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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » General

Subject: After two plays, I am loving this game rss

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Matt Daniels
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Just wanted to say I have really enjoyed Star Trek Ascendancy. I really feel that Trek theme coming through, and the factions play differently and distinctively, as they should. The components are great, the gameplay is interesting, and there is tons of replayability with the variable board design, the huge range of planets and discoveries, and the wide variety of technological advancements, all of which are faction-specific (yay!)

My only two negatives are that the planets and discoveries are very "luck of the draw" - it's possible that one player will get very poor draws, losing ships to hazards and having too few colony options, while another gets a lot of sweet planets and can pull ahead.

The other concern is that each player's turn can take a while as they build things and evaluate an increasing pool of command options. In a game with more than three players (possible only with the forthcoming expansions), there will likely be a lot of downtime for any one player.

However, the positives here greatly outnumber the negatives. I would strongly recommend grabbing the first printing that comes with the bonus 50th anniversary cards.
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Gunnar Maluf
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Nice! I am excited to play it. I preordered the base game and both expansions.

One thing that one can do to mitigate the chance of drawing "bad planets" more often than good planets is to separate the bad ones, shufle them, and add 3 of them after 3 of good planets.

So the pile would look like this: 3 good - 3 bad - 3 good - 3 bad and so on. (For more players, change the number 3 for the number of players)

This way (considering one player can not draw more than one planet on his turn) each player would get a good one and a bad one interchangeably.

I would prefer drawing them without separating.
 
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Chris McGuire
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I'm definitely planning to grab it asap! I wish I knew an exact release date.

I only just learned about the game thanks to the Dice Tower/Secret Cabal GenCon preview episodes, but now I'm obsessed with it. I'm a huge Star Trek fan and a huge strategy game and 4X fan. So the prospect of playing a Trek strategy game with so much variability between plays and lots of expansion potential is super exciting.
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Nova Cat
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gunnarmaluf wrote:
One thing that one can do to mitigate the chance of drawing "bad planets" more often than good planets is to separate the bad ones, shufle them, and add 3 of them after 3 of good planets.

So the pile would look like this: 3 good - 3 bad - 3 good - 3 bad and so on. (For more players, change the number 3 for the number of players)

The risk there is that a player may choose not to explore if they know that a "bad" system is about to come up. That could lead to a stalemate where no one wants to explore into a bad system.

There is a natural compensation for players who get a run of bad luck. Other players are more likely to establish trade with an opponent that they see as less of a threat.
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Gunnar Maluf
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Novacat wrote:
gunnarmaluf wrote:
One thing that one can do to mitigate the chance of drawing "bad planets" more often than good planets is to separate the bad ones, shufle them, and add 3 of them after 3 of good planets.

So the pile would look like this: 3 good - 3 bad - 3 good - 3 bad and so on. (For more players, change the number 3 for the number of players)

The risk there is that a player may choose not to explore if they know that a "bad" system is about to come up. That could lead to a stalemate where no one wants to explore into a bad system.

There is a natural compensation for players who get a run of bad luck. Other players are more likely to establish trade with an opponent that they see as less of a threat.


Or they can pretty much exterminate them if they are weak. I think pre-selecting the planets (good or bad) that will be drawn takes out some of the fun of the dicovery factor and I probably would not use it myself.
 
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John Godwin
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gunnarmaluf wrote:
Nice! I am excited to play it. I preordered the base game and both expansions.

One thing that one can do to mitigate the chance of drawing "bad planets" more often than good planets is to separate the bad ones, shufle them, and add 3 of them after 3 of good planets.

So the pile would look like this: 3 good - 3 bad - 3 good - 3 bad and so on. (For more players, change the number 3 for the number of players)

This way (considering one player can not draw more than one planet on his turn) each player would get a good one and a bad one interchangeably.

I would prefer drawing them without separating.



Players can draw more than one planet on their turn. You can draw as many as you can gain access to.
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Angelus Seniores
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what you could do otherwise is to make a pile of planets per player, making sure that each pile is equivalent in value/danger, but of course stacked randomly.
each player would be drawing new systems from their stack only until it runs out (then they can draw from any other player's stack).

this way, whatever planets you find, you should end up in a relatively equal position until your stack runs out
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Jason Preder
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I think the biggest problem with 4X strategy games like this are that each player takes ALL of their actions on their turn before the next player can go. This leads to so much down time.
I wonder if someone could come up with a variant to have each player take 1 action, and continue to round robin the actions until all players pass, then ending the round and doing a reset.
This seems like it would work a lot better for down time, and it would be great if we could get rules to support this.
Again, this is not limited to this game, it seems to be a larger problem with 4x games following archaic rule conventions that lack innovation.
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John Godwin
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MilkFromACow wrote:
I think the biggest problem with 4X strategy games like this are that each player takes ALL of their actions on their turn before the next player can go. This leads to so much down time.
I wonder if someone could come up with a variant to have each player take 1 action, and continue to round robin the actions until all players pass, then ending the round and doing a reset.
This seems like it would work a lot better for down time, and it would be great if we could get rules to support this.
Again, this is not limited to this game, it seems to be a larger problem with 4x games following archaic rule conventions that lack innovation.


