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Subject: Definitely seeing that imbalance towards trade rss

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Jonathan Rowe
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I've played 7 games now and the imbalance in favour of trade is definitely appearing. Now, I don't object to that per se - if a game must be imbalanced, then let it be towards peaceful trade. The problem is there seems to be so little that other players can _do_ about it. Once a trader finds a sweet run, they start upgrading their ships and coining larger hauls and it's very difficult to stop them - upgrading your own ships into pirates is costly; if you had that sort of capital, it'd make more sense to compete as a trader.

Of course, a lot of it is down to chance. Convenient trading planets may or may not turn up in any given game. The Scoundrel may make an early appearance and his depradations may make it hard for a trading ship to build that "critical mass" of capital early on.

Nonetheless, if (as happened today) you deal out the starting tiles and find yourself with two adjacent trading planets (one producing a cargo you can sell at its neighbour), the game becomes so broken it's tempting to re-deal the tiles. Of course, one player could choose to invest in missiles and blasters right from the outset - but that's a _much_ chancier strategy than just investing in cargo, which becomes a sure thing with a setup like I encountered today.

I know, I know, this is nothing new. Everyone points this out. And, yes, it's a chance-y game and sometimes the tiles deal a sweet cargo run with no Scoundrel in sight and you just have to sigh and say "Do we re-deal the tiles or play and short-and-inconsequential trading race?" (because anyone who elects _not_ to trade cargo and goes exploring or doing missions instead is simply going to lose)?

I'm tempted to house-rule that there cannot be more than one planet in the starting set-up, which at least makes the trading option non-obvious when you are deciding how to outfit your first ship: if you build for trade, you just might find yourself with nowhere to buy or sell for several turns.

I know people have suggested randomising the cargo that each planet sells or randomising the price you get when you deliver it. I see the appeal of this: all the other paths to victory have random elements, but trading is (counter-intuitively) a complete certainty: you know exactly what you will earn and the only random element is your engine rolls to get you between ports.

Part of me hankers for a mechanic that makes cargoes worth less the more of them you deliver - but that's awkward, keeping track of the fact that Azure isn't paying so much for its cargo. It would get fiddly.

The the only way I can think of doing this elegantly is increasing the "minimum cargo size" needed to earn the +1FP for emptying your hold... As the rules stand, you get 1FP every time you empty your hold, so long as you sell at least 2 cubes. How about, the first time you sell 2 cargo you get 1FP, but after that you need to sell 3 cargo, then 4, and so on?

Of course, most traders tend to increase their hauls like this anyway as they plough their profits back into bigger purchases, but they do reach a cap eventually based on their maximum hold size, whereupon they'd no longer be getting FPs for selling cargo, but they would still be getting money (and you can buy 1FP per turn for 5000Cr so you can still win this way: it just takes a bit longer). Also, a lot of traders "blow their wad" upgrading their ship and have to go back to buying puny little 2-cargo shipments for a while. With this mechanic, they'd be building their capital back up while they did this but they wouldn't be getting FPs for emptying their hold, not until they could afford large shipments again.

I'll give this house rule a try. A dice could be used with its upturned face indicating the number of cargo cubes you need to sell at once to get a FP: you start with it at 2, then increase to 3, then 4. It seems fairly elegant and it might make it worthwhile for a rich trader to turn outlaw in the final act, or at least slow down the snowball that gathers around a successful trader. Thoughts?
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What we do to prevent this from happening is to use a Cube Tower from Shogun/Wallenstein or Amerigo.

When you sell at a space you take the other three goods cubes (excluding the good that the planet produces and the good that was just sold at the planet) and throw them in the tower. The first to come out the bottom is now what the planet is looking for. We also do something similar with the outlaw planets in that we will place all 5 goods cubes on that planet. When a player buys/sells there, that cube is removed and that good cannot be bought or sold at the respective outlaw planet until all 5 goods have been bought/sold at which place it resets back and 5 new cubes are placed there.

