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Stan Noordman
Netherlands
Utrecht
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I'm a huge fan of this game, and especially in a 3 player setup. The problem often, however, is that system setup is an extremely important part of the game, while its at the very beginning of a game, where new players might not have any clue as to what they're doing. Additionally, initiative is very important. Being last to place your token means you can block anyone and screw up their plans, and/or attack first before the other player can get their defense ready. For both features, a number of glaring issues are encountered. I will take this discussion as if this game can only be played by three players, but often the problems discussed as just as relevant to 2/4 player games.

The issues with the setup as presented previously, is that new players don't know what they're doing, and almost always someone has an inherent (dis)advantage by either being in a corner, or the middle, or the middle as Space Marines (a allegedly good thing). Additionally, the first player has to place his system and objectives first, giving the second and especially third a good chance to react. Another round follows, and again the first player can barely react to the others. A very clear disadvantage already for the first player. The warp storms do not rebalance this disadvantage even slightly. Finally, small issues also arise, players being allowed to huddle in a corner and turtle, players getting those 3 material/1 capacity systems in a corner - their corner, setup being so chaotic that its very difficult to find the intuitive solution. Quite stressful.

My proposed solution puts a lot more regulation in the system setup. While I believe there is still choices to be made, the final system setup will nearly always be equally balanced, making it more important where players have placed their starting forces rather than having it be decided upon the initiative of their turn.
It demotes turtling and guarentees no player has a clear (dis)advantage by never having a player in the middle.

Setup
Incorporate the following setup rules into your game:

All original setup rules still apply, with the following amendments,

1.
1.1.
2.
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
4.
4.1
5.
5.1
6.
7.

Select a random non-Faction system that has more than 4 total capacity and does not contain worlds with 1 capacity, and place it on the center of the table.
(4 player only) Select a random non-Faction system that has more than 4 total capacity and does not contain worlds with 1 capacity, and place it with arbitrary rotation next to the system placed during step 1.
Deal out each player their Faction system and a random system.
(2 or 3 player only) Deal out another random system to player 2.
Deal out another random system to player 3.
(4 player only) Deal out another random system to player 4.
Starting with player 2 and ending with player 1, you must place your Faction system adjacent to the starting system(s), in addition to normal objective placement rules.
(optional) Force the placement of the player's starting factory on their Faction system.
For the next round of placing systems, the player at turn may not place their system adjacent to their recently placed Faction system. These follow usual objective placement rules.
(optional) Disallow the placement of units or structures during the final round of system placement, forcing players to place their remaining units during the second round of system placement.
Place the final systems anywhere.
Place warp storms, starting with player 1 and going clockwise.


The issues during the planning phase are many. Especially in three player games, disadvantages for having the first player token are so great that we tend to call it the loser token. Now, it is inevitable players have this disadvantage, but more sinister issues are at play, especially during a 3 player game.

First of all, it is counterintuitive that going first is worst, as new players do not realise that placing the last order token is much more important than being able to place the first order token on a system.

Second, during a three player game, whoever was the first player during round 1 will be so again during round 4 and 7. The second player will be first player during round 2, 5 and 8. The third player will be first player only during rounds 3 and 6. A clear imbalance is shown.

Third, during three and four player games, you have an inherent disadvantage waging conflict with the player to your left, because unless he has the 'loser token', he will always be placing his order on top of you.

Finally, with more complex strategies, the number of disadvantages of being after whichever player you intend to wage war with have no end. Consider a situation where there is a square of four systems, where you would like to place an order on each of these systems. If the opposing player is cunning, they can place and block your order on every step of the way, where they have total control over the order in which your orders get resolved. This is an extreme example, but lesser variations are still not quite balanced, especially when you combine this with the second and third point I have made.

My solution here gives the first player token their intuitive value back as per my first point, and also solves the fourth point, because now atleast the player trumps the other at all points during planning except for the last one - the most important one. It also solves the third point by switching the turn rotation based on the given round. Finally, the second point is resolved by my catch-up mechanic for three player games.

Planning
Incorporate the following planning rules into your game:

All original planning rules still apply, with the following amendments,

1.
2.1
2.2
3.1.
3.2.

