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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » General

Subject: Things I already like better about Eclipse rss

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Chris Snyder
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I'm currently in the middle of my first game of ST:Ascendancy and already there are areas in which I think Eclipse has the edge.

1. In ST:A, Unexplored tiles and Exploration tiles are separate decks. So, situations are arising in which a bountiful system comes up with a big benefits (no dangers, plus bonus) exploration card. Wow, lucky. Meanwhile dangerous, low resource systems pop up with dangerous exploration card. Unlucky, bummer. I like how In Eclipse, the systems are relatively balanced, not perfectly, but a little more so.

2. In Eclipse, play alternates from player to player, each taking an action. This gives you time to react to another player's advancements. In ST:A, you could go first one turn, then last the next. That means 4 complete player rounds before you get to make any moves. That's a lot of down time and a lot could happen.

A few more turns will probably give me additional insights. I'm sure there will be rebukes to my observations so far.
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James J

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snyderman wrote:
I'm sure there will be rebukes to my observations so far.


Rebukes? You stated two facts about the game and said you didn't like them. There's nothing to rebuke. But both things you mentioned are well known, basic elements of the game. If you don't like them, that's your prerogative. But anyone who is surprised by them didn't do their homework.
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Grish
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Randomness and Downtime are two complaints that come up repeatedly in many reviews.

It all boils down to personal preference, there is no right or wrong answer. If you don't like a game for whatever reason, don't play it and some people won't like the random swingy card draws or waiting for their turn (preferring i-go-u-go games).

There is definite randomness to draws and this is not a i-go-u-go game.

I don't mind either "drawbacks" and here's why.

Randomness can be countered by trade agreements. A good trade agreement can help that player catch up in no time. Also, if a player gets out into a lead with good card draws, it can actually be a bad thing as the two others will team up and attack him.

This game relies heavily on playing optimally and player interaction. Since it's so heavy on player interaction, that "mechanic" is actually a balancing force in the game.

Downtime hasn't been an issue for me. Early in the game every player can do his building phase on their own. Later in the game, things get pretty tense quickly. It is always interesting to see what another player will do.

Also, it's always fun to talk during games. I think the downtime people are a different breed. For me, when I played, the group was always talking about a card draw, negotiating attacking someone, laughing at something etc. It was never boring and no one sat in silence gloomily looking on while others moved their stuff around.

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Duncan Idaho
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snyderman wrote:
In ST:A, you could go first one turn, then last the next. That means 4 complete player rounds before you get to make any moves. That's a lot of down time and a lot could happen.


This is what stuck out to me as a moment when reading the rulebook. It seems that this is a dated mechanism that really should not still be showing up in modern games. Good news is, it's usually something that's easy to house rule.
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Barry Miller
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Idaho11 wrote:
It seems that this is a dated mechanism that really should not still be showing up in modern games.

Am curious as to what makes this a "dated" mechanism, and why it doesn't belong in "modern" games?

I get where you're coming from... but just because society today expects everything to be porpotioned more fairly, and our shorter attention spans demand less wating time, that doesn't necessarily mean that a game which doesn't cater is a relic. The turn order mechanic, IMHO, is valid today just as much as it would've been five years ago.

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!


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Chris Schenck
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Classical music is dated as well. Clearly Top 40 Pop is superior.
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Chris Snyder
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On a positive note, the advancement decks are cool and add variety and character to the 3 factions. Plus it's Star Trek and that's cool I guess.

And no, I hadn't done any homework or read any reviews prior to playing the game as it belongs to a friend.
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Chris Snyder
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bgm1961 wrote:

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!


Maybe I'm slow, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means.
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Martin Gallo
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I understand the OP observations and almost completely agree with them.

Eclipse was designed with balance in mind while Ascendancy was designed with randomness in mind. They are completely different games.
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Rob W

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snyderman wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!


Maybe I'm slow, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means.


I think they are referring to the option each player has to bid to choose where you go in turn order at the beginning of each turn after first contact is made.
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Chris Snyder
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Verse Ranger wrote:
snyderman wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!


Maybe I'm slow, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means.


I think they are referring to the option each player has to bid to choose where you go in turn order at the beginning of each turn after first contact is made.


Ahh, that would make sense. We didn't play with that original rule yet.
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W. Cracker
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snyderman wrote:
Plus it's Star Trek and that's cool I guess.


