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Subject: A(nother) negative review rss

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Volker Hirscher
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Hi guys,

After I missed TFM in Essen, finally I bought the game when the German edition was available again in February. Now, I played it 3 times: Ones with the beginner-corps, one with the standard one, one with the included expansion. As you can see from the subject - I did not like the game very much. For you as potential buyers, as well as for my future me (who will probably consider buying the game again once expansions are out ), I'd like to sum up my issues with the game. I won't talk about rules, I think the other more than 30 reviews already did that.

I'll keep it short, and write down my issues one after the other:

1) Length: I only played 2p-games, but still we found the game too long (even worse with the included expansion, because there you start without income).

2) Point-Salad: Well, there are other games where I dislike that more (I really hate it when I play two hours without knowing who is leading, and then "Wow, cool, I have won" - imagine that when watching a football match ). But still, there are many victory points to count, and during play it is not so easy to tell who is in front. As I said: minor issue.

3) Tactical gameplay: I learned in another discussion board that there is no consensus here - some consider the game strategical, others rather tactical. I think there are great tactical games, and "strategical" is not "better" than "tactical", but still I consider TFM to be mainly tactical. Which I do not like in such a long game - I cannot really follow a long-term plan.

4) Luck: Again related to length, there is too much luck involved for the long playtime. We also tried drafting of couse, which helps a bit. But it made the game even longer, so we went back to "normal" drawing of cards.

5) Interaction: A major point: I mainly play boardgames because they are such a cool way to spend time with others, like my wife. BUT: I found TFM to be a rather lonely experience. Very few things someone does really affect me, so I do not care. Also, the board is important, but in a 2p game not so important that I always have to pay attention. And: Cards, cards, and more cards! 50% of the game everyone is just reading... guess what... cards. Meeeeh.. If I want to play alone, I can use the computer for that.

6) Components: Unbelievable how they could sell such player boards with the issue of tossing the cubes around. The cubes, while looking cool, are also very annoying to handle (hard to grab, easy to let fall down).

7) Graphics: Minor issue - I think the game is not so beautiful, cards, playerboards... only the map looks nice.


There is no orer in priority in my points, and please do not take it as a rant or so. Of course, there are also positive aspects about the game. But not enough to get a high rating from me:

(5.5 stars)

Have fun!
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Martin Åkerlund
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A well written review with some valid points that have been brought up before. Personally I like the game a lot but that's another story.
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Brian Long
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I like the game, but continue to maintain that it's played best solo
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Don Smith
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wrote:


3) Tactical gameplay: I learned in another discussion board that there is no consensus here - some consider the game strategical, others rather tactical. I think there are great tactical games, and "strategical" is not "better" than "tactical", but still I consider TFM to be mainly tactical. Which I do not like in such a long game - I cannot really follow a long-term plan.

4) Luck: Again related to length, there is too much luck involved for the long playtime. We also tried drafting of couse, which helps a bit. But it made the game even longer, so we went back to "normal" drawing of cards.



These two points are completely wrong.

The player who does not meld his corporation, the cards she keeps along with a strategic plan for victory is doomed to lose. You must focus on milestones and awards from the start.

As far as luck, the draft mitigates much of it, but yes, there is some luck, but it has NEVER determined the result of any of our games.

Finally, I don't think that it is best as a 2 player game - we've mainly played with 4 or 5 and our group thinks it might be the best game of 2016.
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Jared Wilson
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Have to agree with Don. In all my games, I've never really focused on the Awards or Milestones, mostly just trying to get my corporation going. And I've lost every single game. The winning margin seems to have been within 5-10 points, so if I'd had even one of the different Awards or Milestones, I'd have been in the running.

My next multiplayer game, I'm going to focus on the Awards and Milestones more. This is just such a great game, that plays even better solo.
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Volker Hirscher
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Don Smith wrote:

These two points are completely wrong.