During the last round of order token placement, the first player skips their turn, so that they place their token last.
(3 player only) Rounds 4, 5 and 6 are resolved counterclockwise.
(4 player only) Rounds 2, 4, 5 and 7 are resolved counterclockwise.
(3 player only) During round 7, the first player token is passed to the player furthest behind (use the tie breaker rules to determine this). Play is resolved clockwise.
(3 player only) During round 8, the first player token is passed to the player furthest behind (use the tie breaker rules to determine this). This may be the same player. Play is resolved counterclockwise.


Feel free to use my catch up mechanic for other player compositions, though I don't immediately recommend it.
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Paul Ferguson
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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I have never seen it as an issue, as for new players, the first game is going to be all about learning the game and strategy will come after many additional plays.
 
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Nick Clinite
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itmo wrote:
I have never seen it as an issue, as for new players, the first game is going to be all about learning the game and strategy will come after many additional plays.


Well, yeah, but there's no way you're going to understand the significance of tile placement until after the first game, and could lead to early confusion and analysis paralysis. Might as well save the real map creation till the second game? I was thinking about looking up preset maps, and just skipping the map creation for the first game entirely.
 
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Niko
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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islan wrote:
itmo wrote:
I have never seen it as an issue, as for new players, the first game is going to be all about learning the game and strategy will come after many additional plays.


Well, yeah, but there's no way you're going to understand the significance of tile placement until after the first game, and could lead to early confusion and analysis paralysis. Might as well save the real map creation till the second game? I was thinking about looking up preset maps, and just skipping the map creation for the first game entirely.
If one thinks a change is needed to avoid problems with first time players I think this is definitely the better way rather than changing a bunch of rules.

Also, what is this doing in the rules forum, wouldn't this be much more fitting in variants?
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Loig Roumois
Switzerland
Baden
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I don't know how it is in the English game, but in the German edition we have there's a pre-made map that is recommended for the first couple of games. If you guys wat I can post it here in the forums (I guess it's fine from an FFG/GW perspective since the game is OOP)...
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Nick Clinite
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Loig wrote:
I don't know how it is in the English game, but in the German edition we have there's a pre-made map that is recommended for the first couple of games. If you guys wat I can post it here in the forums (I guess it's fine from an FFG/GW perspective since the game is OOP)...


We have that, but I heard people say it's not very good.
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Samuel Bailey
United States
Minnesota
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And they are right. As it turns out, having a really balanced map for people's first game leads to 8 hour games. In my opinion it's better to do a little extra explanation and construct the map using the advanced rules.
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Stan Noordman
Netherlands
Utrecht
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I want to appreciate everyone's discussion on my "new players" point, but honestly I thought about my little rules largely for consecutive play with people that know the game well. The new player thing was just a minor thought that's getting blown out of proportion here. Everyone has their own way of introducing this game to new players (I like to play up to three rounds). These rules are made for me and my friends, who I've played this game a bunch of times now.
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steve mathers
Australia
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Unspecified
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I used to think the first player got creamed during placement and during play, but now Im not so sure.

Putting the first tile down sucks, and you have very little incentive to protect the the flags you put on it. So you put down your worst system and little to nothing guarding the flags you put down. There is a certain power in the knowledge that you know your first tile is a lost cause - it means your 2nd and third tiles can be stacked defensively and are unlikely to be the target of attack early in the game, with the low hanging bait you are putting out sure to attract a crowd.

Now - if you choose to put down a tile with adjacent worlds as the bait tile, you can have some fun, as it will put the owners of those bait flags right next to each other if they both go for them Or if one player backs down from that tense situation, then the other payer is now the de-facto protector of the undefended flag you put down. ha ha!

Still sucks to place the first tile, but its not all terrible.

On the other hand, I think moving first is actually the safest time to have to move first in the ntire game, because its the only time you can be certain of warp storm placement to protect anything that is under immediate threat.

Often nothing happens in the first turn - the 2nd turn is generally the one that explodes in cross-map violence, and guess what? you are last for the 2nd turn!

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