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Subject: Very chaotic game rss

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Garfield Cat
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Hi

We (5 players) played it yesterday. The game is easy to learn, but we had a terrible teacher. But after one or two rounds we understood the mechanics.

It was ok as long as players had only 2 or 3 attachments to their machine. But as soon as you have too many possibilities it's getting boring for other people watching you rolling dice...

So we started playing simultaneously. Now we were much faster, but almost no interaction, pure chaos. It ended up in a boring, too long solitary game where you were tempted to cheat.

And I don't like games with a high random factor. Rolling dice, random cards.

I don't want to imagine how this play with 8 players...

And instead of these nice looking cogs, they should have invested in better player figures than these cardboard figures which are hard to distinguish.
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Estonia
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I disagree with you.

This is not a random game. And - apologies that this is not your fault directly - I absolutely HATE people calling games random just because they have dice.

Dice are NOT random if you look at what a die represents and in a game like Steampunk Rally you roll a LOT of dice and it's all about mitigating whatever the dice roll is.

The game has uses for bad rolls, it has cogs for adjusting die pips and multiple other systems in place.

In fact, this is one of the least random games with dice that I have played.

What dice are for is tactical games. Dice make the game more tactical. Just like shuffling cards makes games more tactical. Or event cards. And so on and on.

Not random. Tactical.

Yes there are games that you can call random because of dice, but they are just bad implementations of dice as a mechanism. Steampunk Rally is a good implementation of dice.
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Garfield Cat
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At the beginning it's very random if you get a very useful store card for example. Or if you roll a 1 or a 6 and you only have one type of invention (e.g. divided by whatever). For example:
If I have only inventions attached where it's not important what pips are shown, I'm fucked up if I only roll high numbers. Yeah of course, you should balance your machine with both types. But in the beginning it's not always possible.

Or in your words "I absolutely HATE people calling games tactical just because there are two options where you can put your dice"

But you're right, it's more tactical than other games with dice.

My bigger concern was the chaotic part! It felt like it could be the same fun playing this against some AI on the tablet...
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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The game flows very quickly when played simultaneously. And, frankly, there's no reason not to. So with this in mind, there's close to 0 interaction between players (sans few event cards). Such is the nature of most race games, though.

I enjoy Steampunk Rally a lot and also second Kristo's comment above. To be precise: yes the game is random. No, it doesn't mean is chaotic. Randomness can be controlled. If you have to make a coin and you want the tails result, tossing one coin is a random result you cannot control. Tossing 10 coins is quite close to have a guarantee.
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Jared Voshall
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To begin with, let me define the terms that I will be using throughout this post. Randomness refers to the likelyhood of a particular event occurring, such as drawing a card that uses the die color you have available for effect. On the other hand, when I talk about Chaos, I will be referring to how much control you, as a player, have over how well you do in the game.

Now that that's out of the way, yes - there is a fair amount of randomness in the game, and there's rather a high level of chaos during the first few turns, when you don't yet have the tools to control it - which is to say the Parts, Cogs, and Bonus Dice. However, there's not as much randomness as you may think, and even turn one, there's not actually that much chaos in the game.

Each turn, you draw one card from each of the part piles and draft the one that best fits your machine. While this seems very random at first blush, it's really not. Each of the piles has a different focus - one pile contains nothing but Boost cards, which can greatly change the way a number of turns play out; one is dominated by Movement effects; one is dominated by Dice Generation effects; and the final one are general utility parts. What this means is that you are guaranteed to see at least one of each type of part each turn, and likely will see more of a given type based on what the other players are doing (I've had a few games where I ended up with 3 boost cards in one turn due to no one else wanting them). This is also where most of the interaction comes into play - it may be worth more for you to burn a part that would be very useful for an opponent for Cogs or Dice than to take that part that will give you a marginal benefit on your own machine.

The next phase, the Venting Phase, starts off relatively unimportant and grows in importance as the game goes on. What dice you spend cogs to reduce and when is a very large part of the strategy of the game, and where you need to make a decision - will you use a cog generation strategy to keep a relatively small machine working efficiently, or will you use new parts to keep running rough-shod over the terrain, using the damage to get rid of parts that are too clogged to do you any good? There is absolutely no randomness here, and the few Boost cards that affect everyone means there's also a low amount of Chaos.

