$18.00
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 124.27

7,419 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
46.8% of Goal | left

Support:

Recommend
14 
 Thumb up
 Hide
8 Posts

Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First Sessions and Impressions rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jared
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Session 1
This session was largely learning the mechanics and flow of the game. When exploring, it seemed as if we each tried to keep to ourselves as long as possible, which we discovered can let a player's momentum go unchecked. As a result the Federation got a strong start by research camping on nearby phenomena, while the Romulans founded strong culture systems. The Klingons were only able to get a steady pace by mid to late game.

The Federation's strong research arm allowed them to dramatically improve their weapons and shields that the Romulans eventually could not counteract. Quickly advancing towards Romulus, the Federation set itself up for a quick takeover. However, the Romulans utilized numbers in staggered sectors to alternate retreats making the Federation burn through commands and creating a defensive chokepoint. All the while, the Romulans were closing in on a fifth ascendancy token.

We initially prepared for four hours, but it turned out it was going to last longer. We had to call it before any victory was achieved due to other engagements that evening. Our group did make a major oversight in the rules: that the Federation is not allowed to invade (it's only part of the theme - derp). Nevertheless it looked like the Romulans were in a good position for an Ascendancy victory had the game continued, and most certainly were with our oversight considered.

Session 2
Two players from the first session invited a new third player who was familiar with other 4x mechanics. Players made more effort to attempt to get to each other in a quicker fashion, although there were still some stretches of lanes. Discoveries were fairly balanced, and each player was able to grow at relatively the same pace. However, the board's development ended up making Romulus' access to Earth lengthy. As a result, the Romulans would only be able to quickly get to the Federation through Klingon space.

Meanwhile, the Federation went largely unchecked and came through building a strong mid-game culture engine. By the time the Federation acquired five ascendancy tokens, it was up to the Klingons to attempt to stop their victory. Weakened by the Romulans, the Klingons barely succeeded in their invasion of Earth, and in fact, optimally razed it (with a strong hegemony, the Federation could have easily cleaned up the remaining Klingon fleet and hegemony Earth back). Meanwhile, the Federation was able to make a new route into Romulus and establish defenses in between to prevent quick retaliation. Romulus quickly fell to the Federation's strong hegemony, while Kronos fell to a Romulan invasion. The players had succeeded in performing a counter clockwise overthrow of the board and nearly brought each other to a stalemate. Yet, the Federation's research and projects allowed them to return to Earth, defeat the Klingons, and immediately recolonize it, giving them Ascendancy victory. This game lasted just over four hours.

This time we think we only overlooked one minor rule - we had forgotten that research from phenomenon could be applied to active projects. We had seen that by mid game new projects were not being commissioned, and by the end of the game active projects had been going stale. Yet, overall the game would probably have had the same result.

Initial Impressions

Exploring is a ton of fun.
'Boldly going' is one of the funner aspects of this game. The theme especially shines through here, because it directly calls events from the series into play, and usually garners some chuckles during crises or discoveries.

Look for the highlights in each game.
Although our group has only played two games, there were very intriguing highlights in each. From our first session, it was watching the Romulans use staggered retreats as a defensive time-killer strategy. From the second session, it was seeing the Klingons buy time by barely invading Earth. The game appears to support some intense critical and strategic moments.

Establish fast contact.
Getting to each other quickly will ensure a few things: 1) You can establish trade agreements that much faster; 2) You can try and stop players gaining momentum too quickly; 3) You will be in a better position to get to your opponents later.
There is a very narrow balance here. You don't want to give opponents a single line of defense you'll have to fight through, but you don't want to open yourself up too much and thinly spread out. It's a tough balance to plan and execute because exploring starts becoming a means of defense, physically preventing new connections.

Don't be afraid to be aggressive.
I think in both sessions we were hesitant to throw an early first punch. As this is one of the first long games we've played together, I think we all subconsciously felt it would really be bad if someone got knocked out early or put in a bad early position. Yet, the more that skirmishes are delayed, the stronger opponents get. Again, there is a balance as with other 4x games - you don't want to expend your own resources needlessly and effectively create two weak players. I now think that if you see an easy and accessible early shot on the outskirts that is worth the political trade-off, go for it. It's all part of the game as described in the rulebook's 'Starfleet Ethics.'

Fight for the phenomena.
Research is a necessity. So much so, that we found we were always wishing for more to upgrade weapons, shields, and research projects. In both sessions, the Federation had the easiest access to most phenomena and research systems which led to consistent improvement. The ability to accelerate projects from phenomena appears to be an advantage worth fighting for in any stage of the game.

Counter your opponents' upgrades.
From our first session, we suddenly found that players can become invulnerable. As the game progresses, a player who gains just one shield upgrade makes opposing attacks using unmodified weapons significantly harder. Conversely, a player who gains one weapons upgrade makes their attacks against unmodified shields easier. So if you see your opponent upgrading, try to quickly counteract it with your own.

Downtime.
Because the game is turn based, there is some player downtime. I would guess that we each took on average six minutes during our turns, so probably twelve-or-so minutes until we each got to take another turn. One thing I'll be paying more attention to next time is to see how long each turn takes, and how many turns are in a game.
Downtime does appear to be somewhat tempered by a few things: 1) You roll for your left opponent's developed civs and hazards; 2) You should be interested in what the other player is doing. Our view of the downtime varied, but we all agreed that casual gamers would likely have some difficulty with it. I personally felt the downtime wasn't as significant as some other games can be. While I can see some opportunity for analysis paralysis, we never really had a moment that we had to encourage each other to make a move, save for some rulebook consultation.

