Russell Jones
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This is my second game in Ti4, played at my FLGS with a group of five others - half of us not realizing exactly what we were about to subject ourselves to.

Factions going clockwise:

Arborec (OP)
Embers of Muaat
Clan of Saar
Mentak Coalition
Winnu
Ghosts of Creuss

I've had the most experience with TI, the Mentak and Saar player had second-most, with the rest having no games under their belts.

Firstly - Getting people into the game cold is still a bit of a feat. These are all advanced gamers, so I gave them the big, top-down approach (Get to 10 points, don't get distracted, here are the phases of a round, here's what a typical turn looks like) before getting into nitty-gritty during play. Setup and rules explanation still took about an hour, but the players who were in the previous game helped with that.

Galaxy setup was solid, we chanced into not having two double-planet tiles and lots of anomalies or empty space, so everyone had nice borders to each other. The Creuss player had all the wormholes, the Muaat / Saar / Mentak side of the board was getting feisty with each other off the bat, so it looked like a good start for me in Arborec country.

Early Game

Saar starts doing their nomad thing, and moving their space docks caused a big stir as everyone realized just how powerful moving and producing at the same time were. The Ghosts quietly tiptoed into their wormhole network, setting up near several wormhole systems and teching into mobility for their ships. I took Arborec up the middle to claim a forward base for MRex with Warfare, with the intention of producing and backfilling for a turn to get all my territory online. Mentak and Winnu started squabbling over territory and piracy, so all the aggression was heaped on the other side of the board.

The biggest misplays happened here, and in the transition to the midgame - as Arborec, I didn't quite grasp how the plants were supposed to multiply. I read Mitosis, knew the flagship could produce units (but had to stay put), but I didn't realize their infantry had Production 1 as an ability. That would have greatly changed my early game, in which I focused on tons of PDS to work on my secret objective and create a giant fence to discourage people from coming my way. Instead I would have swarmed up toward MRex sooner and kept a giant forest of infantry behind me to keep the planets firmly green and teched their special infantry upgrade.

Midgame

The Creuss player as a result got to Mecatol in force and set up shop, but did not claim Imperial. They didn't have the means to score more than one public objective a turn, and the player said they didn't want to suddenly turn into a target by getting one point a turn. This kept people from attacking Mecatol for many rounds, but it also prolonged the game.

Muaat got their war suns online but stayed in their space, while the Saar player kept dropping ships everywhere, gobbling up more and more of the board. Mentak consolidated power on their side of MRex, and everyone dug in for big battles to kick off... but nobody fired the first shot.

Endgame

Saar diverted from Mecatol Rex and cut through an asteroid anomaly to smack Arborec (me) in a weak spot, ditching Mecatol in favor of trying to wipe me out. His fleet was cut up by my Orbital Cannons, but he still wound up taking my most resource-heavy systems. Muaat followed suit and dunked on my Mecatol-adjacent system, cutting my ability to produce resources down by more than half. It also destroyed my upgraded Destroyers, which would have helped deal with the Saar player's other big fleet, which was now parked next to my homeworld. When all the plastic was wiped away, two of Saar's fleets were wiped out but I had been cut back from 11 systems to a paltry 3, all of which were influence-heavy and resource-poor.

Saar's economy and mobility were just too great at that point, and he took Mecatol Rex away from the Creuss before using Imperial and Stage 2 objectives to sprint to the finish.

Overall thoughts

I was really bummed by how easily I got swept out of the game, especially after such a long setup and big defensive posturing. Once I realized how badly I misplayed Arborec, though, I wanted to play again with the same faction to see how it would look with a different strategy.

It is a more streamlined experience than TI3, and the ability to unlock the Agenda Phase rather than including it on a strategy card is one of my favorite adjustments. It's something for the players to look forward to, and the banter that comes from the politicking is enjoyable.

The time of the game could have been cut back if the players had been willing to be more aggressive, both with Imperial after Mecatol Rex was claimed and with their fleets once the arms race got underway. Some also remarked that the game ended anti-climactically once the Saar player had squirreled away enough command tokens to snag the final two points.

I don't think some of the players will make another attempt at it, but I do think there are enough to carry on 3 or 4 player games, and the excitement remains... despite the long hours.
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Ben Rubinstein

Long Beach
California
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In my play, the arborec player missed the produce on infantry as well. I really wish that were called out a bit more on the race sheet.
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Joshua Schutte
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Columbus
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I too forgot about it till turn 3, but I also misread and was adding one infantry on every planet all game. And still lost by a mile.
 
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Joseph Cochran
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Costa Mesa
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Arborec is one of the "weird" races introduced in Shards of the Throne for TI3. All three of the Shards races (Arborec, Ghosts, and Nekro) sort of ride the edges to be different, and I used to call them out to people when we were in race selection just so that players understood what they were getting into.

The Arborec in particular require you to understand their infantry production (both because Space Docks can't produce Infantry units and because of the snowball effect) early game to avoid late game issues, and they can take a play or two to really grok.
 
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Gandalf the Greyjoy
Poland
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What makes Arborec even weirder, once they've lost their last ground forces, the only way to produce them again is through flagship's special ability.
 
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markus savola
Finland
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Libero03 wrote:
What makes Arborec even weirder, once they've lost their last ground forces, the only way to produce them again is through flagship's special ability.


You also get one ground force each status phase.
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Scott Lewis
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Thornton
Colorado
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maverikki wrote:
Libero03 wrote:
What makes Arborec even weirder, once they've lost their last ground forces, the only way to produce them again is through flagship's special ability.


You also get one ground force each status phase.

I think one of the primary reasons for this ability is precisely to make sure they are never completely hosed on producing more GFs.
 
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