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Subject: Horrible first play, game felt broken rss

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Vega Dark
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First playthrough...Federation gets a couple bad draws for exploration in early game and gets poor production.

Klingons had good luck with production, makes first contact with Romulans for great trade deals, then puts all their production into ships and sends a massive invasion force that Federation has no chance to withstand. Federation player sits out for 3 hours for the game to finish since anything they did was pointless. Game turned in to Romulans vs. Klingons of who could capture the most Federation planets. Literally anything Federation did was irrelevant at that point, they were essentially eliminated from the game and got to wait hours for the game to conclude. Romulans and Klingons essentially tried to stalemate to coast to a dual victory but for a last turn push.

One of the least fun gaming experiences I've had. Now, I'm sure there's going to be people to come in and say "learn from the experience" and build more ships to fend off the Klingons or whatever, but the fact that this situation can occur, and IMO isn't particularly unlikely unless you're playing with experienced players, seems like a big flaw. Even with experience luck at the start for what planets you draw can be quite swingy.

Now, to fix this, I suggest there be no dual victory for one. Other than that there would have to be some fundamental rule changes so player elimination like what happened cannot occur - some sort of catch up mechanic that needs to be added so there's no chance of someone checked out of the game halfway through. That's not a great way to get people to want to bring that game back to the table, that's for sure.
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VegaDark541 wrote:
First playthrough...Federation gets a couple bad draws for exploration in early game and gets poor production.

Klingons had good luck with production, makes first contact with Romulans for great trade deals, then puts all their production into ships and sends a massive invasion force that Federation has no chance to withstand. Federation player sits out for 3 hours for the game to finish since anything they did was pointless. Game turned in to Romulans vs. Klingons of who could capture the most Federation planets. Literally anything Federation did was irrelevant at that point, they were essentially eliminated from the game and got to wait hours for the game to conclude. Romulans and Klingons essentially tried to stalemate to coast to a dual victory but for a last turn push.

One of the least fun gaming experiences I've had. Now, I'm sure there's going to be people to come in and say "learn from the experience" and build more ships to fend off the Klingons or whatever, but the fact that this situation can occur, and IMO isn't particularly unlikely unless you're playing with experienced players, seems like a big flaw. Even with experience luck at the start for what planets you draw can be quite swingy.

Now, to fix this, I suggest there be no dual victory for one. Other than that there would have to be some fundamental rule changes so player elimination like what happened cannot occur - some sort of catch up mechanic that needs to be added so there's no chance of someone checked out of the game halfway through. That's not a great way to get people to want to bring that game back to the table, that's for sure.


So I'm GUESSING you were the Fed's? :P

Ok all sincerity - I feel ya. I'm one of the most outspoken players in this forum who say this game needs some work.

That said some questions do need to be asked:

1) What playing area did you use? A lot of people have their prefenence on this but my group has very much enjoyed the 18 x18 x 18 triangle (well circle, but I printed one out for this design). This restricts exploration to be towards each other for first contact ASAP which creates good interaction. It may not help your current taste, but I have found setting the borders of the boardgame help create a level of balance.

2) Did the Romulans see the Klingon's attacking the Feds and offer to help out? If not then THEY basically lost the game as the goal should be to maintain military balance while trying to accumilate reasources (predominantly Culture Tokens) for the win. If they saw a potential ally being bullied, and didn't move in to pull off some of the heat, then the inevitable victory was going to be that.

3) Since the Klingons gained mass production, did the Fed's and Romulan's trade their 3-Production with each other to balance it out? Thats a fleet each turn for them and that can quickly equal the ship difference.

4) Did the Romulans maintain trade with the Klingon's during this slaughter? Then they HELPED the Klingons win the game.

I do hear your complain being that luck of the system draw can shape the game. I agree. But there-in players should also work with what they get and be mindful of what to do with it.

If the Klingons are enmass production, consider pushing your focus in Research to develop your shields and Weapons (i.e.: if they have all the mining goods, there is prob a decent amount of Research available to exploit). Quality VS Quantity is a valid defence - especially with the Feds and their smaller Fleets.

This game may not be for everyone, and even I am working on mods to make things more interesting and tactical without redesigning the whole system. Yes experience from play can help, but some players won't like the somewhat random elements of this game. Its not Risk by any means at all. This is a game where Diplomacy is a big deal; and pointing out to a potential ally that THEY are losing too if they let you die is a big step towards making this game shine.