When I first started playing the game I was going merchant all the way. Since implementing this minor change it has really helped to keep the Merchant from being an overly powerful and imbalanced route to victory. It can 100% still be done but it takes more planning and execution to pull it off. We love it! And we use it EVERY time. We even made little hex tiles to go on the planets to replace the sell space so we can easily keep track of what they now want to buy.
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Derek Dyer
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I am not a fan of methods that randomize what is bought, sold, or heaven forbid both.

If it's primarily the FP that you want to set the limit on, someone posted an idea that I found interesting. Once you sell a type of cargo, you keep one of those cubes in a location on your player mat, and you cannot gain FP for selling that type of cargo again.

A simpler solution I proposed a while back was to set a limit on how many FP can be gained from one category. This could be something that you change from game to game, could randomize from game to game, or experiment to find the perfect setup for your group.
Look here for the original thread for more ideas and clarification:
https://boardgamegeek.com/article/18496065#18496065

Your solution to raise the amount required to be sold, is fine. However as you acknowledge yourself, most merchants trade increasing amounts... also with this rule in mind, they will be more inclined to do so. Trading 2, 4, 4, 6, 6... isn't exactly difficult. Also keep in mind that while you raise the amount by 1 each time, they're still likely trading pairs, so the increase has even less effect only really increasing every other time.

-----------------------

Also, while we don't generally do this, I'm completely fine with setting conditions that prevent a sector from being placed next to another. I don't like it when Gates are placed next to each other, and seriously one of the strong advantages to playing a boardgame is the ability to discuss and change things like this on-the-fly while playing. Another common one is preventing a planet being placed next to another where one buys what the other sells.

While you can still end up with 2 planets (one buying what the other sells) that are separated by only a single sector in between, these routes are generally much less of an issue. If the entrances don't line up then the distance is usually enough to make the trade appealing, but not overwhelming, and allows other players time to interact. You'll also generally have some other obstacle in between which increases the distance and danger.
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Calinor wrote:
If it's primarily the FP that you want to set the limit on, someone posted an idea that I found interesting. Once you sell a type of cargo, you keep one of those cubes in a location on your player mat, and you cannot gain FP for selling that type of cargo again.
We place the sold cube on the player mat as an indicator of the last sold goods type, and the player has to sell a different goods type before selling that one again. We haven't played enough to know if it will be enough long term to prevent the FP exploit, but so far it seems to be ok.
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Xenothon Stelnicki
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Two thoughts I'll copy from some recent discussion on reddit:

I can offer a possible simple fix for your merchants; if an explore action or setup results in a next-door buy-sell match, discard and reshuffle the tiles and draw again.

Switch tactics and join them, or get lucky on cards, or get lucky on mining, harvesting etc, or attack them, or form a homicide/suicide pact with player 2 and ram them, lure the outlaw into their path, or grab something in your tier upgrade that will counter this (smashing them into walls, shooting through planetary defenses, targeting their engines, and so on), or (and in addition to the previous) catch up by pursuing outrageous titles.


I've had an ultra-favorable route come up a few times and the person who pursued it was never allowed to win. Even if they were ahead by 4+, we wouldn't let it stand. Every time I hear this issue come up, I just suspect the other players were not willing to sacrifice enough to do what was necessary. In one of those games, I was literally dropping off goods to feed player 3 so he could out-trade player 1 (that had the initial advantage), upgrade, and smack that crap down. You mileage may vary, but we've always found the most fun solutions have been from working within the actual rules. Mind you, all of this is talking about a full game; if you're running to 5 or 10, either don't expect anything remotely fair or house rule it. That simply not enough actions to mitigate the luck factor or a great route.
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xen911 wrote:
In one of those games, I was literally dropping off goods to feed player 3 so he could out-trade player 1 (that had the initial advantage), upgrade, and smack that crap down.
That cure sounds worse than the disease.
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Quote:
and the player has to sell a different goods type before
Yeah, this is an older idea that's been discussed plenty, and honestly this might be the one that I ultimately go with. I only cited the other one because I hadn't really heard it before and it was on my mind.

