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

Subject: How to deal with the Alastor? rss

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Ger Lam
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In our last several games, we always ended up with Nekro Virus in our Games.
Which had quite profound effects, all simply because of their flagship.

Since it costs only 9 and destroys everything in it's area when destroyed itself, it has become the most popular means or destruction at the table.
Theroretically, it has only 1 move, but that means EVERYBODY has to pass up on Gravity Drive, to even slow it down, and even then, things like Cultural Crisis will enable it, plus stuff like flank speed or warfare II add to it.
In effect, both on the receiving and the dealing end, we found that:

a.: no other flagships ever got built(too expensive for just being blown up), neither war suns.
b.: most mecatol rex objectives did not get fulfilled(one person moved in with his dreadnaughts, after somebody else got blown up, hoping to claim the "Forceful SO", but alas, during production, the alastor was rebuild and Flank Speeded to Mecatol Rex, blowing up a good 30+ worth of resources.
c.: everybody just turtles with PDS, while the only "active" player is the Nekro Virus.

I see only two options: Either we basically "kill" technology, meaning nobody researches anything except PDS techs to not give Nekro an incentive for aggressive play, or we houserule the Alastor...something i'm not inclined to do before hearing some input here.
The main problem seems that no matter what, if it goes somewhere, it blows everything up.
Would it have been so much worse if it was worded something like "If at the end of a round of combat this ship is still alive, it can be sacrificed to destroy all friendly and enemy ships in the system.", then at least it wouldn't be a cheap nuclear option.

As it stands, i don't see how i would ever build a flagship worth 10 recources, which, so it's not too vulnerable, is then accompanied by other ships, making it a prime target for blowing up. No matter if you are being attacked or IF you are attacking.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, it is not intended as one, but i'd like to have some input on how to deal with this cosmic menace.
The main problem seeming that unless you gang up on the Nekro player, the aggressive playstyle will reap rewards. You defend with a big fleet? His flagships blows you up. You defend with small fleets? He combines 2 medium fleets into a large to take a system from you. You counterattack with a large fleet? It's being blown up.

Seriously, i like that there is more conflict in our games, but up to now it was more like "great, those two are fighting, i can go for VP", but the problem here seems that unless you gang up on Nekro, or they get a very bad placement, their Flagship fuels their aggressive rampage so much that single players can't really stand against them.

And i don't want to play Naalu as living counter every single game

Any advice or help?
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Adam Mitchell
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Last time we went up against the Nekro Virus the Alastor was sent to Mecatol Rex, where it blew up a Sardak N'orr force. It was rebuilt with an Action card and soon returned to Mecatol Rex. Eventually it left, accompanied by three Dreadnaughts. I was the Brotherhood of Yin player, so I sent in four Cruisers and four Destroyers to assault it. On the first turn my force succeeded in damaging every enemy ship, and on the second turn a Yin Destroyer rammed the Alastor. I lost twelve resources worth of ships, but he lost twenty-four resources worth of ships.

The point here is not to play the Brotherhood of Yin against the Nekro Virus (though that certainly worked well for me), but that you can't let the Alastor's controller dictate the time and place of the battle. You have to strike preemptively, when he's not expecting to fight. How do your players move the Alastor up? Do they send it accompanied by a large fleet every step of the way, or are there times when it would be vulnerable to a quick sacrifice strike? Given it's normal one speed, can't enemy fleets frequently get out of its way when they see it coming? Even Warfare II takes a round to activate and if the Nekro player is constantly taking Warfare II to speed his Flagship he isn't taking more useful Strategy cards. Furthermore, why would those across the table fear to build War Suns or Flagships? The Alastor cannot be eveywhere at once and it sounds like fear of it is keeping everyone at the table from building powerful ships, which only increases the Nekro player's advantage.

As for Gravity Drive, that's something which can be partially addressed by your group during map construction. I would no more place a Gravity Rift or Wormhole system near the Nekro Home System than I would place a Supernova near the Muatt, and hopefully all players opposing the Nekro share that thinking.

