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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Balance Issues? rss

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Justen
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Just played for the first time tonight and while I love a lot of the mechanics, it feels like the asymmetrical player abilities aren't very balanced and the more the other players and I spoke about it, the more I was convinced that there's an issue. I'll talk through my thoughts and would love to hear other opinions, as we did try to bring up a few counterpoints but nothing significant enough to make it feel like the balance was solid.

The big issue I see is that the three factions are not balanced out of the gate. I'll point out why by looking at what I feel they start with that causes this:

Romulans - First Strike Advantage, largest fleet is 10
Klingons - Largest fleet is 9
Federation - Largest fleet is 6

At its core, I really don't know how the Klingons and Federation can beat out the huge advantage of first strike. If the Romulans went with a strategy to just get to an opponent right away while building some ships (production is the easiest resource it seems to get), can the other factions really defend? Klingons may have a shot, but I don't know the Federation does at all. Especially if the Romulans and Klingons just decide to use their power to wipe out the Federation right away, between the large fleet numbers and the First Strike Advantage, how can they compete? Maybe they can boost shields, but that's a lot of research tokens that are harder to get than production for ships and the attackers can boost their weapons by spending even less research.

Now, I'm aware there are some Advancement Cards (i.e. Federation - eliminate First Strike Advantage, Klingon - Get First Strike Advantage) but I want to put aside the Advancement Cards because they're not really available to you at the start of the game and I feel if one or two players have to spend resources on finding and building specific Advancement Cards just to counteract an ability other players have access to at the start, that's an imbalance. Also, many of the Federation abilities are exploration-specific, so if they're not focused on at the start of the game, there comes a time quickly when they can't even be used at all. So either you spend on technology to counteract First Strike (still ignoring the 10/9-sized fleet potential to your 6) and lose out on the exploration technology, or use the exploration tech while you can and be super vulnerable to attack. Even the Federation's other tech is more protection against hegemony when it really doesn't seem to make sense for Klingons or Romulans to attack with hegemony anyway, given their military focus.

It really feels like the Federation is the weakest of the three and that there's not much there to defend against the other two, especially the Romulans. They can't access shields any easier or quicker, so that's not a valid defence, and even the tech, if you're lucky enough to select it and have time to build it, doesn't really protect against the other two factions' strength.

It'd be different if each faction had something very powerful at the start of the game that the other two had to somehow counteract, but the Romulans have the huge fleet and First Strike advantage and, to a lesser extent, the Klingons have the huge fleet potential, too. What does the Federation have that the other two are weak against? Even their special ability to get an extra culture is limited to lucky draws of the exploration phase which does end quickly. And the Romulans even get bonus culture with a fair amount of their Advancement Cards.

I love a lot of the mechanics of this game, but it feels like the asymmetrical player abilities are fundamentally imbalanced and that really bothers me. What are everyone's thoughts on this?
 
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Nova Cat
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Disclaimer: I haven't actually played the game yet, so my knowledge of balance and counter-play is all in-theory.

Have you considered the fact that Romulans only get First Strike on their turn? That means it does nothing for them when defending. Putting the Romulans on the defensive is a good way to keep them in check. If you can bait a Romulan fleet into dropping out of warp, then strike them on your own turn, that would give you an opportunity to ignore their cloaking devices.

And if they never end their turn with their attack fleets vulnerable, that means their territory will not be as well-defended, so go hit them where they're vulnerable.
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Chris Schenck
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Having only played 2 games, I'm not qualified to pass judgement on the objective balance of the factions. However, I'm not sure it matters that much. Realize that a couple of lucky system/exploration draws can tip the early game in favor of one player much quicker than any fundamental faction imbalance.

So how do you deal with that? Well, this is a 3-player game for a reason. The reason is that the players are intended to provide balance via alliances and negotiations. Don't let a faction imbalance or some lucky draws determine who will win!

With a 2 player game, there is no way to reign in a runaway leader. But when you add in another player or so, the runaway leader issue should theoretically balance out. The problem arises when the players either ignore this aspect and play purely solitaire, or if the players are not skilled in accurately evaluating the threat levels of the other players until it's too late to effectively manage it.

