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Subject: Is this unbalanced? rss

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Hardy
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Played a half game yesterday at Essen. Though I found the movement mechanisms nice (and action types also), I wonder if a) the scoring is a good idea, and b) teh scales (in the middle of the board) are too unbalanced.

Regardind the scales, only teh ones with the red spots on it, which give you bonusses, seem attractive, so everyone was only progresing on thioe and ignoring teh others, with no individual bonusses.
As all tracks give the same amount of points per step, why would one not go for the ones with bonus spots?
Because of teh leapfrog mechanisms and teh scoring, which will give you a lot of points only if others progress far on the same track, too, advancing lonely on the unattractive tracks while no one else is pushing their cubes there, gets even more unattractive.

Looks to me like the author wanted to make a different scoring mechnism than usual, but it makes not much sense...

Also the building cards seem to very different in strength, some give you 3 track steps without being much harder to build than the ones which give you 0 steps. Also, a the longer the game progress, the more buildings and ships are on the board, the requirements get very easy to match, I think the requirements should rise also, but they don't.

As I said, I played only half game (no time left), so I may be totally wrong with my concern, maybe someone who played this more often can give answers...In general this game seems interesting to me otherwise.
 
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Matthias M
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I think it is safe to assume that an established publisher like Argentum has playtested the game enough. I would be very surprised if someone finds an unbeatable strategy in a half game at a fair. It is not impossible, but very unlikely.

BTW: I like the scoring. It is a refreshing take on scoring because your final score depends on the scores of the other players. It is interactive. Yes, SCORING becomes interactive. If someone is running away in an area, then let him run. Advancing yourself means giving him even more points. You get most points for winning the most contested advancement tracks. I like that.
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Hardy
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MetalPirate wrote:
I think it is safe to assume that an established publisher like Argentum has playtested the game enough. I would be very surprised if someone finds an unbeatable strategy in a half game at a fair. It is not impossible, but very unlikely.


I wasn't talking about an unbeatable strategy. Just saying that some of the progress tracks seem very unattractive and were mostly ignored by the players unless its in some situation very cheap to do it and no tother good alternative at hand (like e.g. in Orleans some of the location tiles are so weak, no one ever buys them are (which is shurely the case at the Orleans base game), so mistakes like this can happen)


MetalPirate wrote:

BTW: I like the scoring. It is a refreshing take on scoring because your final score depends on the scores of the other players. It is interactive. Yes, SCORING becomes interactive. If someone is running away in an area, then let him run. Advancing yourself means giving him even more points. You get most points for winning the most contested advancement tracks. I like that.


Wel, in general, this might be an interesting variation and probably a matter of taste, whether you like it or not. The problem I see her, is that the leapfrog mechanisms also enhances the attractiveness of progressing on the same tracks as the others. Combined with the impression that some of the tracks are clearly much more attractive than others, this arouses my suspicion, that each games the same tracks wil be used heavily while the others (without red bonus spots) will be mostly ignored in every game.

In other games, there might also be more and less attractive options. Yet, usually, if most players go for the certain options, the weaker options become more atractive (e.g. in Acricola, Navegador, Russian Railroads each have this type of balancing, in very different ways, though).
Yet in antarctica, it's the opposite: Everone going for the same attractive tracks, make going for them even more atractive (because leapfrogging + scoring mechanism), while the unattractive tracks get even more unattractive...

The fact, that after 2 days no one yet has answered to this and told me: "oh didn't you see the other tracks are quite attractive, too, because...." make me worry even more.

But maybe people are just to busy with the fair and someone will explain the mistake in my thought later...
Yet until someone can explain me why my suspicions are wrong I'll not buy the game...
 
