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Subject: Perpetual cog gaining machine - the Race Phase that never ended! rss

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Kim Williams
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I just played a game with my son and daughter, which we had to draw a halt to as my son's machine was stuck in the Race Phase, repeating a loop that gained him on average around 2 cogs per loop and maintained his damage levels. After he'd acquired 38 cogs we gave up as we were all too frustrated!

The cards necessary for the loop are:

Combustion Chamber (CC), Blast Pipe (BP), Galvanic Brakes (GB), Thermocouple (TC).

It's a double loop requiring 6 activations.

Here's how it works:

Start with a red and yellow die, and some spare cogs.

1)Place any red die (number doesn't matter) on the Thermocouple (TC). Gain 1 cog, 1 yellow die.

2)Place any yellow (but choose your lowest) on Combustion Chamber (CC). Gain 2 blue dice, 1 cog.

3)Place any blue die on Blast Pipe (BP). Lose 1 life. Discard blue die from BP, red from TC, yellow from Galvanic Brakes (GB)

4)Place a yellow 6 on Galvanic Brakes (choose highest yellow you have and use cogs to boost it to a 6) Gain 2 health and 2 red dice.

5)Place any red on TC. Gain 1 cog and 1 yellow

6)Place any blue on BP. Lose 1 life. Pick up yellow from CC, blue from BP, red from TC.

Repeat until you run out of cogs from the supply.


Out of the whole loop, there is only 1 dice that has a specific value needed to make the loop work - which is the yellow 6 for the Galvanic Brakes. Per loop you roll 2 yellow dice. If one comes up as a 6 the net gain of cogs is 3 per loop. If the highest to come up is a 5 you'll need to spend 1 cog, meaning your net gain is 2 cogs. If the highest yellow is a 4, you'll need to spend 2 cogs meaning you still gain 1 cog per loop. If the highest yellow you roll is 3 or less then you do lose cogs per loop - so you need a bit of a safety net to start off with. If our odds crunching is correct you've got a 3 in 4 chance of gaining 1 or more cogs per turn.

Even if you do have the odd loop cycle where you actually lose cogs, over a number of loops the average is that you will gain cogs.

Hugh's feeling pretty happy to have found this - his sister less so!

Obviously gaining all the cogs isn't enough to win the game - but gaining them all in 1 race phase would then set him up exceedingly nicely for the rest if the race (all his dice could then be modified to perfect numbers, and venting would never be an issue).

So what should we do to stop future games getting stuck in this loop?

(And if we've somehow made some mistake in how anything works please do point it out to us, so we can get back to playing)

Edited to add numbers to the stages, and to specify a starting set up (dice and cogs)
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Mathieu Martin
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Re: Perpetual cog gaining machone - the Race Phase that never ended!
I might have run into something similar myself involving the blast pipe, generator, steam valve, and another piece that escapes my memory at the moment. I figured it was just a fluke though - so I'll be curious to hear about this one too.
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Mike Waleke
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Re: Perpetual cog gaining machone - the Race Phase that never ended!
I thought you were only able to use each card once per round?
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Kim Williams
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Re: Perpetual cog gaining machone - the Race Phase that never ended!
Interesting that the common card between our situations is Blast Pipe, as that's the card that we were thinking was really causing the problem (particularly the fact that, as per the rule book, you can choose to use it to remove the die that you used to activate it).

My husband thought he'd come up with a machine in a previous game that would have been capable of infinite movement if he could just have removed some dice mid race phase. Now he's wondering whether if he'd had Blast Pipe he could have had infinite movement - which would be an even bigger problem.
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Jeff T
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Re: Perpetual cog gaining machone - the Race Phase that never ended!
madmanw wrote:
I thought you were only able to use each card once per round?

You can continue to use a card so long as it has empty spaces for dice. You are not required to fill all the slots in a single pass, and if you are able to vent dice via another card, then the newly opened die slot becomes available for play again.
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Kim Williams
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Re: Perpetual cog gaining machone - the Race Phase that never ended!
madmanw wrote:
I thought you were only able to use each card once per round?

Nope, on page 5 it says "A machine part may be activated multiple times during a single race phase".
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Chris Laudermilk
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The only mistake I see is one I made in my last play (and just found out on another thread here today) is the spending cogs to adjust dice. You spend a cog to get +1 pip, or re-roll. Not spend cogs until you get to 6 (the rules just state you cannot spend to go beyond 6--so no cog to get to a 7-pip die).

