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Subject: Anyone Tried Out The Optional Rules? rss

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Jon Snow
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"Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I like to think that you and I exchanged something more permanent."
--Mr. Spock to the Romulan Commander


Have any of you tried out the Optional Rules yet (7 Accelerated and 5 Advanced)? I haven't. I'm looking most closely after nine games at the Advanced Rule Focused Research. In my recent Session thread Ninth Game, I've been asked why we don't do more research. The answer right now is that those drawn randomly haven't made much difference, except for the Romulan Advanced Cloaking, which seemed to be overwhelming the two times its been drawn. There are specific counters to some in other faction's decks, but few Advancements tend to be actually activated before a game is over, so perhaps these should be more accessible in order to balance out major advantages that others present. It would also allow players to make commitments to specific game strategies based on their choice of Advancements being developed. What do you think?

In some game designs Optional Rules are untested afterthoughts. In others they are expected to be used after your first few games. What categories do you feel these are in?
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Marc Bennett
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chas59 wrote:
Have any of you tried out the Optional Rules yet (7 Accelerated and 5 Advanced)? I haven't. I'm looking most closely after nine games at the Advanced Rule Focused Research.

In some game designs Optional Rules are untested afterthoughts. In others they are expected to be used after your first few games. What category do you think these are in?


i have tried most of the advanced rules.

i really like focused research. keep in mind this gives you an option, 2 random or 1 of your choice. sometimes you will want one sometimes the other. i will always play with this now.

humble beginnings. its harder than it seems to get going. but for a longer game its not bad.

wild culture, not sure how i feel about this yet, at first it seems great, may encourage players to go for ascendancy less, lengthening the game? but having the option when you need a slight boost is nice.

random galaxy, IMO its worth the ease of setup alone. doesnt change the game much but does remove a bit of a safety blanket. i personally like it but i can see where not everyone would.

havent tried unrestristed trade routs yet.
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Jon Snow
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laugh And check out the Advancements Summary by Chris Schenk in the Files section. Just in time!
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Jon Snow
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A second Advanced Rule I'm going to be using is Random Galaxy: "Instead of separating the Phenomenons in Set Up, shuffle all the Systems Discs together." I had mentioned that after the first six planetary systems I was more or less evening out the Phenomema among the remaining ones. But as a player pointed out, just before I shot him with my phaser on stun, "if you do it that way, its still not random, as we'll know to expect that."
 
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Jon Snow
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"Charlie Theel,

Yes, boosting the starting resources is the third Optional Rule I would introduce, after Random Universe and Focused Research. Its the only 'Accelerated Rule' that really grabs me."

(The above is a paste from another thread post I just made). This is the Extra Starting Resources rule. Since our games here in Brooklyn usually go long, I can't imagine using anything that would make the game go longer, such as Humble Beginnings, as Marc mentions doing above.
 
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Jon Snow
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Here's the first Optional Rules mix I'll be using, for tomorrow's game, and why:


*SPECIAL TENTH GAME BRIEFING: Sunday Sept. 10 2016*

Nick and Matt,

We'll be using three Optional Rules in our game; all for the first time. Two are "Advanced Rules," to make the game more challenging/interesting for experienced players, and seem to be meant to be used regularly (I'm not crazy about the other three offered in this category):

1. Random Galaxy: The six Phenomena will be initially mixed in with the other systems, without keeping the first six as planets.

GM Comment: I don't expect this will have that much impact, other than taking away the safety cushion at the start. But with deadly Exploration Cards to still come out randomly, its not really that safe a cushion anyhow.

2. Focused Research: During the action Launch Projects, you will be able to choose any one Advancement Card to start developing, rather than have to pick two random ones. Keep in mind a regular rule we were not using and should have been--that a research token gained from risking the hazard of a Phenomena can be put directly on a project card, accelerating the speed at which it is developed. Note also that I have printed out player copies of a one page Advancements Summary from boardgamegeek; so we call all consider the decks of all three factions. The link to this and the rules book were sent to you in previous emails.

GM Comment: Although I still haven't read through the Exploration Cards, so they still surprise me with more variations in games I've played, I did go briefly through the Advancement Cards for the three factions. Since some specifically negate or copy those of other factions, it would seem to counter the situation where the Romulans deploy the overwhelming Advanced Cloaking, and the others are powerless to counter or copy it (this happened in two games so far). It will also counter the fact that ironically, while the game is long enough, it is still too short to cycle through the Advancement decks.

The last is one of the "Accelerated Rules" to speed up the game:

3. Extra Starting Resources: Each player starts with 8 Production, 6 Research, and 4 Culture (instead of 3 of each).

GM Comment: This is the only one of the seven Accelerated Rules that I like, and may speed up the game just a bit without changing much. It should also make up for bad initial systems exploration experienced for any one player, better than taking out Phenomena should, as players will be able to build a few more ships or take other actions without larger steady incomes for the first couple of turns.


MSC: Finally, a few physical enhancements. I have now glued the fleet ships to their fleet bases, and dummied up a cardboard top to the third Klingon Star Base, to enhance your gaming pleasure.

