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Subject: 2 Player balance feedback rss

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Tommi Tonttila
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Sorry for typos in advance laugh

I recently played my first game of Horizons and here is my take on the game. (and don't take this the wrong way, i'm not trying to bash the game, just giving some ideas for balance, the game was pretty fun )

Couple of disclaimers tho:
This was a 2 player game -> so these might not apply for games with more players. ( We used the "score each world" rules )
These are just my initial thoughts after ONE game ( also these might not apply if the group you play with is more casual )

Missions
--------

The points gained from missions are potentially 2 low.
(lets come back to this later when we talk about 2 player scores)

Most +3-4 point missions are really hard to complete in 2 player game
Perfect balance, Xenophobe, volcano, gaseous, frozen, etc

The number of things you can do with missions during the game is 2 low?
-During my game I constantly felt like i had 2 many missions.
-There are only 2 cards that allow you to gain anything from getting rid of your missions ( info broker and shadow merchant )
-And if your opponent is holding 1 of them or it's at the bottom of the ally deck not even that.
-On top of that, in order to use said cards you have to take conspiracy action = even more missions.
-On the other hand there are 4 cards that give u even more missions.

Counter arguments:
So what, just don't take more missions than?
-it is true that you can just not take more missions, but that renders some of the cards pretty much useless very early on the game and also makes conspire action pretty useless after couple of uses.
You can find missions better suited for you by cycling trough them, so its not useless?
-True but since "better" missions only give +1 - 2 points ( and are a lot harder to complete in 2 player game + you are spending actions doing so ) its not really worth it.


How is this solved? ( some ideas )
-More ways to gain benefits from discaring missions
-Allow completing missions during game? ( could break the game )
-More missions that give more points so cycling through them is more beneficial
-allow players to hold more than 5 missions
-Dont force player to draw mission when using consipre -> For example Draw 2 cards ( 2xA , A + M, 2xM )

Allys
----


Some allys feel 2 strong - for example
General and Senator ( gain 5 resources or 2 ally ) vs Engineer, Lightbringer, roughneck, bounty hunter, taskmaster, trader, futurist etc ( Most of these can give u at best 5 resource and nothing else )
Scientist and Machinist -> pay 3 get 2 knowledge vs shadow merchant ( shadow merchant only gives 1 point and you have to discard 2 missions, but you hardly ever have 2 excess missions because you have hard cap of 5 missions at the end of turn )
G'yeto cards in general are maybe 2 expensive 2 use (lets come back to this later when we talk about 2 player scores).

Counter arguments:
So what if some cards are better than others, that just means people will compete who gets them?
-While i kind of agree with this, I don't like it because it's really luck based what card you can buy and all of the cards cost same ammount to "buy".

How is this solved? ( some ideas )
-Maybe balance General and Senator so that they give 2-3 resource or 2 ally
-scientist/mercanist/G'yeto -> Knowledge (lets come back to this later when we talk about 2 player scores).

Colonies
--------

Too expensive to build compared to the benefits gained
-At last in 2 player game if using the variant ( Gain 1vp for each world You dominate ) you are basically using 7 resources + action to gain 1 vp

Counter arguments:
Benefit of Building colonies is that it ends the game?
-Yes, but while you are using your resources and actions doing that your opponent can do other things to gain more vp and it does not matter who ends the game.

How is this solved? ( some ideas )
-roll back to the "Dominate system" gain all vp for said system
-give benefit to the player who ends the game?
-maybe give some other benefits for building colony / build action ( like gain extra hand size for each 2 colony built or each colony is worth 1 extra VP)


Rule: If you build a Structure on a World with another player’s Structure on it, all players on that world (including you) gain 1 Resource of their choice.
-------

This rule is little lack luster in 2 player games, since both players always get a resource, it's almost same as both players not getting anything. ( except that you have to remeber to do this always )


2 Player scoring
---------------

Max 12 points from dominating all worlds
-Not likely because maybe not all the worlds are played / you wont win all the worlds / expensive resource wise.
-more likely it goes something like 3 points vs 7 points so only 4 point difference from all the buildings / colonies
Mission points 10
-Yes you could get more, but realistically in 2 player game you will have around 10 because, +3-5 missions are so hard and trying to find better ones is not effective.
-also there are not enough missions giving more than 2-3 points
Knowledge tokens -> "unlimited"
-this is why using them for G'Yeto is expensive ( for example pay 3 to build a colony -> basically you are trading 3 points for 1 )
-and scientist / machinist are powerful
-and explore action

This kinda brings us back to all the points i talked about earlier.
At last during my game i felt that knowledge tokens are 2 powerful compared to other methods of gaining VP.


