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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Variants

Subject: 2-player variant. rss

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Craig S.
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So, I'm thinking of a 2-player variant that involves a perpetually hostile but non-agressive third faction. This faction would endeavor to explore and maximise its resource production, including attempting to invade or hegemonize developed civs, but never attack or attempt to hegemonize a player's ships or planets. It would commission starbases, build ships, utilize fleets, and basically go abouts its business of pursuing its goals without ever giving or receiving trade agreements or attacking a player, though it would strive to defend itself to the best of its ability. In short, it should behave like a human player trying to win an Ascendancy victory without ever making peace with or attacking a player faction, and it would also never commit resources during the initiative phase.

The main issue I'm having is deciding who decides exactly what this faction does within its prescribed limitations. Best I'm coming up with at the moment is having the players alternate turns controlling the third faction. Thoughts or suggestions?
 
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Marc Bennett
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csouth154 wrote:
So, I'm thinking of a 2-player variant that involves a perpetually hostile but non-agressive third faction. This faction would endeavor to explore and maximise its resource production, including attempting to invade or hegemonize developed civs, but never attack or attempt to hegemonize a player's ships or planets. It would commission starbases, build ships, utilize fleets, and basically go abouts its business of pursuing its goals without ever giving or receiving trade agreements or attacking a player, though it would strive to defend itself to the best of its ability. In short, it should behave like a human player trying to win an Ascendancy victory without ever making peace with or attacking a player faction, and it would also never commit resources during the initiative phase.

The main issue I'm having is deciding who decides exactly what this faction does within its prescribed limitations. Best I'm coming up with at the moment is having the players alternate turns controlling the third faction. Thoughts or suggestions?


the big problem with this is it wouldnt help the 2 player game. what the 3rd player adds is a check on the other 2 by attacking a leader and such. rather than play with this variant, just play 2 players as is. IMO
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Chris Schenck
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Agreed. You don't need any big rule changes to play as a 2-player game. Just realize that there's likely to be a runaway leader problem, and it will probably be blatantly unrecoverable by midgame, unless by chance you both happen to get equally good/bad system tile and exploration card draws.

The third (or more) player IS the balance of the game.
 
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Craig S.
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cbs42 wrote:

The third (or more) player IS the balance of the game.


Which is exactly why I'm trying to think of a reasonable way to include a third faction in a 2-player game.
 
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Marc Bennett
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csouth154 wrote:
cbs42 wrote:

The third (or more) player IS the balance of the game.


Which is exactly why I'm trying to think of a reasonable way to include a third faction in a 2-player game.


I don't believe gf9 came up with a good way to do that and I know they tried. Also I can't really think of a good way to do that. How can a board game ai correctly identify a leader and spend resources to bring them in to check without over committing resources.

This game isn't complex but I believe there are too many variables to come up with a good ai the way people want
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Brendon Gareth

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The only way to probably run 2-player is if your AI player is so powerful that the human players are forced to set aside their differences for mutual survival. The winner would need to be the one who can accumulate win-conditions in the background of the larger conflict against the AI. I'm guessing this is their intent with the Borg and Dominion.
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Joshua Love
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Haven't played the game yet, but I wonder if there could be a custom AI that would not only automatically upgrade and produce, but also have a special deck of actions/aggression/goals that will be shuffled and drawn every turn. I did this for Star Craft:TBG and had the AI on auto-run as far as resources, building, but the custom deck directed the Orders and actions the AI would take that turn. Be it turtle, attack, trade, whatever.
 
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Marc Bennett
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FaydeShift wrote:
Haven't played the game yet, but I wonder if there could be a custom AI that would not only automatically upgrade and produce, but also have a special deck of actions/aggression/goals that will be shuffled and drawn every turn. I did this for Star Craft:TBG and had the AI on auto-run as far as resources, building, but the custom deck directed the Orders and actions the AI would take that turn. Be it turtle, attack, trade, whatever.


but the AI would need to be aggressive against the leader and how would it know who that was.
 
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Craig S.
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Lol...what if the third faction didn't take turns at all while the game is tied, then when one player has more Ascendancy than the other, the losing player takes full control of it?
 
