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Cameron Murdaugh
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This will be long, but I really want to like this game.

So, tonight, I finally broke out this game to play with friends that have never played it. We are pretty regular board game players, so this wasn't our first rodeo with a more complex rule set. But we had a real bad session, that left one friend completely hating the game and the rest of us scratching our heads of why did it feel so unbalanced. I will try to sum up the game the best way possible to highlight where we may have been doing wrong things.

So, 1st off we were playing team play 2v2 (double protoss vs double zerg). The layout of the planets basically ended up where there was one planet between me and the buddy who had the bad time. And on the other side of him was a z-axis navigation that brought him directly to his teammate, so he was kind of stuck. Both of our first turns, involved us expanding to this planet, having a combat, and then building a base. As for the combat, he attacked as protoss with 4 zealots vs my 3 zerglings and 1 hydra. The fight resulted in me having no units and him have one zealot, but I had a hydra on a different area in the planet. We both then built bases on the planet.

First off this seemed crazy that my zerglings were able to kill a zealot 1v1. And overall will lead to one of our potential theories of what was weird. So, now we both have 1 unit (zealot and a hydra) on the planet with our bases). Regrouping phase hits, he gets a combat must be revealed event; I get gain 2 zerglings. Theory #1 for why the game ended so quickly for my friend, I got 2 bonus units on the planet where I was completely out of dudes (my hydra wasn't even on my base).

Round 2: We both build more units on our home planets and then mobilize back onto the contested planet. I think he built a reaver for the splash damage (not sure if he fully understood the splash rules, he thought it may have destroyed more than one bonus zergling). I built enough units to strike his 2 units with 5 units. A lot of units died, but most importantly all his stuff died as well.

Round 3: He went first and I went right after him. This allowed me to stack 2 orders on the planet we were fighting for, but now I solely control. Waited for him to stack on his home planet 3 orders, I added a move on top, he added a build, and then I added a move again. So, I was able to activate my planet's two actions while he had to sit there adn draw event cards and wait for me to basically kill him. He literally couldn't do anything to stop it (theory #2). Once I built an army on my planet, I activated first move on his planet. I sent 5-6 lings to his base which had units on it, and then one ling to each of his other 2 areas which had no units on it. I crushed his zealot, and now his build order is useless because there are no places he can build units.

Does it sound like we did anything wrong? Or is Zergling spam so powerful on the attack, that once I started snowballing there was nothing he could do. I didn't enjoy making him unable to play on round 3, not a great way to get someone to like a game. One of my theories for him was maybe he should turtle up more on a planet as a slower race like protoss (but that was purely a guess). He could have definitely built a photon cannon to prevent me instantly jumping on his base and ending him there. But he was hard pushed into a corner at that point. It felt like no matter what happened in the fights as long as I built crazy amount of zerglings in an attack I could trade one ling for their unit (usually a much more expensive unit). Is the normal first round supposed to be expansion or upgrading your current base and building units?

Afterwords we discussed was the balance issue because of one of these factors: Planets were very linear and with 4 people only had 2 z-axis points; Team play jacks up the map style so much because you can't go onto your friends planet without messing up their stuff. (should we add more than 2xplayer count if doing teams). We need to do something about Zerglings vs zealot costs, since we lings could trade with zealots, but zealots can't kill multiple lings like they would in the video game. Or should my friends first strategy be to build a lot of zealots early and defend on his one planet?
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Angelus Seniores
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maybe you had some rules wrong? you must use the combat factor on the cards that either corresponds to the unit or the lower one if it doesnt.
i must say i feel combat can be awkward with the way the cards work.
rsearching tech is important to get your units to stand out better, some tech really boost unit types. i think ine tech gives them a shield boost if i remember correctly
it takes some time to get to know the tech and the units/possibilities.

the game is also about players keeping each other in check so a 4 for all might be better than a 2v2
 
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Brad Miller
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How is a zergling getting enough strength to kill the Zealots? Must be a pretty great draw on the combat cards, time and time again? I'm fairly certain you have done something wrong, but hard to say with this high level description.

Do you understand the area capacity limits? Seems like you might have exceeded those.

