The rules state that in a 2- or 3-player game, you remove the bottom refugium from each landform deck. Having worked through my session report, I understand this as a way to manage catalyst population. (Though I could be wrong.)
In a four player game, there should roughly be twice as many catalysts in play as in a two player game. Catalysts on refugia are sort of a cooperative project; no player owns a particular refugium and any player can benefit from catalysts there, particularly when smite comes calling. In a four player game, because catalysts are more abundant overall, one might expect that more would be spent protecting refugia, thus they might be more fecund and/or protected relative to lower player counts. So it makes some sense to remove some refugia to reduce the total catalyst burden for lower player counts.
It strikes me that this exacerbates the problem though. In the early game, when there's nothing to spend catalysts on except refugia, it makes no difference because the landform decks aren't exhausted yet. But in the mid-game, when you want to save your catalysts for new mutations, refugia, which are your primary "income" source, start to become scarce and you run out of catalysts. Particularly with Tropical Waterworld waiting in the wings to bury a row for an eon, this can lead to a pretty miserly existence for a nascent lifeform.
(And I may be totally misunderstanding the point of the rule.)
This probably doesn't hamper 3 players much, and 2 players can eliminate it by playing 2 colors each, but it does affect the solo game. I wonder if something like the following would work for the solo game instead of removing refugia from the landform decks:
1) Each AI gets a catalyst and two bionts to start; one biont for its parasite and the other to place on refugia.
2) During assignment an AI will move/place its refugium biont, if it can according to the rules, in a random valid refugium, and will place all of its catalysts that it can on the same placard.
3) An AI makes autocatalysis rolls and earns catalysts as normal except that it can never be the progenote when contesting a refugium with one or more player colors and it will never make bacteria.
4) If a refugium containing an AI biont is catalyzed to life, it does not become a foreign gene. It is returned to the AI's tableau without compensation.
4) The AI does get compensation for manna death and for parasite death.
- Last edited Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:33 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:30 am
Act Three! Everybody Dies!
I believe (and I could be totally wrong on this), the only reason for refugia removal is to make the game more competitive by having less refugia to fight over. I seem to recall talk of all the die off at the end of the game being great because then players have to gang up on each other fighting over the last remaining resources in hopes to create life in the last few turns.
In my many solo plays, I have seen games where all the refugia are wiped out, but I've also seen games where there's been an embarrassment of riches where I've have 9 or so full ones to choose from. And 9 times out of 10, smites would never hit when I had catalysts on them, so every smite would remove manna.
The game is very swingy, you can have rich games (catalyst wise) or poor games. You can have an Earth that begs for life, or an Earth that is trying to kill you every step of the way. It's a lot like Bios: Megafauna in that way, sometimes all the players are struggling against the game, or sometimes they are struggling against each other because the game doesn't care.
In your current playthrough, the game is beating the snot out of you. In your next, the event cards and refugia will come out in a completely different order and you'll see a completely different strategy.
Right, and on further reflection, the AI refugia idea would make the game easier, without any balance to keep the challenge the same, so scrap it. Plus anything that increases the complexity of the AI is probably best avoided.