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Dominant Species» Forums » General

Subject: Dominant Species: broken Dominance cards? rss

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Matthew Charles
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I've now got about a half dozen plays under my belt of Dominant Species. I really like the game. There's a lot going on at all times, and it works. It works well. My one gripe with the game is the (IMO) unbalanced nature of the Dominance cards - specifically the ones that give you additional Action Pawns. Grabbing one of these early in the game (assuming that it's available) can pretty well seal the fate of all the other animals in an icy coffin. My group is generally in agreement on this, and we play with the "speed rules" that pull these cards out of the deck.

I understand the argument that, "if there's a really good card in the track, place on Dominance early to make sure you get it." But I feel like it still detracts from the otherwise really interesting things going on over the rest of the board.

I'm certain that there are many of y'all out there with more than six plays who have some thoughts on the matter...
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Curt Carpenter
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I always take out the cards that grant extra AP. Simple. People will, of course, argue against that. Choose for yourself.
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Matthew Charles
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curtc wrote:
I always take out the cards that grant extra AP. Simple. People will, of course, argue against that. Choose for yourself.


So I guess I'm not alone. cool
 
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Nate Straight

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The game us about beating the snot out of each other. Team up and beat the snot out of the gal bold enough to pick such a powerful card.
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Michael
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NateStraight wrote:
The game us about beating the snot out of each other. Team up and beat the snot out of the gal bold enough to pick such a powerful card.


This is a good way to put it. In addition if everyone believes the card is overpowered, sacrifices will be made to obtain it.
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M M
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curtc wrote:
I always take out the cards that grant extra AP. Simple. People will, of course, argue against that. Choose for yourself.

Same. They're even asterisked On the rulebook to quickly identify which ones they are. It also keeps the games shorter.
 
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M M
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mylittlepwny wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
The game us about beating the snot out of each other. Team up and beat the snot out of the gal bold enough to pick such a powerful card.

This is a good way to put it. In addition if everyone believes the card is overpowered, sacrifices will be made to obtain it.

The last sentence isn't really true. You don't know which domination cards will show up so by the time you could sacrifice something to get it, it would be too late.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Besides not liking the cards for multiple gameplay reasons, removing them tends to shave 10-20% of the total game time (depending on when they come out, and whether it shaves off a whole round, which is common, but not guaranteed), which for me feels like a more appropriate length anyway.
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Scott Daniel
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We also take these cards out, but more from a game-time perspective. I haven't played enough games to confirm this observation, but the species lower on the food chain (and thus higher on the original iniative chart) have performed poorly in our games since we did this.
 
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Jack Smith
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We used to take them out but now include them. The opportunity cost of having an extra pawn can be quite high (a few more actions in exchange for another card)compared to alternative cards available and tends to make that player the focus of attacks. Also two of the cards may grant extra free pawns to other players with no effort from them. In round 4 or 5 the extra action or two may have little benefit.

We play 4 player, however it may be different in 5/6 player games where there are less pawns, especially if one of the cards comes out early. But that is true of many other cards too. I do not think it is as clear cut as saying they are 'broken' as clearly they are not. I do not even think they are overpowered.

Finally, we found it made no appreciable difference to the playing time but did seem to balance out the number of rounds, which of course is a subjective opinion.

Anyway it is all down to choice but I do firmly reject the 'broken' wording as that applies to game effects that make the game unplayable. That is clearly false.
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Luke Piefer "Luke Luke The Orange"

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I agree that "broken" is a poor choice of words. It does seem pretty imbalanced though. Luck becomes a huge factor when it comes to dominance cards. Taking initiative is just a guessing game because you don't know which dominance cards will come out at any given time, and if great cards come out too early in the game what are you supposed to do? It's true that there's a "bash-the-leader" equalizer, but what it there's 2 leaders because of lucky dominance draws and element draws?

There's not much of an opportunity cost if you're the insects and an extra pawn card comes out in the first round. I don't really like it when someone legitimately points out an imbalanced or lucky aspect of a game and people respond by saying "well, you should have done ________" or "you can just ________ and it's no problem". There's often no satisfactory way to fill in the blanks. It's just luck. I'm not a big fan of huge shifts in luck in games that take this long and require this much planning. Why spend that time and effort on something that can easily just blow up in your face through no failure on your part or strategic wizardry on the part of an opponent? Fortunately the luck in this game usually evens out, but the uber-powerful cards are an issue.

ETA: I should mention that I recently played a 2-player game with all 6 animals, and luck became such a huge factor that it was unbearable. Two of may animals were destroyed on multiple occasions because their starting adaptions appeared 2 or 3 times in Adaptation and Abundance, making it impossible to prevent them from going to Regression, Wasteland, and Depletion without wasting tons of moves. It was pure luck, and we decided that the 2-player variant is susceptible to that and needs tinkering.
 
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Don Quichotte
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I don't think these cards are broken either. There is some luck involved, true, but:
1. I agree that removing these cards would unbalance the game a bit in favor of the animals higher in the food chain. Also, shortening the game might induce other, more subtle imbalances;
2. the "bash the leader" mechanism tends to keep things in check indeed;
3. ironically, considering LL Orange's post, I think one of the best ways to reduce the luck factor and to make the game more strategical is playing 2 or 3 player games with all 6 animals. However, in such circumstances we pick as balanced combinations of animals as possible, both spatially (in the starting position) and food chain -wise (Insects, Arachnids and Mammals against Amphibians, Birds and Reptiles in 2 player games)
 
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