"Wrong" sounds not so nice. Let's say we have different opinions here. For me, the milestones are rather a bonus you should get, but do not really force you to play a strategy. Really - I would not call "collect 16 cards" a strategy at all In the end, the milestones you go for is dictated by the situation you are in (meaning the cards you have or get). So again, I call this tactical. But as I said, there are different opinions here.

Don Smith wrote:

Finally, I don't think that it is best as a 2 player game - we've mainly played with 4 or 5 and our group thinks it might be the best game of 2016.


Could be! Did not try with more than two, due to my other points (length, interaction, communication). But I also heard that before
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Jake Blomquist
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The game struck me as very tactical as well. I'm surprised to hear that many people feel differently, but I never tried the drafting, so maybe that allows you to plan ahead a bit more.

I think I'm slightly more kind in my rating than you, but in a similar place in terms of my desire to play the game again. Aside from being overly tactical and a bit too lucky for a game of this length, the thing that bothered me the most was just how boring everything was. This is an experience I occasionally have with games where I completely see through them and they just feel like the most generic possible 'collect cubes to trade them in for other cubes and/or points' affairs.

Lords of Waterdeep is I think the poster child of this for me, and I think Terraforming Mars has it in spades as well. All you can do is play a card, or pay to move some track up, and all of the cards either exchange some of one production for some of another, or are a slightly more efficient version of the generic actions, or allow you to trade resources directly for points. The main mechanics aren't interesting, and the card effects don't do anything to shake the game up. I just really don't get the appeal. I guess I have to give it credit for being slightly more interesting than The Networks, which is even worse in this regard.

And to be clear, all of my favorite games are eurogames, and I'm sure there are people who would say something similar about them. In some sense every game can be easily abstracted to 'get some stuff then trade that stuff for points' but for whatever reason there are certain games where that's all I see. That's why I find this so interesting, because I feel a difference, but I wonder if there are other people who are feeling the same difference but for different games.
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Michael J
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I disagree with the conclusions of this review. The only conclusion I feel like I sort of agree with is the one about length; it's a long game if you play with the advanced rules - but it helps if you like the game, too.

In our games, a majority of the points are earned at the end of the game from tiles on the board and end game victory conditions. These are both things that take an entire game to build to and prepare for.

As for the cards, I agree you get lucky sometimes and unlucky others, but I've also found my card choices so critical; buying cards I don't end up using always hurts. However, knowing which cards to speculate on, which cards help your current strategy, and when to buy that extra card just in case are all good decision-points. Card drafting helps too but adds length to the game. And lastly, playing cards that allow you to draw cards from the top of the deck are critical. If you don't do this, you are limited to your 4 per generation. adding 1-3 extra cards per turn is very important to give you a bit more control and reduce lucky streaks.

The interaction in this game is more apparent than you suggest. Racing to the first-to-reach in-game objectives is huge. Picking the end-game objectives that favor you is as well. Knowing when to attack your opponents and which resources to take from them is a big decision. And lastly, capitalizing on important board positions is crucial as spaces tighten up and green tiles start getting placed on the board.
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My wife and I have consistently enjoyed this as a longish two player game. From the beginning, we've mitigated card draw luck by house-ruling that we draw six cards each turn, but can only by up to four. With that approach, we've never felt burned by card draw (but neither do you always get a great hand).

One of our favorites from last year.
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Ian Kissell
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I would recommend playing with 4,as I think the game actually goes faster with more players.
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Volker Hirscher
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jblomquist wrote:
the thing that bothered me the most was just how boring everything was. This is an experience I occasionally have with games where I completely see through them and they just feel like the most generic possible 'collect cubes to trade them in for other cubes and/or points' affairs.


Agree! Same feeling here, and also for Lords of Waterdeep, Feast for Odin and many others...

jblomquist wrote:
And to be clear, all of my favorite games are eurogames, and I'm sure there are people who would say something similar about them. In some sense every game can be easily abstracted to 'get some stuff then trade that stuff for points' but for whatever reason there are certain games where that's all I see. That's why I find this so interesting, because I feel a difference, but I wonder if there are other people who are feeling the same difference but for different games.