Even with a neighbor-trade then doing another route and returning to the neighbor-trade, it would add enough time to be significant. If you add rules to the placement of tiles... like no trade-neighbors or adjacent gates and it should pretty much balance out. Trade would still be the best way to make money, Missions the best way to make FP, and combat would fall somewhere in between each.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
xen911 wrote:
In one of those games, I was literally dropping off goods to feed player 3 so he could out-trade player 1 (that had the initial advantage), upgrade, and smack that crap down.
That cure sounds worse than the disease.
If you are going to lose either way than the issue is moot. At least you are making an attempt to stay in the game, and change the results. However, just because you're teaming up and mostly helping another player to smack down the front runner... it doesn't have to mean that you are giving them the win.

This is absolutely why I love boardgames. It's not just that you get to sit down with your friends and play a game. It's that a Gentlemen's Agreement can be reached and actually change the structure of the game.

For example; We were playing a 4 player game one night, and the whole game was basically 60/40 between another player and I (60 him). At nearly the end of the game he spent a little time on the phone with his SO (they had a fight) and I had just harvested a ton of goods and finished a mission. With this influx of Capital, I could have bought a FP and upgraded to T3 for the win, but it would have been a hollow win. Still I could have pretty easily gotten the winning FP through another means. Maybe if he had been paying attention the whole time I might have done it, then again I do like an Epic finish. So instead I decided as he returned to the table for his turn to give him an offer. He had been combative/offensive the whole game but had never purchased a shield. I offered him the 5k credits to buy a shield, even made some suggestions as to how to outfit his ship, and proceeded to offer this as a win condition: Neither of us would consider the game a win without doing so by gaining the final FP by killing the other. At this announcement one of the other two players quit; Not doing so out of anger but simply to speed the process up, knowing that he would not win. The other remaining player was working on some things, and while we all knew that he wouldn't win, he wanted to see how they would pan out. So he continued to play. This was a really good game, and nothing would have made the game better.
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David desJardins
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Calinor wrote:
This is absolutely why I love boardgames. It's not just that you get to sit down with your friends and play a game. It's that a Gentlemen's Agreement can be reached and actually change the structure of the game.
I get it. But what you love is what I hate. That's ok, different people can like different things. But it illustrates how inhomogeneous the hobby is.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
Calinor wrote:
This is absolutely why I love boardgames. It's not just that you get to sit down with your friends and play a game. It's that a Gentlemen's Agreement can be reached and actually change the structure of the game.
I get it. But what you love is what I hate. That's ok, different people can like different things. But it illustrates how inhomogeneous the hobby is.
Fair enough. But I think it was a cool and creative strategy to help another player (by giving him goods) so he could help beat the #1 player. To me, creative negotiation takes a game up to a new level, making a game more personable and cinematic.

BTW, I've been using the 'draw another tile if they're adjacent' method, but I think I'll change it to one Y P suggested, putting a cube of the good you sold on your player mat so you don't sell the same thing twice in a row. Simple and elegant, and it seems like it would do the trick.
 
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Try the marketplace rules I posted. A fun attempt to make trade a bit more challenging without ruining it as a viable option to win the game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/110766/xia-marketplace
 
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Calinor wrote:
I am not a fan of methods that randomize what is bought, sold, or heaven forbid both.

If it's primarily the FP that you want to set the limit on, someone posted an idea that I found interesting. Once you sell a type of cargo, you keep one of those cubes in a location on your player mat, and you cannot gain FP for selling that type of cargo again.
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.

The once-per-cube limit on FPs works beautifully. I'd add a refinement. When you upgrade to a new ship, you remove the "used cubes" along with your bounties. This enables you to go back to worlds you've already sold cargo in and get FPs there again when you get a Tier II ship and when you reach Tier III. Otherwise, you're limited to a maximum of 5 FPs from selling cargo (one for each type of cube) which is a bit limiting in a longer game.
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deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
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Rapscallion_69 wrote:
deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
Depends on what they do with the Plasma. One shipment (especially if it's a small shipment) doesn't necessarily sate their need for it. If they are in constant need of it, it's very feasible they wouldn't run out of demand for it.

