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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition): Shards of the Throne» Forums » Rules

Subject: Recommended Optional Rules from Shards? rss

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Dave Taylor
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I've been considering which, if any, of the optional rules from Shards to add to the game (6 players, moderately experienced). It seemed that most of the optional rules from SE potentially added something to the game without causing too many problems. As I read threads about Shards, however, I wonder if TI3 hasn't reached the point of diminishing returns. In other words, the optional rules (flagships, mercenaries, representatives) may add a little bit to the game, but also create untold problems in interpreting the rules. Even something as seemingly straightforward as MU's is still provoking arguments about when they are and aren't treated as GF's, even with the FAQ. It all sounds like a bunch of game night headaches waiting to happen.

So my question for experienced players who have used some of the options is: which ones did you consider worth the headaches? Which ones aren't worth it? Which ones would you recommend to a moderately experienced group, keeping in mind the caveat that they not make the game last much longer or create lots of new problems?

Thanks!
 
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James Griffith
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I would always add:

1) New Racial Techs
2) New Races (even though they are probably more rule-breaking than the previous ones, racial variety is worth it)
3) New Systems. More variety.
4) New Political/Action Cards. More variety.
5) New Techs.

Probably Would Usually Add:

1) Mechanized Units.
2) Flagships. The rules aren't too complicated and they add more racial flavor.
3) Preliminary Objectives. Not too balanced but usually alot easier to add 1 VP before tackling special objectives which usually aren't satisfied until later in the game anyhow. This usually speeds up play.

Would Ignore:

1) Special Scenario. Alot of rules changes for a completely different game.
2) New Political System. Way too many rules for too little payoff.
3) Mercenaries. Mucks with Trade and too little payoff for extra rules.
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Andy Day

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Blackadder23 wrote:
I've been considering which, if any, of the optional rules from Shards to add to the game (6 players, moderately experienced). It seemed that most of the optional rules from SE potentially added something to the game without causing too many problems. As I read threads about Shards, however, I wonder if TI3 hasn't reached the point of diminishing returns. In other words, the optional rules (flagships, mercenaries, representatives) may add a little bit to the game, but also create untold problems in interpreting the rules. Even something as seemingly straightforward as MU's is still provoking arguments about when they are and aren't treated as GF's, even with the FAQ. It all sounds like a bunch of game night headaches waiting to happen.

So my question for experienced players who have used some of the options is: which ones did you consider worth the headaches? Which ones aren't worth it? Which ones would you recommend to a moderately experienced group, keeping in mind the caveat that they not make the game last much longer or create lots of new problems?

Thanks!

It depends somewhat on your group. My group is pretty loosy-goosy, so the multiple weird rules that come along with Shards haven’t ended up being a problem (though we’ve only played with Shards… twice).

MU are easy, and Flagships (FG) are a blast. I like Trade 3 and mercenaries. I HATE preliminary objectives, and political intrigue is way more trouble than its worth.
 
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Necessary Evil
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I use:
Races (however Nekro kinda suck without the new political, and the ghosts can mess up some maps)
Techs
Flagships
Mechanized Units
Systems
Political/Action Cards (Although I don't like the cards the mess with secrets)
Prelim Objectives

I don't use
Merc's (They fuck with Trade, break a few rules/situations and are unbalanced)
New Political System (This thing is dumb,F'ing rock-paper-scissors in the middle of a great 4x game. Promissory notes are stupid as well, you should never, ever be able to give away a VP in a game like this)

-M

 
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Dave Taylor
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Great input so far!

I was planning to use the new action cards, objectives, and races in any case. Now that the weirdness with the Arborec's build ability has been clarified, I don't see those additions causing any problems. I would say everyone in my group tries to play the game in "good faith" according to the letter and spirit of the rules. There aren't any rules lawyers who argue for the sake of arguing - it's my game and I'd kick them out. Basically I want to avoid any options that would cause problems even for people who are playing in "good faith." Or that make the game drag on longer, or just aren't worth it.
 
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Scott Randolph
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I concur completely with the majority of the above, to wit:

USE -
1) Mech Units (simple unit addition to the game, pretty straightforward although FFG did a TERRIBLE job of integrating them as "GF's"...are they, are they not?...if the moon is full on a Friday night, then MU's are immune to "X" "Y" or "Z"...unless Venus is near Mars that evening, then they are not immune and are not GF's for control of a planet)
2) Flagships (though I prefer an HR that all DN upgrades apply to FS's, again, FFG goes back and forth on this in the FAQ in their erratic "wobbly" way)
3) New Racial Techs
4) New Great Races
5) New Systems, and new PA & AC's are fine
6) Preliminary Objective's tend to increase scoring, which I think is good

THROW OUT -
A) "Intrigue"...waste of time and adds nothing to the game
B) "Mercenaries"...more "randomness"...there is more than enough randomness in this otherwise fantastic game...I prefer "Trade IV" SC#5 (HR) where trade is instant, grants the player executing the primary +1 Bonus TG, and another +1 Bonus TG for each Trade Agreement in place from the previous Game Round (also this gives an incentive for people to spend a CC to break Trade Agreements to potentially prevent an opposing player from getting a +1 next Game Round)
c) "Promissory Notes"...no one uses them, so why have them?

