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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Standard project: research rss

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Felipe Bulhões
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Everyone I played loved the game, but everyone complained about the card draw. Science cards usually provides you with card draw, but even then, they may never come to you or be usable due to requirements.

In a card driven game, card draw is a basic action and, imo, should be a standard project.

What would be a balanced cost a research standard project?

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X Shrike
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While there are science cards that allow you to draw cards they are limited. The ones I remember have a limiting factor. They take actions, can only be used one a generation, require resources, and/or only when a science tag is played.

Yes, the game uses cards. Not all games using cards are about milling through the deck.

There are all kinds of balance and mechanic issues with having "draw a card" being a standard action.

Have you tried the drafting variant? It lets you see more of the cards and you don't have to make a new mechanic.

There is a thread in the General forum discussing this.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23996404#23996404
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Felipe Bulhões
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Hey, thanks for pointing that out. I will present the arguments made there to my group.
 
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Matthieu Fontaines
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Yes, a research standard project would be a nice add on to the game.

I believe something based on Invention contest would be nice (draw 3 cards, keep one)
Invention contest costs 2 with the limited bonus for Cinematics to be a event.
Standard projects must be quite costly, morevover, you must balance it with standard technology (reduction of 3M€ on all SP)

I believe something like:
Standard Project : Research
Cost 5M€
Draw 3 cards, keep 1

would be nice

I'm quite sure the fryx bros thought of such a project (SP are standard version of lots of cards), I wonder why they did not keep it in terms of gameplay/ testing...

 
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Örjan Almén
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I believe there is no such standard project as the cards is to be rather limited access. The game is a lot about managing with the given cards. Some card bonuses is great, but if they are generally available as with a standard project, the struggle with hand management becomes less of a challenge.
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Steve
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I suspect the play time was the main constraint. Rules as written - all players examine their cards at the same time and make their decision. With a draft or research project, there would be a lot more time spent reading cards and planning strategies.
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Florian Ruckeisen
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XShrike wrote:
There are all kinds of balance and mechanic issues with having "draw a card" being a standard action.

Have you tried the drafting variant? It lets you see more of the cards and you don't have to make a new mechanic.

Quoted for emphasis.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Duinhir wrote:
I believe something like:
Standard Project : Research
Cost 5M€
Draw 3 cards, keep 1

would be nice


This is FAR too good, especially if you don't have to pay the 3 M€ to keep the card.

Have a look at the Event cards that let you draw, get a feel for the costing, then bump it by about 50% since standard projects are always available.

In any case, I think being able to draw freely would wear down replayability of the game, as well as remove some of the strategic planning choices you have to make in the early stages -- part of the skill of playing is assessing those first projects you see for long-term viability.
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Ken Chaney

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Snapshot wrote:
XShrike wrote:
There are all kinds of balance and mechanic issues with having "draw a card" being a standard action.

Have you tried the drafting variant? It lets you see more of the cards and you don't have to make a new mechanic.

Quoted for emphasis.


It's hard to disagree with the likes of XShrike and Snapshot, but in this case I do. I understand the concern with turning the game into one where you just dig for a supercard to give a devastating combo - that is a very valid concern.

On the other hand, even with drafting, it seems like perhaps 30% of player-games end up struggling to find something that works nearly as well as the cards the other players get work. Some very capable players (not just pathetic me) have suffered from "bad draw" games, and at 30% that is a concern.

Some generations you pass after taking no actions. This can be strategic (you are holding great cards that require timing and don't have a per turn benefit of added production or adding a resource.) Other times, there is just nothing worth doing. Maybe a Standard Project Asteroid for Temperature rise is ok, but it may set up another player for an easy free Heat Production, sooo, ok, just pass. Maybe my 20 MC will be useful next turn. In the mean time, other players are generating some good value. That's frustrating and not fun. Maybe it is rare in other play groups, but I've seen too many good players get stymied to believe they are just failing to make due with combos they are not seeing.

We discussed a Standard Project at 8 MC to see one card, paying an additional 3 MC to keep it. This would probably be too expensive to allow digging for specific cards, but gives a player with a dead hand a chance, although not much of a chance. Still, some hope is offered ... maybe it's just draining an already behind player ... let them see 2 cards, keep 0 or 1 for 3 MC. Maybe see 1 card normally, see 2 if you are the sole trailing player in TR? Not perfect, but maybe fixes the bad draw game a little.
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Felipe Bulhões
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I too have a feeling that drafting would alleviate the problem of bad draw occurring, but not outright fix it.

On the other hand, to my knowledge, almost everyone complained of bad draws, but the games would always end up with pretty close scores.

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Matthieu Fontaines
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Coiote wrote:
I too have a feeling that drafting would alleviate the problem of bad draw occurring, but not outright fix it.