One shipment of oil doesn't sate the needs of future deliveries of oil
 
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Rapscallion_69 wrote:
deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
Depends on what they do with the Plasma. One shipment (especially if it's a small shipment) doesn't necessarily sate their need for it. If they are in constant need of it, it's very feasible they wouldn't run out of demand for it.

One shipment of oil doesn't sate the needs of future deliveries of oil
But when they have oil they will probably be looking for something else and when that need is filled its a 33% chance they will be looking for oil again xD
 
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Our house rule that mitigates the "two planets of the same cube color right next to each other" issue: you can trade as often as you'd like, but you only get Fame once for each cube color.

We save a cube on the corner of our ship mat to track which colors we've received Fame for.

Works great for us.
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Brian T wrote:
Try the marketplace rules I posted. A fun attempt to make trade a bit more challenging without ruining it as a viable option to win the game.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/110766/xia-marketplace
Yes, I read that variant, and it sounded pretty interesting and thematic, but I think I'll wait until our group gets a couple of plays under our belt before I try it. Until then, I'll use a simpler method.
 
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Rapscallion_69 wrote:
sigmazero13 wrote:
Rapscallion_69 wrote:
deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
Depends on what they do with the Plasma. One shipment (especially if it's a small shipment) doesn't necessarily sate their need for it. If they are in constant need of it, it's very feasible they wouldn't run out of demand for it.

One shipment of oil doesn't sate the needs of future deliveries of oil
But when they have oil they will probably be looking for something else and when that need is filled its a 33% chance they will be looking for oil again xD
The vibe I get from XIA is that you're not some gigantic trading corporation, you're a little independent freighter. When you arrive with a shipment of plasma, it doesn't reroute the entire economy of Lunari. Lunari carries on being plasma-hungry Lunari. Nor is the game set (I take it) over a span of decades where economic booms and busts follow one another. I like it that the game offers a fairly consistent and imaginable backdrop. Lunari doesn't change. The folks there need plasma, but boy is their cyber cheap.

Incidentally, I tried the just-get-the-FP-once-per-cargo-type rule and it worked fanrastically. I allowed people to re-set their trading options if they upgraded a ship or died (same as losing a bounty). I liked it that it didn't change the fundamental flow of the game but it did make traders pause and think - should I keep trading for cash or go look for a new market for FP? Of course, once Loath and Smuggler's Den appear, shuttling between them becomes the solution - but that's always a possibility.
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bird94us wrote:
Our house rule that mitigates the "two planets of the same cube color right next to each other" issue: you can trade as often as you'd like, but you only get Fame once for each cube color.

We save a cube on the corner of our ship mat to track which colors we've received Fame for.

Works great for us.
I haven't played the game enough to know, but wouldn't this method (or Jonathan's 1 FP per cube per ship method) make it too easy to get money? The ability to consistently get $2000-$3000 per turn (and with a bigger ship $3k-$4k per turn) sounds huge to me. Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure seems that way.
 
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Jethrone wrote:
bird94us wrote:
Our house rule that mitigates the "two planets of the same cube color right next to each other" issue: you can trade as often as you'd like, but you only get Fame once for each cube color.

We save a cube on the corner of our ship mat to track which colors we've received Fame for.

Works great for us.
I haven't played the game enough to know, but wouldn't this method (or Jonathan's 1 FP per cube per ship method) make it too easy to get money? The ability to consistently get $2000-$3000 per turn (and with a bigger ship $3k-$4k per turn) sounds huge to me. Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure seems that way.
You can get rich with an unusually fortuitous set up trading planets - but it's hard to win the game with cash. You can only buy 1FP per turn and you can't buy your winning FP - each purchase costs 5K which is pricey even with big hauls. Once you've upgraded to Tier III and bought the outfits you want (and which you can fit into your hold while still leaving space for cargo) there's nothing much to _do_ with money. My grievance with trading is that it makes you rich AND gives you +1FP every time you empty your hold - a double whammy. If you're not gaining the FPs every time, I've no problem with players getting rich because the game can still be won by a player who missiles the Scoundrel every turn or who completes Missions or gains Titles.
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Thanks for explaining that. That makes sense. I guess that may not be as true for 5 or 10 point games (training new players), where being the first with a level 3 ship would really make a difference. I might use different variants with different lengths of games.
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Rapscallion_69 wrote:
deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
I don't. This game was written with a backstory you destroy when you randomize trade routes.