I feel that this game will really shine with a group of regular players. Once they build up enough experience with the game, it should be a much tighter balance.
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Jason Preder
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Justen wrote:
Just played for the first time tonight and while I love a lot of the mechanics, it feels like the asymmetrical player abilities aren't very balanced and the more the other players and I spoke about it, the more I was convinced that there's an issue. I'll talk through my thoughts and would love to hear other opinions, as we did try to bring up a few counterpoints but nothing significant enough to make it feel like the balance was solid.

The big issue I see is that the three factions are not balanced out of the gate. I'll point out why by looking at what I feel they start with that causes this:

Romulans - First Strike Advantage, largest fleet is 10
Klingons - Largest fleet is 9
Federation - Largest fleet is 6

At its core, I really don't know how the Klingons and Federation can beat out the huge advantage of first strike. If the Romulans went with a strategy to just get to an opponent right away while building some ships (production is the easiest resource it seems to get), can the other factions really defend? Klingons may have a shot, but I don't know the Federation does at all. Especially if the Romulans and Klingons just decide to use their power to wipe out the Federation right away, between the large fleet numbers and the First Strike Advantage, how can they compete? Maybe they can boost shields, but that's a lot of research tokens that are harder to get than production for ships and the attackers can boost their weapons by spending even less research.

Now, I'm aware there are some Advancement Cards (i.e. Federation - eliminate First Strike Advantage, Klingon - Get First Strike Advantage) but I want to put aside the Advancement Cards because they're not really available to you at the start of the game and I feel if one or two players have to spend resources on finding and building specific Advancement Cards just to counteract an ability other players have access to at the start, that's an imbalance. Also, many of the Federation abilities are exploration-specific, so if they're not focused on at the start of the game, there comes a time quickly when they can't even be used at all. So either you spend on technology to counteract First Strike (still ignoring the 10/9-sized fleet potential to your 6) and lose out on the exploration technology, or use the exploration tech while you can and be super vulnerable to attack. Even the Federation's other tech is more protection against hegemony when it really doesn't seem to make sense for Klingons or Romulans to attack with hegemony anyway, given their military focus.

It really feels like the Federation is the weakest of the three and that there's not much there to defend against the other two, especially the Romulans. They can't access shields any easier or quicker, so that's not a valid defence, and even the tech, if you're lucky enough to select it and have time to build it, doesn't really protect against the other two factions' strength.

It'd be different if each faction had something very powerful at the start of the game that the other two had to somehow counteract, but the Romulans have the huge fleet and First Strike advantage and, to a lesser extent, the Klingons have the huge fleet potential, too. What does the Federation have that the other two are weak against? Even their special ability to get an extra culture is limited to lucky draws of the exploration phase which does end quickly. And the Romulans even get bonus culture with a fair amount of their Advancement Cards.

I love a lot of the mechanics of this game, but it feels like the asymmetrical player abilities are fundamentally imbalanced and that really bothers me. What are everyone's thoughts on this?

Headed off to bed, so a short response now. After one game, I don't think you are considering a lot of possibilities about how events unfold in the game. Part of the game is keeping the Romulans in check also. Feds and Klingons could form an alliance and freeze them out of trade deals. Also, there are no connections for a few rounds, so positioning is key. Last thing for now, the first strike is only on your turn as mentioned above, so it is a strategic benefit on attacking only.
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Todd Warnken
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You have one error in your list of advantages. The Klingons have a max fleet size of 10 and the Romulans have a max size of 9.

One thing to consider is that this is not a war game. The fact that the Romulans may be the strongest at the start of the game does not help them with the main way to win (ascendancy). Also early in the game the factions are not connected to each other. It can take a while for the Romulans to reach another power especially if they are exploring away from the Romulans. And if they focus their research on projects to gain extra culture they will have less to spend on increasing weapons and shields.

The Federation are the strongest at gathering culture early since they get extra culture through exploration which mostly happens in the first part of the game. They can get to two ascendancy by turn two or three. This makes their hegemony attempts pretty powerful when paired with the Diplomatic fleet.