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Andreas Krüger
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- You cannot always freely decide on which track you advance.
- If an opponent is already far ahead, you don't want to advance on that track, because this would increase your opponent's score and not yours.
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Jure Forstnerič
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We also played half a game at the fair in Essen, then a full game that evening. This is obviously nothing compared to the playtesting that probalby went into the game, but from our one and half play the game seems perfectly balanced. The scores were pretty tight at the end, even though one player (myself) seemed to be at an advantage in the middle of the game (I managed to get quite a few scientists in one round). In our game the camps came out pretty late, so the other players had a shortage of scientists, but as I said, at the end the scores were quite close together (around four points between first and second).

I plan on playing agan this week, we'll see how it goes, but my first impressions are good :-)
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Sergio Perez
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psicek wrote:
We also played half a game at the fair in Essen, then a full game that evening. This is obviously nothing compared to the playtesting that probalby went into the game, but from our one and half play the game seems perfectly balanced. The scores were pretty tight at the end, even though one player (myself) seemed to be at an advantage in the middle of the game (I managed to get quite a few scientists in one round). In our game the camps came out pretty late, so the other players had a shortage of scientists, but as I said, at the end the scores were quite close together (around four points between first and second).

I plan on playing agan this week, we'll see how it goes, but my first impressions are good :-)


Mind sharing about how long it took your group to get through the full game? 4 players?

Thanks.
 
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Łukasz Małecki
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Here's an uninformed opinion. (Didn't play, read the rules.)
With more players (3/4?) there should be a lot of competition for the various research tracks. You can be almost sure people WILL chase you if you invest in a track nobody else wanted to, reason being the scoring system.

For example, if somebody gets 5 points on a track, somebody else will want to be second (2nd player gets as many points as the position of 1st player) - that's an opportunity you don't want to pass. But it's unlikety to achieve that with small cost. Because if I do only 1 step on said track, I will be an easy target for the third player, who needs just 2 steps to be second. So it's a constant game of cat and mouse, which of course benefits first player the most, but is still profitable for everyone else. Brilliant scoring method if you ask me!

And you can't just freely choose on which track to invest, so it seems people WILL utilize all of them. But, like I said, it's just a hunch, not an informed opinion.
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Charles Acetylene
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Hi Hardy,

I work on this game for 3 years ans Argentum for 1. We play 300 times for designing Antarctica, You can imagine how it annoying when I see a title like "Is this unbalanced?"

I want to say to you, finish your first play, and then you will see that :
- with the two blue action "advance 3 steps on a different research track", all the tracks will be launched.
- The blue actions are very interactive and all the players want to be first in this tracks.
- The same for the red ones that give you what you need at a precise moment of the game.


It's exactly the same kind of scoring on tracks and board zone, so I don't understand how do you can write : "Looks to me like the author wanted to make a different scoring mechnism than usual", it's exactly the contrary !!

For the building cards, I explain to you how we design it :
- when you build something that give you an advantage (2 scientists on the board, reseach center that give you more advance with the scientist you place on this zone, etc) you don't advance on tracks
- when you build something that dont give you an advantage (ressource, prestige building), you advance 1 or 2,
- when you make a gift to the next players (shipyard, camp), you advance three

... I call it pretty well balanced, and you?
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Hardy
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Hi Charles, thanks for answering to my questions.

Acetylen wrote:

I work on this game for 3 years ans Argentum for 1. We play 300 times for designing Antarctica, You can imagine how it annoying when I see a title like "Is this unbalanced?"


Didn't mean to offend you, it was just a question (and mistakes/weaknesses in games can sometimes slip through, even with a lot of playtesting.)

Acetylen wrote:

- with the two blue action "advance 3 steps on a different research track"


Ah, actually we overlooked that (because the girl at the booth forgot to explain that rule when teaching us the game). So that changes things and reduces my concerns at least a little partly.
That was the kind of answer I was looking for!

Acetylen wrote:

It's exactly the same kind of scoring on tracks and board zone, so I don't understand how do you can write : "Looks to me like the author wanted to make a different scoring mechnism than usual", it's exactly the contrary !!


Maybe this is a misunderstanding. I know it's the same type of scoring an the tracks and board zones, I meant different than in most other games.


Acetylen wrote:

... I call it pretty well balanced, and you?