That is a nice infinite loop you guys found though.
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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I was wondering if someone would come up with a perpetual motion machine.
Didn't take long!
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Kim Williams
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claudermilk wrote:
The only mistake I see is one I made in my last play (and just found out on another thread here today) is the spending cogs to adjust dice. You spend a cog to get +1 pip, or re-roll. Not spend cogs until you get to 6 (the rules just state you cannot spend to go beyond 6--so no cog to get to a 7-pip die).

That is a nice infinite loop you guys found though.

So are you saying you can only once spend a cog to increase a die's pips?

The rule book states "At any time during the race phase you may modify dice in your dice pool by spending cogs - discard a cog to increase the value of a dice by 1 pip"

I take that to mean you can spend two cogs, each to twice raise a dice by 1 pip, thus increasing it by two, or 3 cogs to raise it by 3 etc. We weren't playing that 1 cog would increase any die to 6 - we were just using enough cogs as necessary (but as you were rolling 2 dice, and only one needed to be maxed out that wasn't too expensive..

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abdon97 abdon97
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the limiting factor in this loop should be your yellow dice, you need two Yellows to activate both the CC and Brakes but you only generate 1 with the Thermocouple.

how many Yellows did you start with?

Say i start with ONLY one Yellow die:

1. Galvanic Brakes: (Resources: 2 Red, 2 Shield, 0 Cogs)
2. Thermocouple: (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 2 Shield, 1 Cog)
3. Combustion Chamber: (Resources: 1 Red, 2 Blue, 2 Shield, 2 Cog)
4. Blast Pipe: vents Blast Pipe, Galvanic Brakes, Thermocouple (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Shield, 2 Cog)

at this point the engine needs more Yellow power to continue the loop. or perhaps i'm missing something? i'll play with it some more...
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Kim Williams
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abdon97 wrote:
the limiting factor in this loop should be your yellow dice, you need two Yellows to activate both the CC and Brakes but you only generate 1 with the Thermocouple.

how many Yellows did you start with?

Say i start with ONLY one Yellow die:

1. Galvanic Brakes: (Resources: 2 Red, 2 Shield, 0 Cogs)
2. Thermocouple: (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 2 Shield, 1 Cog)
3. Combustion Chamber: (Resources: 1 Red, 2 Blue, 2 Shield, 2 Cog)
4. Blast Pipe: vents Blast Pipe, Galvanic Brakes, Thermocouple (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Shield, 2 Cog)

at this point the engine needs more Yellow power to continue the loop. or perhaps i'm missing something? i'll play with it some more...

That's why you need a yellow 6 per loop - that enables you to activate Galvanic Brakes twice gaining two red dice and two health, and the two red enable you to activate the thermocouple twice (over the whole loop) which gains you two yellow and two cogs. So per loop you receive 2 red, 2 yellow and place two red, and two yellow.

You do need to start with some dice (You need a red and a yellow for the loop to work, or you could start with 2 yellow and a blue)

Edit: From your above 4 steps in your trial, you only did half the loop - you didn't do the second thermocouple using the spare red from the Galvanic brakes, and then a second blast pipe- you need to do all the 6 steps in my opening. I'll number my steps in top post to make it more clear.
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Chris L
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claudermilk wrote:
The only mistake I see is one I made in my last play (and just found out on another thread here today) is the spending cogs to adjust dice. You spend a cog to get +1 pip, or re-roll. Not spend cogs until you get to 6 (the rules just state you cannot spend to go beyond 6--so no cog to get to a 7-pip die).

That is a nice infinite loop you guys found though.

I haven't seen any restriction in the rules that says you can't modify a die more than once. Nor have I seen a post here that says so either.
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abdon97 abdon97
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entwife wrote:
That's why you need a yellow 6 per loop - that enables you to activate Galvanic Brakes twice gaining two red dice and two health twice, and the two red enable you to activate the thermocouple twice (over the whole loop) which gains you two yellow and two cogs. So per loop you recieve 2 red, 2 yellow and place two red, and two yellow.

yup, i see it now. so, assuming you start with only a Yellow 6 you need to roll 3+ or better each cycle to maintain it as you are generating 3 cogs each loop to pip up to a 6 on the lower roles.

and of course if you have a couple high yellows as feed with some cogs in hand it could go on for awhile. still though, it shouldn't be perpetual. the dice gods should eventually catch up with you with some 1s and 2s and make those cogs dwindle a bit...but perhaps if it doesn't happen in the first few cycles you just reach a critical mass that cannot be stopped?
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Jean-Luc Simard
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abdon97 wrote:
the limiting factor in this loop should be your yellow dice, you need two Yellows to activate both the CC and Brakes but you only generate 1 with the Thermocouple.

how many Yellows did you start with?