YOU GUESS!?!?
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Duncan Idaho
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bgm1961 wrote:

Idaho11 wrote:
It seems that this is a dated mechanism that really should not still be showing up in modern games.

Am curious as to what makes this a "dated" mechanism, and why it doesn't belong in "modern" games?

I get where you're coming from... but just because society today expects everything to be porpotioned more fairly, and our shorter attention spans demand less wating time, that doesn't necessarily mean that a game which doesn't cater is a relic. The turn order mechanic, IMHO, is valid today just as much as it would've been five years ago.

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!




It's not coming from newer being immediately better, but rather the overall direction of the hobby, which has seen a move towards more woven-together turns and, from most reviews I've read across games, they get knocked when they have these strict, "You do everything, now I do everything" turn structures. Nothing to do with patience; everything with what works better to create depth and some semblance of realism in a game. So that was a bit of a straw man there.

For my view, turn structures like this create an inherently more unrealistic experience because it becomes even more shifted from the reality it's trying to represent. It also creates more distance between your ability to impact the board state (decreasing tactical depth without adding much if any strategic depth), which leads to more AP and randomness, and not the good, "This game is different than previous times I've played this game!" randomness. And yes, it increases downtime, which, quite frankly, I can't believe anyone is bringing up as a positive - it seems that that view is more a reactionary response to criticism here than a well thought out position. Especially since, with the amount of changes to the board state between your potential turns, you can't plan things before you see developments that will affect your decisions.

So "dated". It's just what was done back in the day, but now, as the hobby has matured, more sophisticated methods have been developed that work better, and a mechanism such as this one should only be used where there's a specific justification for why one player would take all their actions consecutively, followed by the next and the next. It's be like a CCG going back to the Magic system of forcing you to draw resources instead of the nearly ubiquitous modern models that allow resources to be more stably developed throughout the game.
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Barry Miller
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Verse Ranger wrote:
snyderman wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:

Bottom Line: If you want to get in the front of the line, then pay up!


Maybe I'm slow, but I'm still trying to figure out what that means.


I think they are referring to the option each player has to bid to choose where you go in turn order at the beginning of each turn after first contact is made.

Yes, exactly. The design of the mechanic is such that if you want or need to go first (or second), or simply can't bear the thought of waiting a while till your turn comes around again, then you need to bid/pay enough resources to make sure that you go first. That's what I meant by, "pay up".

Thanks, Rob!

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Barry Miller
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Duncan,
Thanks for your well-written reply!

Idaho11 wrote:
...but rather the overall direction of the hobby, which has seen a move towards more woven-together turns and, from most reviews I've read across games, they get knocked when they have these strict, "You do everything, now I do everything" turn structures.

Yeah, that's what I had in mind when I said, "I know where you're coming from". My point was that the overall direction of the hobby at any time is always a reflection on the overall direction of society - which currently is defined in part by the two traits I mentioned earlier. But just because a game designer doesn't stay lock-step with what society expects, doesn't make a design dated, was my point.

Though, you present a very good counter point:

Idaho11 wrote:
For my view, turn structures like this create an inherently more unrealistic experience because it becomes even more shifted from the reality it's trying to represent. It also creates more distance between your ability to impact the board state (decreasing tactical depth without adding much if any strategic depth), ...Especially since, with the amount of changes to the board state between your potential turns, you can't plan things before you see developments that will affect your decisions.

A solid reply... but exactly which reality is the game trying to represent? Perhaps the current design is exactly the best solution to enable the reality that the designer intends? (And if we don't like his intentions - well, that's another matter).

I don't know what the designer intended for this game. Perhaps there are some designer notes somewhere that I missed. But after talking to the GF9 team while playing ST:A with them at Gen Con, I'm comfortable that they did extensive playtesting for this game. Now I don't know for sure, but I'd bet that they tried the "everyone takes one command at a time" approach. And if it had worked, that's the system we'd be using now. But they made a decision to stick with the current system. Thusly I either trust that decision, or I walk away from the game.

And yes, several players here on the Geek have tried doing exactly that (round-robin style), but the reports seem to agree that it adds to the overall game length by about 50%, and really mucks up some of the finer details of the game (such as being able to drop out of warp and immediately follow with an attack).