Lets give example.

Lets say I play typical game. How many turns it takes me 2 end game, maybe 20? And I will gain around 12 + 10 + 3 VP = 25vp

What if my opponen uses his/her first 20 turns only to Explore -> they have ~35 knowledge. Game over.

-------- Lets say my opponent is not a complete dick, but does something like this

->Conspire a lot:
Trying to get following missions:
-Any "have 3 world in a system"
-Xenophobe ( share no more than 2 world )
-isolationist ( have colony in only 1 system )
-environmentalism ( have no more than 2 ore collectors )
-efficiency ( have 0 resources )

While doing this use:
-Shadow merchant for VP.
-info broker to get resources -> for scientist/machinist
-operative for new activation of ally cards / new ally cards

Most of these missions are 3-4 point missions so I simply cannot get more points from missions than my opponent.
While doing this my opponent is also discarding missions, so that I can't get them and it becomes even more likely that I will get less than 10 points from missions.
Most of these high point missions actually work well/only if my opponent is not even building anything.

->Explore a lot:
-gain 1vp each time and explore towards "have 3 world" missions while limiting the other players chance of completing "have 3 - 5 world" missions

While doing this use:
Dignitary to gain more allies + missions
Librarian to gain more vp
Mechanist / scientist to get rid of any currency gained from ( general , info broker, starting resources, commerce hive ) and completing efficiency mission

->Adapt
-maybe if you have science hive to gain new ally + 1 vp
-maybe if you have commerce hive to get resources for 1 colony / machinist / scientist


->Harvest
-no need


-> Build
-Only if you have isolationist mission
-Or if i have General and need more 2 ally / 5 iron for example for mechnist


How is this fixed ( some ideas )
-Make knowledge tokens so that the player with most knowledge tokens gets fixed 'X' points at the end of game. ( for example 6 points )
-Tweak mission points
-tweak colonies
-maybe grant points for ending game
-tweak explore action
-tweak build action



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Anon Y. Mous
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It's incredibly arrogant to think you have better insights after one game than an entire team of playtesters. If only their playtesting team had a prodigy of your caliber rather than simply being composed of mere mortals.
 
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Tommi Tonttila
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Well I'm not really claiming that i'm correct at any of these things, i'm just throwing ideas around

I especially stated that this was based on 1 game, fully knowing that it is no were near enough of testing.

I believe they asked for feedback about the new 2 player scoring on their kick starter page

"Please join us in testing the 2P scoring we are testing now.
I don't want to make a change until I'm sure it is an improvement. Any help is appreciated!"
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Levi Mote
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Tommi I really appreciate the time you spent on this playthrough and review. I really appreciate your thoutful feedback and testing out this scoring method.

A couple of things to take into consideration after reading your post.
Knowledge is finite in the game (40) as are the Resources (40 each). Also the Mission cards will have designated player count numbers so that the Missions that are all but impossible or too easy at certain player counts are removed.

Thanks again for playing and breaking down your observations.
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Tommi Tonttila
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That mission change sounds really good !

Yeh that is true about knowledge tokens, i will probably do some more testing around and see how I feel after that ^^

Balancing the scoring around 2 and 3+ players certainly seems tricky when talking about finite resources and different number of star systems etc

or maybe the number of knowledge tokens available could be tied to the number of players :thinking:
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Gary Concepcion
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It's incredibly arrogant to think someone's insight after one game are worthless not to mention being a useless tool about it. I played a two player game yesterday as well and feel that a lot of the points he makes are very valid.

TBH it puts me on the edge for backing. I can see it being better with more players but I don't have access to 4 player atm.
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Levi Mote
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@Gary the Missions have been rebalanced for 2P also the "Scoring by World" model has really addressed the only other issue that has come up with 2P.

I won't say Horizons is best at 2P, I agree that the sweet spot is 3-4.
That said, the 2P game is a slightly different experience. It is tighter and has more tension as every decision you make is measured against the 25 combinations of actions available to your opponent and the current board state. I've played a lot of 2P over the last few months and I can assure you it isn't a throw away mode included to drum up sales. If the game was broken at 2P, I would fight to list it at 3-5 players.

I hope that helps with your decision.
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Steve Crane
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Will there be enough Objective cards for a 2 player game if the solution is to split them between player numbers? (i.e some will only work for say 3 players, or 4)
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Levi Mote
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Steve,
There re currently 16 Missions for 2P. Since players must discard down to 5 cards at the end of their turn, this is plenty for the 2P game. We plan to add more Missions, Allies, Tile types, etc... If we get to do expansions.
 
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