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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Variant for a reduced length game (particularly for 2 players)... rss

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Steve Marano
United States
Nutley
New Jersey
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I've only played TM once - at a 4 player demo session at my FLGS last night. But based on this experience, I can readily appreciate the comments made by Mina in her superb review of TM, in which she stated how the game might drag on too long for two players only. I mused about the possibility of simply lowering the game-ending thresholds by say three increments for temperature and oxygen (i.e. targets of 2 degrees and 11% respectively), and by two oceans (7 instead of 9 ocean tiles). To stay within theme, and to mitigate the effect such changes would have on cards with maximum or minimum threshold restrictions, one could simply print out and affix a sequence of 'shorter play' variant stickers next to the official parameter tracks which substitute higher temperature and oxygen levels to achieve the target thresholds at an accelerated pace. For example, instead of the temperature track starting with -28, -26, -24, this alternate "shorter play" track would increase by 4 degrees for the first several increments (e.g. -28, -24, -20), and then increase at the same pace as the unmodified track from that point on. This would have the effect of reducing the number of increments on those tracks by three in this example.

I'm not sure if my explanation of this variant is clear. And I obviously haven't played the game enough to know if reducing the length of the parameter tracks by three would result in a quicker-paced game without significant drawbacks (or if a different reduction might be more appropriate) but hopefully this explanation is sufficient enough to solicit feedback.
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Michael Murphy
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Indiana
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I understand your varient and it sounds interesting, but I would priposte a simpler change. Just give all players a boost to starting production. For even more interesting strategy for setup giving all players 6 production boosts in any of the six resources, that they select after seeing their initial 10 cards.
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Love Nilsson
Sweden
Trelleborg
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If you want a quicker game I think starting with resources is preferable to reducing parameter goals (or starting higher up on the tracks).

But do try playing it both ways and see what you like. It's your game and you should play it the way you enjoy it the most!
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Enoch Fryxelius
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LoveNson wrote:
If you want a quicker game I think starting with resources is preferable to reducing parameter goals (or starting higher up on the tracks).

But do try playing it both ways and see what you like. It's your game and you should play it the way you enjoy it the most!


Of course you can houserule anything you want, but you should know that messing with global parameters also messes with the balance of the card requirement. The cost of the cards are calculated due to their effects AND given discounts based on how late or how hard the requirement of the card is.

TM basic game with starting production is designed to be an epic 2-hour game, regardless of number of players. If you think that the 2-player game "drags" with CE expansion - then play the standard game. (With drag we mean that the corporations will expand and develop more than in any other variant of the game, ending up in really big tableaus of cards, actions and effects - lot of fun, but also a lot to consider and keep track of.)

People who has played different variants and number of players can also observe that you need different skills to succeed. You need to prioritize differently in a 4-player basic game compared to a 2-player CE, or a solo-game. Right, Love?
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Roman Kowalewski
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I personally think that Steve may be onto something. Changing production or starting position of terraforming tracks impact a game in a significant way and may push it in an unwanted direction.

To recreate a 4-player experience you just need to move twice as much on oxygen and temperature tracks while only receving 1 TR just like in normal game. In addition you would put 2 ocean tiles instead of 1 but only geting one TR for it.

I don't think it would change the balance significantly from a 4-player game. The main difference would be number of green and city tiles on board. This is just a bit more complicated to "fix".

You may just put 2 tiles of each type instead of 1 but receving just 1 TR for these 2 greenaries and 1 MC income for these 2 cities and halved number of points at the end of a game. This however creates some other problems. Some cards refer to number of cities in play. Whenever it refer to your and only your tiles you should divide the number by 2, but when it refers to all cities they should be counted normally. With special cities you probably should be able to place one additional normal city. The restriction would be that you may only recive a placement reward from just one of those 2 greenaries/cities.

Overall it would almost halve the time of a two player game while not changing the balance in any significant way. What do you think?



 
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Eric Hymowitz
United States
Elkridge
Maryland
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EagleEye80 wrote:
TM basic game with starting production is designed to be an epic 2-hour game, regardless of number of players.


I have to be honest, I think 2 hours is really pushing it. I will grant you, it's a fun, fast-moving game, and it absolutely does not feel like a long game. But I think my gaming group will need quite a few plays before we're familiar enough with the game to get down to 2 hours.
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