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Subject: Would you play in a Terraforming Mars Tournament at GenCon? rss

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Roman F
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- GenCon is Aug 2-5 in Indianapolis.

- I am thinking a one-day tournament with 4 time slots, each for 16 players. Each player plays in one, 4-player game, selected at random with a deck of standard playing cards. If there are no-shows, some games may be only 3 players. The winner of each game advances to a 4-player finals qualifier to be played immediately after (after a short break). The winner of that game will advance to the finals. The second place finisher will qualify as a backup if all the winners can't make it to the final, % of distance from first place would seed the second place finishers.

- Time slots are: 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm. The first game should be concluded within 3 hours, hopefully a little less. When all 4 games are included, we will proceed immediately to the second game. The second game is not expected to conclude before the next time slot starts, but should be underway. The final game would likely wrap up around 10pm. I'm considering some form of turn timer just to make sure the games go quickly enough. They are intended for experienced players who know what they're doing.

- You might want to split up from your friends to give each of you a chance to advance. However, you CAN enter multiple time slots, so long as you honor them, but you do it in advance, and I'd have to collect all of your tickets up front in the first event, because GenCon only cares about the tickets you collect.

- The championship would be between the 4 time slot winners. I think the following morning at 10am or something would be best, but it could be that night.

- I'm considering a bidding process for the various corporations in each game.

Thoughts? Would anyone make the trip just to flex his skills? If you did, do you feel like the above format is suitable enough?
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Justin H
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Since I'm already making the trip there, I could possibly partake. I get you're just trying to garner interest at the moment, but there's lots of other questions that'd have to be answered though, such as:

- Standard playing cards as in those from the base game only?
- Base Board only? Or is Venus Next included also?
- How would the bid process work for corporations?
- Will there be drafting for opening hands?
- Tournament format is basically 16->4->Finals? Also, trying to play 2 games in a 3 hour time-slot seems ambitious, especially if drafting is involved.
 
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Roman F
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Hi, thanks for your interest.

- I would probably go base game with the main expansion that everyone uses.

- I would also stick to the base board only.

- Bid process: I want to adapt the system they use for Eclipse tournaments, you can choose a corporation from another player by taking a beginning TM rating deficit to go with it. First choice of corporation goes last.

- Drafting for sure.

- Right, 16 > 4 > Finals.

- The 3-hour time slot would accommodate all 4, simultaneous, 4-player games only. So it's just 1 game, not 2, but the longest of the 4 games would have to be complete in 3 hours, so we might need a turn timer. The finals qualifier would be played after, at the same time that the next time slot starts.
 
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Dan Cain
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I would love to do a tournament for TM at GenCon, but I would not participate if there was drafting of any sort.

I also probably wouldn't play with any sort of bidding process for corporations.

I prefer the more tactical version of TM rather than the more strategic.

If you do decide to go with drafting or bidding for corps I still wish all the best, TM could use more events at GenCon.
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Andrew Lund

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lastalchemist wrote:
I would love to do a tournament for TM at GenCon, but I would not participate if there was drafting of any sort.

I also probably wouldn't play with any sort of bidding process for corporations.

I prefer the more tactical version of TM rather than the more strategic.

If you do decide to go with drafting or bidding for corps I still wish all the best, TM could use more events at GenCon.


I concur, no bidding, no drafting.
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Roman F
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Thanks for the feedback! I do have Stronghold Games' ear on this, but I don't work for them or anything. Therefore, I want to make sure there would be adequate participation or I'm not going to propose it to them. So the more people who participate in this thread, the better case that I have, the better the chance that they will agree to it.

Ok, bidding is out. I'll consider banning a corporation or 2, but we'll otherwise go with the straight rules, deal 2 corporations and you can pick one.

I think the drafting of early cards is such a key part of your ability to strategize, and therefore the right kind of rule to include in an official tournament. However, if I were to do away with drafting, would that dissuade anyone from participating?
 
