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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Game Ten rss

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Jon Snow
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Game Ten 3 Hours Chas Klingons Matt Romulans Nick Federation

Optional Rules: Extra Resource Tokens, Focused Research, Random Universe

In this game, the first using some of the Optional Rules, we were also for the first time using the proper Research Rules of being able to shuffle through the Advantage Deck for several Commands rather than only one as desired during one turn (hopefully our final rules mistake). The Federation was particularly advantaged and the Klingons drastically disadvantaged during Exploration. The Feds quickly found two Level 1 Civs and later four Level 2 Civs, which they were quickly able to Assimilate, er, I mean, Hegemonize. The Romulans, in the middle, were farming research tokens from two Phenomona. The poor Klingons, on the other hand, ran quickly into three Pehnomona and were destroyed when doing so. Speeding a battle fleet to stop the Federation, their six ship strong fleet lost three to a planetary hazard before it could reach them when the Romulan on the right rolled three sixes on six dice! So pathetic was their attempt as systems growth that by Turn 4 their income was still only that of the Home System! I'd never seen anything like it, and I was almost glad it was happening to me rather than my pals. Nevertheless, everyone hit Ascendancy Level Two at about the same time.

There was no First Contact for quite a while. This was partly due to the the Federation executing quite a bit of The Shut Down maneuver, closing off their own territory from possible connections by the other rivals at several possible points of contact. So as the Christmas Tree of systems grew, it grew much fasted in Federation territory, and the others were prevented from doing much about it, despite the extra early resources they were given.

By the time the other rivals figured out a method of connecting separately to the Federation, the Feds had three fleets and three Star Bases. The Klingons took a world and a Star Base away from them, but this was the only fleet the red faction had on the board, along with only one Star Base. The Romulans also had only one good attack going. They had discovered early planets with four 3 or 4 level hazards, and two with 5 or 6 hazards, which had slowed their own growth. The Feds counterattacked me. Having raised their Shields twice, they easily beat the Klingons, whose Cloaking only worked on their own turn for First Fire, even though we had improved their weapons. The Klingons were destroyed just when they were ready to build two more Culture Nodes and take off economically again. The Feds were ahead of us in almost every category you could measure.

The Romulans now calculated that although the Federation was only at Three Ascendancy, the enterprising Feds could hit Level Five a turn before the Roms could. The Klings meanwhile were now out of the race and practically out of the game. At this point, the rivals conceded an Ascendancy Victory to the Federation.

Optional Rules: We enjoyed Focused Research as an alternative to rather than a replacement for the usual method of launching research projects, and the extra starting resources as well. You'd expect as the poor Klingon I would have been against Random Galaxy as my exploration had been so sad. However, it was actually the other two player who were dead set against using it again. Since I'm not crazy about any of the other optional rules, we'll probably continue playing with only these two, unless any of the other eight players who I've introduced to this game have a pet rule they really want to try out.

Using the standard repeatable launch of research projects was fun for all of us, although as the Klingon never even developed a second Research Node, I couldn't do much with it myself. We are using the fine one page Advancements Summary player aid from the Files to help with Focused Research, and I recommend it.

As we move now into mid-September, we begin to look forward to the availability of the first two expansions, the Cardassians and the Ferengi. . Hopefully they are due out only n a month or so. It will certainly be interesting to see how they affect the game, with different abilities and more players in a single game. Then once again we will boldly go where no New York City gamers have gone before!
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Chris Schenck
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Yeah, I'm not big on using Random Universe, for exactly the reason you discovered during play. It just ends up punishing a random player right out of the gate, which really kind of sets a sour tone to the game.

So out of curiosity, early in your game once the Klingon and Romulan player saw the big Federation advantage starting to build steam, why didn't they immediately beeline for each other to setup mutual 3-point trade agreements? That might have given them enough seed capital to dig out of the rut. At a minimum it would have lessened the pullaway of the Federation player.

I'm still loving these session reports, and I hope you keep doing them. I'm gaming vicariously though you. I do believe you'll get more ST:A games under your belt by the end of the year than I will have during my entire life. I'm jealous.

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Jon Snow
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Chris,

It helps to be retired! Yes, I thought of early trade, but the other guy had only played once before, and nobody seems to ever trust the Klingons! (Or the Romulans, ha ha!)

Thanks to everyone who has read or commented on this series of sessions reports. I figured they'd have more value when most people can't get the game yet. I've only been to GenCon myself once, and this second chance to buy there was when a pal went, so its a rare treat for me to get a new game this early.

Now I'm waiting for the retail release of Cry Havoc, my only other GenCon 'commission' to my friend, which they sold out to people who spent $200 for an hour of shopping before the dealer room opened on Thursday! To be fair, they did allow pre-buys and convention pickups, but I didn't bother. Their early print run ran short for various reasons (Portal Games).
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Grish
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chas59 wrote:
Thanks to everyone who has read or commented on this series of sessions reports. I figured they'd have more value when most people can't get the game yet.


Thanks for writing them! Your games have given me some insight but also regret for not giving my friend some money before he went to gencon. Had I only known this game would be delayed for so long I would have paid the extra to get it.

Are you no longer going to be posting batreps? Sounds like you're moving on to play other games.
 
