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Subject: Turns, Scouts rss

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Steven Grady
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(Warning -- the following is influenced by my current frustration with the rules. I'm sure that there'll be a real FAQ, an update to the online version, etc, in the future, and I'll be very happy playing the game.)

The game seems fun, but man, are the rules a pain. There are numerous typos and grammatical errors, the information is scattershot, there is ambiguous terminology and phrasing, idiosyncratic and inconsistent capitalization, instructions are missing.. Sadly, this extends to the Mr B. Games web site, where there is apparently no FAQ (they include a copy of the rulebook, but not the set-up/FAQ/incorrect-image sheet that also comes in the box). And it took me a second to realize that "AU Rules" on the site was "Alien Uprising", not "Australian"..

(And why are the Zothrens called "bugs" when they look like lizards?)

But so far I'm particularly stymied by 2 things:

1) What is a "Turn"? The rules uses "Turn" for both the complete set of 4 phases, and the action corresponding to the use of a single die. So, e.g., when a card says "Discard to ignore all Aliens drawn this turn by any Crewmen", what does that mean? Is that for when a crewman picks up debris and finds an alien ambush? Or when the First Player rolls the dice?

2) What do Scouts do when they show up? On p. 5 it says:
Quote:
The Scout will advance from Zone 3 to Zone 2 immediately when placed on the board unless a Crewman or Shield is in Zone 3, in which case it will Attack the Crewman first, or the Shield if no Crewman is in the Zone.
. On p. 12 it says:
Quote:
Scouts are placed in Zone 3 and will immediately Attack the Shields. If no Shields are present, advance to Zone 2, if a Crewman is present (and Attack), otherwise advance directly to Zone 1 (and Attack).
The online version has different text in both of the above places, and there's no indication which is newer.

So if there's no shields or crewmen present, does the scout end up in zone 1 or zone 2? If there are crewmen present, does the scout do anything differently from a normal attack? Can I interpret the rule as
Quote:
When scouts appear, they will immediately move forward until they hit an obstacle (crewman or shield), which they attack as normal. However, they will move no further than zone 2 [1?] during this initial move.
?

I tried a run-through of the game, but gave up due to the number of mistakes I made. Tomorrow I play for real with a friend, and I'm crossing my fingers that I don't run into more rules confusion...

 
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Richard Launius
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The Scout is essentially the fastest alien and moves 2 spaces when activated. The best description in the rules is on the Alien Order of Battle on Page 5.

Essentially the Scout is placed and advanced or attacks if a Crew Member or Shield is present. Each time activated the Scout would move 2 zones or move attack, or attack twice. That is the simplest explanation.

Good luck on your game today and hopefully you will not have too many questions while playing.

Rules are always the most difficult aspect of game design for me as everything appears clear and examples are added but sometimes they confuse. Companies always enhance and define the rules more but it seems like no matter how much detail is put into them there are still areas of confusion. I always work to make them better and will work to create FAQs and answer questions, but to date it seems there ate always some areas of confusion when the game comes out even after large number of playtests and revisions. For that I apologize and hope we can quickly clear up any confusion that does occur.

Richard
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Richard Launius
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Discard to ignore all Aliens drawn this turn by any Crewmen.

You are correct that the word Turn is used for both a player spending an action and for the entire round. The use of this card applies to both individually since it is one crewman it applies to.

1) If a crewman discovers a Alien in the debris, you discard this card to not craw the ambushing alien.

2) When drawing the Alien Troops card, this could be used to not place any of the aliens drawn in the Aliens Troops card (which is the best use of this card).

Since each is a single event within the turn, the use of the word turn should not present any problems for the players.

Thanks for playing and I hope this answer clears this up.

Richard
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Richard Launius
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A note on FAQ. I will be creating one in the next couple of weeks, using the questions posed by the new players. I like to wait a couple of weeks to collect the majority of questions and in the meantime answer as much online as possible.

One thing that most players do not consider is that even though this game (most games in fact) have undergone hundreds of playtests and revisions, once published and in the hands of 1,000 to 2,000 players, when each play a game that is immediately 1,000 to 2,000 games played with varying interpretations of the rules. The individual perspective of all the players create a lot of questions for issues that seemed clear to me, but not clear to everyone - therefore the FAQ will address their specific questions.