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Justin H
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I'm perfectly fine without bidding for the corporations. As for banning corporations, I'm not sure it's entirely necessary, but I'm not opposed to seeing Tharsis banned because it seems so strong in a 4P game. Especially if Hellas is used, because that's a turn 1 city and ocean if that person is first player.

Drafting during the Research Phase is pretty important because without it, it just becomes a game of luck of who draws the best cards. Yes, even with drafting there is still randomness, but it's mitigated than without. If there's no drafting during the Research phase, I most likely wouldn't participate.

EDIT: I could see the possibility of collusion if say three friends join the same game and they all feed useful cards to each other during the drafting phase so that at least one of them advances. It's unlikely, but a possibility.

Drafting the initial starting hand of 10 cards is a different story. For those who want a more strategic/skill-based and less luck-based game, this is the preferred method. As a non-tournament player, I don't mind a little bit of randomness in the opening hand, but I can definitely see the case for drafting the opening hand.




 
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hiimjustin wrote:
I'm perfectly fine without bidding for the corporations. As for banning corporations, I'm not sure it's entirely necessary, but I'm not opposed to seeing Tharsis banned because it seems so strong in a 4P game. Especially if Hellas is used, because that's a turn 1 city and ocean if that person is first player.

Drafting during the Research Phase is pretty important because without it, it just becomes a game of luck of who draws the best cards. Yes, even with drafting there is still randomness, but it's mitigated than without. If there's no drafting during the Research phase, I most likely wouldn't participate.

EDIT: I could see the possibility of collusion if say three friends join the same game and they all feed useful cards to each other during the drafting phase so that at least one of them advances. It's unlikely, but a possibility.

Drafting the initial starting hand of 10 cards is a different story. For those who want a more strategic/skill-based and less luck-based game, this is the preferred method. As a non-tournament player, I don't mind a little bit of randomness in the opening hand, but I can definitely see the case for drafting the opening hand.


If three players decide the fourth one shouldn't win, I don't think they need drafting to make that happen.

I'm not going to GenCon, so my opinions should probably be discounted, but There are loads of variants designed to smooth out the luck in the game. I'd favor the one in the rule book (CE with draft after gen 1) to increase the odds of the best TM player winning instead of the one who happens to have played variant XYZ the most. But then, in the circles I play in, CE with draft and a semi-randomly selected map plus Venus if somebody brought it are the norm, so maybe I'm biased.

Also, maybe number the corps and use an RNG to assign them after the first game, so people won't get dealt a corp they already played (e.g. in round 2, you use a D11 to deal the first corp, then a D10 and so on. In round 3, start with a D10, since you're ruling out two corps for each player).
 
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Cooper McCann
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I won't be an GenCon unfortunately, some day though. Just wanted to mention that our local gaming shop did a tournament (prize was the H&E Expansion) a while back. They had more of a time limit so keep that in mind. It was Beginner corps, no draft. For the first round it was random seating, second round winners played winners, 2nd played 2nd and so on. Tie breakers were most points. It went well enough, there were 3 4 player games and 1 3 player game (couldn't quite convince one more person to play, sad).

I will say that my group all got split up and all won our games so it was us three and one other guy who did win, though more so because we like to mess with each other way more than anyone else. I was pretty happy with 2nd regardless, got me store credit for the Venus Expansion.
 
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Jason DuVall

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Some insight to perhaps help the tournament.

I'm a Volunteer at Strategicon conventions in Los Angeles. The latest Strategicon, Orccon, was last weekend. There was a Terraforming Mars tournament, and I preregistered for it. Like you, I was expecting 16-20 players. I believe the actual player count was around 50.

So the tournament that was expected to be two rounds, with Preliminaries on Saturday and Finals on Sunday, ended up being THREE rounds.

Orccon is somewhere around 2500 attendees. GenCon is nearly an order of magnitude larger... so I'd expect to look for a much, MUCH larger player base willing to participate. If you're unwilling to make it much larger, with more rounds to account for more players, then at a minimum allow people to sign up for Standby, so that you can fill the gaps caused by no-shows.

