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Terraforming Mars» Forums » General

Subject: Scripted/luck/production lowering rss

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mister mystery
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I was not sure if I should open a new threat or post to an old one. It contains some part of https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1666399/why-i-am-disappoint...
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1661165/am-i-weird-if-i-do-...
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1651762/questions-how-long-...
and others.

So for me I played the game now 4 times with 3 players, right from the start with Corporate era and the corporations. I liked the very first game even though we made an error with Thesaris Republic only getting 1 MC production on standard project city not 2 and forgetting the first city. Nevertheless, the game felt cool, and it was fairly close. Mainly due to a lack of real engines for the factions. We didn't record the rounds. But the next three games were lasting 10 (could have ended at 9 for 1 player), 10,11.

Most of us are very strategic gamers and played and have a lot of different games under our belt and get the meaning of cards extremly fast. What we realized in the games, the pretty much feel scripted. I assume that after the first two rounds I could pretty much always predict who will win. Assuming no large mistakes by that player, which I'd say on our gaming skill level hardly happens.

In part it has kind of a running leader phenomena. If you have more income you can keep more cards, that give you more income. There are a few attacks but you need to have them at hand at that time and most don't matter that much but some do. We never played with draft but if you have someone ahead (by produciton/money means) if you buy for example the red loose money or steal or titanium card and play it against that player you loose slightly less of your LOWER income than he of his bigger income. Netting same result so you gained nothing slowed down your already lower income this round, you did slow down his bit higher one this round. So how do you keep it up?

i just have the feeling that if I as an outside sitting player see all starting cards I could to aroudn 75% expect who will be winning.
For this the last game I had Phobolog with 2 titanium production card in hand, 3 jupiter symbols of it and scoring card of it, and a big astroid. other corporation no choice. Ok other player got Satrun symbols. So of course good for him that i have Phobolog, I played +1 titanium, and he has the one card that can lower titanium production. So after the first round he played his cards raised his income by my symbol got extra titanium etc. I really had nothing after the first round except 3 titanium less.
So far fine of course getting saturn sytems if other has Phobolog is lucky and fine. But those two reduce steal/titanium production by 1 and raising your own by 1 are just too good cards. That played on first turn was worth -40 coins for me and +30 for him. For a rather cheap card. And there is no way to raise Steal/titanium other than cards.

The fact is he is a very good player but I expect that with such a start for any of us, you have to be very very very lucky to bring him down. I was far from bad still scoring i think 73-76 points (dont remember exactly) which was more than in some non combo games vs his 85+. There are not that many attack cards to activly tear him down. He draw the two red steal and destroy cards himself, which with his higher income was easy to afford and keep the third player lower. The third player had mining guild and advanced alloys, but he ended with 30+ steal as he draw no cards for it. But even if he did he was something like 10 points still behind.

Do you think drafting will reduce this effect? That steal player at least could get himself a card with building tag... But it still may mean the ahead player may be able to spend his lead ressources to invest in even more cards. Like feedback loop


So to conclude I expect that in our gaming group you could probably predcit the winner with around 3/4 after seeing the starting hands or latest second round.
this could be joined with the fact that I read a post by the disgner somewhere on a soloplay that he states: I am not even sure it was winable with the hand/draws. So there is this imbalance, there are just better hands and worse and the same of course is true in multiplayer. Each corporation has its combo cards if you get sufficient of those in your starting hand -gg-. There comes a problem for the balance creation than for example why does Phobolog get 23 credits not 22 or 24? Not 24 so it can't keep 8 cards? I'd expect if you draw those 3-4 combo space cards you can spend your initial titanium on your are prepared on the win from round 1 independent if you get 22-24. While if you have no so good 1 more can make you be able to do a little better. How was this determined / is balanced in a such luck dependend draw.

Lastly I at least remember 4 oponent production lowering -2 coin,+2coin and energy, -1/+1 energy, -1/+1 steal, -1/+1 titanium. Why do the first to ´give -1Vp, and the latter not. (being worth 2/3 situational money production) where steal and titanium production are further more can only be optained by cards (and mining guild). Those cards are extremly powerfull if you manage to play 1-2 round. All are good but at least energy you could get through a standard project if needed.