When we do big 6+ games I plan to GM and have people on opposite ends of the table take turns at the same time.
 
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Alex Almond
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Alternate turns don't work, the game and some of the races are designed to use a series of commands in a row. GF9 is well aware that generally splitting the turn up is better for the game, they haven't implemented that because batch command use is integral to the design.

You can spend up the game greatly by providing good instruction when you teach it and simple house rules.

If you want to discuss trade agreements then talk whilst taking your actions or preferably whilst someone else is doing his, don't waffle whilst others are waiting.

Usually the next player can start taking his turn once the initial player starts with his last action.

If the results of dice rolling (hazard/battle, etc) won't change what you might want to leave doing it until last and the next player can start whilst you work out the results.

As soon as you've finished your turn start collecting your resources into a separate pile and plan out what you are going to buy, and how much you want to devote to turn order.

Basically plan don't just wait till it gets to you.

Now things can happen to change things but most of the time they won't or they won't cause huge changes to your actions.

For a fairer start to the game flip through the system deck taking out 2 node planets until you get 2 for each player, shuffle both stacks and give each player 2x disks face down, these will be the first worlds they discover. Now flip though the exploration decks and remove player x2 of virgin, and civilization cards. Shuffle and hand face down to each player. When discovering the first 2 world each player can swap one of these cards for a random card out of the deck if they wish.

 
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Jason Preder
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Darkmancer wrote:
Alternate turns don't work, the game and some of the races are designed to use a series of commands in a row. GF9 is well aware that generally splitting the turn up is better for the game, they haven't implemented that because batch command use is integral to the design.

You can spend up the game greatly by providing good instruction when you teach it and simple house rules.

If you want to discuss trade agreements then talk whilst taking your actions or preferably whilst someone else is doing his, don't waffle whilst others are waiting.

Usually the next player can start taking his turn once the initial player starts with his last action.

If the results of dice rolling (hazard/battle, etc) won't change what you might want to leave doing it until last and the next player can start whilst you work out the results.

As soon as you've finished your turn start collecting your resources into a separate pile and plan out what you are going to buy, and how much you want to devote to turn order.

Basically plan don't just wait till it gets to you.

Now things can happen to change things but most of the time they won't or they won't cause huge changes to your actions.

For a fairer start to the game flip through the system deck taking out 2 node planets until you get 2 for each player, shuffle both stacks and give each player 2x disks face down, these will be the first worlds they discover. Now flip though the exploration decks and remove player x2 of virgin, and civilization cards. Shuffle and hand face down to each player. When discovering the first 2 world each player can swap one of these cards for a random card out of the deck if they wish.



Can you explain why it is integral to the design or provide an example of when this wouldn't work?
I had a terrible demo experience, so I'm just curious to ask of someone who seems to clearly understand the game much better than I.
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Shrouded In Mystery
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Having things like interrupts helps in these situations (some way to keep player's actively interested in an opponents turn).
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George
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MilkFromACow wrote:
I think the biggest problem with 4X strategy games like this are that each player takes ALL of their actions on their turn before the next player can go. This leads to so much down time.
I wonder if someone could come up with a variant to have each player take 1 action, and continue to round robin the actions until all players pass, then ending the round and doing a reset.
This seems like it would work a lot better for down time, and it would be great if we could get rules to support this.
Again, this is not limited to this game, it seems to be a larger problem with 4x games following archaic rule conventions that lack innovation.


I did a 3 hour demo at Gen Con (we ended early) but we only got a handful of turns into it, so I can't speak to this game with any real knowledge. But I have considered downtime quite a bit when playtesting expansions to Clash of Cultures and Merchants & Marauders and trying to come with variants to reduce perceived downtime (and didn't make much progress).

Going around doing 1 action at a time can actually be worse.

There is a certain amount of time spent just switching to the next player. There is time spent processing and reacting to what the previous players did. A certain amount of "downtime" can actually be beneficial to plan your turn.

There can also be ridiculous cat & mouse pursuits if you can only make 1 movement at a time. Player A moves 1 space closer to Player B. Player B moves 1 space away. Repeat.