On the other hand, to my knowledge, almost everyone complained of bad draws, but the games would always end up with pretty close scores.



In my first game, the most vocal player about having bad luck in card draws did finish second in a 5 players game, so I agree with the fact that bad draw is often a question of feeling.

Now, some cards allow a player to draw more cards for a small cost (secured area for instance), so why not a SP? That is as subjective as a greenery SP or a cash earning SP...

Nevertheless, I still think a drawing card SP would be nice. What about:
Research : 8M€ to draw 3 cards and pick 1, put a player marker on the SP, this SP may be used once per generation only.
 
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Ken Chaney

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Admitting that there is less than full correlation between poor draw and complaints about poor draw ... some games do have a compulsory first instruction of complaining about initial card hands ... of course there will be games with bad draw, and some will have epic draw.

Look at the variation in a particular player's solo score to convince yourself that some games go better than others even for the same player - 100+ one game, failure and 70 the next.

I like Duinhir's suggestion to limit the Project to once per generation (per player.) This would seriously limit the abusive digging for gold method.
 
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Florian Ruckeisen
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kenchaney wrote:
Admitting that there is less than full correlation between poor draw and complaints about poor draw ... some games do have a compulsory first instruction of complaining about initial card hands ... of course there will be games with bad draw, and some will have epic draw.

Look at the variation in a particular player's solo score to convince yourself that some games go better than others even for the same player - 100+ one game, failure and 70 the next.

We're knocking on a basic truth here: With the unique cards being so central to the game, luck of the draw WILL affect games and players' performance. You can alleviate to some degree how much influence luck will have, but it's always there.

Aside from that obvious point, I'm wondering: Would a standard action for card draw really help? The way you proposed it (pay 8 M€ to look at the top card, buy it for 3 M€ if you like), I'd say it's costly enough that it wouldn't "break the game" or anything by being too readily available - that it needs to be. However, you're still drawing a card, and if it's not one you like, you just wasted 8 M€. Assuming that this standard action is a means for unlucky players to catch up, you've now got a catch-up option that is meant to mitigate luck, but is in itself luck-dependent.

(You already mentioned this yourself, and offered alternative methods to alleviate this, but the issue is always there that additional card draw is still luck-dependent. Unless you basically let people search for and pick specific types of cards, which I think you definitely shouldn't.)

Also, unless you somehow prevent the "lucky runaway leader" from using this action as well, that guy can use the same mechanism to further his lead even more. Since he presumably already has a stronger combo engine going, he might well find the extra cost to be more affordable than his unlucky opponents do.

So I'm still skeptical about the overall benefits of such an addition. Like I said tho, if priced like this, I don't think it would be game-breaking, so if you're convinced that it'll be an improvement, there's little harm in trying.
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Furry Fox
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I think there are several good options that focus on card quality:

Mulligan (Free or reduced number of cards)
Partial Mulligan (This can also help good Hands, though to a lesser extent)
Discard Cards to draw fewer cards. (Discard 2, draw 1)
Discard Cards to allow to to buy cards. (Discard 2, look at top 3 and buy one)

What I don't consider good options are those that focus on quantity instead of quality. e.g. paying MC to get cards. This will mainly help the player who is ahead, not the one who is behind.
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Ken Chaney

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Good discussion even if we don't have a good solution yet!

The trick will be to make the ability to get cards more valuable to trailing players than to leading players. (I'm presuming a catch-up mechanism is desired, rather than a runaway mechanism.)

While drawing a card will, under most circumstances, be more likely to help a player that has some good infrastructure already, if they already have good things to do they may be less likely to use such an option.

While trailing players may not get what they need due to continued poor luck, the option to try can make a game less frustrating.

A simple biased version of a draw action would be to allow you to draw cards equal to your current "place." (i.e. the first place player could only draw one card, the third place player could draw three.) A simple mechanism to compute current place is TR, but of course this is often a poor estimate. Sometimes we track the end-game VP by player - put one of your color cubes on the score/TR track equal to your current end-game VP, for example claimed Milestones, collected pets, and played tiles. Adding that to your current TR is a better estimate of current place, although it still leaves out production rate of future scoring. This method would certainly be far to cumbersome for most players, but I offer it for brain-storming purposes. I expect some groups I play with would considering it at least.

I too would be reluctant to suggest specific type searches (like Prestige search in Race for the Galaxy) in Terraforming Mars.

Employing something from EternalFury's list of possibilities could be good, but there needs to be something to curb players that already have several good cards from getting even better starts. Partial Mulligans probably don't improve balance, but full Mulligans should reduce the likelihood of leaving players stranded on turn one, while not letting players with decent starts in hand improve them even more.

