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Subject: Mulligan house rule during setup rss

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Das Mammut
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Today we had a case of one player drawing 9 out of 10 project cards with really high requirements. He really could not do much in the beginning. Obviously it was a lot harder for him to get his engine started.

We considered house ruling as follows:
Any player may discard the 10 project cards drawn during setup for 10 (alternatively: for 9) new project cards ("Mulligan"). Each player may only do this once.

Any first-hand experiences with such a house rule, or other input?
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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Play with drafting. Problem solved.
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Jesse Rockwell
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Wildhorn wrote:
Play with drafting. Problem solved.



Care to elaborate? We use the drafting variant as well but there are no rules for drafting your starting hand. Only subsequent research phases.
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Lieven De Puysseleir
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Wildhorn wrote:
Play with drafting. Problem solved.


while drafting certainly is a solution to this, it adds another complexity and forces you to read all the cards you get in hand making it considerably slower to get started for new players.

So drafting: yes certainly but best only if the players have played at least once so they know more or less what the icons mean and what they can expect.

Also, if you all have one or more games played, it's interesting to use the unique factory corporations.

The cards for the variant make the game considerably longer in my experience.
 
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Lieven De Puysseleir
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papagamer72 wrote:
Wildhorn wrote:
Play with drafting. Problem solved.



Care to elaborate? We use the drafting variant as well but there are no rules for drafting your starting hand. Only subsequent research phases.


well, you each take your 10 cards (for the non-unique and unique corps alike).
pick one, pass the rest.
then buy X (if playing unique corps) for 3M€ each.
 
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Das Mammut
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Wildhorn wrote:
Play with drafting. Problem solved.


The official drafting variant does explicitly no apply to the setup. But yes, extending the draft to the setup would solve the problem. It would, however, considerably lengthen setup time.

Just having a re-draw would be a much easier solution. Which is why I'd still appreciate input with regard to that.
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Jacob Fryxelius
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The way I see it, there is no real problem.
* A player having this few playable cards is very uncommon, so this question would not even arise very often.
* Resources can be used on standard projects until you get the cards you want. By buying few cards, you have more megacredits left.
* You can save your money and hope for more playable cards next research phase. You only lose a few megacredit's worth of resources by waiting a generation.
* You will probably still want a few of the cards for future use, both giving you a direction for the game, and preparing combos with our corporation for example.

I advice against drafting the starting hand or using mulligan.
Drafting: Picking your start from 10 cards and 2 corporations is a very strategic moment and it would be more or less nullified by drafting. On what would you base your first few picks? And what would you base your corporation pick on if you don't have a card combination that fits it? The whole point of the starting research is to present a smorgasbord of option and combos from which you can pick your start at a leisure. With a draft, you'd be picking cards without knowing if you'll get synergy for them with the remaining picks.
Mulligan: would also negate the strategic moment by allowing you to simply escape a tough choice. As I explained above, it isn't actually as bad a situation to be in as it probably seems.
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Das Mammut
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Thanks everyone for the feedback.

@Jacob: Thanks for the well reasoned reply, and for introducing the word smorgasbord to the discussion .
I agree with your points against drafting.
Concerning Mulligan: We might still try that one out, maybe with restrictions (such as: players may only redraw if more than X out of 10 cards are unusable for them at the beginning of the game). The issue is that in some cases the tough choice is considerably tougher for one player than it is for the other. The Mulligan somehow mitigates this without exterminating the tough choice altogether. Just like in the collectible card games from which the mechanic is originating.
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Frank Hamrick
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Fryxen wrote:
The way I see it, there is no real problem.
* A player having this few playable cards is very uncommon, so this question would not even arise very often.


Interesting you say this. I've played 4 games and three(!) have started with only 1 card I could play until about midway through the game! The 4 cards I received during research were sometimes helpful, sometimes not.

You obviously have a much larger experience data base than my puny 4 games, but it has been hurtful to me and in one game 2 of us had the same problem.

Your other suggestions are viable and I didn't think of them during my first couple of games. But in the last two games I had figured out how to ameliorate the bad starting draw.

In one particular game, while I had to settle for only 1 playable card for an entire 2-3 generations, the eventual winner had a great starting hand (his confession). He said that he had 2 or 3 great starting cards that synergized and got him off to a great start. Several other combos fell to him, while two of us were happy to just find 1 card we could play each time we drew 4 cards! So, it can happen, and it does hurt the victims.
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Jacob Fryxelius
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Perhaps this bad draw is more often seen in the standard game than in Corporate Era (which I most often play). I think the main problem with mulligan is to have a rule for when you may use it. For example, should Mining Area and Industrial Center be considered playable? They require some other tiles in play... but those tiles may come into play during the first generation...
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Jeff Noel
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How about the Magic: the Gathering approach? A player may always mulligan, but they draw two fewer cards each time they do so. This punishes the Beginner Corporation more by giving fewer free cards, but they're also the most able to benefit from a strong opening hand.
 
