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I want to buy this expansion but this non-stop stream of threads talking about how some of the new toys are either overpowered or underpowered is holding me back.

What is going on?
Is implementing this expansion going to make some of the core game's (or Outer Planet's) technologies obsolete? Why should I buy and add to my collection a game where a new mechanic/technology (shuttle, for example) is considered OP compared to previous mechanics/techs to begin with?

I'm not at all comfortable with using home rules and I consider this a non-solution. When I buy a game, I buy a game assuming that it was properly tested and making home rules ain't going to cut it.

This ongoing discussion of things that need home rules because they are unbalanced, so few days after release is not a good sign to tell you the truth.

So, I'm going to be blunt here because I'm really on the fence about Stations and my enthusiasm for its arrival has waned. Is this expansion balanced or not?

I love the game but I won't be spending money on an expansion that needs home rules to work properly...
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Josh Zscheile
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I don't know as the games for the german group are still on its way (I assume), but if you look closely, you'll see that there are the same 2-3 people commenting there. To me, for now, they are a loud minority.
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Pawel Garycki
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Dagar wrote:
I don't know as the games for the german group are still on its way (I assume), but if you look closely, you'll see that there are the same 2-3 people commenting there. To me, for now, they are a loud minority.

There are also session reports which all show how much Shuttle has an impact to the game; those sessions are not reported by the loud minority. Perhaps the shuttle rush strategy has influenced session themselves like a self-fulfilling prophecy so that players didn't try different strategies.
I think people should also focus on what is fantastic about this expansion, that is Features and new missions, which alone are worth buying the expansion, however any discussion about them is considered "spoilers", so that is why those extremely positive things are not discussed too often... leaving too much space for the complaining minority.
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Larry L
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There is a lot of good stuff in that box.

Since I find the shuttle to be too powerful (others might disagree) my plan is simply to not use the shuttle next solo play, but there is still an amazing about of great content in the expansion.

Also, discussing isn't complaining.
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Just to explain in which situation Shuttle seemed overpowered in the repoerted sessions:
- a solo play. As there is no competition which can deny you missions by rushing for them with easy rockets, you can focus on the Shuttle rush without any fear. In a multiplayer the Shuttle rush may deny you some points if others are heading for Ion missions to Outer Planets or try to grab early missions with conventional rockets
- a low solar radiation. With no radiation Shuttle is a good capsule, but whenever radiation raises, Aldrin or Space Habitat will be more sutiable for long travels like Mars cycling; most solo plays reported so far had no radiation!
- a lack of use of Outer Planets. With Outer Planets Jupiter will just destroy your Shuttle or pose such a threat so that you will not use it there. In solo plays players avoid VPs of Outer Planets (by avoiding surveying non-mandatory locations), but in multiplayer there is a strong competition over there.
- a higher difficulty play. With higher VP missions Shuttle is going to be a better investment because it will last for longer. If you play normal difficulty with multiplayer there might be less time for a complete Shuttle rush to take a benefit from it.

Note that current session reports were flooded with a) solo plays, b) low/no radiation, c) base game destinations, d) higher difficulties.
On top of that we still don't know how it plays with Venus since session reports saw it hostile each time.
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Larry L
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I think you make good points particular regarding multiplayer. However as far as solo goes, even in high radiation (I had radiation 2) I would still use the shuttle to haul stuff out of Earth's gravity well instead of the Saturn.

Saturn $30 to haul 20 mass. Shuttle $8 to haul 7 mass. It is just too efficient. Even if the house rule was the shuttle can never leave the vicinity of Earth, I would still choose it over the Saturn.

(I also comboed shuttle with Space Habitat to make it past dangerous-to-humans level of radiation. Of course it wont get you through Jupiter.)
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RingelTree wrote:
Saturn $30 to haul 20 mass. Shuttle $8 to haul 7 mass. It is just too efficient. Even if the house rule was the shuttle can never leave the vicinity of Earth, I would still choose it over the Saturn.