Idaho11 wrote:
...as the hobby has matured, more sophisticated methods have been developed that work better, and a mechanism such as this one should only be used where there's a specific justification for why one player would take all their actions consecutively, followed by the next and the next.

Again, as I alluded to above, perhaps there is good justification? Perhaps the game really does work best this way. Perhaps the current system is the best way to enable the designer's intentions? And so, if the current design falls flat for you then so be it. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

But just because the game doesn't use a more sophisticated, current design which would allow everyone to mold the Play-Doh at the same time, doesn't make it dated. To piggy-back on Chris' post above, just because Katy Perry and Beyoncé define current music today, doesn't make classical music dated. (And yes, before I get called out on it, the "roll & move" mechanic is dated!

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Paul Ferguson
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They both (Eclipse & STA) scratch a different itch. Eclipse is a euro economic game where STA is about achieving 1 of 2 goals.

They both have good exploration systems, STA's is more varied and has more replay value. I don't see the turn order an issue, it is a key part of the strategy. I have won both games I have played of STA by bidding at the right time for the first player card. If you go first, you get to attack first and disrupt the plans of the other players.
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Maldus Alver

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Right now I don't care too much for the Eclipse system. Too much isolationist strategy with Eclipse by tile placement and I mean very isolationist as not just walling yourself off from one player but walling yourself off from all players. In STA you can wall yourself off from one player but the other will make contact.

Eclipse turn system is alright but keep in mind that in Eclipse the whole set up is different, for each action you take you exhaust your economy. Where as in STA commands are a finite resource. You can still exhaust them to make your ships/fleets go faster.
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Chris Schenck
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Back to the OP, on the topic of luck in this game:

I think you just need a different perspective on this issue to appreciate it. In this game, the luck of the draw creates the early-game table politics. It's a critical design element that gives each game its flavor.

BREAKING NEWS (Federation News Daily) - The Klingon Empire has commandeered two systems with major research facilities, destroying or enslaving the native populations. Federation sources believe they intend to use the facilities to advance their weapon technologies. A spokesman for the UFP President announced an immediate plan to open trade negotiations with the Romulans, as a goodwill gesture and a show of solidarity that Klingon aggression is unacceptable.


In short: Turn it into your own unique story. Every lucky draw or impressive turn should tip the scales of the negotiations and alliances. If the luck of the draw lets someone win, it's because the other players let it happen.
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Idaho11 wrote:
It also creates more distance between your ability to impact the board state (decreasing tactical depth without adding much if any strategic depth)


Quote:
Especially since, with the amount of changes to the board state between your potential turns, you can't plan things before you see developments that will affect your decisions.


Bidding for turn order is very important and will directly influence your ability to impact the board state.

When I knew I was going to be attacked one turn, I bid to go first and left just enough resources to build a few more ships and increase my shields. Then I moved fleets into position. Had I gone second or third, I would have lost significant systems and ships. My shields would have been lower while the enemy could possibly have upgraded their own tech. I would not have had as many ships, nor would they have been placed optimally for defence.

Quote:
And yes, it increases downtime, which, quite frankly, I can't believe anyone is bringing up as a positive - it seems that that view is more a reactionary response to criticism here than a well thought out position.


Good point on that not one review has said the downtime is a positive. However, after playing the game, which is a long game as it is, the current turn order allows players to be eliminated if ganged up on.

It does kind of suck you sit there and watch people attack your empire while you do nothing but roll dice, but perhaps if the game was a "single action turn" system, it would never end, and no one would be able to take out another player.


Would the game have been more fun if the turn order had less downtime? Sure that's a definite possibility, but it would have to have been a different game altogether. Would someone like you have more fun playing the game if it were a "single action turn" system? Yes, 100% I believe it would be better for you. Maybe if I got to peek into a parallel universe and play a redesigned ST:A that way I'd have more fun too.

I get what you're saying about the turn order system, but for me I don't mind it. Now that's not me being reactionary or not thinking out my position, it's just when I played, the downtime didn't seem like downtime because everyone was talking, rolling dice for phenomena, remembering episodes from card draws, joking around and just being social. It was fun to just sit and play. When it wasn't my turn, I watched intently what others were doing, we would talk about moves people made and just "hang out and have fun" in general.

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Reading this, and all the other threads on this topic, reminds of the fun that simultaneous orders were in Diplomacy.
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