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Subject: Unbalanced Game!? rss

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T. Dick
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Hey Guys,

I've played this game three times and the mate who owns the game has played it 5 times so far. While I really like the game, I think it is pretty much unbalanced. Cause in every single game, the guy who was going for plants always won the game. I just wanted to state the rules concerning plants and ask you, if you also think, that this game is unbalanced, concerning the overpower of plants.

So, you are going for the ecoline corporation, which starts the game with three plants and two plant production. Then just draft and buy every card concerning the increase of plant production, that you can afford. The benefits of going for plants in this game, seem to be too overpowerd as they:

1. give You one victory point at the end of the game per tile
2. give your citys victory points equal to the surrounding plant tiles
3. give you one increase of oxygen, which is one victory point effectivly, as long as the oxygen bar is not filled up
4. You can easily go for the gardener milestone, since you can place your first plant tile at round 2 or 3 and so on
5. You can easily earn the landlord award, cause no one can really challenge you in placing tiles. And I really tried to counter it with a massiv money strategy, with no success.
6. And last but not least, at the end of the game, when it comes to the final production, only plants may be used to place even more plant tiles one last time. But you are not allowed to buy last cards or use any standart projects.

So all in all, in my opinion, these rules push the game massively in favor of the plant strategy, and i didn't found a way to counter this so far. Do you have similar experiences? I'd like to hear your opinions on this, for right now, my pleasure of playing terraforming mars has decreased a bit, beeing a bit frustrated of always seeing the same outcome of the game. In my eyes, the only way around this is to massively hinder the plant player with bad effect cards, and removing his plants and so and. Or is there antother way?
Feel free to comment!

Bye Bye Billy
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Richard Derr
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I just played a two player game where my opponent used Ecoline and he also went heavy plants. The game was fairly close. The final score was around 87 to 79. With one more round, I think I could have beaten him. Here's what I did to counter what you're discussing.

First, don't place your first tile away from him. Place your first tile directly next to his greenery tiles. Then throw down cities, so you can leverage all of his greenery tiles. I had 4 cities down in our game and scored a ridiculous amount of points off of his greenery tiles. This approach allowed me to claim the landlord award. I snagged at least one of the milestones as well.

Second, don't bother trying to compete with him on greenery tiles. Let him go to town and you can focus on building another engine. I had an insane bacteria engine happening in our game that was getting me 2 to 3 points a round. This engine is why he rushed to end the game because in another round I could have gathered enough points to surpass him.

Or if you're that worried about it, just remove Ecoline from the game, but I don't think it's necessary.
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Julian Dick
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These are all valid points.
Furthermore, aiming for the landlord award lets you spend your resources and get even more vps in the process. Aiming for the thermalist or miner award forces you to save your heat/steel/titanium resources to be the player with the most at the end of the game. This results in an arms race in the last few rounds of the game, where you can not afford to spend the resources to do other valuable stuff and earn no additional vps in the process.
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Bill Buchanan
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Play with the optional drafting variant rules, then report back ...
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T. Dick
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We used the draft rules 2 times, did not change the fact
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Matt Smith
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To the OP: What were your player counts? I suspect this may be more of a possible issue in 2-player games. In my one 5-player game, there wasn't one dominant plant player, and no one ran away with the game.

If playing 2-player and one player is going heavy into plants, in addition to what Richard suggested with cities, also go for the destructive space projects. They tend to focus on raising temp and placing oceans while destroying plants. Of course you'll need either a money or titanium engine to be effective with space projects.

The other thing you can do is try to raise oxygen through other means besides plants, so the plant player doesn't get all of the TR from raising oxygen. There are some cards that raise oxygen directly, but of course you'd have to be lucky to draw/draft them.
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Jeff Noel
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I tend to make a point of it, when I explain the game, that plants are a very valuable resource, but they're also the most susceptible to "take that" play. Ecoline and plant strategies in general can be very strong if left unchecked. However, there are lots of ways to play against them:

1. Play event cards that remove plants as well as animals that remove plant production. I target the Ecoline player more than others with these cards when I have the chance, given how efficient their plant conversion is.

2. Exploit their greeneries by placing cities at the right time/place. Note: cities DO NOT need to be next to a tile you placed previously. This restriction is for greeneries only.

3. Don't pass that player plant cards. If you're drafting, you'll probably often have no desirable options out of the group of cards you're passed. Take that opportunity to get rid of those plant production cards. Or better yet, if they're good ones at the right time, buy them and play them yourself.

4. Compete for oxygen. There are several blue cards that allow you to raise the oxygen each turn. If oxygen is maxed out quickly, the plant player will no longer be getting TR for their greenery placements.

5. Don't let the game go on too long. Plant cards production cards often have high requirements, so it can take a while to get plant production high. If you work towards ending the game, that player won't be able to adequately leverage that production.
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Oliver Steinberger
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I am that „mate who owns the game“ and I’ve played 5 games of Terraforming Mars by now.
2x 5 player, beginner corporations, no corporate era, no draft. Players focusing on greenery tiles won.
1x 3 player, with advanced corporations, corporate era and draft. Ecoline with focus on greenery won with a huge lead.
1x 4 player, beginner corporations, corporate era, no draft (I know, this is not recommended). Player focusing on greenery won.
1x 4 player, advanced corps, corporate era and draft. Ecoline won with a huge lead with greenery tile focus.