Thats the best I can offer you with what little info you gave in turn.
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Dvonn Yinsh
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I am SO enthusiastic about this game.

But in my group, all the other players have checked out, because they all feel the Feds are broken and non-competitive. They are willing to give it a shot when the Ferengi and Cardassians get released.

If the Federation discovers few phenomena or civilizations, then they are done. They are just fodder and not much fun to play.
We seriously question whether this faction was play tested properly.

We have seen Klingons win twice and Romulans win twice, but Feds were never even close. They can barely defend with their small fleets. And spending culture to try hegemony is way too expensive.
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Jeffrey
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I've won one out of one games as Feds, fwiw. It was almost a tied win, but the Klingons accidentally killed everyone on Kronos instead of rescuing them from my hegemony.
 
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Chris Schenck
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If everyone at the table feels the Feds are not a threat, the non-Fed players should both be angling to set up trade deals with the Fed player. The Romulans and Klingons should absolutely NOT setup trade deals with each other in this case. Why give your primary opponent free income they're just going to ultimately use against you? You should be setting up trade deals with the least threatening player, not the most threatening one. This situation sounds like the Romulan and Klingon players just didn't think through the consequences of their actions. You probably both should have courted the Feds for an alliance.

I know this was a first play, so you're not expected to understand all of the details of the play dynamics, but you all definitely should have learned from this experience: When playing a "table politics" style game, don't make deals that benefit the player who is your biggest threat.

Also, regarding modding the game to make it more balanced, consider changing your tactics to respond to the game environment, rather than changing the game to match your current playstyle. Your playstyle will change as you get experience with the game. It's a moving target, which means you'll constantly be tempted to tweak the game based on the previous play, rather than adjusting your next play to account for the things you learned.
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Marc Bennett
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candoo wrote:
I am SO enthusiastic about this game.

But in my group, all the other players have checked out, because they all feel the Feds are broken and non-competitive. They are willing to give it a shot when the Ferengi and Cardassians get released.

If the Federation discovers few phenomena or civilizations, then they are done. They are just fodder and not much fun to play.
We seriously question whether this faction was play tested properly.

We have seen Klingons win twice and Romulans win twice, but Feds were never even close. They can barely defend with their small fleets. And spending culture to try hegemony is way too expensive.


civs should be great for the feds, nice easy hegemony. it can be hard with a lot of phenomenon sometimes.
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Jason Walker
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cbs42 wrote:
Also, regarding modding the game to make it more balanced, consider changing your tactics to respond to the game environment, rather than changing the game to match your current playstyle. Your playstyle will change as you get experience with the game. It's a moving target, which means you'll constantly be tempted to tweak the game based on the previous play, rather than adjusting your next play to account for the things you learned.


I feel like I need a fancy-font graphic made up of this. It's perhaps the most well reasoned and clearly stated response to a lot of common early complaints on a variety of games.
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Vega Dark
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zfairborn wrote:


So I'm GUESSING you were the Fed's?

Ok all sincerity - I feel ya. I'm one of the most outspoken players in this forum who say this game needs some work.

That said some questions do need to be asked:

1) What playing area did you use? A lot of people have their prefenence on this but my group has very much enjoyed the 18 x18 x 18 triangle (well circle, but I printed one out for this design). This restricts exploration to be towards each other for first contact ASAP which creates good interaction. It may not help your current taste, but I have found setting the borders of the boardgame help create a level of balance.

2) Did the Romulans see the Klingon's attacking the Feds and offer to help out? If not then THEY basically lost the game as the goal should be to maintain military balance while trying to accumilate reasources (predominantly Culture Tokens) for the win. If they saw a potential ally being bullied, and didn't move in to pull off some of the heat, then the inevitable victory was going to be that.

3) Since the Klingons gained mass production, did the Fed's and Romulan's trade their 3-Production with each other to balance it out? Thats a fleet each turn for them and that can quickly equal the ship difference.

4) Did the Romulans maintain trade with the Klingon's during this slaughter? Then they HELPED the Klingons win the game.

I do hear your complain being that luck of the system draw can shape the game. I agree. But there-in players should also work with what they get and be mindful of what to do with it.

If the Klingons are enmass production, consider pushing your focus in Research to develop your shields and Weapons (i.e.: if they have all the mining goods, there is prob a decent amount of Research available to exploit). Quality VS Quantity is a valid defence - especially with the Feds and their smaller Fleets.

