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Subject: Not remotely balanced? rss

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Alastair Cornish
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Hi, I want to preface this post by saying I like LOTS about this game:
I like the artwork
I like the play-time
I like the ease of play, fun but not too demanding
I like the setting / atmosphere, it's bursting with fun and flavour

...but after around 10 games the invader have won a single game (and then only barely.) I own about 300 boardgames and like to think I have a good feeling for when a game is balanced or not and of all my games Invaders feels the least balanced... Am I doing something wrong? I've read and re-read the rules...

Does the Invaders attack kill units as well as causing deck milling? (it doesn't seem so)
Does the Invaders special strategies actually ADD to the invasion track rather than taking away from it? (it seems the opposite)
Do the printed strength values of the earthly territories REALLY add their strength to the defence of the region. (it seems they do)

I just cannot see how things are remotely balanced and the Invaders have a hope. The humans have far cheaper cards, and have counter after counter after counter to shut down the Invader's cards. and of course the humans can just sit back, the Invaders are against the clock, with their track counting down if they can't cause drain.

I don't want to give up on this game but the people I play against have raised the same concerns and are on the verge if ditching this game due to imbalance! HELP! Am I missing some rule or some basic strategy for the Invaders?

Also does anyone have house rules to help? we've been thinking of considering the different regions strength to be their "health" for the purposes of a victory condition but only adding half of that to their actual combat strength.
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Tristan Hall
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It's definitely tricky to see where you're going wrong without a detailed session report. We just played a game on Thursday where I was the Invaders and I made a heavy handed start on Eurasia, and dominated the entire game. Had nearly 30 cards left when Mankind succumbed. Using the Accelerator to bring in a super cheap revenant is a neat trick. And the Lucifer tripods can be game winners if carefully deployed. devil
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Alastair Cornish
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I might try and write / record one next time.

I REALLY want to like / love this game (for many of my stated reasons)

the other houserule we've considered is having the human player start by milling 10 cards or so from their deck.

Generally though the game went something like:
Invader builds up a bit, not enough to do damage yet, loses 1 space on the track
Invader builds up enough to do damage
Humans nuke
Invaders build up
Humans nuke
Invaders build up
Humans deathstrike
etc. etc.
until it reaches a point where humanity has been gradually building units while nuking and the Invader just can't build up fast enough to cause drain steadily grinding down the invasion track for the loss.
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Mark Chaplin
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Is the Invader player using some of the battleboard strategy options? Or moving the invasion plot marker down one space to draw a card? (this can often be useful).

Playing as few cards as possible (in the early game) is a viable Invader strategy. Certainly don't play a costly Invader card early-game, unless you're feeling lucky - try to tease out the Nukes, etc.

Try to concentrate your attacks on one or two zones. Keep your kill cards back, if you can, for major threats like 'Area 51 Groom Lake'. Use cards like 'Black Widow Walker' and 'Species Thirteen' and 'Honeypot apparatus' and 'Mega-slug' to effectively gain you a turn - if you play them at the right time - not always possible.

Some cards are very situational: Cherry Picker, The Ripper, Atmospheric Processors, and The Face Eaters, etc. While, 'Self-replicating nanobot cloud' is always awesome.

Avoid killing the heroes - unless Mankind is sacrificing them with wild abandon, or there's a tasty one that's just begging to be zapped.

The Invader deck is harder to play, like you say, and requires more precise hand management. For your games, you could start the invasion plot marker on 11 or 12.



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Alastair Cornish
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One of the strategies that definitely got the Invader closer was exactly as you say just sitting back for 4 or 5 turns to gather cards, see if and where humanity will commit, and get enough cards to look for synergy / counters / defences.

As to whether the strategy options are used that's situational, using them too early is costly (or so it seems) since you up the cost of cards while also shortening the invasion track. We've had games where all were used and games where only a couple were. Humanity has I think only ever used the Ops Centre and one other strategy, the Human player has never needed to use others to win.

As I say many game pan out fairly similarly where the Human player is able to get out a few 0 cost cards with 2 power, or very cheap cards with even better power. That coupled with the starting strength of the locations means that the invaders have to put down some pretty strong cards to even cause one or two drain... couple that with the nukes etc. there to knockout any higher strength invader cards and my friends and I are just left scratching our heads as to how to play, to the point I felt like I must be missing a rule or something!

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Geo Geo
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In our group most of the time Invader wins so I'd say it's quite balanced

As an invader I personally try to put just enough forces so that Human has to drain. And when he has a quite small hand I start hitting hard (Goo and powerful attacks). A few turns with a high drain for Human helps a lot to win. Also use often the invasion track and finish at around 2 or 3. Never managed to attack heroes enough to win on this side. It's always a win because Human cannot drain, even if sometime it is with only a few cards on Invader side.

