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Terraforming Mars» Forums » General

Subject: Why a negative income track. rss

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Wim van Gruisen
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I don't see the point of the negative income track. I understand that sometimes you want to go down that track to get the resources for a card, but I don't understand why the game has been made that way.

The income track is used to determine your income (well, duh!) Your income per round is your terraform rating (TR) plus your income track value (ITV). In a formula:

Income = TR + ITV

And when ITV is negative, it gets subtracted from TR.

But why haven't the designers designed this differently? Lower the TR value players start with from 20 to 15, and raise starting value on the income track to 6. So:

Income = (TR - 5) + (ITV + 5)

I think that it is clear that this doesn't change the income that players get each round. Actually, I don't think that this changes the game at all (after the Terraforming Award is lowered by 5 as well), it would just make the M€ track more similar to the other ones.

Question to the designers and anyone else who wants to butt in: why is there a negative income track on the player board? Why not this simpler system? Am I missing something?


Part of why I'm asking this is that I'm designing a player mat myself, and the negative income is making that mat less elegant. The larger part is just curiosity, though.
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Dirk Vahlenkamp
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The answer is simple: When a cards production window tells you to reduce your income by x, you can get below zero. All other resources can't get below zero (like generating frost instead pf heat), and are therefore not playable if you have to lower one and it is already at zero.
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Örjan Almén
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Well, I believe that this has a psychological effect on the players that make the players want to have a positive value of the ITV. You would be much more eager to raise from -1 to 0 than from 0 to 1. Also, 10 seems much further up from -5 than what 15 feels from 0. I can't tell if this was the real reason from the designers, but for me it really makes a difference!
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Jonathan Fryxelius
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Please be patient with us as we are travelling to Germany to attend Essen Spiel this week. We will probably seem very slow to answer any questions directed at us. For his one, I'll make an exception;
We could have done it the way you describe, and it would make little change to the game as a whole. As you said, most concerns would be addressed simply bu lowering the Terraformer milestone. However:
1. It is easier to start with all parameters at the same count than to have a special setup rule for M€. This is especially true since people already seem to misunderstand what they should start with in the standard game versus the Corporate Era game. Setup needs to be this simple.
2. If you start at 5, you don't get the feeling of starting fresh on your player board. This is mainly psychological, since they start with 20 TR, the players are thematically NOT starting fresh. However, the player board feels more like your own choice and strategy, so starting higher on one of the tracks would probably lead players to think differently about it.
3. If you would start at 15 TR, it would be too close to the solo game startup, and people would mix them up more easily.
4. If you start at 5 M€ production, you would sooner have to use 2 cubes to mark your income production. This is simply not as easy.
Other than this, I can't see any reason for now. Maybe my brother and designer of the game could chime in after Essen for more thoughts.
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Bruce Gazdecki
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I see it as thematically a corporation taking out loans to cover costs and having to pay interest on those loans versus making a profit.
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O.Shane Balloun
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Enjoy Essen!
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Jeff Noel
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Another thematic take (I forget whether this is mentioned in the rulebook or if it's just my interpretation):

* Terraform Rating represents the subsidy the government of Earth gives to your corporation.

* The income adjustment on your player board represents the private-sector economic activity of your corporation.

Your corporation hasn't done anything yet at the start of the game, so they're not generating any income aside from what they're taking in as a subsidy.
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Big Head Zach
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jeff0 wrote:
Another thematic take (I forget whether this is mentioned in the rulebook or if it's just my interpretation):

* Terraform Rating represents the subsidy the government of Earth gives to your corporation.

* The income adjustment on your player board represents the private-sector economic activity of your corporation.

Your corporation hasn't done anything yet at the start of the game, so they're not generating any income aside from what they're taking in as a subsidy.


Perfectly explained.
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O.Shane Balloun
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jeff0 wrote:
Another thematic take (I forget whether this is mentioned in the rulebook or if it's just my interpretation):

* Terraform Rating represents the subsidy the government of Earth gives to your corporation.


Neat thematic interpretation! It could also be that the parent corporation of its wholly owned Mars subsidiary is funding the subsidiary at a steady state. (A subsidiary is classically subsidized for some time.) I mean, that's essentially (minus the actual parent-subsidary relationship) what Tesla is doing for SpaceX now.
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