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Mechs vs. Minions» Forums » General

Subject: Alpha-player vs. Hourglass rss

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Vincent Streuner
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The novelty has not yet worn off, and most players are just as new to the game as their teammates. But I need to decide if I'm going to put down that much cash before this thing potentially goes out-of-print.

Some have said that the hourglass effectively defuses the alpha-player dictatorship that ruins so many traitorless co-op games. Time restraints can be effective in this regard (e.g., Escape), but let's not underestimate just how alpha some players can be. Does it sufficiently reduce the time to prevent a number-crunching alpha player from doling out the cards? And what about dictating card order and strategy during the rest of the game? Talk to me, people.
 
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David desJardins
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ZomBub wrote:
The novelty has not yet worn off, and most players are just as new to the game as their teammates. But I need to decide if I'm going to put down that much cash before this thing potentially goes out-of-print.


It's not going to go out of print. They can print as many as they want. If the demand is all satisfied, to the point where there isn't any reason for them to print any more, then you'll be able to get it easily in the secondhand market.
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Mr Suitcase
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Don't know about Alpha Player, but in our group, we had a little bit of the "other" AP (analysis paralysis) during the tutorial and the first half of mission one when the hourglass isn't used.

That disappeared real quick when we started using the hourglass. I think some of that AP was a lack of familiarity with the cards (which will diminish with more play), but I think it means that an alpha player won't have much chance to bark orders during the draft phase.

That said, you can still take as much time as you want AFTER the draft to discuss exactly where to stick your cards on your command line. But it seems to us that that is personal enough to the player than an alpha won't get a chance to influence it without being a significantly overbearing presence (i.e. standing up, walking over to each players board and pointing "here" and "here" and "here").

The big chance for an alpha might be pre-draft you can discuss what to do, but it will be in terms of general roles "I will eliminate minions", "Jeff pushes an object", "I've got to work on repairing my mech", etc.

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Jack Fleming
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I think that the cognitive load of each person's program is more effective at preventing the alpha player problem than the hour glass. It's difficult to keep track of what everyone's machine is capable of doing at any given time as it changes quite frequently with new commands and damage. This allows you to come up with and discuss group plans (Can you get here? Who can kill this minion?) While leaving the actual execution of a plan to the individual pilots who know their mechs best.
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Will Buck
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The theme also encourages a little craziness that discourages micromanaging.

I've played twice in a generally pretty chill group (I am probably the most prone to quarterbacking) and it hasn't been an issue for us so far. Take that with a grain of salt, but the combined hectic nature of the board, the damage cards, and the hourglass do I think make it difficult to "compute" optimal play for the ENTIRE group.
 
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William Aull
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Yup, alphas will still alpha.

They'll just throw their opinions out while everyone else takes their turns choosing cards.
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Mr Suitcase
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Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it). It is much faster and efficient when they are dealt and passed around like a secret draft (here's a hand of 5 cards, pick!)

If you do this, the Alpha can't say anything to the others, because they don't get to see the cards until they are passed to him/her. Combine that with time pressure, and if the Alpha starts gobbling time trying to think who should pick what, they will be the one shouted down "hurry! Hurry ! TIME'S ALMOST UP! PICK!"
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Adam Hostetler
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mrsuitcase wrote:
Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it). It is much faster and efficient when they are dealt and passed around like a secret draft (here's a hand of 5 cards, pick!)

If you do this, the Alpha can't say anything to the others, because they don't get to see the cards until they are passed to him/her. Combine that with time pressure, and if the Alpha starts gobbling time trying to think who should pick what, they will be the one shouted down "hurry! Hurry ! TIME'S ALMOST UP! PICK!"


That would make it very difficult to discuss the best distribution of cards.. ie "hey, I could really use that card I need to move forward" "Ok, great, I need an attack, so I'll take that one.." this is a cooperative game after all.
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Mr Suitcase
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slydog75 wrote:
mrsuitcase wrote:
Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it). It is much faster and efficient when they are dealt and passed around like a secret draft (here's a hand of 5 cards, pick!)

If you do this, the Alpha can't say anything to the others, because they don't get to see the cards until they are passed to him/her. Combine that with time pressure, and if the Alpha starts gobbling time trying to think who should pick what, they will be the one shouted down "hurry! Hurry ! TIME'S ALMOST UP! PICK!"


That would make it very difficult to discuss the best distribution of cards.. ie "hey, I could really use that card I need to move forward" "Ok, great, I need an attack, so I'll take that one.." this is a cooperative game after all.


We discuss those things pre-draft. "Save a repair for Tim". "I need a yellow turn card".

The difficulty isn't just seeing the cards across the table, it's also that they will be upside down or sideways to some. Until we are VERY familiar with all the cards, this is what works.

40 seconds just isn't enough for everyone to try reading them all (potentially upside down) and talk optimal strategy.
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Adam Hostetler
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mrsuitcase wrote:
slydog75 wrote:
mrsuitcase wrote:
Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it). It is much faster and efficient when they are dealt and passed around like a secret draft (here's a hand of 5 cards, pick!)

If you do this, the Alpha can't say anything to the others, because they don't get to see the cards until they are passed to him/her. Combine that with time pressure, and if the Alpha starts gobbling time trying to think who should pick what, they will be the one shouted down "hurry! Hurry ! TIME'S ALMOST UP! PICK!"


That would make it very difficult to discuss the best distribution of cards.. ie "hey, I could really use that card I need to move forward" "Ok, great, I need an attack, so I'll take that one.." this is a cooperative game after all.


We discuss those things pre-draft. "Save a repair for Tim". "I need a yellow turn card".



ahh, ok that make sense.
 
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David desJardins
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mrsuitcase wrote:
Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it).


There's only 12 different cards. It only takes 1 or 2 games before you should know what they all are.
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Mr Suitcase
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DaviddesJ wrote:
mrsuitcase wrote:
Note that we found it impractical to lay the cards down and draft from the table (tougher to see the cards across the table if you're on the other side of it).


There's only 12 different cards. It only takes 1 or 2 games before you should know what they all are.


Shrug. This works for us. I presented here as a further solution to "alpha" problems.
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Mathue Faulk
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I have a bit of an alpha tendency, although I keep it reigned in pretty well most of the time...and really prefer co-ops 2p with my wife partially due to this fact.

We've played through Mission 5, and I've felt my alpha tendencies come up about two times or so. The timer helps, but there is still a planning stage before picking cards, and then there is the programming stage after picking cards. As I've become more familiar with the game, I've noticed that I base my actions on what other players may be able to do...which inevitably leads to me proposing possible options. When one of those options seems clearly stronger than another, AND the game is kind of on the line...then it's hard for me to hold back on insisting certain actions. My wife gives me a look and tone of voice, however, which let's me know that maybe I'm being a little too much. Like I said, it's really only happened like twice...but it can definitely still happen.
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Jason
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It won't eliminate alpha gamer, but it can reduce it. I think there's a greater chance of alpha gamer happening if someone is telling other people where to place their cards.
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