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Justen
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Thanks for pointing out the fleet error! =)

I'm seeing some interesting thoughts. What's two stop two aggressive players from pointing their exploration at the Federation and wiping them out quickly leaving just two more balanced factions to compete the rest of the game? How would one combat that strategy as Federation?
 
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Angelus Seniores
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so far i feel they are balanced just fine.

there are a few things to keep in mind;
-as noted above, first strike is only a round 1 advantage and on their turn only.

-the luck or lack thereof during exploration can greatly influence a player's power, so if the federation has good opening turns this early advantage will put them in a better spot to deal with the romulan/klingon combat advantages.

-you can expect the game to run between 10-15 turns, which is too limited to get all the tech/weapons&shields upgrades. so it will be rare for each player to be able to bring all their possible advantages to bear, the one that can develop them faster will have the edge.

-the federation is very good at exploring; diplomacy fleet to take over warp civs relatively easy, science fleet to reek in extra research from phenomenon, colony fleet to establish colonies fast, so even with moderate luck the federation is highly likely to control more planets than either klingon or romulans and collect more research. if you are producing more ships/research each turn, others will need a combat advantage just to get on par.

-their early advantage may be such that they start an early war vs klingons/romulans and thus put them on the defensive quite fast

-their tech to receive research from starbases greatly increase their research as well, so its not uncommon for the federation to outrun klingon/romulan on the shields/weapons upgrades. starting from a 2-level difference in these the battle statistics tend to be pretty drastic and are way more dangerous than first strike or any other situational combat tech.
example: klingon at level 0, federation at level 1 for both weapons/shields: klingons hit on 6 only, federation hits on 4+ and reroll 1's, a fed 6-ship battle fleet could thus possibly cause 3-4 hits in a round vs the klingons only 1-2 with a 10-ship fleet (with average rolls)

-while the battle fleets are limited in size, ALL the ships in the sector participate in the battle. if the federation has 12 or more ships guarding a planet, then all those will fight putting a 9 or 10 fleet at a disadvantage.
even on the attack, you can bring several fleets adjacent before you start combat. add in the starbase bonus on defense as well.

-as federation will generally stay on the defensive to reek in culture each turn, they will have more opportunity to build big defensive fleets and search through their tech deck for appropriate techs (definitely the one to deny cloaking advantages), while bringing an equal size fleet will prove costly in commands for klingons/romulans.

-dont underestimate the klingon/romulan distrust, they could well be spending their time killing each other instead of the federation, as there is no prize for runner-ups.

-given the randomness, you are likely to experience an apparent disadvantage depending how your first game went but over several games it will tend to even out. did you even maximize the feds advantages, as bad play could drastically lower your chances.
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Barry Miller
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Hmmm... you've played only one game and already have identified significant balance issues that all the playtesters must've somehow missed, over hundreds of games.

Surprising.

It's funny, because the at the end of the game I played at Gen Con, the Federation player claimed that the game was unbalanced in favor of the Federation!

Who's right? Don't know. Does it really matter yet?

For once - just this once - can we all try trusting the playtesters for a change?

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Nova Cat
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Justen wrote:
Thanks for pointing out the fleet error! =)

I'm seeing some interesting thoughts. What's two stop two aggressive players from pointing their exploration at the Federation and wiping them out quickly leaving just two more balanced factions to compete the rest of the game? How would one combat that strategy as Federation?

Any two players allied against a third will undoubtedly wipe out that third player, regardless of who's playing what faction. Still, there are a few reasons this doesn't (shouldn't) happen.

1. There's no motivation for it. If you perceive another player as being weaker, it's not in your interest to spend resources driving that player further into the ground. Strategically, you should be playing to beat the stronger opponents. Fighting a weaker player just to eliminate him isn't a reliable path to victory.

2. Imagine you sit down and two of your friends just open up with an allied elimination strategy against you. Would you play with them again? No. It's pointless and mean, so the only people who would do it are those looking to ruin other players' fun.

