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Terraforming Mars» Forums » General

Subject: Can this game be played endlessly? rss

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Eric Edens
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My question comes from the way the game ends. Because all 3 parameters must be met and the players control them being met, can the game be played in blink first method in which it will never end? Because you are never compelled to increase a parameter, if you feel playing a city for example is better for you than playing a greenery tile, can you stall the game? In particular the temperature track seems to be a potentially break point for be game. Greenery will give you points, oceans are produced for lots of cards so the odds they will occur are high. But temperature is predominately produced when players increase with heat which is a player choice.

With one of the awards to have the highest heat at the end, and even one milestone to have 16 cards it could potentially be an incentive to players to not increase temperature. I know people will say that eventually a player will math out that they will do better to raise a parameter than any other action but let's say all players are gaining points from things like animals. They would rather get those actions done potentially. And if all players are close in score no player may want to force the end game.

Should there be a decided end game? After 14 rounds if Mars isn't habitable then all players lose? Or if the last place players TR is ever met with the round marker the game ends? We played a 3 player game which was 4 hours due to a number of rounds being "wasted" due to no player wanting to push a parameter. Any thoughts?

I love this game and am ok with the game being long just curious on thoughts.
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Örjan Almén
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The milestone to have 16 cards is to have the cards when you claim the milestone, so if that's done rather early, those cards will be played rather quickly after that as well.

Of course, the risk will always be there, but even increasing temperature gives points in form of raising the TR which in the end is points, and also increases M€ income, which means people usually want to get these temperature raining marks as well. Also, you will probably end the game before the other players get too much from their engines.
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Eric Edens
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True but that doesn't deny the possibility of an endless game. That just says you probably would end it.
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Bill Buchanan
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I would say that if player(s) let one person do all the terraforming then that person will most likely win. This is due to the fact they will get all the TR points, and have placed most of the tiles both for bonuses and beneficial placements for end game points.

To me this is part of the strategy of the game, and I like that the end game is player controlled.

That being said, a house rule that states that if the deck runs out and Mars isn't yet successfully terraformed then all players lose would seem to be good, while not being overly heavy-handed.
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Richard Derr
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Theoretically possible, but certainly one person at the table will realize that it's an easy win if they're the one to raise the stats.
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Eric Edens
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I agree in principle to your thoughts on person being the one doing the terraforming will likely win. Other than the temperature. Because you only get points from this for it bumping your TR and not like greenery getting you landlord and also end game points. If you choose to hold heat you can get 5 points award otherwise spend 40 heat to get the same 5 points by bumping TR or spend 70 Mega Credits to bump it with that standard action. Is the cost worth it? Probably but also possibly not depending on your strategy. Like I said though the ocean tiles seem to come out quickly as cards have them as part of their entrance to the board but overall they don't score a player points at the end other than the TR bump also but with only 9 they will happen likely. Temperature must be bumped 18 times (reducing the one bump from oxygen). So this is by far the "longest" track. With oceans at 9 and oxygen at 14 and the extra incentive of greenery being worth points and helping city points.
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Eric Edens
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rderr27 wrote:
Theoretically possible, but certainly one person at the table will realize that it's an easy win if they're the one to raise the stats.
again, my premise is not that no one touches the tracks but that all players are equally touching them. If you get to around 0C and all players are within the same score. If I am getting more points per round from actions or other areas, why would I push the end game for 1 TR? If I can bank a bunch of microbes or animals or buy cards or something I could do that instead as I am never sure if I will win or not. With the event cards being facedown it also makes sure that I can't always know everyone end game score. So I will never know when I should end to win if we are all on equal footing.
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Bill Buchanan
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mebesquee wrote:
rderr27 wrote:
Theoretically possible, but certainly one person at the table will realize that it's an easy win if they're the one to raise the stats.
again, my premise is not that no one touches the tracks but that all players are equally touching them. If you get to around 0C and all players are within the same score. If I am getting more points per round from actions or other areas, why would I push the end game for 1 TR? If I can bank a bunch of microbes or animals or buy cards or something I could do that instead as I am never sure if I will win or not. With the event cards being facedown it also makes sure that I can't always know everyone end game score. So I will never know when I should end to win if we are all on equal footing.


- From what I have seen, the scores in this game are usually pretty close. Getting those TR points is important. Whether at the start or at the end.

