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High Frontier (3rd edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: A very wordy teaching game. rss

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Adam Gastonguay
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Now complete!(8/24/16)

Due to popular demand (or one person on Kickstarter), this time I shall play the CEO solitaire variant again, but this time focusing more on explaining the rules as I go so that my session could be used as a rules refresher/primer for those who want to be ready from when the game actually has its probability field crash down and the game is created or not.

So, since this is a solitaire game, there will be a few things to keep in mind:
1) I will be using many of the colonization modules, which are required for solitaire play
Mainly I will be using:
0 - Support
P - Freighter
Q - Bernal
R - Colonist
S - GW Thruster
U - Endgame

2) I won't be doing any auctions for the Research Operation since it's just me. I can simply buy a faceup card for 2WTs + 2WTs for each support card. The main thing to remember when playing with others is that if you are the one choosing the research operation, YOU get paid if someone else wins the auction, so it's a good way to make money. And if you win someone elses' auction, you have gotten yourself some cards without spending an Operation, which is great since this is, in essence, a racing game.

3) I'm starting with 10WTs when you usually start with 4.

4) I've used WT a lot and never explained that it means Water Tanks, the currency of the game.

5) The CEO solitaire variant is a great sandbox to play in, but it is also difficult, so I'm going to ignore the win/lose conditions and just play until I make a future because I only have a 15% or so win percentage. I'm getting better...

So I shall roll a die and randomly choose my Crew card.
[inline]

4 = Red, the PRC. Go Taikonauts! Or, I could flip the card and choose ROSCOSMOS instead. Here are the differences:
The PRC are allowed to perform felonies. Without the Combat module (T), that only means I'm allowed to voluntarily decommission humans
(ie. I can blow them up in space and send them on 1 way missions without penalty). It seems mean but it's also very cost saving and the
economy in this game is really tight. The Russians, gain 1WT each time you place a claim or factory. Considering you only have 9 claim discs and 6 factories, that's 15WTs total. The other bonus they have is the crew card can ALSO act as a "Raygun," meaning they can Prospect a site without having to land on it, they just have to be adjacent to it. I personally love Raygun prospecting, but the other thing you are giving up is 3 thrust, as the Russian thrust triangle is 6(2).8 compared to the Chinese 10(2).8. I think I will stick with the Chinese for this game and hope I save 15WTs with my uncaring government and stronger thrust than I would have from my placement of claims and factories.

Along with the Crew Card, I also receive an Antimatter Factory, because this game is just that awesome. This cylander is placed at the L-3 Legrange point because I'm not playing with the realism module that would make me have to launch this heavy thing. This will act as my home base in space (unless I want to chuck some things into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), but it's usually faster to get stuff further out of Earth's gravity well. You should see the spot for your Bernal cylandar because it has a little starburst in your player color around the spot. Mine is about a third of the way to Venus.

I pick up my 10 WTs (either discs or beads. Whatever.) Grab the rocket pieces in my color as well as fuel markers which are shown on the playmat. I stack all the decks of cards after a quick shuffle and set the calendar to year one. Let's look at what I got:


Every game will start with players putting their rockets together. Whatever you're able to cobble together will allow you to choose the location to shoot for. Of course, making this decision is a large part of the strategy and one I am not all that proficient in anyway, so experts can chuckle as I make poor choices.
But for now, let's take a look at my options. Normally I would be excited to see that both my Robonaut and Refinery are showing a need for the same type of generator, that way I only need one card (and therefore, one source of mass) to power them both, however the Photon Tether is solar powered, which isn't good the further you get from
orbit, and it also lowers your thrust by 1. The currently showing Thruster is, in fact, a GREAT thruster: fairly high thrust with low fuel cost. It is not solor, nor does it need a generator, so it wouldn't be affected by the solar generator. However, it needs a (x) generator and a radiator. Ewww, the reactor it would be using would reduce that great thrust of 5 down to a 2. Add a little wet mass to our rocket and we can barely land on the smallest asteroid without help. I could always sell that reactor and hope to get a better one, but for now the three cards with that generator seems like a more efficient horse to back.

And one other thing to think about: I could also look into recruiting a colonist right away. The benefit of doing so would be that I could do two actions per turn (at the cost of 1 WT for that second action) once I boost them into space. The downside is they would be subject to space debris hazards which is a big hindrance to your VPs in the
CEO solitaire game. True I'm not playing for the win condition, but I'm going to play like I am and not go down that route until I upgrade my Bernal (which will prevent that hazard from killing anyone aboard the Bernal).

Year One: Purchase Flywheel Tractor and Photon Tether Rectenna for 4WTs. Now have 6WTs.

Event: Inspiration

Because Phil likes to mess with you right away, he has an event happen right after the first turn, and then every 2 turns after that. This first one is Inspiration, where the top card of every deck is moved to the bottom of their respective decks.

So now I have a whole new bucket of choices to make....and it's lunch time. To be continued! Continued HERE
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Matt Watkins
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This is great Adam! I really like the paragraphs describing your thought processes. I'm considering following your example here and running through a CEO solitaire game myself, after I get some beginner tips from your runthrough. Are you using VASSAL to play? Looking forward to the next installment!
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Victor Caminha
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Great intro and excellent initiative

I hope the next colonist showing up on the deck will be the Heavy Water survivalists. As they make a stack immune to pad explosions, you would not need to worry about decommissioning barring a very unlucky solar flare.

