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Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space» Forums » General

Subject: 5 players way too easy for Aliens? rss

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Dean Morris
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We just played the first map with 5 players about 6 times and each time the aliens were able to find all the humans within the first 2 or 3 rounds. As per the rules, we played 3 aliens and 2 humans. The humans never had a chance! We were all experienced gamers. We then tried one of the trickier maps with the same results. Finally, we tried 2 aliens and 3 humans, which lasted 1 little bit longer - about 6 rounds. This seemed way too quick.

So... Is the game just broken with 5 players, or was there something wrong with how we were playing it? Should the game be over so quick?

It seemed an obvious strategy for the aliens to not bother hiding and just crush the humans. Has anyone else had the same experience?
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I think you're exaggerating. It was maybe the first 3 or 4 rounds. :-p

Really want to like this game and know what we were doing wrong so we can replay it but with humans standing a chance!
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Filip Falk Hartelius
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We've found that for every play count, we've had players say that one side or the other has it too easy or too hard. In truth, both sides are challenging, and often the player group are the biggest determinant of which side is tougher (not at all to imply that you are playing it 'wrong').

Here are a few tips for humans that you may or may not have tried:
- using the item cards
- using the character abilities
- doubling back
- pretending to be an alien
- hiding underneath the aliens

In the end, the game has a bluffing element that is harder for the humans (in that it's more stressful), but it also means they can pull off some incredible plays if they manage to keep a straight face
 
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Having pondered this, I come to the conclusion that the aliens should soon be about 30% certain where humans are on any given turn.

When bluffing your locations, it is best to keep your bluffs consistent. Otherwise, your more-consistent narrative becomes obviously the truth. You may say that this then encourages a sort of double-bluff, but that is only possible if you're lucky to get very few red cards.

As such, optimal play as a human (before considering the cats, items) generally gives the aliens 2 possible paths to consider if they want to kill you. If 2 aliens team up, they can do this easily and the increased alien/increased speed makes it easier to kill the next human, despite their greater 'headstart'. A human can actually make it almost half-way (almost since a few items allow for increased movement) to the escape pod, and an alien from the starting zone can still catch up.

It may be that the player elimination method is better balanced.

I certainly considered all those things you mentioned but I'm not saying I understand the full ramifications. Game 1, we realised it's good for aliens to have full info and actually aliens are typically incentivised to tell the truth, with humans incentivised to bluff as aliens.

Game 2, a player managed to bluff being a human, allowing for one surprise kill.

In game 6, an item I had allowed me to move extra and I could have moved into a silent sector. But if I did that, it would have been about 33% which place I moved into. Whereas with a dangerous sector, I was gambling on the 67% chance I didn't draw a red card, and then I'd have more chance to survive until my next turn. So I didn't use the card just then, wanting to keep it slightly longer.

I strongly feel that with proper analysis, 2 good aliens could easily kill 2 humans.

Hiding amongst the aliens in terms of your location seems like as soon as you're discovered, you will be immediately killed.

I'd like to try it again, maybe add some items for everyone to start off with (and run a smaller deck so red/green/silent card ratios remain the same). Or maybe even take out some extra reds.

Dean, are you willing to come over to my place sometime, for a long series of EftAiOS games? :-p
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Luke Heineman
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The aliens definitely have the advantage in the game. I don't view this as a negative, but as a challenge. As long as players are aware up front that it's pretty tough to win as a human, I think the game is great.

You most definitely want to be consistent with your bluffs. We were playing a 5 player game last night on the fourth map (I believe. Big ship). I was a human and managed to slip away at the beginning and go straight up the left side.

I really think if the humans can avoid detection in the first few turns their chances of success increase dramatically. The starting areas + powers of some of the aliens can really put you behind the 8-ball.

I did a bit of back and forth double-backing until I knew where everyone was, and then I made a break for it.

Unfortunately the other human was heading for the same escape pod I was in the upper left. He had been doing really well throwing the 3 aliens off his path and they were all clustered around the lower left pod.

I decided to abandon my original path and started cutting across the top of the map to the upper right pod.

The other human died in a few turns, so I had four aliens searching for me.

