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Terraforming Mars» Forums » Strategy

Subject: AI Central is overpowered? rss

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Nick Sephton
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Hi,

We've played a few games with someone building "AI Central", and it seems massively overpowered. There are very few ways to get more cards, and if you're doing well, the bounding currency is the number of cards in your hand. This lets you draw 2 cards/turn for free (well, for an initial outlay of 21.)

Every game someone has built this, they've won, simply because they had so many more options than the rest of us.

Any one else have this experience?
 
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pacemaker 67
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Cost:

21

(+ 3 for the card)

+ 1 energy production you must lose

+ 3 science tags already played...so it usually comes in later in the game.

and you can use it once per generation, not once per turn.

You do get 1VP though.


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Nick Sephton
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Yeah, I was referring to generation, apologies.

There are very few other ways to draw cards. Even the other "Corp" cards have very conditional card draw. This card seems massively game winning.
 
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Jeff Noel
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TheBigFish wrote:
if you're doing well, the bounding currency is the number of cards in your hand.


I'm not sure I agree. I've never had so much money that I didn't know what to do with it... if nothing else, you can buy cities and greeneries via standard projects. Card draw gives you more opportunities to draw cards that are good for you, but many of them will not be good in your current situation.

It can certainly be very good in some situations, but the requirements pacemaker mentioned makes it pretty balanced.
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Nick Sephton
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I feel like every game where I play well, I run out of cards. Given that I'm normally aiming to keep only cards I can play.

Remember that 2 cards is also basically 6 credits/turn, as you don't have to pay to keep them (presumably).
 
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Sebastian Stückl
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TheBigFish wrote:
I feel like every game where I play well, I run out of cards. Given that I'm normally aiming to keep only cards I can play.

Remember that 2 cards is also basically 6 credits/turn, as you don't have to pay to keep them (presumably).

The ability is usually worth less than 6M€ per turn, because you get random cards, rather than being able to choose what you get.
Also, you lose 1 energy production which is worth roughly ~1M€
Even if the ability was worth the full 5M€/turn, that's still not overpowered (compare it to Martian Rails or electro catapult), and the card is pretty difficult to play to begin with, since science tags are hard to come by. It does combo extremely well with cost reductions though, and you already have 4 science tags which allows you to play some of the most efficient cards in the game...
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Gomeril Gnak
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AI Central is harmless. It is good, but costly, and you might draw a lot of non-fitting cards. The threat in Terraforming Mars are combinations. Credicor with Standard Technology, Ecoline with Protected Habitats, Tharsis Republic with Immigrant City, Mining Guild with Advanced Alloys, having to go against that sort of thing is hard (but still no reason to complain).
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Nick Sephton
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Gomeril wrote:
AI Central is harmless. It is good, but costly, and you might draw a lot of non-fitting cards. The threat in Terraforming Mars are combinations. Credicor with Standard Technology, Ecoline with Protected Habitats, Tharsis Republic with Immigrant City, Mining Guild with Advanced Alloys, having to go against that sort of thing is hard (but still no reason to complain).


I can't disagree more with this, haha

We've played 3 games where it has actually reached play, and each has been a crushing defeat for the other players.

Also: I'm not just complaining. I'm (a) seeing if anyone has had a similar experience and (b) getting second opinions on our analysis of this card. We're currently considering removing it from our set, just because it's too unbalanced.

Bastinator1 wrote:
The ability is usually worth less than 6M€ per turn, because you get random cards, rather than being able to choose what you get.


The actual money value is something close to 6/turn, given that you can discard the cards you don't want for a credit each. More to the point, given that the other players have access to 0-4 cards each turn, you get access to 2-6, giving you almost twice as many options. This is a staggering advantage.
 
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Robert Schraut
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The card is strong, but also has a lot of drawbacks you cannot afford early in the game. Especially it's cost. Of course you get a lot of cards, and can Cherry pick the best of them. But if you don't have your economics developed to pay for those cards you have won nothing. By the time you can afford to play her, there won't be that many rounds to play left.
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Josh Casey
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Resources are by far the bounding resource. Try blindly buying all 4 of your research phase cards every turn and let us know how op having arbitrary cards is. Cost will likely work out the same as well considering a cost + power cost when the card is only going to be online for 5/6 generations.
 