Regarding thrusters, a couple of solo CEO sessions ago, I was playing as the U.N and got the metastable helium + mini mag reactor and they worked great. I need not to worry about their very low rad-hardness when passing through the Van Allen Belt but also that reactor was the the only one able to be upgraded at a C site (the easiest to industrialize near Earth). Then I got a respectable +1 thrust to a 5*1 thruster which was already there. And while that thruster needed to be cooled one therm, it was not a big deal, as plenty of upgraded radiators are "C" products. So, one of the biggest logistic problems of the game was solved by a quick industrialization without resorting to a difficult/far prospection of a S site. To endure a 1*1 thruster (5 - 3 reactor - 1 wet mass) at the first mission was a small price to pay.

Looking forward the next HF episode!
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Kristabelle Du Bast
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Also subscribed for some preparatory reading as I patiently await the arrival of the game.
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Adam Gastonguay
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Here's what I was able to do yesterday afternoon as I awaited admin approval:

Now with my myriad of new choices, my second year becomes more difficult. My new thruster is the Mirror Steamer, a 3>(2)*4 thruster (Meaning it has 3 thrust, can be pushed, can have one added thrust for 2 steps, is solar and each burn is 4 steps.
Not the greatest thruster ever, though not bad if I'm planning on landing on Mercury or Venus. I'm lucky that the Inspiration gave me the Fluidized-Bed Refinery, which is also a Mass 3 refinery that needs an 'e' generator. So to be safe I'll pick that up and go from there.

Year 2: Spend 4 WTS for Fluidized-Bed Refinery and Marx Capacitor Bank Generator. Now broke.

You see I never mentioned the Generator in my decision making process. That's because it doesn't help me in any way. That's because it's a {} generator, and nothing I own runs on that. I'll merely use that to sell as a Free Market action later on.
So now I have a Robonaut and a Refinery, which are the two bits you need in order to perform the Industrialize Operation. That is how you make factories in this game, which is how you get to use the black sides of your cards, and ultimately how you win the game (unless you are using the Endgame module).
Now I should really start thinking about how to get those two things somewhere. I have no thruster, but all crew cards work as thrusters, so I could use that. Let's perform a thought experiment and see what our rocket would look like if it was our Taikonauts trying to build a new factory with the cards we now have on Year 2.

First we would boost all of our cards into space, either to LEO or to our Bernal. That would cost us 6WTs because that is the total of all the mass of all my cards (remember I'm using the red side because I'm playing with the Supports module). So then I would put my blue disc on my play mat on the '6' to show my dry mass:
It's how heavy I am just sitting there daring me to test out Newton's laws. I would also put the blue rocket pawn on top of the disc. I pick the blue one because that is the color of the triangle on the crew card, meaning I'm using Water as propellent for my rocket. I could use yellow isotope to fly (since it's "higher" on the cost spectrum), but why put all that effort into it when I've got water in the tap?
It's a free action to move water from my supply to my ship. Sadly I have none at this point, but once I do, I can freely move it to and from my rocket as often as I want until I start moving around the map, then the poor thing is on its own.
Currently at 6 mass, the rocket is considered "Scout" class, so there's no change to its Base thrust, which is 10! That means I can land on any object numbered 9 or less in the solar system, and I can make 10 burns in one single turn! Wow!
Oh, but here's the problem, in order to make one burn, I would have to move my fuel down 8(!) steps. So, since when fueling you move to the right on the red, dotted lines, and when you make burns you move left on the black solid lines, that means in order to do one single, solitary burn (like, say from LEO to HEO) I would need 4 tanks of water!
And when it comes to mass in space, there is the law of diminishing returns, as each gram of fuel has to push itself as well as the rest of the ship, so after I add my 5th water tank, each tank will only count as one step, not two, like the others before. And once my total mass hits 23, you're going 2 for 1!

Right now, I can only prospect sites that have 3 water drops on them or less (because my Robonaut says "ISRU 3") which limits my options. Sure, there's Mercury, which can get me Glory points (Messenger of the Gods Glory card), but it is 5 burns and some radiation to watch out for. The radation isn't a problem at thrust 10, but 5 burns is 40 steps, which is just too many steps at this point.
Mars is nice, though Deimos is better as a great pit-stop to the stars. If I were to choose Mars, I would need a crew card to move any kind of product off of its surface. Even a factory assisted lift-off won't work since G3 states "You are not allowed to make a factory-assist landing from a lander burn or a factory-assist lift-off to enter a lander burn."
The only way it would be economically worth it would be to build the space elevator (See your Venture cards), and that would be to Prospect 4 'C' sites and then spend 5WTs. So stopping off at Deimos to see if it's a worthwhile site is a good idea anyway, though it's not likely (a 1 in 6 chance). I can get there without spending ANY fuel if I go slow enough and not do any Hohmann pivots.

Perhaps I should explain that. Hohmann pivots are what you do at all the spots where lines connect and there aren't any circles. You can keep going straight without a problem, and you can go any direction AT THE START OF YOUR TURN without a problem, but changing direction during your turn is going to cost a bit of energy. Did I say a bit? I meant a lot. It counts as TWO burns. So if I were to take my rocket down the Yellow path for that millimeter before I would turn towards the L2 Sol-Earth Lagrange, it would cost me 2 burns or 16 steps of fuel if I did it in one turn.