And waiting several turns before attacking allows the Human to have also lots of cards and thus he can answer Invader attacks with a minimum of effort. Having a constant pressure makes him using over-powerful cards so keep the pressure !

Have fun
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Alastair Cornish
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I'm glad to hear that, it gives me hope!

I am enjoying the "puzzle" of trying to get the invaders to win!
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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The main strategy for the Invader is to strike hard at once.
Build up your hand, try to drain 1 card here and there, attract those nasty nukes and laser satellite bombardments on cards of less importance. And when you're ready, unleash your full power on the Mankind.
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Jenő Szécsi
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The game is awesome, I'm looking forward seeing the expansion.

However, we found, that the Invader can easily win using a "kill the heroes only" strategy.
After several games, my friend focused only on killing mankind's heroes. There are plenty of cards for that purpose in the Invader's hands and very few (2-3) in Mankind's to counter hero-killing.
In all games, the Invader managed to wipe out all my heroes with using only half of his deck.

What went wrong?
Is there something we are missing?
 
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Mark Chaplin
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Hatamoto22 wrote:
The game is awesome, I'm looking forward seeing the expansion.

However, we found, that the Invader can easily win using a "kill the heroes only" strategy.
After several games, my friend focused only on killing mankind's heroes. There are plenty of cards for that purpose in the Invader's hands and very few (2-3) in Mankind's to counter hero-killing.
In all games, the Invader managed to wipe out all my heroes with using only half of his deck.

What went wrong?
Is there something we are missing?


*In the invader deck, there are 15 cards that can directly destroy heroes of the resistance cards.

*There are, as you know, 11 hero cards.

*In the Mankind deck, there are 4 cards that can prevent a hero from being destroyed. There are ways of getting these cards back.

*Mankind has one strategy option that prevents a hero kill: Project Chainmail.

Your main defence against a 'kill all heroes' player strategy, is to use the ability of the Maple Street Neighborhood. If the Invader player uses all his 'kill' cards on heroes, he can't have many cards left to fight against your defenders - so you should suffer very little drain. This should be moving the invasion plot marker towards invader doom.



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Jenő Szécsi
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Thank you very much, I indeed missed Maple Street Neighborhood special ability. Now, I'm going to beat the evil aliens!
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Ivan Kolev
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I don't really get this. I came here looking for complaints about the opposite, that the game is not remotely balanced in favor of the invaders. We've played about 10 games (switching sides) and only in the last one the humans seemed to have a slight chance, but as usual their deck ran out.

It seems too easy for the invader to win at least one of the zones, draining the human deck. And making it deplete much faster than the invader deck, because a human zone win doesn't hit the invader deck. Usually a few turns into the game the remaining invader deck is twice as large as the human deck. From there it's just a matter of a few turns more until the humans lose by decking.

Humans have destroy cards? As if the invaders don't. There's even a 0-cost card that destroys two shield cards at once, usually resulting in a huge swing in one of the zones that's hard to recover from.

I literally need to see with my eyes how the humans win, I can't believe it otherwise. And it's a pity because I still feel tempted to play when offered (the game's not mine), even though it becomes a burden playing as the human, trying to squeeze the absolute maximum of every situation.
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Mark Chaplin
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Are you placing defensive cards into invasion zones before or after an opposing invader threat appears? Sometimes it's a good idea to be pro-active.

I'd also hazard a guess that you're not fully utilising the Heroes of the Resistance - sacrifice a couple for cards.


 
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Ivan Kolev
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I usually manage to bring all zones to about +3 difference on my turn.

I've sacrificed heroes for cards only when things get bad, I'll try doing it more often.
 
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Mark Chaplin
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ikolev wrote:
I usually manage to bring all zones to about +3 difference on my turn.

I've sacrificed heroes for cards only when things get bad, I'll try doing it more often.


That may be overdoing it - especially if the Invader player has only attacked in one column!


 
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Ivan Kolev
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Hmm, wait, the attack happens at the end of the invader's turn, right? So the invader has the "last word" on the situation in each zone. If you leave one zone weaker than the others, he'll simply concentrate his attack there. That's why I see the human's goal as a typical min-max, in this case maximizing the minimum.
 
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Ivan Kolev
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Another way to see the game is "endure to the point where the invader has filled in his 4 slots in each of the zones, then start playing a cat-mouse game trying to weed out his stronger units and making him commit weaker ones, taking valuable spots". However, my deck usually runs out before that point.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Yes...and no.
As Human, I try to balance the zones, guaranteeing that whatever the zone the Invader chooses he will have to make the same effort. However, I try to do this with the minimum effort. If it's only +1, it's +1. Add one of those nasty green cards and you're all set.
To reuse your sentence, I say the purpose is to maximize the minimum while minimizing the effort.
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