Robert Manning
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Sunnyvale
California
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Session Report: Leaving Earth

Solo Game at Very Hard Difficulty

Available Missions:

VP...Name..................Level....Description
1....Sounding Rocket.......Easy.....Working Probe/Capsule in Space
6....Lunar Lander..........Medium...Working Probe/Capsule on the Moon
6....Space Station.........Medium...Man in Space at Start of Round
10...Lunar Sample Return...Medium...Moon Sample on Earth
11...Venus Lander..........Medium...Working Probe/Capsule on Venus
14...Ceres Sample Return...Hard.....Ceres Sample on Earth
15...Lunar Station.........Hard.....Man on Moon at Start of Round
20...Mars Station..........Hard.....Man on Mars at Start of Round
24...Venus Sample Return...Hard.....Venus Sample on Earth


Total: 107 VP available; 54 VP to win (barring impossible missions)

The Lunar Missions are worth a combined 31 VP – but only if the Moon is landable; if these Moon missions are impossible there will be only 76 VP needing 39 VP to win.

The two Venus Missions are worth 35 VP together – if Venus is not landable then there will be only 72 VP available with 37 VP needed to win.

Manned Missions total 41 VP and none of them require the astronaut to have returned to Earth by 1976.

The first intermediary goal will be “Operation Rama” to survey Mars, Phobos, Ceres, and Venus by means of an Ion Thruster propelled Probe. This will determine which of the non-Lunar missions are possible.

1956 – Begin Soyuz & Juno Development

$10 for Soyuz Technology
$10 for Juno Technology
$3 for 3 Juno Rockets
$2 for one Probe


1957 – First Spacecraft!

Test Fire three Juno Rockets: all success, kept all
Note: Junos only cast $1 each, I am not going to spend $10 to clear a success.
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
Assemble Spacecraft: Soyuz and Probe.
Launch: Soyuz, minor failure, damaged, paid $5 to remove.
$10 for Ion Thruster Technology
$2 for 2 Juno Rockets

End of Year: Soyuz repaired


1958 – First Spacecraft that actually works!

Launch: Soyuz and Probe to Earth Orbit, success, paid $10 to remove. (Note: a single Soyuz can lift 1 mass, e.g., a Probe, directly to Earth Orbit)
SOUNDING ROCKET +1 VP
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Juno Rockets
Assemble Spacecraft: Soyuz and Juno.
Launch: Soyuz and Juno to Earth Orbit, Success. Soyuz Technology Proven.
$5 for a pilot, Scott Carpenter (to help test Rendezvous Technology, eventually)

Note: Now that Soyuz Technology has been proven I can go to the next step of Operation Rama – putting an Ion Thruster in Space!


1959 – Juno Testing

$10 for an Ion Thruster
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Juno Rockets
Test Fire five Juno Rockets: all success, kept all.
$5 for 5 Juno Rockets


1960 – Begin Reentry Development

$10 for Reentry Technology
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$6 for 3 Vostok Capsules
$1 for a Juno Rocket
Note: Although I am working toward Rendezvous, I both need a capsule and want to be sure the pilot can make it home safely therefore Reentry first.


1961 – Begin Operation Rama!

Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, 3 Vostock, Ion Thruster, and the pilot. (Note: a pair of stacked Soyuz can lift 7 mass into to Earth Orbit by staging through Sub-Orbital Flight)
Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit; manned mission reveals sub-orbital: space travel poses no inherent hazards.

$10 for Rendezvous Technology
Dock with orbiting Juno Rocket; success, kept.
Dock with orbiting Probe; success, kept.
Dock with orbiting Juno Rocket; success, kept.
Note: Again, Docking and Separating are essentially free to do repeatedly so I am only going to remove failures; there is a chance of damage only with a Major Failure due to the pilot, but that’s what the Juno is for!