Or I could just end my turn on the spot where the lines crossed, and at the beginning of my next turn mosey on over to L2. It's much nicer when you don't have another player racing you to your destination.

So that's a lot of discussion on rocket mechanics that basically sums up what I should be thinking about as I plan ahead. For now, though, I simply do a Free Market action.

Year 3: Freemarket Action - Sell (place on the bottom of the deck) Marx Capacitor Bank for 4 WTs.

Event: Pad Explosion/Space Debris: This is where I could have lost colonists, or really anything recently launched into space. But for now, nothing happens.

So now I can make the choice to just go exploring for the heck of it and check out Deimos and hope I can roll a 1 on 1d6 (I would get 2 tries because my Robonaut is a "Buggy"), or buy the Mirror Steamer to make my rocket a little more efficient, but worse the farther it got from the sun.

Year 4: Research Action: Purchase Mirror Steamer for 2WTs. No support cards come with it.

Now comes the most painful process of the game. Waiting until we have enough water to get anything done. This is more fun in multiplayer games as you can use auctions to get the most money you can from other players, but in solo games, you can either sell your cards, or

Year 5: Income Operation: 2WTs. I'm back at 4WTs.

Event: Glitch: The event in which if you are flying rockets without humans, you complain loudly and maybe hit someone sitting beside you, player or not.

Now...hey you! What do you mean I have work to do? Aw dangit. Yes, ma'am. Right away, ma'am. Space can wait, ma'am. Continued Below
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Adam
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Oh man, thanks for taking the time to explain what's going on, both rules wise and thoughts wise. I've really enjoyed reading your other session reports, and this one is shaping up to be great as well.
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Adam Gastonguay
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Matt wrote:
Are you using VASSAL to play?


Actually I'm using Cyberboard to play it as my work computer can't handle the 3rd edition version. I find Vassal much easier to handle, but I'm getting better at Cyberboard, so it'll work for, um, work.

You can find the Cyberboard here:

http://www.garycki.com/highfrontier.html

There's a link there to the main Cyberboard program as well. There's a learning curve just as steep as VASSAL, but it's worth it since we know we'll be waiting a while for the real thing.
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Adam Gastonguay
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Victor wrote:
Some very sage advice in the form of an anecdote


Firstly, let me thank you for creating this great solo variant. All the others are so "QUICK! GO NOW NOW NOW!" you don't get to really enjoy the puzzle and the exploration of the solar system as much. With your simple system, while there is a definite goal you are striving for, you have a much more open system to get there and you're able to study so many different strategies to get there it really let's you play with all the buttons and levers this game gives you. It really gives the game infinite replayability for the solo player.

And I never really looked at the back of that reactor in terms of upgrading it later, which is a pretty short term thinking mistake. Sometimes you've got to take the hit early on knowing you can get better cards later. That's a very good point, especially if Deimos were to bear fruit.

I think the readers will learn a lot by subscribing to this thread, and definitely not only from me! Thanks for your input!
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Victor Caminha
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Thank you very much for your kind words, Adam . My thanks also for the Cyberboard tip. Maybe I could give a shot at it, since I never got the disposition to learn Vassal blush.




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Adam Gastonguay
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Meanwhile, back in space....

So let's look at our hand: We have a Robonaut, a Refinery, a Thruster and a generator to run her by. Let's get this puppy to space.
Adding up all the Mass, I'm showing 5 mass, 6 if we add our crew. Why add the crew, you ask? 1) It protects you from the Glitch event. If that event comes up and you have a stack that exists in space that doesn't have a human maintaining it, one of the cards goes *poof* and comes back into your hand. Not good if all of your cards are needed to keep your rocket flying. In this case I could stand to have the refinery decommission (the game's term for returning to your hand) and still fly to where I need to go, but I would still need to get the refinery back there to get a factory, which is my ultimate goal.
2) Glories - This little cards are worth 3 points a pop and they only work if you bring humans to awesome places and bring them safely back home (LEO). 3VPs may not sound like much compared to the 10 you get from building a factory, but remember that you're all fighting over the same resources and once you earn a Glory, no one else can get it, in multiplayer games you can have claim jumping and outright combat which can have points change hands, but Glories are forever.

So I only have 4WTs and I'll need 6 to get everything up to my Antimatter factory that is floating at the L3. That makes my next turn a no-brainer.

Year 6: Income Operation: Gain 2Wts for 6 total.

Yay! Now I can launch everything into space! But now is the time? Well of course it is, you say, it's a race! Get cracking! Maybe it is, but there are certain risks in space. A LOT of risks. I will be rolling another event after this year, and I can roll another "Pad Explosion/Space Debris" which will mean that the heaviest card (in this case, my refinery) will go back into my hand, and I'll have to boost it again for 3WTs (Which I'll have to spend time to earn).

OOOOR, there's also radiation hazards. I am entering the red cycle of the year, which means I can hit a solar flare, rolling 1d6 and losing any card whose Rad-Hardness is less than the roll. Odds are, my Photon Tether will decommission, which will make my Robonaut and Refinery useless.

So, instead, because you can do your operation and rocket movement IN ANY ORDER, I can get myself more water so that I can fuel up my rocket right away and get it moving since a) the farther I am from the sun the weaker Solar Flares are and b) Space Debris only hits you right outside your Bernal (stinkin' litterbugs).