The problem I see is this:
Plants can be converted into greenery tiles, which scores 1VP (at least for the first 10 or so build) when placed.
In the end game, it’s worth another VP + VP if it’s around of one of your citys.
In addition it may unlock the Gardener achievement and can put you in a good position for the landlord award (all players aiming for greenery tiles also funded these 2 goals this far also).

Plants are far more effective then Heat for example, which only gives you a VP for raising the temperature. If this is maxed, there is nothing you can do with Heat anymore except collecting it for the Global Warmer Award. Plants can still be used to build more Greenery tiles, even if the oxygen has been maxed, and so give you more and more points. At the end of the game you may also place additional tiles if you have a high plant production. But Heat … maybe looks nice on your player board?

As an example:
Yesterday, Ecoline scored 12 points from placed Greenery tile + 12 points for citys with adjacent greenery tiles + 5 points for the gardener achievement + 5 points for the landlord award + the number of points he got when placing the tiles on the board. That’s something like 40+ points.
As the Mining Guild I started with investing into Steel production from the start, as this seems to be the kind of thing this corp should do. I ended the game with a big steel production, claimed the Builder milestone and Miner Award. So, with the cards I build and towns I was able to place on the board, this made me something like 25 VP at the end.

Maybe there's a bigger need for Hate-drafting and playing that "take that"-cards on a plant-focusing player then I thought and wished for :/
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T. Dick
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Yeah, next time playing, all my "take that" is going against ecoline, that's for sure

I guess, even if plants are not OP, they are somewhat dominant and need to be taken control of by the other players, that i learned.

Lets see, if the suggestions by Jeff could help countering that.
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Jeff Kayati
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I have played a lot of Terraforming Mars. I don't see greenery as being on overpowered strategy, but it is the most obvious.
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Jeff Noel
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LoneJericho wrote:

Plants are far more effective then Heat for example, which only gives you a VP for raising the temperature.


Not all resources are equal, but this isn't a problem. Cards that produce heat are a lot cheaper than cards that produce the same amount of plants.
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Örjan Almén
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jkayati wrote:
I have played a lot of Terraforming Mars. I don't see greenery as being on overpowered strategy, but it is the most obvious.


I really agree. This is a game where you need to look at both your own focus and others focus to optimize your own play. Take advantage of other players openings for you. Building cities for standard actions are a good thing. Playing special tiles gives you opportunity to block a little around competitors cities. Hate draft is absolutely not needed to prevent planters for winning. Most games I played has been really tight until final scoring, the ony game that was very different was when I was playing the corporation which can buy TR for 3 M€ if they scored a TR that generation, where that player was 30 pts ahead before final scoring, but after final scoring won by 5 pts.
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Frank Hamrick
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I went for plants. Finished 3rd (5-player game) a mile behind the two leaders.
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Steve Marano
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I've been reading all the differing comments here, and seems to me that there might be a reasonably simple way to conduct a 'group exercise' among participants here that would provide objective, empirical data on whether pursuing a 'greenery' strategy provides an unfair competitive advantage. What about simply keeping track of your scoring details - more specifically the breakdown by point category - for each participant in a reasonable number of your future TM games (say five?). And then posting the results here? This way one could see how many greenery-related points were contributed compared to the other categories. Additionally, this would allow anyone here to compute what the scores of those games would be if certain greenery-related points were excluded - e.g. not adding any additional points at the end of the game for greenery tiles. Admittedly the results wouldn't be as meaningful as actually playing (and posting the results of) a variant where greenery points were reduced to some degree, but IMHO it would provide interesting insight that would be more helpful than simply posting anecdotal results.
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Enoch Fryxelius
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smarano wrote:
I've been reading all the differing comments here, and seems to me that there might be a reasonably simple way to conduct a 'group exercise' among participants here that would provide objective, empirical data on whether pursuing a 'greenery' strategy provides an unfair competitive advantage. What about simply keeping track of your scoring details - more specifically the breakdown by point category - for each participant in a reasonable number of your future TM games (say five?). And then posting the results here? This way one could see how many greenery-related points were contributed compared to the other categories. Additionally, this would allow anyone here to compute what the scores of those games would be if certain greenery-related points were excluded - e.g. not adding any additional points at the end of the game for greenery tiles. Admittedly the results wouldn't be as meaningful as actually playing (and posting the results of) a variant where greenery points were reduced to some degree, but IMHO it would provide interesting insight that would be more helpful than simply posting anecdotal results.