Separate Ion Thruster and Probe to new spacecraft; success, kept
Commence Operation Rama by firing the Ion Thruster to Mars Orbit (mass 2, difficulty 5 = 10 thrust needed, three turn burn on a single ion thruster produces 15 thrust); success, kept, three time tokens.

Solar Radiation Revealed at Level 2.
Note: that just increased the challenge of the Mars Station, now I am going to need Medics and the Aldrin Capsule and a lot more thrust for that trip.

Separate one Vostock Rocket; Success, kept.
Vostok successfully reenters atmosphere and parachutes to a landing, removed for $10
Separate a second Vostock Rocket; Success, kept.
Vostok successfully reenters atmosphere and parachutes to a landing, kept.
Separate the last Vostock Rocket with the pilot from the Juno Rocket; Success, kept.
Vostok successfully reenters atmosphere and parachutes to a landing, kept.
Note: Yeah, that was risky with the unknown third card, but I couldn’t leave him in space.

$5 for a medic, Mike Collins

End of Year: Remove a time token from Operation Rama, two remain.


1962 – Prepare for Lunar Survey

$10 for an Ion Thruster
$2 for a Probe
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$5 for a second medic, Boris Yegorov

End of Year: Remove a time token from Operation Rama, one remains.


1963 – Begin Work toward Manned Missions and Dispatch Lunar Survey Craft

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$10 for Life Support Technology
$2 for 2 Supplies

Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, 2 Vostok, Ion Thruster, Probe, Juno Rocket.
Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit.

Separate the Juno Rocket (success, kept) and Dock it to the already orbiting Juno Rocket (success, kept).
Separate the Ion Thruster and the Probe; minor failure, Vostok Capsule damaged, $5 to remove. Try again; success, kept. Fire Ion Thruster and Probe to Lunar Orbit; success, kept as out of funds.
Separate the Vostok capsules; success, kept.

End of Year: Life Support on the undamaged capsule has a minor failure; kept as out of funds. Remove the last time token from Operation Rama. Remove a time token from the Lunar Orbit bound spacecraft, one remains.


1964 – Survey of Mars and Phobos: WE ARE NOT ALONE!

$10 for Survey Technology
Operation Rama Surveys Mars; Success, discarded, Survey Technology is proven. Mars revealed to have water, plant life, and supplies. Survey Phobos, revealed as Alien Technology. Rama fires thrusters toward Inner Planets Transfer; success, kept.

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Supplies
$5 reserved for Life support

Note: I now have 5 spacecraft operating, the white spacecraft markers indicate the extras.

End of Year: Life Support succeeds; kept as only $5 remains. Remove a time token from Operation Rama, one remains. Remove the last time token from the Lunar Orbit bound spacecraft.


1965 – Survey of the Moon

Historical Note: The TV Show “Lost in Space” premieres on CBS.

Lunar Survey: Reveal moon as a harsh mistress: barren and rocky, but landable. Fire Ion Thruster for return trip to Earth Orbit; minor failure, $5 to remove.

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, Vostok, 2 supplies, 3 Juno Rockets.
Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit.

Dock with already orbiting Juno Rockets; success, kept.
Separate Vostock; success, kept.

Vostok successfully reenters atmosphere and parachutes to a landing, removed for $10.

$2 for 2 Supplies
End of Year: Life Support succeeds; kept as no funds remain. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft.


1966 – Survey of Ceres

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket

Survey Ceres: Revealed as a barren rock. Operation Rama fires Ion Thruster toward Venus Orbit; success, kept.

$8 for another Soyuz Rocket
$4 for an Aldrin Capsule (in preparation for the trip to Mars, due to intense Solar Radiation)
$5 reserved for Life support

End of Year: Life Support succeeds; kept as only $5 remains. Remove a time token from Operation Rama, one remains.


1967 – Launch Space Station

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$5 for a mechanic, Ed White

Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, Aldrin, Vostok, 2 supplies, all four astronauts.
Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit
Dock (piloted by Scott Carpenter) with Juno Rockets, then with damaged Vostok; both succeed, kept.