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Grish
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chas59 wrote:
So pathetic was their attempt as systems growth that by Turn 4 their income was still only that of the Home System! I'd never seen anything like it, and I was almost glad it was happening to me rather than my pals.


I was worried something like that would happen with totally random system draws.


Quote:
The Romulans now calculated that although the Federation was only at Three Ascendancy, the enterprising Feds could hit Level Five a turn before the Roms could. The Klings meanwhile were now out of the race and practically out of the game. At this point, the rivals conceded an Ascendancy Victory to the Federation.


Where the Romulans behind so much militarily? Wouldn't it have been worth attacking and raising a planet or two?

Also, do you find Ascendancy victories satisfying? It seems it might be anticlimactic but I'm not playing the game, so I have no idea.

Would raising the Ascendancy count to 6 force a military decision? Would the Feds have been able to hold off everyone if they had to reach 6 Ascendancy?
 
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Jon Snow
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Ascendancy Victories are fine, and the tension of possible Superiority Victory also makes it very interesting. I do prefer to see the Ascendancy actually achieved, rather than a runaway leader's progress force the others to concede early.

But while the rules are simple enough, there is a learning curve toward becoming a seasoned player who can properly manipulate several game systems at once! So even with ten games under my belt, I'm not ready to state any conclusions about this design.
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Bryan David
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cbs42 wrote:
Yeah, I'm not big on using Random Universe, for exactly the reason you discovered during play. It just ends up punishing a random player right out of the gate, which really kind of sets a sour tone to the game.


This small tidbit worries me.
I have not played the game yet, From what I've seen you get a top starting tile count that is more forgiving based on the number of players.
But once you've exhausted those, it turns straight to the wild west???

Is there any way the game does or could mitigate early bad luck, just a bit, to keep it away from too early a demise? Or is it more interesting to have that unfavorable flavor?

Just comparing that mitigation to Mage Knight/Frontiers and Suburbia quickly off the top. Certain tiles don't become accessible or available until later.
 
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Barry Kendall
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Although I'm still waiting for distributor availability, so obviously have no play experience, I've been following the session reports with great interest.

In light of this one, it sounds to me as though permitting a player to "fort up" from the beginning can cause serious balance issues in a given game.

Permitting the Federation to do what that Player did from game start seems a bit too "prescient" in terms of knowing that "other empires are out there and they're a threat from the get-go."

I know it's all a game-on-an-imaginary-subject, fiction-on-a-fiction play platform, but it doesn't seem consistent with "the Federation Philosophy of Space Exploration and Contact" to be that paranoid-policy-centric in its overall strategic approach immediately.

Perhaps there's room for a rule tweak regarding when such "turtling" can commence in the early game. For instance, "not until a first encounter with another Player's Empire."

Thoughts from folks who've played would be welcome as we look forward to playing. Thanks.
 
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Jon Snow
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Bryan,

"Risk is what this starship is about. Its why we're aboard her!"
--James T. Kirk

I wouldn't worry--initial luck is not usually this extreme. The same happens in the exploration phase of that great game Star Trek Fleet Captains! However, note that in this game the Feds were uncannily lucky in their own initial expansion. So the juxtaposition of my very bad luck with his very good luck was what did us in! And that can happen in almost any game you play.


Barry,

"Klingons!?!"
--Denny Craig (William Shatner), Boston Legal

If I had not had such bad luck in initial exploring and moving, you can bet I would have jumped right on him. Normally, turtling is pretty hard to do in this game system. With more players in a game after the first expansions, I imagine that it will become even harder. And some races like the Ferengi who are not so ferocious will be more advantageous to contact.

As for the ethos of Trek, if you were the Feds and the Galaxy was full of Klingons and Romulans, (Oh my!) what would you do? The Feds always keep exploring their own "territory," which is absolutely necessary for growth. I can't blame the Fed in this game for seeing his opportunity and taking it. (Note that this player, one of the more experienced among my gang, is the saintly fellow who went to GenCon and got me the game, even though he did no shopping for himself!)

Is it unfortunate that the Cardassians will be yet another "predatory" species in this regard? Well, the game is not complete yet, and we'll see what follows the first wave of expansions. When the Borg and the Dominion come in, the Klingons and Romulans will probably look much nicer to play with!
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Alex Almond
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The Cardies don't seem to be an out right aggressive race, more defensive with a capacity to make quick grabs.

They don't really have much in the way of production/offensive abilities compared to Rom/Klig.

You should be able to mess up turtlers with secret starbases/trade fleet, so G9 have taken steps to stop it.

Have you thought of trying starting the game with everybody on +1weps&shields? It would reduce the amount of random death greatly.


 
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Jon Snow
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Alex,

No--but that's an interesting idea, and we've lately learned the value of Shields. The Feds this game raised theirs, and were able to farm a "6" Phenomenon with no risk at all (more of their blasted luck to find it in their territory).

I've been pretty patient on making rules changes, but if you have the extra resources we used, its easier to improve your console values too.
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Alex Almond
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chas59 wrote:
Alex,

I've been pretty patient on making rules changes, but if you have the extra resources we used, its easier to improve your console values too.


I was thinking about this when looking though the special options.

Is it just committing people to go down researching the +1 shields/+1 weapons?

I like the idea of starting +1/+1 because it covers the first turn, it's disheartening if you lose a load of stuff on the first turn it drags you back for much of the game.



 
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