This game may not be for everyone, and even I am working on mods to make things more interesting and tactical without redesigning the whole system. Yes experience from play can help, but some players won't like the somewhat random elements of this game. Its not Risk by any means at all. This is a game where Diplomacy is a big deal; and pointing out to a potential ally that THEY are losing too if they let you die is a big step towards making this game shine.

Thats the best I can offer you with what little info you gave in turn.


Yep, I was the feds.

1) Used my very large table, there were no borders other than the table borders. My problem with that is that, but for possible trading, making first contact is very bad for the feds. Your method would encourage it even sooner. Maybe it would have forced the Romulans to get involved a little earlier

2) Romulans agreed to kill the Feds with the Klingons, but did very little of the work.

3) Klingons and Romulans made first contact since Feds got screwed in anomaly rolling and lost 3 ships and was well behind in making first contact. Those 2 traded the 3 resources and never ended their trade agreement until shortly before the end of the game.

4) Yep, but as I said they were basically going for a dual victory. Klingons won at the end but primarily due to Romulans misremembering some rules and other poor strategy on ability to hold more settled planets than Klingons as the ascendancy tiebreaker.

In re: improve your systems, shields cost a whopping SIX to improve! If you are going for that you've abandoned building potentially important tech for a lot of the game. That's another fix I would make, make the Feds first shield upgrade cost 3-4 and proportionately similar from there to at least give them a fighting chance.

Chris Schenck wrote:

If everyone at the table feels the Feds are not a threat, the non-Fed players should both be angling to set up trade deals with the Fed player. The Romulans and Klingons should absolutely NOT setup trade deals with each other in this case.


I get what you are saying, but this takes at least 1 playthrough for people to figure out. We are supposed to sit through a 5 1/2 hour first play where Feds get decimated in order for people to learn how to deal with them? How many people will even want to play the game again after that? Rules need some buffs for Feds to force players to realize this without requiring a wasted first playthrough. Not to mention, the only incentive Romulans and Klingons have to do this is the idea the Feds are weaker. Klingons and Romulans could still decide to do the 3 trade with each other just to make their odds of winning 50-50 instead of 33%, sure the primary threat is stronger but you've eliminated a player you need to worry about.
 
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Leon Stansfield
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cbs42 wrote:
Also, regarding modding the game to make it more balanced, consider changing your tactics to respond to the game environment, rather than changing the game to match your current playstyle. Your playstyle will change as you get experience with the game. It's a moving target, which means you'll constantly be tempted to tweak the game based on the previous play, rather than adjusting your next play to account for the things you learned.

Perfect conclusion!

You should not judge Ascendancy after your fist play. You shouldn’t judge any board game after your first play. Much can go wrong during your first moves. And perhaps one does not recognize whether things have gone wrong due to inexperience or simply due to bad luck.

For me the most serious and disturbing limitation of Ascendancy is that the base game is designed for three players only. In my opinion Ascendancy is a classic board game for four players. With more than three players some weaknesses of the game should become less significant. But bad luck will always play a more or less important role in most of the board games out there. One should not expect a strategic bang in a board game where you draw sector discs and exploration cards randomly – and in a board game that comes with a bunch of dices!
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Phil Ashton
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Is it designed for 3 player? I'd say initially but there is 10 turn order cards so surely in theory its ripe for up to 10 players playing :)
 
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Marc Bennett
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VegaDark541 wrote:
Chris Schenck wrote:

If everyone at the table feels the Feds are not a threat, the non-Fed players should both be angling to set up trade deals with the Fed player. The Romulans and Klingons should absolutely NOT setup trade deals with each other in this case.


I get what you are saying, but this takes at least 1 playthrough for people to figure out. We are supposed to sit through a 5 1/2 hour first play where Feds get decimated in order for people to learn how to deal with them? How many people will even want to play the game again after that? Rules need some buffs for Feds to force players to realize this without requiring a wasted first playthrough. Not to mention, the only incentive Romulans and Klingons have to do this is the idea the Feds are weaker. Klingons and Romulans could still decide to do the 3 trade with each other just to make their odds of winning 50-50 instead of 33%, sure the primary threat is stronger but you've eliminated a player you need to worry about.