Mechanic, Ed White uses a supply and repairs the damaged Vostok Capsule.
The newly repaired Vostok Capsule is separated (success, kept) then successfully reenters atmosphere and parachutes to a landing. Reentry Technology is now proven.
$2 for 2 Supplies.
Repeatedly Dock and Separate with Juno Rockets; all success.
$5 for a third medic, Gherman Titov.

$5 reserved for Life support

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as only $5 remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft.


1968 – Survey of Venus: Seriously, WE ARE NOT ALONE!

SPACE STATION MISSION +6 VP
Venus Survey reveals extensive wetland life and available supplies.
$10 for Landing Technology
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Supplies
$5 reserved for Life support

End of Year: Life Support succeeds twice, but has a minor failure (negated by mechanic); removed for $5 (FINALLY!).


1969 – Touchdown on an extraterrestrial body!

$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for a Probe
$4 for an Eagle Capsule
$10 for an Ion Thruster
$1 for a Supply

Operation Rama separates; success, kept. The Ion Thruster fires for a return to the Inner Planet Transfer (success, kept, one time token) while the Probe lands on Venus and collects samples. Note: This turns out to be a bad time to do this; I should have either done this last turn or better, waited a turn more.
VENUS LANDER MISSION +11 VP

Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, Eagle (with medic, Gherman Titov), Ion Thruster, Probe, 2 Juno Rockets, 2 Supply.
Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit.
Dock with space station then separate out the Ion Thruster and Probe (both success, kept).

Ion Thruster with Probe fires for Inner Planet Transfer; success, kept, two time tokens.

Separate the Juno Rocket and Dock it with the other Juno Rockets; both succeed, kept.

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all four times; kept as no funds remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft. Remove a time token from the spacecraft inbound from Earth Orbit, one remains.


1970 – Houston, about that Ceres mission...

With spacecraft arriving at Ceres a turn sooner than desired the choice is either to crash-test landing or forego the Ceres mission.
Separate a Vostock Capsule and drop it on Earth: Reentry Tech is already proven, so test landing: Major Failure, pay $5 to remove.
Separate a Juno Rocket from the pack and drop it on Earth: again, Reentry Tech is already proven, so test landing: Minor Failure, pay $5 to remove.
Separate another Juno Rocket from the pack and drop it on Earth: Minor Failure, pay $5 to remove.
Literally: Crash Test Landing; but the Landing Tech is now Proven.

Operation Rama fires toward Ceres; Success, kept. One time Token.
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Supplies

Note: I had been planning to use this turn’s funds to build up for the Mars Missions; but if that Ion Thruster doesn’t go to Ceres now the Ceres Sample won’t make it back to Earth by 1976

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft (arriving at Ceres). Remove the last time token from the spacecraft inbound from Earth Orbit (arriving at Inner Plant Transfer). Damaged Juno Rockets are repaired on Earth.


1971 – Houston, About that Mars Mission...

$10 Saturn Technology
$15 Saturn Rocket
Spacecraft at Inner Planet Transfer fires toward Ceres; Success, kept, two time tokens.

Note: It would have been best if the funds from last year and this year contributed to the Mars missions so that I could launch a Soyuz and an Ion Thruster to push the Aldrin to Mars Orbit; or if I had fixed that Ion Thruster in Lunar Orbit at some point; or scrapped the 16 VP Ceres mission in favor of the 20 VP Mars Station; but no: the only solution is a pair of Soyuz, and that requires Saturns.

