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Star Trek: Ascendancy» Forums » Variants

Subject: Star Trek Ascendancy Solo / Automa(ta) Mode rss

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Joe Scharr
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Hi Everyone,

A few weeks ago I uploaded a basic version of my ST:A automa(ta) deck, inspired by the great work that was done for the Scythe AI deck.

This card-based AI functions as an additional player that should mimic an opponent without too much upkeep or human decision-making. I've made a few revisions, and I feel more comfortable with the state that it is in now, having playtested it a few times.

ST:A is a long game, and I don't have much time to test this mode. I would appreciate any feedback that people here may have.

Here's the download link: https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/146895/star-trek-ascendan...

Some things in particular I would like input on:
1) The conditions to trigger the Section II of the AI cards. It's currently based on any player's # of nodes.
2) Difficulty/swingyness in each stage of the game (early/mid/late)
3) The balance of AI "cheating" vs acting like a real player
4) Anything in the rules that needs clarification or can be put more concisely (I admit, it is a bit of a mess now)
5) How does the AI handle with 2 human players? I've only tested 1v1
6) Bonus credit: 2 AI vs 1 player - ??!

Thanks & I hope you enjoy this!
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Markus Weihrauch
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Thanks for doing this, Joe! Already had a look at it a couple of days ago and will definitely give it a try.

Will definitely let you know how it went!

Cheers,
Markus
 
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Mauro Cimmarrusti
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ALOHA good idea and work. I soon tested the deck and report you
 
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Steve Framarin
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This is for version 0.5

I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, either, but I did come across some things I don't quite understand. It might all become clear once I have the game set up and running, though.

Specific issues:
None of the cards use this format: # Fleet(#2) #3 <[Location]>

I don’t understand what ‘2 Gather:Starbase 2 <H/C>’ means. Do I move 2 ships up to 2 space lanes away from your Homeworld/colony to a Starbase?

None of the Fleet build statements contain more than 3 ships, ex. Fleet(3). Is the intent to ever create a larger fleet? Or, could it just be understood that the Fleet statement is always 3 ships?

What does ‘Draw 1’ mean?

What does ‘1 Starbase <H2>’ mean?

Overall:
Maybe change the format of the statements so they’re a little clearer. It’s seems a little cryptic to me, even with the legend.

Give an example for each statement, as some of them are a little hard to understand.

Do you have a preferred method of determining which planetary system to use if more than one satisfies the requirements?

I like what you’re doing so far and appreciate the effort!
 
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Joe Scharr
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Agreed, it can really use a few more clarifications/examples. I actually tinkered with it some more last night and lost rather spectacularly without even making first contact.. going to have to tweak some more things.. anyways..

vern1980 wrote:
This is for version 0.5

I haven't had a chance to try this out yet, either, but I did come across some things I don't quite understand. It might all become clear once I have the game set up and running, though.

Specific issues:
None of the cards use this format: # Fleet(#2) #3 <[Location]>


Basically if #3 is not specified, treat it as 0 (IE build it on the H/SB/C, but no spaces away). I can't remember why the #3 variable was added, so I'm sorry for the confusionthere.

vern1980 wrote:

I don’t understand what ‘2 Gather:Starbase 2 <H/C>’ means. Do I move 2 ships up to 2 space lanes away from your Homeworld/colony to a Starbase?


That is correct. Choose a Starbase, and then gather no more than 2 ships from any (in this case) Home or Colony up to 2 spaces away. Remember to follow AI movement rules such as not leaving any nodes unprotected, etc.


vern1980 wrote:
None of the Fleet build statements contain more than 3 ships, ex. Fleet(3). Is the intent to ever create a larger fleet? Or, could it just be understood that the Fleet statement is always 3 ships?


As it stands right now, the AI will never initially create a fleet with more than 3 ships. I should probably update this for Section II build actions, but I need more input

vern1980 wrote:
What does ‘Draw 1’ mean?

Draw a new (Command) card

vern1980 wrote:
What does ‘1 Starbase <H2>’ mean?

Whoops! Looks like I left language from the old style in there. Treat that as "Commission Starbase 2 <H>"

vern1980 wrote:
Overall:
Maybe change the format of the statements so they’re a little clearer. It’s seems a little cryptic to me, even with the legend.

Give an example for each statement, as some of them are a little hard to understand.

Do you have a preferred method of determining which planetary system to use if more than one satisfies the requirements?

There's a bit in the rules about tie-breakers for multiple possible Specified Locations. What I've been doing in playtests is using a die to determine 1 out of X choices for a given multiple - for example, say I have 3 starbases - I will roll one of the dice, and on a 1/4 will choose the left-most base, a 2/5 the mid-most, and 3/6 the right-most.

