N Burghardt
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We like the following variations. You should be able to take or leave any as you choose.

More combat and less cold war
1. Swap Deep Space Cannons with Assault Cannons on the tech tree. This prevents too many PDS grids and gives Dreads the added punch they need due to their high cost.

2. I recommend a more aggressive objective deck. Here's how we build ours, starting with the top card:
--Stage 1
--Secret
--Stage 1
--Stage 2
--Stage 1
--Stage 2
--Last 4 cards are Stage 2 (include the Imperium Rex card)
Each player gets a Secret objective card per usual rules

Only one objective is scoreable per round Public or Secret.

This objective deck rewards aggressive play since most of the Secret and Stage 2 objectives require some force to be able to qualify.

More powerful winners
To win while scoring an objective, we require that it be 2pt, 3pts or a "Win the game" objective, they must be at (or above) the required point total and they must have more VPs than every other player. We got tired of seeing the guy who used to be powerful, but now has been put in his place winning on a weak Stage 1 objective. A player can still score a 1 VP even if it doesn't win the game as it will help if Imperium Rex is revealed and will raise the point total needed by his opponents.

We also use the official Homeworlds variant, but that would be required.

Fewer Fighters
We remove the Imperial SC. While I think the game is playable with it, I think it is even better without it. The timer effect remains by revealing the top objective card at the start of the first strategy phase and then revealing another one after the claim objective step in each status phase.

Secondly, this helps with fighter swarms that can dominate the game. Since the secondary ability is eliminated too you shouldn't see those "free" fighters showing up on the a second build.

***Things to consider with no ISC is to lower the VPs required as the designers expected 2-4 free VPs per player per game from the ISC. With our objective rules above the points are harder to earn, so we play 4 VPs are needed to win (keep in mind, with our rules, late single VPs can raise the VP target for other players). Even with only 4 VPs I would estimate Imperium Rex concludes 60% of our games.


These are the main variants we use and we find the game to be fully intact and HIGHLY addictive. Also, I do give myself credit for the aggressive objective deck, but the other ideas have just been borrowed and we really like how they affect play.

Enjoy!

Other good variants:
-Distant Suns placed face up
-Modified Trade for 3-4 player games due to increase combat in our games
-If Initiative SC is not chosen, give the Speaker token to Diplomacy, etc.
-Remove two Direct Hit action cards
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Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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I'm not sure I understand.

So suppose I have 3 points, and I qualify for a 1-point objective. Does that mean I can't qualify? Or does it mean I now have 4 points, but still haven't won?

Now let's say I have 4 points (but haven't won), and someone else has 3 points. If they qualify for a 2-point objective, do they win, because they would have jumped past me to 5 points? Or do they first need to get a 1-point objective (or more), then in a later round get a 2-point (or more) objective?

So is the idea that to win you must already be in the lead (or tied), then take a difficult objective, and afterward have at least 4 points (or a "win the game" objective)?


I think I like it. It might solve a lot of the problems I have with the game. My one remaining concern is scalability, because I don't think the maps are balanced for the number of players. Particularly, the four-player map is overabundant in planets (as many systems as 6-player). How many players do you play it with?
 
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N Burghardt
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Greg,

I think you've followed it correctly. You can score the 1 point putting you at 4 vp, but can't yet claim overall victory as that can only be done by scoring a more difficult one (i.e. 2 pt, 3 pt or "win the game" objective). Then if an opponent is at 3, he/she could score a 2 pt objective and win.

Let's say the opponent was at only 2 total points, your 1 pt that moved you to 4 is valuable (even if it didn't provide you an outright win) since it now means that the opponent wouldn't win by scoring 2 points since they also need to be leading all other players in total points. Plus that extra point will help should Imperium Rex be revealed.

We use this variant to prevent a player who is currently weak from winning. So if that doesn't bother you, you won't necessarily benefit from this variant.

It can adjust the strategy of timing your objectives. We frequently say, "This time I'm going to score two single points first, then go for a two point objective", but often we claim the two pointer when it is available, because we fear we may not qualify in a future round.