- It's also far more common that you are raising your TR, increasing temperature, oxygen and placing oceans by using cards. Cards that are usually also giving you points, and/or increasing resources and/or doing other great stuff. Only in certain circumstances will you want to be increasing your TR by only using standard actions.

- You can only use action cards once per generation, and there aren't really that many cards that let you add animals/microbes/etc. on them for extra points. Usually you need sets of 3 cubes or more on these cards, which will take a very long time to accumulate large amounts of points.

- I think the minimum card requirements for cards that need a certain level of Temperature/Oxygen works a great incentive for people to raise both those parameters.

Of course it's possible, and probably even likely that from time to time a situation will occur where players might intentionally delay the end of the game for various reasons. But I can't see this lasting in an endless state ...

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Eric Edens
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WBuchanan wrote:
mebesquee wrote:
rderr27 wrote:
Theoretically possible, but certainly one person at the table will realize that it's an easy win if they're the one to raise the stats.
again, my premise is not that no one touches the tracks but that all players are equally touching them. If you get to around 0C and all players are within the same score. If I am getting more points per round from actions or other areas, why would I push the end game for 1 TR? If I can bank a bunch of microbes or animals or buy cards or something I could do that instead as I am never sure if I will win or not. With the event cards being facedown it also makes sure that I can't always know everyone end game score. So I will never know when I should end to win if we are all on equal footing.


- From what I have seen, the scores in this game are usually pretty close. Getting those TR points is important. Whether at the start or at the end.

- It's also far more common that you are raising your TR, increasing temperature, oxygen and placing oceans by using cards. Cards that are usually also giving you points, and/or increasing resources and/or doing other great stuff. Only in certain circumstances will you want to be increasing your TR by only using standard actions.

- You can only use action cards once per generation, and there aren't really that many cards that let you add animals/microbes/etc. on them for extra points. Usually you need sets of 3 cubes or more on these cards, which will take a very long time to accumulate large amounts of points.

- I think the minimum card requirements for cards that need a certain level of Temperature/Oxygen works a great incentive for people to raise both those parameters.

Of course it's possible, and probably even likely that from time to time a situation will occur where players might intentionally delay the end of the game for various reasons. But I can't see this lasting in an endless state ...

I agree with your reasoning being sound but you also of course agree that it is possible. So my follow up question is, is that a problem? Is a possibly endless game something that needs to be controlled by the game's design? I feel yes and I also feel thematically it should have an end time. Even if thematically you say after 14 generations that Earth becomes uninhabitable and the human race ends as there is no place for humans to live due to Mars being also uninhabitable. And all players lose. Should that exist in this game? Even in my edge case scenario should it?
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Eric Edens
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And as a final point, you pay to get cards to then pay to play. If all players are playing poorly, they may keep 0 cards a round and then potentially do nothing. For a game like this, I would say the players are being poor corporations and yes one player could take advantage and win but if no one did they should all be punished with a Fail State. Again I really like this game and just wonder about it.
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Bill Buchanan
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mebesquee wrote:
WBuchanan wrote:
mebesquee wrote:
rderr27 wrote:
Theoretically possible, but certainly one person at the table will realize that it's an easy win if they're the one to raise the stats.
again, my premise is not that no one touches the tracks but that all players are equally touching them. If you get to around 0C and all players are within the same score. If I am getting more points per round from actions or other areas, why would I push the end game for 1 TR? If I can bank a bunch of microbes or animals or buy cards or something I could do that instead as I am never sure if I will win or not. With the event cards being facedown it also makes sure that I can't always know everyone end game score. So I will never know when I should end to win if we are all on equal footing.


- From what I have seen, the scores in this game are usually pretty close. Getting those TR points is important. Whether at the start or at the end.

- It's also far more common that you are raising your TR, increasing temperature, oxygen and placing oceans by using cards. Cards that are usually also giving you points, and/or increasing resources and/or doing other great stuff. Only in certain circumstances will you want to be increasing your TR by only using standard actions.

- You can only use action cards once per generation, and there aren't really that many cards that let you add animals/microbes/etc. on them for extra points. Usually you need sets of 3 cubes or more on these cards, which will take a very long time to accumulate large amounts of points.

- I think the minimum card requirements for cards that need a certain level of Temperature/Oxygen works a great incentive for people to raise both those parameters.

