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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Terraforming Mars: Basic vs Adanced Corporations? rss

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Brendon Faithfull
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Overland Park
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Hey so I played my first game of TM today and my wife and I decided to throw caution to the wind and picked advanced corps knowing that we might lose as a result. The person who was teaching the game picked an advanced corp as well leaving the slightly more green to board games player with the beginner corp.

The beginner corp SMOKED us, and when I had finally played the game and compared the beginner corp to the advanced corps I couldn't possibly fathom a time when I'd pick an advanced one ever again. 42 ME start, 1 production on each, and you don't have to pay for your starting cards!?

There's no way that's balanced, is it? I was expecting the beginner corp to just be easier to execute, but not objectively better, but I can't see a way in which that's not the case here. Is this the way its intended to be? I feel like just the ability to not pay for your starting cards is enough to be on par with the advanced variants much less having a 42 ME start and +1 production to everything.

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Jacob Walker
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I don't have the rulebook or corporations in front of me, but is the +1 production to everything unique to the beginner corporation? I've never played without the expansion cards, but I was under the impression that in the "basic" game, every player starts with one production in everything.

My general impression of the beginner corporations is that they are probably vastly under powered in comparison to their advanced counterparts. Sure they start with a lot of money and a lot of cards they don't have to pay for, but that doesn't mean the cards will work well together, at which point the dead weight cards are basically just a credit a piece. The advanced corporations all have benefits throughout the game, instead of a very slightly accelerated start.
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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The 1 production per resource is NOT linked to the Beginner Corporation, but to the STANDARD GAME. In every game, either all players have it or none. The Beginner Corporation has the advantage of starting with lots of money and not having to choose which cards to keep. That's it.
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Love Nilsson
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Trelleborg
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Either you play a basic game where everyone gets +1 production of all resources at start, or you include Corporate Era in which case no one does.

Edit: Yes, Jonathan has it right.
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Jacob Fryxelius
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About balance.

It seems that the huge different in your game was due to the incorrect starting production, like others said here.
Even without starting production though, the Beginner Corporations ARE a still little bit better than the 12 standard corporations, getting those 10 cards pretty cheap. This is designed so that new players can easily get into the game and play on par with the standard corporations. Once you know the game, you'll want to play the standard corporations, because they are simply more fun to play.
The main balance difference is that the Beginner Corporations are more luck-prone since the 10 cards might be great to start with (decidedly better than a standard corporation) or lack synergy or early-game use (worse than a standard corp).
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Matt Smith
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I also suspect some knowledge of the game and project cards is needed to take full advantage of the non-beginner Corporation cards. That's why new players shouldn't take a non-beginner Corporation, as they may be getting a Corporation power that they don't know how to leverage properly.
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Kevin Tierney
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I also think drafting the 4 cards each round should be done if you play w/ the corp cards. (Actually, drafting should be done in every game (except maybe the first one) just because it makes the game more fun.)

In our first game using corps, we did not draft and half the players got unlucky draws and saw very few cards that synergized with their corp's ability.

For a specific example, the 4th place player had the media corp that got a kickback from one-time event cards, but the entire game only drew 2 (very expensive, titanium-based) one-time events that she couldn't afford to play til late in the game.

I'm not saying the corp was unbalanced -- she still had the bonus steel at the start of the game, but that was spent in the first 2 or 3 rounds, so most of the game she got very little use out of her corp's ongoing ability. Her neighbors had corps with ongoing abilities like "spend heat as money" and "green zones cost one less" that got used much more during the game, and you could see her getting a bit frustrated every time she got dealt another 4 cards w/ no events.
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Brendon Faithfull
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Thank you and everyone else for the response. I'll have to give the game another whirl. I don't mind losing to beginner corps, as I said we expected it picking standard from the start, but the disparity was very jarring. I'm glad to see that a rules error was the cause of at least a majority of the points difference.
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Will Pell
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I haven't played a game which included any beginners, but it seems unlikely that it would work super-well, although I do think it's strategically valid. Beginner corp gets a huge early start, but unless the player has the right combination of skill and luck to really capitalize on that initial lead, the fact that you don't have any sort of ongoing ability is likely to result in you falling behind.

You get ten cards to start, but you're not making any choices (unless you draft, but I'm pretty sure the wording of the card implies that the beginner just draws 10 even if everyone else is drafting), and the odds are good that about half of the cards you draw are not going to be good, so on balance other players are paying 15 to keep 5 cards, while you're keeping 10 cards without paying, but only 5 or so are likely to be useful (at least in the short term). The result is likely to leave you worse off than Terractor, who can keep six excellent cards in place of your ten random ones, and have the same amount of money as you plus a periodically-applicable discount.

If you're up against relatively weak corporations, like Inventrix or maybe Interplanetary Studios, I could see the beginner paying off for you. But something as strong as Tharsis or the two space-based corps (I have a hard time remembering which one is which, and have only a vague impression that one of them is likely to win very big if the other players don't blue-shell it hard) will probably get enough extra mileage out of those continuous abilities that they'll catch up to Beginner's lead pretty fast. Still, I won't know for sure until I can convince someone to try.

kevinpdx wrote:
(Actually, drafting should be done in every game (except maybe the first one) just because it makes the game more fun.)


Drafting makes a big difference, just because you see more cards that way. Any sort of specific strategy is more likely to come together if you choose 4 cards out of 10 instead of randomly drawing 4 cards with no choice. Yes, in draft your opponents can deny you the card that you need, but only if it's not in your initial 4, whereas in a non-draft game, if it's not in your 4, you probably never see it anyway. (The deck will run through about twice as fast in a draft situation, so the discards will likely get reshuffled toward the end game; that may make some difference, but probably not a lot.)
 
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Örjan Almén
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willpell wrote:

You get ten cards to start, but you're not making any choices (unless you draft, but I'm pretty sure the wording of the card implies that the beginner just draws 10 even if everyone else is drafting


The drafting rules states that the first ten cards should not be drafted, so there are no problem with the wording. But if you house rule drafting the first ten cards I would go with your interpretation.
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Will Pell
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It's not my house rule, but I have been in at least one game where the more experienced player insisted that the first ten cards were drafted. I thought it didn't seem right, but i hadn't waded through the whole rulebook so I took his word for it.
 
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