Discarding cards rather than straight payment helps recover value from cards you thought you might play but are no longer good choices. I like the flexibility this gives, and you can always pay for more cards in research to facilitate digging. This also makes the unpopular Planner Milestone more attractive - keeping an assortment until you reach the Milestone and with 16 cards in hand you can now search for more to find a group that actually works. That 5 VP bonus and denial of a Milestone for another player make up a little for lost time. Beginner Corporations would be abusively strong with this option.

Last night in a 5 player game we tried a see 5 keep 4 drafting for Research. Each player was dealt 5 cards, setting one aside each time before passing 4, 3, then 2 cards. After setting the 4th card aside, the 5th was discarded. Each player then will see 14 cards (up from 10) and quality will be higher. While this does help the leading players, too, nobody felt left behind, and kept every player in plausible contention up to the last generation or two. It needs more testing/analysis before I would recommend doing this, but feel free to try it out. I'm sorry if it makes hate drafting harder

Thanks for the good discussion, ideas, and patience! Happy gaming!
 
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James Wolfpacker
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Topic Revival!

I would like to see this "Standard Project: Research" as well. Pay xMC to Draw 4 and Pay 3MC for each card to keep. Well what is a fair price? The only way to judge is by looking at the current draw mechanisms and their costs and benefits.

These as the current extra draw mechanisms OTTOMH. Please help correct any wrong names, costs, and benefits. I'm sure I have also omitted some cards.

Actions (+3MC if you have to buy the card too)
----------
AI Central (21MC, -1E prod, Draw 2 free)
Development Center (11MC, -1E to Draw 1)
Restricted Area (11MC + tile, -2MC to Draw 1, net cost: -1MC because you can always sell the card back)
Inventors Guild (9MC, Look and pay 3MC to Keep)
Business Network (4MC, -1MC prod, Look and pay 3MC to Keep)

Events (+3MC if you have to buy the card too)
---------
Science Demonstration (5MC, Draw 2)
Business Contracts (7MC, Look 4 and Keep 2)
Invention Contest (2MC, Look 3 and Keep 1)
Large Convoy (36MC, Draw 2 and other stuff)
Import from Europa (16MC, Draw 1 and Ocean)

Board (+3MC if you had to buy a card to place the tile)
-------
Ocean Draw 2
Ocean Draw 1
-> Costs between 5MC (Ice Cap Melting req +2degC) and 18MC (Standard) per Ocean.

Land Draw 1
Land Draw 1
Land Draw 1
-> Cost of a tile between 9MC and 25MC (Standard City). I think the cheapest tile card cost to go on a land is 9MC for Nature Preserve (9MC, +1MC prod).

To keep it balanced among corporations, I think it has to be below 20MC (for Credicor), but it has to be above the cost of most ways of drawing cards. The most expensive way to get 1 free card below 20MC is 18MC for the Standard Ocean action on the 1 card draw spot. This would mean the cost of a Research is 19MC, but I think that might be too expensive. My gut is telling me that 16MC might be enough since you still have to buy the cards. This makes the total cost either 16MC, 19MC, 22MC, 25MC, or 28MC. That is a lot of extra cash to have laying around too which could be used for one of the other standard projects as well for tangible benefits and vp. I think that would make it a strategic enough choice.
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AJ Cooper
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If this standard project existed, I would like to keep it as simple as possible. Perhaps just draw 2, keep 1, and give it an appropriate cost. For this I was thinking about 8-10 MC.
 
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Wim van Gruisen
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As Snapshot said, card drawing is still a lucky shot. Someone who is behind, has to waste resources without knowing whether his hand improves.

So why not look at the cards before you buy them? Before the action phase, draw N cards from the top of the deck and place them face up on the table, where N is the number of players (for a meaner game, turn over N-1 cards). As a standard action, someone may pay x M€ to start a sale. In order from lowest TM score to highest, everyone may buy a card for 4 M€ and add it to their hand.

Not sure how many disadvantages there are to this system, but at least players who are stuck and have a low TM score, have a means of improving their hand, while someone who is in the lead (as defined by TM score) takes the risk that someone else picks the card that he wanted.
 
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Yanni Cooper
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If I was going to make a standard action to draw a card, I'd make it a bit cheaper, but have it be a "mini draft".

Standard Research wrote:
Standard Research
Discard a card and pay $3: Draw a card per player. Pick one and either pay $3 to keep it or discard it. Pass the remaining cards to the player of your choice who does the same but may not pass it to a player who has already participated.


Allowing you to "draft" in any order give a bit of rubber-banding, which is especially important since the other players would only need to pay $3 (not $6+discard) for second pick from the cards.
 
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