Year 7: Income Operation Gain 2WTs for 8 Total

Now I can Boost my rocket and load two tanks worth of water on it, giving it four steps of fuel, which is what it needs for one full burn. Not exciting, but I'm not looking to go too far at this point.

Event: Pad Explosion/Space Debris: See? SEE? I'm smart! Not like everybody says!

Okay, now for the sake of getting things moving, I'm going to get my rocket going. Mainly I want to see if Deimos is suitable for building on, and while that rocket is flying, it will allow me to focus on other projects.

Year 8: Boost Operation: Now I take all the cards from my hand "Stack" and move them over to my rocket stack. I then put a blue disc on the '6' on my player mat showing my dry mass, and put the blue rocket on the 8 to show its wet mass (after adding the two WTs).
On the thrust chart on the top of your player mat, we'll start with a base thrust of 3 (since we'll be using the mirror steamer), it is solar so we check for any change, but the Earth Heliosphere is +0. Luckily the Photon Tether is only used to power our Robonaut and Refinery, so we'll just leave that folded in the back of the ship for now, so it won't affect our thrust at all. So it looks like 3 thrust and 3TMPs. We place a rocket on the 3 to show 3 thrust.
Then finally, we can put our rocket that's in our player color and put it into space. We'll just put it right beside our Bernal cylandar for now (it's bilocated to use Phil's parlance). And then we're off into the black!

Where I slide it about a half a millimeter down the yellow path and stop at the next intersection. Okay, it's not that exciting...yet, but you built your first rocket, darnit. You're in space! It's building character. Shut up.


So now I'm broke and have no cards in my hand, but my rocket is in flight. Now for you solo players, here is something that you're going to need to pay attention to: Did you already move your rocket this turn? Did you do your operation this turn? Countless times I've stared at the board for a half hour (only slight exaggeration), moved my rocket and then went to buy a card and stopped myself, wondering if I had already done an income action. Or maybe that income action was at the end of last turn? Because movement can happen at any point in your turn, it's very easy to get confused. If you need to keep a widget that you move to show when you take your Operation and when you move each turn, it might be a good idea. Multiplayer, I'm sure you have other people to keep a sharp eye on you, or at least stab you with a sharp thing should you try to get more than one operation done in one turn.

So I'll just get money to start off with since there is absolutely no other Operation I can do, and then I'll fly my rocket over to the L2 Lagrange point. Now the awesome point of these things is that you can turn here WITHOUT spending any fuel. So with smug satisfaction I turn down the red path and stop at the next intersection, knowing that the red path will send me right towards my target, Deimos.

Year 9: Income Operation 2 WTs for 2 total.

Before I start this turn, there is one thing I'm going to need to do, and that is alter the thrust on my rocket. You see, in my last move I crossed into the Martian Heliosphere, which has a -1 solar thrust value. And since I'm using a solar powered thruster, it just doesn't have the same oomph as before. You only change thrust at the beginning of the turns, so even if I turned and flew into Mercury this turn, I still would be limping along. Though the opposite is also true, opening up solar sails next to the sun and slingshotting to Jupiter is a thing that can get you a whole lot of thrust. And it impresses people and makes friends. You should try it some time.

So now that my rocket is thrust 2, I can move it down the red path until it hits the Sol-Mars Lagrange, a nice place where the gravity from Mars and the Gravity from the sun cancel each other out and we could float for ever (unless there's already a teapot floating there). Again, since we can turn for free at a Lagrange, we turn towards Deimos to Land!

Landing can be confusing, though not nearly as confusing as it used to be. Simply put: If your thrust is bigger than the site you're landing on (thrust# > site#) then you don't have to spend fuel, you just land on the thing. Otherwise you'll have to use anything you have to raise your thrust (like afterburning, decommissioning cards to lower your mass, etc.), see if there's an aerobraking path you can take, or use a factory on the site to help you land. Otherwise you're screwed. (Oh, and you can land and take off from aerostats as well...just make sure you read Section G of the rules a few times, they're a bit much, but very important)

Year 10: Prospecting Operation on Deimos.

Moment of truth time, if I roll a 1 on 1d6, I can place a claim disc on this rock and the real work can begin. The reason I need a 1 is because I have to roll the site size or lower. ISRU tells me which sites I can try to prospect (in my case, anything with 3 or more water drops), and the site size tells me the likelihood I can use the place. So roll them bones:


Holy crap! That was completely unexpected! So now I immediately take a claim disc (the lil' disc in my player color) and slap that down onto Deimos. Not bad for 10 years work!

Event: Solar Flare or CME OH NO! Quick! Everybody underground! Phew. Lucky for me, everyone at sites are immune from Solar Flares because they are assumed to take shelter underground. Good thing, too, because next year I will be using my Photon Tether to power my new factory, and I would hate for it to get fried for being too rad.

Year 11: Industrialize Operation on Deimos. I decommission my Robonaut, Refinery and all their support cards to put down a cube of my color on Deimos to show that I now have a factory there. I also move the 'C' marker down on the Exploitation track (found on the Solar System chart) from "Start" to 10VPs. If it's the only Carbon factory in town, it's worth more, but saturating the market will lower its value (a good way to get in other players' craw).