Seems so! Some people like different aspects of a game, and if there are mainly aspects you dislike, you might see it rather "abstract".
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1. Length: The game is definitely on the long side but it almost never feels long. I know much shorter games that feel too long despite lasting under an hour.
It can of course be a problem when you don't have that much time as with setup, talking and cleaning up, you will rarely have games that total less than 3h (with a bit over 2h of actual play time, up to 3-4h if all players are new.).

2. Points: Exact points are difficult to see but if you really wanted to, you could count everything. There is no hidden information. In general you make rough estimates, though. Looking at blue cards/player boards early game and later in the game milestones, jovian tags, or the board can give you quite a bit of information about who is ahead.

3. Strategy vs Tactics: I would say that the game may seem tactical in the beginning but the more you play, the more you will start to play strategically. For example, if you play Helion*, you make sure that you get enough heat or energy production but also draft higher requirements of temperature for plant production cards(which you need for oxygen) much more readily, since you know that you will reach them earlier. You basically make tactical decision within a strategic frame. If you don't, you will not win.
*This, however, doesn't mean that corporations dictate how you play. you can play with strategies that have no connection to your corp and still win.

4. Luck: Here you mistake randomness for luck. e.g. Star Realms is mostly a game of luck while TFM is not. The cards you draw are random, but the choices you make are anything but. Which cards and how many you buy, where you place tiles, who you steal resources or production from, etc. are all devoid of randomness. In pretty much every game I lose, I can trace it back to bad decisions earlier in the game. The same is true for the games I win: it is almost always visible where someone made the bad decisions that led to their loss.
Without drafting, there are games where luck has a bit more of an influence but even here the luck factor is not really that high.

5. Interaction: I cannot see how you could rate TFM as a low interaction game. There is a lot of interaction regarding milestones and board position, and of course there are also some cards that directly hurt your opponents. Definitely not anywhere near multiplayer solitaire.

6. Components: The points you raise have been a non-issue for us and most other people. (see component-survey in the forum.)

7. Graphics: I really like the cards and the main board but I agree that the tiles could be a bit nicer.
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Andi Hub
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Don Smith wrote:
wrote:


3) Tactical gameplay: I learned in another discussion board that there is no consensus here - some consider the game strategical, others rather tactical. I think there are great tactical games, and "strategical" is not "better" than "tactical", but still I consider TFM to be mainly tactical. Which I do not like in such a long game - I cannot really follow a long-term plan.

4) Luck: Again related to length, there is too much luck involved for the long playtime. We also tried drafting of couse, which helps a bit. But it made the game even longer, so we went back to "normal" drawing of cards.



These two points are completely wrong.

The player who does not meld his corporation, the cards she keeps along with a strategic plan for victory is doomed to lose. You must focus on milestones and awards from the start.

As far as luck, the draft mitigates much of it, but yes, there is some luck, but it has NEVER determined the result of any of our games.

Finally, I don't think that it is best as a 2 player game - we've mainly played with 4 or 5 and our group thinks it might be the best game of 2016.
I think that you are overestimating the control you have in the game. You have to adapt a lot to the cards that are available to you. So you had one city card in the beginning and were determined to go for the city milestone? Good luck if you do not get additional cards that let you build cities cheaper. Similar with greenery or terraforming value. If you get better cards that go into different directions than where you have been going, you adapt. (Granted, if you get iron bonuses, the building milestone is quite realistic to go for.) In the end there are milestones and awards for different play styles. So you could just go with the cards you get and then see midgame, what milestone is achievable for you.