3. Both of the two players allied together are incentivized to betray each other, either by not committing a lot of forces, or by actually attacking each other outright. The only way a "mob the third player right at the start" strategy can lead to victory is if you come out stronger in the end than your allied rival. So you're both going to be holding back, letting the other guy fight the big fights, and watching for an open path to his critical planets. The winner, after all, is the one who follows through on the alliance the least.
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Jon Snow
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arrrh In the midst of my 4th game, I'd agree that the Feds have the advantage, if anyone. But I'm not ready to say they do. Your emphasis on only the military aspect might indicate you have a lot of different player strategies still to explore. I know I do.
 
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Justen
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bgm1961 wrote:

Hmmm... you've played only one game and already have identified significant balance issues that all the playtesters must've somehow missed, over hundreds of games.

Surprising.

It's funny, because the at the end of the game I played at Gen Con, the Federation player claimed that the game was unbalanced in favor of the Federation!

Who's right? Don't know. Does it really matter yet?

For once - just this once - can we all try trusting the playtesters for a change?



First of all, the snark wasn't necessary.

Second, perhaps I should have phrased it differently, but what I intended was that my impression is that it's unbalanced and through talking about different possible strategies, what factions had available to them and when, etc., we were unable to find a satisfactory response to the concern. By putting out my experience and my thoughts on it, I was hoping to hear back from others who have played it more about ways to address those potential imbalance concerns and, ideally, shine light on strategies and ways to counteract them. Each time I mentioned my concerns, I said it feels as though there is an imbalance, not there there definitively is one. I'm optimistic that it is balanced, but my feeling was that it wasn't based on the play through and post-game analysis we had and I was hoping for information to disprove that.
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Marc Bennett
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i would like to emphasize the federation colonization fleet. culture being the hardest resource to get, saving the culture on your colonies is huge. your ascendancy will be higher, you can build culture nodes easier than other factions (since they cost 2 culture) and it can snowball very quickly if other players dont put military pressure on you.

i havent been able to fully explore the strategies in this game yet but wow am i loving the ride. so far i feel if there is a balance issue, it is fairly minor, and within the margin covered by the random events.
 
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Barry Miller
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Justen wrote:
First of all, the snark wasn't necessary.

Yes, it was. But I failed at making it clear that my snarky attitude was NOT directed at you, per se.

Have you ever had those moments in life where someone (anyone) says something, or you simply hear something on the news or in pop culture for instance, that doesn't sit right with you? Yet it wasn't enough for you to react? But after time, those moments add up, and finally you hear that same thing again, except this time it's the "final straw"?

Well, your post was that for me. So I apologize for directing my snarkiness at you, instead of to the larger audience. And after reading the rest of your reply immediately above, I sincerely do get where you're coming from and appreciate it. But that's not how your opening sentence in your OP came across.

So what put me into "snarky mode" isn't you, rather it's that your OP was the unlucky post where I finally reached "that point" where I can no longer stay quiet... I got to "that point" where I have no fear in honestly saying how tired I am that every new game today is immediately accused of being unbalanced.

It's like clockwork. It happens with every new popular game. And the accusations start flying usually after only one play. After being in the hobby for over a decade - and active for the past five years - I've seen the trend only get more rabid.

And it usually starts even before the game is released... it doesn't take long till you start seeing the "This game is unbalanced!" threads start popping up. But usually, the exclamation point is replaced with a question mark - as if to soften the accusation.

It's almost as if there's an "unbalanced" cult out there, waiting to pounce on the next big release. Accusing a game of being unbalanced is the new height of scorn. How dare a game be unbalanced!
"Unbalanced" has become the new four-letter word of boardgaming.

But most importantly, (and again) I'm peeved that the accusations usually come after only one play! I do give credit to the accusers of admitting that. But still, if the accuser feels compelled to admit that he's played the game only once, then I don't get why there's even a complaint or an accusation of unbalance! I mean, why even levy the accusation after only one play?

It's as if all the work that the playtesters did on the game is for not. By levying an accusation upon a game after only one play, it's really a slam on the playtesters, isn't it?

"Hey, playtesters, what the hell were you thinking? Didn't you even play this game?" That's what everyone is saying when they cry, "Unbalance!" after their very first play.