Thankfully I drew a few back to back green cards and by keeping track of my bluffs, I convinced the aliens that I was near the lower right pod just long enough to get the win.

One alien had sniffed me out and was on an adjacent hex when I reached the pod. I drew the damaged pod card. BUT I was the engineer. Victory.

Doubling back, being consistent with my bluffs, and trying to get some items really helped me out.
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Joshua Kimble
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I came here to say the exact same thing as posted above: the Aliens have a significant advantage.

We have played 12+ games with 6-8 players and here are my thoughts.

The aliens usually win our games in 5-7 turns. We've had two games where a human has made it to an escape pod. One of those games, the pod was broken and the human lost anyway. It's not fun for the humans and the unbalance in the games means that we don't really want to play anymore. Unless we start to try and "fix" the game.

Issues:
Why hide as an alien?
The chances of a human successfully attacking an alien is so remote that it's better to out yourself as alien so that you can start working together. We've had gaming moments where people say "if you don't move 2 space and attack this turn, I will kill you". We've started just attack moving nearly ALL the time, and asking the group whether anyone is there to make sure we don't kill alien by accident. Not really that fun for the humans, since we can usually catch and slaughter them in 2-5 turns.

One dead human "breaks" the game:
Hate this rule. As soon as one human is eaten, he becomes alien?! This is the worst rule in the game. Not only does it destroy an slight balance that the game MAY have had, but it also gives the killing alien extra power?? Crazy, silly rule. Not fun.

Player distribution at the game start:
In a 7 player game, there is NO reason to have 4 aliens. This makes for a short and miserable game. Currently, in odd numbered games, it is much more fun to have one more human than alien. In even numbered games, we've even considered having 2 more humans than aliens. Not sure about this one yet.

Player Abilities:
These fall into one of two categories: never happens or unfun. Here are a couple examples:
-The psychologist (starts in the alien space) is just bad. They usually have to move into a noisy space and then have a change to draw a card to out where they are. Any player that announces that they are moving into a noisy space next to the alien starting location will immediately be attacked in our games.
-One of the alien can't be killed!? Seriously OP. They chances of an human actually killing an alien is so remote, why would you have one character that can't be killed?!
-All the aliens with abilities to use specific item card. This has never been useful and no alien has ever had a chance to use it. What are the odds of drawing the exact card you need? Very small.

So, final thoughts:
Game is unbalanced out of the box. The aliens nearly always win. And they usually win in just a few turns. We are trying to thing up DRASTIC changes to the gameplay to make it fun for us (modify human/alien ratio, remove human->alien spawn, limit alien's ability to attack somehow, increase human's ability to attack?, somehow make it so that the aliens WANT to hide, etc). Overall, this is a game that is fun for the first few play, until you figure out the balance issues. It doesn't have staying power. Our gaming group can easily play 100+ games of good, balanced games. We don't think this is going to make the cut, though.
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Luke Heineman
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jdkimble wrote:
I came here to say the exact same thing as posted above: the Aliens have a significant advantage.

We have played 12+ games with 6-8 players and here are my thoughts.

The aliens usually win our games in 5-7 turns. We've had two games where a human has made it to an escape pod. One of those games, the pod was broken and the human lost anyway. It's not fun for the humans and the unbalance in the games means that we don't really want to play anymore. Unless we start to try and "fix" the game.

Issues:
Why hide as an alien?
The chances of a human successfully attacking an alien is so remote that it's better to out yourself as alien so that you can start working together. We've had gaming moments where people say "if you don't move 2 space and attack this turn, I will kill you". We've started just attack moving nearly ALL the time, and asking the group whether anyone is there to make sure we don't kill alien by accident. Not really that fun for the humans, since we can usually catch and slaughter them in 2-5 turns.

One dead human "breaks" the game:
Hate this rule. As soon as one human is eaten, he becomes alien?! This is the worst rule in the game. Not only does it destroy an slight balance that the game MAY have had, but it also gives the killing alien extra power?? Crazy, silly rule. Not fun.

Player distribution at the game start:
In a 7 player game, there is NO reason to have 4 aliens. This makes for a short and miserable game. Currently, in odd numbered games, it is much more fun to have one more human than alien. In even numbered games, we've even considered having 2 more humans than aliens. Not sure about this one yet.