You may call this tactical or adapting strategies. You may find this too random for your preferences or not. But calling somebody completely wrong on these topics is just bad behavior.
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Volker Hirscher
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EternalFury wrote:
5. Interaction: I cannot see how you could rate TFM as a low interaction game. There is a lot of interaction regarding milestones and board position, and of course there are also some cards that directly hurt your opponents. Definitely not anywhere near multiplayer solitaire.


Just want to comment on this point:
Actually, I was not at all interested in what my fellow player did. Of course, I tried to buy the milestones I have before him. But that is not really interaction for me - I do not react on how he plays, instead I try to grab something before him.
Board position was meaningless, maybe also a flaw of the 2p-game. I can see that this is more interesting in a game with more players.
And that you can "hurt" somebody without being able to protect yourself is just...meeh... at least for me. That really feels pasted on to get some interaction to the game.
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Jake Blomquist
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EternalFury wrote:
3. Strategy vs Tactics: I would say that the game may seem tactical in the beginning but the more you play, the more you will start to play strategically. For example, if you play Helion*, you make sure that you get enough heat or energy production but also draft higher requirements of temperature for plant production cards(which you need for oxygen) much more readily, since you know that you will reach them earlier. You basically make tactical decision within a strategical frame. If you don't, you will not win.
*This, however, doesn't mean that corporations dictate how you play. you can play with strategies that have no connection to your corp and still win.

4. Luck: Here you mistake randomness for luck. e.g. Star Realms is mostly a game of luck while TFM is not. The cards you draw are random, but the choices you make are anything but. Which cards and how many you buy, where you place tiles, who you steal resources or production from, etc. are all devoid of randomness. In pretty much every game I lose, I can trace it back to bad decisions earlier in the game. The same is true for the games I win: it is almost always visible where someone made the bad decisions that led to their loss.
Without drafting, there are games where luck has a bit more of an influence but even here the luck factor is not really that high.


I think these two points are actually very closely related for me, so I won't separate them. First, with regard to luck, we might be in agreement other than the fact that we're using different words. To me a game having a high amount of luck and also rewarding skill are not mutually exclusive. From my perspective, the luck (maybe it is better to say 'randomness') just forces you to adapt to the cards you see. A good player can exist and will be better at adapting. But then this is exactly what makes the game very tactical.

Of course it's not entirely tactics, there are some overarching factors you can take into account, but from my perspective they're sort of obvious surface level things like you list. And they're also pretty heavily constrained by what cards you see. Of course your company will have strengths which will point you toward certain things, and also what you've already built will point you in certain directions. But at the end of the day, the cards just might not cooperate. And so you adapt. This is the definition of tactical gameplay. You can't plan even one decade ahead since you don't know what cards you'll see. You can have some idea since you can carry cards over, but then you might see a new card that changes your plan.

But like the OP said, 'tactical' isn't an insult. It's ok to like a very tactical game. In fact, a game with no tactics would probably be terrible. But for my tastes this game goes too far with the tactics, which are a result of the randomness factor.
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Most of my games are two-player and there is always a fierce fight to be first on certain spots (e.g. 2 cards) and trying to establish city clusters. Then there is the counterplay to these city clusters, e.g. Restricted Area. or just placing a city close to enemy cities to benefit off of their greenery/stopping them from building any.

Timing is one of the crucial aspects of TFM: "How long can you putt off taking the dead points of a milestone or a city placement before someone else grabs the spot, and instead invest in your economy" is a central aspect of doing well in the game.

If your definition of interaction is direct war-like interaction, then yes, TFM doesn't have much of that. But if you just care for interaction as in people reacting to each others past and future plays, TFM is full of it. drafting, board, milestones, parameter level, etc. You constantly have to take into account how much money/resources, how many tags (science, buildings, jovian), cards, tiles, etc. everyone has, who will start next turn, what cards did they likely draft/keep, etc. and react to that.

As for the not protecting: TFM is a very thematic game and when an asteroid crashes into a field there just isn't any thematic way to react. Other than that, there is actually stuff you can do: don't hoard plants when you see the other player has enough money/titanium for an asteroid.

