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Thomas Michel
Germany
Stuttgart
Baden-Württemberg
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I start with some reasoning why I think that some rules need to be clarified and changed.


About homeworlds:

Moving back to your homeworld seems ambigous to me.

On one hand:

Quote:
The player's ship CANNOT:

...

>> MOVE INTO one of his own systems

According to

Quote:
HOMEWORLD SYSTEMS: ... NOTE: These systems act as a colonized star system. They count towards territory bonus and give points to opponents’ Trade Stations built adjacent to them, but they don’t give the players 2 points at end the of game.

homeworlds are special in that they act as colonized but don't give the 2 victory points to the corresponding player.

But still one could assume that your homeworld is your own system and you can't move back to your homeworld.

On the other hand:

Quote:
Damaged Ships:
...
Damaged ships CAN enter their Homeworld Systems for repairs.
...

Ok, "CAN" is uppercase and highlighted in green, so you could assume that this is an exception. But it's not quite sure. Perhaps the designer could make clear, whether undamaged ships can also move back to their homeworld or not.


About Asteroid Field, Nordinn Empire and damage:

Nearly all unexplored system tiles give a benefit to the player exploring them.

But if you are unlucky to hit Asteroid Field or Nordinn Empire, you are - IMHO - pretty much out of the game since you get no benefit, you wasted your turn and on top your ship gets damaged - an additional penalty.

A wasted turn in this game means - again IMHO - that you will pretty sure have no chance to win the game any more.

Even worse if you hit Nordinn Empire and you have one or more adjacent Colonies, you have to destroy one with the Nordinn Empire Conquest Token to make the penalty even bigger. Lucky you, if you have no adjacent Colonies but there are opponent adjacent Colonies. Then you may destroy one of them with the Nordinn Empire Conquest Token, severly penalizing that player.

This might work in a 2-player game to compensate for your wasted turn and for your damaged ship. But in a multiplayer game - once more IMHO - you and the opponent who had his Colony destroyed are pretty much out of the game.

In addition, repair seems to me as pretty rare since in most cases it would be very hard for the damaged ship to get back to the homeworld.

The damage/repair also complicates the otherwise lean rules.


About Hollana Federation and Tennar Union:

Hollana Federation and Tennar Union seem to be too powerful if you are lucky enough to explore one of them behind your homeworld (i.e. if you play with the ..-A side of the homeworld which has an empty system behind the homeworld).

Then you pretty sure get 5 victory points for Hollana Federation and for sure 4 victory points for Tennar Union (for which it's unlikely that - behind your homeworld - another player also gets 2 victory points for controlling an adjacent system). In addition, you don't have to waste a move to control the most (for Hollana Federation) or at least one (for Tennar Union) adjacent systems since you already control your homesystem and there is a 1-planet and a 2-planet adjacent system which you can take control of.

So the obvious move would be to explore to tile behind your home system and if you are lucky to find one of the two, colonize the 2-planet system later - bang, 7 (for Hollana Federation) or 6 (for Tennar Union) victory points in 2 moves!


Here is the variant:

1. You may NEVER move OVER or ON an opponent's homeworld. (like you could conclude from the current rules)

2. You may ALWAYS move OVER but NEVER move back ON your own homeworld. (unlike in the current rules for damaged ships and probably for undamaged ships)

3. If, at the end of the game, you occupy your homeworld with at least one of your ships, you may decide whether it counts as a Colony (yielding 2 victory points) or as a Trade Station (yielding victory points for adjacent opponent Colonies and Trade Stations), counts for you in calculating the territory bonus (and also counts for you in calculating the final bonus for Hollana Federation and Tennar Union) and yields victory points to adjacent opponent Trade Stations. Remember that you can't pass on your turn. So if you have one or more unplaced Colonies or Trade Stations, you have at least one of your ships on your homeworld which can move and your other ships can't move any more, you MUST move a ship from your homeworld to place a Colony or Trade Station. (different from the current rules)

4. If none of your ships is on your homeworld at the end of the game NO player gets any benefit from your homeworld. It yields NO victory points to you or to opponent Trade Stations, DOESN'T count for you in calculating the territory bonus (and also DOESN'T count for you in calculating the final bonus for Hollana Federation and Tennar Union). (different from the current rules)

5. If you play with Nordinn Empire and/or Asteroid field, on exploring one of the two, your ship is destroyed but respanwed as a new ship on your homeworld. This is the ONLY way to get a ship back on your homeworld. (different from the current rules)

6. If you play with Nordinn Empire, on exploring it, you MUST place the Nordinn Empire Conquest Token in an adjacent system which doesn't contain a Colony or Trade Station and which is not a homeworld or remove the token from the game if there is no such system. (different from the current rules)

7. If you play with Hollana Federation and/or Tennar Union, you MUST play with the ..-B side of the homeworlds. (addition to the current rules)


What is accomplished:

With these rules homeworld movement is clarified and the damage/repair rules are gone since there is no more damage.