From my review:

Xia is about story

Doravin V is a tree-hugger's back-to-nature paradise, with fertile homesteads attracting those wanting a simpler life. It needs "cybernetics" ie: technology, but has lots of "terra" to sell — terra being anything produced by rocky planets: crops, minerals etc...

Kemplar II is the seat of power of a post-war decaying and corrupt government, whose opulent palaces and marble streets are now slowly fading into ruin . It can sell you spice and wants...well..."holo" products because the masses need their entertainment.

You can get "holo" at Azure, the pleasure and tourist centre of Xia's little drift system in exchange of course for the raw materials or "terra" Azure needs to make it.

There's a beautiful symbiosis to Xia's trade routes, but you can ignore all that. That's a lot of text to read, right? Then you're just playing a game where you're moving minis around a map and pushing different coloured cubes. Now you can blame the designer for creating a game as dry as dust.

- End Excerpt -
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mikecl wrote:
Rapscallion_69 wrote:
deadmarlowe wrote:
I don't like randomising the market either. You sell plasma in Lunari; that's what makes Lunari the planet it is, it's the place you go to to sell your plasma.
I disagree with this line of thinking. When Lunari has received a shipment of Plasma, they would be looking for some other good because their need for Plasma has been sated. Seems utterly natural and in line with the way markets actually work.
I don't. This game was written with a backstory you destroy when you randomize trade routes.

From my review:

Xia is about story

Doravin V is a tree-hugger's back-to-nature paradise, with fertile homesteads attracting those wanting a simpler life. It needs "cybernetics" ie: technology, but has lots of "terra" to sell — terra being anything produced by rocky planets: crops, minerals etc...

Kemplar II is the seat of power of a post-war decaying and corrupt government, whose opulent palaces and marble streets are now slowly fading into ruin . It can sell you spice and wants...well..."holo" products because the masses need their entertainment.

You can get "holo" at Azure, the pleasure and tourist centre of Xia's little drift system in exchange of course for the raw materials or "terra" Azure needs to make it.

There's a beautiful symbiosis to Xia's trade routes, but you can ignore all that. That's a lot of text to read, right? Then you're just playing a game where you're moving minis around a map and pushing different coloured cubes. Now you can blame the designer for creating a game as dry as dust.

- End Excerpt -
I love it! I'm going to print this out and use it while I'm teaching new players. (The manual doesn't lay it out with such clarity.) With this in mind, I guess I'll continue to use the 'Draw a new sector if a planet is touching a trading planet' for shorter games, and the '1 FP per cube type per ship' method for longer games.
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The best workaround my group has thought up that has worked well so far is to make it to where to continue getting points for trading, you have to keep completing the circuit the Merchant travels.
In the early game, it encourages exploration at least until all of the main 5 planets are discovered. And usually even if a handful of favorable trade routes come out, there are going to be at least 1 or 2 out of the way planets that will require some time to get to for trading.
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alan Young
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I tried a few different trading mods.
varying the planets sell hex (dynamic trade routes) alternatively I tried the resource supply limit mod.
but neither seemed to fix the issue, dynamic trade routes was interesting but half the time the trade would get a super short run. while the resource supply limit was just too much to keep track of and was an overly complex rule.

My personal opinion agrees that there is imbalance in the victory conditions, but that can be fixed by modifying the other rules than trading (However i play with the house rule that planets do not spawn next to each other). Basically trading is too strong because combat is weak. the scoudrel is pointlessly weak whilst the enforcer is a significant deterrent to getting a bounty. And it is for this reason I like two rules posted by "rent13579" in his 'Xia - Year 3690' mod (link below).

Basically the impact rule improves combat by making priates a legit threat to crucial systems. whether it is damage to the OP shield or crippling the engines the impact rule makes traders more susceptible to damage. while the progress cards also make the NPC better which should put extra pressure on the players.

This is a most try mod!
https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/124390/xia-year-3690
 
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