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Volker Hirscher
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EternalFury wrote:
You constantly have to take into account how much money/resources, how many tags (science, buildings, jovian), cards, tiles, etc. everyone has, who will start next turn, what cards did they likely draft/keep, etc. and react to that.


Why, and how? Really, I think this is not so important in TFM as it is in other games. Everyone is busy with their own cards, so I don't think knowing how much money or how many tags your opponent has really matters...
 
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jblomquist wrote:
EternalFury wrote:
3. Strategy vs Tactics: I would say that the game may seem tactical in the beginning but the more you play, the more you will start to play strategically. For example, if you play Helion*, you make sure that you get enough heat or energy production but also draft higher requirements of temperature for plant production cards(which you need for oxygen) much more readily, since you know that you will reach them earlier. You basically make tactical decision within a strategical frame. If you don't, you will not win.
*This, however, doesn't mean that corporations dictate how you play. you can play with strategies that have no connection to your corp and still win.

4. Luck: Here you mistake randomness for luck. e.g. Star Realms is mostly a game of luck while TFM is not. The cards you draw are random, but the choices you make are anything but. Which cards and how many you buy, where you place tiles, who you steal resources or production from, etc. are all devoid of randomness. In pretty much every game I lose, I can trace it back to bad decisions earlier in the game. The same is true for the games I win: it is almost always visible where someone made the bad decisions that led to their loss.
Without drafting, there are games where luck has a bit more of an influence but even here the luck factor is not really that high.


I think these two points are actually very closely related for me, so I won't separate them. First, with regard to luck, we might be in agreement other than the fact that we're using different words. To me a game having a high amount of luck and also rewarding skill are not mutually exclusive. From my perspective, the luck (maybe it is better to say 'randomness') just forces you to adapt to the cards you see. A good player can exist and will be better at adapting. But then this is exactly what makes the game very tactical.

Of course it's not entirely tactics, there are some overarching factors you can take into account, but from my perspective they're sort of obvious surface level things like you list. And they're also pretty heavily constrained by what cards you see. Of course your company will have strengths which will point you toward certain things, and also what you've already built will point you in certain directions. But at the end of the day, the cards just might not cooperate. And so you adapt. This is the definition of tactical gameplay. You can't plan even one decade ahead since you don't know what cards you'll see. You can have some idea since you can carry cards over, but then you might see a new card that changes your plan.

But like the OP said, 'tactical' isn't an insult. It's ok to like a very tactical game. In fact, a game with no tactics would probably be terrible. But for my tastes this game goes too far with the tactics, which are a result of the randomness factor.



What, in your opinion, would be a good high-strategy, low-tactics boardgame? I think it is more of a misunderstanding of what strategy is. Being able to calculate ahead is not strategy, that's just calculating ahead. Strategy is just the broader direction without the minutiae of the situations, but in the end, almost every game has a strategic and a tactical aspect. (Purely strategic games being completely devoid of interaction.)

Strategy in TFM is not as dependent on specific cards as this thread makes it seem. There are a lot of similar cards that, from a strategic point of view, fulfill the same role. There are standard projects which we use a lot. etc. The frame is not as unstable as it may seem.
 
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mavo wrote:
EternalFury wrote:
You constantly have to take into account how much money/resources, how many tags (science, buildings, jovian), cards, tiles, etc. everyone has, who will start next turn, what cards did they likely draft/keep, etc. and react to that.


