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Subject: Is the operational action of spaceships too weak/punishing? rss

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Sebastian Grawan
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Hi!

After our first session playing AA yesterday, I feel that the operational action ships can take is weaker than those of the other two card types.

With research cards and planets, whenever you activate their corresponding operational action ('gain revenue', 'mine the planets') you have a chance to earn some victory points, leaving your research cards and planets untouched. The mining action even nets you resources (in addition to maybe some VP) to use in furthering your cause.

With the ship action ('start an offensive') you have the danger of damaging or even outright losing ships from your empire, denying you of those scoring cards at the end of the game. Even the chance to earn Alien Artifacts cards when starting an offensive is somewhat weak as the power of those cards can swing wildly and they don't earn you any VP in the end game as far as I understand.

When playing our first session of AA yesterday, my co-players massively used the operational powers of their research cards and planets towards the end of the game to earn VPs while I was hesitant to launch offensives in fear of losing too many ships from my empire (one of my operational research cards scored me points for ships at the end of the game).

What's your take on this 'problem'?

 
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Miguel Gonzalez
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Before I try to answer your question I must confess I find it difficult to take someone‘s concerns seriously regarding game mechanics after one play only. But maybe that‘s just me.

From what you have written my first impression would be, that maybe you overlooked one rule, since the chances for the two other operational actions are the same in regards to scoring VPs, since you have to draw a matching symbol in order to score the card.

With Ships you you can always have an educated guess at how difficult it will be to score or gain some other benefit (Alien Artifacts, for example, which is huge in this game).

So I do not consider Ships being too weak, since from the 5 Alien Systems you can attack, all of them provide the chance to gain an Alien Artifact. Additionally if you go for the Extermination Ships, you get a flat +1 Attack bonus for that ship.

If you feel the chances are too swingy, then that‘s something no one can actually talk away imho. Most people I‘ve met who have an issue with random number generation generally dislike all games that make use of such mechanics. All I can say about this game - you see the Alien System. There are 4 results of which you can tell the outcome before you attack - you draw a card and there is a 25% chance for each result which can be mitigated by another margin with the Extermination Ships so you can reach a result from minimum 2 and reaching for 4 requires only a drawn 3.

We‘ve played the game several times now and found many viable ways to score and win. I‘ve never had the impression, that ships are too weak on their operational side. If you go in with 4 Ships and got 2 with +1 Attack and 2 with Extra VP if you score a VP, you can steadily make 6 VPs per turn and have a 4 times chance to get an Alien Artifact with each attack. No other operational card is capable of doing that. There is of course a risk of poor draw... but it‘s a game in the end and some luck makes for great stories if you take the risk.

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Keith B
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Justicex75 wrote:
Before I try to answer your question I must confess I find it difficult to take someone‘s concerns seriously regarding game mechanics after one play only. But maybe that‘s just me.

From what you have written my first impression would be, that maybe you overlooked one rule, since the chances for the two other operational actions are the same in regards to scoring VPs, since you have to draw a matching symbol in order to score the card.

With Ships you you can always have an educated guess at how difficult it will be to score or gain some other benefit (Alien Artifacts, for example, which is huge in this game).

So I do not consider Ships being too weak, since from the 5 Alien Systems you can attack, all of them provide the chance to gain an Alien Artifact. Additionally if you go for the Extermination Ships, you get a flat +1 Attack bonus for that ship.

If you feel the chances are too swingy, then that‘s something no one can actually talk away imho. Most people I‘ve met who have an issue with random number generation generally dislike all games that make use of such mechanics. All I can say about this game - you see the Alien System. There are 4 results of which you can tell the outcome before you attack - you draw a card and there is a 25% chance for each result which can be mitigated by another margin with the Extermination Ships so you can reach a result from minimum 2 and reaching for 4 requires only a drawn 3.

We‘ve played the game several times now and found many viable ways to score and win. I‘ve never had the impression, that ships are too weak on their operational side. If you go in with 4 Ships and got 2 with +1 Attack and 2 with Extra VP if you score a VP, you can steadily make 6 VPs per turn and have a 4 times chance to get an Alien Artifact with each attack. No other operational card is capable of doing that. There is of course a risk of poor draw... but it‘s a game in the end and some luck makes for great stories if you take the risk.



On top of that, I believe there is at least on alien defense card, if not two, that does limited damage to your ship with no chance of destruction. By limited, I mean 2 or less options will actually damage your ship.

