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Subject: Removal of lander fuel from 3rd ed.? rss

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(A repeat of this question, which I didn't ask in a good place.)

Pre-3rd-edition, lander fuel was like having the thruster on your crew card, without having the crew along; it made it possible to land on higher-gravity sites and decommission your thruster-which-was-not-explicitly-represented-by-a-card. In 3rd edition, you've still got access to a high-thrust, low-efficiency thruster in the form of your crew card, but it's not possible to strap that thruster to a rocket without crew along? Isn't that a little weird?

...

Apart from that weirdness, I don't think I like the effect it has on the game. (This is based on two plays of 3rd edition using the basic rules.) Before, you could go to any site with any non-solar thruster--the whole map was open to you--but now, you have to mentally black out whole swathes of the map depending on your rocket's thrusters. And unless you're willing to make every mission a manned mission, your first factory or two has to be on a low-gravity world, making the outcome of the game even more dependent on the die.

I understand that lander burns eliminate the asymmetry at some sites where you used to be able to land cheaply by stopping on the last burn with an efficient thruster, but, rules-wise, why are lander burns incompatible with the old lander fuel rule? And, science-wise, what was wrong with the old rule's ability to strap chemical thrusters onto the side of your rocket?
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Fabian
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I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them. The crew weigh only 1 mass and they prevent glitches, which is great, so I don't see a reason not to have them along at all times.

As for accessibility, to me, it makes sense that landing on heavier sites would be harder and that the beginning of the game with less powerful thrusters has you more restricted, while late game you can land pretty much anywhere you want with your monster thrusters. This way the map gradually opens up, an effect I quite like.

When it comes to die rolls, you'll have to start coming up with backup plans for when your initial plans fail. There's a lot of possible sites you can use, and there's even the possibility of claim jumping which you should keep in mind.

That said, I never really liked the basic game, so I wouldn't really know how it would affect that part. If you really like the old rules , why not just use them?
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Dom Rougier
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The maths gets really funky with the original Lander rules - specifically, it was creating an asymmetry between taking off and landing, when no such asymmetry should exist.

In terms of the effect on the game - for any kind of hard science fiction, you need some kind of "mcguffinite" to justify manned space travel at all, and requiring humans in space is clearly a key design choice for High Frontier.

In the real world, the most convincing argument I've heard for manned space travel in general is to work towards settlement - indeed, this was the conclusion of the Augustine commission. Colonisation is certainly a good idea in High Frontier, but it's not strictly required to win a game.

In game terms, having thrusters on all crew cards now does help make them all worth using. Manned missions inherently involve more commitment than others (unless you're the PRC), so there's a trade-off. Equally, if you don't need the high thrust, then the (usually) one mass is actually quite a bit to drag along - so it becomes a choice between glitch protection and efficiency. This does mean that humans are required for deep space (2001: A Space Odyssey), at least in the mid-game before freighter cubes can give you another option.
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Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?
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Domfluff wrote:
The maths gets really funky with the original Lander rules - specifically, it was creating an asymmetry between taking off and landing, when no such asymmetry should exist.

Yeah, but, with the new lander burns, it seems like the lander fuel rule could've been retained, and you'd still have your symmetry.

Domfluff wrote:
In terms of the effect on the game - for any kind of hard science fiction, you need some kind of "mcguffinite" to justify manned space travel at all, and requiring humans in space is clearly a key design choice for High Frontier.

Well, to me, that's a strange change from earlier editions, where crew weren't included in most missions.

Apart from that, I'm... not sure I really like the mcguffinite argument. I'm not saying it's wrong, but it's sure not what I expected.
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Dom Rougier
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Lander fuel was a fudge, this is a closer fit for the actual maths. Whether this is a good thing or not is opinion, but it's certainly a better simulation.

In terms of "the near future being almost entirely manned" - I don't think this is necessarily true.

One of the things with Phil's games is that he'll present an argument (in this specific case, that manned spaceflight is important and worth doing, but there are more assumptions in High Frontier than that), and this may well be something you disagree with... and that's great. The arguments are generally well formed, and their reasoning is often clear and up front, so you can determine where and why you disagree.

With the actual model in High Frontier, colonisation is clearly a manned activity. With all the modules, the extra actions colonists give you are extremely important, but in the early/mid game these will mostly be colonists inhabiting stations in Earth orbit.

In terms of actual travel, glitch protection is clearly a trade-off between risk and mass. It makes a ton of sense for any deep space missions (say, Jupiter and beyond), but is more debatable for inner solar system stuff. It also allows for easier one-way missions, so it can be better to cycle through cheap, disposable missions in the early game, and accept that you will lose some to glitch rolls.

The mid/late game with all the modules is more likely to be human-centered. It's not required, since Freighter cubes can cover your glitch protection, and TNO labs don't need humans, but humans will help in this period.

This means, perhaps, that there is a specific period in the timeline where human spaceflight makes the most sense - you can get away without them early on (and that might make sense, depending on technology), and can in theory replace them in the late game, but they certainly help in the mid-game.

