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Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Less chaotic + more strategic Mission Red Planet rss

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Salman Qaisar
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My group loooove Mission Red Planet, it's in our top 10, fantastic FUN game, lots of interaction and screwage!

But RAW has a bit too much luck (for our tastes), so we play with slight changes to make it bit more strategic:

1. Initial setup = 1 of each player's astronaut on their rockets go straight to mars, thus revealing 4-6 resource tokens immediately.
Effect:
- some strategic planning can start from round 1
- Explorer character (8) that allows movement has some potential value even in round 1

2. Scientist (number 7) can draw a card AND see a discovery
Effects:
- again allowing players bit more info for planning, but not loads
- it does make scientist more powerful, but that is for all players.
- also makes playing scoentist bit less auto-pick, since the first person to do so will lose out on seeing a discovery

3. 1 additional round (11th) AFTER discoveries have been revealed but before 3rd production round.

Effect:
- allows 1 last chance to adjust based on the discoveries. But they won't be massive moves, since only 1 more character will be played.
- likely characters kept for this round are Explorer 8 (3 moves on mars), Femme fatale 4 (kills + replaces astronauts with yours), Soldier 2 (kills on outer zones + drop from phobos), and even Pilot 1 (changes destination of launched rickets).
So no definite Auto-pick.
- We always feel the game ends too quickly, this at least gives 3 rounds before last production round (similar to 2nd production)

4. When using Scientist to pick Event card, pick 2 and choose 1 to keep

Effect:
- helps mitigate luck
- We haven't felt the need to add this, since the other 3 changes reduce luck plenty, and keeping it to 1 card makes one have to make tougher decisions, which is 1 of the key amazing things in this game.

We enjoyed the game before, but now we REALLY LOVE it!

If anyone else tries any of these, please post feedback.
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Gláucio Reis
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My opinion on each change:

1. I don't see the need for this. No-one would waste the explorer card just to move a single astronaut around. If you must have some revealed tokens from start, maybe just reveal some randomly, using destination tokens.

2. This may be a good change. Using the scientist to look at a discovery instead of drawing a card was already an unattractive option in the first edition of the game, even though it had a few potentially devastating discoveries. In this second edition, it's a complete waste.

3. I think it might weaken discoveries too much, since the player who draws a discovery is already at a disadvantage in relation to a player who draws a mission, particularly if you are using #2. And what if a scientist is played in the last round? Anyway, a less disruptive change would be simply revealing discoveries before round 10.

4. This would probably have the undesired effect of reducing the number of discoveries. In most cases, players would likely choose a mission (potential VPs) or maybe even an action card over a discovery.
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Salman Qaisar
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Many thanks for your feedback last year!
Sorry it's taken a while to get back to you.
We've played according to the above variant few more times, and overall my group really likes it.
However some of your observations are certainly valid:

GSReis wrote:
My opinion on each change:

1. I don't see the need for this. No-one would waste the explorer card just to move a single astronaut around. If you must have some revealed tokens from start, maybe just reveal some randomly, using destination tokens.

- This change is still working well in playtesting - we call it the "Scouting Phase"
- Your suggestion would also work, but thematically we like the idea of getting 1 astronaut on the planet already, i.e. the resources have become known due to preliminary exploratory work by each corporation.
And it hasn't broken the game so far (no-one has run out of astronauts due to this)
- Although I mentioned the use of the explorer (8) character, it was not expected to be a common use. But RAW, no-one would ever use the explorer on turn 1. At least this variant raises that possibility in certain (admittedly uncommon) circumstances. Certainly the explorer may be more likely used on turn 2 in this variant (than RAW), since most of the resources will be known after turn 1.
This was not the primary benefit of this change, rather a small side-possibility.

- The primary benefit actually is making the game a bit more strategic, and less luck-based, from the very start:
a) u put astronauts on ships to areas u want to go to
b) make the scientist's first use more... useful (ie placing discoveries with some thought, rather than potluck)
Both of these aims seem to be working out (especially in conjunction with changes to scientist's effect).

GSReis wrote:
2. This may be a good change. Using the scientist to look at a discovery instead of drawing a card was already an unattractive option in the first edition of the game, even though it had a few potentially devastating discoveries. In this second edition, it's a complete waste.