If shuttle is a once-per-year after reentry (a house rule) then Saturn comes at hand since if you need a very huge payload to be lifted, it does not pay-off to buy plenty of Shuttles.
I can see a use of Saturn with heavy missions if you need to lift a huge paylod from the Earth Orbit itself and you cannot. (e.g. mass 13 to Outer Planet Transfer or a mission to Mercury). One shuttle cannot do so as it does it on Earth by rotation since its flight consumes time now. And multiple shuttles may cost you more than a Saturn for such a task. Actually space habitats with supplementary modules may beg for a Saturn aid from the Earth Orbit.

There is also one solution possible by doing an interpretation of rules: you may only use 1 fuel tank for the entire spacecraft, not just 1 tank per each shuttle involved. By this you need to combine a Shuttle with an expandable rocket to lift-off Space Habitat (mass 9) or Soyuz (mass 9). Here Saturn may be worth considering.

(edit: Outer Planet Transfer and Mercury case)
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RingelTree wrote:
I think you make good points particular regarding multiplayer. However as far as solo goes, even in high radiation (I had radiation 2) I would still use the shuttle to haul stuff out of Earth's gravity well instead of the Saturn.

Saturn $30 to haul 20 mass. Shuttle $8 to haul 7 mass. It is just too efficient. Even if the house rule was the shuttle can never leave the vicinity of Earth, I would still choose it over the Saturn.

(I also comboed shuttle with Space Habitat to make it past dangerous-to-humans level of radiation. Of course it wont get you through Jupiter.)


Space habitat+ engineer+ spare part will fix all your shuttles after flying by jupiter. I believe I could design an outer planet mission that uses book shuttles to basically ignore jupiter's radiation.
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Bowmangr wrote:
I want to buy this expansion but this non-stop stream of threads talking about how some of the new toys are either overpowered or underpowered is holding me back.

What is going on?
Is implementing this expansion going to make some of the core game's (or Outer Planet's) technologies obsolete? Why should I buy and add to my collection a game where a new mechanic/technology (shuttle, for example) is considered OP compared to previous mechanics/techs to begin with?

I'm not at all comfortable with using home rules and I consider this a non-solution. When I buy a game, I buy a game assuming that it was properly tested and making home rules ain't going to cut it.

This ongoing discussion of things that need home rules because they are unbalanced, so few days after release is not a good sign to tell you the truth.

So, I'm going to be blunt here because I'm really on the fence about Stations and my enthusiasm for its arrival has waned. Is this expansion balanced or not?

I love the game but I won't be spending money on an expansion that needs home rules to work properly...


Great post, I've been thinking the same thing.

I just wish Joe can chime in and explain his reasoning behind the Shuttle. Leaving Earth is an excellent game (the base game, I can't talk about Outer Planets since I've only played it once, but I've played base about 20 times) and seems playtested to the extremes. All the math and numbers just work beautifully. So I'm having a hard time believing that Joe would design a component this OP, from what it seems. We must be overlooking something!
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Larry L
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I just want to emphasize again that there is a lot of content in that box. The shuttle is just one tiny part of a much bigger package.
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Bowmangr wrote:

I'm not at all comfortable with using home rules and I consider this a non-solution. When I buy a game, I buy a game assuming that it was properly tested and making home rules ain't going to cut it.

This ongoing discussion of things that need home rules because they are unbalanced, so few days after release is not a good sign to tell you the truth.

Note that the game designer is also following the discussion, and likely shares your concerns. Whatever solution ends up working best will probably end up in the next "edition" of Stations, so just hang out, wait a few months and the balance should be improved.
 
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tufduck wrote:
Bowmangr wrote:
I want to buy this expansion but this non-stop stream of threads talking about how some of the new toys are either overpowered or underpowered is holding me back.