Players need to learn how to place orders to not be shut out.

Also, the game favors attackers, (being able to exceed the stacking limit), so toss just turtleing while you attack isn't great.
 
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Cameron Murdaugh
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Angelsenior wrote:
maybe you had some rules wrong? you must use the combat factor on the cards that either corresponds to the unit or the lower one if it doesnt.
i must say i feel combat can be awkward with the way the cards work.
rsearching tech is important to get your units to stand out better, some tech really boost unit types. i think ine tech gives them a shield boost if i remember correctly
it takes some time to get to know the tech and the units/possibilities.

the game is also about players keeping each other in check so a 4 for all might be better than a 2v2


We were getting cards correct, I think what happened is my friend (protoss) tried to contest an early planet with me in the first round of the game. The more I read it seems like he should have stayed in his base and built up a decent defense and then take the planet back from me in a few rounds.

The biggest pain point for him was my ability to shut his planet off from orders because I put a move operation on it last and i attacked him and took his final planet before his build orders. Is it correct that I could attack his base and send a ling each to his open areas on his planet?
 
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Stephen Schaefer
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I blended my copy with Brood War long ago, so some of my comments may be colored by components you don't yet have (I strongly recommend that if you are able, the game is much more complete with it).

The first thing I would check is if you're making sure that you're only mobilizing for combat the unit limit for that areas of the planet, plus two. That's not a strong theory on my part, because based on your description, and looking at all the planets, there actually are a half dozen different planets where his base could be and this play would be legal. My first guess would be Antiga Prime, a planet with three areas and which has a control point in an area with a unit limit of four (players like putting bases on control points).

The 'lings in the game are deceptively strong, because even though their numbers are generally low, a lot of minor values on other cards are as good or better than some of the major numbers on the 'ling cards. Why? Here you turn to the sculpted figures for thematic clarity. The figure shows two 'lings, so even though it's treated as a single unit in gameplay, you actually get two of them for that already-cheap price in resources. I'm not saying two 'lings would fare much better against a single zealot but it's at least more feasible. In other battles where you can stack supporting units, a 'ling conga line can be very effective.

Having said that, there's only one card in the deck with an attack he could use greater than 5, and only one zealot card in the deck with a defense less than 6. So unless you both got exactly the right (wrong?) card, or unless he had no zealot card for defense and had to rely on a minor defense value, it's hard to imagine his 'ling defeating you 1v1.

One problem you stumbled on in the third round, and really it's the one significant flaw in the game IMO, and not fully resolved with the expansion, is the Player To Your Left conundrum. The first player has a significant disadvantage in order placement, because everyone has an opportunity to cover him. That's supposed to be mitigated by the fact that you'll eventually get a bunch of uncontested orders toward the end of the round, it doesn't help your friend if his home planet is covered in bad guys.

One base upgrade that could have helped your friend is the Orbital Defense module. When he has that, you can't mobilize directly into the area with his base. You would need one mobilize order to land on the planet and another to move into the base. The expansion has a module that you could use to kamikaze your transport(s) in order to ignore his orbital defense, but that I assume is not in play here.

As mentioned above, Scouts are a good defense against a 'ling rush as well. They have the ability to attack ground units, so he can take out your attackers, but really, any air units in an area will repel a ground-only unit, since an attacker must retreat if you do not take out all his forces. I really bugged a friend of mine with this rule, when he came charging into my base with a super-powered Ultra which could do nothing against my carrier.

This game has a lot of moving parts and it's hard to convince people to invest the time to really grok everything (especially if they have a really bad experience like your friend). But when you put all of it together, the units, the upgrade modules, the research cards, you have a lot of well-balanced options for strategies (especially with the expansion).
 
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Stephen Schaefer
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The answer to your most recent question is yes: a mobilize order allows you to move units from the same planet and/or any number of adjacent planets to any number of areas on the target planet. The only qualifiers:
- must have a transport from any adacent planets deployed
- only one area with enemy units
- obey unit limits for each area (+2 for combat area)

And he cannot build into an area with your units (you can never create a situation where two different players are in the same area, except to mobilize into a single area of combat). So, he was cut off.
 
