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Terraforming Mars» Forums » General

Subject: Parallel vs. Interactive rss

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Dennis Walker
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As others have noted the tableau building mechanic lends a definite parallel play aspect to this game. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You don't always want to play Diplomacy. IMO there are at least four interactive aspects of Terraforming Mars.

Card Drafting. This reduces luck of the draw and increases card choice. It also gives you the chance to take out a card that would be too helpful for an opponent, even if you aren't going to pay to keep the card. Also, if someone else is glomming onto certain tags, you might want to take that into account for your own acquisition plans.

Timing of actions. Milestones and Awards are a race, interactive without being too negative. Get there first (or second, or third). Likewise for the terraforming bonuses. Also there is timing in when during a generation to play your cards, in terms of parameter values and when someone else might play a card you saw during the draft.

Screwage cards. One of our players in particular delights in playing these. My own view, these are probably more of an irritant than an actual game-changer. When my wife and I play two-player, we leave them in the deck but we don't buy them out (or use the optional negative effects).

Tile placement. Our group has become pretty aware of the importance of the map and of getting the right spots at the right time, putting a city next to a greenery tile or two that others built, dropping a commercial area between others' cities etc.

Overall, I'm fine with the level of interaction in this game. I don't mind games with combative aspects like being able to take control of someone else's tile or taking over someone's resources. Scythe has that and more, and I love it. But Terraforming Mars works for me on its own level of, um, less confrontational interaction.


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Donny Behne
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I am perfectly fine with the existing interaction in this game, especially because most of it on cards is optional (any red border effect can affect anyone at the table and is optional). More would ruin the experience. Some of the effects in this game are expensive and require a build up to pay off. To have an effect that lets someone just take all that effort away is a huge turn off.
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Steve Cohn
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kelann08 wrote:
To have an effect that lets someone just take all that effort away is a huge turn off.


I've mentioned this in another thread, the "take that" cards can potentially be somewhat annoying, but very likely introduce balance into the game. Even just the potential (example below) can be a balancing agent, even if never introduced into play.

If players money-hoarding-profiteering-miserly-Corporations insist on taking them out or "just not using them", they may also want to consider removing the best, or perhaps a subset of the best, "benefits" cards, too, again, for balance sake. Find the median.

If a player Corporation can build up plants for 8 turns with no threat of ever losing anything because they drew some nice plant production projects (cards) during the game and the other Corporation(s) did not, now it's a game of "Random Luck Fest", which is a very different game from Terraforming Mars.

If a player Corporation is aware of a potential threat of an incoming meteor, real or imagined, the game plays differently, and so does the Corporation.

~Steve
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Donny Behne
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OchreOgre wrote:
kelann08 wrote:
To have an effect that lets someone just take all that effort away is a huge turn off.


I've mentioned this in another thread, the "take that" cards can potentially be somewhat annoying, but very likely introduce balance into the game. Even just the potential (example below) can be a balancing agent, even if never introduced into play.

If players money-hoarding-profiteering-miserly-Corporations insist on taking them out or "just not using them", they may also want to consider removing the best, or perhaps a subset of the best, "benefits" cards, too, again, for balance sake. Find the median.

If a player Corporation can build up plants for 8 turns with no threat of ever losing anything because they drew some nice plant production projects (cards) during the game and the other Corporation(s) did not, now it's a game of "Random Luck Fest", which is a very different game from Terraforming Mars.

If a player Corporation is aware of a potential threat of an incoming meteor, real or imagined, the game plays differently, and so does the Corporation.

~Steve


It's worth noting that I am fine with the current level of interaction in the game, both via mechanics and cards. I am not removing or ignoring them. There was a review posted in which someone said that there should be ways to steal cards or cities from other players and that was the basis for my response here. Additional interaction is unnecessary and unwelcome (for me).
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Lorry Moller
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I don't love the resource stealing cards, but they're usually just a one turn annoyance. And they provide the anti-buildup effect that OchreOgre mentions. I don't like the ones that kill your production though.

There are only 5 cards in the game that give steel production (plus the mining guild's power and a couple of converter cards) but one card that attacks steel production, so if someone kills your only steel production you might not see another card to get it for the rest of the game. If you invested in one of the (3) other cards that are only useful with a steady source of steel, well, its a double whammy. You go from the elation of making a small engine to the deflation of having wasted two cards.

If you've only played the game a few times and didn't know about that card, you don't know about the deterrent. If the player in last place is the only one with steel production, the attack card kind of forces you to pick on that poor sap instead of the leader.

