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Subject: Mining planets = autowin? (i.e. Blockade is useless) rss

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Asif Kazmi
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We really want to like this game but the ambiguity of the rules and apparent inconsistencies are annoying.

1) "Autoconstruction" i.e. Preparation=Build rule (why even build when you can just prepare? why is the build action even in the game?).

2) So blockaded ships can wait till they draw the attack number, then decide to pay a credit (e.g. if they need/want the +1), but your blockaded tech has to pay before they draw?

3) Blockades work on operational ships and tech, but do nothing to operational planets?

The last point has been a real bone of contention in our group. Recently, we found whoever puts down 4+ operational planets, then begins mining them, automatically wins.

Each turn, he mines. It's not hard to get 5 planet symbols because he has the resources on the planets in addition to his hand. He gets 2-3 points, and more resources to fund this action again next turn. In addition, he is speeding towards game end since he is cycling through the draw deck quickly.

I initially thought this could be blockaded but apparently from reading the rules forum, it cannot? So I can blockage operational ships and tech, but not operational planets? What type of symmetry is this?

Even the winners in our group walk away from the game feeling bittersweet about the validity of their wins since we're not sure we're playing it "right".
 
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Zachary David
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1. Yes, it's a small difference in the build and prepare + auto-build actions. But it is also possible to have other ships, techs, or planets to auto build if a condition is met.

2. The only thing the rule book mentions is if you want to use the ability of a blockaded card, you need to pay the 1C when you want to use it.

3. Yes blockades essentially remove all text from a card, and since the operational planets only have a building bonus, a blockade on an on this type of card is ineffective. But of the 6 types of cards, this is the only type where cancelling the text is not a good use of a blockade token.

As far as the mining planets strategy goes, I've never seen this happen in all the games that I have played. I think it's really hard to always have 5 green planet resources. I know the mining planets is a valid strategy but also it's similar to attacking (potential to earn a alien artifact & VPs) or gaining revenue. All the actions only take one card plus having to choose the lesser amount of resources when it doesn't match isn't always a great benefit.
 
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mfl134
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zachpas wrote:
1. Yes, it's a small difference in the build and prepare + auto-build actions. But it is also possible to have other ships, techs, or planets to auto build if a condition is met.


Prepare is strictly better as far as I can tell. I'm not sure which small difference you are referring to.

Quote:
2. The only thing the rule book mentions is if you want to use the ability of a blockaded card, you need to pay the 1C when you want to use it.


The rules have been clarified to work as described in the OP.

Quote:
As far as the mining planets strategy goes, I've never seen this happen in all the games that I have played. I think it's really hard to always have 5 green planet resources. I know the mining planets is a valid strategy but also it's similar to attacking (potential to earn a alien artifact & VPs) or gaining revenue. All the actions only take one card plus having to choose the lesser amount of resources when it doesn't match isn't always a great benefit.


If you have enough green operational planets, having 5 often won't be difficult. (And every turn where you use cards on a planet, you can cycle your hand of cards to try to find more green symbols.

That being said, logistic planets can be very valuable and this strategy avoids them. Id imagine there are many strategies in this game that seem overpowered.
 
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Stefano Di Silvio
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Hurdoc wrote:
Recently, we found whoever puts down 4+ operational planets, then begins mining them, automatically wins.

Each turn, he mines. It's not hard to get 5 planet symbols because he has the resources on the planets in addition to his hand. He gets 2-3 points, and more resources to fund this action again next turn. In addition, he is speeding towards game end since he is cycling through the draw deck quickly.


This doesn't sound right. I've played the game only 16 times so far, but I saw players with even 6 operational planets and they didn't manage to make a "mining loop", so to speak... and even when they mined a lot, they didn't win. Are you sure he wasn't using gold to mine? Or tech abilities? or increase assembly limit? Remember that you need exactly 5 of green on two cards to perform that action.

I'm sorry if you didn't like the game.
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Hi gang,

I watched this debate go on for about a month before I took a break. Then, not too long ago, I watched that excellent play-through from that Ant Lab team. I was really impressed with how quick and smooth the turns went.

Consequently, I tried to jettison all the posts from my mind (even the developer posts) and went back to the rules. Why? Because the game intrigues me and I’m on the fence about purchasing it.

Here are my thoughts. The obvious disclaimer of not owning or ever playing the game applies . . .

Hurdoc wrote:
1) "Autoconstruction" i.e. Preparation=Build rule (why even build when you can just prepare? why is the build action even in the game?).