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K
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Contrary to your theory about turtling, attacking Zerg a lot is important I think.

To be honest it just sounds like you out played your friend. This is a brutal game of skill with a learning curve, so if you play much better than someone you will beat them badly. If he's not OK with coping with the learning curve and taking lumps along the way to get better as you guys explore the strategy, then it's probably just not the type of game for him.

If you go after someone in turn order, you will be able to put a lot of pressure on them during that turn, ESPECIALLY if they are lacking transport and/or ready units. This requires experience, foresight, and at times a little improvisation and genius to deal with correctly. But the gist of it is that you MUST account for these situations coming up, and plan for them the turn BEFORE you are going to be at risk of order capping.

If you already have the transports you need and some units to attack with, first player at least has the consolation prize of being able to guarantee the last attack which is very powerful also.

On the other hand if you go before your opponent and don't have the transports you need and didn't build/keep an army last turn, you might be in trouble.

The way to defend in this game is basically to put a mobilize or build down first on your own planet (to liberate or rebuild your base). But sometimes it's better to just attack them while they attack you for some mutual destruction. Make sure to spread your units out so you don't lose them all in one attack, and so that it takes more attacks for a player to wipe you off of a planet.
 
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Joshua Love
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I will briefly agree that it doesn't sound like it is unbalanced, it just sounds like you out-played your friend. The game is a lot more skill based than a lot of people seem to give it credit for, and like others have said, there is a pretty steep learning curve, regardless of experience with board games because there are so many moving parts.

I wouldn't get too bent out of shape with the idea of a Zergling killing a Zealot. It happens, just not very often, especially if the Zergling has a support card and the Zealot uses a low-level attack value. Plus, on round one, he was attacking with 4 Zealots, and I doubt he had a matching card for each. Zerg, if memory serves, has an easier time having cards for Zerglings/Hydras.

Anyway, the event cards even out and while they add a good deal of luck, they ultimately don't "ruin" the game imo. What wins games is good hand and tech management and Order placement. Hope your friend tries again. It is an amazing game and still remains as one of the best games I've ever played after all these years.
 
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mumu shanshi
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Planning phase is absolutely vital in this game. Other than that, this game slightly encourages attacking rather than turtling.

First off:
cjm3407 wrote:
Theory #1 for why the game ended so quickly for my friend, I got 2 bonus units on the planet where I was completely out of dudes (my hydra wasn't even on my base).

Sounds like it may have contravened
Rules, Pg 23 wrote:
To build a base, the active player must select an area on the active planet that contains at least one friendly unit.


Then:
cjm3407 wrote:
Round 3: He went first and I went right after him. This allowed me to stack 2 orders on the planet we were fighting for, but now I solely control. Waited for him to stack on his home planet 3 orders, I added a move on top, he added a build, and then I added a move again.

This was a serious mistake. Putting all four orders on your own planet like this is just asking to be crushed. Granted, he was in a difficult position already, but if I were him I would consider:

(First placement)
Mobilize on home planet (defensive)
Mobilize on contested planet
Build on contested planet
Mobilize on contested planet
(Last placement)

This way he has a chance to save his home base whilst at the same time putting great pressure on your base on the contested planet.

I cannot over-emphasise the importance of the planning phase. In my estimation it is the single most important skill in the game. Try not to be too predictable!
 
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Cameron Murdaugh
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mumushanshi wrote:

First off:
Sounds like it may have contravened
Rules, Pg 23 wrote:
To build a base, the active player must select an area on the active planet that contains at least one friendly unit.



Yeah, I think I read the rule as if you have a unit on the planet you can build in any area. So, there was a misplay there, but it didn't really do anything to impact this scenario.

But thanks for the other information, you supplied. That makes sense what you were saying in reference to him trying to bail from his planet and rebuild his base there.
 
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Cameron Murdaugh
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FaydeShift wrote:
I wouldn't get too bent out of shape with the idea of a Zergling killing a Zealot. It happens, just not very often, especially if the Zergling has a support card and the Zealot uses a low-level attack value. Plus, on round one, he was attacking with 4 Zealots, and I doubt he had a matching card for each. Zerg, if memory serves, has an easier time having cards for Zerglings/Hydras.


