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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Game Nine rss

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Jon Snow
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Game Nine 5 hours (Chas: Klingons Kelsey: Federation Calvin: Romulans)

The most extraordinary things happened toward the end of this game. The Romulans were run by a new player who caught on fast; and was yet another new local gaming acquaintance made. The Federation expanded more quickly than the others, and traded with both of them. Later on The Feds hit what I now call The Tipping Point: an income of 5 Cuture. It means that this player will be able to build one Ascendancy per turn, and beat the other players, all else remaining the same. Therefore, players who had not been aggressive at all were served notice that they had to do something about the leader quickly! We others were both at an income of 4 Culture.

Since the new player and less experienced gamer, the Romulan, declined to hit the Feds (being played by his younger brother, it just happened), I went on the attack with a fleet that had been sitting in Warp collecting tokens, to be able to serve as a “Fire Brigade,” zipping immediately to either flank border to challenge an invading rival. With all players at Ascendancy Level 2, I as the Klingons went up to Level 3 and attacked, destroying the relatively weak Federation fleet on Planet Risa, and unfortunately destroying the Culture node there. But my objective was fulfilled in leveling the playing field, as we all now had a Culture income of 4. It was a limited war for a limited goal. Late in the game, I now had 3 fleets and 3 Star Bases. All nine recently painted resin prototype Star Base miniatures were on the table; as usual in the border areas where players were about to or did connect up their territories with those of another. With all of the game systems tiles on the board except 3 (which were not Phenomena); one having been destroyed early in the game during Exploration, it was a crowded galaxy. The node “lights” of the unique game "Christmas Tree" of the systems on their space lane “branches” lit up the table with the warm breaths of many alien races and their homes. Exploration and Advancement cards yet unseen continue to surprise and delight us on our game Treks with new combinations of outcomes during play.

The Exploration Cards discovered in this game (18), are given here for local Trek color without spoilers on effects:

Crisis: (Red Cards) Automated Minosian Weapons, Crystalline Entity, Space Amoeba, The Wrath of Olympus
Discovery: (Blue Cards) Abandoned Colony, Bynar Technicians, Gamma Quadrant Artifact Dealer, Guardian of Forever, Orion Trader, Secrets of the Horta.
Virgin Worlds: (Green Cards) 2 “Where No One Has Gone Before”
Civilization: (Tan Cards) Pre-Warp Level Zero (1), Warp-Capable Level One (2), WCL Two (3)

Then the Romulans hit me, although I was not a front runner technically. They went up to Ascendancy 3 and took a planet from me, destroying a Research node, but there was no Culture node there. The Federation rose to Ascendancy 3 and I saw my very first space lane battle (rather than against or in a system) where both contestants were on a space lane space, as the Feds attacked me where I had blocked off the lane leading to Risa. The Feds took back Risa and rebuilt the Culture node there. I took out their ships but was unable to retake the planet. I rose to Ascendancy Level 4, where the Feds were at 4 and the Roms at 3 But the Feds would be able to rise to Ascendancy 5 along with me, and the Roms had enough Culture to build both final ascendancy tokens!

Here now is the nail biting story of this last turn, after almost 5 hours of play! So much for those who have accused us of not building up enough Ascendancy and mostly winning with Supremacy in their commentary on our previous games—all 15 Ascendancy tokens would now appear on what would be the final turn of the game! So once again the amazing level of replayability in Star Trek Ascendancy was shown in a totally different situation arising than in any of the previous eight games I have played with my GenCon copy! Since it would be impossible to both take a system and build a colony on the same turn, the tie breaker for an Ascendancy Victory would now be who could destroy the control nodes of the other players while safeguarding his own and emerge with more controlled systems than the other rivals. The Feds and Roms both controlled 6 systems; I controlled 5 as the Klingons. Everyone had powered up their weapons two levels, but the Feds also had two extra levels of Shields, which was a new Shield high for our games. The total available player resource token pools not being used to build the final Ascendancy tokens and so available to bid on the Turn Order stood at Feds: 15 Roms: 12 Klings: 7. Any of the three players could still win!

I bid two for Turn Order, and the Romulans three, as the Feds declined to bid. But instead of taking the First move as usual, the Roms took the Three card, for “last licks.” This was another new experience for me as a STA player. Well, the rules only say you can't bid the same amount as previous players. Therefore if the Feds did not bid now, the Roms would get second pick! An ingenious move, and from a brand new player yet. Because as the Klingons I had earned two extra culture tokens from my two successful Space Battles, I was in the Ascendancy running in the last two turns, even with an Cultural income of only 4. I now built my fifth and final Ascendancy token, which put me in position to win the game.

Klingon Final Turn: The red faction destroys three green Romulan ships on the border, and block further Romulan and Federation incursion paths. No enemy control nodes are destroyed. The Romulan points out that I might have done it differently and invaded Romulus itself with only one consolidated fleet, but it could have then easily been counterattacked. However, I tried to not play kingmaker as such, but keep myself in a viable position to win, should the other two then batter themselves down below my own position, only one system behind them both. I move up to Ascendancy Level Five.

Federation Final Turn: The Feds comission new fleets of white ships for defense on the two border paths with the Romulans; yet also, surprisingly, made no attacks. They also move up to Ascendancy Five.