I still like the game for its style and theme, but I don't feel that much this tactical/strategical part it just seems to scripted from early on. From time to time you might get a close game if two people get those combos. We will probably try drafting. More than three players might make it a bit easier against the leader, but also there you could easily see ok that player is out now.

Last question? why no drafting of starting cards? To avoid those combos from the start as drawing them is less likley than drafting them in 10?
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Rory Colling
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"I was not sure if I should open a new threat or post to an old one."

I think you should open a new threat!
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mister mystery
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zerstorer88 wrote:
"I was not sure if I should open a new threat or post to an old one."

I think you should open a new threat!


I ment it references some parts of older discussions to that I was referring. So i posted some links to those
 
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Tyler Gingrich
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MisterMystery wrote:
zerstorer88 wrote:
"I was not sure if I should open a new threat or post to an old one."

I think you should open a new threat!


I ment it references some parts of older discussions to that I was referring. So i posted some links to those


He was just making fun of the typo - threat vs thread.
 
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Ken Chaney

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I very much like the game, but agree that the initial 10 card draw (plus drawn corporations) can put a player at a significant advantage/disadvantage. I don't think the problem is nearly as frequent as 3/4 of the games being won or lost on the initial draw, though.

I have seen games where the apparent leader(s) in generation 2 end up in the middle of the pack at the end, as well as seeing lagging early players come back to contention/win.

I have certainly had games where I never felt I had a chance against strong starts from other players. This happened to a player in well under half the games I have played, but certainly over 1 in 10.

If, say, 1 in 4 games have a player dragged along with no chance, that's a problem. (Before everyone tells me it doesn't happen to them that often, I'm extrapolating from my own experience in 4 and 5 player games. If it never happens in your games, feel free to report that as your experience; good for you. In 4 games with 5 players, there are 20 plays, and so it would only take 1 of 20 individual's plays to reach that level - this seems like a conservative estimate.)

Does this break the game? Not for me, but it would be good to try and improve it.

Some useful suggestions have been made here and in other places.

-Full Drafting: For the initial 10 cards this is generally deemed as far too cumbersome and time consuming, but would radically reduce the odds of a dead start if you have the patience for it.

-Full Mulligan: discard your 10 cards for another 10. Not perfect, but decent. It "squares" the chance of getting a terrible start (reduces the chance.) A (pessimistic?) guess of 1 in 3 starts being terrible would be reduced to 1 in 9. This is a big step. This also has the potential to punish a greedy player who goes from an ok start to a poor one. Allowing more than one full Mulligan is likely to lead to abusive digging for an awesome start hand, but if you know your fellow players and trust them to be reasonable, whatever makes it more fun is best!

-Partial (Paris?) Mulligan: Discard your 10 cards for fewer than 10 cards. Not quite as good as a full Mulligan but less likely to be abused. A variant allows repeated executions at further reduced resulting hand size. 10 -> 8 -> 5 -> 3 cards for example.

-Partial (split) Mulligan: See 10 cards, discard 5 to draw 5 (or fewer) more. This will be used almost every time if available, and while it helps players with terrible initial draw, it is at least as likely to help those who already drew well.

-Catch-up Mulligan: Set aside some cards (to keep) and discard some cards to draw fewer:
Discard 10/9/8/7 (or fewer) to draw 10/8/4/1 new cards, then pay for what you keep.
This allows terrible hands a good chance at a fix, but is less likely to improve already good/decent hands.
I like this system, but it is a little cumbersome.

The initial card draw is the best place to reduce variance, so these options may help.

Drafting the future 4 card Researches will generally improve the problem of randomness dictating the winner - that option is highly recommended.
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Örjan Almén
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Scripted would be one of the last words I'll use about Terraforming Mars. Sure, you'll always make the global requirements met (unless lost solo games) but I find everything vary so much from game to another that one never can tell how the game is going to develop.
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tibbles von tibbleton
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There's no question there's some luck factor, just like every other game that has drawing from a deck of cards. I wouldn't say this game has any more luck than any of those though. And luck does go both ways, I've had the awesome round 1 in a nondrafting game, then drew little for the next 6 rounds and ended up in 3rd place as everyone passed me.

