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Subject: Round 1 hackers in 3 player game with distributed damage variant rss

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R. O. Schaefer
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We had turn 1 hackers recently in a 3 player game with distributed damage variant. I. E. every other player got ME production -1.
I've collected some quotes below and they vary quite a bit. Some state the card itself is weak, unless in 2 player games. The targeted player seems to have a hard time though, but maybe other players not involved at all profit most, which is probably the reason the card is considered weak in multiplayer games.
questions:
- is turn 1 hackers still strong in 3 player game with distributed damage? To me it seems so. Edit: Owner of Hackers got energy via a card he wanted to play anyway
- in multiplayer games in general and by original damage rules: If we do agree that the one targeted player round 1 - who is not the 'leader' at this point - has a hard time: Is the game mainly relying on noone playing the card because they know it's too expensive for the card owner himself? Wouldn't be all that satisfying, especially with new players. Maybe still some round 1 variant needed?

Just to be clear: I really like the game Just interested in the best way to play.

allstar64 wrote:
1/2. For the most part I am fine with it but there is only 2 situations where the "take that" element really rubs me the wrong way and they both have to do with being hit early.

...

II) Turn 1 Hackers. Hackers is the only card which can hit opponents ME. Normally I wouldn't care too much but ME is the only production that can go negative. Hence opponents are far less likely to keep a card that hits, say energy, because they don't know if someone will even get an energy production for them to hit. However they can always hit your ME and having your ME forced into negative that early really sucks. I would have added a condition on Hackers that states "an opponent cannot be targeted if their ME would be negative" to prevent this.

Basically I have issue with "take that" early in the game cause that can have a long term affect that just screws up the rest of your game.


https://boardgamegeek.com/article/quote/27201161


TwitchBot wrote:
Phil Fleischmann wrote:
I've had Hackers played on me in the first turn in a four-player game, and it was quite devastating.


I would be interested to hear more about this.

Paying the one energy production cost for Hackers costs about 11. Yeah, might have got it slightly cheaper with the right card, but comparing the cost to the standard project is a good benchmark.

So your opp spent 17 (3+3+11) to gain maybe 20 over the course of the game (2 per turn for 10 turns). And got -1 points for their trouble. That's really not much benefit and I'd argue it's a detriment considering they could have spent that 17 on something better. Maybe they got cheap energy and only paid 13 but then the game might only go 8 rounds and they would only gained 16. It's a very minimal money gain in any case, and only over the long term.

Yeah, it sucks for the player who's now at -2 money per turn. That could easily cost that player several points over the long term. I don't disagree that it hurts them. But it seems like the real winners were the other two players. The person playing the card didn't really gain anything.

EDIT: I also hate this as a turn one play because you have little ability to target the leader. I basically have to guess which player I think is going to win and target them with it. At least later you can hit a person you know is winning...


...


smallman wrote:
Hackers is the most overpowered game in the deck for 2pl games early. Value drops a lot the more players you have, but still very good early, especially if played on the only strong player at the table.

If you are the victim of hackers round 1, your game is basically over, and you forced to sit out a game for hours you know you have lost.

I find the game more enjoyable for all if you remove this and all the mean cards that reduce a players production, not so important in 2pl games.

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/27502754#27502754

Jingking wrote:

7.2.2: Using Energy Production:

There are 5 cards that converts energy production into other productions, without giving any TR/VP.
Among them, [Hacker] is an attack card which is bad unless in 2er.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1847708/quantified-guide-tm...
 
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Peter Bakija
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Califax wrote:
We had turn 1 hackers recently in a 3 player game with distributed damage variant. I. E. every other player got ME production -1.


I'm not familiar with the distributed damage variant. I just play the regular rules. With the regular rules, Hackers is kind of terrible and rarely sees play. You increase your money by 2 and decrease someone else's money production by 2, which isn't bad, but it costs you an energy and a VP, which is bad.