You can use them throughout, and in some situations this makes a lot of sense. Project Orion, for example, is far from disposable, so keeping that manned and re-using it for shuttling payloads from A to B is clearly a good idea. Ultralight sails are the opposite, and you're probably better off just replacing one of those if it glitches out.

I don't agree that crew weren't on most missions in earlier editions. glitch protection is equally important, and important for the same reasons. The high thrust thrusters are useful, but mostly you don't want to be industrialising huge sites anyway, since they make everything else more difficult.
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The last page of the following document describes the rationale for eliminating the old "booster landing" rule.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/97414/proposed-new-ro...

The main reason is that the costs were scientifically incorrect. A secondary reason was to have boosters (and in general, all powers) represented by cards, rather than be implied and require remembering.

Keep in mind that the Kuck Mosquito card allows you to do high thrust landing without needing crew. Perhaps there should be more cards like that in the game.

PS As for lander burns, the main reason for introducing them was not to fix asymmetry, it was to require you to spend fuel at high thrust. Previously, you could solar sail through all the burns, and then land on a high gravity site for free, which is incorrect scientifically. The burn between surface and orbit for any world needs to be done with acceleration > surface gravity.
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kuhrusty wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?


This is not a game about space exploration.
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Peristarkawan wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?


This is not a game about space exploration.


To be fair, that's what it says on the box...
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Brent Barker
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Zlarp wrote:
Peristarkawan wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?


This is not a game about space exploration.


To be fair, that's what it says on the box...


And Phil has called it a game of exploration at least once in the forums.
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kuhrusty wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?


The masses and scope of missions considered in this game go well beyond typical space missions of today. For missions of that size / scope, perhaps the addition of crew makes sense in most cases. As cost and complexity of the mission goes up, the relative cost of adding life support and crew goes down, while the value of having intelligent crew (to protect against glitches, etc.) goes up. At some point, the value of crew perhaps outweighs the risks and costs.

In addition, the game is about colonization and expanding the human presence into the solar system. The advanced game is actually called colonization. This contrasts with space missions to date, which are not about colonization.

So, the near future (next 100 years) envisioned by this game is that space missions will become increasingly about colonization and industrialization of the solar system, rather than pure science and exploration. That said, note that sending a robonaut without crew to prospect small sites until you find one to industrialize is a good strategy, and more closely resembles the robotic exploration missions of today. So, I would argue that the robotic element is still very much present.
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brentonh wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
Peristarkawan wrote:
kuhrusty wrote:
Zlarp wrote:
I think the cases where you don't want your crew along are so rare that this was probably a simplification for the sake of accessibility. This way, all thrusters are on the cards where you can see them.

Really? The near future envisioned by this game is that space exploration will be almost entirely manned?


This is not a game about space exploration.


To be fair, that's what it says on the box...


And Phil has called it a game of exploration at least once in the forums.


Exoglobalization doesn't roll off the tongue quite as gracefully as exploration.

(Edit: Spelling)
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rbelikov wrote:
The last page of the following document describes the rationale for eliminating the old "booster landing" rule.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/97414/proposed-new-ro...

The main reason is that the costs were scientifically incorrect.

Ah, thanks!

Those numbers are interesting; it is surprising to me that landing on a size 8 or less site takes a lot less fuel than you had to spend under the old lander fuel rule.

rbelikov wrote:
A secondary reason was to have boosters (and in general, all powers) represented by cards, rather than be implied and require remembering.

Remembering! The cost to land was printed on every site! (I wish they had gone with option 2 & printed the lander fuel steps on the map; only size 5+ sites would need it.)

If all powers are supposed to be on cards, then it seems like an additional card or two should've been added to replace the lander fuel rule. As it is, you've got these thrusters (well... you've got the crew thrusters--looks like the old zero-mass solid rocket boosters are gone), but you're not allowed to use them without crew, which seems artificial & gamey.

So, would it be more realistic or less realistic to do any of the following:
A) add cards for the crew thrusters, without crew. (Or, better, split crew and crew-thrusters into two separate cards.)
B) add cards for the old 0-mass solid rocket boosters.
C) reinstate the old lander fuel rule in conjunction with the lander burn rule: lander burns still work exactly as they do currently, but if your thrust isn't high enough, you can dump steps equal to the site's size.
D) as C, but instead of using the site's size, you use the numbers from the last page of that document you gave the link to.

I kind of feel like those are all more realistic, other than B. (Because those guys are going to require 14 steps to land on or leave any site with a lander burn & 7 steps with a half-lander-burn, rather than the costs listed on the last page of that document.)
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Tom W -
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Easy fix - make a proxy card of the same thrust as the crew card; just mass 0, and without the human crew, and without the IRSU ability.

That way you can send manned or unmanned, keep your chemical lander thrusters on a card, and skip the 40 ton life support, and keep the updated map. I like the lander burns but I sympathize with wanting the option of simple chemical lander thrusters, even if my crew is somewhere else.

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