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Mission: Red Planet» Forums » General

Subject: Do we really need discovery cards? rss

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Paul Allwood
United Kingdom
Whitley Bay
Tyne and Wear
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I've played MRP twice now and both times I've had bad playing experiences!

I really want to like this game and I certainly think that there is a great game trying to get out. Whilst I'm not a fan of Citadels, I do like the idea of the various characters with their different powers and how they determine how the astronauts get shipped to the various areas on Mars.

On my first game I had one of the +8 bonus cards for getting astronauts into certain regions of Mars and I liked the fact that this gave me something to target my ambitions on. Whilst the character powers provide some negative actions to hit your opponents with, at least you are all aware of this and everyone has equal opportunity to mitigate against these. I was therefore progressing nicely, enjoying the game and managing to meet my bonus objective conditions of getting at least one astronaut into all the required regions. Right at the final scoring however, a Discovery card was revealed, which basically said "the leader in this region loses all their astronauts", so not only did I lose any regional bonus for having the most astronauts in the region, but I also failed to achieve my bonus objective! You can imagine my reaction. What was the point in playing and stratigically achieving my objectives, if at a stroke such a high penalty could be applied, which completely changed the outcome of the game by such a degree? I realise that you can use the Scientist to view Discovery cards, but if there are three of these out, would anyone serious recycle their cards so many times in order to see them? When I explained this to later opponents, I had no problem convincing them to remove that particular discovery card.

That brings me to my second experience. This time at the intial set-up I only received one bonus card (the +2 ice crystals - the other two were Discovery cards), so I had no choice, but to take it. This immediately gave me a problem, because having played before, I knew that this would be insufficient to ensure a win (I'll be happy to be proved wrong, but this seems to be the case from the games that I've seen or witnessed) so I tried early on to play the Scientist to get another bonus objective and to give me something better to concentrate my game play on. I played the Scientist once, recycled my cards immediately and played it again, only to get two Discovery cards! I had therefore got nowhere and felt I was the too far behind to catch up, which proved to be the case and I ended up with about half the victory points of the other players! Another bad experience.

I've now come to the conclusion that the game would play far better without any Discovery cards at all! I may try playing without them next time, at least that would take out much of the chaos from the game and turn it into a good strategic game. Maybe Bruno wanted the additional chaos that the Discovery cards deliver and some players may enjoy this, but I certainly don't see them as adding fun; they certainly didn't for me.


 
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Robert R
United States
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Which ones were the discovery cards you got? Whether "evil" cards to screw your opponents, or "sweet" cards to boost your own colonists, they are almost as good as bonus cards (almost). I think they add an extra layer of strategy to the game, that makes it an even better game.

Discovery cards affect the game in too many ways to simply remove them IMO. Play good cards on your regions to boost your score (like bonus cards), but of course your opponents may decide to go after you. When playing evil cards on a well established enemy colony, you force your opponent to "waste" a round using the scientist to see if it would be necessary to evacuate the area (with the explorer...therefore another rd wasted). Heck, if you want to be more devious, you could play an evil card on a region you control, attracting the attention of your enemies who'll jump in (why would you play an evil card on yourself?!), and at the last minute evacuate the area.

If your problem is that luck can screw you at the beginning of the game by drawing more discovery than bonus cards, add another card to the initial draw (ie make it four instead), or increase the mulligan (if you don't draw at least 2 bonus cards to choose from, discard and draw 3 again).

just my 2 cents. by the way fellow reader...go get this game. it is good.
 
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Frank Burbach
United States
Atlanta
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Paul,

Bruno Faidutti posted a variant on his website that makes the game much more strategic and less chaotic. I believe it removes the Discovery cards altogether. I suggest you give that a try before giving up on the game.

Frank
 
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bruno faidutti
France
PARIS
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Actually, even when it's on my site, the variant with no discovery cards is from the other Bruno, and I've never played it. I really like the added bluffing and risk taking due to discovery cards, and think they add to the game, even when they make it less controllable. But, of course, if you like more control, you can adapt the game to your tastes. I've also posted an intermediate version, allowing to look at a discovery card at the end of the 8th turn, but I still prefer the original rule.
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Matt Smith
United States
Troy
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Pallwood,

Regarding your first game -- The Radioactive Rock Discovery card can be avoided as long as you don't have a majority in that zone at the end of the game. So, if you're concerned about an unknown Discovery card on one of your "Bonus" zones, use the Scientist to check it. If it's Radioactive Rock, just use the Explorer on turn 10 to vacate the zone. That way you'll have (hopefully) scored some points in that zone in turns 5 and 8, but your Bonus Points card won't be negated in turn 10.

Regarding the Blocks of Ice Bonus points card -- I agree it doesn't seem as good as the others. However, here is how I think it's balanced:
- It's an automatic bonus -- you don't have to work for it and it's not at risk. As such, you're free to pursue whatever zones and points you want.
- Make sure you gather just enough ice tokens to be one behind the ice leader. Then, your Block of Ice card will cause you to have the most ice tokens, granting you the +9 bonus. In this scenario, Blocks of Ice is worth +11 points to you, and an unexpected -9 points to the player who thought he had the ice token bonus coming. Of course, your opponent could have Blocks of Ice too, but that's unlikely.

Just my thoughts on how you could mitigate Radioactive Rock, and make the most out of Blocks of Ice.
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Jim Marshall
United Kingdom
York
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I agree with the previous post - I've won the game by playing blocks of ice in that way. The 9 point ice bonus is the largest in the game, and is often overlooked as players strive for their own bonus card objectives.

The one card I don't like is the 'Ultra Secret Mission' bonus card which gives you 5 points for each Mars area occupied solely by your astronauts at game end. With 5 players, there is too much competitiion to allow a single player to monopolise a Mars area. There are generally too many other players trying to score with bonus cards for having a presence in a number of areas.

I've only played the game with 5 people (there's generally been a queue to play this one when I get it out - this may change when the novelty wears off!) I expect the card will become more useful with a smaller number of players, but I've yet to see anyone score any points with it.

I like the Discovery cards. If someone plays one on an area in which you have a strong interest and that player doesn't have any astronauts in the area, do something about it! You often can.

I also like the bluffing options offered by the discovery cards. I've scored good game end points by playing a 'Pretty Rock' discovery card (i.e. no effect) on an area in which I had no presence. Everyone else scuttled out thinking the card was nasty, then on turns 9 and 10 I put in enough guys to take the 3 resource tokens at game end.
 
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Matt Smith
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Jim,

In my first game (4 players) I took Ultra Secret Mission (USM) as my initial Bonus card, because I liked the perceived flexibility of it. By turn 8 there were still two zones that hadn't been explored. I thought I was in position to get +10 points from USM, but one of the zones got explored on turn 9. I had to work to keep the last zone empty until turn 10, but I got it. Even so, I only got +5 points from the card, and came in third place. In hindsight, I should have chosen one of the other +8 Bonus cards.

I think this card will only be really useful in a 3-player game.
 
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Erwin Anciano
Philippines
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This game is great pallwood! I feel you are just taking it too seriously.

It's possible the game just isn't for you. Not all gamers can withstand a cruel game like Red Planet or Citadels where your careful, elaborate plans can be screwed by an evil play.

If you didn't like Citadels, and it was because you could get screwed over so bad by other people's plays, then there's little chance Red Planet will appeal to you, and based on your feedback that might just be the case.


But if you like the idea of different character powers but want it a little more forgiving, you can give Dread Curse and Grimoire a try. I'd recommend Libertalia but that game can get really nasty, too.
 
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