If the Alastor was rebuilt and Flank Speeded, how did it reach Mecatol Rex in a single turn? Was there also Gravity Drive and a wormhole or Gravity Rift present?

Nine resources is only one less resource than the average Flagship, spent for a one-shot wonder. If the Nekro Virus has that many resources to throw around, he might be being insufficiently pressed on the flanks which are NOT covered by his doomsday ship. If he's spending this much on Alastor construction and no one else is building Flagships or War Suns and he's STILL impossibly strong on every side, than there's something seriously wrong.

If you defend with small fleets and he combines two medium fleets to take a system, where is the Alastor? Sitting alone, or with the combined fleet? Could you then drive in and take a few of his systems for yourself? You don't have to counterattack where the Alastor is. If it's out with huge numbers of his ships, go where it's not! Take his planets or even Mordai II!

I think the Alastor can be dealt with, but I also don't think there's anything wrong with players teaming up against the Virus if they feel he's too great a threat. It happens all the time against the points leader, there's no reason it couldn't be done against the Nekro.

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JJ Belyeu
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I agree completely with the above post. The Nekro and their Flagship are truly a pain in the early game (first 2-3 Rounds), but as other factions build up, and gain more planets, they lose their luster.

The real trick is to shut them down in the beginning, during Galaxy Setup. Don't let them play things in their own general area. Throw planets with HIGH Influence and LOW Resources their way. After all, they can't use the Influence to vote with and the low resources slow them down A LOT.

Or, if they appear to come in your direction, make a deal with them. You will give them a ship to kill, and a tech to copy, if they give you trade goods to rebuild the ship. This will usually result in them only sending 1 or 2 ships your way to kill your offering, then finding someone else to pick on.

Another tactic; ally with them, especially if you are a neighbor. Give them a decent trade agreement and point out to them, if they attack you, that goes away.

Also, if possible, feed them opponents. What I mean by this is if you can lure them in another direction, do it. I played a game recently where 1 player was dealt both Beta wormholes. He put one on the opposite side of the galaxy from him and the other directly adjacent to the Nekro Home System.

The real trick isn't straight up beating the Nekro, its mitigating their impact on YOU. And if they are unwilling to cooperate, then turn to the other players and pound Nekro into submission.
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Derek Porter
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In our group's 30+ games, we've only had the Nekro Virus come up once. It was in the last game we played, and I was the one playing them.
I want to point out that we were using the Star-by-Star set up (basically allows you to place your Home System anywhere, with restrictions). We were all experienced players, and I had the Arborec & Muaat as neighbors, each within two systems of my Home System. On the third turn, I used the Alastor to wipe out a Muaat fleet of a war sun & a couple of destroyers to obtain the War Sun tech. This crippled the Muaat, essentially taking him out for the rest of the game. I eventually moved the into Mecatol Rex & had the Alastor there when the Mentak moved a huge seven ship fleet into the system next door, which included a full carrier and their flagship. One move later, the fleet was gone, thanks to the Alastor. This allowed me to finish that turn by taking the Hacan Home System and capture the Muaat Home System as my opening move of the next turn. I lost Mecatol Rex that turn and suffered two different attacks on my Home System, but won both times (thanks to Gen Synthesis/Daxicive Animators). I was in a excellent position to eliminate the Hacan & the Mentak, and put a big dent in the Muaat's remaining fleet. The entire galaxy was out to get me in the space of two turns, but since I was the aggressor none of them were in a position to do anything about it. The game ended with Hacan victory from Imperium Rex the next turn, but if it had not ended I would have eliminated three(!) players in a single turn.
The point I'm trying to make is that the Nekro need to be stopped before they can get going. A lot of threads have been saying that having the Nekro Virus in a game completely changes the dynamic, and they're right. I am anything but an aggressive player, rarely resorting to war; but when I was playing the Nekro it was very easy to just build the Alastor and send it in to clear out fleets that would otherwise be difficult battles. After that game, one of my players said that he wouldn't play if the Nekro Virus was one of the races in the game. I certainly do not want to play them again.
The best way to make sure the Nekro Virus is not a threat is to put them on the defensive early and not allow them to become the aggressor. The Alastor is a double-edged sword: it will destroy everything in the system when it explodes, so it's best to make sure that it never leaves the Nekro Home System. After it destroys a few of their own fleets, the Nekro player will probably find it better not to build the Alastor in the first place.
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Ger Lam
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Well, there's a main problem. We try to always include the original 4 wormholes + wormhole nexus in our games, and more often than not, there's 4 people playing.