What is going on?
Is implementing this expansion going to make some of the core game's (or Outer Planet's) technologies obsolete? Why should I buy and add to my collection a game where a new mechanic/technology (shuttle, for example) is considered OP compared to previous mechanics/techs to begin with?

I'm not at all comfortable with using home rules and I consider this a non-solution. When I buy a game, I buy a game assuming that it was properly tested and making home rules ain't going to cut it.

This ongoing discussion of things that need home rules because they are unbalanced, so few days after release is not a good sign to tell you the truth.

So, I'm going to be blunt here because I'm really on the fence about Stations and my enthusiasm for its arrival has waned. Is this expansion balanced or not?

I love the game but I won't be spending money on an expansion that needs home rules to work properly...


Great post, I've been thinking the same thing.

I just wish Joe can chime in and explain his reasoning behind the Shuttle. Leaving Earth is an excellent game (the base game, I can't talk about Outer Planets since I've only played it once, but I've played base about 20 times) and seems playtested to the extremes. All the math and numbers just work beautifully. So I'm having a hard time believing that Joe would design a component this OP, from what it seems. We must be overlooking something!


I'm not Joe, but I played a version of stations back at Kublacon. Looking back, I basically did the "shuttle rush" using the daedelus equivilant, which had the orbital lift of an Atlas at the time, as a joke build, and I beat Joe to mars flyby by using an Aldrin instead of his space habitat in rad level 2. Daedelus got nerfed to our current version, but it looks like noone ever applied the same approach to the shuttle, to spot the problem.
 
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Rakaydos wrote:
Bowmangr wrote:

I'm not at all comfortable with using home rules and I consider this a non-solution. When I buy a game, I buy a game assuming that it was properly tested and making home rules ain't going to cut it.

This ongoing discussion of things that need home rules because they are unbalanced, so few days after release is not a good sign to tell you the truth.

Note that the game designer is also following the discussion, and likely shares your concerns. Whatever solution ends up working best will probably end up in the next "edition" of Stations, so just hang out, wait a few months and the balance should be improved.


Based on what I've read so far, I'm heavily favoring the 'NO BUY' option right now. I just can't justify buying a game that I know needs fixing.

Unless someone posts a legit reason that all these 'overpowered' (or 'underpowered') components are the way they are, I'm going to assume that the game is not tested as much as it should be, which is a bit surprising because both the base game and Outer planets didn't have these kinds of problems at all...

I think I'm just going to wait for a new, corrected edition...
 
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I appreciate all the thoughts and analysis people have been putting into this. A few thoughts about the shuttle from development:

- Shuttles are more efficient (in $/lb to orbit) than the Saturn only if you need to do several launches. At just one or two launches, you're better off using Saturn stages.

- Shuttles are more expensive to get started with, making Saturns a better investment if you need to launch quickly.
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buffalohat wrote:
I appreciate all the thoughts and analysis people have been putting into this. A few thoughts about the shuttle from development:

- Shuttles are more efficient (in $/lb to orbit) than the Saturn only if you need to do several launches. At just one or two launches, you're better off using Saturn stages.

- Shuttles are more expensive to get started with, making Saturns a better investment if you need to launch quickly.


Problem is, by the time you NEED a saturn (20 mass) you've DONE your 3 flights of the shuttle to pay it off. 30 mil vs 34 mil, for 2 saturn vs Shuttle+6 tanks.

And that's ignoring the testing advantage, because Shuttle is as cheap to test as Atlas. By the time saturn is reliable (as the poster child for "buying off successes to ensure reliability") it's already cheaper to have been flying Shuttle.
 
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I'm still waiting for the UK bulk order to get to me, but I'm amused to see this particular concern – because that was my way to win in Lift Off, to skip all the earlier stages and go straight to mini-shuttle missions. Win or bust.
 