I'll see after I have played it more.
I would actually like to play it again now, but unfortunately I won't be able to do so soon, as I have not bought it and no one else I know, and we all now have already many new games which we are eager to play, so Antartica will have to wait for a while probably, but I hope to play it again at some time.
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Bijan Ajamlou
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Acetylen wrote:
Hi Hardy,

I work on this game for 3 years ans Argentum for 1. We play 300 times for designing Antarctica, You can imagine how it annoying when I see a title like "Is this unbalanced?"

I want to say to you, finish your first play, and then you will see that :
- with the two blue action "advance 3 steps on a different research track", all the tracks will be launched.
- The blue actions are very interactive and all the players want to be first in this tracks.
- The same for the red ones that give you what you need at a precise moment of the game.


It's exactly the same kind of scoring on tracks and board zone, so I don't understand how do you can write : "Looks to me like the author wanted to make a different scoring mechnism than usual", it's exactly the contrary !!

For the building cards, I explain to you how we design it :
- when you build something that give you an advantage (2 scientists on the board, reseach center that give you more advance with the scientist you place on this zone, etc) you don't advance on tracks
- when you build something that dont give you an advantage (ressource, prestige building), you advance 1 or 2,
- when you make a gift to the next players (shipyard, camp), you advance three

... I call it pretty well balanced, and you?


I must say this is one of the most balanced games I have played. It shows that you play tested the game to perfection.

I didnt bother to play the game at the boot at essen. Learning a euro game there is lets say not optimal for getting a god experience or opinion about a game. I learnt the game from the excellent rules. Played it 2 times now and both times the scores was within 1 point. After the first game you get an aha moment and understand the scoring.

I believe few people read the rules 100% rather read 70% and guess the rest. I must admit I have done that sometimes. But learnt the hard way how to read all the rules to get a good gaming experience.
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Duarte
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I've played this and I have the same feeling, the scoring does seem somewhat unbalanced.
 
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Andreas Krüger
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Dna_Boy wrote:
I've played this and I have the same feeling, the scoring does seem somewhat unbalanced.


And why do you feel this? Did you find a dominating strategy or an advantage for a certain player?
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Duarte
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The player who wins scores everything, the one that comes second, scores only the dudes, So we had area scorings where the difference between the 1st and the 2nd, was over 10 pts. Like 17 to 6. Or 15 to 4. Most area control games I've played doesn't have that huge difference..

It seams that the game encourages you to not fight for an area, cause if you do, if you loose you get very low score. So the players just do their own thing at their own corner?

I don't know, it just seems odd to me.
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Izi Mizrahi
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I would say the game encourages you to choose your battles, and to choose them wisely. The game is not a forgiving one so if you just wing it you may get massive differences between players. At least that's what I feel after one play (so far). I intend to play a lot more.
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Daniel B-G
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Dna_Boy wrote:
The player who wins scores everything, the one that comes second, scores only the dudes, So we had area scorings where the difference between the 1st and the 2nd, was over 10 pts. Like 17 to 6. Or 15 to 4. Most area control games I've played doesn't have that huge difference..

It seams that the game encourages you to not fight for an area, cause if you do, if you loose you get very low score. So the players just do their own thing at their own corner?

I don't know, it just seems odd to me.


But that's what makes the game good. It isn't like every other area control game.

It creates several interesting scenarios.

All players work on "their" area. So you can scoop up a lot of points for coming in second with no real effort.

Two people scrapping over 2nd place giving points to someone in 1st (particularly relevant on the science tracks)

2 people fighting over 1st giving the person in third loads of free points.

3 way brawl with a lopsided outcome.

We saw all of these in the game we played this evening and they balanced out in the scoring, with only a ~5 point spread.
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Morten K
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DAAAN wrote:
Dna_Boy wrote:
The player who wins scores everything, the one that comes second, scores only the dudes, So we had area scorings where the difference between the 1st and the 2nd, was over 10 pts. Like 17 to 6. Or 15 to 4. Most area control games I've played doesn't have that huge difference..