Normally, like e.g. in Chess, it should be a benefit to get your pieces out on the field. With these rulse, leaving one ship (or - less probable - more ships) on your homeworld is a strategic option which gives a benefit to you (but also to opponent Trade Stations) at the end of the game.

The penalty of Nordinn Empire and Asteroid Field is mitigated by sending the ship back to your homeworld and gives you one more chance to get the benefits for your homeworld at the end of the game. Also you don't destroy one of your or an opponent's colony any more with Nordinn Empire Conquest Token.

The huge benefit of exploring Hollana Federation and Tennar Union is mitigated since it can't be behind your homeworld and your homeworld only counts for their final bonus if at least one of your ships is on your homeworld at the end of the game.


Please let me know what you think!
 
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Milan Tasevski
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First of all, thank you Thomas for the long post and in-depth analysis. :)

Rule 3 sounds interesting. I also like rule 7 and it certainly makes sense. About rule 5. The rule before was exactly like the way you have written it. If you reveal an asteroid or Nordinn Empire your ship simply gets returned to your homeworld. Now while wasting a turn sounds bad for the player, we found that this rule was mostly good for the player most of the time, if he for example had a stuck ship behind an opponent's colonies. So some players would intentionally explore and hope for asteroid fields in order to unstuck their ships. :) That's why we changed the rule to be more riskier to explore these systems.

Does that make sense? :)

Cheers!
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Thomas Michel
Germany
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Thanks for your answer and for explaining your reasoning, Milan.

To explore, or not to explore, that is the question - to quasi-quote someone

That's going to be another long post ...

As I wrote before, all unexplored system tiles beside Asteroid Field and Nordinn Empire give a benefit to the player exploring them.

Let's take a look at the "good" unexplored system tiles:

Refueling Station and Abandoned Trade Station both basically only yield 1 victory point.

Refueling Station most probably (if you have any unplaced Colonies or Trade Stations and if there is an uncontrolled adjacent system) enables you to colonize another system. This comes at the cost of placing one Colony or Trade Station (and so you'll end the game sooner) but can be a big advantage by effetively putting you ahead in turn order, colonizing an additional attractive system and cutting of more room to opponent players in a single move.

Abandoned Trade Station pretty sure yields (up to 6!) additional victory points since it is quite unusual that no opponent controlled systems will be around it at the end of the game.

Then there are the 2-planet and the 3-planet tiles which "only" yield 2 or 3 victory points respectively. Not so bad but that's it.

Hollana Federation and Tennar Union basically "only" yield 2 victory points and probably also yield victory points to opponents but you should normally be able to control that you get 2 or even 3 more victory points form Hollana Federation and 2 more victory points from Tennar Union. Especially if they touch your homeworld with the current rules.

Chromatic Nebula yields between 2 and 3 victory points if you don't controll all 9 Nebula systems, which seems pretty unusual and controllable by you.

Then there are the "bad" unexplored system tiles: Asteroid Field and Nordinn Empire.

What I wrote above about wasting a turn is not 100% correct because you save the Colony you'd have to place that turn. This means that you are behind in turn order and that you perhaps can use your Colony later. As we know, the board becomes crowded pretty fast and it's well possible that you can't place all of your Colonies and/or Trade Stations. Then it was a wasted turn!

On top you get the damage penalty and for Nordinn Empire, a Colony of you or another player can get destroyed. As I said before - IMHO - most probably game over for you and/or another player (at least in multiplayer games).

As I see it, a basic strategy could be to secure reachable Nebula and 3-planet systems first and then quickly start to explore. Because, on average, the unexplored systems yield better benefits than normal systems.

So getting stuck before you explore could happen but is perhaps not so common. And then the question is, whether the benefit of getting back to your homeworld wouldn't be a fair compromise for being put behind in turn order, which also happens with the rules above.

I'd say the SSE is not intended to be a game of luck and to me the unexplored system tiles should just bring a dose of uncertainty and variety but not the effect of "you are unlucky - you lost" to the game.

Also I have to say that I like confrontational games a lot. But since the Nordinn Empire Conquest Token is the only possible take-that element with a possibly devastating effect I tend to say that it doesn't fit well.

We'll do some more testing with the current rules and with the variant rules for sure. I'm curious to see whether the benefit you described is really that big.
 
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Milan Tasevski
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Thanks again for the in-depth analysis. :)

The level of luck in the game is almost non-existent if you play the base game, but there is still a little amount of luck because of the positioning of tiles. The unexplored systems variant was intended for people that actually like a little bit of luck in their games. :)

You can try, as a home-variant, you can try and play with unexplored tiles that are revealed from the start. We plan on writing this variant in the next expansion. :)

Cheers,
Milan
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