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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Variants

Subject: "Peaceful" Variant rss

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Dean Morris
United Kingdom
London
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This is a great game. It's fun to plan in advance, get your engine going, then pull off a fun combo. You know what's not fun though? When you spend 3 turns building up your iron production, saving it all up, then have someone spend €1 and steal it! Not fun.

Has anyone tried playing with all the "take that" cards removed? Does it adversely affect the balance?

After a quick run through of the cards, there's only 25 cards that steal stuff, so I think removing them will remove the treachery and keep the fun. What does everyone think?

The other idea would be to make the red border affect apply to the player who plays the card, but that might screw with the cost of the card? The cards marked ** below could work with that rule tweak (16 cards). That would leave only 7 cards that are just mean.

These are the cards I would remove:
002 - Asteroid Mining Consortium
004 - Cloud Seeding **
009 - Asteroid **
010 - Comet **
011 - Big Asteroid **
024 - Predators **
035 - Ants **
039 - Deimos Down **
050 - Virus
052 - Fish **
054 - Small Animals **
061 - Great Escarpment Consortium
063 - Mining Expedition **
072 - Birds **
080 - Giant Ice Asteroid **
121 - Saboteur
124 - Hired Raiders
125 - Hackers
147 - Herbivores **
160 - Power Supply Consortium
173 - Protected Habitats (As it prevents stealing and would be redundant)
178 - Heat Trappers **
183 - Biomass Combustors **
188 - Flooding
201 - Energy Tapping
209 - Small Asteroid Promo **
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Michael
Canada
Niagara Region & Buffalo
Onatrio & New York
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I played TM once and simply trashed the attack cards in the draft. Getting rid of the seven is how I'll start playing it when I get the game (we don't play with the attack cards in LoW, either). I can't imagine a problem, but if there is one, post here.
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Sebastian Stückl
Germany
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nosywombat wrote:
After a quick run through of the cards, there's only 25 cards that steal stuff, so I think removing them will remove the treachery and keep the fun. What does everyone think?

The other idea would be to make the red border affect apply to the player who plays the card, but that might screw with the cost of the card? The cards marked ** below could work with that rule tweak (16 cards). That would leave only 7 cards that are just mean.


Well, first of all, I think removing all 25 cards is not the best way to improve experience, since those include several asteroids, comets, etc. and other cards that are fine by themself.
For all space events, you can simply ignore the "take-that" part while playing, but leave them in the deck. That way, titanium can still be used on these powerful one-shot effects. (and it's easy to play this way also)

Most other cards usually have a relatively specific downside in exchange for attacking another player. Sometimes, this comes in the form of a negative VP (Hackers, Flooding), other times the requirements balance out the card. (The consortium cards come to mind, as do some animals).

For some of the worst "attack" cards, I would completely remove them if you are looking for a peaceful alternative.
This includes all of the following:
024 - Predators
035 - Ants
050 - Virus
121 - Sabotage (you missed this one)
124 - Hired Raiders
125 - Hackers
173 - Protected Habitats (As it prevents stealing and would be redundant)
178 - Heat Trappers
183 - Biomass Combustors
188 - Flooding
201 - Energy Tapping

For all of these, houseruling them in a different way would be too fiddly, or simply impossible.
In the case of 178 and 183, only getting the positive effect would make the card too weak, especially if you include the -1VP

That leaves us with another 9 cards.
3 Consortium cards, and 6 others.

The Consortium cards are a bit tricky. Personally, I would remove the requirement as well as the production reducing effect, effectively turning the cards into mines/power plants.
However, this can be impractical during gameplay, so I can see removing them from the deck, or simply ignoring the negative effect also.
The 6 other cards should be just fine on their own, so I would simply leave them in the deck, but ignore the take-that part.
(As a reminder, those are the 4 regular animal cards, Mining Expedition and Cloud Seeding)