Mars Mission analysis: Aldrin + Vostock + 4 supply = 9 Mass payload at 5 Difficulty requires 2 Soyuz or 1 Soyuz and an Ion Thruster (3 year burn – 19 Total Mass x 5 Difficulty = 95 Thrust, 80 from Soyuz, 15 from Ion Thruster). But no, I am stuck throwing a Hail Mary. Getting 2 Soyuz into Earth Orbit (Mass 18, difficulty 5) requires 3 Soyuz; getting 5 Soyuz into Sub-Orbital Flight (Mass 45, Difficulty 3) requires 3 more Soyuz: a total of eight but I can only get seven. But I can get a pair of Saturns and a second Soyuz – it is just that the Saturns won’t have been tested.

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remain. Remove a time token from the spacecraft inbound to Ceres, one remains.


1972 -- Throwing a Hail Mary

$15 for a Saturn Rocket
$8 for a Soyuz Rocket
$2 for 2 Juno Rockets
Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Saturn, 2 Soyuz, 5 Supply, Vostok, Juno.

Analysis: The First Stage Saturn is lifting a payload of 46 across a difficulty of 3 into Sub-Orbital Flight; the Second Stage Saturn is lifting a payload of 26 across a difficulty of 5 into Earth Orbit. [Note: Oops! In writing that I realize that I misread the chart, at a difficulty of five a Saturn can only lift 20 mass, not 26.]

Launch Spacecraft:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
First Stage Major Failure, spacecraft destroyed on Launchpad.

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft inbound to Ceres. The Space Station is now out of supplies.


1973 – Landing at Ceres; and reprovisioning the Space Station

Spacecraft Dock at Ceres (Success, kept), Probe collects samples form Ceres; Separate (Success, kept) leaving Probe at Ceres while the two Ion Thrusters take the Ceres Sample and fire for the Inner Planet Transfer (both Success, kept, two time tokens).

$16 for 2 Soyuz Rockets
$7 for 7 Supplies
$2 for 2 Juno Rockets
Assemble Spacecraft: 2 Soyuz, 7 supplies. Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit. Dock with Space Station and transfer Supplies.

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remains. Remove a time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft inbound from Ceres, one time token remains.


1974 – Setting our sights on the Moon

$24 for 3 Soyuz Rockets
$1 for 1 Juno Rocket

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft inbound from Ceres.


1975 – To the Moon!

Spacecraft at Inner Planets Transfer with Ceres Samples fires for Earth Orbit; success, kept, one time token.
$16 for 2 Soyuz Rockets
$3 for 3 Juno Rockets
$2 for 2 Supplies
$4 for an Apollo Capsule

Assemble Spacecraft: 5 Soyuz, 6 Juno Rockets, 1 Supply. Launch Spacecraft to sub-orbital, then to Earth Orbit. Dock with Space Station and transfer Supplies. Note: Thrust for first stage provided by 2 Soyuz and 2 Juno (max payload mass of 36, lifting payload of 32 mass; thrust for second stage provided by 2 Soyuz (max payload of 14, lifting payload of 14). Both lifting Junos fire and succeed. [Note: In writing this I realize I didn’t need these Junos, the 2 Soyuz can lift 35 1/3 mass.]

Dock and Separate with other spacecraft adding 5 Junos, Eagle, Ed White, and 3 Supplies to the Soyuz, 4 Junos and 1 Supply arrived from Earth. Launch for Lunar Orbit. The Soyuz can push a 17 2/3 payload mass across a difficulty of 3; here it is only pushing a payload mass of 14.

Dock with Disabled Ion Thruster in Lunar Orbit. Ed White spends a supply to fix it. Separate into 5 craft:
1. Eagle, Ed White, Juno
2. 3 Juno
3. Juno, Supply
4. 2 Juno
5. 2 Juno, 2 Supply, Ion Thruster, Probe
Crafts 4, 3, and 1 in that order maneuver to the Lunar Surface (all succeed)
Note: I am splitting these up as there is still a small chance that the Junos could fail.

LUNAR LANDER +6 VP
Collect Lunar Samples. The one rocket remaining from Craft 4 docks with the samples and lifts them to Lunar Orbit. The Supply from Craft 3 docks with Craft 1.