Randomness does resurface in the Race phase, but there is relatively little Chaos here as well. While it does start off relatively high, it goes down as you add Parts to better use the various numbers you roll as well as generating additional dice, Cogs to improve the numbers on the dice that you roll, and simply number of dice you generate to roll to generate the numbers you need and/or want. There's lots of decisions to make, and what you decide may have an impact over many turns.

Finally, we come to the end phase, where we again have no Randomness or Chaos. Discard parts to cover damage taken, discard any unused dice, and get ready for the next turn.

Really, there's enough different numbers and ways to modify the dice that it becomes a more tactical decision rather than simply being Chaotic Randomness. However, there is relatively little player interaction, due to it being a Drafting/Racing hybrid, both of which tend to be fairly light on the player interaction front. For me, it's a thoroughly enjoyable game, but I can understand it not being for everyone.
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Garfield Cat
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By chaotic I didn't mean the random stuff, I meant the simultan playing. Everyone rolls, change dice, change cogs. You have no clue what's going on, except for you. I can't even see what the inventions do of a player next to my neighbours.

But I like to interact with people. But this game feels like I can play it on a tablet against AI and it would be the same level of fun. The big interaction is the drafting phase when you're passing cards.
 
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I personally don't use simultaneous play and don't play with more than 6. Turns don't take long at all, what I am doing is that everybody can activate one card on their turn and then it is next players turn again.

It works really well in this case and you don't have to wait too long between turns while still paying attention to what everybody is doing. This is actually even required in situations where a card may be played that affects another player due to timing issues.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Some excellent responses here. I mainly will jump on the rebuttal bandwagon.

Yes, there is randomness and chaos in this game. That's part of the fun. How do you deal with it? In the card draft, what card to you keep? Do you add it to your machine or cash it in for dice or cogs? Do you select one that primarily benefits you or to deny your neighbor a card you think they need? Once in Race Phase, how do you apply the dice you've rolled? What are the best combinations of pips? If you've done it right both a 6 and a 1 are good rolls.

FYI, if you read the rule book, it specifically tells us to play simultaneously for virtually the entire sequence of phases. It suggests playing sequentially only for learning the game and in the occasional situation where the order makes a difference. This significantly speeds the game up; though has the unfortunate side-effect of making it largely parallel solitaire at times--especially when it is fun to watch someone's machine go off in an epic chain reaction. My group tends to plot out what they are doing simultaneously, then we go slightly sequential just to watch what happens.

The game plays quite well at all player counts from 2 through 8. I've played most and it works. The 8 player game even was with almost half the players new to the game.

I will agree that the standees can be difficult to distinguish. They ended up with so many inventors that the colors had to be a little too close to each other. A larger standee and better color differentiation would help. Minis would not work well--there's only so much room there and even with the current size standees, it can get really crowded in larger player counts (i.e., miniatures are not always the right answer).

This game is not necessarily for everyone and that's ok.
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Matt Smith
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GarfieldKlon wrote:
At the beginning it's very random if you get a very useful store card for example. Or if you roll a 1 or a 6 and you only have one type of invention (e.g. divided by whatever). For example:
If I have only inventions attached where it's not important what pips are shown, I'm fucked up if I only roll high numbers. Yeah of course, you should balance your machine with both types. But in the beginning it's not always possible.

I had the same impression when I first played the game, but have come to understand that is a misconception of a new player. It's very easy to become attached to the machine you've built, and you get frustrated when you don't get the dice you want and clog your parts with high numbers. An experienced player would simply drive farther and sacrifice the clogged parts to resolve damage (or simply choose to discard the clogged parts), then draft shiny new parts on the next turn. As another poster said, you're guaranteed to start each draft phase with a choice between a movement card, a dice generation card, a utility card and a boost card, and you will also have access to all dice colors and cogs. Unless you make really poor choices, you can't get hosed by the dice over the course of a full game. Individual dice rolls may be bad, but you can manage your drafts and machine to take advantage of almost anything.
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Paul Saxberg
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GarfieldKlon wrote:
By chaotic I didn't mean the random stuff, I meant the simultan playing. Everyone rolls, change dice, change cogs. You have no clue what's going on, except for you. I can't even see what the inventions do of a player next to my neighbours.

