Phew. So I'm back. Finally. I've been stuck in those slums for ages and when I finally got out, there was a lot to learn about Midtown it turned out. For those who may have missed it though, a few months ago I investigated the options that could be found in the slums and discovered some basic strategies to getting by as a gang leader in this city. Luckily it turned out that most of the slum developments were worthwhile and useful and you couldn't really go wrong. Unfortunately I've discovered that Midtown isn't quite the same.
Midtown developments will likely start going up during Round 2 or 3 and dictate a lot of the action of the game. Slums developments set up the basis for most games, but are often nearer the back lines and are therefore better defended. Midtown develpments are more likely to be fought over generally, and they generally have more powerful effects as well. In addition, given the few numbers of Heights districts available, the Midtown developements are arguably the most important in the game. There will be about 10 tiles available during a game of Midtown developments and you are likely to have a few down during the earlier rounds which will be providing benefits for quite a while. But what are the options?
For your Midtown developments you have Star Dust District (Heavy), ARC Counterfeiter, Junkyard, Recruitment District, Slave Trader, and Protection. For those following from last time, the ARC Counterfeiter, Star Dust District (Heavy), and Junkyard are all about making products and money similar. Protection works just like Thieves Districts, while Recruitment Districts and Slave Traders are unique and are some of the more important districts of this set to discuss. As is though, let's begin with the Protection development.
This is an alright development. It is extremely like the Thieves district, however there are 4 copies, it provides 4 renown instead of 2, it gives 3,000 ARC's instead of 2,000 although it costs twice as much at 8,000. It also must be put in the Midtown district. Overall then it would seem to be about as good as a Thieve's District, and we talked about how you should snatch those up quickly if they were there. However, this is where I'm going to suggest something differently. It isn't as good, and there are a few reasons why. First off, you can't afford one of these as early. It won't be until Round 2 probably that you can build one, so you won't be collecting the money until round 3 and on. It takes almiost 3 rounds to earn your money back from one, unlike the Thieves district which only takes 2 rounds. In addition, your 8,000 ARC's can likely be better spent on some of the other Midtown Developments. Which ultimately isn't to say that these are bad. I just wouldn't focus on them. The renown they provide is excellent, especially for a single space tile. The extra money is nice. I would buy these a bit later though. Build some other Midtown development or two before going into the Protection business. You'll be a bit more successful that way and less cash strapped. I've seen a few too many gang leaders go with Protection for their cash output and it's just too slow of a payback compared to the other options that are likely available.
Speaking of the other options for money, we have three that are fairly similar. The Star Dust District (Heavy), Junkyard, and ARC Counterfieters are all the same trend as the Star Dust District (Light) and Red Eden District (Light and Heavy). They produce so many product tokens that can later be sold. I'll start by discussing the ARC Counterfieters. There are 4 of these single space tiles avaialble, they only cost 5,000 ARC's, which is cheapest amongst the Midtown developments. They provide 3 renown, and produce 2 product tokens on a production>>develop action. Unlike most product tokens though, you need to roll to sell this cash. On a 1 or a 2 your money is worthless and sells for nothing, on a 3-6 you get 4,000 ARC's. You can place these guys in the slums or midtown which is nice versatility. Overall these are pretty solid places. The big downside of course if the randomness in the products, and not being quite sure of how much you will recieve for selling. You go into the sell action and possibly could wind up with nothing! However, given that you make a die roll for each product, if you're selling a couple you are likely to suceed on at least a few, and net some great money. Given that the building only costs 5,000 ARC's, after one production, the average amount from selling the two tokens comes to slightly over 5,000 ARC's, meaning this place pays itself off in a single production sell cycle and profit comes from there on. If you're engaging in a production strategy or even just looking for a building to provide some pretty solid cash, these are solid options. You'll be pulling in respectable renown and on average making some good cash to continue to funnel other efforts, all for a pretty cheap building that doesn't take up much space and can go where you want it.
As for the Star Dust District (Heavy) tiles, they are a two space tile that can go in the slums or midtown districts. There are 3 copies of these tiles available for 7,000 ARC's apiece. They only provide 3 renown which is a bit low for a two space development at this stage, however they make 3 product tokens per production>>>develop action and each sells for 3,000 ARC's. This is a great value. If you are going for a strategy of lots of developments with plenty of selling of products, this is a great building to have. It makes profit off of a single production>>>develop and then sell cycle as you'll make 9,000 ARC's compared to the 7,000 you put in. The downside to these buildings is that they take two gang members at least to run and provide a bit less renown than most other options per tile space. The other problem is you may wind up with many extra product tokens. Once you start comparing to some other Midtown and then Heights developments, 3,000 per token is about average and you can often do better. You can wind up with too many products that never get sold off of them, and that can make it a very attractive target for your enemies. Still this is a fairly low downside overall, and the Star Dust District (Heavy) is a good buy for anyone who is going to be using plenty of production>>>develop actions and then selling their products.