In Lunar Orbit, the Lunar Sample docks with the 3 Junos. They launch for Earth Orbit. At Earth Orbit the sample is dropped to Earth.
LUNAR SAMPLE RETURN +10 VP

End of Year: Life Support succeeds all three times; kept as no funds remains. Remove the last time token from the Operation Rama spacecraft inbound to Earth Orbit from Inner Planets Transfer.


1976 – Rama Comes Home

LUNAR STATION +15 VP
Operation Rama spacecraft separates from the Ceres Sample and drops it to Earth.
CERES SAMPLE RETURN +14 VP
The two Junos in Lunar Orbit separate from the rest of their spacecraft and drop to the moon; the one remaining rocket docks with the Eagle and lifts it and Ed White to dock with the two supplies and the Ion Thruster in Lunar Orbit.


Missions Completed:
VP...Name..................Level....Description
1....Sounding Rocket.......Easy.....Working Probe/Capsule in Space
6....Lunar Lander..........Medium...Working Probe/Capsule on the Moon
6....Space Station.........Medium...Man in Space at Start of Round
10...Lunar Sample Return...Medium...Moon Sample on Earth
11...Venus Lander..........Medium...Working Probe/Capsule on Venus
14...Ceres Sample Return...Hard.....Ceres Sample on Earth
15...Lunar Station.........Hard.....Man on Moon at Start of Round

63 Total Completed

Missions Remaining:
20...Mars Station..........Hard.....Man on Mars at Start of Round
24...Venus Sample Return...Hard.....Venus Sample on Earth

44 Total Remaining

Victory!
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Francisco Colmenares
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rmanning wrote:
Test Fire three Juno Rockets: all success, kept all

I'm not sure you're doing this right. Are you drawing multiple outcomes at once? If you test fired it three times, you have to draw a random outcome, deal with it, then return it to the pile so it can possible to draw it again in the next two tests.

In this way you can't know if you drew three different outcomes, the same outcome three times, or two successes of which one happened twice.

But perhaps I'm not understanding you correctly and instead you have decided to keep testing the technology until it fails? It certainly is cheaper to purchase more Juno rockets and keep testing hoping you'll ferret out a failure of some kind, but at some point won't it be more expensive?
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Robert Manning
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That's right: I went draw-return-shuffle-draw-return-shuffle-draw-return. I also rolled a die to choose which card was drawn.

I mention during the Moon Landing in 1975 that there is still a chance of a failure in the draw pile.

I think the cheaper components are more economically tested-to-failure rather than buying off success results; but unless two failures are eventually bought out there will always be an ever-dimishing chance of a hidden flaw. Buying off a success is $10 -- that's 10 Juno Rockets: if you test fire all ten and only draw success results that's a less than 2% chance of happening if there is a failure in the draw pile. If all three are success that would cost $23. I only tested 8 Juno rockets, which gave me a 96% confidence it was safe. Is getting to 100% worth another $15? Depends on one's comfort level.

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Francisco Colmenares
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I must have missed that! I think by the time I reached 1975 I had forgotten about Juno! Sounds economically reasonable!
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Steve Carey
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Outstanding session report, enjoyed it a ton!

manning wrote:
(1963) Fire Ion Thruster and Probe to Lunar Orbit; success, kept as out of funds.

End of Year: Remove a time token from the Lunar Orbit bound spacecraft, one remains.


Earth Orbit to Lunar Orbit is 1 optional time token, needing 6 thrust (2 mass x 3 difficulty) with the Ion Thruster and Probe. But only 5 thrust is being generated (ion). Even if adding another time token (as you did) to slow down the mission, the Difficulty doesn't change. So it looks like you're still 1 thrust short?

Also, I learned something here, namely that damaged components can dock/separate. Nicely done.
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Robert Manning
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Thank you!