I guess if you are splitting the damage up (is that the variant?), it still isn't that good. And still isn't likely to see much play. As that loss of a VP (and energy) isn't that good of a plan. And making someone else lose 2 money (or 2 people lose 1 money?) isn't really that effective.
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R. O. Schaefer
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bakija wrote:
You increase your money by 2 and someone else's money by 2

Just for the record and new players: in the second part of the sentence the word "decrease" is missing.

bakija wrote:
I guess if you are splitting the damage up (is that the variant?), it still isn't that good. And still isn't likely to see much play.


Yes, that's the variant.
So, you don't agree that Hackers is strong in 2 player games?
To me a loss of a victory point always indicates a kind of strong effect if played early. While still being a liability of course, I just intuitively wouldn't care that much about a loss of 1 VP round 1.

Edit: The real issue should be the money you spend on hackers and the loss of energy production. Or to rephrase it: Is it worth the effort if every other player at the same time loses one ME production?
It might very well depend on your other cards and if you can use energy immediately another way (instead of just producing heat).


bakija wrote:
plan. And making someone else lose 2 money (or 2 people lose 1 money?) isn't really that effective.


And to be even more pedantic: Other people don't just lose 2 money, but 2 (resp. 1 in the variant) money production. Wich is quite a difference. I'm sure, this is the intention of your post. But for new players who saw many plants (instead of plant production) get removed during first play, it might be confusing.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Califax wrote:
To me a loss of a victory point always indicates a kind of strong effect if played early. While still being a liability of course, I just intuitively wouldn't care that much about a loss of 1 VP round 1.
It just doesn't seem like it's doing that much for you. I mean, how long did your game go? If the game went 10 generations that's a 40 MC swing (+20 for you, -20 for opponents), which initially doesn't seem so bad... but there's a cost to what you've lost. A point is worth about 5MC and the power production is worth about 7 MC (according to the quantified guide).

And you're spending money early which could be used to do something more effective. At least six MC and whatever was spent to get the power (or whatever you have to spend to replace that power production if you need it anytime soon). It's generation three before you recover the cost of buying and playing the card. More generations before you recoup the cost of buying/replacing the power production you lost. And if we accept the valuation of 1 VP = 5 MC, another two and a half generations to make back that loss. At the end of that, yeah you dinged another player, but they lost their money spread out over the course of the game... you invested yours up front and only made it back over time. And early money is more important than late money in an engine building game.

I mean, I guess if you have a power production anyway, and you're afraid someone is going to steal/tank it, it's okay to play... but I don't feel like what you're getting is really worth it.

Also... if you ding me in a game, guess who I'm targeting next? And if my opinion of hackers is wrong, and it does convey some strong advantage, then you're even more of a target.
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R. O. Schaefer
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Thunkd wrote:
Also... if you ding me in a game, guess who I'm targeting next?


Ok, this kind of metagame is probably very group dependend, and for me revenge wouldn't be the first consideration (or in the trash talk only) in our 3 player game. And it's obsolete in 2er.

thx for your feedback though. You've mentioned some valid points, but didn't adress my specific question of the card's scaling. So I'd like to ask you too:

Jingking wrote:

7.2.2: Using Energy Production:

There are 5 cards that converts energy production into other productions, without giving any TR/VP.
Among them, [Hacker] is an attack card which is bad unless in 2er.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1847708/quantified-guide-tm...

Do you agree with the last part of the quote (I've formatted to bold)? Because reading your post, I have the impression you kind of disagree. And that's the interesting part for me.
And also: if the card is that bad in 4 player games/5 player games: would it need some beefing here to ever get played?

One comparison that comes to mind is 7 wonders, when military is significantly stronger in 3 player games, when everyone else is affected.
 
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LSU LSU
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My view: getting Hacked on the first turn is a pain in the rear. But it's not a winning move for your opponent, especially in multiplayer. In the 5 player game not that long ago I got hacked on the first turn and had someone nuke a titanium production on turn 2. I still won the game and the guy that played hackers ended up drawing and playing virtually every attack card in the deck and came in a distant 4th.