Scripted seems a weird call. Even when you can see that 1 player might have an income advantage in the early rounds, that doesn't mean you can predict how the game will go. Will they turn that in to fast terraforming? Jovians? Cities? I could see the potential complaint that this game is too hard to preplan any strategy cause you have no hint what cards are coming next, but certainly not the scripted complaint.


The mulligan idea is tempting, the initial hand is the largest source of luck in the game. But mulliganing also gets in the way of the corporation picks. Do you mulligan before or after picking a corp?
Drafting the initial 10 would be interesting, but not compatible with beginner and advanced corps sharing the same game.
 
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Sebastian Stückl
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tibbles wrote:
The mulligan idea is tempting, the initial hand is the largest source of luck in the game. But mulliganing also gets in the way of the corporation picks. Do you mulligan before or after picking a corp?
Drafting the initial 10 would be interesting, but not compatible with beginner and advanced corps sharing the same game.


Well, the idea of seeing a whole 10 cards rather than drafting them is so you can figure out a plan for the first few turns, and can decide which corporation you play based on the synergies you may have in hand.

So if you use a mulligan rule, it certainly makes more sense to mulligan first, and then decide which corporation you take.
Also, this way your chances are a bit better to find a useful opener, because some cards may only be good with one company, and it would be a shame if you had chosen the wrong one before the mulligan.

Sebastian
 
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Ken Chaney

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With the purpose of reducing the chance of a dead start, I'd Mulligan before committing to a corporation.

If you're *still* having trouble getting anything to start with, I suppose you could offer another corporation choice as well.
 
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Matt Shields
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kenchaney wrote:

-Full Drafting: For the initial 10 cards this is generally deemed as far too cumbersome and time consuming, but would radically reduce the odds of a dead start if you have the patience for it.


I still don't understand the reluctance to do this. It probably adds all of 10 minutes to game that's gonna take 2 hours anyway. Less than that if players are willing to acknowledge when they're drafting between cards they aren't going to keep anyway, and not overthink it.

It doesn't fix all of the games problems of course, and you can still have bad luck if multiple players try to draft competing cards or something but it's got to be an improvement.
 
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Furry Fox
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TwitchBot wrote:
kenchaney wrote:

-Full Drafting: For the initial 10 cards this is generally deemed as far too cumbersome and time consuming, but would radically reduce the odds of a dead start if you have the patience for it.


I still don't understand the reluctance to do this. It probably adds all of 10 minutes to game that's gonna take 2 hours anyway. Less than that if players are willing to acknowledge when they're drafting between cards they aren't going to keep anyway, and not overthink it.

It doesn't fix all of the games problems of course, and you can still have bad luck if multiple players try to draft competing cards or something but it's got to be an improvement.


I also think the time argument is completely ridiculous. After 4 regular games or so, we have started drafting 2x5 cards in the beginning and have never gone back to the 10 card draw. There really is no good reason not to draft.

We prefer 2x5 to 1x10 because it still leaves some hidden aspect and makes the drafting much quicker, esp. with AP prone people. 10 minutes is probably the maximum the drafting takes us, quite a bit less with only 2 players. (With player who have only played the game 1-2 times it would probably take quite a bit longer, though)
 
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mister mystery
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EternalFury wrote:

I also think the time argument is completely ridiculous. After 4 regular games or so, we have started drafting 2x5 cards in the beginning and have never gone back to the 10 card draw. There really is no good reason not to draft.

We prefer 2x5 to 1x10 because it still leaves some hidden aspect and makes the drafting much quicker, esp. with AP prone people. 10 minutes is probably the maximum the drafting takes us, quite a bit less with only 2 players. (With player who have only played the game 1-2 times it would probably take quite a bit longer, though)


How is your experience with 5+5 drafting for balance?

kenchaney wrote:
I very much like the game, but agree that the initial 10 card draw (plus drawn corporations) can put a player at a significant advantage/disadvantage. I don't think the problem is nearly as frequent as 3/4 of the games being won or lost on the initial draw, though.

I have seen games where the apparent leader(s) in generation 2 end up in the middle of the pack at the end, as well as seeing lagging early players come back to contention/win.