Romulan Final Turn: Buying two Ascendancy tokens at once, they also move up to Ascendancy Five. Joining the complex dance between current positions of fleets and individual ships, available command tokens and die risk, the Romulan finally attacked, and against both different Federation controlled planets on two different space lane paths.

The first battle: On Zeta Bootis III, a Romulan fleet of 8 ships attack the Feds who have a fleet of 5 plus a Star Base. After an exciting four rounds of combat, coming down to only one ship on each side, these ships wipe each other out! No planets change control! The hair raising game conclusion will come now only with the second Romulan/Federation battle. The Romulans could still win.

The second battle: On Janus VI, only one space lane away from Earth, the Romulans attack with 7 ships vs 7 Federation ships plus a Star Base. Its going to be close. The Feds annihilate the Roms, with three ships left. The Romulans, with a second fleet of four, realize they cannot both attack again and affect control of the Federation planet, and call of their second attack. Romulan Player: "I should have consolidated the two fleets before attacking, realizing my Command counter limitation."

Final Outcome: With all three players at Ascendancy Five, the two brothers tie with 6 controlled planets each, the Klingons still being behind with only 5. Its an Ascendancy Tie, although the Klingons looked strong enough in most of the previous game play to win. Its been a very exciting and entertaining game.

Does Star Trek Ascendancy hit the mark as a playable large civilization building 4E (Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate) game? Well, I just played three games of it in four days, which for me is completely unheard of in 50 years of board gaming.
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Wow, what an amazing battle report this is!

Really, really looking forward to my copy now.

What's your overall rating of this game now? A 10?
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Kain
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5 hours is a scary number for a 3 player game.

Thanks for the report! Sounds like a great time.
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Nova Cat
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Dark63 wrote:
5 hours is a scary number for a 3 player game.

Ascendancy is unusual for a 4X game in that it has no "clock" mechanic that pushes the game inexorably toward an end. In fact, I expect that the length of the game increases if all players are experienced, and decreases if there are newer players, since you can effectively halt your opponents' progress by dismantling their culture income.
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If that holds true, I hope that some future expansion will introduce some kind of clock mechanic.

Would playing to 4 culture improve/shorten game length?
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Jason Walker
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Since the Borg and Dominion are going to be NPC expansions, I could see them possibly working as a timer.
 
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Dominion will be NPC, too? Didn't know that.
 
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Jon Snow
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arrrh I actually enjoy a long game, especially in a 4X context. However, we have yet to boldly go and explore any of the Optional Rules, many of which are meant to shorten the game as "Accelerated Rules."
 
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WD Yoga
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TravelSized wrote:
Since the Borg and Dominion are going to be NPC expansions, I could see them possibly working as a timer.


Maybe Dominion and Borg are NPC with their own initiative, spreading from a corner of the world to conquer it, like the evil dark lord in fantasy games. Hopefully, they will come with their own AI and special ability. The Borg assimilates planetary systems, and players need to restore them before they can establish colony on the systems?
 
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Alex Almond
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How many advancements do you think were researched?
 
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Jon Snow
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Sadly, my players and I are typically behind in researching advancements. In this game, I only had three research nodes as the Klingons, and one got taken out! So I only completed one, with another partial. The Romulans did the same. The Federation completed two.
 
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Grish
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chas59 wrote:
Sadly, my players and I are typically behind in researching advancements.


Do you guys brave hazards to help with research at all? Why do you find you skip over advancements? Is it because shields + weapons are a better option?
 
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Jon Snow
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A few of us in some games have gone research heavy, including building Science Fleets and braving hazards with single ships. The problem has been that advancements found randomly haven't made much of a difference in general, except for the Romulan Advanced Cloaking, which has practically ended games as being too overwhelming to deal with! I am currently looking at the Focused Research Advanced Rule and considering trying it out.

Now that I've played with ten other people, nine of whom are local, I expect that these now somewhat more experienced players will be exploring all of the possible maneuvers one can take when they get back in the Admiral's Chair!
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Grish
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Very interesting.

What about spending Commands to fish through the Advancement deck? Do you find Commands are too valuable to spend that way?

Also, if you don't mind me asking, how many turns do most games take?
 
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Jon Snow
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Grish,

I don't mind you asking, I just haven't tracked that. Game length has varied, and some games have just been conceded at least several turns before they would have ended. Teaching time to first time players has been included in most games as well, which takes up a good half hour at the front, and more answering questions or looking up rules.

Yes, we've gone through more Advancement Cards than have been developed.
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Mattias Elfström
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Dark63 wrote:
5 hours is a scary number for a 3 player game.

Thanks for the report! Sounds like a great time.

5 hours is a normal game!

A full day is a long game.

Several days is an epic game.

Below 5 hours is a filler.

 
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Chris Schenck
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I don't normally read session reports, but these have all been very interesting. Thanks for posting them, Jon!
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Jon Snow
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Sure, Chris. Rather than do only session details, I try to help people who haven't got the game yet see how it plays in general.

By the way, don't miss Chris' Advancement Summary in the Files section. Its a very useful one page summary of all three factions' Advancement Cards. I'm using it now to see if I want to implement the Focused Research Advanced Rule.
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