Why, and how? Really, I think this is not so important in TFM as it is in other games. Everyone is busy with their own cards, so I don't think knowing how much money or how many tags your opponent has really matters...


the ones that are just "busy with their own cards" are not the ones that are always winning. Of course, you don't keep every bit of information in your head, you check certain parameters that are relevant to your strategy. If you e.g. if two milestones have been taken, you want the Terraformer Milestone and are at TR 35 and see that there is an opponent with 6 Building tags and another with 2 greeneries, you know that you don't have to worry about the builder but that gardener can be achieved in one turn. Then you see he has only 10MC and no plants and you will be the starting the next generation, so you can put off taking the milestone till then and invest in production for now (unless the Builder-guy builds another building tag in his next turn, but since all the building cards that you saw in the draft need power and he doesn't have any, you don't have to worry about that).
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Jake Blomquist
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EternalFury wrote:
What, in your opinion, would be a good high-strategy, low-tactics boardgame? I think it is more of a misunderstanding of what strategy is. Being able to calculate ahead is not strategy, that's just calculating ahead. Strategy is just the broader direction without the minutiae of the situations, but in the end, almost every game has a strategical and a tactical aspect. (Purely strategical games being completely devoid of interaction.)


First of all, I agree that you always want some mix of strategy and tactics. I even said myself that a game with no tactics would probably be terrible. I'd be willing to expand that to say that a game with very little tactics would be similarly bad. Without tactics you wouldn't need to play the game, everything would be decided at the beginning.

But I still think that for my taste Terraforming Mars leans too far in the tactics direction for a game of its length. I do however like Five Tribes a good amount, which is also very heavily tactical (again in that case we can come up with some strategic direction but it feels to me mostly tactical). But of course, just like our theoretically entirely strategic game would be pointless, a theoretical entirely tactical game would also be very silly. Any time you took a turn it would be completely independent of what you'd done previously and have no effect on the rest of the game as well. Maybe speed games (like SET) or 'who can solve this puzzle fastest' games (like Ubongo or Ricochet Robots) would fit into this category, I don't know.

So to answer your question, I wouldn't say for my taste there are any low-tactics board games I really like. However, I can name two games that are pretty high on the strategy axis in my mind that I do like a lot, and those would be Terra Mystica and Lignum.

In Terra Mystica you can really put a plan together right at the beginning knowing all of the round scorings and the bonus tiles and figure out the best race to use and you end up with a general path through the game. But then of course exactly how to execute that path will vary a lot depending on what your opponents do. But it's not possible in Terra Mystica that you won't be allowed to ever build your stronghold, whereas in Terraforming Mars you might never see a single card to increase your plant production for example.

Lignum is a bit different in that you can't really have a whole plan at the beginning, but you do have to commit to doing certain things multiple rounds ahead. As the game progresses you need to choose some long term strategic goals and then set out to get them done within a certain time frame. This is what I meant by planning ahead, having some broad goals to shoot for and whether or not you can achieve them is on your playing of the game and navigating tactical situations.

EternalFury wrote:
Strategy in TFM is not as dependent on specific cards as this thread makes it seem. There are a lot of similar cards that, from a strategical point of view, fulfill the same role. There are standard projects which we use a lot. etc. The frame is not as unstable as it may seem.


You know, I hear this kind of thing a lot with regard to other games I don't like as well. Namely Deus and Bruges. These are also card games, and in these games cards are organized by color. There are systems in place that theoretically mitigate bad card luck. The argument usually goes something like what you said, that it's bad play to be looking for a particular card among the huge stack. The problem though is that often all you need is a card of a particular color, and even that is no guarantee.

Terraforming Mars is similar in that many cards are effectively interchangeable, but you still could end up never seeing any particular card of that type. I think in one game all I needed was a single card with the bacteria symbol on it, and only after an aggressive amount of drawing over the course of multiple decades did I see one. And it would have been just as likely that I never saw a single one before the game ended.

And to say that I shouldn't even expect any single type of symbol to ever show up just illustrates my point exactly. If you try to come up with a strategy you might just never see a single relevant card. Or maybe for something like Jovian tags, you see one or two, but that's not enough to build a strategy around. You're better off just looking at the cards you draw and making a plan to combine them as best as you can on the spot rather than have any kind of set plan. Because the cards can and will eventually screw you over.