Here's a summary of how I recommend to modify the deck/gameplay for peaceful gameplay:
- Remove the following cards:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
024 - Predators
035 - Ants
050 - Virus
121 - Sabotage
124 - Hired Raiders
125 - Hackers
173 - Protected Habitats
178 - Heat Trappers
183 - Biomass Combustors
188 - Flooding
201 - Energy Tapping
(002 - Asteroid Mining Consortium)
(061 - Great Escarpment Consortium)
(160 - Power Supply Consortium)

- Leave all other cards in the deck, ignoring their red-bordered effect when they are played

Yours,
Sebastian
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Michael
Canada
Niagara Region & Buffalo
Onatrio & New York
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Thank you Sebastian! We will play this way when I get the 2nd printing in a few months. If you modify your suggestion, please do so here. I'll stay subscribed to this thread.

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Dean Morris
United Kingdom
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like this bit of the game.

My only concern with totally ignoring the red border affects, is that the cost of the card would have been based on the affect being included, so just ignoring it could unbalance the economy. You pay the marked price, but get less than you should. I suppose this would discourage people from buying it, so perhaps it would self balance.

Anyway, thanks for your suggestion!
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Örjan Almén
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Karlstad
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Another way to go is, as someone else gave suggestion on in another thread, to do as in the solo game, use an imaginary player to steal everything red-bordered from, then the game and the cards could be played intact.

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Jacob Lee
Canada
Victoria
British Columbia
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I've only played three player games and I don't like the attack cards much either, but I'm sure balance would be affected to remove just those cards. We decided that the effect of attack cards have to be split so they hurt both players evenly. We're okay with attack cards in it now.
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Sebastian Stückl
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nosywombat wrote:
My only concern with totally ignoring the red border affects, is that the cost of the card would have been based on the affect being included, so just ignoring it could unbalance the economy. You pay the marked price, but get less than you should. I suppose this would discourage people from buying it, so perhaps it would self balance.


I do very much understand your concern.
Of course, the cards are costed with red-bordered effects in mind. (Well, I hope so at least laugh)
When making my suggestion though, I strongly considered what would be a feasible solution for people that prefer to not play with this kind of effect at all.
In this context, the top priority was finding a solution that is simple, does not require a lot of memorization, and smoothly fits into the gameplay.
Precisely rebalancing the power-level of all individual cards was not a very huge priority, for obvious reasons. If a card requires a huge amount of rebalancing to work in this different environment, it is better to omit the card entirely, as any rebalancing would be a hindrance during actual gameplay.


Of course, I also considered suggesting a rebalanced version of some of the cards that gets rid of the take-that part.
The main problem here is that's just ridiculously difficult to do.
Not to mention that there isn't really a good way to remember this change, unless it works the same way on every card.
For instance, what you could do is to compensate a player with 1 M€ whenever they would destroy a resource of another player, or 1M€ income whenever they would reduce somebody else's production.
But the reality is that most such attempts would probably destroy balancing even more. As an example, think about doing this for asteroids.
Clearly, you won't always destroy the amount of plants you would like to when playing one. Rather, the more plants you are able to destroy, the lower your chance of being able to do as much as you can
The scaling simply isn't linear, and has diminishing returns. But if you apply a constant discount rate of 1M€/plant, Deimos Down suddenly costs 23M€, making it waaaay too cheap! On the other hand, the promo at 8M€ is surely fine.
Even with a more realistic 0.5M€/plant, 27 for Deimos Down is probably still too cheap, but the rate is surely fine for some other asteroids.
So to rebalance the 6 asteroids alone is already a considerable challenge, and you may have to change the cost on a case-by-case basis.
And then you still do not have any reasonable way to fit this onto your cards to play with them.
The cost probably wouldn't get lowered by more than 2 or 3 M€ in any case, so I doubt that is worth the hassle. The space events are costed just fine even if you can't take any plants away from your opponents.

Basically, I can guarantee you that if you remove all cards I listed (including the consortium cards), none of the other cards will "break" (i.e. become useless) by ignoring their red-bordered effect.
They will work just fine, but of course get slightly weaker.