So up to now, it was basically not possible to prevent either a wormhole or a gravity rift being placed next to the Nekro homeworld.
I suppose we'll need to get rid of the Star-By-Star system thing...even though we already fixated the starting positions(one of the players is overly aggressive, and will try first turn kills against anything that looks less strong than he is.)

I do understand that a lot of problems comes from the group as well. Besides me, we have one player that plays like a rabid dog, two that try to stay out of everything(technically a correct way to play in my book...but only so far...at some point, you have to intervene, and they always miss that point, even ignoring juicy targets to prevent being involved in a conflict.)

Asides, i'd like to mention that Gravity Drive seems a far too strong tech for how low it's in the tree. If the 4 original wormholes and even one gravity rift is in play, it seems there's more than half the board covered with "+1 movement for everything"...it basically duplicates XRD+TYPE IV Drive, stacks with it and also applies to Destroyers/Flagships...

I do believe a lot of our problems with the Alastor come from it's improved mobility. As for how it is moved around, as part of a full fleet, usually also in PDS range, but since 2 Range, especially through wormholes, can get you pretty far, well...

thanks for your input. Next time, i'll probably try for N'orr with Exotrireme one dreadnaught and a couple destroyers/carrier with fighters. I just find it weird how much this single element changes the game dynamics around, and not necessarily in a good way. Even if we take the fight to the ship, or i can get my group to 1-2-punch the nekro, it's still an immense and cost effective threat...
 
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Heh. If you play with so much wormholes, i bet Ghost of Creuss also would be impossible to beat. But then, it adds for some extra tactics ;-)

Like said above, if you dont want to see their flagship coming your way, make sure they go somewhere else or go for the pre-emptive strike. Its still 9 resources they cant spend on other stuff. Could be horrible if you are the victim, but the Nekro only gain on their victim, but not on the other players. If i were the Nekro, i wouldnt just go going all Al-Qaida and blowing myself up on everything that moves! I'd rather threathen to do it in order to get people do what i want them to do. Its up to them if they go along with that.

If not Nekro, throw in some pimped cheap ships, some action cards, and his losses could be more then yours, making him think twice
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Adam Mitchell
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MordredofFairy wrote:
Well, there's a main problem. We try to always include the original 4 wormholes + wormhole nexus in our games, and more often than not, there's 4 people playing.

So up to now, it was basically not possible to prevent either a wormhole or a gravity rift being placed next to the Nekro homeworld.
I suppose we'll need to get rid of the Star-By-Star system thing...even though we already fixated the starting positions(one of the players is overly aggressive, and will try first turn kills against anything that looks less strong than he is.)

I do understand that a lot of problems comes from the group as well. Besides me, we have one player that plays like a rabid dog, two that try to stay out of everything(technically a correct way to play in my book...but only so far...at some point, you have to intervene, and they always miss that point, even ignoring juicy targets to prevent being involved in a conflict.)

Asides, i'd like to mention that Gravity Drive seems a far too strong tech for how low it's in the tree. If the 4 original wormholes and even one gravity rift is in play, it seems there's more than half the board covered with "+1 movement for everything"...it basically duplicates XRD+TYPE IV Drive, stacks with it and also applies to Destroyers/Flagships...

I do believe a lot of our problems with the Alastor come from it's improved mobility. As for how it is moved around, as part of a full fleet, usually also in PDS range, but since 2 Range, especially through wormholes, can get you pretty far, well...

thanks for your input. Next time, i'll probably try for N'orr with Exotrireme one dreadnaught and a couple destroyers/carrier with fighters. I just find it weird how much this single element changes the game dynamics around, and not necessarily in a good way. Even if we take the fight to the ship, or i can get my group to 1-2-punch the nekro, it's still an immense and cost effective threat...