But I like to interact with people. But this game feels like I can play it on a tablet against AI and it would be the same level of fun. The big interaction is the drafting phase when you're passing cards.


Hey GarfieldKlon,

Thanks for coming back here and clarifying what you meant! If your concern is that the play experience feels chaotic, with too many things to pay attention to at once, then yes, I agree that's a different complaint than what many of the people in this thread are talking about (the idea that dice or card-draw randomness will affect their chances of winning).

There are definitely people who prefer to play Steampunk Rally as a turn-based game, partly because they feel the way you do, but also because it can be interesting to watch other players, and it also reduces the possibility of accidental or intentional cheating. As a couple of people in the thread have observed, yes, this is going to be a better solution with a lower player count.

We are working on the expansion now and while the core rules are similar, we have heard from you and others like you that more player interaction should be in the game. So one of our design goals is to try to scratch that itch for people without sacrificing the speed benefit of simultaneous play for those who want to play it that way.

Thanks for your feedback!
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Garfield Cat
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Playing sequentially would be fine if all players are ablo to do their turn within 1min. But as usual you have one or more persons that take 5min...
 
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Kenny Johnson
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I can say that I teach a lot of games and Steampunk Rally is one of my least favorite games to teach. It's not a complicated game, but there is a lot to cover and I usually spend most of the game answering people's questions.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Really? In my experience, it's one of the lighter games to teach.

Here, 4 stacks of cards, we will draft at the beginning of round. We will get some of them, then build, then there's this special vent phase, then it's race. Build your machine using common sense, you can rearrange freely. The icons are on the back of your hint cards, it's just dice of given color, move, damage and repair. Here's how the damage dial works. Vent is just a way of removing your dice from cards, you need empty spaces on cards to put new dice. Your hint card gives you options on how to vent, mostly using cogs. These cogs are also just ways of mitigate luck. Divide the total on the dice by the number, get that many multiplied results. If it's a star, it always matches the total of dice placed (giving always one result). May the best inventor win!

Done... ?
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Kenny Johnson
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rattkin wrote:
Really? In my experience, it's one of the lighter games to teach.

Here, 4 stacks of cards, we will draft at the beginning of round. We will get some of them, then build, then there's this special vent phase, then it's race. Build your machine using common sense, you can rearrange freely. The icons are on the back of your hint cards, it's just dice of given color, move, damage and repair. Here's how the damage dial works. Vent is just a way of removing your dice from cards, you need empty spaces on cards to put new dice. Your hint card gives you options on how to vent, mostly using cogs. These cogs are also just ways of mitigate luck. Divide the total on the dice by the number, get that many multiplied results. If it's a star, it always matches the total of dice placed (giving always one result). May the best inventor win!

Done... ?


That's a good overview, but there's also quite a bit of minutia... and that's where things start to bog down and I get a lot of questions. It doesn't help that most games I taught had mostly new people. But I can't remember a time I played where I wasn't constantly answering rules questions for people.

So yes, the overall concept isn't too tough to understand, but people get tripped up about things like smooth movement vs regular movement, dice you need to divide vs single action dice. Changing the pips on the die, whether you can vent 1 pip value down on two different dice, can I play this boost card now? Can I activate this card, move, then activate this card? etc. etc.

Granted you can cover a lot of that in rules explanations, but for whatever reason, I teach games all the time and this is the only one that seems to be tough for me... so much so, that I stopped bringing it to meetups, because I don't want to teach it to new people.

 
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Orin Bishop
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I agree my game can be challenging to teach with some groups. I find there's a point (usually after a round or two) where things click, but it can be challenging for people to grok it through explanation alone.

Generally what I'll do is throw people in with only the basics (I don't even talk about venting in the first round), and I try to start new players with one of the more basic inventors who generates the same type of die as their basic propulsion so they will at least learn the basic mechanics of dice placement and movement right away, and of course I play the first couple rounds one person at a time (starting with someone who knows what they're doing) offering play suggestions as people go.