I could also decommission my rocket (and my crew, because I could let them die as heroes!), but it still has a full gas tank, and I'd hate to put all that water to waste. Also, I see on the top of the Generator deck is a Brayton Turbine which says on it "Flip Side = C," which means that factories on C sites can make the black side of that card. If I produce that card and bring it home, I could sell it for 10WTs! That'd be worth waiting for.

Well, that's all for today. Only 11 turns in, this is going to be a lot of work, but I hope people are getting some knowledge from this as our first factory is built! It's usually not this easy, and you'll see that 'C' factories don't get you as much cool stuff as the other types do. I won't add much over the weekend, but I'll pop in every now and again, so feel free to drop in questions and such and I'll do my best to answer them, and I'm sure there are smarter folks out there who'd love to help, too! Continued Here
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Victor Caminha
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Just as I was leaving work I decided to give a last peek on BGG and then this happened

Very didatic reading, Adam, well done. And it seems the directory board is going to give you a gold star for the lucky early industrialization.
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Adam Gastonguay
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Long day at work today, so won't be able to get much play in today, but hey, I just made a new factory so I have a lot of thinking to do which I can do while I work.

Firstly, when I did my industrialize action, there was one thing I forgot to do, what is called a "Dry Mass Adjustment." See, I'm leaving my Robonaut and Refinery on Deimos to start producing me some goods, so my rocket stack is now only my crew card and my thruster, which gives me a total mass of 1! I need to slide my tokens on my play mat over to the left so that my rocket is on the 1 and my water rocket is on the 3. With such a light rocket, I can now go a whole lot farther. And now that I am considered "Probe Class," my thrust goes up by 1 as well, going back to 3. Mass is a pesky thing in space.

Now that we have a 'C' factory, we can look at our Patent cards differently. Like this generator whose black side can be built at said 'C' Factory.



You'll see it is MUCH better than the generator we currently have. For no mass it can operate our Robonaut and Refinery, though it is still Solar powered, which means it won't operate past Jupiter. Now for the difficult decision. We could build this generator and bring it home for the cash (You get as much Water Tanks as the current value of the Factory (10)), or I could just use the really efficient generator and use other means to get my money. I do have 2 turns before the next event, so I don't have to fear the card going away after my Freemarket action, which is nice, so I can sell my current, crappier generator for 4 which will get me the 6WTs I need for the new generator.

Wait, 6 for that card? Why 6? Sadly, even though I'm planning on using the generator for its black side, I still am purchasing the patent for the white side, and the white side needs a reactor and a radiator. I don't see this as too bad of a thing as these are both unneeded cards at this time that I can sell to get back to 8WTs to fuel future missions.

Year 12: Freemarket Operation: Sell Photon Tether Rectenna for 4WTs giving me 6 total.

"SENILITY" CEO Solitaire Meeting: This being the first meeting, the score goal is zero, but let's calculate our score anyway: Bernal - 1 Claims - 1 Factories - 10: 12VPs. New Goal: 10. In the next meeting (in 12 years) I will need 10 points. I like where this is going so far.

Year 13: Research Operation: Purchase Brayton Turbine, Fast-Neutron Fission and Ti/K Heat Pipe for 6 WTs (now down to 0)

Event: Inspiration: And now we get a whole new bunch of cards to look at.

So now we can create our upgraded generator and fly it back home. But after that, what? Do we load our old Robonaut and Refinery and search for more factory sites? Do we try to produce better tech at Deimos first and use that to make more factories? Since we have extra time, we can also look into the "little things" like upgrading our Bernal and getting some colonists into space to increase our Operations per turn. Decisions, decisions, but I have very little time today, so this will have to do for now.



Sorry for the small post, but I'd rather have something than nothing. Hope you're enjoying it. See you tomorrow. Let me know what you would do next!

Continued Below

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I'm not sure what the costs are here, but I'm always a sucker (sometimes to a fault) for taking actions early that give you more actions throughout the game. If memory serves, we've got 23 years to earn another 8 points, although we're not likely to get as lucky as we did with Deimos. I'd probably go for colonists now while we have a bit of breathing room and hope that we don't regret that.
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Victor Caminha
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I second Adam (Mantheron) opinion about recruiting and boosting a colonist ASAP for the short term. Moving the O'Meara Paralens to the Bernal and promoting it is also a good choice, so it can make a safe haven to the colonist and even to power its transportation as long as it sticks to the inner solar system.

Ideally, it would be GREAT if you manage to get the Solar Pumped MHD laser robonaut - its a C card that if upgraded serves as an ISRU Zero raygun. It requires a generator (and you get that covered) and a radiator (and most radiators are either C or M). If you get that, you can:

- Probably mass prospect the drier S asteroids and get an easy Space venture or at least a S site for your next industry

- Industrialize Venus (need to land there to prospect, though) and move your Bernal nearby to get the LAB.

If you manage to do both and have a workable, non-solar dependant terawatt rocket, it will help A LOT on your quest for a future.

All that said, it really depends if the C robonaut will appear soon at the top of the deck.
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Adam Gastonguay
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And we're back. Thanks for the suggestions from Adam and victor, let's toy around with those ideas.

But first, let's finish what I started in the last post.

Year 14: ET Production - My brand new factory produces my new O'Meara LSP Paralens which I put onto my rocket stack. The fantastic thing about this is that I don't have to do a dry mass adjustment because its mass is zero!