Say i start with ONLY one Yellow die:

1. Galvanic Brakes: (Resources: 2 Red, 2 Shield, 0 Cogs)
2. Thermocouple: (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 2 Shield, 1 Cog)
3. Combustion Chamber: (Resources: 1 Red, 2 Blue, 2 Shield, 2 Cog)
4. Blast Pipe: vents Blast Pipe, Galvanic Brakes, Thermocouple (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Shield, 2 Cog)

at this point the engine needs more Yellow power to continue the loop. or perhaps i'm missing something? i'll play with it some more...

From what I see of the original description, you do need one yellow to start the loop, but after that it is generating two yellows per loop:

Starting Resources: 1 Red, 1 Yellow

1. Thermocouple: (Resources: 2 Yellow, 1 Cog)
2. Combustion Chamber: (Resources: 1 Yellow, 2 Blue, 2 Cogs)
3. Blast Pipe: vents BP, CC, TC (Resources: 1 Yellow, 1 Blue, 2 Cogs, -1 Life)
4. Galvanic Brakes: (Resources: 2 Red, 1 Blue, 2 Cogs*, +1 Life)
5. Thermocouple: (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Yellow, 3 Cogs*, +1 Life)
6. Blast Pipe: vents BP, CC, TC (Resources: 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 3 Cogs*)

At the end of the loop, we have the same resources as at the start, plus a potential 3 Cogs.

The * is to account for the fact that you might gave to pay Cogs to get your Galvanic Brakes yellow dice up to 6, and the value indicated here is a best case scenario. Previous posts already discussed the impact of rolling lower numbers.
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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Blast Pipe is the key card for all the killer combos and potential loops. One player nicknamed it the Black Lotus device.

Got the kickstarter game on Monday August 31st and took it out to the local game group. It's the same 40-60+ person game group that has a room section of designers regularly testing games including Orin Bishop and Paul Saxberg. I've never actually played Steampunk Rally before (during the playtesting) thus I pestered Orin with a few newbie questions. During one of the (4 player) games where, through the primary use of a Blast Pipe/Catalytic Reactor combo, one player managed a final move of 32 spaces. After watching, Orin commented he hadn't seen such a huge move during playtesting and asked Paul if he thought (again) if Blast Pipe is overpowered. I gathered the issue had come up in playtesting but decided 'not broken'. Blast Pipe is maybe not broken powerful but be aware of its potential when drafting. For me the jury is still out.

Being new to the game I'm still feeling out all the combo potentials. Right now, besides Blast Pipe, I'm concerned about problems with Boost card timing issues and potentially endless activation loops (again via Blast Pipe). The timing issues are the same that crop up with many simultaneous move games (ie. Race for the Galaxy ) that are ultimately solved with some sort of fixed sequential timing override. There is one in the Steampunk Rally game with the play direction marker but it doesn't solve all the (player standoff) problems. I might try (after more play experience) a vent phase rule of 1. play (only) boost cards in play direction until all pass, 2. do all vent until all pass, finally 3. play boost (only) until all pass.

Regardless of the above (easily solvable) issues I really like Steampunk Rally. I'm sure it going to get a lot of play.
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Chris Laudermilk
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igelkott255 wrote:
claudermilk wrote:
The only mistake I see is one I made in my last play (and just found out on another thread here today) is the spending cogs to adjust dice. You spend a cog to get +1 pip, or re-roll. Not spend cogs until you get to 6 (the rules just state you cannot spend to go beyond 6--so no cog to get to a 7-pip die).

That is a nice infinite loop you guys found though.

I haven't seen any restriction in the rules that says you can't modify a die more than once. Nor have I seen a post here that says so either.

That seems to be where this thread is going: Pay Cog to manipulate die. Perhaps I read more into that discussion that there is?
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Gavan Brown
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I'm sorry Kim, this is impossible as it violates the first law of thermodynamics.

Our lab spent a massive amount of time trying to eliminate the possibility of a perpetual motion machine.