Finally though, we have the Junkyard. Junkyards are simply fantastic. There are only 2 of these 2 space tiles in the game, and they cost a whopping 10,000 ARC's which is the most of any midtown development. They do provide a nice 4 renown, but they produce 2 products worth an insane 5,000 ARC's each. No other product token in the game is worth as much as the Junkyards. You can get the highest sell value in the game through your Junkyards. And to top it off this tile can also go on the slums or midtown, so you can manage to stick it closer to your entry point to protect it better. Just allow these tiles to build up some products and then sell for some insane cash, including potentially over 30,000 ARC's. If you are gaining 30,000 ARC's or more during some sell phases you are maximizing your sell actions and that can be great news for your success in the game. With all this being said, Junkyards are again only good if you are utilizing a production>>>develop strategy. If you are fighting a lot and stealing developments from others, a 10,000 ARC junkyard is not the thing you want to buy--it's a thing you want to take by brute force then. Still, this is one of, if not the best midtown developments, and possibly the entire game. If Junkyards appear in your game you can bet someone is going to use them to build up a very strong economic engine.
The next devlpment we should talk about then is the Slave Trader. There are only 2 of these 2 space tiles as well, and they cost 7,000 ARC's to put up. They can only be built in midtown and they provide 4 renown. There ability allows you to sell a gang member from your hand into slavery and remove him from the game for 6,000 ARC's. This can only be descrived as terrible. And I'm not talking about the ethical or moral quandry here. You're an evil gang leader, I could hardly care about that. The problem is this is just a terrible strategical option. Selling away a gang member is terrible. It's a sacrifice of an action. It takes one action to recruit a gang member. As we talked about last time, a game is probably going to last about 8-10 rounds, so you only get about 36 actions. That's farily limiting. To waste an entire action for a fairly measly 6,000 ARC's is a bad option. You actually have to take a sell action to do it, and then you lose a guy from your board or pool, and a gang member and his power from the game. Worse it has to come from your hand, limiting the options of who you can sell, or when you even would want to take this option. Very rarely are you ever going to get to 16 gang members. The only possible good use of this place would be to remove gang members you don't want to upgrade them to better guys, but that is also a lot of work and actions, actions that probably would be better spent actually using your heavy army to steal buildings and things. Overall the Slave Trader is probably the very worst development in the game, and I cannot advocate for it's usage in almost any situation. The best thing about it is probably that it provides 4 renown, and if you are going to use it for that, so be it. Right at the end of the game too it might be worthwhile to sell a gang member you no longer need to turn him into money and then buy renown, but apart from that very fringe scenario, largely your plan should be to stay out of the slave market.
Now on the opposite side of the spectrum you have the Recruitment District. There are thee of these in the game and cost 7,000 each. They take up only a single tile but must go in midtown district. They provide 3 renown, but have an amazing power: At the start of each round you roll a die. If it is a 3 or higher you get to recruit the top card of the gang member deck for free. This is fantastic value. As we just talked about, getting a gang member requires one action...unless you use these buildings. Then you can get free recruits, and save yourself an action--and this is what makes this development so powerful. You can build up your gang for free without taking actions to do so. The thing to remember is you are just getting any gang member, so it might not be one that has a ton of snyergy with your strategy, but any gang member is still at least somewhat helpful. You shouldn't buy these though as one of your first purchases, as they don't provide any money and can set you back some especially if you don't have a good economy. If you are planning on doing a heavy production strategy you don't want to grab these until you already have an economic engine set up, else you are going to slow yourself way down. On the other hand if you are going for a heavy fighting strategy, this is a building you want in a very bad way. You will keep getting gang members for free to fight for you, without wasting actions to do it, and can pull in some renown for doing so. Steal these from other, buy them, just in all ways get to Recruitment Districtrs. The only big downside is that they don't always work...but again if you can get these secured somewhere around rounds 3-4, each one should provide about 3 free recruits on average, which is huge value. That's nearly a 10% increase in the number of actions everyone else has. While Recruitment Districts won't win a game for you on their own, I have seen them utilized as part of many different winning strategies.
So there you have my findings folks. The midtown developments have a lot to offer, but there are pitfalls to avoid falling into as well. You are going to be using these midtown developments heavily for your success. There are great options all around. If you are going heavy production, buildings like the Star Dust District (Heavy) and Junkyard may come to define your game, while buildings like Protection and Recruitment District can greatly aid those who want their actions to move and fight others. Slave Trader is a tempting pitfall that should be avoided, while ARC Counterfieters are a versatile option for those willing to gamble a bit. Overall you should be more prepared to handle the early and middle sections of your game by remembering what Slums and Midtown developments you should be looking at. I'll be working my way into the haughty heights now to see what I can learn. I hear there is a pretty awesome casino operating up there...