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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Mitigating luck of the draw - "The 3 Stages" variant rss

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Bloobik Cyperius
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While looking at common complains about the game, I got the idea to split the draw deck (project cards) into 3 "stages" (3 draw decks), and it would look something like this:

Draw decks

Stage 1
Premise: The corporations have set out to colonize Mars, basic camps are being established,
some plants are being seeded, the climate is being prepared for more complex life.

Deck 1: Cards that require no more than 4% oxygen, -20 degree Celsius, cost no more than 25 to build, NO attack cards

Stage 2
Premise: The race to colonize Mars has caught up. There is a full on war between corporations to seize the most profitable regions.
Deck 2: Cards that require between 5 and 9 % oxygen, between -18 and -2 degree Celsius, any number of oceans and ALL attack cards.

Stage 3
Premise: In the interest of attracting more people to Mars, corporations have agreed to a peace treaty. Every corporation is working on maximizing the existing assets.
Deck 3: all other cards, maybe cards that give large bonuses on "set collection"

Drawing rules:
In the beginning of the game each player gets 4 cards from deck 1, 4 cards from deck 2 and 2 cards from deck 3. Unused cards are discarded next to their corresponding deck.

Variants:
A) player chooses one deck and draws 4 cards from that deck
B) player can draw as many cards as he wants from any deck, but no more than 4 cards in total



Possible problems

1) Deck 3 is depleted too soon.
Solution 1: Add a stricter limit to a number of cards allowed to draw; for example max 2 cards are allowed to draw from deck 3
Solution 2: When deck 3 is depleted shuffle the discarded cards of deck 3 and create new draw pile.

2) There is too much work in sorting the cards
Solution: after initial sorting, buy 3 kinds of stickers, or tree different colors of sticky paper, and glue them on the back side of the cards. I suggest upper right corner so other players can see from which stage you have most cards.

3) Decks contain different number of cards
That is the hole point, deck 1 symbolizes the slow beginning, deck 2 is where the meat of the game happens, and deck 3 is endgame.

Notes

Now before anybody starts raging, I am not a native English speaker so please excuse me for any grammar mistakes. Also I don't own the game so if you think that the oxygen / temperature limits need to be adjusted please do, and post a comment here.

I'm also interested if this variant reduces down time and overall length of the game.

Any constructive criticism is appreciated.


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Marcus S
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This idea has certainly been thrown around before. The biggest problem is the actual dividing up of the cards. There aren't enough cards with specific requirements to form 3 different phases (the stack with no requirements would be way too big)... So, since you can't rely on that, you then have to start to "evaluate" cards to determine if they are early, mid, or late game cards based on other factors, and this is where the process becomes flawed. An obvious example i can think of is Io Mining. I believe it is the most expensive card at 41, which according to your method, would likely be a "late" game card. It provides 2 titanium production, so likely would be more or less useless as a "late" game card.... So what stack does this card go in? Who decides? A corp like Phoblog would probably love to have this card in their starting hand, but Ecoline less so.

Allowing people to draw from several of the piles certainly helps with this, but I still think that trying to create these 3 stages is an impossible proposition given the variability in how useful cards are based on so many different factors.
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Bloobik Cyperius
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I see, I didn't know there are so many cards with no requirements, too bad. As you suggested some other criteria could be used to sort the cards in different piles, but as cards have different value to different corporations... I get your point.

Regarding the cost I put the cost restriction only on the first pile, other piles wouldn't have cost restrictions.

I'm currently considering buying T.M., and this luck of a draw paired with the attack cards (prefer positive player interaction) may be a deal breaker.

Thank you for your comment.
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Darcy Dueck
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Bloobik wrote:


I'm currently considering buying T.M., and this luck of a draw paired with the attack cards (prefer positive player interaction) may be a deal breaker.



This may not be the game for you.

Terraforming Mars is a card game. Luck is part of it in the same way that luck is part of bridge, Glory to Rome, Race for the Galaxy and poker. Good play revolves about maximizing your opportunity with limited resources and hurting your opponents at the same time.