I found the operation ships too powerful. We had a player essentially do your example, time and time again. Gaining so many alien artifacts (along with VP) gave him so much flexibility. The only offset by the other players was to try to barricade his cards. However, no one wanted to waste turns doing that with such little personal immediate benefit. So, he kept going and going. That said, he did not win - someone else did who did not attack at all. Maybe it's not that powerful afterall. LOL.
 
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Sebastian Grawan
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Maybe I didn't get my point communicated exactly as I wanted: my peeve with the system is that there's a possibility to lose ships with their operational action, while research cards and planets are not in danger of being harmed by their respective operational actions.

I do understand that this reflects the danger of ships being destroyed in warfare in a 4X boardgame, but what about the dangers of research blowing up in the scientists faces or planets being strip-mined until they are a barren wasteland?

(Sorry I only played the game once, there are a lot of post-Essen games that need my attention right now...)
 
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B Charlebois
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Yes the risk is greater but the rewards might be greater also with points money or alien artifacts Plus when rebuilding the ships that were damaged you get to atfack again so it is not too bad to get a damaged ship. I prefer that techs and planeTS can't be destroyed as the engine building would be dificult. You can choose to have ships attack on the logistics side so the risk is only there if you want to.
 
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Paul Newsham
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Yes there is the risk of losing ships, a risk which isn't there with the other 2 forms of VP generation. There are 2 significant benefits to operational ships that you don't get from planets or tech:

1. You can attack other players, shutting down their VP generation

2. You can gain Artifacts, which usually provide some means of speeding up your engine building

As was previously mentioned, the destructive potential of alien systems varies, and you can attack with individual ships as you build them to cycle through the system deck. Once a more forgiving system is available, then go for an all-out attack with your fleet.
 
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corum irsei
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Well, I won our first game with a ship-based strategy, so I think it's fine

I actually found it advantageous at times that my ship was damaged, since it allowed me to easily rebuild it every turn for a new attack.

Having said that, another player tried a planet-based strategy, and he would probably have won if the game had continued for a few more turns.

I think we need to play this many more times before we can tell which strategies are better than others... Given how many different technologies there are in the game, I'm also not sure how 'repeatable' a given strategy is.
 
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Martin Larouche
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Ships can get damaged, planets cannot.

However, operational ships can get you points when build.
Operational planets do not.

Both can score you during operational actions.
Planets gives you 50% of scoring 1 point each (and do not synergize much with techs).
Ships are more versatile and depending which techs, type of ships and the alien card are in play, you can garantee either 100% chance of gaining a point to even gaining 2 points per ship. And if you don't want risk too much at this time, you can attack another player.
... then damaged ship can be built again and used again when built.

Green cards are the surest way to build points. But they are low-risk, low-rewards.
Blue cards offer more points, but they don't give any other bonuses while going for them, making them harder to go for them.
Red cards offer the most potential for points, but is higher risk for the rewards.

... or you can use a combinstion of multiple. One or two blue cards combined with ships and or planets.

In the end, i find the game is perfectly balanced amongst all options.
 
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mfl134
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deedob wrote:

However, operational ships can get you points when build.
Operational planets do not.


That isn't true. When you build an Operational Planet, you produce 3 times.

If you take a resource matching the type of the Planet, you score 1 point.

So you could score 3 points when Discovering Operational Planets.
 
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Martin Larouche
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mfl134 wrote:
deedob wrote:

However, operational ships can get you points when build.
Operational planets do not.


That isn't true. When you build an Operational Planet, you produce 3 times.

If you take a resource matching the type of the Planet, you score 1 point.

So you could score 3 points when Discovering Operational Planets.


Sorry, was not clear enough.
The same ship can make points every time it is built.
Planets do not, as they are built only once.
 
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mfl134
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deedob wrote:
mfl134 wrote:
deedob wrote:

However, operational ships can get you points when build.
Operational planets do not.


That isn't true. When you build an Operational Planet, you produce 3 times.

If you take a resource matching the type of the Planet, you score 1 point.

So you could score 3 points when Discovering Operational Planets.


Sorry, was not clear enough.
The same ship can make points every time it is built.
Planets do not, as they are built only once.


Gotcha, that is correct.

(though portal is making a rules change related to ships )
 
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Tom Chick
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mfl134 wrote:
(though portal is making a rules change related to ships )


?

-Tom
 
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