If you're willing to take more players, though, 100 makes a nice round number - 20 games of 5-player Preliminary round, 4 games of 5-player Semi-Final round, and one 4-player Finals.

Note that despite people talking about 3+ and 4+ hour games (and I've had 4+ hour games in casual play, myself), all of the tournament games at Orccon took no more than 2.5 hours each.
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Roman F
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Nekojin wrote:
Some insight to perhaps help the tournament.

I'm a Volunteer at Strategicon conventions in Los Angeles. The latest Strategicon, Orccon, was last weekend. There was a Terraforming Mars tournament, and I preregistered for it. Like you, I was expecting 16-20 players. I believe the actual player count was around 50.

So the tournament that was expected to be two rounds, with Preliminaries on Saturday and Finals on Sunday, ended up being THREE rounds.

Orccon is somewhere around 2500 attendees. GenCon is nearly an order of magnitude larger... so I'd expect to look for a much, MUCH larger player base willing to participate. If you're unwilling to make it much larger, with more rounds to account for more players, then at a minimum allow people to sign up for Standby, so that you can fill the gaps caused by no-shows.

If you're willing to take more players, though, 100 makes a nice round number - 20 games of 5-player Preliminary round, 4 games of 5-player Semi-Final round, and one 4-player Finals.

Note that despite people talking about 3+ and 4+ hour games (and I've had 4+ hour games in casual play, myself), all of the tournament games at Orccon took no more than 2.5 hours each.


This is gold, thanks. I was thinking not of 16 players, but 64. I think that's a good number to propose to Stronghold. If they want to do 128, though, we could probably support that, based upon the numbers you're providing.
 
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Roman F
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gersonk wrote:
There are loads of variants designed to smooth out the luck in the game. I'd favor the one in the rule book (CE with draft after gen 1) to increase the odds of the best TM player winning instead of the one who happens to have played variant XYZ the most. But then, in the circles I play in, CE with draft and a semi-randomly selected map plus Venus if somebody brought it are the norm, so maybe I'm biased.

Also, maybe number the corps and use an RNG to assign them after the first game, so people won't get dealt a corp they already played (e.g. in round 2, you use a D11 to deal the first corp, then a D10 and so on. In round 3, start with a D10, since you're ruling out two corps for each player).


What does "CE with draft after gen 1" mean exactly? I was thinking a draft of the initial 10 cards but then a straight 4-card draw for the turns after.
 
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Christian Naesseth
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Roman Farraday wrote:
gersonk wrote:
There are loads of variants designed to smooth out the luck in the game. I'd favor the one in the rule book (CE with draft after gen 1) to increase the odds of the best TM player winning instead of the one who happens to have played variant XYZ the most. But then, in the circles I play in, CE with draft and a semi-randomly selected map plus Venus if somebody brought it are the norm, so maybe I'm biased.

Also, maybe number the corps and use an RNG to assign them after the first game, so people won't get dealt a corp they already played (e.g. in round 2, you use a D11 to deal the first corp, then a D10 and so on. In round 3, start with a D10, since you're ruling out two corps for each player).


What does "CE with draft after gen 1" mean exactly? I was thinking a draft of the initial 10 cards but then a straight 4-card draw for the turns after.
I think gersonk meant Corporate Era (i.e. all cards and start production at 0), no draft on first 10, draft during remaining research phases.

I would suggest not drafting the first 10.
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christiannaesseth wrote:
Roman Farraday wrote:
gersonk wrote:
There are loads of variants designed to smooth out the luck in the game. I'd favor the one in the rule book (CE with draft after gen 1) to increase the odds of the best TM player winning instead of the one who happens to have played variant XYZ the most. But then, in the circles I play in, CE with draft and a semi-randomly selected map plus Venus if somebody brought it are the norm, so maybe I'm biased.

Also, maybe number the corps and use an RNG to assign them after the first game, so people won't get dealt a corp they already played (e.g. in round 2, you use a D11 to deal the first corp, then a D10 and so on. In round 3, start with a D10, since you're ruling out two corps for each player).