This keeps things "surprising" even if it sometimes doesn't make much sense. I am tinkering with the idea of "priority" Locations (IE fewest defensive units or proximity to home base or something like that).

vern1980 wrote:
I like what you’re doing so far and appreciate the effort!

Thanks! ^^
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Joe Scharr
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Version 0.6 is up, addressing several points above. Also rebalanced the cards a bit and changed Section II trigger.
 
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Joe Scharr
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Given some more testing last night, I think I made it now a bit too easy in 0.6. Section II is too-little-too-late once activated at roughly mid-game. I'm thinking of ruling an auto-trigger for Section II after everyone's 3rd turn for Normal Mode. I'll do some more testing on this, but if anyone else would like to try it as well I would appreciate it.
 
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Michael Gardner
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Just saw this: immediately stoked! Thanks! Will try it after I return from vacation.

 
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Joe Scharr
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New update: I think I've got it now!

After extensive playing, I've made a couple tweaks to the AI and I think it is much closer to a real challenge now.

Here's some of the new things:
1) The AI now gets a bonus resource(s) at the beginning of each build phase. This makes up for the AI's sluggish start at the beginning of the game.

2) The AI now ignores enemy ships in space lanes during movement to attack or colonize a world. Yes, I know that it is a valid strategy in STA to block up space lanes, but I found that it cheapens the experience a bit since the AI is not smart enough to strategically use new space lanes to get around them. Maybe I will come up with an alternative for this in the future.

Other than that, the cards are not much difference from 0.6. I just clarified the "colonize" actions on the Build cards and made colonization a bit more aggressive in Command cards by making fleet colonize checks more frequent.

Also - I added a Quick Summary one-pager that you can use as a reference after you've read the main explanation. You can find it below:

Quote:

Quick Summary - Star Trek Ascendancy Automata
Setup: Choose AI faction, take 2 the AI faction-specific build cards and shuffle them into the general Build cards pile. Shuffle all Combat cards. Place each stack facedown near AI faction sheet. AI has starting advancement but no starting project(s), but does have a projects deck. AI has no command tokens (can take as many actions as it is able to). AI uses side of fleet cards that holds the most ships.

Turn Order Phase: If First Contact made, AI will bid up to [dice roll / 2] non-priority resources to go first, unless any player bids 3 or more resources before the AI has the chance to bid. Otherwise, random.

Build Phase: Take resource(s) off of top of facedown Build card stack and place it in AI resources area. After drawing a card, replace the resource(s) with the next resource in priority order (Section I), or the next resource and the current resource (Section II). Draw a facedown Command card.

Build & Command: Play each card from top to bottom based on current Section (see Difficulty below).
Difficulty: Play only Section I on cards until any player either has 7 nodes (6 hard, 8 easy) or 3 ascendancy. Then, only play Section II on all cards. Same for any Section-specific abilities.

AI General Notes: When AI has 7 culture, it immediately spends 5 on an Ascendancy token. When an AI blue node is attacked, attacking player gets to draw 2 project cards and keep 1.

Movement: AI movement stops when discovering a new system (like regular players). AI always moves at "warp" - IE instantly to its destination. When AI moves to colonize or attack, it ignores any enemy ships in space lanes (unless it is attacking ships in a space lane). AI always moves fleets first, and if no fleets are available on a Location, it will move an individual ship. AI never leaves a potential colony without 1 ship, even when moving a fleet out of a potential colony.

If moving an individual ship, AI will always create a fleet if there are 3 or more ships on the space it is on, and/or on the way to its destination (remember ascendancy restrictions).

Moving to Explore: AI will explore as far from Location as possible. Can connect and explore existing worlds if an unoccupied world is within range.

Moving to Colonize: AI will colonize the planet with the most priority resources closest to Home

Moving to Attack: AI will only attack if it has as many, or more, ships than an attack target within range

Moving to Gather: Gather ships from anywhere within specified range (leave 1 ship in potential colonies)

AI Space Lane Placement: Unless connecting 2 worlds, AI space lanes are placed by rolling the Space Lane Die and a regular die at the same time. Regular die result determines the position (180 degree arc facing the AI's current opponent player) and Space Lane Die determines the length as usual. If discovering a new world, place a facedown card on top of that world and the AI ends its turn there. AI never plays Discovery cards, and the card is removed upon colonization. Other players who land on that world must play that card, however.
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George Kramer
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Thanks Man!! You are awesome! Been stuck with nobody to play with or too many people to do a 3 player game. I gave it an hour try today with some free time. I didn't finish the game but it was pretty much half way and the AI and I had 2 ascendancy tokens each and I had almost won a military victory to end the game because of the time and I would of won but the AI upgraded their shields and weapons just before my fleet came out of warp lol. Good Job! Looking forward to the next time I got some free time to try it also if I can get another person to try it as well.
 