maybe its because i grew up on war games and politics but it just seems like common sense to me. you shouldnt need to play a first game to know you focus your resources on the leader, or if you are the leader, your closest rival. really this is true in any games with player interaction. you try to hamper the obvious leader, not the person in last place struggling.
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William Hardy
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After 20+ games, I decided that the game held a natural advantage for the Feds and disadvantage for the Klingons. Early (mis)fortune will color each game, but there are a couple of things you might consider.
(1) spending money on advancements is vital for the Romulans and almost fatal for the Feds, who must spend research on Shields (first) and Weapons (second). Fed advancements are relatively weak, costly, and/or arrive too late to help. They're a luxury for when you have a LOT of research to spend (and, even then, I'd go for max shields first).
(2) I play with the zero Ascendency start condition, which slows down the fleet development of the Roms and Klings. The Fed advantage is faster acquisition of culture in the exploration phase, so you get a fleet quickly, and use it to colonize without spending more culture. Then use those culture to build culture nodes. That will position you to compete with your rivals who tend to get their culture later in the game.
You might also consider the VARIANT discussed in that forum in which each player draws a civ/virgin card and a consequence (blue/red) card for each system discovered. It's just a lark, but try to lose as the Feds in that game!
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Mike Fazakerley
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After our first 4 games we were of the opinion that the Feds were the weakest faction, as the Romulans and Klingons had 2 wins apiece. But, the following 2 games were won by the Feds. I think it just takes time to understand the game and once you do you will find that the Feds are pretty powerful.
 
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I refrained from replying to this thread until I had played the game more than once, but now I am convinced, that this is a clear case of sore loser boo-boos.

Nothing wrong with this game, or either of the factions.

They all have their strengths and since the game never unfolds exactly the same way twice, I don't see any of them being under-powered in general.
 
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The game must have a semblance of balance since my group feels the Federation has an edge as the benefit of "Explore Strange New Worlds" often outweighs the limitations of the Prime Directive. If the Federation can start researching Starfleet Diplomatic Corps early the faction can efficiently use hegemony already boosted by Universal Translators.

My group doesn't have extensive experience in 4x games but we feel the Klingons are the most challenging faction to play as since you must weigh early exploration and development against making contact and either trading with or looting rivals.

 
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Marc Bennett
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Darth Coupon wrote:
The game must have a semblance of balance since my group feels the Federation has an edge as the benefit of "Explore Strange New Worlds" often outweighs the limitations of the Prime Directive. If the Federation can start researching Starfleet Diplomatic Corps early the faction can efficiently use hegemony already boosted by Universal Translators.

My group doesn't have extensive experience in 4x games but we feel the Klingons are the most challenging faction to play as since you must weigh early exploration and development against making contact and either trading with or looting rivals.



i also came to this conclusion
 
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Joel Tamburo
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Klaxas wrote:
Darth Coupon wrote:
The game must have a semblance of balance since my group feels the Federation has an edge as the benefit of "Explore Strange New Worlds" often outweighs the limitations of the Prime Directive. If the Federation can start researching Starfleet Diplomatic Corps early the faction can efficiently use hegemony already boosted by Universal Translators.

My group doesn't have extensive experience in 4x games but we feel the Klingons are the most challenging faction to play as since you must weigh early exploration and development against making contact and either trading with or looting rivals.



i also came to this conclusion


I also came to a similar conclusion. The Feds want to explore a lot so they at start should be moving AWAY from rather than towards the other players. If the Klingons or Romulans want First Contact make them do the work to get it. I think some folks believe the Feds underpowered because the Feds call for a different play style, which some people have not tried with them.
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Joelist wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
Darth Coupon wrote:
The game must have a semblance of balance since my group feels the Federation has an edge as the benefit of "Explore Strange New Worlds" often outweighs the limitations of the Prime Directive. If the Federation can start researching Starfleet Diplomatic Corps early the faction can efficiently use hegemony already boosted by Universal Translators.

My group doesn't have extensive experience in 4x games but we feel the Klingons are the most challenging faction to play as since you must weigh early exploration and development against making contact and either trading with or looting rivals.



i also came to this conclusion


I also came to a similar conclusion. The Feds want to explore a lot so they at start should be moving AWAY from rather than towards the other players. If the Klingons or Romulans want First Contact make them do the work to get it. I think some folks believe the Feds underpowered because the Feds call for a different play style, which some people have not tried with them.


This probably sounds rhetorical and obvious...but you HAVE to play your race.

If you play the Klingons the way you should play the Federation, you're likely to lose. And that holds true for the Federation and Romulans. Don't ignore other parts of the game, but play to your race's strengths.

In essence, the base game of ST:A is a rock paper scissors contest with three aspects:

A. Exploration
B. Combat
C. Advancements

It is those three aspects that make up the basic economy of the game...aka earning Culture toward purchasing Ascendancy.