Ion Thrusters produce five thrust per time token: adding the second time token increases the total thrust provided to 10.
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rmanning wrote:
Ion Thrusters produce five thrust per time token: adding the second time token increases the total thrust provided to 10.


I thought it was 5 thrust per year, per ion thruster but I see what you did now.

So if a mass 6 spacecraft was going from Earth Orbit to Lunar Orbit at difficulty 3 (total thrust needed = 18), you could use 1 Ion Thruster and 4 time tokens (total thrust generated of 20) to make the journey?
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Robert Manning
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Yes -- and if a second Ion Thruster was added it would be 7 mass x 3 difficulty = 21 thrust needed; 2 Ion Thrusters x 3 Time Tokens = 30 Thrust provided.
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Steve Carey
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Many thanks, I get it now - with Ion engines, you're basically trading time for power. Nice!
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Barry Siebenthall
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I noticed in 1963 there was a fifth spacecraft added (using an unused space agency's token). It makes sense this would be available in solitaire. Is this also available during a multi-player game? For example, using coins or some other item as extra spacecraft tokens?
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Joe Fatula
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Baraiha wrote:
I noticed in 1963 there was a fifth spacecraft added (using an unused space agency's token). It makes sense this would be available in solitaire. Is this also available during a multi-player game? For example, using coins or some other item as extra spacecraft tokens?

You can have as many spacecraft as you like. In practice, this is the first time I've ever seen someone use five.

Unless all five agencies are in play, you could always use an unused agency's spacecraft token and card.
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Barry Siebenthall
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For a brief time in 1965, Robert actually had six in use! So far, that's as far as I've gotten recreating his game on my table. I'm learning much, especially regarding Ion Thrusters!
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Robert Manning
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In 1969 the probe left behind on Venus could have been abandoned and the spacecraft removed; the same applies to the probe left behind on Ceres in 1973. There are several years where I have two or three spacecraft in Earth Orbit: these could have been consolidated, but in the earlier years I was still uncertain of the Rendezvous Technology; later I continued to keep them apart for organizational ease: the "Juno" spacecraft, the "space station", etc.

Until 1975 I didn't really "need" to go over four spacecraft. Although the 1975 Moon mission didn't "need" as many spacecraft as I created (five created, bringing the total on the board briefly to 10 -- technically as I didn't physically place them on the board) as I could have just split out the spacecraft one at a time and immediately docked them when they arrived on the Lunar Surface, it did require at least five to be on the board: (1) Rama returning from Ceres, (2) The Space Station in Earth Orbit, (3) the Lunar "Mothership" in Lunar Orbit, (4) The Lunar Transit spacecraft being landed on the Moon, and (5) the Lunar Station spacecraft on the Moon. Even then, "Transit" craft wouldn't necessarily be placed on the board (I suppose technically it would) as it exist just long enough to drop the next component on to the Moon.
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Mike Clarke
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Wow. What an eye-opener. I've now played the game twice and thoroughly enjoy it. I saw your post here a week ago, but had not yet received the game and didn't have the game knowledge to appreciate it.

For me the two key points, were: a) there's more than one way to deal with successes and the efficiency of using docking and ion thrusters. I used ion thrusters in my first game on my first trip to Mars, but that little tour you embarked on with them was very instructive.

You just opened up a number of new and creative, gameplay options. Thanks!

Rama, this is Houston, you are go for GG.
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Steve Carey
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rmanning wrote:
I was still uncertain of the Rendezvous Technology...


In my first (solo) play, I researched Rendezvous tech but then didn't draw the outcome cards (oops) when joining and splitting spacecraft - I was so engaged with planning, calculations, and such I just plain forgot.

In a co-op game, we initially focused on a single mission but as the years continued to pass we realized the necessity for multiple missions and Rendezvous tech (though we never had as many spacecraft as you, Robert).

mikecl wrote:
You just opened up a number of new and creative, gameplay options.


I'm just loving this game so far - you're part Budget Administrator, part Mission Control, part Astronaut.
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