However, due to the sheer number of permutations of machine parts there are, it was impossible for us to test them all.

Congrats on potentially defeating physics.

I look forward to members of this scientific community putting your theory to the test. If it turns out to be true, we may reward you.

Keep rollin' sixes,

Gavan
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James Gough
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entwife wrote:
Interesting that the common card between our situations is Blast Pipe, as that's the card that we were thinking was really causing the problem (particularly the fact that, as per the rule book, you can choose to use it to remove the die that you used to activate it).

Do you remember where in the rulebook that is mentioned. I must have skipped over it. We played that Blast Pipe couldn't affect itself because that seemed too strong.
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Kim Williams
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flapjackmachine wrote:
Blast Pipe is the key card for all the killer combos and potential loops.

...I gathered the issue had come up in playtesting but decided 'not broken'. Blast Pipe is maybe not broken powerful but be aware of its potential when drafting. For me the jury is still out.



I think for us that combination is broken.

My daughter and I were sat there as my son repeated the cycle time after time - by the time he was at 38 cogs there was no way that a bad run of luck would have wiped them all out. Whilst he was still gaining cogs (mainly he gained 1 or 2 per run through) there was no reason for him to stop, so we reached an impasse. Should we just give him all the cogs, to save us sitting there for hours (which would have made the game very challenging for Erin and I)?

In the end we just packed up the game. I'm not sure what we should do next time. Should we just ban anyone from playing all four cards? As there are doubles of all of them, trying to stop someone gaining access would be more tricky - they're all lovely cards so it might seem hard to ban someone gaining the fourth if they happen to have the first 3.

I remember when Caverna and Glass Road had kind of similar loop problems - I can't remember whether the solution was to remove one of the tiles, or to modify one of them, but I do remember that Uwe was keen to avoid just banning particular combinations.
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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jag2468 wrote:
entwife wrote:
Interesting that the common card between our situations is Blast Pipe, as that's the card that we were thinking was really causing the problem (particularly the fact that, as per the rule book, you can choose to use it to remove the die that you used to activate it).

Do you remember where in the rulebook that is mentioned. I must have skipped over it. We played that Blast Pipe couldn't affect itself because that seemed too strong.

Page 8 under Race Effects List - Discard A Die: 'This die may be discarded from a Machine Part that generated this effect.'
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Kim Williams
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jag2468 wrote:
entwife wrote:
Interesting that the common card between our situations is Blast Pipe, as that's the card that we were thinking was really causing the problem (particularly the fact that, as per the rule book, you can choose to use it to remove the die that you used to activate it).

Do you remember where in the rulebook that is mentioned. I must have skipped over it. We played that Blast Pipe couldn't affect itself because that seemed too strong.

Yes, I had to check it ( when my son wanted to do this) as it seemed too strong.

Page 8
Race effects list.

"Discard a die ...You may remove a die of the specified colour from any die slot on your invention and put it back in the supply. The die may be discarded from a machine part that generated this effect. This machine part may now be activated using these dice slots."
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Gavan Brown
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Kim,

If this does turn out to be broken (we would consider something that allows a player to choose to gain cogs infinitely to be broken), we will errata the "remove a die" Race Effect, disallowing the removal of the die from itself. In this case, the Blast pipe would not be able to remove a die from itself.


Temporary Errata (Not official yet): Players can have a maximum of 15 cogs.
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Kim Williams
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RoosterJuice wrote:
Kim,

If this does turn out to be broken (we would consider something that allows a player to choose to gain cogs infinitely to be broken), we will errata the "remove a die" Race Effect, disallowing the removal of the die from the card that gave the effect. In this case, the Blast pipe would not be able to remove a die from itself.

Thanks for looking into this.

We did ponder that solution, but then realised that there are two Blast Pipes. Even if you did adjust Blast Pipe in that manner if someone had two of them they could take it in turns to remove each other's dice.
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Robert Taylor-Smith
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I believe the solution is to replace the star on Blast Pipe with a die number. I'd suggest 4. Would potentially fix the loop issues through the intervention of the Dice God and powering down the Pipe combos.
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Gavan Brown
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flapjackmachine wrote:
I believe the solution is to replace the star on Blast Pipe with a die number. I'd suggest 4. Would potentially fix the loop issues through the intervention of the Dice God and powering down the Pipe combos.

Robert,

We would never look at all other options before providing an errata way that required a component change.
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