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Joe Scharr
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Sagikun wrote:
Thanks Man!! You are awesome! Been stuck with nobody to play with or too many people to do a 3 player game. I gave it an hour try today with some free time. I didn't finish the game but it was pretty much half way and the AI and I had 2 ascendancy tokens each and I had almost won a military victory to end the game because of the time and I would of won but the AI upgraded their shields and weapons just before my fleet came out of warp lol. Good Job! Looking forward to the next time I got some free time to try it also if I can get another person to try it as well.


You are welcome! I am still tweaking some minor things, especially to stop the early game military rush. Hope to have another update in the coming days. I am curious to know how it handles 3p games, so please let me know!

Best,
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Joe Scharr
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0.8 is up. I've playtested this rendition on Hard a couple times now and I'm really feeling a lot more comfortable with this version than previous ones. I find myself doing more than just trying to build production/culture faster than the AI. For the first time I was actually bothering to collect Research to spend on my projects so I would be ready if/when the AI attacks. It felt much closer to a real game.

The only thing I may change for the next iteration would be to have the AI upgrade shields/weapons more often (probably in 0.9). You can house-rule this in if you like.

Anyways, the next thing I want to test is 1v2AI rules. Will see if that makes it into 0.9 as well!

Best,
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Joe Scharr
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Just a quick update:

There's some changes and clarifications to 0.9 coming out. Mainly:

AI has a new Build-phase command: Perform Upgrades
This makes the AI upgrade its Attack/Shields almost every turn so that they are about even, prioritizing by attack.

If the AI ever has 4 Ascendancy, it will spend 5 Culture on its last Ascendancy token as soon as it has that much to spend (as opposed to waiting to have 7 culture at prior levels).

Also, the AI will bid to go first with all of its non-culture resources if it can ever score its final token.

The "Commission Fleet" command has been bolstered and added some clarification. AI cannot commission a fleet outside of a Home/Starbase location.

Almost every game I have had now with the AI on Hard mode has come down to the wire. Admittedly, I've been doing most extensive playtests against Romulans and Klingons (hey, I like being the Federation). I would really appreciate feedback where possible.

I am looking forward to the Borg expansion. I do not think it will make this Automata obsolete (it looks like the Borg is more of a "challenge mode" kind of solo play), but I will adapt my rules to the new expansion(s) as I get them.

Thanks
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Michael Gardner
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Okay, I'm trying this now. I'm confused as to what a colony check in the command phase entails.

I'm playing against the Romulans (first turnl and during their command phase they discovered a planet. I placed an exploration card on it face-down. Now the AI has "Colonize Check 2 <H>". Do they just place a node on the recently discovered planet? Do I roll dice? The card is face-down so it's just an empty planet. Do they spend a culture token and a ship?

Is there a reason for giving the AI the ability to colonize during both build and command phases? It seems powerful, but then again, I'm in the first turn.

Thanks for your work.
 
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Michael Gardner
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Aee the defense parameters intentionally now just one ship on potential colonies? Are there no longer ships left equal to total nodes?

I'm three or four rounds and I'm having all AI ships bunch on one planet and the fortify checks not amounting to anything because there is no rule forcing ships to fortify up to defensive parameters (unless I'm missing something, entirely possible).

 
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Joe Scharr
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Thanks for the playtest!

let me see if I can answer some of your questions..

Now the AI has "Colonize Check 2 <H>". Do they just place a node on the recently discovered planet?

Colonize works differently in the Build and Command phases. During Build, it's just to put a Control Node (spend 1 ship + 1 culture as normal) on an uncontrolled planet with 1 or more of the AI ships on it.

During the Command phase, the AI looks for any uncontrolled planet to move ship(s) on to for colonization during the next Build phase. If it can't find one within range, it looks for an occupied world that it can either subjugate or hegemonize (did I just make up a word?)

Do I roll dice?
You roll dice both for yourself and for the AI

The card is face-down so it's just an empty planet. Do they spend a culture token and a ship?

Yes, AI spends 1 culture and 1 ship

Is there a reason for giving the AI the ability to colonize during both build and command phases?

See above for differences

Aee the defense parameters intentionally now just one ship on potential colonies? Are there no longer ships left equal to total nodes?

Correct, I changed this. I noticed in previous playthroughs that the AI left its forces too spread-apart. I changed this in 0.8/0.9 so that the AI will focus more on powerful fleets, and making those fleets more aggressive and defensive.

I'm three or four rounds and I'm having all AI ships bunch on one planet and the fortify checks not amounting to anything because there is no rule forcing ships to fortify up to defensive parameters (unless I'm missing something, entirely possible).

Since I changed the Defense Parameters in recent editions, Fortify currently acts kind of like a Colonize Check in the Command phase. Basically right now the AI will only seek to fortify unoccupied worlds.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post here.
 
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