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Marc Bennett
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csouth154 wrote:
Lol...what if the third faction didn't take turns at all while the game is tied, then when one player has more Ascendancy than the other, the losing player takes full control of it?
interesting but then people would just buy 4 at once
 
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Craig S.
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Klaxas wrote:
csouth154 wrote:
Lol...what if the third faction didn't take turns at all while the game is tied, then when one player has more Ascendancy than the other, the losing player takes full control of it?
interesting but then people would just buy 4 at once


That would mean they'd have to play the whole game without ever forming more than 1 fleet at a time or commissioning more than one Starbase...so it would provide some balance.
 
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Guðmundur Skallagrímson
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Klaxas wrote:
FaydeShift wrote:
Haven't played the game yet, but I wonder if there could be a custom AI that would not only automatically upgrade and produce, but also have a special deck of actions/aggression/goals that will be shuffled and drawn every turn. I did this for Star Craft:TBG and had the AI on auto-run as far as resources, building, but the custom deck directed the Orders and actions the AI would take that turn. Be it turtle, attack, trade, whatever.


but the AI would need to be aggressive against the leader and how would it know who that was.

I guess we need to answer first, how does a human know who the leader is on any given turn? If it's a combination of factors, we need to identify those and either create a mathematical representation of their importance the ai can follow, or a randomizer to shift between factors each turn.

So I repeat, for the sake of considering ai developement, how does a PLAYER determine who is in the lead?
 
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Maldus Alver

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I think the best a neutral faction can do in a 2 player variant is act as a neutral that randomly generates systems with their ships. Other than that You really need a second event deck that randomly generates the actions of the 3rd factions.
 
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k c
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You guys are giving me ideas to try on my 2-player variant.

Since the desire for a 3rd player is mainly to try and keep the game from getting too far out of balance. A simple 3rd/dummy player option would be to have them be nothing more than a trade agreement entity.

Automated Player Simple Trade Agreement option: At the end of each player building phase, if there is a player with 2 or more Red/Blue/Gold nodes than the other player, the player with less immediately takes/receives one of the automated player's trade agreements.
The amount of the trade agreement is based on the difference in node counts minus 1. Example: If the Klingons have 2 more nodes than the Romulans, then the Romulans gain the 1 production Federation trade agreement. If the lead player has 4+ RBG nodes than the other player, the low player receives the +3 production agreement. The "balancing" is limited to +3, so it can only help so far.
Since it is determined at the end of each building phase, the second player has more control over whether or not to go for the trade agreement, or take the hand out.
You could adjust the node difference up or down as you like to make it more rewarding or less.

If you want to spice up the automated player so it has more of a presence, you could try this:

Fleet Strength Balance Option: Both actual players play the game normally, the rules below are for the automated player. Basically, there's a single raider fleet from the automated player. Whoever has the disadvantage of less ship can slowly move/attack with the automated player fleet.

1. Trade Agreements: Incorporate the Automated player Simple Trade Agreement suggested above. First contact with the automated player is not required to obtain a trade agreement. (You could optionally require first contact if you want.)

2. Automated Player Setup: Add the home world for the third/automated player in the normal 18" distance from the others. Start shields/weapon values as normal. Start with a fully developed node set as normal. Don't add any resources to this player. Add Fleet 1 to the home world, and place 3 ships on the generic side of the fleet 1 card. Finally give this player only 2 command tokens.

3. Initiative Stage: The automated player never bids for initiative (always random), or you can have them always go last.

4. Build Phase: The automated player always skips the build phase (does not build nor do any research).

5. Command Phase: The automated player only performs the command phase if one of the actual players has less ships than the other. Basically, whoever has less ships when the automated player takes its turn controls the "raider fleet". This gives a boon to the player with less ships. Control will go back and forth during the game. If both human players have the same amount of ships, then the automated player skips the command phase. Controlling the raider fleet has no affect on Trade Agreements. (You keep the trade agreement from the automated player, even if the other player controls the raider fleet.

6. Commands: With only 2 command tokens, the automated player can really only warp 1 system per turn (1 command to go into warp, the other 1 warp out. The incentive of whoever currently controls the "raider fleet" is to move toward and attack the other player's ships or systems. Since the raider fleet is slow, the other player should have time to prepare when the raiders gets near. Automated command tokens can only be used to attack or move/warp.

