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Subject: Comparing HoLAaS to TI3 rss

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Stan Sevcik
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I looked at the whole playthrough video and read the prototype rules and thought it would be fun to compare the game with Twilight Imperium 3d edition as so many people would love to get a TI3 "light".

The concessions and additions

Here are the mechanisms that HoLAaS does not implement:
- No modular board setup, just exploration tokens randomly placed on a static map
- No trade at all and no dedicated diplomacy
- No objectives
- No Mecatol Rex (central focus for warfare)
- Diceless "simplified" combat (more on that later)
- No currency, just resources (I guess that's why there's no trade...)

There are a couple of elements that surprisingly did make it into HoLAaS:
- Wormholes! (encounters can open portals and towers count as adjecent to capital no matter how far they are)
- Action cards - spells are essencially this
- 7 types of units for each race, 5 of them upgradeable

And finally, these are elements unique to HoLAaS:
- Truly unique races - a TI3 race just had a couple special abilities and one unique unit, in HoLAaS all units are unique as well as all the special abilities on the player board (AFAICT)
- Upgrade grid - each unit and building gets a new ability each time you upgrade your capital
- Combat effects - TI3 has action cards, but combat is mostly based on dice rolling, in HoLAaS each unit has a specific combat effect
- End of game conditions - HoLAaS there are 4 distinct end conditions that are openly visible while in TI3 these are generally hidden (objectives)
- Land vs Sea vs Air - the three types of movements create a new dynamic not present in TI3


Why I'd take HoLAaS over TI3
- It's shorter and easier to explain, that's the obvious intent of the game and its greatest advantage
- Engine building - you are going to construct your kingdom engine out of your peons, buildings and upgrades - I find TI3 to be more about expansion and research and this engine building part is a bit lacking for me
- unique races are going to be fun to play around and due to the shorter length of the game, you'll get to try them out more readily
- special abilities galore - I'm sure it will be fun, but this one may also cause problems (see the next section)
- managing end game - you'll clearly see if a player can end the game and you can try and prevent it (in TI3 this usually depends on secret objectives which you can't see)
- Freedom of choice - a lot of "light" 4x games severely limit your choices to make the game faster. In HoLAaS it seems like a lot of different approaches work - turtling and upgrading, fast exploration, warfare, manipulation through magic etc. If these are well ballanced, it will make every game different and interesting.

Problems with HoLAaS
There are a couple areas that I think TI3 has solved better:

- Analysis Paralysis - this is a big one. In TI3 you draft your actions so you typically get like 4 possible actions out of which maybe 2 are the best for you and you have to decide between those. In HoLAaS you get to choose out of 8 actions TWICE each round.
- Combat system - kinda related to the AP problem - each player choses one of 8 (I think) "tactics" cards which essentialy work in a "A counters B, B counters C, C counters A" kind of fashion. After adjusting it for the tactics, the combat strength of units is summed up and compared. First, this is a bit boring, second - you can fry your brain trying to second-guess the choice your opponent is going to make. I know some players in my group who are not going to be able to make up their minds here...
- Special abilities galore - I'm afraid this may make the game a bit chaotic - you are not going to be able to keep track of all of the abilities other players possess and resolving a fight where 8 different units have different effects will be very messy
- Player interaction - it seems that players interact exclusively through warfare. I know players can "copy" your action with peons but that is not really interactive - I wish there was some drafting mechanic or trade or diplomacy of some sorts
- Theme - a personal preference of mine, but I'm not a fan of this generic childish fantasy setting

Conclusion

I did back the game. It has some problems (I will most probably mod the combat system) but it seems to offer the good "freedom of choice" kind of 4x experience in a reasonable time that I have been looking for...
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Jason Preder
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stenlis wrote:

- Theme - a personal preference of mine, but I'm not a fan of this generic childish fantasy setting



Great comparison, except you had to throw one word in there that makes this whole post sour. "Childish". What makes a fantasy setting childish?

Great post otherwise, I'd prefer you remove that one word to give your post more merit.

Thanks
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Stan Sevcik
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Yeah, I'm not sure "childish" is the right word either, but I was trying to convey something - there is serious fantasy like Game of Thrones, there is straight up mythos - like nordic, celtic or greek myths or a faux-mythos like LotR and then there is this cartoony naive fantasy that this game adopts - how would you describe it?
 