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Rakaydos wrote:
buffalohat wrote:
I appreciate all the thoughts and analysis people have been putting into this. A few thoughts about the shuttle from development:

- Shuttles are more efficient (in $/lb to orbit) than the Saturn only if you need to do several launches. At just one or two launches, you're better off using Saturn stages.

- Shuttles are more expensive to get started with, making Saturns a better investment if you need to launch quickly.


Problem is, by the time you NEED a saturn (20 mass) you've DONE your 3 flights of the shuttle to pay it off. 30 mil vs 34 mil, for 2 saturn vs Shuttle+6 tanks.

And that's ignoring the testing advantage, because Shuttle is as cheap to test as Atlas. By the time saturn is reliable (as the poster child for "buying off successes to ensure reliability") it's already cheaper to have been flying Shuttle.


Good points, but don't forget the advancement costs: $10 for Saturn vs. $30 for Shuttle (including its prerequisites).
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I'd love to hear what people think about the rest of Stations, by the way. The Daedalus/Shuttle cards are only a small part of the expansion.
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buffalohat wrote:
I'd love to hear what people think about the rest of Stations, by the way. The Daedalus/Shuttle cards are only a small part of the expansion.


And fuel generator, mustn't forget that fuel generator is part of that same controversy. :/


But the rest of it?

Bringing a pilot to a lander mission is very powerful. I need to watch my spoilers here in General, but the ability to look at 2 feature cards and pick the "best" one is huge on both the Moon and Mars, especially when there is a not-insiginicant chance of getting... shall we say Local Conditions K and H. Bad things.

Cycler orbit is my new favorite way to get to mars. I dont know why I never used Mars Flyby for this before.

Rovers are only useful on mars, unless you get lucky on the moon (but then you need to get lucky twice, because your first flight didnt have a rover) Fortunately, the tech is appropriately priced. You brought a pilot, right? And an engineer to keep the pilot from going mad? Dont have to worry about major failures, just fix it.

I still find that food gets used over hydroponics for most "flag and footprint" missions, because it's rare that you need more than 5 mass of food. (5, not 4, because it makes food AFTER astronauts eat) That leaves it for station/colony missions only, which is a decent enough niche. Outer planets is going to love it, though.

I havnt used a space habitat yet, but Solar Rad 3 will likely demand it, and it provides a good way to survive Jupiter 3. Ground habitats were a mission for me, but I could certiantly see games, especially in outer planets, where colonising Titan may be a better option for a mission than coming home at the end of the game.

I havnt drawn any non-orbit science missions yet, but it looks like an interesting flavor of "fetch quest" where you have to bring a sample OUT to the destination and then back. The mass of the lab may be awkward.

Anything else?
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buffalohat wrote:
I'd love to hear what people think about the rest of Stations, by the way. The Daedalus/Shuttle cards are only a small part of the expansion.


Even with the ongoing Shuttle discussion, the games I've played so far of Stations have been a lot of fun. I mentioned it in my session report, but I really can't imagine going back to basic Leaving Earth now that I've played Stations.

I'd like to see a Shuttle shaped ship token in the next expansion.

Earth Cycler / Mars Cycler is fantastic, especially if playing with Aerobraking. I also appreciate the ability to go back to Inner Planet Transfer from Venus fly-by. I don't know how often I'll use it, but I appreciate that it's there.

Exploring Features on planets and moons is a great addition. I think the Rover can be useful on both Mars and Venus. I would like to see Features make their way to the Outer Planets and Mercury as well.

Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to play with the Joint Venture feature, though it looks very promising.

Space and Ground Habitat parts are a fun addition, I've used them many times. They are my preferred method for performing astronaut landing and return missions, and the Hydroponics Module really helps with turning manned missions into permanent colonies.
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buffalohat wrote:
I'd love to hear what people think about the rest of Stations, by the way. The Daedalus/Shuttle cards are only a small part of the expansion.


I played my first game of Stations last night (with Outer Planets). I'll write up a session report tonight.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I loved it!
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