That's my "take"...Cheers!...(SFRR)
 
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Peter Putnam
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malloc wrote:
I use:
Races (however Nekro kinda suck without the new political, and the ghosts can mess up some maps)
Techs
Flagships
Mechanized Units
Systems
Political/Action Cards (Although I don't like the cards the mess with secrets)
Prelim Objectives
I don't use
Merc's (They fuck with Trade, break a few rules/situations and are unbalanced)
New Political System (This thing is dumb,F'ing rock-paper-scissors in the middle of a great 4x game. Promissory notes are stupid as well, you should never, ever be able to give away a VP in a game like this)
-M


Same as what Malloc says but I would like to give out both Prelim Objective and Secret Objective out at the beginning of the game. It really sucks starting with the build all your Dreads Prelim objective or one of the the more difficult objectives that takes 4+ turns to complete and somebody else has a real simple Prelim objective so they have more time to work on completing there secret objective.

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Scott Randolph
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We allow players to draw 2 PO cards, choose 1, return the 1 not chosen to the deck and then pass the deck to the next player who does the same. In the Status Phase, if a player claimed his PO during that Action Phase, that player draws 3 SO's and chooses 1, returning the others to the deck.

I have a personal, great distaste for excessive randomness in what are supposed to be strategy games. Allowing for some degree of choice in PO's and SO's helps one develop a more coherent strategy. Also, accomplishing one's PO first, before others do so, or as early as possible, is somewhat rewarded since that player will draw their SO choices before others will.
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Necessary Evil
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I used the draw 2 and keep one for secret objectives at the WBC this year. It worked well.

I played Prelim obj as random, I like that some are harder, and if you always picked no one would take the hard ones. Bur for secrets, I do not mind the choice since it can be based on board position etc.

-M
 
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Scott Lewis
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I've never understood the whole "I don't like randomness" argument for the cards. The die rolling for space battles is far more volatile and random than the SOs are.
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Scott Randolph
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sigmazero13 wrote:
I've never understood the whole "I don't like randomness" argument for the cards. The die rolling for space battles is far more volatile and random than the SOs are.


Adding randomness to more randomness creates excessive randomness.
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Scott Lewis
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And what makes it "excessive" is completely subjective.

I don't think the SOs make it excessive. I've never won or lost a game based primarily on my secret objective. Sure, it can sometimes make it easier or harder, but no more so than the right/wrong set of action cards, planet setup, public objective array, or luck in space battle.
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Scott Randolph
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It is indeed subjective, and I subjectively do not like what I perceive to be excessive randomness.

This is an argument of "spectrum," so to speak, with chess at one of the range, and the cardgame "War" on the other. The more random elements there are, the closer a game approaches the cardgame "War" end of the spectrum.
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Scott Lewis
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I don't think there are ANY elements in TI3 that put it even remotely close to War, either individually or in combination.
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Scott Randolph
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The more random elements there are, the closer a game approaches the cardgame "War" end of the spectrum.
 
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Scott Lewis
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I can take a step east and be closer to France, too. Doesn't mean that I am anywhere close to approaching France. Heck, I can drive all the way to Limon and still have that be true.

But I think we're straying a bit from the original topic of this thread.
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Scott Randolph
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We can "Agree to Disagree" - and still compromise on a fun and workable version of this great game, even if where you see a "Fortress of Predictability," I see a "House of Tarot Cards."

cool

(SFRR)
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Dave Taylor
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To be honest, we haven't had too many complaints about the randomness in the game. The randomness, by definition, is going to favor different people in different games. Sometimes you're the hammer and sometimes you're the nail. You just have to deal with bad luck and hope for better luck next time. It also helps if you "make your own luck" by having a good plan. And if you really do get screwed over by a single card... well, that's kind of funny, isn't it? I laugh when that happens, even when I'm on the receiving end. It's all in good fun.
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Michael Cohen
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I'm actually a big fan of the Mercenaries. I think they add a lot of flavour to the game.
I use them with a slightly modified version of Trade 2:
You can choose:
a) 3 TGs
b) 1 TG and a merc (top two from the deck, pick one)
c) Break 2 trade agreements

I've had great fun with them. Medium trade races typically take 1 or 2. Low trade races don't bother. High trade races haven't shown up in my game since I put Mercs in.
 
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Scott Randolph
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That is one great strength of this game, it is almost several games in one, and can be played in such a great variety of ways. It is easily modifiable to suit the tastes of the players playing...even without a single "House Rule" there is probably some combination of "RAW" optional rules that will likely make just about any group of players happy, and no two games are ever the same!
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Dave Taylor
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Thanks for all the input!