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David Goldfarb
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TheBigFish wrote:

We've played 3 games where it has actually reached play, and each has been a crushing defeat for the other players.

Seems to me that if someone can afford to put this one into play, that means they're doing well enough that they're already crushing. Playing AI Central is a symptom, not a cause.
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Jens Hoppe
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My experience (after about 40 multiplayer games, most of which have seen the card come into play): The card is strong, but not unbalanced. As has been pointed out, the obvious strength of the ability is balanced by the card's cost and requirements.
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Mi Myma
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TheBigFish wrote:
The actual money value is something close to 6/turn, given that you can discard the cards you don't want for a credit each. More to the point, given that the other players have access to 0-4 cards each turn, you get access to 2-6, giving you almost twice as many options. This is a staggering advantage.

The actual money value is 2 MC/generation - by discarding the cards. It's also an action, which delays anything else you might want to do (allowing other players to grab various terraforming bonuses, or grab the last of the points available on the tracks.

Other players have access to 4 cards per generation, you have access to 6. That's 50% more, not twice as many.

If a player is gaining an overwhelming victory with this card, it probably means the other players are dragging their feet in finishing the game. I had a similar situation recently with a different card - Fish. The other players were raising the temperature very quickly, but the oxygen was still very low. I was able to get 12 points from the Fish because the game continued for long enough for me to get all those points. (I actually got 13, but one was eaten by a predator on the last turn.)

There aren't a lot of victory point engines in this game (most of them are animals), but there are a lot of resource engines. The terraforming points available are strictly limited. So if one player has points coming in every generation automatically, for as long as the game goes on, the other players need to end the game as quickly as possible.

AI Central can be thought of as a quasi-VP engine - the only difference is that the VP you get is variable: you might get only 2 MC one generation, and possibly 4 VP worth of cards you might actually be able to play another generation.

EDIT: To use the correct terminology. It can be confusing when different games use the same word for different things, or the same word for different things.
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Andreas Krüger
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You are using the term "turn" instead of "generation". You know that everybody gets their two actions as often as they like, and the generation ends only after everone passes? If you miss this rule, you will swim in money and the balance of the game is totally off. My impression is that you have played the game quite often and know what you are doing, but I have seen this error way too often, so...
 
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David Murray
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If you run out of cars, you can still use standard projects, which are completely fine actions late game. AI central is a fine late game card.

If any cards are overpowered, it's the big bonus money production cards in the early game any of which give a huge boost.
 
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AJ Cooper
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david707 wrote:
If any cards are overpowered, it's the big bonus money production cards in the early game any of which give a huge boost.

Examples?
 
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Ido Abelman
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I usually don't run out of cards, even when I am "doing well" with production. It's partly because I tend to keep more cards than some other players I think. Even if the card is not immediately useful but I believe I'll use it, I keep it. I like card drawers because they increase the chance of good comboes (and potentially planner milestone if early enough), but they are not broken IMO, even AI central.

The monetary value of drawing a random card btw is not 3mc and not 1mc but around 2mc IMO. If you get a card that is useless for you and you later discard it you have earned 1mc. If you get a card you would have kept in a research phase, you have sort of earned 3mc. Sometimes you get a card you maybe wouldn't have kept but now that you got it you see no reason not to use it (hired raiders, earth office with 1 earth tag in hand...), that is worth something in between so maybe 2mc. So around 2mc per card on average. Of course there is also the advantage of even seeing more cards which is harder to value.
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David Murray
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Talmanes wrote:
david707 wrote:
If any cards are overpowered, it's the big bonus money production cards in the early game any of which give a huge boost.

Examples?


I'm not actually saying any cards are overpowered, but if any card is, in my mind it's Immigration Shuttles (Number 198), costs 31 with Earth and Space tags and immediately gives 5 money production plus at 1 VP per city it'll easily be worth 3+ points at game end.