What does "CE with draft after gen 1" mean exactly? I was thinking a draft of the initial 10 cards but then a straight 4-card draw for the turns after.
I think gersonk meant Corporate Era (i.e. all cards and start production at 0), no draft on first 10, draft during remaining research phases.

I would suggest not drafting the first 10.


That's what I meant, the Corporate Era & Draft variants described in the rule book. (Also, pass to the left during drafts in even generations, to the right in odd.)
 
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Nekojin wrote:
Some insight to perhaps help the tournament.

I'm a Volunteer at Strategicon conventions in Los Angeles. The latest Strategicon, Orccon, was last weekend. There was a Terraforming Mars tournament, and I preregistered for it. Like you, I was expecting 16-20 players. I believe the actual player count was around 50.

So the tournament that was expected to be two rounds, with Preliminaries on Saturday and Finals on Sunday, ended up being THREE rounds.

Orccon is somewhere around 2500 attendees. GenCon is nearly an order of magnitude larger... so I'd expect to look for a much, MUCH larger player base willing to participate. If you're unwilling to make it much larger, with more rounds to account for more players, then at a minimum allow people to sign up for Standby, so that you can fill the gaps caused by no-shows.

If you're willing to take more players, though, 100 makes a nice round number - 20 games of 5-player Preliminary round, 4 games of 5-player Semi-Final round, and one 4-player Finals.

Note that despite people talking about 3+ and 4+ hour games (and I've had 4+ hour games in casual play, myself), all of the tournament games at Orccon took no more than 2.5 hours each.


They ran a TM tournament at WBC last year and had 126 people sign up if that gives you an idea of interest ...
 
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Roman F
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Misterhawk wrote:
They ran a TM tournament at WBC last year and had 126 people sign up if that gives you an idea of interest ...


Cool! Considering this is the first year of a GenCon tournament, I don't want to overextend myself, I don't want to ask Stronghold to pay me, and they likely don't want to, and neither they nor I want to see a tournament opened up without all the slots getting filled.

This thread makes me think that I probably could get 128, but if I just open up 64 entries, they will fill up quickly. Then I can claim success and open it up for more players next year, add a day to it, and charge Stronghold a small fee for giving up 2 of my precious GenCon days to run it.

Quote:
I think gersonk meant Corporate Era (i.e. all cards and start production at 0), no draft on first 10, draft during remaining research phases.

I would suggest not drafting the first 10.


It's funny, I would have drafted the first 10, but then not drafted after. You guys are guiding me towards the reverse, which is fine.
 
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Roman F
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ponymont wrote:
I won't be an GenCon unfortunately, some day though. Just wanted to mention that our local gaming shop did a tournament (prize was the H&E Expansion) a while back. They had more of a time limit so keep that in mind. It was Beginner corps, no draft. For the first round it was random seating, second round winners played winners, 2nd played 2nd and so on. Tie breakers were most points. It went well enough, there were 3 4 player games and 1 3 player game (couldn't quite convince one more person to play, sad).

I will say that my group all got split up and all won our games so it was us three and one other guy who did win, though more so because we like to mess with each other way more than anyone else. I was pretty happy with 2nd regardless, got me store credit for the Venus Expansion.


Hi, how did they enforce the time limit? What kind of time limit did they use?

I saw in another comment that games were taking about 2.5 hours. That's what I'm looking for with a 3-hour time slot. The longest game takes 3 hours.
 
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Gary Bartlett
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I played in a tournament recently at Rapier in Jacksonville Florida. It was only a single round with 4 games played simultaneously and the winner being the person with the highest score.

I would have preferred a second round with the 4 winners to decide the champion but the TD didn't want to allocate that much time.

We drafted the initial 10 cards as well as each generation. This was the first time I had ever drafted the initial 10 cards and to me anyway it seemed to give me a big edge.

Sadly, I wont be in Indianapolis in August for GenCon as I am running an Advanced Squad Leader tournament in Atlanta that same weekend.