I appreciate the efforts of all rules-explainers to share the game with other people. Regardless of style it's always going to be better than someone trying to learn any game out of a rulebook.
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Mike Schmitzer
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@Garfield Cat: You nailed it. This was exact our experience.
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Erwin Anciano
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GarfieldKlon wrote:
At the beginning it's very random if you get a very useful store card for example. Or if you roll a 1 or a 6 and you only have one type of invention (e.g. divided by whatever). For example:
If I have only inventions attached where it's not important what pips are shown, I'm fucked up if I only roll high numbers. Yeah of course, you should balance your machine with both types. But in the beginning it's not always possible.

Or in your words "I absolutely HATE people calling games tactical just because there are two options where you can put your dice"

But you're right, it's more tactical than other games with dice.

My bigger concern was the chaotic part! It felt like it could be the same fun playing this against some AI on the tablet...


I have to agree with Slashdoctor, this game is not very random. It has dice and card drawing, yes, but the game goes through great lengths to mitigate that. This game is far more skill-intensive than it is random.

Now, if everyone playing it had no idea what they were doing, then yes it would look very random. But someone highly-skilled will almost always wipe the floor with lesser-skilled players because he has a strategy in mind and drafts synergistic cards properly, so even "bad" dice rolls and "poor" drafts will get him up and running sooner or later.

While it's definitely possible to have sheer bad luck and just not get the cards you need at all, it's a very unlikely occurrence. Since all the cards and good and there are only a few really powerful cards, you can make something out of nothing regardless of luck of the draw -- but you must note that skilled opponents will be looking at the machine you've built and will purposefully screw you by scrapping or drafting cards that you need.

For instance, last night I played the game and couldn't get any parts that gave me movement boosts for a long time because the owner of the game was passing stuff to me and he knew what I needed so he tried to screw me. So instead I focused on building a dice engine first and later on I eventually got the moving parts I needed, and while I was last for most of the game I blew threw everyone in the last two rounds because my engine was up and running.

You have to work with what you are given, and in this game whatever you are given there's always a way to make it work.

The high skill ceiling means that this game will always be better played with a human than an AI, unless the AI is especially well-programmed.

If by "chaotic" you mean that you have no idea what your opponents are doing, then you should pay attention! When I played this I looked at the people who I pass my stuff to. I could tell what they were trying to do, so I did my best to screw their draft as much as I could. You can do this even with simultaneous turns. If I were to program an AI for this game I would tell it to look at what other players are doing and factor that in for the importance of what card to draft.


I do agree though that if you do simultaneous play, you lose out on seeing what your opponent is doing. But if you do turns one at a time, the game does have some terrible downtime as a result, which I don't like. The downtime is probably my only complaint about this game.
 
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Erwin Anciano
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rattkin wrote:
Really? In my experience, it's one of the lighter games to teach.

Here, 4 stacks of cards, we will draft at the beginning of round. We will get some of them, then build, then there's this special vent phase, then it's race. Build your machine using common sense, you can rearrange freely. The icons are on the back of your hint cards, it's just dice of given color, move, damage and repair. Here's how the damage dial works. Vent is just a way of removing your dice from cards, you need empty spaces on cards to put new dice. Your hint card gives you options on how to vent, mostly using cogs. These cogs are also just ways of mitigate luck. Divide the total on the dice by the number, get that many multiplied results. If it's a star, it always matches the total of dice placed (giving always one result). May the best inventor win!

Done... ?


It's extremely easy to teach to experienced gamers. It's terrible when teaching to less-advanced gamers.

I grasped the entire game in like 5 minutes of explanation. Maybe less. But other people had to ask over and over some things, like venting, etc. Some people are just bad at reading the player reference. There's a lot to keep track of and someone who's not used to gaming mechanics will not be able to take it all in.

It's like Argent the Consortium. That game is super simple in reality but teaching it is a bitch.
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Michael Müllner
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GarfieldKlon wrote:
By chaotic I didn't mean the random stuff, I meant the simultan playing. Everyone rolls, change dice, change cogs. You have no clue what's going on, except for you. I can't even see what the inventions do of a player next to my neighbours.