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Donald Cleary
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I don't see how it's a problem to have 40 credits and 10 free cards in a beginner game, of which you should be able to play at least 1 even if the cheapest card is more than 20 credits. Is it a slow start? Sure. Are the 20+ cost cards good and will likely give you a bigger advantage in the next round? Yes. They tend to be victory point cards or just flat out better and more efficient resource generation increasers (better bang for your credits). Worst case scenario you keep hold of those cards, don't play them, and nail down the 16 card milestone in the next two rounds, then play your hand with all the money you've saved.

Will you get all the expensive cards played before the end of the game? Probably not, but this isn't that sort of game. The random nature of the deck doesn't allow it.
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Matt Smith
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BigD145 wrote:
I don't see how it's a problem to have 40 credits and 10 free cards in a beginner game, of which you should be able to play at least 1 even if the cheapest card is more than 20 credits. Is it a slow start? Sure. Are the 20+ cost cards good and will likely give you a bigger advantage in the next round? Yes. They tend to be victory point cards or just flat out better and more efficient resource generation increasers (better bang for your credits). Worst case scenario you keep hold of those cards, don't play them, and nail down the 16 card milestone in the next two rounds, then play your hand with all the money you've saved.

Will you get all the expensive cards played before the end of the game? Probably not, but this isn't that sort of game. The random nature of the deck doesn't allow it.

That's a great observation. I think players naturally feel it's better to play cards every generation that build their engine. It's more satisfying, and helps them to feel like they're keeping up with the other players. However, as you said, some of the better cards have Global Parameter prerequisites that can be achieved by the other players. So using standard projects for the first 2-3 generations isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're still saving some money each generation to lay down your power cards once the other players have raised the Global Parameters.

If you have no cards to play on the first generation, I think slapping down an ocean via standard project to get 2 steel or titanium isn't a bad first turn, as it will make a future building or space project cheaper to play. It also increases your income. Then buy a power plant to bump your energy production by one. There are cards that require you to reduce your energy production or spend energy, so you'd be in position to play one of those cards. Meanwhile, you're getting a heat resource each generation.
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Clay Berry
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Fryxen wrote:
The way I see it, there is no real problem.
* A player having this few playable cards is very uncommon, so this question would not even arise very often.
* Resources can be used on standard projects until you get the cards you want. By buying few cards, you have more megacredits left.
* You can save your money and hope for more playable cards next research phase. You only lose a few megacredit's worth of resources by waiting a generation.
* You will probably still want a few of the cards for future use, both giving you a direction for the game, and preparing combos with our corporation for example.

I advice against drafting the starting hand or using mulligan.
Drafting: Picking your start from 10 cards and 2 corporations is a very strategic moment and it would be more or less nullified by drafting. On what would you base your first few picks? And what would you base your corporation pick on if you don't have a card combination that fits it? The whole point of the starting research is to present a smorgasbord of option and combos from which you can pick your start at a leisure. With a draft, you'd be picking cards without knowing if you'll get synergy for them with the remaining picks.
Mulligan: would also negate the strategic moment by allowing you to simply escape a tough choice. As I explained above, it isn't actually as bad a situation to be in as it probably seems.


This has come up twice so far in my games (not for me).
The other day a guy - new player - never once, in the entire game, drew a city or greenery card. And in opening hand had animal and microbe cards that didn't work together nor even allow him to place on same card. and rest of cards had late game requirements. As a new player, very tough to know what to keep.

And while yes you can do standard actions, you pay more (your 3ME savings is not enough compare to lowered cost on card, plus cards usual extra benefit - note standard actions can't get you tags which can hurt as well).

After first turn, I don’t agree “drafting fixes this”. Drafting is still random. I have as much chance of getting what I need from the player on my left as the deck. And if I’m drawing 4 in a 5p game, this is exactly the same amount of randomness.

I think maybe the real issue is “what to keep” and “what to try for”?
When you’ve played at least once, you have some idea. But new players?
Maybe someone could post a simple opening hand thought process / guideline, that would demystify things for new players?

 
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Bart Rachemoss
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mecheng_analyst wrote:
I think maybe the real issue is “what to keep” and “what to try for”?
When you’ve played at least once, you have some idea. But new players?
Maybe someone could post a simple opening hand thought process / guideline, that would demystify things for new players?

I suggest the three solo run-through videos by Nerd E:

Solo Runthrogh
Volume 2
Volume 3

OTOH, I think this is one of those games where you will have to play it at least several times in order to learn how to play it well. I wouldn't classify it as a gateway game at all. It's more of a mid-weight euro.

Edit: The game already has a simple solution built into the beginner rules. Beginners get to keep the first ten cards for free so they don't have to make hard choices about what to keep and what to toss before their first turn.
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Barry Siebenthall
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If a player truly had unusable cards in their free ten card draw, they could use one action to sell them all and start with 50 credits. This would allow several turns of standard actions which will also boost their TR. Eventually, the player will start getting better cards.

Another perk: The other players may begin freaking out because the player is advancing the end game!
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Florian Ruckeisen
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dasmammut wrote:
Concerning Mulligan: We might still try that one out, maybe with restrictions (such as: players may only redraw if more than X out of 10 cards are unusable for them at the beginning of the game).