7. Phenomena: When the automated player discovers a new phenomena, it ignores the hazard. Increase the weapons of the automated player 1 step each time it discovers a new phenomena. When the automated player moves into a previously discovered phenomena, it still ignores the hazard. You can decide to return the research token to the supply, or leave it there. The automated player has no use for research tokens.

8. Planets: When the automated player discovers a new planet, draw an exploration card and place it face down on the system (without peaking). The first actual player to encounter this planet activates the exploration card on it. When the exploration card is activated, increase the automated player's shields 1 step. The automated player always ignores hazards on planets. Since it has no build phase, it never develops either, it just discovers them and moves on when it can.

9. Fleet: The automated player can never choose to disband a fleet. It can only be disbanded through combat. At the end of the automated player's turn, if the Fleet is disbanded, any remaining ships are removed from the play area, and a new Fleet 1 is created back on the automated home world (even if control was take away from the automated player's home system).

10. Refresh Stage: The automated player's home world is the only nodes the automated player has. They do not generate resources for the automated player during the Refresh Stage as it doesn't need them. If another player takes control of the automated player's homeworld, they will generate resources as normal for that player. Could also count this home world as part of the supremacy victory.
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Maldus Alver

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I was thinking on how the Bajorans were more of a 3rd world nation in Star Trek and all. So What if GF9 did a Bajoran faction that allows the Bajorans to be played as a neutral race using a deck of cards for their actions and the other two players would have objectives concerning the 3rd party. But they need to be careful if they get too close (or decide to occupy it) the Bajoran Resistance will level a strong opposition.
 
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George Mendoza
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Since two player games tend to suffer from the "runaway" leader problem, what if we established a penalty for the leading player to slow them down?

My thought is to apply a Bureaucracy cost each Building phase equal to the number of each empire's "Ascendancy" tokens -2. Add one to this cost for each "Ascendancy" token you have greater than your opponent.

For example, you have 3 Ascendancy tokens and your opponent has 1 Ascendancy token.
- You would have a Bureaucracy cost of 3 (1 base cost + 2 lead cost)
- Your opponent would have a Bureaucracy cost of 0

This costs represents the extra cost of maintaining a large empire, and may be paid with Production, Research, or Culture. You MUST pay this cost first each Building phase, if possible; but there is no effect if you run out of tokens.

What do you think? Too much or too little?
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Shelby Babb
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Marinealver wrote:
I was thinking on how the Bajorans were more of a 3rd world nation in Star Trek and all. So What if GF9 did a Bajoran faction that allows the Bajorans to be played as a neutral race using a deck of cards for their actions and the other two players would have objectives concerning the 3rd party. But they need to be careful if they get too close (or decide to occupy it) the Bajoran Resistance will level a strong opposition.


Replace the word "Barjoran" with "Maquis" and you might have something. Two players each doing their thing, each turn drawing a Maquis card, but as your Ascendancy goes up the Maquis deck hits you harder (the cards scaling to the player, similar to Zombicide perhaps).
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Maldus Alver

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San Dee Jota wrote:
Marinealver wrote:
I was thinking on how the Bajorans were more of a 3rd world nation in Star Trek and all. So What if GF9 did a Bajoran faction that allows the Bajorans to be played as a neutral race using a deck of cards for their actions and the other two players would have objectives concerning the 3rd party. But they need to be careful if they get too close (or decide to occupy it) the Bajoran Resistance will level a strong opposition.


Replace the word "Barjoran" with "Maquis" and you might have something. Two players each doing their thing, each turn drawing a Maquis card, but as your Ascendancy goes up the Maquis deck hits you harder (the cards scaling to the player, similar to Zombicide perhaps).


Considering Bajoran sympathy was a major political driving factor for the Maquis that can definitely be something added in. Thing is the Maquis didn't have a homeworld while Bajorans did which also allows for a supremacy victory in a 2 player variant (must control both home systems and Bajor). But yeah you could definitely have the Marquis be the one that attacked the leader and the Bajoran Resistance the ones that make Bajor and adjacent systems more hazardous.
 
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John Tessier
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This looks interesting! I might try it.

Here is my two player variant that is set in the Mirror universe and uses Warp capable civilizations as Trade Partners and Buffer zones. I would be interested in your take!

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1720144/star-trek-ascendanc...
 
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