GB
 
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ryan echternacht
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I’d definitely participate. And I can easily think of at least 4 others who would want to participate as well (we’re all from Cincy).

I'd recommend base board, corporate era, no promos. Especially since time is a concern, base board tends to play the quickest (in my experience).

I think the big point of disagreement (and rightly so) is how to control the luck factor. While faction drafting is technically the ideal solution, it's something that is very rare for the Terraforming Mars community, so I would recommend against it. I do think that drafting the initial 10 and every research phase is ideal. For the initial 10, we do a 5 card draft passing left, then a 5 card draft passing right. Since we're already used to 4 card research phase drafts, the 5 card draft isn't too much more difficult. Before we begin the draft, everyone has already been given their 2 factions. Knowing which factions you have should give you the flexibility to craft a reasonable hand for one of the factions.

While some factions are definitely stronger than others, I don't think there is a need to ban any of them. You may consider using Fryx's officially sanctioned changes - UNMI ability reduced to $1 (from $3) and Invetrix ability raised to +/-3 steps (from +/-2 steps).

Controlling the duration of games is also a consideration. Our corporate era games run from 1.5-3hrs, with <2hrs a rather rare occurrence. Additionally, every game plays differently, so there isn't a good way to force games to end early, break ties between games, or any other shortcut if a game goes long. Perhaps you could provide 30-60 second timers to be used if a game has slow players? A nice way to prod people who consistently take very long turns.

Also, what are people's thoughts on cheating mitigation? While I want to trust everyone I play with, it's rather easy to cheat in Terraforming Mars, especially when you have steel, titanium, paying for cards in the research phase, pulling 8 copper cubes out to play a plant, etc. Do you have any ideas besides everyone check everyone else?

 
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ryan echternacht
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gbartlett2001 wrote:
I played in a tournament recently at Rapier in Jacksonville Florida. It was only a single round with 4 games played simultaneously and the winner being the person with the highest score.


How is comparing highest score possibly a fair way to decide who wins among different games? Doesn't this just incentivize everyone playing for the super long game with animals, huge card drawing engines, etc?

I feel like this loses a lot of the interesting strategic tension
 
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Jason DuVall

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ryanechternacht wrote:
gbartlett2001 wrote:
I played in a tournament recently at Rapier in Jacksonville Florida. It was only a single round with 4 games played simultaneously and the winner being the person with the highest score.


How is comparing highest score possibly a fair way to decide who wins among different games? Doesn't this just incentivize everyone playing for the super long game with animals, huge card drawing engines, etc?

I feel like this loses a lot of the interesting strategic tension

I would agree with that. I would consider the player who wins a game early with a low score before his opponents' engines are at full speed to be a better player than anyone from a table where they grind for an extra 10 turns to get high scores.
 
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Nekojin wrote:
ryanechternacht wrote:
gbartlett2001 wrote:
I played in a tournament recently at Rapier in Jacksonville Florida. It was only a single round with 4 games played simultaneously and the winner being the person with the highest score.


How is comparing highest score possibly a fair way to decide who wins among different games? Doesn't this just incentivize everyone playing for the super long game with animals, huge card drawing engines, etc?

I feel like this loses a lot of the interesting strategic tension

I would agree with that. I would consider the player who wins a game early with a low score before his opponents' engines are at full speed to be a better player than anyone from a table where they grind for an extra 10 turns to get high scores.


I agree with you in general, but some corporations and some starting hands are just going to be better for a short game and some better for a long game.

Playing in a way that either shortens the game or lengthens the game are both important strategic choices that players should be able to employ. I would not want to say that a player who wins after 8 generations automatically beats a player who won after 9 generations. (I'm not suggesting you were saying that.) If I'm playing Saturn Systems, I want the game to go long most likely. If you say the 8 gen win is better you're probably cutting off certain strategies.