I have certainly had games where I never felt I had a chance against strong starts from other players. This happened to a player in well under half the games I have played, but certainly over 1 in 10.

If, say, 1 in 4 games have a player dragged along with no chance, that's a problem. (Before everyone tells me it doesn't happen to them that often, I'm extrapolating from my own experience in 4 and 5 player games. If it never happens in your games, feel free to report that as your experience; good for you. In 4 games with 5 players, there are 20 plays, and so it would only take 1 of 20 individual's plays to reach that level - this seems like a conservative estimate.)

Does this break the game? Not for me, but it would be good to try and improve it.
Thanks for your insights. What do you think about 5+5 drafting fopr the initial hand

tibbles wrote:
There's no question there's some luck factor, just like every other game that has drawing from a deck of cards. I wouldn't say this game has any more luck than any of those though. And luck does go both ways, I've had the awesome round 1 in a nondrafting game, then drew little for the next 6 rounds and ended up in 3rd place as everyone passed me.

Scripted seems a weird call. Even when you can see that 1 player might have an income advantage in the early rounds, that doesn't mean you can predict how the game will go. Will they turn that in to fast terraforming? Jovians? Cities? I could see the potential complaint that this game is too hard to preplan any strategy cause you have no hint what cards are coming next, but certainly not the scripted complaint.

The mulligan idea is tempting, the initial hand is the largest source of luck in the game. But mulliganing also gets in the way of the corporation picks. Do you mulligan before or after picking a corp?
Drafting the initial 10 would be interesting, but not compatible with beginner and advanced corps sharing the same game.


Beginner and advanced corp sharing a game does not necessarly have to be with drafting the initial 10. Drafting the reasearch phase is already a variant so why not thtis also. I will emphasize on the scripted. There are still decissions of course what he will invest the extra income in and so on. But if good players know the game it still very much depends on this inital income, as said not totally but more often than not after the first round you'll know who has the best shot on winning. It is of course luck based as other games with drafting. Like for exmple imperial settlers, there are also lots of combo cards in the main deck for all. But another player probably can freely decide to destroy that card of yours at the right moment so you can't combo that well, which could mean for you trying to stall as long as possible to keep it or to get them use those destroy actions before. The thing is you can then interact with them activly not depending on the few cards in a huge deck. And you know what your deck has to offer what you will defenitly draw at some stage.

I think in terraforming the take that steal/destroy ressources are nice cards and can be ok to go with. But there are a total of 5 production lowering if I am right, they can be extremly strong (see 70income difference over whole game above). But they are hardly a main content of the game, they are 5 out of 200? cards, so why have them at all. They are nothing in there that you can have avalaible to reduce a leader WHEN you NEED to. You just play them IF you GET them. So why are they in there, we are talking about 5 cards here.


We played again yesterday, this time with drafting (3players). After I saw my inital hand I was pretty confident I can win and defenitly can beat my point record. Which was in the end with 93 by far above 76 up to now. Another player had no bad start. But after my first round I had +4 steal production +3 income and still three hands (card draw buy or not buy, energy+temperature for 10 (thorgate) and steal-> ocean tile). During the flow of the stuff I anyway wanted to do I was planting on 2 steel mars spots to lower the chances four our mining guild player... I then got even hit by -4 steel destruction on round 3 but it made no difference, on the last round I could choose any of the 4 leftover awards as I was ahead on all. Last round i played a big astroid to just destroy 1plant and nothing else of an oponent to avoid him getting 3 points, a greenery myself would have been 2 points more so in the end it would have been 2points more for me but also 3 for him. Of course a few minor not optimal plays of my oponents won me 2-3 more VP but overall I didn't play any better or any worse than in the other games. Just scored much better due to the mainly initial card draw.

The game goal I'd say for me is not to win, but to get the best score of the cards you get. I like the small competition on the map and the though decissions to get some bonus heat/ocean/temperature on the tracks, but else it is also a bit of solitaire in it. To avoid that feeling maybe the take that cards were created, I feel they are rather making the game worse than better. As said the steal/destroy ressource cards are fine, but the production not really as they are not a common answer for interaction in the game, to hamper a player now and then cause how likely is it that those are available to the players at the given time, so why at all are the there? Just to have players not argue with the it has no interaction?
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