I did go on to win that game by the way, so you know that it's not sour grapes. And I'm relatively confident that even if I'd never seen that bacteria card I still could have won as well, I'd have been able to do something with at least some of all of those cards I was drawing. I think it's because of my mostly tactical approach that I did as well as I did.

And again, because I'm worried it's getting lost among the other things I'm saying, highly tactical is not across the board an insult to a game, it's just something that I generally am not too excited about (Five Tribes notwithstanding). It's sort of like interaction. Some people like multiplayer solitaire, others like take-that, and there's a whole spectrum in between. For every person there's some line that's the strategy/tactics sweet spot, and for me it's a bit closer to strategy that Terraforming Mars provides.

EDIT: sorry this got so long. Sometimes I just get on a roll and can't stop. But for anyone with the patience to read it, I think it's all relevant.
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Judging from the BGG ratings, 5100 players (rating 8 or higher) disagree with this reviewer. 1000 players (rating 7 or lower) agree with this reviewer.

Take what you will.
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Volker Hirscher
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ChelseaSquare wrote:
Judging from the BGG ratings, 5100 players (rating 8 or higher) disagree with this reviewer. 1000 players (rating 7 or lower) agree with this reviewer.


And this is telling us... exactly what? It is a popular game, that's for sure. And I NEVER said that people liking the game are wrong. I just made my points why I do not like it that much. Some of my points may not be important for you.
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jblomquist wrote:
EternalFury wrote:
What, in your opinion, would be a good high-strategy, low-tactics boardgame? I think it is more of a misunderstanding of what strategy is. Being able to calculate ahead is not strategy, that's just calculating ahead. Strategy is just the broader direction without the minutiae of the situations, but in the end, almost every game has a strategical and a tactical aspect. (Purely strategical games being completely devoid of interaction.)


First of all, I agree that you always want some mix of strategy and tactics. I even said myself that a game with no tactics would probably be terrible. I'd be willing to expand that to say that a game with very little tactics would be similarly bad. Without tactics you wouldn't need to play the game, everything would be decided at the beginning.

But I still think that for my taste Terraforming Mars leans too far in the tactics direction for a game of its length. I do however like Five Tribes a good amount, which is also very heavily tactical (again in that case we can come up with some strategic direction but it feels to me mostly tactical). But of course, just like our theoretically entirely strategic game would be pointless, a theoretical entirely tactical game would also be very silly. Any time you took a turn it would be completely independent of what you'd done previously and have no effect on the rest of the game as well. Maybe speed games (like SET) or 'who can solve this puzzle fastest' games (like Ubongo or Ricochet Robots) would fit into this category, I don't know.

So to answer your question, I wouldn't say for my taste there are any low-tactics board games I really like. However, I can name two games that are pretty high on the strategy axis in my mind that I do like a lot, and those would be Terra Mystica and Lignum.

In Terra Mystica you can really put a plan together right at the beginning knowing all of the round scorings and the bonus tiles and figure out the best race to use and you end up with a general path through the game. But then of course exactly how to execute that path will vary a lot depending on what your opponents do. But it's not possible in Terra Mystica that you won't be allowed to ever build your stronghold, whereas in Terraforming Mars you might never see a single card to increase your plant production for example.

Lignum is a bit different in that you can't really have a whole plan at the beginning, but you do have to commit to doing certain things multiple rounds ahead. As the game progresses you need to choose some long term strategic goals and then set out to get them done within a certain time frame. This is what I meant by planning ahead, having some broad goals to shoot for and whether or not you can achieve them is on your playing of the game and navigating tactical situations.

EternalFury wrote:
Strategy in TFM is not as dependent on specific cards as this thread makes it seem. There are a lot of similar cards that, from a strategical point of view, fulfill the same role. There are standard projects which we use a lot. etc. The frame is not as unstable as it may seem.