Of course it's possible, and probably even likely that from time to time a situation will occur where players might intentionally delay the end of the game for various reasons. But I can't see this lasting in an endless state ...

I agree with your reasoning being sound but you also of course agree that it is possible. So my follow up question is, is that a problem? Is a possibly endless game something that needs to be controlled by the game's design? I feel yes and I also feel thematically it should have an end time. Even if thematically you say after 14 generations that Earth becomes uninhabitable and the human race ends as there is no place for humans to live due to Mars being also uninhabitable. And all players lose. Should that exist in this game? Even in my edge case scenario should it?


I agreed that it's possible that players might delay the end game, but not that it would be endless.

Like I said, if it becomes a problem my likely solution will be to end the game once the deck runs out. I won't be limiting the amount of rounds in the game.
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Bill Buchanan
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mebesquee wrote:
And as a final point, you pay to get cards to then pay to play. If all players are playing poorly, they may keep 0 cards a round and then potentially do nothing. For a game like this, I would say the players are being poor corporations and yes one player could take advantage and win but if no one did they should all be punished with a Fail State. Again I really like this game and just wonder about it.


You always get at least your TR in megacredits, so it's unlikely that you are doing so poorly that you wouldn't be able to buy any cards on a consistent basis. You might choose to from time to time to save money in order to play cards, but eventually you will need to buy new cards.

I also plan on playing this with the drafting variant prior to choosing what cards you want to buy, as this will add to the strategic options in my opinion.

If players are intentionally and consistently not buying cards for some reason non-strategic reason, then maybe it's time to play a different game, ha.

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John Bradshaw
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I may add a house rule - the death of a player ends the game instantly with no winner declared. (Or would it be best to complete the round and score the game as is?)

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Bill Buchanan
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Seghillian wrote:
I may add a house rule - the death of a player ends the game instantly with no winner declared. (Or would it be best to complete the round and score the game as is?)



Well, if you are SURE they're dead ... finish the generation and score.
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Jeff Noel
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The game does depend on one or more players seeing it being in their interest to end things. If you're playing with at least moderately rational people, this shouldn't be a problem. Even if people don't see the need to race for the end, most of the point scoring options are limited. You can only get so many points from global parameter raises, there can only ever be three milestones claimed, and you could in principle run out of space for greenery and cities.

Below are all my multiplayer experiences thus far. This was all without the Corporate Era variant, so that would probably lengthen things, and possibly add a bit of incentive to stall:

Game 1, 5 players: First game for everyone. We didn't bother counting generations as we weren't drafting (I highly recommend drafting, btw). I'm guessing maybe 7 or 8 generations.

Game 2, 5 players: Ended in 7 generations.

Game 3, 3 players: Ended in 8 generations. This is the only game that stalled slightly. It looked certain that it would end in generation 7, but then nobody built the last ocean tile. It almost didn't get placed in gen 8, but I seemed to be in the lead, and possibly starting to lose that lead, so I finished it.

Game 4, 5 players: 6 generations. The one new player didn't focus on engine building, and went straight for the VPs, so this one ended quickly (and with the new player winning).
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Jacob Fryxelius
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jeff0 wrote:
The game does depend on one or more players seeing it being in their interest to end things. If you're playing with at least moderately rational people, this shouldn't be a problem. Even if people don't see the need to race for the end, most of the point scoring options are limited. You can only get so many points from global parameter raises, there can only ever be three milestones claimed, and you could in principle run out of space for greenery and cities.

Below are all my multiplayer experiences thus far. This was all without the Corporate Era variant, so that would probably lengthen things, and possibly add a bit of incentive to stall:

Game 1, 5 players: First game for everyone. We didn't bother counting generations as we weren't drafting (I highly recommend drafting, btw). I'm guessing maybe 7 or 8 generations.

Game 2, 5 players: Ended in 7 generations.

Game 3, 3 players: Ended in 8 generations. This is the only game that stalled slightly. It looked certain that it would end in generation 7, but then nobody built the last ocean tile. It almost didn't get placed in gen 8, but I seemed to be in the lead, and possibly starting to lose that lead, so I finished it.

Game 4, 5 players: 6 generations. The one new player didn't focus on engine building, and went straight for the VPs, so this one ended quickly (and with the new player winning).