Some of the attack cards are really useful, but hacker's energy requirement makes it a really poor deal much of the time. By comparison there are a lot of other ways to boost money production by 2 that don't involve negative victory points and losing an energy production. And there are a ton of cards you might draw early that require you to lose energy production to get another benefit.
 
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Peter Bakija
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Califax wrote:
bakija wrote:
You increase your money by 2 and someone else's money by 2

Just for the record and new players: in the second part of the sentence the word "decrease" is missing.


(Edited for pedantry)

Quote:
Yes, that's the variant.
So, you don't agree that Hackers is strong in 2 player games?


I think it is marginally stronger in 2 player games. But not so much that I'd feel compelled to play it, even on the 1st turn. As it is kind of a horrible card. I mean, at least in a 2 player game it is going to have a positive effect on the play environment for you. In multi player, not as much (you just kinda hose someone and then someone else gets a leg up, which, I suppose, is why you are suggesting using it with this variant, but then if you are playing 4-5 player, it is having the exact same effect).

Quote:
To me a loss of a victory point always indicates a kind of strong effect if played early. While still being a liability of course, I just intuitively wouldn't care that much about a loss of 1 VP round 1.


Sure, but in the long run, that -1VP is significant.

Hackers. It just isn't that good of a card. Like, in a 2P game, I *might* be convinced to play it. Maybe. In a 3+ player game (assuming normal rules), it is going to be ditched every time.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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Califax wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
Also... if you ding me in a game, guess who I'm targeting next?


Ok, this kind of metagame is probably very group dependend, and for me revenge wouldn't be the first consideration
In the early game, I don't know who is likely to win as yet. So if I play an attack card, this is as good a reason as any other to target someone. Also, there is a metagame aspect to it. If you know that attacking me means I'm going to bash you right back, then maybe you think twice before attacking me. All other things being equal, that might make you decide that an attack card that's not so great isn't worth keeping in the first place.

Califax wrote:

Jingking wrote:

7.2.2: Using Energy Production:

There are 5 cards that converts energy production into other productions, without giving any TR/VP.
Among them, [Hacker] is an attack card which is bad unless in 2er.


Do you agree with the last part of the quote (I've formatted to bold)?
First off, I've never played the distributed damage variant so I won't speak to that. But the one saving grace of Hackers in a two player game is that you're dinging the only other player. You'll probably earn back what you spent to purchase and play the card, and the cost of getting the power production, and the 5 MC that a VP is worth... but it'll take you many generations. Probably most of the game? And you're wasting early income which sets you back a bit. But as it directly hurts the only other player it might make sense. In a game with more players, what you're doing is hurting yourself and another player, which only helps all the remaining players.


Califax wrote:
And also: if the card is that bad in 4 player games/5 player games: would it need some beefing here to ever get played?
Not all cards are good in every situation. Many cards are quite situational. That doesn't mean you change the card to make it better for other situations, it just means you choose not to keep that card in the current situation.

I'm not a fan of people who decide that they don't like the way a game plays and start using variants and house rules. Most of the time that simply means they don't understand how to play the game and that they're twisting how the game works to fit their playstyle instead of adjusting their playstyle in the way that they should be doing to win the game.
 
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I won't dispute that Hackers is not that good for the player who plays it. But that in no way detracts from how much it sucks to be the target of it on turn one.

I've never played it myself. In general, I really don't like playing the cards with negative VPs. But that's just my play style.

If it was applied to all other players at -1 MC income each, that would make it less devastating, and maybe more useful to the player - he could get +1 MC income for each other player hacked - making it a more useful card with more players, but obviously worse in a 2p game.
 
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Robert Schraut
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We are using a house rule, saying you can't reduce an enemy production below 1. This is quote essential to avoid games being killed during the first 4 generations. Therefore hackers are rarely played by anyone in our group.

Without this house rule I would pick it with a very high priority during early game. It creates a 4m€ gap between players, which equals 40m€ over 10 generations. I would not buy a standard project energy to play it (unless Thorgate), but wait for an energy card to come along.

I think the card is highly underestimated, because it is a damage over time, so the effect is not recognized properly. If you could play a card with the effect: "Pick a player. In 10 generations he must give you 40m€." Most people would be willing to pay that energy.