Okay, you never mentioned that you try to always include all four wormholes or that you used the Star by Star placement system. It goes without saying that those two points really change the gamesurprise.

Well, yes, Gravity Drive probably is too strong if you always make sure that all four wormholes are in play. When you draw randomly, though, you usually in my experience wind up with two wormholes at best, which makes Gravity Drive much less powerful.

I would agree with you completely on this point; the increased mobility given the Alastor by the way your group constructs the map makes it far more deadly that it would otherwise be.

I love the idea of using Exotrireme on the Alastorlaugh. As I did, fight suicide with suicide!

I can assure you that the Alastor on a normal map is considerably less of a threat. Then, too, the name of the game is victory points; is the Alastor being used in a way which would secure those points? Or is its controller just going suicidal for no reason? If the latter the Nekro player might cause a lot of destruction, but he certainly isn't going to win . . .

That's the final method you can use to deter the Nekro. Let the player know that if he's coming after you and taking your planets for no reason, you'll got to war with him and both of you will certainly lose the game.
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John L
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Same story here. We play Star-by-Star and played one game with all 4 wormholes and Gravity Drive. The mobility was crazy; we now let the wormhole draws be random.
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Ger Lam
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Solan wrote:

I can assure you that the Alastor on a normal map is considerably less of a threat. Then, too, the name of the game is victory points; is the Alastor being used in a way which would secure those points? Or is its controller just going suicidal for no reason? If the latter the Nekro player might cause a lot of destruction, but he certainly isn't going to win . . .

That's the final method you can use to deter the Nekro. Let the player know that if he's coming after you and taking your planets for no reason, you'll got to war with him and both of you will certainly lose the game.


Well, ya, theres the problem. It is used to expand aggressively, increasing the resources at the nekro players disposal. Also, since we are only 4 players, there's 2 strategy cards for every player...lets say the nekro player is usually not overly concerned with assembly or trade and technology is just an alternative to leadership. Thats why the High Alert Token is quite available to him, preferably, of course, production.(Again, yes, we could prevent that, but things work the other way round, too...if i have no points to gain with warfare, just taking it for the sake of denying it to another player round after round is counterproductive.
Anyway, since the resources increase, and, during battle, techs increase, he'll qualify for most of the tech or "i now spend X resources" objectives, the battle ones are a no-brainer. Naturally, unless your group decides not to tech with the virus present, that also means he's not spending THOSE resources, while you do, and even if we were to play with 9 strategy cards to choose from, having Tech accumulate bonus counters seems unlikely(+ would be a cheap way for command counters for him)
That seems to be a core of the problem, 2 times the virus basically completely dominated an opponent, fulfilling objectives on the way with the vast resources available after the first successful conquests. Going to war against it alone, as mentioned, seems difficult unless you play specific races, due to alastor.
Either way, thanks for helping me in more accurately homing in on the problem. Most likely, we'll reduce our wormhole-count and forgo star-by-star next time we play.(Btw, in regards to ghosts also being strong in those maps...probably would be, but got trashed/almost taken over very fast the last two times...once by nekro virus.)
 
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Ger Lam
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Oh, just because i was going over the FAQ once more in preparation of this weeks game...i had to smile about the "Can you voluntarily reduce number of dice rolled" - "No" thing in regards to this...

Aboard the Dreadnaught Moronity, leading ship of a grand space fleet including carriers, cruisers, destroyers and her sister Dreadnaught Idiocy, in contested space:

Leutnant: "Admiral, we have a single warp signature opening, flagship-class...oh my god, it's an Alastor Class flying bomb!"
Admiral: "Battle station, ready all cannons, lasorzs and missiles!"
Leutnant: "Sir, previous data from the Galactic Assembly suggests that Alastor-Class ships, when destroyed, explode furiously enough to wipe out the fleets of an entire sector...luckily they forgot a self-destruct-button and serious weaponry. If we just hold fire and retreat, they'll at most manage to scratch our fighter screen while we make our escape!"
Admiral: "Retreat? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their explosive power!"
Leutnant: "Sir, their explosive power is well documented, off the scale and well over 9000... and we don't have a "Moment of Triumph"-Action Card, whatever that means. Please be reasonable, we have 4 PDS Systems with Deep Space Graviton Lasers in Range, we could withdraw and then destroy the Alastor before she manages to recharge her gravitic drive!"
Admiral: "Fine, we will retreat...AFTER A FULL VOLLEY! You may fire when ready! And give it your all!"
Leutnant: *FACEPALM*
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MordredofFairy wrote:
Oh, just because i was going over the FAQ once more in preparation of this weeks game...i had to smile about the "Can you voluntarily reduce number of dice rolled" - "No" thing in regards to this...

Aboard the Dreadnaught Moronity, leading ship of a grand space fleet including carriers, cruisers, destroyers and her sister Dreadnaught Idiocy, in contested space:

Leutnant: "Admiral, we have a single warp signature opening, flagship-class...oh my god, it's an Alastor Class flying bomb!"
Admiral: "Battle station, ready all cannons, lasorzs and missiles!"
Leutnant: "Sir, previous data from the Galactic Assembly suggests that Alastor-Class ships, when destroyed, explode furiously enough to wipe out the fleets of an entire sector...luckily they forgot a self-destruct-button and serious weaponry. If we just hold fire and retreat, they'll at most manage to scratch our fighter screen while we make our escape!"
Admiral: "Retreat? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their explosive power!"
Leutnant: "Sir, their explosive power is well documented, off the scale and well over 9000... and we don't have a "Moment of Triumph"-Action Card, whatever that means. Please be reasonable, we have 4 PDS Systems with Deep Space Graviton Lasers in Range, we could withdraw and then destroy the Alastor before she manages to recharge her gravitic drive!"
Admiral: "Fine, we will retreat...AFTER A FULL VOLLEY! You may fire when ready! And give it your all!"
Leutnant: *FACEPALM*


Happened in Star Wars...
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Ger Lam
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Tretiak wrote:
MordredofFairy wrote:
...
Admiral: "Retreat? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their explosive power!"...


Happened in Star Wars...


Glad you caught that Tarkin Quote I actually first mistyped "Chances"...
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Stefan Sasse
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I don't think the Alastor is that big a deal. When you build it, you're vulnerable to snipes or have to protect it, somekind ridiculing its purpose, and wasting nine resources in a glorified bang - after which you have activated a system you may not use anymore for a round - often isn't worth it. I found the ship's defense capabilities for the HS more endearing than the offense.
 
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Ger Lam
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StefanSasse wrote:
I don't think the Alastor is that big a deal. When you build it, you're vulnerable to snipes or have to protect it, somekind ridiculing its purpose, and wasting nine resources in a glorified bang - after which you have activated a system you may not use anymore for a round - often isn't worth it. I found the ship's defense capabilities for the HS more endearing than the offense.


well, then your nekro virus is obviously a lot more tame than ours.
As said, if it's part of a moderately large fleet, snipes don't work, ESPECIALLY if tactical retreat is also an option, it just needs to be shielded enough to survive a round...if you use enough force to destroy it despite the meat shields, chances are it's already worth it.

And it's more than the "threat" it generates. You can't defend strongly when it's around, which in turn means it's easy to attack you. And 9 resources + a command counter is not that expensive considering what people will field.
EVEN if i only use that to blow up 9 resources worth of your ships, which you built in ONE activation(or production secondary), you break equal. Blowing up a fully loaded carrier with a cruiser and 2 destroyers(total value 10 res(and production capacity total 10, too)) can be TOTALLY worth it if i can strongly attack another of your systems with my next action(while i just wiped out half of your potential offensive force/counterattack force). Not to mention that if i had a high alert token there and did NOT move it with the alastor, you may need to waste your next action to BLOCK that system, unless you strongly garrison ALL your systems against the virus...otherwise, even your home system may be in range of a sufficient fleet to invade(yay mech units).
As was already found out in this threat, a lot of OUR problems come from the high mobility, the fact we are only 4 players(making warfare II and command counters readily available), and that we ARE using an aggressive playstyle with virus. While i thank you for your input, the question was not wether the Alastor IS a problem or not, because i am sure in many playgroups it will not be, but rather, HOW to deal with it IF it becomes a problem, as it did in our group. No matter which player had the Nekro, after the first player(incidently, that was me) "showed" how to play them, we struggled against it.
Reducing the wormhole count to somewhat reduce the effectiveness of gravity drive will probably help a great deal already.
 