Yeah, we recapped the battle. I had no enhancements 1hydra, 1 ling/hydra, 1ling cards+1 scourge. He had 3 zealots + 1 nonmatch card + 2 enhancment (1 health). The matchups ended up being this lot vs ling x3 and hydra vs lot. So, the Hydra and zealot traded. One zealot didn't have a zealot card, so that one lost. I used a scourge card on one so i had the high 5 attack and he ended up using a low health zealot card. And the last one the zealot won the battle. We talked about it, he probably wasted the +1 health enhancement on the hydra battle, he should have used it on a zergling fight to get out of range of the damage. Hopefully, we can use the information from this post to help us better understanding of the game.
 
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Cameron Murdaugh
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SirHandsome wrote:
Contrary to your theory about turtling, attacking Zerg a lot is important I think.


So, in a normal game how do you guys see progression. Is round 1 a normal rush for the closest planets or do people often build units in their starting base and making sure you are unit capped on your planet for defense/attack? How many rounds do people average in the game? Does anyone have a common ideal first turn for each race (do you go for specific buildings/techs/expansions/modules)?
 
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Brad Miller
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Zerg usually want to attack a neighbor ASAP. Usually there is a race for the CP locations.
 
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Cameron Murdaugh
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The Schaef wrote:
I blended my copy with Brood War long ago, so some of my comments may be colored by components you don't yet have (I strongly recommend that if you are able, the game is much more complete with it).

Is there any where to get this game still? I have checked amazon and ebay, both are crazy expensive or appear to be a french version.
The Schaef wrote:
Having said that, there's only one card in the deck with an attack he could use greater than 5, and only one zealot card in the deck with a defense less than 6. So unless you both got exactly the right (wrong?) card, or unless he had no zealot card for defense and had to rely on a minor defense value, it's hard to imagine his 'ling defeating you 1v1.

I explain in another reply the battle scenario of why he was left with only 1 zealot.
The Schaef wrote:
One problem you stumbled on in the third round, and really it's the one significant flaw in the game IMO, and not fully resolved with the expansion, is the Player To Your Left conundrum.

You say not fully resolved, is there some form of resolution to the problem that doesn't require new pieces? Was it a rule change to "orders" order?
The Schaef wrote:
One base upgrade that could have helped your friend is the Orbital Defense module.

Yeah, we talked about that in our post game analysis. And I told him the combination of the defense module and him actually having units on the planet instead of his all-in to the contested planet strategy, there was a very small chance I could have assaulted his base.
The Schaef wrote:
As mentioned above, Scouts are a good defense against a 'ling rush as well.

Yeah, one thing I didn't really go into very far was that we didn't know what splash damage really did until my friend committed to building a reaver. He kind of assumed an attack of 8-9 splash damage would kill multiple lings instead of just one for the one card he had. [/q]
The Schaef wrote:
This game has a lot of moving parts and it's hard to convince people to invest the time to really grok everything (especially if they have a really bad experience like your friend). But when you put all of it together, the units, the upgrade modules, the research cards, you have a lot of well-balanced options for strategies (especially with the expansion).

Thanks for all of the information, I am really hoping to try playing again soon and maybe we can have a better experience next time. Someone suggested above probably trying a round without teams, do you think FFA 4 players is better balanced than 2v2 teams because of the fact that you can't really interact with your ally in any allyish way?
 
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mumu shanshi
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cjm3407 wrote:
Is round 1 a normal rush for the closest planets or do people often build units in their starting base and making sure you are unit capped on your planet for defense/attack?

The most efficient defence is not to be unit capped but rather to have one [cheap] unit in every area. Since only one battle may be initiated per mobilize order, it means that for one mobilize order (a very precious resource), your opponent will destroy only one of your units and conquer only one area.

Since battles sligtly favour the attacker, if you stack multiple units in one area there is a good chance that you will suffer heavy losses should an enemy choose to attack there. This applies especially to Protoss, and not so much to the Zerg.
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