Norbert Chan
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Calgary
Alberta
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Wow, so this is what you get for 100 pieces of gold.
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I had bought this back in January, and after a week here and a week here of playing with the new cards with different people just to get used to the cards, I wanted to play the Alien Orb game. We had played three games and Don said he wanted to play a few more times to get used to the cards.

Our learning games were interesting enough. Craig had the Sentient Robots, which give a card during production, but Craig forgot to take the cards during production, so when Don got the Sentient Robots, Don referred to them as “Barely Sentient Robots”. In another game , Greg had the Frontier Capital which gives a card after you develop, he put down an interstellar bank (draw a card during development phase), then he got a public works (draw a card after development), and later got a galactic federation which meant every time he developed he got 3 cards, and that’s what he did till the Uplift phoned home with the Uplift Alliance to cruise to a 6 VP win. Another game, I was consuming two cards on the tourist world for 6 VP, then I found an alien fuel refinery (2 cost Alien card which you can’t trade the good from the world) and along with the Alien Researchers (6 cost development that consumes an alien good for 2 VP) I was able to consume for 10 VP a turn, which I did twice and won easily. So we were just scratching the surface.

I’m from the school of let’s take the training wheels off, let’s start exploring this Orb, and who cares if you get probed by Aliens. I wanted to at least play once and see how it worked. There were five of us and despite’s Don’s reluctance, we decided to press ahead. I also hate having a new game for 4 months and not playing it, so onwards we went to the Orb.

Craig was Old Earth, so he was the highest in orb priority, and around the table, it was Greg (Uplift Researchers), Gary (New Sparta) , myself (playing Epsilon Eirdani) and Don (Frontier Capital).

The first turn, the first three players played a Orb Explore card, while Don and I did develop and settle respectively. So Don and I were moving our survey teams last, which meant there weren’t going to be too many easy tokens for us to pick up. I got my military up to 2, thinking if I could get it higher, I could go through the beam barriers and make my survey teams more mobile.

Since the other 3 were playing an Orb game (exploring all the time), Don and I didn’t really compete for Orb priority, so we had the less tokens. But with everyone exploring all the time, that meant the game was going to run out when the orb card pile ran out.

Gary and Craig were getting the most chits, since they chose the Orb explore action the most. One time I got my military up to 3, and was able to slide through a beam barrier of 3 to get a chit. That was probably the highlight of my game. I eventually got my military up to 6 with the drop ships, but the game was closing down before I could track down other tokens behind beam barriers. But Craig had use one of the chits to allow him to go through one beam barrier to get a token , then passing the next time to get out of there.

Gary got up to 4 or 5 chits, using a couple chits to give his survey team +4 movement to land on other chits and towards the end of the game, he and Greg got 6 movement for the survey team when they played the 1 cost alien survey techonology. Since Craig was first most of the game in Orb priority, he ended up with 5 or 6 chits as well. On the other hand, Don had to spend 3 turns to track down his own token. So it looked like Don was completely out of the game, wasting 3 turns to track down a chit. I would have guessed Gary or Craig, based on their token count, would win. The game ended with the Orb deck running out.

When we counted the token points, Don said he had 24 pts from his 3 tokens. We were expecting maybe 5 or 6 pts from 3 tokens, so we all looked over at Don’s tokens. He had two of them which give 1 VP per uplink feeding station. There were 11 of them on the map, so that was 22 pts right there. So Don won big.

Scores:
Don 47 (11 dev/worlds, 2 consumption, 24 tokens, 10 from ‘6’ cost developments),
Craig 29 (8 dev/worlds, 2 consumption, 13 tokens, 6 from ‘6’ development),
Greg 29 (9 from dev/worlds, 1 consumption, 7 tokens 12 from galactic federation and uplift alliance (an astute reader would note that these were the same 2 cards he won with earlier),
Norbert 20 (15 from dev/worlds, 5 tokens),
Gary 18 (8 dev/worlds, 10 tokens).


The final Orb. Don is blue - you can see that he needed 3 turns to pick up the final token only moving 4 squares a turn. Don's tableau is at the top of the picture. Gary is yellow and his tableau is to the bottom left. Greg is red, and his tableau is to the bottom right. Craig is red, and some of his tableau is to the right of the photo. I am orange, and my tableau is to the left of the photo.

I was guilty of laying down at least 3 of the uplift feeding stations on the Orb, so next time, of course, I’ll look to cover up those spots if I don’t have any of those tokens. (When we checked after the game, there were 8 of those tokens).

So did we enjoy the Orb game? Well, we all really enjoy the normal RFTG. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Orb. This can be partially explained by the fact that I’m not fond of games where you have a tile, then try to fit the tile into a certain sport to try and optimize geography or token location. If you are playing with people who like to take their time, it is very time consuming watching people fiddle the cards then check whether it is legal or not. The tokens seemed to be vey luck based as well – some could be worth 11 VPs like our game (granted we didn’t play any defence and cover up the feeding stations) or they could be worth 1 VP. Finally, it added a lot of time to the game. There was a lot of downtime with people trying to adjust their cards, and in that time we could have played 4-5 normal games of RFTG.