So, I hope to compile and post the FAQ over the next 2 to 3 weeks. In the meantime I will check for questions daily.

Thanks,

Richard
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sean brown

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Looks like the online rules are an older version. I have updated them on the site, sorry about that! We obviously edited them during the campaign and forgot to update them. The final rulebook in the box is the most correct, and also now matches the one online.
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Steven Grady
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Thanks for the replies to my questions.

I do totally understand the issue about surprising questions coming after release. But it's pretty clearly that the rules were never professionally edited (with all the resulting consequences to readability) which means every new player will be fighting an uphill battle. I also understand that with a small company, you might not have the resources to have the rules professionally edited. In that case, the customers become the "playtesters" of the rules. So you might want to incorporate that element into your process, e.g. providing a simple wiki page where people can add and answer FAQs quickly.

(BTW, I noticed that there were offers from various people to proofread the rules before the release. Did you take them up on it? I imagine that it's hard to provide good feedback without the game in hand, but every little bit helps.)

Keep in mind that for new players, the rules are not only the first exposure to the game, but reading them is mandatory. So they'll have a disproportionate influence on early play experiences, reviews, etc.

Again, I'm expecting to have fun with the game once I know how to play it, so please take the above as an attempt to be constructive. And I should add that, my play-through was indeed pretty fun, except for the whole horrible overrun and slaughter aspect.

-Steven
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sean brown

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Thanks for the comments Steven. We did have several of the folks who offered to help look over the rules, as well as a paid editor and our playtesters.

Richard and I are both active on BGG answering questions and will be compiling an FAQ sometime next month once we have had a chance to let folks dig a little deeper. We did put an FAQ in the box that does answer some of the questions we are getting on BGG but not all of them are there. Almost everyone has been playing correctly by the rules and most of the questions we are seeing are clarifications or confirmations, but there have been some items that could have been worded differently for more clarity.

100% agree that rules are the first exposure, and we really did try very hard to make them as clear as possible. We will keep working on them and the FAQ's and sorry again if they were not as clear as they could have been.

I really appreciate your post, and do not take offense to anything you said, and hope you know my comments are not meant to be anything more than be a reply/reasoning of our process on the rules.

We love and appreciate constructive feedback and strive to learn/grow from them and make the game better! Thanks for your help!

Sean
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Steven Grady
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Quote:
The Scout is essentially the fastest alien and moves 2 spaces when activated. The best description in the rules is on the Alien Order of Battle on Page 5.

Ah, I didn't notice that p.5 has the aliens presented in Order of Battle. OK, that'll be useful.

Quote:
Essentially the Scout is placed and advanced or attacks if a Crew Member or Shield is present. Each time activated the Scout would move 2 zones or move attack, or attack twice.

Now that you've taken time to answer, I'm starting to feel bad about asking even more, but just to paraphrase, you're saying that Scouts do a "move/attack" when they show up, and two "move/attacks" when activated? I think that's different from either explanation in the rules, since there's no indication that they can do 2 attacks in a turn, but it's conceptually clean and clear (to me), so I'm happy with that version of things.
 
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sean brown

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No need to feel bad...

When you first place a scout (at setup) they move past the shields.

ANY other time in the game, they simply move/attack or attack/move depending on the situation. Sorry If I was not clear.
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Donn Hardy
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Move/attack, attack/move, or move/move, but not attack/attack?
 
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sean brown

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Move/Attack or Attack/Move. The special power of a scout just allows him to move 2 Zones when he moves is a clearer way of stating it.
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Thomas Robb
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Richard and Sean:

Did you every consider have an elementary school teacher play your game and have them write the rulebook?
Elementary teachers are used to breaking concepts down to smaller levels and helping people put tasks into an organized fashion.

It seems rulebooks are written by GOOD game players, but NOT VERY GOOD "teachers" of games.