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Trevor Kindree
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Lighthearted?
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Duo Maxwell
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I think instead of "childish" which might be view as being used in a pejorative (disapproving) sense, the word "cartoonish" fits. I think the art style of cartoonish and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
I think that generally the high fantasy theme is a bit cliche/trite and over used, but strangely it does not offend me in HoLAaS. I am not a backer of the project. Note: I think Zombie themes are really, really over used. zombiezombie
 
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Jason Preder
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I agree with others. Cartoonish, High Fantasy, Warcraft-Like, etc. any of these draw a comparison that doesn't force someone into a category of being a child to like the fantasy setting.
I quite prefer the Warcraft-esque look of these kinds of games, although I also enjoy the stylized nature of something like Blood Rage.
 
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Stan Sevcik
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I'd really prefer we would put an end to this linguistic discussion - it's not all that important to me (and to others I suppose) and I'd be more interested to see your opinions on the game mechanics, feasibility as a 4x etc.
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Jason Preder
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stenlis wrote:
I'd really prefer we would put an end to this linguistic discussion - it's not all that important to me (and to others I suppose) and I'd be more interested to see your opinions on the game mechanics, feasibility as a 4x etc.


I think it would be naive and childish to think you might not put off some people with your disparaging words about this topic.

Anyhow, I think the mechanics are solid and 100% feasible. The game is an extension of TEK which plays very well, and after watching Jon's playthrough, it is apparent that the flow works rather well, and the time to play also seems reasonable for this type of game.

Of course, using point for victory conditions may not suit everyone's desires, but I think Eclipse proved you could have an epic space game that based victory on points as well.
 
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Ben Rubinstein

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My biggest gripe is the end-game scoring. I don't really like area control & 4X to end with a point salad add-up.

I like how in TI3, everything you do is in service of getting you that win, but in no way directly affects it.

I dislike how in HoLA&S, elements of the engine building are largely in service of getting more points.
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Jeff Fike
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MilkFromACow wrote:
stenlis wrote:
I'd really prefer we would put an end to this linguistic discussion - it's not all that important to me (and to others I suppose) and I'd be more interested to see your opinions on the game mechanics, feasibility as a 4x etc.


I think it would be naive and childish to think you might not put off some people with your disparaging words about this topic.

.


I see what you did there...
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Jeff Fike
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epilepticemu wrote:
My biggest gripe is the end-game scoring. I don't really like area control & 4X to end with a point salad add-up.

I like how in TI3, everything you do is in service of getting you that win, but in no way directly affects it.

I dislike how in HoLA&S, elements of the engine building are largely in service of getting more points.


We all started from games like Risk, or A&A where player elimination was real. Everyone knows that player elimination leads to disgruntled people, especially when a game takes many hours to play. In fact, the trend is that player elimination requires very short games.

But that inherently creates the problem you mention. You have to find a way to determine a winner if player elimination is not the key focus. Hence, the point salad. I don't envy any designer trying to balance these things. Adding any "battle" component leaps into this rabbit hole of you can't please everyone.
 
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David desJardins
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schmoo34 wrote:
We all started from games like Risk, or A&A where player elimination was real. Everyone knows that player elimination leads to disgruntled people, especially when a game takes many hours to play. In fact, the trend is that player elimination requires very short games.


No, I don't know that. My favorite games are still long elimination games. I just don't play those games with people who don't like them. No game appeals to everyone, so the solution is to match the players to the game.
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Zachary Homrighaus
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DaviddesJ wrote:
schmoo34 wrote:
We all started from games like Risk, or A&A where player elimination was real. Everyone knows that player elimination leads to disgruntled people, especially when a game takes many hours to play. In fact, the trend is that player elimination requires very short games.


No, I don't know that. My favorite games are still long elimination games. I just don't play those games with people who don't like them. No game appeals to everyone, so the solution is to match the players to the game.


Well, it wouldn't be an official BGG thread without Professional Contrarian @DaviddesJ chiming in to make sure no one even glances at hyperbole in an internet forum.