- this is working well, all the benefits i listed in OP are working out, including the timing of using the scientist - the first person does lose out slightly since there is no discovery in play yet - so it's not an autopick in turn 1/2 - u dont want to be the first person to play scientist, but neither do u want to too late - again, interesting decisions - which is what we want.

GSReis wrote:
3. I think it might weaken discoveries too much, since the player who draws a discovery is already at a disadvantage in relation to a player who draws a mission, particularly if you are using #2. And what if a scientist is played in the last round? Anyway, a less disruptive change would be simply revealing discoveries before round 10.

- I certainly understand and accept your concern here.
This issue can be split up into component parts, to discuss separately:
A) Playing 1 round after discoveries are revealed:
- we think this is very important, to purposefully weaken discoveries!
- Dont get me wrong, we love discoveries, they add a bit of secret fun + screwage of other players, and we don't want that to go completely
- BUT some can be too overpowered, and when coupled with the fact that they were drawn randomly, and nothing can be done about them, then that took the fun out at the end of the game, giving unfair advantages to some players over others by chance draw.
- this way, discoveries can still have some impact, but less so
- And again, it gives more player agency, each player has 1 last chance to do something with the discoveries

B) Playing that round as the 11th round:
- We like it because it gives us an 11th action to do in the game. We always previously felt the game ended too quickly, since the gap between production 2 and 3 was only 2 rounds.
- But if u wanted to reveal the discoveries before round 10, I see no problem with that, especially if u prefer the short game. It still achieves aim (A) which is more important

C) Only 1 round after discoveries are revealed:
- In our setup that is round 11
- In your suggestion, it could be round 8 or 9 (or even earlier)
- The more rounds played after discoveries are revealed, the weaker they become
- As I said, we like discoveries, and don't want to weaken them too much, so we only play 1 more round after reveal
- so this is an easy way for any group to adjust the game to their preference

D)Missions vs Discoveries:
- this is certainly a valid analysis, discoveries tend to be less beneficial than missions/actions to the player who draws them
- But i think this can be addressed separately (see below), and if so, I hope you would agree that playing after discoveries are revealed is less of a problem.

GSReis wrote:
4. This would probably have the undesired effect of reducing the number of discoveries. In most cases, players would likely choose a mission (potential VPs) or maybe even an action card over a discovery.

- here I completely agree with u, and we didnt even bother ot playtest this option since it's an auto-fail
- Mission/actions tend to give a player more oppurtunity to get points that discoveries - in our games, most winners have gained additional missions/actions
- so "draw 2, pick 1" will always lead to less discoveries being played
- So here is the conflict:
Discoveries
- we love them for all the reasons mentioned above, especially how they add variety + replayability
- so we definitely want them in the game (ideally on all 7 outer zones)
Vs
Mission/action
- likely to give points, so players prefer them
- they too are fun, and add variety + replayability

So in my view, they need to be made independent of each other.

I will playtest the following solution for Missions/actions/discoveries:

1. Setup:
- draft missions as usual a start
- Then create 2 separate decks: 1. Discoveries 2. Missions AND Actions
- Voila, Discoveries are now independent of missions/actions

2. Scientists action:
"Place a total of 2 astronauts in 1 or 2 docked ships AND draw 1 discovery AND draw 1 mission/action AND look at 1 discovery in play"
- I know that is a bit long-winded, but the meaning is easy
- Again scientist is bit stronger now, but this is true for all players
- but the 2nd-time use of the scientist now has less value, so there is a balancing effect there

3. Each player may have maximum 2 mission/action cards (including initial mission)
- This restriction is to prevent ALL missions/actions in play in every game (we play 5-6 player)- that would seriously affect the replaybility + lead to stagnation

Intent:
- We like discoveries AND we like missions/actions - both add to fun + mystery + variety + replayability - each in different ways.
- Now both are retained + maximised without detriment
- We prefer discoveries being placed deliberately by players, rather than randomly at start of game (as some ppl proposed)
- I also decided against giving option of "draw 2, choose 1" on the missions/actions since a player should learn to develop strategies dependent on their situation, NOT just choose the easiest path. As Chris Cantrell of Mech vs Minions stated more eloquently: "I prefer randomness to impact your strategy, as opposed to impact your success" (see Re: Way too easy )

We will playtest this proposal, and see if it works.
As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Regards, Salman
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