This is an interesting thread!
This is almost what I was going to answer.
Yes, it is up to the players if anyone wants to end the game (and if no one does - what's the problem?). I recently played a game where the end was delayed 2 generations before the last ocean was played, because the players had other things they wanted to do.
But there are several incentives to end the game:
- Being in the lead.
- Gaining the least from continued play.
- Get the TR while its there to grab.
- If your engine involves placing tiles and the space on the board is running out. Has happened to me a few times.
- If you're out of useful cards on hand while others still seem to have many cards to play for future generations (this is my most common reason, because cards are often much better than the standard projects for getting VPs - once you run out of cards, you lose steam and become very dependent on the luck of the draw durng research).

Like you said: the scoring options are limited and decrease towards the end of the game.

I would not put a limit when the deck runs out, because it can easily do that in normal 4-5 player games. It will correct itself by offering a less desirable mix of cards after the reshuffle, adding incentive to end the game.

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Bill Buchanan
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Fryxen wrote:

I would not put a limit when the deck runs out, because it can easily do that in normal 4-5 player games. It will correct itself by offering a less desirable mix of cards after the reshuffle, adding incentive to end the game.



Noted! I play most of my games with 2-players, likely not going through the deck any time soon
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Sam Carroll
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It's like the famous Stage 2 Stall in Power Grid - even though everyone wants someone else to be the one to break the stall and connect their 7th city, it still makes sense to do it yourself if you're spending more to power your 6 cities than the other players, as the longer you wait, the more advantage everyone else will gain on you. A game of Power Grid could, in theory, go on indefinitely, with no player being willing to break the stall. But in practice, someone will do it eventually. Or a game of Catan could go on forever because people decide they don't want to build that last settlement and win the game . . . but this isn't a worry that keeps me up at night!

Likewise in Terraforming Mars: even if it takes a few extra rounds, either A) someone will eventually realize that prolonging the game is just putting them farther and farther behind, or B) whoever's been gaining the most per turn will decide they're far enough ahead to just end the game and win.

I believe a game should reward rational thinking and good play, but not enforce it. For example, in Container, it's possible for the players, by playing very poorly, to crash the economy and make the game drag on forever. Well, tough luck; next time you'll know better! (Maybe buying mortgage-backed securities wasn't the best idea!) To me, that fragility adds to the charm of the game. (Note: this crashing will only ever happen with multiple new players screwing up very badly. Once you've done it once, or even seen it done, you won't do it ever again.)
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Jeff Noel
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spartax wrote:
It's like the famous Stage 2 Stall in Power Grid - even though everyone wants someone else to be the one to break the stall and connect their 7th city, it still makes sense to do it yourself if you're spending more to power your 6 cities than the other players, as the longer you wait, the more advantage everyone else will gain on you.


You can get in a situation in Power Grid, where the only person who can build their 7th city at a reasonably price is the person who should want Step 1 to continue indefinitely. Some other player has to self-sacrifice and connect an expensive city to end Step 1.

This isn't really an issue in Terraforming Mars. Even if you don't have a card that makes moving a given global parameter cheap, the basic actions are always there, and not priced unreasonably high. In the slightly-stalled game I mentioned above, I probably would have built the last ocean sooner if I had a card that made it cheaper, but it was still quite worthwhile to pay 18 for it when it seemed like I was losing my lead.
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ron heuvel
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funny we had this "problem"
oxyen flew to 8 fast because of the greenery's and the iron works.
Temp flew because energy was cheap. and someone had the heat corp

But we still needed 4 oceans. and there was no cheap option to play one.

And nobody wanted to spent 18 just to get 1 point. When there were lots more cheaper options to get points (mars got quite green fast )

We already thought this was a bit buggy design. and were thinking of giving bonus points for ending the

Afterwards we noticed we missed the $2 discount the give. But im not sure how much that would have helped.

Anyway well see how next game goes.




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Örjan Almén
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Endless? No, but players can deliberately prolong the game. In the long run, the cards will eventually ran out as they are being built or been unplayable by its requirements, after that point, there are only the standard projects left and the non-finished global parameters will be the only thing left that gives points besides the greeneries and cities. When the tiles has filled the board, only the global parameters left gives more points. I don't believe that would happen that the game would go that far.

Of course the players could just sit and pass forever and not do anything at all ever, how fun that would be.
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