Ron
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Recent new owner of Space Alert here, haven't played yet but I have read the rules.

After two read-throughs, all the mechanics seem very clever (and entertaining!), except I can't help but worry a bit about how you don't know exactly which part of the ship was damaged until the Resolution Round (since you place a tile on the lift, the cannons, etc. at random).

Does that mean if your group expects a zone of the ship will take damage (if that's even easy to ascertain during the Action Round in the first place?) that everything you do in that zone from then on may randomly end up being hindered in the Resolution Phase? How do you deal with that? Just treat every component in that zone as if it will be the one damaged? Of course I haven't played it yet and am in no position to say this, but to me it seems like at least knowing the order of which components in a zone get damaged would allow a team to respond appropriately to ship damage during the Action Round instead of being completely in the dark.

Am I too stuck in a min/max mindset? It's my only slight initial qualm with what otherwise seems like would be an amazing game!
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GeekInsight
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Well, you should be angling not to receive any damage. And focusing on that is going to take almost all of your attention. In the real-time phase, there just isn't much time to worry about it - especially in your first few games.

In games were it's obvious that the ship has taken damage. We either play a little more cautiously and perhaps fire the laser an extra time just to be safe. Or, we recognize that cautious play will get us killed so we hope that the structural damage gets drawn or that a system we aren't relying on goes down.

Thematically, in the thick of the emergency, there just isn't time to get a full damage report. You've barely got time to wiggle the mouse!
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Dick Leban
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Yup. Your fears are well warranted. The crew does not know the damage. Eventually the crew learns to prevent the damage first, and then take extra pot shots later if there's fuel available.

My advice would be to blame the captain.
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Andrew MacLeod
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Yep: you sign up for a Sitting Duck class vessel, you takes your chances!

There's really no way to deal with it, other than to make sure the enemy causes you no damage! Space Alert is definitely not the game for people who have a strong dislike for chaos.
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Miguel Duran
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Yeah. Pretty brutal, huh? devil

That said, play it a few times and you'll see that not knowing is actually part of the fun and, as has been suggested before, you'll sometimes plan for the contingencies of damage when you know it's inevitable. And sometimes your communications will fail and you'll take a ton of damage from an enemy that you thought you'd killed but miscalculated on regardless of there not being any damaged component leading to that dysfunction. The uncertainty (and resulting hilarity) is part of the game.
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Jeff Wood
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Wait until you discover the ship was blown up in Phase 7, and none of you realized it.

Space Alert: the Sixth Sense of Board Games
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Alison Mandible
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When you play, you may find that the chaos caused by random damage tile draws is very similar to the chaos caused by your crew being humans.

Sometimes shots will be underpowered because the cannon was damaged; sometimes they'll be underpowered because your downstairs gunner didn't hit the light cannon on the turn you thought they did.

Sometimes you'll be delayed because the lift was damaged; sometimes you'll be delayed because you forgot the captain was already using the lift that turn.

Sometimes the shield is underfilled because it's damaged; sometimes it's underfilled because you counted wrong and there wasn't enough left in the reactor.

(Nah, just kidding about that last one, nobody uses shields.)

Part of getting better at the game is learning when to overkill enemies and when to count on your calculations being exactly right.
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Andrew MacLeod
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And when, exactly, are we playing Churchill again?
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grasa_total wrote:
When you play, you may find that the chaos caused by random damage tile draws is very similar to the chaos caused by your crew being humans.

Sometimes shots will be underpowered because the cannon was damaged; sometimes they'll be underpowered because your downstairs gunner didn't hit the light cannon on the turn you thought they did.

Sometimes you'll be delayed because the lift was damaged; sometimes you'll be delayed because you forgot the captain was already using the lift that turn.

Sometimes the shield is underfilled because it's damaged; sometimes it's underfilled because you counted wrong and there wasn't enough left in the reactor.

(Nah, just kidding about that last one, nobody uses shields.)

Part of getting better at the game is learning when to overkill enemies and when to count on your calculations being exactly right.


And, speaking from bitter experience, sometimes you'll find two of you firing the same gun at the same time, when you were both expecting the other person to be downstairs, actually fueling the empty gun!
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Grant Johnson
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TVDinner wrote:
My advice would be to blame the captain.