Especially with the bigger or reputable publishers, I have at least a degree of faith in their play testing process. Enough faith to give the game a few plays before I come out with any public accusation of poor play testing. So yeah, it's when I've observed over and over again over the years that many other gamers don't give the play testing process the benefit of the doubt that it deserves, is where I've finally decided to say something.

Finally, While at Gen Con, I met with a lot of the ST:A play testers. I talked with the majority of the GF9 staff that traveled from New Zealand to be there, and heard what they had to say about the game's design and the play testing that went into it. Their responses made me more excited for the game, and gave me a better appreciation for what a tough business it is, especially to get it right.

So my snarkiness was more a "straw that broke the camel's back" sort of thing. But I do like what you wrote in your reply to me. That, I get and can appreciate!

Edit: Upon further reflection, my opening sentence of this post, which I struck, demonstrated a tone which was not called for.

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Nova Cat
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bgm1961 wrote:

Justen wrote:
First of all, the snark wasn't necessary.

Yes, it was

No, it wasn't. There is absolutely no call for rudeness here.
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Barry Miller
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Novacat wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:

Justen wrote:
First of all, the snark wasn't necessary.

Yes, it was

No, it wasn't. There is absolutely no call for rudeness here.

Please, quote any portion of my post that was actually rude, and I'll sincerely appreciate your perspective.

Yes, I was a tad snarky. I own that, and my later post explains why. And perhaps I was also rude and I'm simply not seeing it. I'm sincerely willing to accept being called out for being rude - especially if I'm blind to it. This may be one of those cases.

I'd like to think that I'm an acceptable community member. And for me, I consider being part of the community comes with the responsibility to speak up when things don't sit well. And hopefully, as my previous posts explains, I felt it was finally time to speak up about the topic of claiming "unbalance" for newly published games.

I think playtesters get thrown under the bus with each accusation, and no one is coming to their defense. (I've never been a playtester, BTW). So I felt compelled to say something. It just happened to be Justen's OP that did it.

Was I snarky as a result? Yes. Sorry I let my emotions get the better of me. But was I rude? I honestly don't think so.

If you want to continue the conversation via geek mail, that's probably best. I posted this here now, instead of using GM, to solicit others who may agree with you so that I can get a different perspective my approach.

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Marc Bennett
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having been a playtester for several games before i have to say i agree with Barry.

the average person doesnt play a game as much over the life of the game as a playtester will before the game is released. when you play a game that many times, certain good strategies become obvious and second nature. those strategies may not be obvious in the 1st game or the 5th. when you compare factions everything needs to be looked at, base abilities, advancements, and fleets. oh man did i underestimate fleets.

i have made a post about some of my thoughts on the factions, you can find it.... ok well maybe i couldnt get the link to work but i started a new post about the factions and my thoughts.
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Justen
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Saying it feels unbalanced for X, Y, Z reasons isn't the same as saying it is. And, yes, one playthrough of the game isn't enough experience of that single game to make a definitive judgement (which is why I didn't), but when you've also played hundreds of other games and had a significant discussion afterward, going through the game, examining the factions cards and abilities, throwing out counterstrategies and counters to those counters, I feel that's enough to speak to a concern and call out for other thoughts on that concern.

For everyone in this thread who's been adding more to the actual discussion, very much appreciate your thoughts and would love to hear more. I'm still not sure how much the Roman and Klingon strategies differ, if it's only the Federation that differs. And is there any other option for the Federation aside from focus heavy on exploration at the top and hope you draw the planets and technologies to build up a win quickly enough before the other actions can attack you?
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Justen wrote:
Saying it feels unbalanced for X, Y, Z reasons isn't the same as saying it is. And, yes, one playthrough of the game isn't enough experience of that single game to make a definitive judgement (which is why I didn't), but when you've also played hundreds of other games and had a significant discussion afterward, going through the game, examining the factions cards and abilities, throwing out counterstrategies and counters to those counters, I feel that's enough to speak to a concern and call out for other thoughts on that concern.

