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Subject: Fire&Ice fires TM rss

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Juma Al-JouJou
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Full review: http://karma-games.com/terra-mystica-fire-ice/

In October 2014, the expansion Fire & Ice for Terra Mystica was released. Terra Mystica is probably the gamers’ game of the last years, no surprise it is on second rank on Boardgamegeek. Fire & Ice adds even more replayability to a game with tremendous replay value and fixes a few imbalances.

What changed? A lot!

1. New factions

There are 6 more factions, 2 ice, 2 fire and 2 variable factions. The ice factions are the most similar to the “old” factions. The biggest difference may be that they even have to transform their home terrain into ice and once they transformed into ice, no other player can spade this terrain. The Ice Maidens are basically similar to the engineers because they get extra points for each temple (rather than bridge) after building the stronghold (I think they are a bit stronger/easier to play than the engineers). The Yetis can get the power actions for 1 power cheaper and as soon as they get the stronghold they can access even power actions that were already taken by any player.

The fire factions are very different than the old ones. They have to transform any terrain into volcano and other players can’t transform volcano anymore. Acolytes have to sacrifice cult points to spade and the dragonlords sacrifice power tokens to spade.

The variable ones seem to be the strongest new factions. The shapeshifters seem very strong (if not even overpowered according to some stats from online play), they can use power to switch to another homeland once they build the stronghold, making expansion relatively easy. The riverwalkers can free one other terrain type for every priest income they get but they can only build by the rivers. Both factions have to spade very little.

Overall, the new factions are fun and add some variability to the base game. They also add more competition on the world map because they can screw other players quite a lot. Especially the fire factions don’t care about terrain type so they focus on harming other players. Again, the factions don’t really seem that balanced but this is less of a problem because the designers understood that balancing such asymmetric factions is almost impossible, at least with a reasonable development time. Thus they introduced an auction to solve this problem.

2. New worldmap

There is a completely new map and a varied version of the old one. The new map is fun, especially after having played the old one it is cool to have to think from the very start of the game where to expand to. Also it seems more balanced than the old map. I feel that the new map favors a bit the green factions but to a lesser degree than the black and brown factions were better off on the old map. So the new variation of the old map made the black factions a bit less strong.

3. New endgame scoring

There are 4 new endgame scoring tiles. One is randomly drawn and rewards the players that span the greatest distance on the word map, or the one with most outposts on the edge of the board, or the one with the biggest amount of distinct settlements, or the one with the biggest distance between their stronghold and sanctuary with 18, 12 and 6 points.

I love these scorings because they make the geographical strategy more important. They also have a really huge impact on which faction is best. Rather than simply picking the race that usually works well one really has to consider the setup of round bonuses and end game scoring.

4. Turn order and auction variants

Two variants were added as well. The turn order is not simply clock-wise after the starting player but in the exact order of passing in the previous round. This makes a lot of sense as it adds more strategy to when to pass even after the first player passed already.

Even more important in my opinion is the auction for the factions that was introduced. I already recommended such an auction in my Terra Mystica review, did the designers read it?
http://karma-games.com/terra-mystica-2/

One draws randomly as many factions as players. Then, there is an auction using victory points and the one bidding most can pick first. The last player doesn’t pay any victory points and gets the remaining faction. I think this is very elegant and provides some fairness despite the imbalanced factions. Of course it only really works for experienced players as they can assess how strong the factions are. Players who like to play weaker factions such as the fakirs finally have a fair chance to win!

Conclusion

I think, the expansion Fire&Ice is pretty much the best of all possible Terra Mystica worlds, freely citing the old German philosopher Leibniz. I personally still prefer to play this game online multiplayer or against an AI (even if it is rather weak) rather than offline. The reason is that face-to-face the game just lasts quite long and players hardly interact verbally anyway so playing online eliminates downtime and the fiddly handling of resources and victory points.
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Rafael Ramus
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Good review, but...

Innovatormentor wrote:
I personally still prefer to play this game online multiplayer or against an AI (even if it is rather weak) rather than offline. The reason is that face-to-face the game just lasts quite long and players hardly interact verbally anyway so playing online eliminates downtime and the fiddly handling of resources and victory points.


We are on opposite sides on this one!

I can't stand the online thing, even if I do play it that way from time to time. Maybe that's a group thing, but we love to talk about what is going on, the effect of what X did last turn. Then suddenly someone blocks someone else! I guess we are loud players.