In a three player game I would look at what happened so far. Who got the better draft picks? Who got the better synergy with his corp. How strong are the other players.
 
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Bryan Thunkd
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RobAntilles wrote:
I think the card is highly underestimated, because it is a damage over time, so the effect is not recognized properly. If you could play a card with the effect: "Pick a player. In 10 generations he must give you 40m€."
It'd be 20 MC, not 40.
 
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Robert Schraut
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Right! Thx!
 
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R. O. Schaefer
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LSUtigers wrote:
By comparison there are a lot of other ways to boost money production by 2 that don't involve negative victory points and losing an energy production.


Sure, but the net gain of M$ production is 4 in a 2 player game and 3 in the 3 player variant in my original post. There are not that many cards that give more than 2 and that you can play round 1.
I've collected some cards for comparison from that excellent card list:

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/27768825#27768825

I've left out cards without a fixed amount for increasing or with preconditions preventing early play (but included some for comparison).
The difference in cost between 068 Sponsors (increase M$ 2) and 106 Acquired Company (increase M$ 3) is 4$.
Comparison with energy burning cards is also interesting. Noctis has a similar energy/M$ ratio like hackers in 2 player game, but obviously more points - thus is more expensive.


TheUbiquitous wrote:
Project Cards
017: Noctis City
City tag, Building tag
Cost: 18
Reduce Energy 1
Increase M$ 3
City Tile*
(Decrease your Energy production 1 step and increase your M$ production 3 steps. Place a City ON THE RESERVED AREA, disregarding normal placement restrictions.)

068:* Sponsors
Earth tag
Cost: 6
------
Increase M$ 2
(Increase your M$ production 2 steps.)


082:* Callisto Penal Mines
Jovian Space
Cost: 24
------
Increase M$ 3
(Increase your M$ production 3 steps.)
VP: 2


106:* Acquired Company
Earth tag
Cost: 10
------
(Increase your M$ production 3 steps.)

108: Open City
City tag, Building tag
Cost: 23
Requires: 12% O2
------
Decrease Energy 1
Increase M$ 4
Plant Plant
City Tile
(Requires 12% oxygen. Decrease your Energy production 1 step and increase your M$ production 4 steps. Gain 2 Plants and place a City tile.)
VP: 1


120: Urbanized Area
City tag, Building tag
Cost: 10
------
Decrease Energy 1
Increase M$ 2
City Tile*
(Decrease your Energy production 1 step and increase your M$ production 2 steps. Place a City tile ADJACENT TO AT LEAST 2 OTHER CITY TILES.)


166: Shuttles
Space tag
Cost: 10
Requires: 5% O2
Space: -2 M$
(Effect: When you play a Space card, you pay 2 M$ less for it.)
------
Decrease Energy 1
Increase M$ 2
(Requires 5% oxygen. Decrease your Energy production 1 step and increase your M$ production 2 steps.)
VP: 1


182:* Corporate Stronghold
City tag, Building tag
Cost: 11
------
Decrease Energy 1
Increase M$ 3
City Tile
(Decrease your Energy production 1 step and increase your M$ production 3 steps. Place a City tile.)
VP: -2


198: Immigration Shuttles
Earth tag, Space tag
Cost: 31
-------
Increase M$ 5
(Increase your M$ production 5 steps. 1 VP for every 3rd City in play.)
VP: 1/3 City

200: Immigrant City
City tag, Building tag
Cost: 13
City*: Increase M$ 1
(Effect: Each time a City tile is placed, including this, increase your M$ production 1 step.)
------
Decrease Energy 1
Decrease M$ 2
City Tile
(Decrease your Energy production 1 step and decrease your M$ production 2 steps. Place a City tile.)
 
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R. O. Schaefer
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Thunkd wrote:
Califax wrote:
And also: if the card is that bad in 4 player games/5 player games: would it need some beefing here to ever get played?
Not all cards are good in every situation. Many cards are quite situational. That doesn't mean you change the card to make it better for other situations, it just means you choose not to keep that card in the current situation.