For everyone in this thread who's been adding more to the actual discussion, very much appreciate your thoughts and would love to hear more. I'm still not sure how much the Roman and Klingon strategies differ, if it's only the Federation that differs. And is there any other option for the Federation aside from focus heavy on exploration at the top and hope you draw the planets and technologies to build up a win quickly enough before the other actions can attack you?


The federation can play a defensive game with the right techs out. They become hard to invade this helps them survive while they get the last couple ascendancy
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Klaxas wrote:
Justen wrote:
Saying it feels unbalanced for X, Y, Z reasons isn't the same as saying it is. And, yes, one playthrough of the game isn't enough experience of that single game to make a definitive judgement (which is why I didn't), but when you've also played hundreds of other games and had a significant discussion afterward, going through the game, examining the factions cards and abilities, throwing out counterstrategies and counters to those counters, I feel that's enough to speak to a concern and call out for other thoughts on that concern.

For everyone in this thread who's been adding more to the actual discussion, very much appreciate your thoughts and would love to hear more. I'm still not sure how much the Roman and Klingon strategies differ, if it's only the Federation that differs. And is there any other option for the Federation aside from focus heavy on exploration at the top and hope you draw the planets and technologies to build up a win quickly enough before the other actions can attack you?


The federation can play a defensive game with the right techs out. They become hard to invade this helps them survive while they get the last couple ascendancy


But should you have to rely on the right techs being randomly drawn and then having enough time to implement them? If you have to do that in order to have a good shot at winning when the other two factions don't have to rely on tech to have a good shot, is that then a bit of an imbalance?
 
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Jon Snow
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In my fourth and fifth games, just played, the Romulan Advanced Cloaking made them pretty invulnerable. As the Klingon in the second game, I was developing some cloaking myself, but it wasn't ready in time. Nor did the Feds get their detection gear. So cycling the Advancement cards seems is very important to critical!

While I like the interplay among the different factions' cards, as you say, bad timing on them can be just as random as systems discovery. As a joke, I warned the guy playing Romulan in the second game at the start about what would happen to him if he picked it early, after it had been decisive in the first game--and sure enough, it came up as his first card. Uh Oh!
 
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Justen wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
Justen wrote:
Saying it feels unbalanced for X, Y, Z reasons isn't the same as saying it is. And, yes, one playthrough of the game isn't enough experience of that single game to make a definitive judgement (which is why I didn't), but when you've also played hundreds of other games and had a significant discussion afterward, going through the game, examining the factions cards and abilities, throwing out counterstrategies and counters to those counters, I feel that's enough to speak to a concern and call out for other thoughts on that concern.

For everyone in this thread who's been adding more to the actual discussion, very much appreciate your thoughts and would love to hear more. I'm still not sure how much the Roman and Klingon strategies differ, if it's only the Federation that differs. And is there any other option for the Federation aside from focus heavy on exploration at the top and hope you draw the planets and technologies to build up a win quickly enough before the other actions can attack you?


The federation can play a defensive game with the right techs out. They become hard to invade this helps them survive while they get the last couple ascendancy


But should you have to rely on the right techs being randomly drawn and then having enough time to implement them? If you have to do that in order to have a good shot at winning when the other two factions don't have to rely on tech to have a good shot, is that then a bit of an imbalance?


I believe you are trying to argue symmetrical balance vs asymmetrical balance. The Federation is going to have a much harder time winning with a military victory. Their goal should be to gather culture and fortify their homeworld.
Also, if you are familiar with your techs, did you know that when you do research, you can spend a token to draw different cards? This can help you cycle to tech more appropriate to your immediate strategy.
 
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chas59 wrote:
In my fourth and fifth games, just played, the Romulan Advanced Cloaking made them pretty invulnerable. As the Klingon in the second game, I was developing some cloaking myself, but it wasn't ready in time. Nor did the Feds get their detection gear. So cycling the Advancement cards seems is very important to critical!

While I like the interplay among the different factions' cards, as you say, bad timing on them can be just as random as systems discovery. As a joke, I warned the guy playing Romulan in the second game at the start about what would happen to him if he picked it early, after it had been decisive in the first game--and sure enough, it came up as his first card. Uh Oh!