About the downtime, we play really fast, like 2 hours each game, which means a lot more mistakes are made then the online thing. Differences in score also are higher. Best of all, to save time, we don't change much from one setup to the other, so we play several games in a row. Suddenly you start grasping stuff about that particular scenario.

The online stuff is plagued with overanalysis (imho), people taking forever to play when it is their time. It is like playing chess by email (I can't even compare it with online chess, as people in online chess usually do several moves an hour).

The only time I get to play the online game somewhat "fast" is when I play with people I already know (usually my fiancee and brothers. Unfortunately they are mostly just above beginners level). Even so, the games are never as fast as our face-to-face ones (I guess online they make a good use of the planning tool - which is wonderful as it may help them to perhaps see what is the best possible move. In real life, I would call that "analysis paralisis" - in not so flattering words). On the other hand, the lack of communication between players in most online games do compensate (on a negative way) for the planning tool in the learning process, I think. On face to face games the discussions of what is behind move X or Y are good ways to learn the game too.

All that, and there is just that thing with the touching of the wood and with the table full of components that is so easy on the eye that, I don't know... the online stuff is never going to substitute that for me.
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Rhett Morgan
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I'm an equal opportunity player. As much as I can and any way I can. Due to the availability of play online I've logged close to 5 times as many games online as live. Your skill at TM will come across in all mediums.
 
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Juma Al-JouJou
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In the multiplayer version you can set how much time players have for each move. Some set it at 1 hour only. So they have to move within that time or they drop out.
 
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Rhett Morgan
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Innovatormentor wrote:
In the multiplayer version you can set how much time players have for each move. Some set it at 1 hour only. So they have to move within that time or they drop out.


Unless things have changed in the last 5 minutes, there is no way to set a time limit shorter than 12 hours on Snellman. Your statement is false.
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Juma Al-JouJou
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True but in the description the players who invite for a session can ask players to be able to move much more often than once or twice a day. I have seen descpritions that did actually demand that players can move every hour during the day. So if you want to play rather fast games online, you can do it. Sure it will take longer than a game face to face but you can make your move in between doing other things. You don't have any downtime.

But if it is not for you, no problem.
 
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Rhett Morgan
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Innovatormentor wrote:
True but in the description the players who invite for a session can ask players to be able to move much more often than once or twice a day. I have seen descpritions that did actually demand that players can move every hour during the day. So if you want to play rather fast games online, you can do it. Sure it will take longer than a game face to face but you can make your move in between doing other things. You don't have any downtime.

But if it is not for you, no problem.


There is no way to force this. You can ask it but it is not a setting you can set. More often than not your request will not be listened to. Playing online is great but fast it is not.
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Juma Al-JouJou
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I didn't mean fast by the time span from the first to the last move but rather the whole time that I spend with a single game because there is no downtime ...

And if I play just against the AI I can finish a game within 15 min:
http://lodev.org/tmai/

 
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Grant
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Innovatormentor wrote:
I didn't mean fast by the time span from the first to the last move but rather the whole time that I spend with a single game because there is no downtime ...

You are really contradicting yourself here you know.
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Juma Al-JouJou
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What is contradictory about it? I define downtime as time that I have to wait and during which I can't do anything else and I'm bored. This can happen with AP players in a live game. When I play online I only think about my move when I get a notification that it is my turn --> no downtime
Between my moves I do other things like working so I can use the meantime without being bored. If you stare at the screen until it is your turn again, ok then you have more downtime if you play online
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Chris Shaffer
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Rafael Ramus wrote:
The online stuff is plagued with overanalysis (imho), people taking forever to play when it is their time.


This implies that the only reason an online game would go slower than a live game is because the players are overanalyzing their turn. For many of us, that's not the reason. I play online games in the spare moments of my life, in the morning when I'm having coffee, on my lunch break at work, and so forth. For me, the joy of the online game is that I can play on my own time and nobody is actually waiting for me to make my move. I play by web on lots of sites.

If you want patience, try the online games of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri or Advanced Civilization. I've played in games of those that have lasted over two years.

Innovatormentor wrote:
I define downtime as time that I have to wait and during which I can't do anything else and I'm bored. This can happen with AP players in a live game. When I play online I only think about my move when I get a notification that it is my turn --> no downtime
Between my moves I do other things like working so I can use the meantime without being bored. If you stare at the screen until it is your turn again, ok then you have more downtime if you play online


Agree entirely. For me, online gaming has zero down time. Live play of Terra Mystica is mostly boring because there is so much down time in the groups with which I play.
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