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Subject: Star Realms: Hydra multiplayer rss

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Chris Farrell
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Played the "Hydra" version of multiplayer the other day: this is the one where you are are part of a two player team with a combined Authority pool, and on your turn your team gets to combine forces in various ways, deciding who gets which cards you acquire.

It seemed really terrible (our particular instance was certainly terrible). The problem is that because you can combine your coins, everyone can fairly trivially get up to 8 coins as soon as they can draw 5 cards, so all the most powerful cards are easy to acquire right from the get-go. So it just boiled down to who got the best flips from the deck before their turn to acquire something.

This ability for team members to combine coins seemed to me to be obviously wrong, and I'd guess the game would be much better if each player had to purchase individually, but could give cards they purchased to their fellow team-member.

Anyway, I wonder if anyone has experience with this variant, and similar impressions.
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Dave
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I agree with your assessment. I've only played Hydra once and will likely not do so again.
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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I agree that combining coins allows easier access to the high cost cards. However, I found the game to be very enjoyable.

There is a lot of strategy and team work involved. I you didn't combine coins, there would not be as much team work.

When playing, you have to decide
1) Which cards to buy
2) Which person should buy the cards

Sometimes we will stack one deck to be really powerful, and leave the other deck less powerful. I don't think there is one best strategy. One strategy that we would also use is to give the card we're buying to the person who is about to shuffle their deck. If one player has no draw pile, and the other player has like 20 cards in their draw pile, you should give the card to the player who has a chance to draw the card sooner.

Ultimately I think the game is best balanced and intended to be a 2-p head to head game. But I think other variants, including the Hydra, are still worthwhile, interesting, and fun. At the very least, I would argue that the variant is not "broken".

I've taught the game to many people using the Hydra version, and people enjoyed it. My game groups like co-op games, so I think that helped them appreciate the Hydra variant. If I have 4 players, personally I would strongly prefer to play Hydra than to play any other variant, like free-for-all, hunter, or Raid.

Lastly, this is my opinion. You're entitled to your own.
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Dave
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Oh no Matt! Now we're on record as disagreeing!

Hydra really just fell flat for my group. I much prefer the Free-For-All and Hunter modes, as they feel more like the "regular" two player game.
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Chris Farrell
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I agree the deck-building choices of who gets what are kind of interesting and not trivial. But since you can now get (for example) a giant blob engine going essentially immediately without having to add any income generation, it just becomes crazy-random. The first player to get access to a giant card (base or ship) has a huge advantage as they can just use it to clobber the other team, and if the other team doesn't get some defense or a counter-punch (which is basically entirely dependent on getting good flips of the deck at the right time), they're screwed. Now, Star Realms is fairly random to being with, but this just seemed crazy. All the good ships are bought immediately and you're just praying for good replacements.

Plus, you're entirely throwing away the whole building-up-your-economy part of the game. Nobody needs to do this anymore because you get access to all the best stuff without adding any economy to your deck. So all those cards become worthless, etc.

It really just seemed totally terrible. I had tried the Hunters version of multiplayer and it's not great either, just because of the player elimination, but it seemed a lot better than this.

 
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Dániel Lányi
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With four players we simply play as a normal four player game, except those who sit on opposite sides have common authority, and their outposts will defend both of them. What's interesting then, is because after one of the teammates has their turn, you then get a turn of the opposing team, so the "which cards to buy" and "who buys them" decisions are also mixed with will my opponent take it and/or can my opponent take it. This limits teamwork somewhat, but it never felt like a bad way to play the game, so i recommend those who don't like the official hydra to try this one out.

Might be even more fun with a split trade row (i read this somewhere, you split the trade row, and beetween any two players you have three cards but only those two players can access those cards, so all players have access to a total of six cards) but i am yet to try that.
 
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