I get the impression from the rules that you cannot complete a card using the Prepare Resources (PR) action. Twice, in the PR rule’s opening paragraph, it says that the action is to prepare/plan for future actions. Neither the PR rule, nor its example, say anything about completing a card (or cards) during the PR action itself. Even if that explanation is not explicitly in the rules, it seems to be the spirit from my perspective. Otherwise, yes, there would be no reason to have the other three actions for ships, technologies, and planets.

Regarding Auto Construction, it appears that this can only occur when a card is added to the Empire side of the play area, so I don’t see how this can even apply to the PR action.

Quote:
2) So blockaded ships can wait till they draw the attack number, then decide to pay a credit (e.g. if they need/want the +1), but your blockaded tech has to pay before they draw?


Shouldn’t a blockaded card be treated as if you didn’t have the card at all? The rule says that the card is “blank for all game purposes.” This tells me that even all the Operational cards can be effectively blocked, making blockades more reasonable to do. Consequently, before you use that blockaded ship (and prior to drawing that attack number card) you would first have to pay that credit, no?

I realize there are many rule clarifications out there and I don’t mean to be dismissive, so my apologies in advance . . . I’m just trying to go by what is strictly in the rules, as I’m sure many others here have tried to do, and it seems to me that a blockade disables the card for ALL game purposes.

Hurdoc wrote:
3) Blockades work on operational ships and tech, but do nothing to operational planets?


See my reply above for #2. I think a blocked Operational Planet cannot provide its resources to you, nor can it be used during its Operational Action (Mine The Planets) unless you pay the credits.

I realize I may be overly simplistic here, but a part of me wonders if we got too mired in the details and have overlooked the spirit of some of the rules. I’m not trying to defend the rules or dismiss anyone’s confusion. I think the ambiguity of the rules is definitely there . . . and it takes some work to get through it all.

Thoughts or corrections to my thinking above? Does anyone play it the way I outlined it above, or would it hurt to try it that way?

Thanks, gang. I hope everyone is able to find a way to enjoy the game.
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Martin Nelmes
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I think that your problem is being caused by the way you are choosing to interpret the blockade rules. If you were to treat blockaded cards as totally blank (i.e. no images or text, so ships are no longer ships and planets are no longer planets etc.), I think that your problems would largely disappear.

Just my 2c.
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Asif Kazmi
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As the original poster, I bought this game with high hopes as well but I believe the first two points have already been confirmed by the designer to be true.

In other works, Prepare can immediately construct stuff so Build action is pointless. In fact, preparing can let you "build" multiple cards, though the overall pace is the same.

Secondly, blockaded cards keep their type (planet, ship, etc) per the designer response on Twitter, so ships can attack, planets can be mined, etc. Yes, I agree that blockaded cards should act as if they do not exist but that is not how the designers have said the game is meant to be played. In fact, blockade is terribly unbalanced because it completely shuts down the blue operational cards, partially shuts down the red operational cards (because they lose their bonus though they can still attack) but does not touch the green operational ones at all.

Also, my friend had 4 operational planets out. That means he will get 2 VPs every turn, put 4 cards on to them, and discard cards from hand to get new ones in hand. Its not that hard to get 5 green symbols from 7 cards. Maybe not EVERY single turn but pretty much 4 turns out of 5. If you try to do the same thing with 4 operational ships or tech, you won't be able to do it as efficiently because ships get damaged/destroyed, VPs on attack are not as common as the 50% chance when you mine planets. Four operational tech may get you good points occasionally but you won't be able to consistently come up with 5 blues as easily or simply as 4 planets churn out 5 greens.
 
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Richard Dickson
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The autoconstruction rules specifically mention "adding new cards to your Empire." Adding resources via the prepare action isn't adding anything to your Empire, so I don't see how they'd trigger the autoconstruct rule.

EDIT: Just saw the other thread. That's ... interesting.
 
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Hurdoc wrote:
As the original poster . . . I believe the first two points have already been confirmed by the designer to be true.


Understood.

Is it remotely possible that some miscommunication had occurred somewhere between the customers and the developer? Is it possible that a misunderstanding occurred somewhere between the Portal team and the developer? I don’t know.

But even if not, consider the logical bird's eye view of all this . . .

Do you go with a Blockade ruling that treats one set of Operational cards one way, another set a different way, and is ineffective against a third set? Or do you go with the more reasonable ruling where a blockade renders its card useless, whatever card it may be? Do the rules even remotely suggest that blockades affect the cards in three different ways?