This is a wise plan. Unless you're the captain.
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Ron
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

After being reassured here and watching the Box of Delights Presents... playthrough, I can see how the random damage is part of the game (and the fun!).
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Jason Dreger
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I can see a case that once you start playing very hard level, like all red, preventing all damage might not be a reasonable expectation. And the margins of success/failure would be so close that you really don't want to leave it to luck if that damage you know is getting through will be the shield or a gun or the elevator, etc. So you include the damage stacks in the real-time play and can look at them to see the order in which you will take damage.


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Ron
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homedrone wrote:
I can see a case that once you start playing very hard level, like all red, preventing all damage might not be a reasonable expectation. And the margins of success/failure would be so close that you really don't want to leave it to luck if that damage you know is getting through will be the shield or a gun or the elevator, etc. So you include the damage stacks in the real-time play and can look at them to see the order in which you will take damage.


This is an elegant enough solution and is nice in that it doesn't remove the original spirit of the mechanic -- I'll probably use this (if I feel the need).
 
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Sean McCarthy
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I played a lot of all red games and the damage tiles were not really a concern. When things fell apart they were usually SERIOUSLY falling apart, like oops, we screwed up and the Overlord is still alive and now it's called in a threat too and I can't see any way we can possibly survive.
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Ron
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SevenSpirits wrote:
I played a lot of all red games...


And how about with more 'standard' games?
 
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Sean McCarthy
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I don't remember ever thinking it was a problem that the damage tiles were random and unknown.

In fact, if I could change the game I would probably add slightly more randomness in the resolution phase rather than taking away randomness. The weakest part of the game for me is the fact that sometimes you are all but certain that you've won or lost, but you still need to anticlimactically step through the resolution round to find out exactly what happened. More uncertainty in the resolution round would make the resolution round more interesting to pay attention to, because you would be less likely to know the outcome already.

As for the original question of how the unknown damage tokens affect gameplay, I think it's a very minor effect. Basically we always track how many damage tokens (we believe) a zone has taken, and that usually just means you need to be a little pessimistic and shoot extra times. If your ship was damaged in a zone, there is usually only at most one more threat that you actually have to worry about in that zone after that, so it usually doesn't get very complicated. You just try to be redundant.
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Alison Mandible
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Another point, I think, is that it seems like many of the white threats are set up to be destroyed with exactly one or two coordinated shots, like the Fighter having 4HP and 2 shields; hit it with both blue cannons, exactly 6 damage, kaboom. The harder threats are less perfectly aligned with the ship's capabilities, so it's less disruptive to have the ship's capabilities change.

Or maybe that's crazy talk. I feel like even when we aren't intentionally doing redundant fire, there are a lot fewer "that's just enough damage to destroy it" moments on higher difficulties.
 
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Benjamin Wack
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homedrone wrote:
So you include the damage stacks in the real-time play and can look at them to see the order in which you will take damage.


Ah, but even that will not work. All it will achieve is luring you into feeling of control that you don't really have.

For instance, you might think your first damage occurs on round 5 in the blue track because you know you didn't destroy a blue threat. But in fact, you made a mistake (of which you're not aware in the programming phase of course) and the first damage did occur on round 3 in the white zone.

Thus, you think you're safe knowing that, say, your blue cannon is nerfed down from round 5, but your plans are already screwed because your white elevator is broken.

Even worse scenario, the unforeseen damage may well be in the same section of the ship as the one you are aware of.
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Richard
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I think a good variant would be to allow the "Visual Confirmation" to also be a "Damage Report" and thus allows to determine what the next damage in a given section would be (have the damage tokens ready, reveal the next one in one of the stacks for each Visual Confirmation - these would then also be used in the Resolution Phase. Damage Tokens that have not been uncovered by "Visual Confirmation" will be drawn randomly).
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Alison Mandible
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alder99 wrote:
I think a good variant would be to allow the "Visual Confirmation" to also be a "Damage Report" and thus allows to determine what the next damage in a given section would be (have the damage tokens ready, reveal the next one in one of the stacks for each Visual Confirmation - these would then also be used in the Resolution Phase. Damage Tokens that have not been uncovered by "Visual Confirmation" will be drawn randomly).


You don't know whether you've actually performed visual confirmation until the resolution phase, so this would have no effect.
 
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Ron
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alder99 wrote:
I think a good variant would be to allow the "Visual Confirmation" to also be a "Damage Report" and thus allows to determine what the next damage in a given section would be (have the damage tokens ready, reveal the next one in one of the stacks for each Visual Confirmation - these would then also be used in the Resolution Phase. Damage Tokens that have not been uncovered by "Visual Confirmation" will be drawn randomly).


That sounds really cool!

edit: Oh, yeah, haha.
 
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