I decided to just use the new planets, action cards, political cards, and races for our first game with this expansion. That won't require very many new rules. For the next game I'll probably add in the flagships and mech units and the new racial techs. I'm on the fence about mercenaries, and I definitely don't like the representatives - our games run long enough as it is!
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After 6 games with the expansion we have found that our group enjoys the new races, new systems, new technologies, preliminary objectives and empty space domain counters. Regarding preliminary objectives we think that the next time we play we will also hand out the secret objectives at the start of the game so that you will be able to plan for it. You will still have to complete your preliminary objective before completing your secret, you only get to see the secret objective in advance.

Edit: The technology Durainium Armor and Flagships seams just too powerful and the rules for mechanized units are always causing discussions so we are currently thinking about not playing with them the next time.
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Justme LookingAround
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After playing the game with Shards quite a few times:

Recommended:
1) All the new races: They do not impact the game much. Mostly "decorative" adjustments.
2) Flagships: They speed up the game. Races who are tech poor now have an option to build up a denser fleet early on without needed to work all the way up to "death stars".
3) Mechanized: Not a huge impact in our games, but a slight speed up.
4) Mercenaries: Speeds up the game considerably. You get trade goods immediately, and then the trade card gives that player a genuine advantage in their merc.
5) Preliminary Objectives: Speed up the game as well since they are pretty easy and can be gained quickly.
6) Representatives: The first time you use them it slows it down (for some people). After that it gives most races an opportunity to negotiate.
7) New technology: speeds up the game again since it allows you to cruise just a bit farther.
8) New systems: kind of a wash, but aids in the new technology boost.

Not Recommended:
1) Final Frontiers (space system markers): These slow down the game even more. Watch your beloved ships disappear! And then watch game progress grind to a halt.

Now understand that my group enjoys large strategy games. But we most of us can't sit there and play a game for 9-12 hours. I guess that makes us "not normal" for twilight imperium people. We want to finish our games in 4 hours or so. That means we want to speed up the game as fast as possible.

The new expansion does exactly that and we think its worth every penny.

On the other hand, most of the features in "Shattered" slow the game way down. We typically use the new strategy cards and replace them with "shards" cards. Many of the other features seem pointless. We almost never use "shock troops". Space mines are quaint and usually do not work (as they shouldn't considering their roll value).

Domain counters and defenders of mecatol slow the game way down. We typically don't bother pulling them out anymore and it has made all the difference in the world in how our games work. We actually finish matches now!!

So in a nutshell:
If you want to play the game faster, get this expansion.

If you want to play the game for 9+ hours, then this expansion really doesn't buy you anything.
 
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Jan Probst
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Mostly as above, plus some comments

Mercs - we like them mainly as a side effect, because we strongly prefer the instant-monies dynamics of Trade 3, and inventing a different benefit for SC picker is a kinda hard to come up with (like, even more trade goods than the instant TA payoff seems harsh). Plus, characters/heroes are always win to play with, so as yet another MoO nod they would probably make it in on their own. The humongous counters suck though, we use a not-in-the-game color GF and Ship (keeping the form it is currently not in on the stat card) on the board.

Intrigue - More characters (and racial rebalancing) makes us like these dudes in principle. Doesn't add that much time to politics anyway, using a smooth system (public counting and announcing of visible votes before negotiating) cuts more than any rule addon adds. Even if we sometimes don't use the diplomats, we prefer the nerf/dynamics of Assembly 2 (no impact of homeworld on the power of its secondary, more "shared wealth" of card draws), so we would use that and resolve the vote normally. Edit: Promissories are used in theory but not often given or even looked at because they're too expensive. Most Reps mentioning Promises are actually unrelated to them anyway, "not having a note" is just a translation of "can vote freely",

Mechs - More ground unit variety is great and tanks are cool. The FAQ oversimplifies things though imo, so (like probably everyone) we use our own set out house clarifications on what they are immune to and what not (Gist: they are just another unit so they are pretty damn well NOT immune to core mechanics, ie anything that dishes out hits. I'm wavering on that one though, wouldn't mind trying a round with them PDS/Bomb immune and thus serving as counter to them.)

Prelims - Use (with some usual get-2-pick-1 variants like often used for Secrets too) and like. Since it adds VPs back to the game, we'd often play to the original 10 VPs and not the 9 recommended ones for using SE SCs - keeps the game material (veep tracker) intuitive, may extend games a round that otherwise would often end too abruptly.

Rest mostly in (Flags, Techs etc) but without comment.

Edit: Oh, races.
Necros are banned unless table agrees. Just like Gollum they warp the table meta too harshly, in this case denieing everyone the RL fun in teching. Bad. Play the same game as we, kthx.
The other 2 are great. Overspecialize in a single aspect (mobility/building) but not to a broken degree. Creuss are pretty fun to have on the table because you need to watch your back more than usual.
 
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Jan Probst
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deimos2006 wrote:
Now understand that my group enjoys large strategy games. But we most of us can't sit there and play a game for 9-12 hours. I guess that makes us "not normal" for twilight imperium people. We want to finish our games in 4 hours or so. That means we want to speed up the game as fast as possible.

I agree.

...if one finishes in 4ish, one can get a second game in in a session! whistle
 
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