"Be prepared: This is a long game."
This is a direct quote from the rulebook, and it is there for good reason. Granted, this is not the same length as some other more encompassing 4x games are. However, I believe this warning is cautioning players accustomed to lighter games, or those thinking they can significantly speed this up. Following normal rules, the game will quite typically take on the order of three hours and probably at least four hours your first few games.
Because of how I viewed the downtime each turn, I never felt like I just wished the game was over at midpoint. The ending seemed appropriately timed. This was my first longer game, and I enjoyed it (I play Civ), but I'm still not sure just how long I personally could go through a single session.

Dynamic needs three players.
The game is clearly labeled as requiring three players - no more, no less. I initially bought the game thinking two players had to be possible as the mechanics and rules seemed like it should support two players. In reality, there isn't much standing in the way of two players sitting down to play a game, and there are also some variants.
That said, the third player adds much to the dynamic of the game. As we noted in our sessions, one player can take off fast - a third player could help counteract that through an 'allied' attack. A third player also keeps trade options open - with only two players there isn't much reason to trade as you are both obviously out for each other. The game shines when having the third player to help keep balance. The balance role should regularly shift around to keep things interesting.

MORE players?
Expansions are already on their way out to support different factions, but also support more players. An added player means each turn will take that much longer, and as a result significantly add to the game length. Personally, I'd probably shy away from trying this with five players, as I could see it easily get into five hours. I'd probably also only try with four players if they've played the game already, and encourage quick turns. I would definitely stick with three players for teaching.
22 
 Thumb up
2.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reed Dawley
United States
Delmar
New York
flag msg tools
I wish I could play more games.
badge
Collecting games is not playing games.
mbmbmbmbmb
This makes me wish the people I game with had any interest in Star Trek or long games.
4 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Joshua Bass
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
IMCarnochan wrote:
This makes me wish the people I game with had any interest in Star Trek or long games.


This game actually turned one of my friends from a Trek hater into a fan. He is now watching through TNG.
12 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Kendall
United States
Lebanon
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
To the reviewer, good introduction; I now have my copy, but haven't had time to do more than admire the components so far.

Your comments re a two-player game seem to confirm those of a few others, but a question has occurred to me about which I'd like to hear your thoughts:

Could a two-player game be enjoyably played, using the three civilizations, in which one of the three is played alternately by one of the two "live" players?

For instance, I'm wondering if a Federation-vs-Romulan game could be played in which the players alternated "running" the Klingon Empire--perhaps re-creating some of the chaos of Klingon internal intrigue/factional competition/struggles for power as the Klingons vacillated between actions threatening Romulans or Federation.

Thanks for your views. (Anyone else who cares to, feel free to opine.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jared
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
IMCarnochan wrote:
This makes me wish the people I game with had any interest in Star Trek or long games.


After my first read-through of the rules, I thought to myself that the mechanics just make sense from a Star Trek perspective. Prime example: to fully execute warp movement, give a command to enter warp, command to travel at faster warp, and command to exit warp. Also the effects of exploration cards from the events/characters they portray from the series fit well. So I think having knowledge of the Trek-verse is helpful to logically applying rules, although it's entirely unnecessary. The game could have had its own unique theme, it just so happens that Star Trek fits in very well.

As to length, I'd say try gauging your group's reaction to downtime and session lengths in other games as well as depth of strategy. Most of the people I play with can only do a few sessions of 40-60 minutes each and need to stay fairly involved - the casual and medium-weight type. What sold STA for me was how many people I knew played (and liked) Civ, which admittedly is just enough to have a little variance in making a game. Nevertheless, I don't see this as a regular to-the-table game. I'd be surprised if we broke it out 3 times next year. (It would be a welcome surprise, though!)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jared
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Barry Kendall wrote:
To the reviewer, good introduction;

Thank you!

Barry Kendall wrote:
Could a two-player game be enjoyably played, using the three civilizations, in which one of the three is played alternately by one of the two "live" players?

For instance, I'm wondering if a Federation-vs-Romulan game could be played in which the players alternated "running" the Klingon Empire--perhaps re-creating some of the chaos of Klingon internal intrigue/factional competition/struggles for power as the Klingons vacillated between actions threatening Romulans or Federation.

I would say a straight alternation (every other turn) wouldn't work out all that well. I could see too frequent back-and-forth happening: Romulans move Klingons near Federation, next turn Federation move them towards Romulans; or each player cancels the others' trade agreements they just made. You'd have to have some kind of rules surrounding alternating control and trade agreements. Off the top of my head, maybe something like 'whoever has lowest ascendancy + military gets control' and 'trade agreements are permanently in effect for X turns, then cannot be reestablished for X turns'? (shrug) I haven't put much serious thought into it.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Barry Miller
United States
Saint Charles
Missouri
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

A very well-written post!

darthservo wrote:
(with a strong hegemony, the Federation could have easily cleaned up the remaining Klingon fleet and hegemony Earth back).

Nothing wrong with what you wrote here. But actually seeing it in writing does cause one think about how the concept of a species using Hegemony to gain control over their own world is very, very bizarre!



 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Reed Dawley
United States
Delmar
New York
flag msg tools
I wish I could play more games.
badge
Collecting games is not playing games.
mbmbmbmbmb
AverageBoss wrote:
IMCarnochan wrote:
This makes me wish the people I game with had any interest in Star Trek or long games.


This game actually turned one of my friends from a Trek hater into a fan. He is now watching through TNG.


You have given me A New Hope! Wait, wrong series... Fingers crossed on this one.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.