I think GarfieldKlon has nailed it. My gaming group tried the game for the first time last weekend and that was exactly our experience. We had a 6 player game and started with turn order and no simultaneous play. Our biggest beef with the game was that in our opinion simultaneous play was a no-go in any case, as there are plenty of situations where turn order is crucial! What if your cockpit explodes? You´re supposed to move your vehicle behind the last player - but where IS the last player if everyone goes at the same time? Some card effects allow you to take dice away from other players - but if you play simultaneously, chances are they already used them and moved their piece...
Because of this we played in turn order and there are PLENTY of ways to make a mistake (and potentially cheat without meaning to) even with ererybody watching and helping each other out. If you do all of this simultaneously, the chances of screwing up and thereby cheating increase exponentially. The even bigger problem then became that the downtime for everybody waiting their turn was significant, thus severely slowing up a game that is meant to be speedy.

Bottom line is, none of the other players had a great experience and Iˋm probably the only one who would give the game a second chance. This is very sad, because I think at the core this COULD be a great game and I would like to try it again. BUT not with more than 4 players and NOT with simultaneous turns.

 
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Paul Saxberg
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One small clarification, nobody should be exploding during any phase except the damage phase, as damage is not resolved in any other phases. Thus, explosion timing should never be unclear.

Your other points are noted though! Thank you for the feedback, as always.
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Gavan Brown
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Quote:
We had a 6 player game and started with turn order and no simultaneous play.


Michael,

The game is designed as a simultaneous resolution game, we would never suggest playing it in turn order.

In an average turn-based eurogame, you are generally making about 30-50 decisions. In Steampunk Rally, you are performing probably 200-300 actions. This is only made possible through simultaneous resolution. Otherwise a 6 player game would take hours upon hours, and of course not be fun.

Because the game is played with phases, there are no timing issues. The only timing issue possible, is when multiple players want to play vent phase boost card. These are resolved in turn order. But even this is a rare issue.

There is no issue with exploding, since all damage is resolved in the damage phase, not during the race phase.

I strongly suggest you try the game again the way it was designed to be played, using simultaneous resolution.

If you need help with learning the game, please don't hesitate to email us at info@roxley.com and we'd be glad to help you out with any rules questions you may have.

Keep rollin' sixes,

Gavan
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Michael Müllner
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Hey Gavan,
first of all, I´m impressed by the swift response, it´s great to see the designers take an interest and supporting the players like this.
I do stand corrected, you are right that the exploding inventions would not result in a timing conflict. I also just looked through all cards that involve a "take that" element, like taking dice away from other players - no timing issues there either, all these cards are clearly labeled and seem to all take place during the vent phase. Lastly the rulebook does point out that the game is meant to be played simultaneously and to take care to make sure that all players end one phase before starting another. I´ll make it a point to let my gaming group know and will push for a second chance with all rules as they were intended. Sorry if my comment has reflected poorly on your game, this was due to a misconception of the rules on my part!

Happy gaming!
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Gavan Brown
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hogfather1304 wrote:
Hey Gavan,
first of all, I´m impressed by the swift response, it´s great to see the designers take an interest and supporting the players like this.
I do stand corrected, you are right that the exploding inventions would not result in a timing conflict. I also just looked through all cards that involve a "take that" element, like taking dice away from other players - no timing issues there either, all these cards are clearly labeled and seem to all take place during the vent phase. Lastly the rulebook does point out that the game is meant to be played simultaneously and to take care to make sure that all players end one phase before starting another. I´ll make it a point to let my gaming group know and will push for a second chance with all rules as they were intended. Sorry if my comment has reflected poorly on your game, this was due to a misconception of the rules on my part!

Happy gaming!


Michael,

No problem at all! Because we are all so conditioned to playing games in turn order, it may take a mental leap for your group to play with simultaneous resolution. It will almost most certainly improve the experience. Just note that the development of all the content and the entire round structure completely revolves around ensuring there are no timing issues with simultaneous resolution.

Thanks for playing and I hope you are able to give it another go!

Gavan
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