I'm not a fan of people who decide that they don't like the way a game plays and start using variants and house rules. Most of the time that simply means they don't understand how to play the game and that they're twisting how the game works to fit their playstyle instead of adjusting their playstyle in the way that they should be doing to win the game.


I was partly asking tongue-in-cheek, because some of the feedback in this post came across like "always ditch the card in multiplayer games".
Also your suggestion doesn't help the targeted player in a 5 player game, if the owner shouldn't have played the card, but did it anyway.

Phil Fleischmann wrote:
If it was applied to all other players at -1 MC income each, that would make it less devastating, and maybe more useful to the player - he could get +1 MC income for each other player hacked - making it a more useful card with more players, but obviously worse in a 2p game.


Seems like an interesting idea. I probably would leave the increasing M$ production by 2 fixed for the card owner, but make all other players decrease theirs by 1. This would make the card slightly more powerful in 2 player games than your suggestion, but still weaker than by official rules. Also it would balance the card in multiplayer games not only for the card owner, but - even more importantly - for the targeted player(s), who don't have this disadvantage compared to the players not involved at all.


RobAntilles wrote:
We are using a house rule, saying you can't reduce an enemy production below 1. This is quote essential to avoid games being killed during the first 4 generations. Therefore hackers are rarely played by anyone in our group.


This was also suggested by allstar64 in my original post's quote collection, but would of course weaken the card and not doing much for it's scaling.
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Bryan Thunkd
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RobAntilles wrote:
If you could play a card with the effect: "Pick a player. In 10 generations he must give you 40 20 m€."
If you offered me that card, I doubt I'd take it. I'd pay 3 to keep the card, 3 to play it, and 11 for power production... so 17 MC (unless I had some way of generating a power, but that would still have some cost). In the first generation! And I'd only get my money back in 10 generations and make a slight 3 MC profit? That's horrible.

Losing 17 MC on round 1 is much worse than you losing 20 MC in round 10. Sure, I make my money back and a slight profit... but in generation 1 you have 17 MC to get your engine up and running, while I spent 17 MC doing something that doesn't benefit me at all until generation 10.

And yeah, 20 MC will be a big ding later on... but income production in generation 10 tends to be fairly huge. And opportunities to convert money to points diminish over time. By the end of the game, your options for using money are really card dependent. I've seen people on the last round of the game spending 23 MC to build a forest for a single point. Or maybe two. I've also seen people pass with 22 MC left over because they had nothing left to do with it.
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R. O. Schaefer
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Thunkd wrote:
RobAntilles wrote:
If you could play a card with the effect: "Pick a player. In 10 generations he must give you 40 20 m€."
If you offered me that card, I doubt I'd take it. I'd pay 3 to keep the card, 3 to play it, and 11 for power production... so 17 MC (unless I had some way of generating a power, but that would still have some cost). In the first generation! And I'd only get my money back in 10 generations and make a slight 3 MC profit? That's horrible.

Losing 17 MC on round 1 is much worse than you losing 20 MC in round 10.


Which is quite obvious. Honestly, I'm not sure about the value of this thought experiment (and not sure either it was intendend this way by RobAntilles), which is far from the real game situation. This reads more like "losing 20 M$ over the course of 10 rounds with a fixed rate". Also, while mentioning possible cheaper ways to get the energy production, you continue calculating with 17 MC for Hackers, when I already wrote in my original post, that the standard project for 11$ wasn't involved in our case. You might simply start with the energy production through corporation etc. Than a lot would depend on your starting hand and which other ways it offers to use the energy (or not), I guess.

Now, comparing Hackers with some of the other cards mentioned in this thread and possible context would take us further imho than riding the 17 MC to death. I'm still convinced, the designers put some thoughts and testing into the card, and -1 VP tells us something.
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Peter Bakija
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Califax wrote:
Now, comparing Hackers with some of the other cards mentioned in this thread and possible context would take us further imho than riding the 17 MC to death. I'm still convinced, the designers put some thoughts and testing into the card, and -1 VP tells us something.