Do you go with a Prepare Resource ruling that allows you to complete two or more cards in a single action, basically eliminating three other actions that the rulebook specifically separates at length? Or do you go with a ruling which recognizes the inability of the Prepare Resource action to complete any cards, which brings harmony and purpose to all four rules?

Do you go with an Auto Construction ruling that brings about crazy, endless completion of cards for all sorts of reasons? Or do you go with the rulebook which curbs such recklessness by only allowing this to happen when a card is played on the Empire side?

You, good Sir, are heading down the dark road to madness. Flee this insanity! Ignore the internet voices (except mine), play this game as it was meant to be played, and fulfill your destiny in becoming a Jedi Gamer!
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Stefano Di Silvio
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Hurdoc wrote:
In other works, Prepare can immediately construct stuff so Build action is pointless. In fact, preparing can let you "build" multiple cards, though the overall pace is the same.


Again, this doesn't sound right. Could you please elaborate how preparing resources should lead to an autoconstruct frenzy? I've never seen such a situation. One of us must be playing wrong.

Hurdoc wrote:
In fact, blockade is terribly unbalanced because it completely shuts down the blue operational cards, partially shuts down the red operational cards (because they lose their bonus though they can still attack) but does not touch the green operational ones at all.


But you cannot use the Resource Cards under the planets, if they have a Blockade token. Right?

Hurdoc wrote:
Also, my friend had 4 operational planets out. That means he will get 2 VPs every turn, put 4 cards on to them, and discard cards from hand to get new ones in hand. Its not that hard to get 5 green symbols from 7 cards. Maybe not EVERY single turn but pretty much 4 turns out of 5.


Again... are you sure he was using 5 planets resources WITHOUT GOLD and WITHOUT INCREASED ASSEMBLY LIMIT? Because in my experience (16 games), it's not that easy.

Hurdoc wrote:
If you try to do the same thing with 4 operational ships or tech, you won't be able to do it as efficiently because ships get damaged/destroyed, VPs on attack are not as common as the 50% chance when you mine planets.


HIGHLY disagree here. The "Gain Revenue" action can get you easily WAY more points than Mining. I've seen many times players score between 6 and 12 points with Gain Revenue. As for the Ships... if you play well, it can be really strong. WAY stronger than what people first think. Here's how you do it:
1) Build a bunch of Extermination ships (3-5 will do).
2) Trade for a lot of credits and then spend all to search the Technology Deck. Get either the "+1 on Attacks" tech or the "to attack draw 2 cards and choose the highest" tech.
3) Start a few offensives.

I've tried this myself and I've been also on the receiving end of this strategy. I ended up with 15 blockade tokens on my cards. This lost me over 16 points... and points that I don't get are basically points that you get. Trust me, it was brutal! Awesome to see, but brutal XD
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Asif Kazmi
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AlasDemigod wrote:
Hurdoc wrote:
In other works, Prepare can immediately construct stuff so Build action is pointless. In fact, preparing can let you "build" multiple cards, though the overall pace is the same.


Again, this doesn't sound right. Could you please elaborate how preparing resources should lead to an autoconstruct frenzy? I've never seen such a situation. One of us must be playing wrong.

Hurdoc wrote:
In fact, blockade is terribly unbalanced because it completely shuts down the blue operational cards, partially shuts down the red operational cards (because they lose their bonus though they can still attack) but does not touch the green operational ones at all.


But you cannot use the Resource Cards under the planets, if they have a Blockade token. Right?

Hurdoc wrote:
Also, my friend had 4 operational planets out. That means he will get 2 VPs every turn, put 4 cards on to them, and discard cards from hand to get new ones in hand. Its not that hard to get 5 green symbols from 7 cards. Maybe not EVERY single turn but pretty much 4 turns out of 5.


Again... are you sure he was using 5 planets resources WITHOUT GOLD and WITHOUT INCREASED ASSEMBLY LIMIT? Because in my experience (16 games), it's not that easy.

Hurdoc wrote:
If you try to do the same thing with 4 operational ships or tech, you won't be able to do it as efficiently because ships get damaged/destroyed, VPs on attack are not as common as the 50% chance when you mine planets.


HIGHLY disagree here. The "Gain Revenue" action can get you easily WAY more points than Mining. I've seen many times players score between 6 and 12 points with Gain Revenue. As for the Ships... if you play well, it can be really strong. WAY stronger than what people first think. Here's how you do it:
1) Build a bunch of Extermination ships (3-5 will do).
2) Trade for a lot of credits and then spend all to search the Technology Deck. Get either the "+1 on Attacks" tech or the "to attack draw 2 cards and choose the highest" tech.
3) Start a few offensives.

