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Subject: Two plays and one win: it's time for some difficulty enhancers! rss

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Matt Smith
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After receiving the game last weekend, I've managed to squeeze in two plays. Both were solo affairs with me playing two characters: Baxter and Audrey. Baxter has a +2 hand size, while Audrey can move 2 rooms for 1 action.

I used the first game to cement the rules. I was able to find the gates very quickly, and moved to the outer ring without having to explore very much on the blue, red and yellow rings. However, I found out the hard way that being on a minotaur spawning location at the end of your turn is a bad thing. I hadn't paid close attention to where the spawning location was on the green ring, and sure enough, right after I got to the green ring, a minotaur spawned in Audrey's room and captured her!

Baxter now had a very difficult job: get back to the prison cells and free Audrey. Since most of the station hadn't been explored yet, it was very difficult to reach the gates. Also, I didn't have immediate access to rooms that would allow me to swap cards with the Theseus board, so lots of enemies spawned. I was able to survive quite a few turns, but it became clear I wasn't going to be able to kill/avoid enough enemies and reach Audrey. The Loctae Scientists were very adept at getting out to the green ring, so I kept having to hide in a hatchery. I eventually gave up and called it a loss.

I reset the board and kept the same characters. I made a point of exploring more rooms on the inner rings, just in case I needed to come back to them. I got lucky by having two gates located adjacent to a wall, which made it a lot harder for the Scientists to reach those gates and move out to the next ring (they could only reach the gate when moving in one direction). I also got lucky by finding the "broken" gate on the yellow ring, so I didn't have to waste cards breaking the code. This session was a cakewalk until I got to the green ring. I started spawning minotaurs left and right while exploring the ring. I even spawned a Scientist in a room! Also, the very first room I explored on the green ring had a wall on one side, so I had to explore only in one direction.

I finally found the escape pod room in the second to last room on the ring. When obtaining the gate code I found out it had 5 enemy cards in it! That was going to be challenging, as I only had 2 enemy cards between the characters. Audrey ran back to a control room and swapped two enemy cards from the Theseus board. Meanwhile, Baxter explored the final room on the green ring, hoping to find a control room, comm relay, or research lab. Instead, he found a minotaur, causing him to have to use a card to defeat him. That left me 2 enemy cards short. Next turn Audrey was able to grab another card from Theseus, but didn't have any more non-enemy cards to swap. I took a chance and had Baxter spend 2 actions to draw a random card -- it was an enemy card! Now that I had the 5 enemy cards, I had Audrey run back to the escape pod and had both characters spend an action to jointly decode the gate. They escaped into the cold vacuum of space!

After playing just these two solo games, I can see how using some of the Difficulty Enhancers will be necessary to keep the game challenging. Obviously, having more players or characters would also increase the challenge. I will try to get the wife to play it with me this weekend; we'll see how it goes!
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Sebastian Beck
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The same here. I would suggest to Check out the difficulty settings in the rulebook, so next time with 2 enhancers enabled.
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Tom Bleys
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Great read laugh Curious if you'll be able to beat it with the difficulty enhancers!
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Matt Smith
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I just finished my first game using Difficulty Enhancers #1 and #3. I lost the game due to running out of time. I needed an additional 00:04:14 to successfully escape the space station (I kept playing until I escaped, keeping track of the extra time that I needed). When I finally did escape, every enemy was on the board, with a Loctae Scientist only two rooms away from the escape pod (pictured below).

If you haven't played with Difficulty Enhancers: DO IT! They really crank up the pressure and make it an awesome experience.

For those who don't know what Difficulty Enhancers #1 and #3 are:
#1 is Faulty Algorithm. Cards on the Theseus board are placed face down instead of face up. At the start of each round after refreshing the Theseus board, roll a d6 and flip that many cards face up. Additionally, cards with the Data Packet symbol may be discarded to reveal more face-down Theseus cards or re-roll a die. Using Data Packets on a card doesn't cost an action, but does consume the card.

#3 is Repairs Imminent. When players are ready to start taking their actions on the first round, start a 60-minute countdown timer. The team now has 60 minutes to win the game!

Here is a picture of the game after I unlocked the escape pod (I forgot to put the unlock token on the escape pod room):
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Matt Smith
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I played another game with the same characters and difficulty enhancers. I thought I was going to make it until I got to the green ring. Unlike the previous game where I found the escape pod room right away, this time I had a hell of a time finding it. And when I obtained the gate code it had 5 enemy cards and a "3" card! At the time I was down to only one enemy card, and it took me forever to run to a research lab and draw more cards, then kill the three Scientists who had wandered onto the green ring, then draw more enemy cards, and finally escape. I needed 00:33:08 extra time to finish this game.

The one-hour time limit is very challenging. It probably doesn't help that I'm playing two characters by myself, plus I have to handle all of the card and board activities. But that won't stop me from continuing to try!
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Sebastian Beck
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Additionally I find the game much arder with 4 players instead of 2.
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Matt Smith
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Quick update. My wife and I have played four times. The first game was with no Difficulty Enhancers (DE), and the other three were with DE #1 and #3. She loves the game, especially with the 60-minute timer. We won the last two games with plenty of time to spare, so I now need to convince her to add in more DE. She likes games to be challenging but not frustrating, and she thinks using the Rolling Lockdown DE will be frustrating. We'll see!
 
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