Other cards that I really want to see include Noctis City (017), Callisto Penal Mines (082), Acquired Company (010), Io Mining Industries (092) and Robotic Workforce (086).

Early money production just seems so key to doing well.
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Mi Myma
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There's one card that seemed broken to me one time - but I'm not actually saying that it *is* broken. I was hit by Hackers on the first turn of the game. It was devastating! If the game goes on for 10 generations, that's a loss of 20 MC in one card! And if the early loss of a few MC prevents or delays the play of a card or a standard action, that makes the loss even worse. I finished dead last, with really no chance to catch up for the whole game.
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Sonny A.
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
There's one card that seemed broken to me one time - but I'm not actually saying that it *is* broken. I was hit by Hackers on the first turn of the game. It was devastating! If the game goes on for 10 generations, that's a loss of 20 MC in one card! And if the early loss of a few MC prevents or delays the play of a card or a standard action, that makes the loss even worse. I finished dead last, with really no chance to catch up for the whole game.


That's really the core of it.. if you get hurt bad in the beginning of the game, that will impact you a lot because you basically lose a turn. A very important turn of engine building.

It also hurts to be hit by the consortium cards early in the game. Power tapping. Heat trappers when you're Hellion is also sucky.

It feels worst in 2-player games.
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David Murray
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
There's one card that seemed broken to me one time - but I'm not actually saying that it *is* broken. I was hit by Hackers on the first turn of the game. It was devastating! If the game goes on for 10 generations, that's a loss of 20 MC in one card! And if the early loss of a few MC prevents or delays the play of a card or a standard action, that makes the loss even worse. I finished dead last, with really no chance to catch up for the whole game.


Fortunately I've not been hot by Hackers turn 1 yet. I can imagine it would lead to a very unpleasant game.
 
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Xelto G
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Phil Fleischmann wrote:
There's one card that seemed broken to me one time - but I'm not actually saying that it *is* broken. I was hit by Hackers on the first turn of the game. It was devastating!

It's not a broken card, just one that, as you said, is really painful early on. Late game it's bad, but not as bad.

Perhaps they should have used "generation number" as a prerequisite for some of the cards.
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Xelto wrote:
Perhaps they should have used "generation number" as a prerequisite for some of the cards.

I have wondered if this mechanism might appear in an expansion. As it is they only used other requirements as a proxy, such as tags or TR parameters. Doing it this way adds some variability (as requirements might be met earlier, or later, or not at all) which is generally a good thing. But going straight by generations might be ok. Perhaps they could also add a requirement reduction card that works for gens and tags, instead of TR parameters.

There's really a lot of possible design ideas. I am curious to see what they put in the actual expansions.
 
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Sonny A.
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Xelto wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
There's one card that seemed broken to me one time - but I'm not actually saying that it *is* broken. I was hit by Hackers on the first turn of the game. It was devastating!

It's not a broken card, just one that, as you said, is really painful early on. Late game it's bad, but not as bad.

Perhaps they should have used "generation number" as a prerequisite for some of the cards.


Or make them cost twice as much. Or just take them out of the game entirely.. they really add little strategic value to the game. Especially in 2-player. It's just luck of the draw who gets them.

Raiders. Cost to steal 2 steel is 4 M€ = even proposition, even in worst case.

Power tap. Cost to steal 1 Power is 5 (+3 to draft) credits. Still cheaper than using a standard action, so almost always worthwhile.

Consortiums at least requires you to have production of the resources as a requirement, but they're cheap enough to draft even if your opponent doesn't have a production to steal.
 
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Or if at least those cards had a -1 VP on them.

Hmmm... Maybe there should have been an "attack" tag. Then there could be a card (or two or three) that penalizes other players for any "attack" tags they have. So you can play these cards, and you might get away with it, but there's a risk of some penalty being applied to you. The penalty could be loss of VP at the end of the game, or payment of a fine in MC, or something else. The possibilities are unlimitless!
 
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