I actually wouldn't complicate things further by introducing another rule for when you are eligible for a Mulligan.
One, it's a hassle.
Two, it gives the other players information they shouldn't have, because you'd have to show them your initial card draw "to prove it's that bad". So they know all these cards will be discarded, when usually you'd always discard face-down.

I would suggest, if you really feel a Mulligan houserule is needed, to keep it simple and attach just a small penalty to it:
Anyone can Mulligan their starting hand, but they get 1 or 2 fewer cards for the re-draw.

That way, there is a clear disadvantage to it, which may sway a player to try and make their "bad" draw work anyway. Everyone Mulligan-ing willy-nilly is certainly not what you or the game designers are intending.

Also, a reduced Mulligan card draw hits beginner corporations harder than regular or CE corps, which seems fair to me as they aren't affected as much by a bad initial draw in the first place, so they should really think twice about a Mulligan.
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Sebastian Stückl
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mecheng_analyst wrote:
Fryxen wrote:
The way I see it, there is no real problem.
* A player having this few playable cards is very uncommon, so this question would not even arise very often.
* Resources can be used on standard projects until you get the cards you want. By buying few cards, you have more megacredits left.
* You can save your money and hope for more playable cards next research phase. You only lose a few megacredit's worth of resources by waiting a generation.
* You will probably still want a few of the cards for future use, both giving you a direction for the game, and preparing combos with our corporation for example.

I advice against drafting the starting hand or using mulligan.
Drafting: Picking your start from 10 cards and 2 corporations is a very strategic moment and it would be more or less nullified by drafting. On what would you base your first few picks? And what would you base your corporation pick on if you don't have a card combination that fits it? The whole point of the starting research is to present a smorgasbord of option and combos from which you can pick your start at a leisure. With a draft, you'd be picking cards without knowing if you'll get synergy for them with the remaining picks.
Mulligan: would also negate the strategic moment by allowing you to simply escape a tough choice. As I explained above, it isn't actually as bad a situation to be in as it probably seems.


This has come up twice so far in my games (not for me).
The other day a guy - new player - never once, in the entire game, drew a city or greenery card. And in opening hand had animal and microbe cards that didn't work together nor even allow him to place on same card. and rest of cards had late game requirements. As a new player, very tough to know what to keep.

And while yes you can do standard actions, you pay more (your 3ME savings is not enough compare to lowered cost on card, plus cards usual extra benefit - note standard actions can't get you tags which can hurt as well).

After first turn, I don’t agree “drafting fixes this”. Drafting is still random. I have as much chance of getting what I need from the player on my left as the deck. And if I’m drawing 4 in a 5p game, this is exactly the same amount of randomness.

I think maybe the real issue is “what to keep” and “what to try for”?
When you’ve played at least once, you have some idea. But new players?
Maybe someone could post a simple opening hand thought process / guideline, that would demystify things for new players?



Your chance of getting what you need is actually increased when drafting, since you see your initial 4 PLUS some amount of other cards to find what you like.
Furthermore, it reduces variance (assuming people know what they do), as it's basically impossible for one person to get only amazing cards while the others get nothing.
Usually, others will have bought them before.
Also, in the event that a player draws 4 amazing cards, every person will receive at least one of them, evening the playing field a bit.

Obviously, it's still possible that you are the only one being able to use a certain type of card, but I have to say that I think this is an added strategic element that allows niche strategies to find their useful cards more reliably (i.e. Jovian tags)



As for a beginner guideline to opening hands:
1. If a card has requirements you can't fulfill, discard it. (Includes decreasing production)
2. Discard all cards that do nothing besides giving victory points.
3. Of all other cards, keep the most efficient ones that allow you to increase your production the most (Steel = 2M€, Titanium = 3M€, plant = 4M€, energy = 2M€, Heat = 2M€)
4. Don't hoard cards, only buy the ones you can pay for this turn, and next turn.
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Sebastian Stückl
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Bastinator1 wrote:
As for a beginner guideline to opening hands:
1. If a card has requirements you can't fulfill, discard it. (Includes decreasing production)
2. Discard all cards that do nothing besides giving victory points.
3. Of all other cards, keep the most efficient ones that allow you to increase your production the most (Steel = 2M€, Titanium = 3M€, plant = 4M€, energy = 2M€, Heat = 2M€)
4. Don't hoard cards, only buy the ones you can pay for this turn, and next turn.



I forgot to actually point out why I think these rules make sense for new players.
These rules are obviously not the best way to terraform mars, but I think they give you a way to quickly sort out useless cards so you can concentrate on the more difficult decisions as a beginner.


1. While some cards are powerful enough to keep them despite being unable to play them, it's hard for a beginner to judge those cards, and how easily their conditions will be turned on, so you should probably stay away from them.
2. Simply put, you should focus on developing your resources early in the game. Not all VP cards are bad here, but again it's a good idea to discard them as a general rule since there is no way for a new player to judge how much a VP is worth, and what it should cost.
3. Generally cards that increase your production are more efficient than the matching standard project, when played early. The values I added for each resource are just guidelines, and not accurate. All values are rounded so you can calculate with them more easily.
4. For a beginner, it's easier to stick to a concrete plan for the moment than buying cards that may only be played much later in the game
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