It seams that the game encourages you to not fight for an area, cause if you do, if you loose you get very low score. So the players just do their own thing at their own corner?

I don't know, it just seems odd to me.


But that's what makes the game good. It isn't like every other area control game.

It creates several interesting scenarios.

All players work on "their" area. So you can scoop up a lot of points for coming in second with no real effort.

Two people scrapping over 2nd place giving points to someone in 1st (particularly relevant on the science tracks)

2 people fighting over 1st giving the person in third loads of free points.

3 way brawl with a lopsided outcome.

We saw all of these in the game we played this evening and they balanced out in the scoring, with only a ~5 point spread.


What did you think of the game after having played it, Dan?
 
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Daniel B-G
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Very pleased. It's not my favourite game I've brought back from Essen that I've played so far, Inhabit the Earth and Food Chain Magnate are fighting for that prize. That doesn't diminish it in any way though.

It loses out because it's more tactical than I was expecting, but I guess that's a product of the mancala-like mechanic.

Nevertheless, I can see this being the most played game I've brought back. It looks gorgeous on the table, it's not that complex, it's interactive, it offers opportunities for clever plays, and it's accessibile to more casual players, whilst still giving plenty to chew on for gamers.
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Jonathan Bailey-Jones
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actaion wrote:
Hi Charles, thanks for answering to my questions.

Acetylen wrote:

I work on this game for 3 years ans Argentum for 1. We play 300 times for designing Antarctica, You can imagine how it annoying when I see a title like "Is this unbalanced?"


Didn't mean to offend you, it was just a question (and mistakes/weaknesses in games can sometimes slip through, even with a lot of playtesting.)

Acetylen wrote:

- with the two blue action "advance 3 steps on a different research track"


Ah, actually we overlooked that (because the girl at the booth forgot to explain that rule when teaching us the game). So that changes things and reduces my concerns at least a little partly.
That was the kind of answer I was looking for!

Acetylen wrote:

It's exactly the same kind of scoring on tracks and board zone, so I don't understand how do you can write : "Looks to me like the author wanted to make a different scoring mechnism than usual", it's exactly the contrary !!


Maybe this is a misunderstanding. I know it's the same type of scoring an the tracks and board zones, I meant different than in most other games.


Acetylen wrote:

... I call it pretty well balanced, and you?


I'll see after I have played it more.
I would actually like to play it again now, but unfortunately I won't be able to do so soon, as I have not bought it and no one else I know, and we all now have already many new games which we are eager to play, so Antartica will have to wait for a while probably, but I hope to play it again at some time.


Any chance of changing the subject thread, I for one nearly did not buy the game because of it, due to more reading I really liked the sound of the game, for others they may not take the time to look further, maybe change the title to - Opinions wanted?

Just a suggestion as this reason (A game being unbalanced) always scares me.
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John H
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Quote:
Any chance of changing the subject thread, I for one nearly did not buy the game because of it, due to more reading I really liked the sound of the game, for others they may not take the time to look further, maybe change the title to - Opinions wanted?

Just a suggestion as this reason (A game being unbalanced) always scares me.


You almost didn't buy the game because of a thread title by someone you didn't know? I cannot even comprehend that. Researching purchases based on thread titles seems a losing proposition... Reading a variety of opinions is the best way to go.

Also, the title was a question. He was seeking answers and opinions from others to confirm or refute his limited experience with the game. His initial opinion of a game is as valid as anyone else's anyway. Perfectly valid title and it opened up a fine discussion of the merits of the game.

The more different opinions I hear on a game, the better I understand it. When I weigh a purchase, I go straight to the comment section and skip to the comments with the lowest ratings. If I see most of the critiques there are minor or nonexistent problems for me, I feel much better about the game. In many cases, I see the weaknesses of the game that would be dealbreakers for me that the people giving 9s and 10s usually don't even acknowledge. It has saved me a lot of cash and wasted time .
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