I can now move my rocket at the end of the turn, and I start it back towards home. Because my mass is so low, I decide to make a Hohnmann pivot at the first turn where the red path turns. This costs me 2 burns which is 8(!) steps. However, at this low mass, that's only a little over 1 tank worth of water. However, that saves me a turn of rocket flight and I can start using that generator sooner.

Hmmm, but now that I'm thinking about it, perhaps having full tanks and converting that water back into money in a few turns is a better idea. I can use that money to buy the two available 'C' cards to sell for 10 WTs later. Of course, once I get a colonist, I may have a better income flow anyway. Let's get that rocket home fast and see how that goes.

So Year 15 I can get the rocket back home, so I can dock the stack and put the whole thing in the Bernal stack.

So let's talk now about the Recruit Operation that you can find if you use the Colonist module. This module adds a whole lot of options and analysis paralysis to your game as multiple operations per turn, multiple "powers," futures and fantastic available upgrades become available.

I love it.

Each colonist has a Specialization, either Engineering, Science or Business. Each operation is in one of these classes, so the colonists are allowed to perform an operation in its own specialization once each turn, just like you (Basically it's not "You" doing the action, it's your crew card, which you can see has all three specializations printed on it). However, there's a cost to it, the first time you use a colonist of a specialization, it costs you 1WT. Second time, it'll cost you 2WT and so on. But that's of each specialization, so if you have a Science colonist and a Business colonist, you can use each one for a TOTAL cost of 2WTs (one each). Also, each colonist has to be boosted into space to be effective, and you are limited to the number colonists you can have by your Bernal.

I was going to go into explaining "Dirtside Hydration," but I think I'll wait on that until I start flying my Bernal around. But to start with, you can only use one colonist until you start flying your Bernal around and parking it somewhere where there is a lot of your factories on sites with a lot of water.

In multiplayer games, you are also allowed to do a "Hostile Recruit" where you, um, ask other colonists to join your faction. If the colonists color is yours already and you're not at war with their faction, they'll agree! (Again, if you're under your limit) Players love it when you do this to them. You should try it.

There are also black cards that are colonists. These are robots that need to be ET Produced in order to be played. They are very loyal, and they allow a fantastic Operation called "Robot Emancipation." I'll speak on that should I get some robots under my wing.

For now, though, I realize I can not do a Recruit action as I have more than 3 cards in my hand, so I will have to either boost one, or sell one. Given my monetary situation, Freemarket may be the way to go. I have a really good Reactor that currently doesn't work on anything, and a so-so to bad Radiator that I can't use on anything, so I think the radiator can go for now, then I can recruit next turn. Seems to me that having my rocket race back was a poor choice since I'm "wasting" my turn doing this.

Year 15: Freemarket Operation: Sell Ti/K Heat Pipe for 4WTs to total 4WTs.

Now let's recruit and see what we can get. We have an event next turn, and while I sort of fear a Budget Cut, I do have that reactor that can absorb that loss. So let's see what are my options:

Well there's a motley crew. Siren Cybernautics is the heaviest at Mass 3, but the FINAO cost reduction is nice, though they offer nothing else. The Heavy Water Survivalists provide their own protection from Pad Explosions/Space Debris, though I was thinking of upgrading my Bernal anyway, so I'm not sure how useful that would be. They also have laser ISRU, but it's at 4, so that's barely useful. The Botany Bay Convicts are an awesome rocket ISRU. It's only a 3, but you get 10 thrust at a cost of 4, which is a nice large number AND they have their own reactor. However, once you have them, you can't boost any more human colonists (robots and the like are okay). They are also the only colonists out of the 3 without a future on their purple side.

Luckily it's close enough to lunch time that I can really ponder on this for a while. I'm leaning towards the convicts as it's a nice short term solution, and my ability to decommission them really stops the downside from being all that bad. Right? Continued right down there
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Rich James
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CthulhuKid wrote:
For now, though, I realize I can not do a Recruit action as I have more than 3 cards in my hand, so I will have to either boost one, or sell one.

Is this really the case though? There are a set of rules listed in the section before all the variant rules that are common to all variants. V0b says to ignore bid limits (H2). If I understand that correctly, that means you can bid for cards even if your hand is full at 3. Of course, playing with the limit makes the variant that much harder, but I wasn't sure if you made that choice intentionally or just missed that exception in the first section of rules.
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After a good break and a lot more work, I've realized I'm not living up to my full potential. I'm not embracing my Crew's power, so I should pick the convicts and just, erm, make them heroes when the need arises.

So here we go.

Recruit Operation - Put Botany Bay Convicts into my hand.

Event: Glitch - My crew is still with my rocket stackk, so everything is good there. Yet another benefit of humans!

Of course, this doesn't give me new cards to look at, but we need to spend time getting the convicts up and running, so let's work on that.

Year 16: Promote Operation - In order to have my colonists safe in space, it's best to have an upgraded Bernal because it protects them from Space Debris. Also, it allows the Bernal to take flight and find new places to park, which can allow for more colonists, not to mention having a new home base that is closer to valuable metals in the outer solar system.

And bonus! I didn't even know this, but I get a free pivot for any freighter and rocket starting at the Bernal! A little antimatter boost to get me going!