We have found scaling to be different, but not necessarily due to the map. In a 3 person game, you have fewer opponents to put the leader in check, so those games tend to end more quickly and not result in Imperium Rex. In a 5 or 6 person game, it becomes much more difficult to fend off opponents keeping you from those bigger objectives and often result in Imperium Rex.

I think this tends to fix the issue of too much space on a map. In a 4 player out-of-the-box game, turtling is common due to the fact you can score so many 1 point objectives without getting in another player's space. Now consider the red and blue objectives (Mecatol Rex, your neighbor's planets with particular tech, 10 planets, 20 resources or influence, etc.), it will take some force to reach these objectives. Since there are more of them in our version of the objectives deck, it gives the players several options on trying to close out the game on a high note, but it is still tricky to pull it off.

Another thing it affects is trade, since combat is a little more frequent we treat trade a little differently in a 3-4 player game.

We most often play with 3, 4 or 5 players. Like I said, 3 can go quickly (which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing) and 5 can be very tough to pull off. We should probably consider raising a 3 or 4 player game to 5 points, but right now we are loving the game with these variants and play at least once per week.
 
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N Burghardt
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Greg,

Just to be clear, a "win the game" objective will always win the game regardless of points. A 2 or 3 pointer to win needs to result with you having at least 4 points and be leading the other players after you've added it to your score. Good questions.

We play to 4 vps only due to us not using the ISC, so our only points are coming from objectives.

Thanks,
Neal

sorry for the double post; I just wanted to be clear
 
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Germany
Cologne
NRW
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We play with the Special Objective (fan-)variant, 1 VP ISC and 2x6 Dreads. Our games see a reasonable amount of battles right from the start. Especially in the late game the players are trying to win the Special Objecitves from the leading player (these objecitves must be hold to get the VP) so there are some really epic space battles between high tech fleets.

For maps with less then 6 players we remove some tiles to make the space more cramped. In our 5 player variant we add some kind of folded space tile (we just turn a tile with the backside up). This is a tile which allows instant movement to all other adjacent tiles. These allows an almost totally balance 5 player map without needing to add some bonus trade goods for three of the players.

Further we build the map first, w.o. knowing which races are played by whom and where the home systems are located. Later we pick races in reversed order of the placing of home tiles. So, the one who was forced to choose his starting location last is allowed to pick a race first.

This leads to a mostly balanced galaxy where nobody is nerfed right from the start due to a bad location.

But the variant provided here sounds equally good, perhaps we will give it a try in one of our future games.

I think there should have been some objectives which could only claimed by winning a battle. Perhaps like gaining a VP by destroying a Dreadnought or a certain amount of capital ships (space docks, ground troops etc.)

Right out of the box TI3 (while still a good game) encouraged turtling and defensive play too much, but gladly the game is flexible enough to allow an easy fixing of these problems.


 
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Christopher Halbower
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What are "2x6 dreads"?
 
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Colin Hunter
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These seem like excellent changes can't wait to play them
 
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Re: Want more combat, more powerful winners and less fighter
halbower wrote:
What are "2x6 dreads"?


Oh, sorry, our Dreadnoughts roll 2 dice and hit on a 6 instead the usual 1x on a 5. But we didn't change the other features, so Dreads still bombard normally and with the Assault Cannon tech they still have only 1 shot before combat.

This made the Dreads at least an option to consider and we thought it was somehow consequent to give Dreads 2 shots if the Warsuns have 3.

The L-Mindnet has the greatest Advantage from this change (Dreads hit now 2x on a 5, by costing only 4), but it wasn't that of an issue in our games.

Compared to a fully equipped Warsun our Dreads are still merely a joke, but since in our games no one ever won who built a Warsun (don't know why...). Dreadnoughts are often very important in deciding our Space Battles.