Player Elimination is a pretty bad mechanic for modern board games (opinion shared by many). It is decidedly unfun to sit around watching the rest of your friends duke it out for a victory you no longer have a chance to achieve. Yes, some games are still fun that include player elimination, but the overwhelming trend in modern boardgames is away from elimination in longer, strategic games. Your personal mileage may vary, but it doesn't change the fact that player elimination is considered a knock against a game in most circles.
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David desJardins
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zjhomrighaus wrote:
Your personal mileage may vary, but it doesn't change the fact that player elimination is considered a knock against a game in most circles.


Thinking too hard is considered a knock against a game in most circles. Most people don't want to play a game harder than Yahtzee. If you're going to use popularity as your sole measure of what to do then none of the games on BGG would exist, we would only have Monopoly clones and the like.
 
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Ben Rubinstein

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schmoo34 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
My biggest gripe is the end-game scoring. I don't really like area control & 4X to end with a point salad add-up.

I like how in TI3, everything you do is in service of getting you that win, but in no way directly affects it.

I dislike how in HoLA&S, elements of the engine building are largely in service of getting more points.


We all started from games like Risk, or A&A where player elimination was real. Everyone knows that player elimination leads to disgruntled people, especially when a game takes many hours to play. In fact, the trend is that player elimination requires very short games.

But that inherently creates the problem you mention. You have to find a way to determine a winner if player elimination is not the key focus. Hence, the point salad. I don't envy any designer trying to balance these things. Adding any "battle" component leaps into this rabbit hole of you can't please everyone.


Uhh, what? I just stated that I prefer games in which achieving one concrete goal determines the victor. That in no way mandates player elimination.
 
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Jason Preder
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epilepticemu wrote:
schmoo34 wrote:
epilepticemu wrote:
My biggest gripe is the end-game scoring. I don't really like area control & 4X to end with a point salad add-up.

I like how in TI3, everything you do is in service of getting you that win, but in no way directly affects it.

I dislike how in HoLA&S, elements of the engine building are largely in service of getting more points.


We all started from games like Risk, or A&A where player elimination was real. Everyone knows that player elimination leads to disgruntled people, especially when a game takes many hours to play. In fact, the trend is that player elimination requires very short games.

But that inherently creates the problem you mention. You have to find a way to determine a winner if player elimination is not the key focus. Hence, the point salad. I don't envy any designer trying to balance these things. Adding any "battle" component leaps into this rabbit hole of you can't please everyone.


Uhh, what? I just stated that I prefer games in which achieving one concrete goal determines the victor. That in no way mandates player elimination.


Maybe they are using alternative facts.
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Can anyone provide insight on player count feasibility? The main game page has one solitary vote that has listed the game as "Best" for 2-6 players.

Is this the type of game that will be longer with more players, and also would it actually make a good 2p game? (It's my understanding that Ti3 is not good as a 2p game)
 
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Jason Preder
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Geese wrote:
Can anyone provide insight on player count feasibility? The main game page has one solitary vote that has listed the game as "Best" for 2-6 players.

Is this the type of game that will be longer with more players, and also would it actually make a good 2p game? (It's my understanding that Ti3 is not good as a 2p game)


This is based on the playthrough views, but I think the game time would go up significantly with each player. Every player can initiate a follow action for certain acting player actions. This means that there will be more analysis for each added player.
The Jon Gets Games playthrough simulates the game with 3 players, and it seemed to flow pretty well. It's probably in your best interest to gauge from that to determine if the flow and gametime will be to your liking, since it is a playthrough, and not a review.
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Matthias M
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Geese wrote:
Is this the type of game that will be longer with more players,

Definitely. There are no phases which are performed simultaneously and there is no constant time overhead like round build up or round scoring. Playing time will roughly be proportional to the number of players and I believe the designers that 30 min/player is a good estimate.