Year 17: Boost Operation - Convicts. In. Sppaaaaaaace. Cost 2 WTs, leaving 2 left for me to play with.
I can immediately put the guy to work with any Engineering task, which includes: Boost, Site Refuel, Industrialize, ET Production and Digital Swap (don't ask about that yet). Also one action that any specialization can do is Income (take 2 WTs). Of course, it would only be take 1 as it would cost me 1, but it's still a net gain. Really, my only options are either to put fuel on my Bernal, or get more money. And since the fuel I'd be getting on my Bernal is dirt, and not useful for anything outside I've got planned at the moment, I'll just grab my WT, giving me 3.

Event: Inspiration: It's as if Victor decreed it. A 'C' Thruster and a 'C' Robonaut. We have the Hall Effect Thruster, which can upgrade to an Ion drive and a Solar-pumped MHD Exciplex Laser which can upgrade to a Quantum Cascade Laser.

Ahem, that laser is ISRU 0. It must be mine! And now you can see how awesome having a colonist can be. The colonist can't do any research operation himself, but he CAN do an income operation BEFORE I do my own operation. If he does that (and I'm giving the Convicts the male moniker for no reason here), I will have the 4WTs to get the Robonaut and the needed Radiator.

Year 18: Convicts: Income 2WTS (cost 1WT) total 4WTs Crew: Research Op: 4WTs for Laser and Overkill Radiator.



I have no generator to operate the Robonaut, and I won't demote my Bernal and steal that one just to use it, so I have to do some shopping. However, I also now have 5 cards in hand, so I can't do a research action anyway, so I have to do some things to get cards out of my hand. I could ET produce the Quantum Cascade Laser (which is just awesome to say) and keep it as an outpost on Deimos until I need it, but a Glitch could decommission it and waste that turn. Of course, at the end of this turn a Budget Cut puts all my cards at risk anyway, so this might not be too much of a problem next turn. Seeing my options, it looks like my old Robonaut, good ol' reliable Flywheel Tractor, has surved its purpose and I think I'll do a Freemarket action and sell that back for the money.

Year 19: Crew: Freemarket Sell Tractor for 4 WTs Convicts: Income 1 WT - Total now 5.

Event: Solar Flare - Another thing I would have to worry about if I had ET produced the Robonaut. Of course, its rad-hardness is 5, but there you have it.
So now I still need an electronic generator, and wouldn't you know it, one is available: The Cascade Thermoacoustic Generator. It's Mass 0 which is always a plus, but it needs a nuclear reactor and 2 therms of cooling. Of course, I do have a huge radiator already, so I could have all that working just fine, and I have a nice, light nuclear reactor. Seems like a nice choice to me. Still don't have room in my hand, though, so I'll have to get "rid" of a card, AND I still need 1 more WT to buy the whole shebang. Hrmph. So I suppose I'll have to ET Produce my new Robonaut and get some money to get the support pieces up and running on Earth and hope to get everything to Deimos soon (my free Pivot should get me there much quicker!)

Year 20: Crew: Income 2WTs Total 7: Convicts (cost 1WT - total 6): ET Produce Fancy lasers on Deimos, create outpost #1 there.

And sadly I am now out of time. I want to write more about all the options that are slowly opening up to me and how quickly I just want to get into a rocket and fly the heck out there and exploit them, but I must go back to reality for now. See you all tomorrow.

Continued below
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Adam Gastonguay
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arjisme wrote:
CthulhuKid wrote:
For now, though, I realize I can not do a Recruit action as I have more than 3 cards in my hand, so I will have to either boost one, or sell one.

Is this really the case though? There are a set of rules listed in the section before all the variant rules that are common to all variants. V0b says to ignore bid limits (H2). If I understand that correctly, that means you can bid for cards even if your hand is full at 3. Of course, playing with the limit makes the variant that much harder, but I wasn't sure if you made that choice intentionally or just missed that exception in the first section of rules.


Well hot spit. I just completely blew past that rule. You're absolutely correct! I am making it harder on myself.

Oooooorrrr, I'm just using it to illustrate an important planning point in multiplayer games. Yeah, I'll go with that. whistle
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arjisme wrote:
There are a set of rules listed in the section before all the variant rules that are common to all variants. V0b says to ignore bid limits (H2). If I understand that correctly, that means you can bid for cards even if your hand is full at 3.


H2 refers specifically to research auctions. It's not clear if the hand limit applies to recruit operations or not. I would rule no, since I suppose the purpose of the hand limit is to prevent one player from having a technology monopoly, which would probably also apply to colonist labor.
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Actually, N4. Recruit Operation specifically states that you can only conduct that operation if your hand size is not more than 3 cards. If we take the rules at face value, the variant rules only relax the hand size limit for Research Operations, not Recruit Operations.
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Adam Gastonguay
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I can see why you would still want a limit on recruit even in solo games...I could conceivably get one colonist of each type and boost/decommission each one so I could get whatever actions I needed. Expensive but not outrageous,and worth holding on to a lot of colonists of different types.

I'm even more glad I'm doing this now! Knowledge!
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Victor Caminha
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Whoa, who could guess the quantum cascade Laser would be so readily available?
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wykthor wrote:
Whoa, who could guess the quantum cascade Laser would be so readily available?