Large Fighter Fleets are not often seen in our galaxy. Somehow the Logistics are not that easy to support large Fighter Fleet and mostly the one who tries to build them falls behind in the VP Race. Unless with Graviton Negator, Fighters don't help in conquering Planets. So fully equipped carriers are seen, but not that often. No Problems with fighters as written in our games.
 
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N Burghardt
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Fighters don't normally require Fleet Supply counters, which is part of the reason they are so good. Additionally, using the secondary on the ISC allows players to perform a second build and stockpile fighters on a brand new carrier regardless of production limits. Mix that with XRD Transporter and Cybernetics technologies and you have a real killing machine for only 6 resources. If you are playing with the ISC as it reads, you are missing out by not making swarms of fighters, in my opinion.
 
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nburghardt wrote:
Fighters don't normally require Fleet Supply counters, which is part of the reason they are so good. Additionally, using the secondary on the ISC allows players to perform a second build and stockpile fighters on a brand new carrier regardless of production limits. Mix that with XRD Transporter and Cybernetics technologies and you have a real killing machine for only 6 resources. If you are playing with the ISC as it reads, you are missing out by not making swarms of fighters, in my opinion.


With "logisitics" i didn't mean that you need Fleet Supply for your fighters. But it is still not easy to be able to invade a well defended Planet with all your carriers maxed out with fighters.

Yes it happens from time to time that someone produces a large fighter fleet, but more often than not, he falls behind in the VP Race, since not everything is about space superiority. When everyone looks for VP it seems (at least in the games i played with my buddies) that the one who pumps up his fleets is lacking something.

The most impact had a Warsun/Fighter/Carrier Combo (enough Gf, bombard + fighters), but still the one who built this fleet wasn't the one who won the game.

I don't want to start another discussion if it is reasonable or not to nerf fighters, but in our games the large fighter fleets weren't that helpful in winning the game, and so they are not built very often.
 
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N Burghardt
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Yes, I was thinking you meant fleet supply. Sorry for the misunderstanding. You are correct that carriers can be a little tricky to stock and keep filled. I still think they are the best regarding what you get for the money, but as you said they're a little more painful to manage.

The most powerful fleet does tend to win our games, but that is related to my posting above where we put more emphasis on Stage 2 and Secret Objectives, so victory requires some extra force. I agree, in more standard rules, a player building a large fleet but not meeting his Stage 1 objectives is not playing to win.
 
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Mike Lee
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Would another way to counter the tendency to mass fighters be to simply improve the function of destroyers?

Either let the destroyers fire an anti-fighter barrage every round instead of the first one only, OR allow one destroyer per fleet to not count towards the fleet limit.
 
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Scott Lewis
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Thornton
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MikeyMike79 wrote:
Would another way to counter the tendency to mass fighters be to simply improve the function of destroyers?

Either let the destroyers fire an anti-fighter barrage every round instead of the first one only, OR allow one destroyer per fleet to not count towards the fleet limit.

Destroyers are already a very good deal for the resources. Give them more power and Cruisers and Dreadnoughts will see even LESS production than they do now.

I think with the Shattered Empire expansion, the "fighter problem" is much more rectified, as there are many things that would give pause to fighter spamming than before.
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darune
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This might just be the variant I have been looking for..

I have also tried to change objective deck, but your variant is far better than what i came up with (also with the other changes)

Some questions remain however:

What is the "modified trade" variant ?

With less than six players, do you build the galaxy differently or as per standard rules ?
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Christopher Halbower
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I don't see how there is "more combat" with this variant...
People can still score VP without going to war. And if they do go to war under this system, they are losing units in battle and making themselves weak.

We've implemented a combat objective system that ensures there is more combat. And it's quite simple.

"For ever 4 space battles you win, you score 1 VP."

This ensures that pretty much everyone is going to engage in at least 4 space battles. And some players who are more military oriented are going to start even more. This variant gives a reward for going to war. The system described in the original post does not provide any reward for going to war.


 
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darune
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So, you've thoroughly tested the original posted variant and can present some actual examples ?

It is easy to sit back and speculate on effects, but more often than not that direct experience is better.
 
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