I've tried this myself and I've been also on the receiving end of this strategy. I ended up with 15 blockade tokens on my cards. This lost me over 16 points... and points that I don't get are basically points that you get. Trust me, it was brutal! Awesome to see, but brutal XD


Prepare does not build things faster than Build. What I'm saying is that it does exactly the same thing as build. For example, I can prepare 5 ship symbols on a ship and it "autoconstructs" right away. What that means is that Prepare=Build, so the designers have some actions that are redundant and that is sloppy game design. You could have two ships under construction, put a 2 and a 3 under each. Then next turn put a 3 and 3 under each one and build them both at once. The overall construction speed is 2 ships per 2 rounds, the same as build. The argument is not that Prepare is faster than Build, its that there is no point of the Build action in the game.

You can use resources from under a blockaded planet. The planet text is blank but that is only a Build bonus. You can even use resources under a planet that has been flipped back to logistics side (via an artifact, for example).

Draw 4 cards per turn, use only the lower amount of symbols (although you can match the planet symbol to get green if possible). Also, refresh your hand of 3 cards, so draw 3 more. See if you don't get 5 green symbols more often than not from those seven cards. When you do ship attacks and tech revenue, you have the get the symbols every time with only the benefit of refreshing your hand.

You also don't need to set up any special tech cards or get a lot of credits to fish for those techs. Mining is easy to set up. It's even easier if you get a faction that lets you start with a an operational planet.

Also, I do like the game mechanics, theme, etc. I just think the rules are completely wrong on Blockade and Prepare. Sure, I could play however I want. I could take the pieces and make my own game completely but I'm surprised at what seems to be poor rulings or, if I'm wrong, the complete lack of response on these topics by the designers.
 
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Paul Gates
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I see your point regarding the purpose, or lack thereof, of the build action. I’d like to hear more too.
 
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B Charlebois
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I guess technically build is the same as prepare but when explaining the game I find it is easier to explain that you can build for 5 resources or if you don't have enough you can prepare ressources.
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Christopher Hanson
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Hurdoc wrote:
Draw 4 cards per turn, use only the lower amount of symbols (although you can match the planet symbol to get green if possible). Also, refresh your hand of 3 cards, so draw 3 more. See if you don't get 5 green symbols more often than not from those seven cards. When you do ship attacks and tech revenue, you have the get the symbols every time with only the benefit of refreshing your hand.


In this mining example, are you drawing 4 cards and then putting them where you want, or producing on each planet one at a time?
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Chris Smith

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Hurdoc wrote:
Prepare does not build things faster than Build. What I'm saying is that it does exactly the same thing as build. For example, I can prepare 5 ship symbols on a ship and it "autoconstructs" right away.


Where is this stated?
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Kektek wrote:
Hurdoc wrote:
Prepare does not build things faster than Build. What I'm saying is that it does exactly the same thing as build. For example, I can prepare 5 ship symbols on a ship and it "autoconstructs" right away.


Where is this stated?


In other threads on bgg, confirmed by portal via email. (Not in the rules.)
 
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Stefano Di Silvio
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Hurdoc wrote:
Prepare does not build things faster than Build. What I'm saying is that it does exactly the same thing as build. For example, I can prepare 5 ship symbols on a ship and it "autoconstructs" right away. What that means is that Prepare=Build, so the designers have some action.


Ok, now I understand what you mean! Yet I disagree for a few reasons. First: The action "Prepare" DOES have a purpose. If you already built a bunch of ships and you want to build a new one but its cost - even with discounts and stuff - is too high, you HAVE to use the "Prepare" action and finish building the next turn. Even if this situation was rare, which - in my experience at least - it isn't, it's necessary that the design takes this possibility into account. So two actions (Build and Prepare) are in fact both needed.

Second: Even if this wasn't the case. You're enjoying this game less because of a linguistic "issue". No offense but I'm a linguist myself and I wonder: is it really a good reason to enjoy a game less?

They could have wrote the rules like: "On your turn, you can play up to two cards showing the same resource. You can put them on one or more cards of the type matching the resources you're playing. If then the building cost is met, the card is built". Still, the game-play wouldn't change one bit.