I am a former elementary teacher (and now work in a high school). When we play Arkham Horror I have charts and posters on the wall to help players. For example, I have a large poster detailing what items can be traded when 2 Investigators are in the same location - players just refer to the chart. I have another poster listing the Phases so we can keep on track during the game.
Surprisingly, Twilight Imperium 3rd edition has a pretty darn good rulebook! Many pages, but an excellent breakdown of each phase and some very good pictorial examples of gameplay. So, it can be done. And TI3 is a beast of a game!



 
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Jeff Fike
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I have met Richard and played Elder Signs with him. My son, to this day still talks about how fun that was. We played an expansion that Richard was working on but was not yet published. I only mention this because he is a great guy and I know he wants to make this work and will indeed put time and energy into the FAQ to make it helpful for everybody. I've not met Mr. B but also had the privilege of chatting with him privately during kickstarter and equally feel that he is committed to making it work out.

In addition, they are responding to all rules questions in a very timely fashion. It is all I could ever ask for.

I share in the sentiment that the rules make me bounce around a bit.

For example, I was confused on when to put alien tokens back in the bag and I was looking in the section of combat (when you kill the alien) but it is in the section for gestation. I somehow perfectly implemented the event tokens but missed where it clearly states the alien tokens also go in the bag. I consider that to be an error on my part...sort of like going into the ethnic aisle at a grocery store expecting to find marinara sauce but they put it in the canned vegetable section next to the tomato sauce.

But there are other areas where it does feel disjointed and I am bouncing around. It took me quite a while to figure out what the numbers on the board meant, for example. It's "in there", but not in the aisles I'm expecting to find it.

The thing is, it really is a simple game. The rules aren't very complex at all. This isn't "Myth" the boardgame...and I would never state that the rules are as bad as when I first received that. I would rate the rules to be on equal footing with any FFG release. Neither fantastic or horrible. All the information is there, just not where I expect to find it.

Our group had fun. We lost the first game because we implemented rules incorrectly. We feel we would actually have won, otherwise. Speaking of rules, we also missed out on the fact that the rescue ship moves no matter what on an event token but only moves in other situations if you have the homing beacon repaired. Once again, it is Prego "It's in there!" but we missed it.

Sorry for all of the tomato sauce references...I'm going to go have spaghetti for lunch.

 
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Justin Davis
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Agreed for the most part. I didn't have many issues with the rulebook, and almost everything is in there, though maybe easily missed if you aren't careful. The only 2 things that got me were:

1) The lack of any reference to being able to use 2 one-handed weapons in a single attack (you can't use 2 weapons for ranged attack, but you CAN use 2 weapons for melee, as long as one is the light sword)

2) Auto-fire was not defined explicitly. Looking back on the wording, knowing now what it means, it makes sense, but at the time, we were confused.

As Jeff said, both Sean and Richard have been great a answering questions quickly, so I am quite happy with the game. I wish other designers / publishers were as active in the forums.
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Ray Gans
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Q1: Sean, I don't get "Attack/Move."
Quote:
Move/Attack or Attack/Move. The special power of a scout just allows him to move 2 Zones when he moves is a clearer way of stating it.

Assuming by "attack" you mean to engage with a shield or crewman, doesn't the Scout end its turn whenever it engages with a shield or crewman (without further movement) as per page 5?
Quote:
...the Scout advances up to 2 Zones each time it Attacks, stopping only if a target is available.


Q2: The text on page 12 under Placing Alien Tokens says:
Quote:
Scouts are placed in Zone 3 and will immediately Attack the Shields. If no Shields are present, advance to Zone 2, if a Crewman is present (and Attack), otherwise advance directly to Zone 1 (and Attack).

To me, this implies that when placing a new Scout (other than at setup) it appears to get an automatic "red arrow" activation. Thus, if unimpeded by shields or crewmen in zones 3 and 2, the Scout would move directly to Zone 1 and attack a crewman there if one is present.

--> Or is the text on page 12 incorrect and the Scout cannot move/attack further than Zone 2 on the turn it is placed (if no shield or crewman is present in Zone 3) -- which is how I would read page 5?
Quote:
The Scout will advance from Zone 3 to Zone 2 immediately when placed on the board unless a Crewman or Shield is in Zone 3...
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sean brown

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Hey Ray,

Sorry, stupid auto correct!