I'm sure they did, but, well, in the wild, I still think Hackers is not a great card. Like, a lot of cards that give you minus points are not great cards. They generally tend to be cards that do something cheap, rather than do something particularly strong.

Like, Bribed Committee is a strong card that gives you a -2 penalty, but it also balances that out with the 2 bonus TR, and is cheap. Nuclear Zone is ok, as it has a similar effect to Bribed Committee (less so in solo play, but still). But then you got cards like Heat Trappers and Biomass Combustors (which strike me as much more similar to Hackers than NZ and BC are), which are cards that I'd virtually never play. They aren't particularly good; they are cheap which is balanced by the minus points rather than strong and balanced by the minus points.

As noted, yeah, in a 2 player game, if my opening hand has Hackers and then something else to give me a quick cheap energy production (Power Plant?), I might play Hackers on my opponent (but then I'm spending, what, 3+3+4+3=13 money on the 1st turn for this?). But not so much in a multi player game.
 
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Rob Davidson
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I know the discussion is on using Hackers early (least it seems to be); so I will throw in a contrarian reply of several parts:

1. You're dealt a event heavy hand; ICinematics as a corporation and possibly a rebate card...media group or something like that. Here you might recoup enough of the 'cost' to make it worthy of play.

2. Playing with the 'event' milestone and using it to gain that 5vp requirement as a cheap event before it's closed off; which also has the benefit of possibly closing off another milestone option for another in the process.

3. Finally, holding it til the end of the final generation on the original board; IF you're in striking distance of the Banker award (if funded) or by playing it you change the leader in a favorable manner to you....say Player A has a 1 point lead and you can drop them to 2nd...energy cost should not be a factor in late game here and the -1VP loss to you is countered by the -3 or more loss to the Banker leader....

3a. and of course as an insurance policy in the opposite case; where you're the banking leader and give up the VP to counter a play against your lead in that Award in the end game by another.
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Bryan Thunkd
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tabpub wrote:
so I will throw in a contrarian reply of several parts
All of what you said equates to "the opportunities where it makes sense to play this card are very situational."
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Sean Grabowski
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Also, let's point out that this card costs 3 MC to play. Any card that costs so little is by definition not considered a strong card. Otherwise, it would cost you more MC to play it.

As far as your "distributed damage" variant - When you ask me "I cheat at board games, does that make *insert game mechanic* broken?", my answer is: No, you are just a cheater.
 
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tabpub wrote:
I know the discussion is on using Hackers early (least it seems to be); so I will throw in a contrarian reply of several parts:

1. You're dealt a event heavy hand; ICinematics as a corporation and possibly a rebate card...media group or something like that. Here you might recoup enough of the 'cost' to make it worthy of play.

2. Playing with the 'event' milestone and using it to gain that 5vp requirement as a cheap event before it's closed off; which also has the benefit of possibly closing off another milestone option for another in the process.


Both of these do not apply, as Hackers is not an event.
 
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SeanLG wrote:
Also, let's point out that this card costs 3 MC to play. Any card that costs so little is by definition not considered a strong card. Otherwise, it would cost you more MC to play it.

As far as your "distributed damage" variant - When you ask me "I cheat at board games, does that make *insert game mechanic* broken?", my answer is: No, you are just a cheater.


So, yeah, this is way over the top. It's very clearly not cheating to try a variant if every player at the table agrees. Not only that, but the rules for TR actually suggest several different types of variants.

The issue is more that the problem the OP is worried about isn't that big of a problem, because Hacker's really isn't a great card.
 
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Martin H.
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and one should not understimate the cost of revenge...the guy whom you decreased the money by 2 will most likely play the next negative cards on you...even if you are not the leader...at least in my group is that the case...if you do s*** to people it comes back to you...if there is not an obvious leader... negative effects usually tend to get spread around...first asteroid goes on you second on the next guy....esspecially playing bad cards like this..or virus...enrage people...(especially if it makes no sense to play) eg. you d not get moey back or some kind of bonus from the microbe tag of virus...
 
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