You know, I hear this kind of thing a lot with regard to other games I don't like as well. Namely Deus and Bruges. These are also card games, and in these games cards are organized by color. There are systems in place that theoretically mitigate bad card luck. The argument usually goes something like what you said, that it's bad play to be looking for a particular card among the huge stack. The problem though is that often all you need is a card of a particular color, and even that is no guarantee.

Terraforming Mars is similar in that many cards are effectively interchangeable, but you still could end up never seeing any particular card of that type. I think in one game all I needed was a single card with the bacteria symbol on it, and only after an aggressive amount of drawing over the course of multiple decades did I see one. And it would have been just as likely that I never saw a single one before the game ended.

And to say that I shouldn't even expect any single type of symbol to ever show up just illustrates my point exactly. If you try to come up with a strategy you might just never see a single relevant card. Or maybe for something like Jovian tags, you see one or two, but that's not enough to build a strategy around. You're better off just looking at the cards you draw and making a plan to combine them as best as you can on the spot rather than have any kind of set plan. Because the cards can and will eventually screw you over.

I did go on to win that game by the way, so you know that it's not sour grapes. And I'm relatively confident that even if I'd never seen that bacteria card I still could have won as well, I'd have been able to do something with at least some of all of those cards I was drawing. I think it's because of my mostly tactical approach that I did as well as I did.

And again, because I'm worried it's getting lost among the other things I'm saying, highly tactical is not across the board an insult to a game, it's just something that I generally am not too excited about (Five Tribes notwithstanding). It's sort of like interaction. Some people like multiplayer solitaire, others like take-that, and there's a whole spectrum in between. For every person there's some line that's the strategy/tactics sweet spot, and for me it's a bit closer to strategy that Terraforming Mars provides.

EDIT: sorry this got so long. Sometimes I just get on a roll and can't stop. But for anyone with the patience to read it, I think it's all relevant.


I never took it as an insult, that's why I ignored that part, as it would be strange to take someone else opinion as an insult. I can totally see that you dislike more tactical games like RftG and I'm fine with that.
My favorite games are Terraforming Mars, Terra Mystica, Race for the Galaxy and Gloomhaven. So we at least have one game in common.

For me, more strategic games with little variability, especially when they are low on decisions, e.g. Scythe, usually bore me after a few games. Of course, this "a few games" can be extended by things like variable player powers, or randomized setup, etc. but there is usually a point, where the interactions are mostly figured out and it goes much more into chess-like territory, where knowing game states and specific interactions becomes what makes you great and not actually assessing/planing ahead that much.

The thing TM has in common with TFM is the importance of timing/interaction. You can probably mostly figure out the optimal strategies in TM after playing 50 times or so (which I haven't, yet.) although some variability in setup (player boards, round bonuses, resources tiles) remains, but the long term meat of the game lies in its tactical decisions (timing) that are brought about by the power-actions, temples, position on the board, tiles, etc.

Thus, I totally agree that TM is more strategic than TFM, but I don't think they are too far apart. Maybe if TM's strategy is 55%, TFM's is 45%. I think the problem for some people with TFM is that strategies are much less straight forward than in TM: You can basically calculate everything ahead of times with exact numbers while the numbers are not as exact with TFM and there is more approximation going on. On the other hand, not getting the single bridge action or similar things can destroy your strategy in TM, while in TFM, you will always have a secure backup that is ~25% less efficient.

In general, I think we are not talking about what the OP talked about in his review but about something else. He wrote about how you cannot follow a long term plan in TFM and this is demonstrably false.
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EternalFury wrote:
He wrote about how you cannot follow a long term plan in TFM and this is demonstrably false.


1) I am here, you can talk to me!
2) Regarding "false": shake
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1) I was quoting and talking to Jake.

2) Jake has stated that he mostly prefers games that are less tactical and I have no problem with that. Stating that you cannot follow a plan/strategy in TFM, however, is not a matter of opinion or taste. I have discussed how it is not true (and thus "false") that you cannot follow a strategy in TFM but haven't seen any arguments why this would actually be the case.
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