[Authour’s note: As will quickly become apparant, I am not taking Rebel Vs. Imperium into acocunt yet in this article. Hopefully I will have an opinion post about it in the new year, and then I will update the posts that I have written so far, before continuing on]
Key cards: Free Trade Association, Consumer Markets
Novelty consume is one of two types of Consume strategy that new players tend to grasp quickly. The key cards are relatively plentiful and they are obvious when you see them, plus novelty production worlds are cheap and numerous. Several novelty worlds also feature Consume powers, including a couple that Consume for cards, which can help get the engine running in a hurry even without the key cards right away.
All is not happiness and light with the novelty strategy, though. The key cards are expensive and, on their own, novelty goods don’t Trade for much. This makes early card generation a key hurdle you have to clear before you can establish a winning novelty goods Consume strategy.
Luckily, there are several cards that can help you work around these problems. Spice World makes trading novelty goods as strong as genes worlds normally are, while Bazaar World gives a smaller push. New Vinland can, in a manner of speaking, let you trade two novelty goods at a time. Secluded World is less useful than New Vinland, but can do in a pinch. Distant World makes trading novelty goods even more valuable than Spice World and Bazaar World do, but it is not a novelty world itself, so it does not work with Free Trade Association and Consumer Markets.
Generally, the plan is to get a couple of novelty worlds into play quickly at the start of the game (having Earth’s Lost Colony as your start world certainly makes this easier). Hopefully you have one or two of the income boosters among those opening worlds. A couple of Trades later you get Free Trade Association or Consumer Markets into play, and then you are off to the races because your card income is assured.
Given a choice, I prefer to get Consumer Markets into play first. It is a card cheaper, its card generation power scales upward without any limit, and it provides the same amount of Consume capacity as Free Trade Association. Tastes will differ on this point, though, and often you do not have the luxury of choosing one over the other early in the game.
If you manage to get both Consumer Markets and Free Trade Association into play, the other Consume-oriented 6-developments all work well. Note that when you have Artist Colony in your tableau, Galactic Renaissance goes from being nice to being quite strong. In fact, one of the strengths of novelty consume is that it scores well for all of the Consume 6-developments. Free Trade Association, Consumer Markets and several novelty worlds feature Consume powers that New Economy can score, and Merchant Guild will do quite well with all of the production worlds you hope to get into play. You should have the cards you need to play them, too.