All that said, it's not a big issue with the game for me, just something that doesn't add any fun to it.
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Darcy Dueck
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The kill-the-plants cards are absolutely necessary to counter the over-powered greeneries. The game is not balanced without them.
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Matthieu Fontaines
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LorryMoller wrote:
I don't love the resource stealing cards, but they're usually just a one turn annoyance. And they provide the anti-buildup effect that OchreOgre mentions. I don't like the ones that kill your production though.

There are only 5 cards in the game that give steel production (plus the mining guild's power and a couple of converter cards) but one card that attacks steel production, so if someone kills your only steel production you might not see another card to get it for the rest of the game. If you invested in one of the (3) other cards that are only useful with a steady source of steel, well, its a double whammy. You go from the elation of making a small engine to the deflation of having wasted two cards.

If you've only played the game a few times and didn't know about that card, you don't know about the deterrent. If the player in last place is the only one with steel production, the attack card kind of forces you to pick on that poor sap instead of the leader.

All that said, it's not a big issue with the game for me, just something that doesn't add any fun to it.


production stealing is quite cruel indeed. Now, in the games I played, the player affected was always the one having the most steel / titanium production.
 
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Gomeril Gnak
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I don't mind the attack cards too much. They are not really able to stop the frontrunner, but, alas, sometimes there is a bit of a kingmaker effect in a game with more players.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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Wrong, the production stealing cards for steel and titanium and Sabotage can be game breaking if played in the 1st or 2nd generation.

I played Mining Guild and no immediately usable buildings in my opening hand or in the 2nd generation. In the 1st generation the Interplanetary Cinematics player played Sabotage to remove 4 of my 5 starting steel. In the 2nd generation he played a card to increase his steel production and then mining consortium on my 1 production since I was the only other player with steel production at the time.

Basically, I couldn't recover from that and by the time I could actually get a tile down on Mars, most of the steel and titanium spots on the board were taken!

IMHO, the cards that steal or remove resources or production should be barred from play until at least the 3rd, maybe 4th generation in a multiplayer game since they can in fact cripple a player beyond recoverability.
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Donny Behne
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JamesWolfpacker wrote:
Wrong, the production stealing cards for steel and titanium and Sabotage can be game breaking if played in the 1st or 2nd generation.

I played Mining Guild and no immediately usable buildings in my opening hand or in the 2nd generation. In the 1st generation the Interplanetary Cinematics player played Sabotage to remove 4 of my 5 starting steel. In the 2nd generation he played a card to increase his steel production and then mining consortium on my 1 production since I was the only other player with steel production at the time.

Basically, I couldn't recover from that and by the time I could actually get a tile down on Mars, most of the steel and titanium spots on the board were taken!

IMHO, the cards that steal or remove resources or production should be barred from play until at least the 3rd, maybe 4th generation in a multiplayer game since they can in fact cripple a player beyond recoverability.


That's when you change course and take a different angle. Steel/Titanium is not the only way to go. I've won games where I never gained any production of either. I'd argue it's far more harmful to remove it late game. By then, you've already got an engine in place, hopefully designed to capitalize on the production you have. When someone takes that, your engine is now worthless. At least in the early game there's plenty of time to hit the reset button and go a different direction.
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Ken Chaney

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I'm mostly with JamesWolfpacker here.

Early attacks reduce your ability to build any economy (money, metal, etc.) The relatively low economy is basically set back a step or two on the path to developing ability to generate points.

Certainly the initial choice of corporation should not keep a player from taking a different path if a better one is available, but having a significant portion of your early resources/production go away can be pretty fatal. Later on in the game, of you're missing a steel, you can probably find $2 another way, but in the first generations every bit of resource is often needed to leverage into the buildup.

In two groups I play with, we have some house rules.

We take the "steal production" cards out of the game. These are defined as cards that reduce any player's production of a particular resource and increase the active player's production of that same resource. For the most part, these cards would be a fine value for the active player even if they did not attack the other player, so we feel they are too much of a swing.

We regulate attacks early on. Until a Milestone has been claimed or an Award has been funded, no production attacks may be played. If a player draws a card that can reduce another player's production, they set it aside and draw a replacement. Cards that destroy Resources may be kept and played, but the Resource destruction is not allowed - the active player must choose the option of not destroying the Resources.

As soon as the Milestone or Award trigger happens, the set aside attacks are shuffled into the deck. If half the deck is left, we put in half of the set aside attacks, to keep them from being too concentrated.

We have really liked these variants. There can be a long discussion of game balance effects, but our plays have not indicated this to be a problem. Of course there will be corner cases, but the people I play with are pretty good at finding abusive methods (and not ruining games by actually executing them abusively.)
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