Each race prospers toward that goal using one of the three aspects (the Federation via exploration, the Klingons via combat, the Romulans via Advancement).

Cultivate your strength while dabbling in the other two, and you've got a good shot.

Federation - Explore, explore, explore. Turning over those Civilization Exploration cards will get you a steady stream of culture. However, dabble in Research and Combat to upgrade and protect your assets.

Romulans - Constantly dump Research tokens into your Advancements, ESPECIALLY those that grant you culture, meanwhile develop an adequate fleet (ESPECIALLY your Mining Fleet early on), and Explore a bit to open up your possibilities.

Klingons - You MUST be on the offensive from the start of the game. If you take a turn or two to "explore" like the Federation or even the Romulans, you're going to lose. Use your Marauder fleet early on so that you're gaining Production while fighting. Take on fleets as soon as you can to earn Culture. Focus your planet developments almost EXCLUSIVELY on Production, then Research. Upgrade weapons when you can. NEVER waste research on shields. Your ships should almost be kamikazes. Don't fret too much about losing them. Just bring them back and hit them again.

When I play the Klingons, I march straight across the play area, and go on the offensive ASAP. Hit them hard and fast. BUILD starbases when possible to serve as staging areas. Threaten them. Force them into lopsided trade agreements in exchange for "leaving them alone" for a time. The extra Production you receive puts you that much more ahead of the curve in ship production.

Many people look at the Klingons' "negative" ability of never retreating or surrendering as a hindrance. Not me. To me, it's actually a positive. It's liberating. I never have to worry about regrouping or when to call it a day. I can just attack, attack, attack. Let THEM retreat!

Look at it this way, if you're the Klingons and you play the development, engine-building game, you're GOING to lose for sure. If you play uber-aggressive and take it to them, you've got a good shot.

And if not, at least you went out your way...LIKE A KLINGON!!!
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I agree with most except the Klingon

You can perfectly win the game collecting culture and not engaging war.

I had a real real bad start with Klingons last game. Feds and romulans could have walsed in with their early fleets of 6 against my 2 ships and destroyed me , But i gave them 3 and 2 trade meanwhiel only taking the 1 trade myself. I had the tech researched that allowed a free ship at every control node. So i was gaining a bit that way.

When i felt confident i could stand their attacks i swapped a 2 trade for a 3 trade with romulan which arrived exhausted . And dissolved the 3 trade with feds. Which incited a war declaration from them

All races got all ships build and last turns was all out war against the Klingons , who had no weapons or shields developped at all. BUT 7 research of which the kamikaze and first strike. I won the game through cultural victory thanks to all the suicide fighting last turn. They were both pretty stunned


I d say the problem OP has is the people you were playing with , not the game. Trade and diplomacy is very important in this game.

Hegemony for the federation is a great ability , i once got wiped by klingons but took 1 ship and did a double hegemony on their star base and their capital stopping them from building new ships .

The Turn mechanic is also very thought out.

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Schmaus wrote:
Trade and diplomacy is very important in this game.


For the most part, I agree. Trade, diplomacy...and guile. You can't rest on your laurels in this game, ESPECIALLY if you're playing Klingon (in my opinion).
 
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The Klingon ability can be a great defense mechanism too. The one game I played as Klingons, I explored as much as the Federation did. Once most of the planets were on the board, I struck the Federation, taking a valuable production/production/culture world. Sitting on that and sitting on Kronos were enough to win me the game. The other races had to come try and stop me, but that just got me more culture.
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All of this talk about Klingon culture has inspired me to repost this clarification (confirmed by GF9) of when they get the culture bonus, as many people have been playing it incorrectly.

"There are 2 conditions to gain the culture.

1. Are there 3 or more enemy ships at the start of the combat? Destroy/Retreat doesn't matter.

2. Was the enemy fleet defeated? In the case of a draw as both sides are defeated you gain the culture."
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Good catch, I've been playing as killing 3 or more ships in battle, not winning a battle against 3 or more ships.
 
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LocutusZero wrote:
Good catch, I've been playing as killing 3 or more ships in battle, not winning a battle against 3 or more ships.


Yeah, that would make it too easy for the Klingons I think.
 
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LocutusZero wrote:
Good catch, I've been playing as killing 3 or more ships in battle, not winning a battle against 3 or more ships.


We played incorrectly that way too in our first game.
 
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