A question for the experts: what's the _elite_ learning curve? Thu, 06 July 2017 02:17
I have realized that for now what I need to do is specialize in multiplayer. That is going much better than H2H.

Also I seem to be relatively more effective on the Euro map, both for multi and H2H, than on the USA map.

So basically I have ruled out USA H2H play. (If nothing else that is proving better for my ego.)
      
    
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