This is an interesting situation, as it does speak to balance, but not within the game mechanics themselves. I go to Blood Rage as an example, where certain combos of cards can definitely swing the game greatly in a certain direction. How do you prevent this? Make sure the same player doesn't draft all the cards needed for that combo.

This sounds like a similar situation. Once your group is more familiar with all the factions and abilities, and you notice certain techs coming up right away...Romulan Advanced Cloaking, other players may immediately decide to form a social alliance to keep them in check. This isn't something the game can enforce itself, but the players can find a way to balance it withing the rules provided.

I think this is very thematic and can work very well. Of course, there are always exceptions and players who just will work against having a good experience, but that is your choice as to who you play with.
 
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Justen
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MilkFromACow wrote:
Justen wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
Justen wrote:
Saying it feels unbalanced for X, Y, Z reasons isn't the same as saying it is. And, yes, one playthrough of the game isn't enough experience of that single game to make a definitive judgement (which is why I didn't), but when you've also played hundreds of other games and had a significant discussion afterward, going through the game, examining the factions cards and abilities, throwing out counterstrategies and counters to those counters, I feel that's enough to speak to a concern and call out for other thoughts on that concern.

For everyone in this thread who's been adding more to the actual discussion, very much appreciate your thoughts and would love to hear more. I'm still not sure how much the Roman and Klingon strategies differ, if it's only the Federation that differs. And is there any other option for the Federation aside from focus heavy on exploration at the top and hope you draw the planets and technologies to build up a win quickly enough before the other actions can attack you?


The federation can play a defensive game with the right techs out. They become hard to invade this helps them survive while they get the last couple ascendancy


But should you have to rely on the right techs being randomly drawn and then having enough time to implement them? If you have to do that in order to have a good shot at winning when the other two factions don't have to rely on tech to have a good shot, is that then a bit of an imbalance?


I believe you are trying to argue symmetrical balance vs asymmetrical balance. The Federation is going to have a much harder time winning with a military victory. Their goal should be to gather culture and fortify their homeworld.
Also, if you are familiar with your techs, did you know that when you do research, you can spend a token to draw different cards? This can help you cycle to tech more appropriate to your immediate strategy.


I'm not sure that's precisely what I'm arguing. It's more that if one player's strategy has to rely more on random chance than the others, is that an imbalance. If they each have to pursue different paths because of different strengths/weaknesses that influence areas everyone has access to, that's one thing. If, instead one player's strength is more reliant on an element that is random whereas the others aren't, is that an imbalance?

All this said, what I appreciate about this thread is hearing more about how some of these things have come up in practice and been countered and seeing it may be a combo of a lot of little things on the Federation side rather than larger factors on the Romulan/Klingon sides, even though they still have access to their own little advancements, too.
 
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Chris Oldgeorge
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We've currently played four full games after getting the game in Gencon. Although everyone that's played thinks that the Klingons are probably the strongest faction, abysmal die-rolling on their part in critical battles has kept them somewhat in check and up to now we've had two Romulan superiority victories, one Romulan ascendancy victory and one Federation ascendancy victory, and the more we learn the game's quirks the more we find that gameplay balances out - but there's one caveat: you have to play a few times and know what to expect, especially since exploration is utterly random.

Culture nodes are more sparse than the rest, but if some player is fortunate enough to gain 2-3 in the first few rounds the rest of the table must make efforts to keep him in check otherwise it's going to be a quick and sort game. Much like other 3 player designs (the wonderful Maria and Churchill come to mind) balance is only attained if everybody on the table actually strives for it and you have shifting alliances interested in maintaining the balance of power. Otherwise, the luckiest explorer will win most of the time regardless of faction (although Federation tech advances have probably the best peace-time growth options)


As my experience with the game grows I find it very well balanced, although I have misgivings when the number of players will change with the introduction of expansions. Although the game will be grander with more races, it will also be harder to balance and the downtime might become an issue as well.
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Jon Snow
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goo Of course, when the expansions become available, you don't have to play with all the factions at once. You can just substitute some in to make for a different 3-4 Player game.
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