A group of actions can also make help give a player a feeling of accomplishing something on their turn, rather than an insignificant move and going back to waiting for their turn to come back around again.

But there is certainly a balance to be struck. In Ascendancy, you have 5 commands at the start and I guess that could grow to 7-8 or more. Maybe it would be better to limit that to 4 command "chunks"? Maybe not if a typical use of commands is:
1) Enter Warp
2) Add Warp
3) Add Warp
4) Exit Warp

Boom, 4 commands gone in one move action. I haven't played enough to second-guess if they struck the right balance or not.

I do wonder why the Build Phase isn't simultaneous. Guessing as you make contact, the amount of energy you devote to new ships could really depend on what the previous player built (and if they attacked you!).

So those are some thoughts on why downtime is a hard issue to solve. I certainly applaud the desire to minimize it!
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Alex Almond
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MilkFromACow wrote:


Can you explain why it is integral to the design or provide an example of when this wouldn't work?
I had a terrible demo experience, so I'm just curious to ask of someone who seems to clearly understand the game much better than I.


A surprise attack/invasion, really isn't a surprise anymore.

If you park ships on lanes as soon as one ship is moved next to you can move single singles behind it making any advance a huge grind.

Using engaging the enemy fleet using multiple fleets becomes impossible, as does flanking, cutting off enemy retreat, etc.

That's just with 1v1, with more players it would be easy to effectively pin a player and not allow him to do anything, now 2 players attacking it still sucks balls but you still have a great deal of agency in the game.

It's for the same reason that build stages aren't simultaneous. imagine a 4/5 player game you could easily have your fleet wiped out before it get to you and you'd have nothing much to do. Now as long as you have a homeworld or a starbase you can plonk a fleet of ships down and still have a significant impact on the game.

Fundermentally Twilight Imperium 3 uses single action turns except each of those single actions represent using a batch of commands in Ascendancy, eg to move, and take a hex in TI3 1 - token. In ascendancy that would be 2 command to move, 1 for the space battle, 1 for the planetary invasion. It's not that your really doing that much more, just that the cost for taking an action is more broken down.

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Jason Preder
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Darkmancer wrote:
MilkFromACow wrote:


Can you explain why it is integral to the design or provide an example of when this wouldn't work?
I had a terrible demo experience, so I'm just curious to ask of someone who seems to clearly understand the game much better than I.


A surprise attack/invasion, really isn't a surprise anymore.

If you park ships on lanes as soon as one ship is moved next to you can move single singles behind it making any advance a huge grind.

Using engaging the enemy fleet using multiple fleets becomes impossible, as does flanking, cutting off enemy retreat, etc.

That's just with 1v1, with more players it would be easy to effectively pin a player and not allow him to do anything, now 2 players attacking it still sucks balls but you still have a great deal of agency in the game.

It's for the same reason that build stages aren't simultaneous. imagine a 4/5 player game you could easily have your fleet wiped out before it get to you and you'd have nothing much to do. Now as long as you have a homeworld or a starbase you can plonk a fleet of ships down and still have a significant impact on the game.

Fundermentally Twilight Imperium 3 uses single action turns except each of those single actions represent using a batch of commands in Ascendancy, eg to move, and take a hex in TI3 1 - token. In ascendancy that would be 2 command to move, 1 for the space battle, 1 for the planetary invasion. It's not that your really doing that much more, just that the cost for taking an action is more broken down.



Thanks! I actually got to play the game last night and I now understand why it would be difficult. All of your suggestions for speeding the game up are good and valid. Also, the standard speedup rules could be a good adjustment, especially the 4 culture to purchase and Ascendancy.
 
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Angelus Seniores
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using the rule that 4 culture=ascendancy level would indeed speed up the game but im not sure if the game would be as fulfilling.

what i mean is that some factions can receive culture relatively easy early on and you then run the risk of someone winning before the players get to actually meet and interact/have a chance to counter such a race.

races that become good late game will have little time to play out their advantages.
 
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Jason Preder
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Angelsenior wrote:
using the rule that 4 culture=ascendancy level would indeed speed up the game but im not sure if the game would be as fulfilling.

what i mean is that some factions can receive culture relatively easy early on and you then run the risk of someone winning before the players get to actually meet and interact/have a chance to counter such a race.

races that become good late game will have little time to play out their advantages.


Agreed to some extent. It probably just depends on how you are playing the game and the group you are playing with. I think (4 culture = ascendancy) would have been perfect for us, because our game took well over 3 hours, and we are NOT an AP group at all.
Gaining ascendancy faster just pushes other to attack you faster in my opinion. Rather than build forces and tech to max levels, you have to make due with what you have.
 
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