Did you hack my computer just to make your strategy look good?
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Lol, if I had the disposition and the ability to do that, I would probably save the Hall Effect to appear later . As much as I would like an early, economic thruster, your budget is a bit too tight to purchase both it and the robonaut and I fear it wont stay for long at the top of the deck with exotropy looming.
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Back into the game and have colonists, some water, a good thruster and a fantastic robonaut waiting for me on Deimos. This is when the game starts really opening up, which means this is where I really start getting in danger of making mistakes, not only in rules (see above) but also strategy. The board meetings will keep coming every 12 years, and it will be harder and harder to get those points, so while I did get a lot of breathing room at the beginning of the game, I can't rest on my laurels, though. Let's get into space!

Looking at my hand, to get my reactor and radiator (both needed for my Robonaut) boosted, I would need 3 WTs. I should probably boost the refinery as well, that way I could build a factory as soon as I found a suitable site. Unfortunately that adds another 3 mass. That would tap me out. Secondly, that would raise my rockets mass to: Colonists 2 – Thruster 0 – Refinery 3 – Reactor 1 – Radiator 2: 8
That puts me one away from Transport class, which will lower my thrust down to 2; 1 once I hit the Martian Heliosphere.

Oh crap, through all of this, I completely forgot I haven't picked up the e generator yet. This is what happens when you're playing a game at work, folks. This is why it's better to be at a table with a physical copy of the game. Less distractions (unless you own a cat, of course). So all the above applies, but the current turn is a lot easier to figure out.

Year 21: Crew: Research Generator, Reactor & Radiator to hand 6WTs. Now have 0. Colonists: Income 1WT. Now have 1.

Event: Solar Flare – Strength 5 That's a tough one! Just to confirm, I had to look all the way to rule Q2 to find that all cards colocated with a Bernal are immune to Solar Flares. Otherwise the Convicts would be toast. My Laser is also safe because it is on a site. It is assumed that we build it underground and not exposed to the horrors of space.

Okay, now we're back to what I was saying before. I now have a bunch of new cards that I can sell for money, which is awesome. I can also use my colonist to do Boost actions once I have the money, so I can get this rocket going soon. So...

Year 22: Crew: Freemarket Action: Sell Dielectric X-ray Window Radiator for 4 WT. It's extremely heavy for what it does. Convicts: Income 1WT Total now 6 WTs. Now enough to boost everything I need in one action.

Now I am all set, but how much fuel do I need? Well here I need to think of what my ultimate goal is. I think I should shoot for the Vesta cluster. It's very close, and provides V, S, and C options for industrializing. Sadly, 'C' is the only sure thing with Vesta itself, but who knows what the dice will say? There's also water there for refueling, so if things don't look good (and I don't think I need another 'C' factory, to be honest), the Koronis family is right next door, which is a very dry, but chock full of Silicon asteroids. I think my goal is just to have enough fuel to get me to Deimos, use that to fuel up enough to get me to Koronis, but with a stop at Vesta just to check things out (and see if it's a good place to park my Bernal, maybe).

A good thing to note here, if you do a ISRU refuel at a factory, you can get 10WTs 8WTs worth of fuel with one operation. A very, very, very cheap way to get around. That's why getting a factory on Deimos is so lucky, it's a gas station to the stars.

Year 23: Crew: Freemarket Operation: Sell D-T Fusion Tokamak (nice, but unnecessary at this time) for 4 WTs, now 10 total) Convicts: Boost Operation: Boost Refinery, Reactor, Radiator and Generator to Rocket stack cost 7 WTs down to 3. Free Operation: Put 1 WT into rocket. (That's all I need for 1 burn, which I like to have on hand for emergencies)

Event: Inspiration: Always nice to have a new crop of cards to look at.



New radiator might be nice, but this really shows me that getting a new factory on a different type is important. I just realized I could have moved my rocket at the end of last turn. Sadly, work has been getting out of hand lately and I haven't been able to keep my mind on what's important. Like games. So let's start this turn with some rocket movement.

With my free pivot, I can get to the L2 Lagrange without waiting and hang out at the turn on the red path so I can land on Deimos on my next turn.

So I have 2 WTs and I see an opportunity here. There's a Radiator that flips to a Mass 1 that cools for 3 which will cut the weight of my rocket down by one. So let's do this.

Year 24: Research Operation: Purchase Salt-cooled Reflux Tube for 2Wts leaving 0: Convicts: Income 1WT total 1.

CEO Meeting: Points at 12, same as last time. Goal was 10. Hooray! New goal is now 20. Gulp.

My rocket now lands on Deimos. I can remove my outpost marker and put my new Robonaut onto my rocket. Now that I'm out towards Mars, my thrust is down to 1, which I realize means I have to pump in some extra fuel to get that +1 afterburner in order to operate out by Ceres at all. Sigh I need a better thruster. But for now, let's lower my mass to get a little more money and fly time.

Year 25: Crew: Income Op for 2 WTs Convicts: ET Production Op for 1WT to create Buckytube Filament Radiator on Rocket stack. Decommission less useful radiator.

Event: Pad Explosion/Space Debris – I'm protected from this one, so nyeah.

I have to end here, and I was probably interrupted the most during this playthrough, so there may be a whole lot of errors, and for that I apologize. But I'm glad my ship's dry mass is down to 7 which will give me more oomph for each water tank, which I'll need once I hit the Ceres zone.

Thanks again for reading!

Next!
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