I meant Scouts move 2 spaces then attack, unless someone is in the first space they move into.

Sorry about that!
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Ray Gans
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Thanks Sean!

How about my Q2 above? Unlike other aliens (besides Tunnelers) who do not move or engage crewmen or shields when first placed on the board (right?), new Scouts can move and engage with crewmen and shields immediately when placed. My question is how far are they able to move when first placed if nothing blocks them? Do they get up to a two space move like they would if they were on an attacking sector or can they only move up one space to Zone 2 -- like they do in setup?

In other words, if no targets exist in Zones 3 or 2, does a newly placed Scout start on Zone 1 (and engage a crewman there if able)?
 
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Martin Gallo
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Other than scouts, the Zothrens move 1 son per turn.
 
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sean brown

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Hi Ray,

We tried to cover this in the rules (hence why there are two parts for them)so I will answer in two parts.

PART 1
If a Scout is drawn at setup, it "runs" to Zone 2 of the sector it is put in "before" the shields go up. (in setup guide as a special rule)

Part 2
If a scout is placed anytime after setup, they will do 1 of 3 things:

1: Attack the shield when placed instead of advance when placed in a zone where a shield is present.
2: Advance 1 zone when placed if there is no shield in their sector, and attack a crewman in Zone 2 of that sector, or if no crewman present...
3: Advance 2 zones (and attack if a crewman is in zone 1)

And if they do advance into a new Zone and no crewman exist, their turn is over.
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Ray Gans
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Thanks Sean, that's what I wanted clarified since the wording on page 12 appears to be in conflict with page 5 -- but as you point out, page 5 just doesn't explain things as fully as on page 12.

--> Except page 5 says that if a crewman is present in zone 3 when a new Scout is added to that sector, then the Scout will attack him/her first (before advancing or attacking the shields) and end its turn/movement there. Correct?

Sorry to be so nitpicky, as you mention above new players have different ways of interpreting the rules and I just want to be certain I have it right. Thanks again for your help. I really like the game!
 
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Donn Hardy
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Re: Part 2

I understand the Scout attacking the shield or a crewman if in Zone 3, but why would it move AND attack if there is not? None of the other aliens immediately attack. I can see place/move or place/attack, but place/move/attack is THREE actions instead of 2.
 
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sean brown

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The Scout basically is the "shock troop" so his "arrow" icon means when he is placed down he activates (runs) and attacks. If there is nowhere for him to run (because a crewman or shield is there) he just attacks.

Since he runs up to two spaces, it gets a little tricky, as he could run only 1 of those spaces, then attack, or the full 2 spaces and attack.

Typically the scouts will die on the shields (if you stay inside them and keep them up) as they only have 1 hit point.
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Ian Allen
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Sorry if this is redundant, I just find the whole thing confusing. Trying to phrase it in a way that makes sense to me.

Is the following accurate?

Scout Placement and Activation

During Set Up:

If a Scout is drawn during setup, place it in Zone 2 of whichever sector you choose to start it out in with no activation

Initial Placement Anytime After Set Up:

Place the Scout in Zone 3 and:
1. Attack a crewman & end activation. If no crewman there, go to step 2
2. Attack a shield & end activation. If no shield there, then advance to Zone 2 and:
3. Attack a crewman & end activation. If no crewman there, then advance to Zone 1 and:
4. Attack a crewman & end activation. If no crewman there, end activation.

Activation Anytime After Set Up and After Initial Placement:
Always try to advance twice, towards Zone 0, stopping only to attack crewmen or shields, in that order. After any attack, end activation.

Note: If any alien makes it to Zone 0 and has an attack action with no crewman present, the aliens immediately win.
 
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sean brown

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Ian,

That summary is excellent, and 100% correct.
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Donn Hardy
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Is it really correct? I thought Zone 2 was the furthest he could go in initial placement. If he can go all the way to Zone 1 AND attack, that's a bit ridiculous, considering everything else goes in Zone 3 and doesn't attack.
 
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