Third: I've played your mining strategy few hours ago. I had a pretty good game. I played as the Community, which means that Operational Planets were worth even more to me. This was only my 17th play of Alien Artifact but I've played Imperial Settlers over 70 times and Magic The Gathering for 5 years of my life, so I think I have a pretty good grasp of card games in general.

I played at the best of my possibilities. I also got two Operative Technologies for planets that gave me 20 points at the end of the game. Besides that I purposely kept mining the planets, as you said. I was able to mine quite a few times, also thanks to the cards I produced, like you said would happen.

However, I got crushed. Even with 5 operative planets I wasn't able to keep up with my opponent. I simply didn't generate enough points. I got very lucky two times, scoring 4 out of 5 planets. Once I was really unlucky scoring 0 of 5. At the end my score was 62.
- 20 for the Techs (they didn't score bonus points when I've built them).
- 11 for the Faction scoring.
- 11 for cards I've built.

That means I got 20 points from Mining. I must have mined at least 6 times. So that's an average of 3,3 points for each Mining action with 5 Operative Planets.

In my experience, a good score in AA is between 75 and 100. The highest I've seen was 121. Even if I got lucky every time, scoring 5 out of 5, I would have got 72, which isn't a high enough score to grant you the victory. Building a sixth Operative Planet is also not really an option, because at that point - with no Logistic Planet discounting the cost - it gets way too expensive and you would be trowing away Resource Cards with the Planet Resources that you need. It's too expensive and time consuming even with an increased assembly limit, which I had anyway from early in the game.

Hence... I don't think that mining is overpowered at all. Sure, it's only one play but I don't see the potential. What was the score of the guy who won with mining in your group? Maybe he got unbelievably lucky or, frankly, you played worse than him.
 
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Hurdoc wrote:
Each turn, he mines. It's not hard to get 5 planet symbols because he has the resources on the planets in addition to his hand. He gets 2-3 points, and more resources to fund this action again next turn


Other two doubts:
1) Are you resolving the Production one by one and seeing if the symbol matches? I mean. You have, for example, 4 planets: Exploit, Explore, Explore, Exterminate.

The correct way to resolve it is:
1. Choose the planet that is producing. i.e. let's say Exploit
2. Draw a card from the top.
3. Does it match? Yes? Score.
4. Move to the next planet and repeat.

Are you playing like this or are you drawing 4 all together and seeing if they match any planet regardless of order? This would explain why it could seem overpowered.

2) Are you choosing the side with the fewest resources when the symbol doesn't match? Because this would instead explain why it was THAT easy for him to keep mining. Producing a 3 of planets is not easy at all. It's actually very lucky and I cannot image it happening all the time.

3) You still didn't answer me. Are you sure you weren't using gold to activate the mining?
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Regarding building for five vs. prepare, I thought the question was what can you do with build that you can’t do with prepare?
 
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earthtone wrote:
Regarding building for five vs. prepare, I thought the question was what can you do with build that you can’t do with prepare?


You can build a card immediately, instead of having to wait next turn to prepare again and auto-construct. This can be very important, because you may need an effect to be active as soon as possible (especially with Techs).

It doesn't seem like a small difference to me.
 
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Can you tuck 5 (or whatever is needed to build it) resources under a card using the prepare action and build it immediately?
 
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We're talking linguistic now then... alright.

Is running and walking not just moving your feet to go some place? So are they the same thing?

We use words to describe reality. Sometimes the things we're describing are very similar to one another. Sometimes another language wouldn't even make a difference between two concepts. English says "go", German would differentiate between "gehen" (go by foot) and "fahren" (go by vehicle).

My point is: if you tuck 5 resources under a card, even if you can theoretically call it "prepare", you are not performing a prepare action. That's a "build" action. "Prepare" describes a similar concept but it's not the same... and that differentiation is needed to make things more clear.
 
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Paul Gates
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The linguistic thing doesn’t bother me. I was just wondering if there was something I was missing as it seems you can do the same thing with the prepare action as you can with the build. I see your point that the differentiation makes it more clear. On the other hand, I can see people being confused by having two different actions (build and prepare), where one (prepare) may have been all that was needed.
 
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Asif Kazmi
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earthtone wrote:
Can you tuck 5 (or whatever is needed to build it) resources under a card using the prepare action and build it immediately?


Yes
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It sounds like perhaps "Prepare resources" is a broader "action" allowing you to tuck cards whereas the "Build" (consisting of discover a planet, build a ship and develop a tech) is more specific to each row.

I've always seen the Prepare as a spread resource card across multiple ones where I use the Build to actually them over (in addition to the auto construct).
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