So I think we will stick to the normal Alien Artifact expansion, but it was interesting to at least try the Orb game. I'm still intrigued enough to try the Orb game again, but with less players, possible 3 or so players so there isn't as much downtime.
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David B
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Yeah I am pretty much of the same mindset. I really like the AA cards, probably more than Gathering Storm (never liked Improved Logistics). But oh that Orb. I played it once. Once.
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Tibs
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Amherst
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Hehehe another astute viewer will note the illegal placement of the card that overlaps a starting tile ;D

At a first pass, the rules might seem to say that you can't cover up the entrance points, but it specifically means ALL beige starting tiles (known as "airlock tiles") are always illegal to cover.
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ErikPeter Walker
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Rochester
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Holy cow. I haven't seen the orb after a 5-player game before. It looks insanely huge. You guys barely ever overlapped anything either (except a couple airlock spaces, which is illegal, but probably didn't matter).

Really bad luck considering the guy with the fewest tokens had the most token VP. The orb is definitely swingy. I think everyone's first orb game goes like that: Tons of explores happen, and people take forever placing cards but don't know how to play them strategically, so someone gets a million breeding tube points.

The orb game goes faster once people are used to it, but still remains a lot less predictable than non-orb games. If two out of three go orb, the third person is screwed, unless they push it too, and then the game is over almost immediately with a winning score of 16.

The best thing about AA is the awesome cardset and I'll leave it at that.
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Andrew
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The Orb with 5p is ambitious at best! wow
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mfl134
United States
Havertown
Pennsylvania
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perhaps I misread the rules, but it appears that you missed a rule in your play.

Rules wrote:
Squares with an artifact token, survey teams, or airlock card squares cannot be covered.


I felt the rules indicated that you can not build over anything on the airlock cards. (not just the airlock spaces)

Is this correct?

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Norbert Chan
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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mfl134 wrote:
perhaps I misread the rules, but it appears that you missed a rule in your play.

Rules wrote:
Squares with an artifact token, survey teams, or airlock card squares cannot be covered.


I felt the rules indicated that you can not build over anything on the airlock cards. (not just the airlock spaces)

Is this correct?



Yes, we did miss the rule about the airlocks. Any part of the airlock cards cannot be covered.
 
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Tibs
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We did the same thing too with the airlocks on our first play. That's why they're colored differently. Oh well.
 
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Voxen wrote:
Holy cow. I haven't seen the orb after a 5-player game before. It looks insanely huge. You guys barely ever overlapped anything either (except a couple airlock spaces, which is illegal, but probably didn't matter).

Really bad luck considering the guy with the fewest tokens had the most token VP. The orb is definitely swingy. I think everyone's first orb game goes like that: Tons of explores happen, and people take forever placing cards but don't know how to play them strategically, so someone gets a million breeding tube points.

The orb game goes faster once people are used to it, but still remains a lot less predictable than non-orb games. If two out of three go orb, the third person is screwed, unless they push it too, and then the game is over almost immediately with a winning score of 16.

The best thing about AA is the awesome cardset and I'll leave it at that.
first 5p game, didn't notice that the breeding tubes score points, so someone got mucho points for relatively little effort.
 
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Tibs
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ackmondual wrote:
first 5p game, didn't notice that the breeding tubes score points, so someone got mucho points for relatively little effort.


This is my biggest problem with Orb. Most of the points and abilities you gain through artifacts are fair and worth the effort, but breeding tube points can rocket out of hand pretty quickly, even in 2-player games sometimes. The points are proportional to the number of Orb cards played, so are proportional to player count.

I feel like breeding points should have been tested more or should score differently.
 
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John
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kungfro wrote:
The points are proportional to the number of Orb cards played, so are proportional to player count.

Surely this is only true is people don't cover up the breeding tubes & it makes sense for players without those tokens to cover the tubes? I'm guessing with higher player counts people might hope other players cover up the breeding tubes (I've only player a single 5-player game which was very silly as we had an explore orb every round)
 
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Tibs
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Often it's quite difficult to both cover a feeding tube and to put the card in an advantageous position for yourself. Most cards offer an artifact so you could just be putting down a card with quick artifact access to another player.
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John
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True, though you can hide the ones near your team(s) and in a 2-player game use cards without artefacts or with inaccessible artefacts to cover the tubes near your the opponent's team(s). I need to play the orb more!
 
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zabdiel wrote:
True, though you can hide the ones near your team(s) and in a 2-player game use cards without artefacts or with inaccessible artefacts to cover the tubes near your the opponent's team(s). I need to play the orb more!
Well, after my first game with it, the others were NOT fans of it, so unless Keldon's AI gets updated with that, I doubt I'll ever play this again
 
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