TM has been developed over 5 years, and we have collected statistics from over 1000 games. This has helped us in balancing the corporations, by tweaking the special powers but more often by moving the starting MC level up or down. By the time of publishing, no single corporation stands out as being clearly stronger or weaker than others. But some of them, like Mining Guild, are more challanging to play well.
I agree to most of the comments about how to stop Ecoline. I played 5-player yesterday and won with Tharsis, Ecoline came 4th place some 20 points behind. Ecoline didn't get the Gardner, because Planner, Mayor (YES!), and Builder were claimed very fast. I took advantage of Ecolines greeneries as well as building my own. I was strong on MC, Earth tags with discounts, titanium and steel production, and Jovian. Helion grabbed Thermalist award, I started banker and the 3rd award was not funded at all because Ecoline was short on cash and made other priorities.
In my opinion, Ecoline needs to place cities (even if it's expensive) to have a chance. Or they will just end up generating points for the other players (like me!).
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brian giese
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After 2 games, the players that focused on plants came in 2nd in both games. It was strong, but we did have people focus their meteor cards to remove plants form the people that were gathering them to keep them in check.

If 1 person goes for plants, and no one plays any of the numerous cards that slow them down, then I can see them doing very well in every game.
 
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Phillip Heaton
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I have played over a dozen games by now (I really like the game). Econoline is a powerful corporation, but several others are also strong. The plant strategy is so strong that everyone should pursue it to some extent. Econoline just makes it easier.

I haven't tried drafting so far because I don't like it in these sorts of games; you seem to get less cards that you need for your strategy this way, obviously a problem if you are playing Econoline. I'd rather just get what I get and go on from there. I probably should try drafting to see if my fears are grounded in reality.
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Game Guy
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I found this thread interesting because it dovetails with my own (only) concern about this game. Namely, the fact that Income= TR+MC Production + Mods, it seems like a feedback loop between TR, which is for all intents and purposes the player's current score, and the amount of income that player receives. So the player who is ahead in score gets extra money each round. I understand that there are other sources of money, but a player who is safely ahead in TR can either take the money or carry negative income production, given that cards which reduce income tend to be very powerful. In this analysis, the Plant Power strat in this thread is just a special case of a more general "get ahead and stay ahead" strategy. Thoughts?
 
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Örjan Almén
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TerrapinStation wrote:
I found this thread interesting because it dovetails with my own (only) concern about this game. Namely, the fact that Income= TR+MC Production + Mods, it seems like a feedback loop between TR, which is for all intents and purposes the player's current score, and the amount of income that player receives. So the player who is ahead in score gets extra money each round. I understand that there are other sources of money, but a player who is safely ahead in TR can either take the money or carry negative income production, given that cards which reduce income tend to be very powerful. In this analysis, the Plant Power strat in this thread is just a special case of a more general "get ahead and stay ahead" strategy. Thoughts?


Sometimes players with higher income can become a little careless with on which cards they choose to play so they can be catched up more easy. All depends on the person playing.
 
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Sam Carroll
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In my experience, spending the first few turns building production will pay off handsomely in the later turns - much more so than increasing your T.R. early.
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Richard Derr
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spartax wrote:
In my experience, spending the first few turns building production will pay off handsomely in the later turns - much more so than increasing your T.R. early.


I agree with this. The standard projects are very expensive, so getting early TR production barely helps you. Jumping out to 10 TR lead is much less impactful than jumping out to a 4 plant production lead or a 6 energy production lead.
 
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Florian Ruckeisen
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spartax wrote:
In my experience, spending the first few turns building production will pay off handsomely in the later turns - much more so than increasing your T.R. early.

Which should give Ecoline a leg up, as they already start with decent plant production. Plus their plants let them increase TR quasi-automatically as well (especially given their discount on greenery tiles), so they get to do both.

On the other hand tho, Ecoline starts out with little money. There are only 3 corporations with less starting cash (Mining Guild, InterCin and Phobolog), and those all get a stash of steel or titanium whose net worth makes them richer than Ecoline.

So for everything but plants, Ecoline comes out the gates the slowest of all corporations. They're still strong, and it's only natural they will be the most likely target for asteroids (or the odd moon ), but overall I'm trusting in the balancing backed by those >1000 games Enoch mentioned, at least I until I have a few dozen under my belt myself.
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Erik H
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This game is just really unbalanced and purely a luck of the draw game (when not drafting). If you get ahead there is no slowing down and it all just keeps adding up and makes the leader runaway harder every generation.

Most unbalanced game in our collection of 100+ games.
 
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Sebastian Stückl
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phusebox wrote:
This game is just really unbalanced and purely a luck of the draw game (when not drafting). If you get ahead there is no slowing down and it all just keeps adding up and makes the leader runaway harder every generation.

Most unbalanced game in our collection of 100+ games.


How many games did you play to come to this conclusion?
Do you have any actual evidence to back this up?
Or is it just your feeling?

Sebastian
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X Shrike
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This is probably why so many of the "take that" cards go after plant production.

Heat production seems to be the least useful. Unused power gets converted into heat, power production is need for more cards, and there isn't really any use for heat after the heat is maxed out. The award related to it to heat seems to be the only use for it after heat is maxed out.
 
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