Player Abilities:
These fall into one of two categories: never happens or unfun. Here are a couple examples:
-The psychologist (starts in the alien space) is just bad. They usually have to move into a noisy space and then have a change to draw a card to out where they are. Any player that announces that they are moving into a noisy space next to the alien starting location will immediately be attacked in our games.
-One of the alien can't be killed!? Seriously OP. They chances of an human actually killing an alien is so remote, why would you have one character that can't be killed?!
-All the aliens with abilities to use specific item card. This has never been useful and no alien has ever had a chance to use it. What are the odds of drawing the exact card you need? Very small.

So, final thoughts:
Game is unbalanced out of the box. The aliens nearly always win. And they usually win in just a few turns. We are trying to thing up DRASTIC changes to the gameplay to make it fun for us (modify human/alien ratio, remove human->alien spawn, limit alien's ability to attack somehow, increase human's ability to attack?, somehow make it so that the aliens WANT to hide, etc). Overall, this is a game that is fun for the first few play, until you figure out the balance issues. It doesn't have staying power. Our gaming group can easily play 100+ games of good, balanced games. We don't think this is going to make the cut, though.
We have three plays of this, and can already see some of the issues you mention here.

A couple thoughts I had in reading your comments:

1. Humans re-spawn at the human start when killed. Not very thematic, but avoids player elimination and avoids increasing an alien advantage. At the very least, if keeping the human turns alien rule, that new alien should have to return to the alien start (this is actually more thematic)

2. If the aliens attack on their turn, they are only allowed to move one space the following turn. OR a simpler version: An alien can move one space + attack OR move two spaces. Treat it more like action point allowance. This gives an incentive to NOT attack every turn and "out" yourselves, while also giving a slight rule change in favor of the humans.

3. The items and special powers you talk about just sound awful. One that we came across was the card "Mutation". We houseruled that it should be a one turn effect to allow a human to move two spaces + attack while losing their human's special ability. Start of their next turn they return to "normal".

4. We're discussing giving the humans one action point as well. Move OR attack. And just remove the items that allow for attacking.
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Joshua Kimble
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lukeheineman99 wrote:

We have three plays of this, and can already see some of the issues you mention here.

A couple thoughts I had in reading your comments:

1. Humans re-spawn at the human start when killed. Not very thematic, but avoids player elimination and avoids increasing an alien advantage. At the very least, if keeping the human turns alien rule, that new alien should have to return to the alien start (this is actually more thematic)

2. If the aliens attack on their turn, they are only allowed to move one space the following turn. OR a simpler version: An alien can move one space + attack OR move two spaces. Treat it more like action point allowance. This gives an incentive to NOT attack every turn and "out" yourselves, while also giving a slight rule change in favor of the humans.

3. The items and special powers you talk about just sound awful. One that we came across was the card "Mutation". We houseruled that it should be a one turn effect to allow a human to move two spaces + attack while losing their human's special ability. Start of their next turn they return to "normal".

4. We're discussing giving the humans one action point as well. Move OR attack. And just remove the items that allow for attacking.
Here's a quick update:
Thanks for the ideas. We just tried out #2. This is exactly what we needed! It made the game 1000% more fun. The tension was there at the beginning, because no alien wanted to out themselves too quickly (they wanted to move fast, instead). The game balance was great (7 player, 3 aliens and 4 humans. A couple humans narrowly escaped, but half were killed).

It didn't fix everything, but it makes the game replayable for our group. You'll notice, that we always add more humans than aliens into our games. We'll have to take note and see if our attitude on this rule mod changes. Other persistent issues include: rarely used alien special powers, psychologist, lack of human attacking, etc. But, one issue at a time.

Note, I actually ran across this possible rule change, before seeing your relpy, in another thread from:
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Luke Heineman
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Well that's awesome! I'm glad that rule change had a positive effect on your game group. I'm excited to try it this way. Keep me posted if you guys try the other suggestions or come up with your own.
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Gustavo Sanchez
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Anyone else try lukeheineman99's variant?

Any updates?

How does it work regarding balance?
 
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