I'm sending this out to all of our experienced players so they can keep up to date. You and everyone else are welcome to scan all of the Optional Rules (Rules Booklet Page 26) and let me know what you think.

Charley

(Note: the original also included a summary of the Cardassian and Ferengi expansion info posted so far here on bgg).
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Grish
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chas59 wrote:

2. Focused Research:

... Since some specifically negate or copy those of other factions, it would seem to counter the situation where the Romulans deploy the overwhelming Advanced Cloaking, and the others are powerless to counter or copy it (this happened in two games so far).


The Federation can always use commands to cycle through their deck to get a Tachyon Detection Array. They should never be powerless. As soon as they see the Romulan player researching that card, they should start cycling their own advancement deck.

Each command spend allows you to look at 2 advancement cards. You are allowed to discard those cards and use another command and draw 2 more. Rinse and repeat until you find what you are looking for.

All discards are placed at the bottom of the deck. Mind you, they are not shuffled! So there are methods of controlling research and you can learn the order of your advancement deck, but at the cost of using command tokens.

The rule sounds pretty good to me as is.
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chas59 wrote:


1. Random Galaxy: The six Phenomena will be initially mixed in with the other systems, without keeping the first six as planets.

GM Comment: I don't expect this will have that much impact, other than taking away the safety cushion at the start. But with deadly Exploration Cards to still come out randomly, its not really that safe a cushion anyhow.


I'm interested to see what happens in your game. I can see a game be very swingy or luck driven if a player draws say 3-4 phenomenon as their first planets vs another player who draws nothing but juicy planets early on.
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Jon Snow
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Grish,

1. Aha! I wonder why we were playing that your could only use Launch Projects once per turn? Guess we got it confused with Commit Research during the Build Phase. That makes sense--you can then cycle through your entire Advancement stack in only perhaps 3 turns. Thanks for that clarification. However, Focused Research can help you do it even faster, especially when responding to a rival's completed Advancement that seems to be turning the game around! On the other hand, with more projects out at once you can delvelop more faster. I recall that one bgg poster said that when using FR, you should be able to also play the regular rule as an alternate.

2. We're used to dealing with extreme randomness in exploration from the older and also great (but not as well supported with expansions) Star Trek Fleet Captains (Wizkids, only two expansions). In our experience with both games, an imbalance in initial systems found in each player's local territory drives an earlier First Contact so the advantaged player does not pull too far ahead. In STA, usually its the Federation, all things being equal in systems development among the players in any one game.


 
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Chris Schenck
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chas59 wrote:
I wonder why we were playing that your could only use Launch Projects once per turn? Guess we got it confused with Commit Research during the Build Phase.

Yes that's very important. It makes a huge difference. I was wondering why I kept seeing you comment in several threads about how unpredictable research is. I kept thinking to myself, it's not that big of a deal. Just spend a few commands to cycle through a bunch of cards until you get one you like. I wish I'd made a specific comment earlier, and it would have cleared things up several games ago for you.

Remember that every time you spend a command, you get to reveal TWO cards. So spending 3 commands will take you almost halfway through your deck, if you really needed to dig for something specific.

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Jon Snow
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thumbsup Gotcha! Gol dang them pesky Romulans...get 'em the next time.
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Marc Bennett
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chas59 wrote:
I recall that one bgg poster said that when using FR, you should be able to also play the regular rule as an alternate.


That was probably me I love focused research. But really I was clarifying how the rule is written rather than changing anything. Focused research says you may choose one instead of drawing randomly so you get the choice each time you use a command
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Right now I'd settle for a simultaneous build phase rule where everyone does their building at the same time and use their turn order for command phases.

Also if there was a way to make command phases simultaneous that would be better such as moving battles/invasions/hegemony to the end of the command phase and have everyone do their movements. you know similar to how Eclips does it.
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Nova Cat
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Increasing the simultaneity of the player actions will always reduce a player's ability to react to the actions of other players, and the ability to react is an important part of the game's design. That why, for example, when a player wins the turn-order bid and chooses to go last, you should be extremely suspicious of them; they're preventing everyone else from reacting to whatever they have planned.
 
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Marc Bennett
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Novacat wrote:
Increasing the simultaneity of the player actions will always reduce a player's ability to react to the actions of other players, and the ability to react is an important part of the game's design. That why, for example, when a player wins the turn-order bid and chooses to go last, you should be extremely suspicious of them; they're preventing everyone else from reacting to whatever they have planned.


this is why the varient with the extra turn order cards is so awesome! your not quite sure what anyone else took.
 
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Bob Holmstrom
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Marinealver wrote:
Right now I'd settle for a simultaneous build phase rule where everyone does their building at the same time and use their turn order for command phases.

Also if there was a way to make command phases simultaneous that would be better such as moving battles/invasions/hegemony to the end of the command phase and have everyone do their movements. you know similar to how Eclips does it.


I played my first game Saturday and by mistake we played with everyone doing the build phase first in initiative order, then doing the command phase.

Going into the game, I had heard the game had downtime issues which we didn't experience in our game due to our mistake. We will probably continue to play with our "variant."
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