Also, while I didn't specifically mention it before,
nosywombat wrote:
The other idea would be to make the red border affect apply to the player who plays the card

is... well, just insane! surprise
You are turning a small upside into a huge downside this way.
The "value" of reducing somebody else's resources/production in a multiplayer game is much lower than reducing your own, so your suggestion puts the person playing the card at an extreme disadvantage. (for no apparent reason)
If you are truly worried about balancing/costing of cards, I do not see how this is a serious suggestion.
It would destroy the balancing of every single card with a red-bordered effect. shake


nosywombat wrote:
Anyway, thanks for your suggestion!


You are very welcome.


EmperorJacob wrote:
I've only played three player games and I don't like the attack cards much either, but I'm sure balance would be affected to remove just those cards. We decided that the effect of attack cards have to be split so they hurt both players evenly. We're okay with attack cards in it now.


If you remove only the most hateful attack cards from the game (so <15), you'll only change the composition of the deck slightly.
In case you are using the corporate era, attack cards make up approx. 7% of the deck.
So yes, it will make other cards show up more frequently if you remove attack cards, but considering the low amount of cards you remove, this shouldn't be a huge deal in regards to game balance. It will, however, make certain strategies slightly more (or less) viable.


Cheers,
Sebastian

PS:
VolleyGame wrote:
Thank you Sebastian! We will play this way when I get the 2nd printing in a few months. If you modify your suggestion, please do so here. I'll stay subscribed to this thread.

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Does it count that I would now recommend to remove the Consortium cards, rather than this being optional?
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Steve Cohn
United States
Racine
Wisconsin
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peachpie wrote:
You really have to be careful of unintended balance changes. For example, removing all the plant killing effects would make plant engines stronger, possibly rendering other strategies demonstrably inferior. Would TM be fun if it was just "see who draws the most plant prod at gen 1"?


Totally agree. From the message board posts complaining about some of the take that cards, it is in many instances after 2-3 plays, sometimes just 1, games where only a small handful of these cards are ever played.

Folks need to realize Jacob Fryxelius and team have either personally played or overseen the play of this game hundreds of times. And they are still playing it. I suspect these cards have been intentionally designed and added into the game to 1) create player interaction vs. player solitaire (I'll terraform this quadrant, you terraform that one!) and 2) create balance. (I drew 10 cards that give me plants, you drew 2, do you want to stop now or should we go ahead and play this out?)

If players insist on removing 15-20 "take that" cards, they should probably find all of the "best" cards, the ones that give a player the most benefit, and remove 15-20 of those as well? Find the median because if you are removing all the cards that hinder a player hoarding plants, and that player receives a huge plant boost card, well now it's just luck based get-the-best-cards-first. And that's a different game from Terraforming Mars.

Great game (as it is), looking forward to playing it again tonight!
~Steve

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Sarandongo
United States
MADISON
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Have you guys playtested those suggestions? How is it holding up?
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Bill Eldard
United States
Burke
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Though I haven't tried this, a friend told me of their house rule regarding the "take that" cards. When a card allows the active player to destroy or steal resources, the active player takes 1 resource from each player beginning with the player to the left and moving clockwise around the table until the quota is satisfied (NOTE: This could affect the active player's supply). This has the effect of spread-loading the pain.
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Laura "lelo" D. Arrowsmith Deddens Gerard
United States
Pearland (near Houston)
Texas
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Don't the rules make the red-borderedresource icons optional?

From page 9
Quote:
1) Check the requirements.
In order to play a card you must meet its requirements
and be able to perform the effects stated on the card,
with the following exceptions: You may play a card that...
- ....
- ....
-removes resources for any player (red-bordered
resource icons, see example on card C below) if you can’t or
do not wish to.


The key phrase is "do not wish to."

And then also on page 10
Quote:
Red-bordered resources are optional


Just always opt out if you are playing peaceful.

and on page 15
Quote:
Red border on icons
When an icon has a red border, it means that it
targets any player (you or an opponent).
A card that removes red-borded resources, may
remove those resources from any one player (this effect may
also be performed partly, or not at all).


Choose "or not at all."
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