Ideally, you wouldn't have tie breakers at all, you'd just play more rounds. If you absolutely have to directly compare results from different tables I'd do something like relative margin of victory. So if you ended with 60 points and the next highest had 50 points, you'd have scored 120% of second place; whereas the guy who won 75 to 63 only had 119% of second place.
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Matt Shields
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Roman Farraday wrote:

It's funny, I would have drafted the first 10, but then not drafted after. You guys are guiding me towards the reverse, which is fine.


Personally I would draft both - I think just adds more chances for the good players to shine - but if you had to pick I think drafting the 4 each rounds is more important than the initial 10. Sometimes that first 10 is a craps shoot anyway as I've halfway drafted before I know what my strategy is.
 
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ryanechternacht wrote:
I’d definitely participate. And I can easily think of at least 4 others who would want to participate as well (we’re all from Cincy).

I'd recommend base board, corporate era, no promos. Especially since time is a concern, base board tends to play the quickest (in my experience).

I think the big point of disagreement (and rightly so) is how to control the luck factor. While faction drafting is technically the ideal solution, it's something that is very rare for the Terraforming Mars community, so I would recommend against it. I do think that drafting the initial 10 and every research phase is ideal. For the initial 10, we do a 5 card draft passing left, then a 5 card draft passing right. Since we're already used to 4 card research phase drafts, the 5 card draft isn't too much more difficult. Before we begin the draft, everyone has already been given their 2 factions. Knowing which factions you have should give you the flexibility to craft a reasonable hand for one of the factions.

While some factions are definitely stronger than others, I don't think there is a need to ban any of them. You may consider using Fryx's officially sanctioned changes - UNMI ability reduced to $1 (from $3) and Invetrix ability raised to +/-3 steps (from +/-2 steps).

Controlling the duration of games is also a consideration. Our corporate era games run from 1.5-3hrs, with <2hrs a rather rare occurrence. Additionally, every game plays differently, so there isn't a good way to force games to end early, break ties between games, or any other shortcut if a game goes long. Perhaps you could provide 30-60 second timers to be used if a game has slow players? A nice way to prod people who consistently take very long turns.

Also, what are people's thoughts on cheating mitigation? While I want to trust everyone I play with, it's rather easy to cheat in Terraforming Mars, especially when you have steel, titanium, paying for cards in the research phase, pulling 8 copper cubes out to play a plant, etc. Do you have any ideas besides everyone check everyone else?



This is all great stuff thanks.

- There will be a draft of the 4 cards between turns.

- As far as the first 10 cards, some say they won't play with a draft, others say we should definitely have a draft... maybe somewhere in between, like 4 cards, is the solution.

- Base map, CE expansion, no promos. I'll consider those tweaks to corporations.

- I think we could use some 60-second timers, just to make sure the game keeps moving along. We will run 3-hour time slots, so it's ok if 1 out of 4 game runs a little over 3 hours, not ok if they all do.

- Cheating mitigation is something I hadn't thought of and I appreciate you bringing it up. It's basically on the players to police each game. I guess I'd slow things down a bit, make players slowly and carefully explain how they're paying for each project card.

- For those bringing up scores: I'm not using scores so don't worry about it. You have to win a 4-player game, and then another, and then another. It's that simple. I suppose 2nd place finishers will be seeded as alternate finalists based upon % from 1st place, so score will matter in that sense, but it probably won't even come up.

- I'm probably going to open up 4 slots of 16 each, so 64 total. I've gotten some feedback that it will be way too many... but other feedback suggesting it's actually way too few. Hopefully, it's the right number for the first Terraforming Mars GenCon Tournament, and we can double the size next year.
 
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Roland Hackler

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I play TM but don't own the game.

Within my group we've played CE both drafting during our four-card research phases and not drafting. Drafting the initial 10 cards has never come up.

My observation with drafting any or all of the initial 10 cards before revealing your corporation is that you're introducing a different type of draft that includes less information than when drafting during the four-card research phases.

What you're passing along is as important to drafting as what you keep. I for one would hate to be deciding what cards my opponent can choose from without knowing what corporation they're playing.

Of course I won't be at GenCon, so I'm just commenting as an outside observer.

I hope the tournament goes smoothly and everyone has fun!
 
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