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As far as game mechanics, consider building your galaxy with planets of fewer resources (No Abyz/Fria or bereg/lirta). My group often limits the total resources in the galaxy as it can make for a more intense game as every resource counts.

Rarely in my games is it possible to buy a flagship multiple times in a game, and it sounds like your Nekro players can buy their FG every turn. High resources combined with wormhole/gravity drive synergy and 4 player game mechanics sets up a fertile Nekro killing field. By your own mention it does not sound like the Nekro are winning much, just shaking things up.

That has been my experience with the Nekro as well. They fight a lot, shake up the game, buy the alastor once or twice, but in 4 games I have not seen them win, especially when playing aggressive (their constant attacks has always earned them a nemesis). It does suck to be the Nekro's neighbors, as their name (and the chronicles of Riddick) would imply.

As far as tactics to discourage the alastor, always keep a destroyer screen between you and the Nekro with counterattack forces available. Unfortunately, this is a CC intensive strategy and if you are the Nekro's neighboor (including wormhole neighboors), it will likely reduce you chances of winning. I have doubts about whether nekro's neighboors have a good chance of winning anyway. So if you can make a deal with the Nekro, do it. If not prepare for a warfare heavy game, which does not often lead to victory, IMHO. On the other hand, by the kiss principle, just go take the Nekro HS.
 
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JJ Belyeu
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Another good way to slow Alastor down is to fill your border systems with single ships. Alastor cant move through spaces with enemy ships present, so making it stop every time it encounters another ship is a great way to frustrate the Nekro player.

Especially using Cruisers. Since they are cheap, quick, and hit (usually) more often then Alastor.
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Ger Lam
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BeerMe wrote:
Another good way to slow Alastor down is to fill your border systems with single ships. Alastor cant move through spaces with enemy ships present, so making it stop every time it encounters another ship is a great way to frustrate the Nekro player.

Especially using Cruisers. Since they are cheap, quick, and hit (usually) more often then Alastor.


Thats a nice theory, but:
You have to have ALL of them occupied all the time, and NEVER pass before the virus.

If you "block" a system when the virus is already in place, he can just snipe that lone ship with a cruiser or two, then move THROUGH the system and blow something up. If you pass before the Virus, he can invade/setup an invasion for next turn by taking ONE of those spaces, if he gets to choose strategy card before you(left neighhbour problem mostly)
(while thats true for every race, the fact he can potentially blow up your activated double-docked system in which you produced most of your stuff this round, without leaving himself open to counterattack can be a serious blow, even worse if he also TAKES another system in the process containing a second fleet by uniting his frontline ships..you can be left with only your screening ships, and with the first action he takes before you, he can move into the system he emptied beforehand..basically taking out the bigger threat with the alastor, taking out second biggest threat with fleet, then also taking the system he crushed with alastor by acting before you, you're down 2-3 valuable planets(possibly home system even) and 2 fleets, making it hard/impossible to come back proper due to lack of resources and docks, while he lost the alastor and probably a few ships...exactly this happened in the first game, when i as nekro took technology, for extra CC's, first starving my neighbour for Command Counters(since he could buy only 3 from leadership, which i also did), then acting after he passed.)

As for planets: We already de-selected the high resource planets- our galaxy on average has 6.5 resources per player in addition to their home systems, split over 4 systems with planets per player. Production primary, Sarween Tools, trade goods and laws/action cards do add up however. So while 9 Resources is a steep price, it's also quite hard for an opponent to replace fleets, ESPECIALLY if their homeworld is less productive or they already lost a planet to the virus.
 
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JJ Belyeu
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Do you play with Space Mines? This may help A LOT as well.
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