Geese wrote:
and also would it actually make a good 2p game? (It's my understanding that Ti3 is not good as a 2p game)

4X games are rarely good with 2p. They usually need the "everyone gangs up on the (perceived) leader" element for balancing. As far as I understand the HoLAaS rules, this games is even more affected by this problem because the exploration tokens can lead to rather swingly starts. There is no progression in the exploration token effects throughout the game; they always have the same effect. Near the end, when everyone has a big income, they probably do not matter much, but at the begin of the game, before any engine building happened, their effects range from hugely beneficial to distrastrous. If you play with 2 and player A finds a two resource bonus in his first encounter, while player B loses his first and only warrior in round 2 at a monster encounter, you can almost quit playing.
(This potentially swingy start is also one of the reasons why I hesitate to back this project. Acceptable risk for low-priced Tiny Epic games, but not okay for $100+ crowdfunding projects.)
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Matthias M
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MilkFromACow wrote:
This is based on the playthrough views, but I think the game time would go up significantly with each player. Every player can initiate a follow action for certain acting player actions. This means that there will be more analysis for each added player.

The follow action mechanic will certainly lead to more actions per round with more players, but this does not necessarily mean more actions until one of the four end game triggers is met.

I think that playing time will roughly be proportional to the number of players, perhaps with the exception of some really short 2p games where player A quickly overpowers player B.
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Stan Sevcik
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I don't think that the follow actions would become more problematic in a 6 player game compared to 4p. You can only follow as long as you have peons and resources so each player is going to only follow once or twice - so I think the game length to player count ration is quite linear.

The problem that I see is with player powers. In TI3 everybody has the same ships (except one) and the same tech tree. You can assess the capabilities of other players quite quickly. In HoLAaS all of the units are different and all players have different powers on their boards. No way to keep track of that with 6p. Also, the exploration end game condition is probably going to happen much sooner in 6p.

As for 2p, in TI3 a lot of the trading and diplomacy mechanics make no sense as well as a lot of the objectives don't work well. HoLAaS doesn't have these issues. The game dynamic will be quite different though as you can go all out at your opponent and not worry to guard your back door against other players.
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Nathan Moore
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Does anyone else feel like this game is going to be very very attack heavy for a 4x game?

Eclipse/TI3/Civ the large part of the game never seemed to be that you NEEDED to attack. This one, so many of the ways to score (some spells, combat cards) seem to rely on combat to be able to get points that I would think someone that tried to go a pacifist route would get routed....

Maybe thats not true but it definitely feels more combat heavy then other 4x offerings, not that thats a bad thing. To be honest, thats actually one of the things that intrigues me.
 
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Jason Preder
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aielman wrote:
Does anyone else feel like this game is going to be very very attack heavy for a 4x game?

Eclipse/TI3/Civ the large part of the game never seemed to be that you NEEDED to attack. This one, so many of the ways to score (some spells, combat cards) seem to rely on combat to be able to get points that I would think someone that tried to go a pacifist route would get routed....

Maybe thats not true but it definitely feels more combat heavy then other 4x offerings, not that thats a bad thing. To be honest, thats actually one of the things that intrigues me.


Well, the game does have eXterminate right on the box . I do think it will be pretty combat heavy.
 
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Sebastian Elliker
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Just to be fair to all traditional 4x-games (i.e. Master of Orion, Alpha Centauri, etc.), HolAas is not really a 4x-game even if they say so. For instance, the game is lacking trade or diplomacy options as well as some fleshed out technologgy options. HOWEVER, as somebody else put it in a different thread, this is basically a Warcraft-like RTS in board game form. I do not understand why they do not market their game with this. There are so few games that really try this and so many games that claim to 4X-games.

As such, I would expect it to be much more combat heavy then what we normally call 4X-Games.
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Stan Sevcik
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aielman wrote:
Does anyone else feel like this game is going to be very very attack heavy for a 4x game?

Eclipse/TI3/Civ the large part of the game never seemed to be that you NEEDED to attack. This one, so many of the ways to score (some spells, combat cards) seem to rely on combat to be able to get points that I would think someone that tried to go a pacifist route would get routed....

Maybe thats not true but it definitely feels more combat heavy then other 4x offerings, not that thats a bad thing. To be honest, thats actually one of the things that intrigues me.


Compared to the other games you get direct VPs for winning a combat plus there's typically no downside to winning a combat (like in TI3 you will lose some units during combat even if you win). So that definitely encourages more combat.

On the other hand casting spells gives you just as much VPs as winning a combat and building up your capital gives you way more.

So there's going to be more combat, but combat heavy players may not be winning as easily.

What is a bit lacking is points for exploration - you don't get any VPs exploring and you only get 1 VP per territory you control which is very little considering you can only move units to one territory with every movement action.
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