Some cards are good for some corporations and not for others, regardless of costs.
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Jacob Fryxelius
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Do you know what I do when I draw no (or alsmost no) playable in the setup? I pick a corporation with good production and I buy a few cards that can be good down the road. I always buy a little more cards than I can play right now. And I save money for the next generation, when you will probably draw something useful. Sooner or later you will draw useful and expensive cards and you might even be sorry you didn't save your money for them.
Do you know what I do when I draw 'crappy' cards during subsequent research phases? I DON'T buy them, saving my money, and play the cards I bought earlier instead.

So, bad draws are not so bad, because you can just save your money (and there are standard projects if you really need something).
Sooner or later you'll get useful cards.
Buy more cards than you currently need, because sooner or later you'll get a 'bad draw' and you'll be able to accelerate using your previously bought cards instead of getting stalled, or caught in the end game without cards and complain when you don't immediately get the cards you need.
If you only buy cards you currently need/can play, then you put yourself at the mercy of Lady Fortuna.

Sure, luck plays a roll, but guess what? I usually win my games, even against non-beginners. Occasionally I lose, but that only adds to the fun and challenge. Who'd want to play with me if I always won?

And if you cards don't favor you (it happens) you can still win by playing smart, taking milestones and awards, placing tiles smartly and getting those bonus steps on the parameters.
I hope this helps.

Cheers!
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Bloobik Cyperius
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I see I started a avalanche here.

Darcy Dueck - I actually enjoy Race for the Galaxy, and Fluxx which has luck playing a role in it. But those games are short, and it's not a big deal if I can't do anything with my cards, because we will probably play a few games in row.

Jacob Fryxelius - It's not so much about winning, it's about enjoying the process of creating something. The thing that attracts me most about your game is the "engine" building part, and then using that engine to produce resources, terraform, etcetera. Basically because it's a 2 hour game I'm just concerned at how much luck plays a part in building something cool, and that why I'm looking at variants that don't completely remove the luck draw, but simply reduce it a bit.

Stay positive

Bloobik
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Furry Fox
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I think you overestimate the amount of luck in the game. It is there but not that large and the different decks would probably not eliminate it but instead create a different kind of game with similar amounts of luck.

I, however, do think that the luck factor in the beginning is unnecessary and can be alleviated with an Initial draft. (see https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1712227/initial-draft-we-ne... )
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Wim van Gruisen
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ChelseaSquare wrote:
Terraforming Mars is a card game. Luck is part of it in the same way that luck is part of bridge, Glory to Rome, Race for the Galaxy and poker.

How often have you played bridge? And then specifically duplicate bridge?
In that game, the same hands (card distributions) are played by different players, and your score is compared with the scores of all the other players with the same hand. That brings down the luck component significantly, making how well you scored much more dependent on your skills than on luck of the draw.

Doing well in GtR or RotG is much more dependent on what cards you draw than doing well in bridge. So what game are you comparing Terraforming Mars to?
 
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Sam Carroll
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Whymme wrote:
ChelseaSquare wrote:
Terraforming Mars is a card game. Luck is part of it in the same way that luck is part of bridge, Glory to Rome, Race for the Galaxy and poker.

How often have you played bridge? And then specifically duplicate bridge?
In that game, the same hands (card distributions) are played by different players, and your score is compared with the scores of all the other players with the same hand. That brings down the luck component significantly, making how well you scored much more dependent on your skills than on luck of the draw.

Doing well in GtR or RotG is much more dependent on what cards you draw than doing well in bridge. So what game are you comparing Terraforming Mars to?


You're the first one to bring up duplicate bridge here. I haven't played Glory to Rome, but I'm familiar with Race and (non-duplicate) Bridge, and I think the two have a similar ratio or luck and skill.
 
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Darcy Dueck
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Whymme wrote:

specifically duplicate bridge


Duplicate bridge is played in tournaments by a large field of players over multiple hands. It is a poor comparison to a single game played by four players and is not relevant to this thread.
 
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