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StarCraft: The Board Game» Forums » Variants

Subject: Eliminate or alter Planning phase? rss

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Richard G
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I've played three games so far and definitely enjoy it, but I'm curious if anyone with more games under their belt has tried the game WITHOUT the planning phase.

i.e. Players go straight to execution phase, taking turns activating and immediately executing an order on any legal planet. They are still restricted to four orders total and only two order types per turn (+ special orders).

Does this ruin the game balance at all? It feels like it would be much more tactical and actually speed up the game immensely, not only eradicating the time spent on making order decisions, but then during execution, you don't spend so much time trying to remember what orders you have left, what money you may need to save for later builds, etc.

And yes, I realize this makes it almost an entirely different game. But the point of my question is has anyone tried it, does the game still work, and is it any fun?

 
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Aaron Tubb
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Fuquay Varina
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I've considered trying a variant like this out. The planning of the orders is the only thing my wife doesn't like about the game. (though she thinks it is strategic and she probably just needs to play a few more games, she doesn't care for the mechanic or find it particularly fun.)

Playing like this may also make the game a bit less of a brain burner, as much of the hard thinking all has to do with orders.

I believe that playing without the planning phase would cause everyone to play more cautiously or defensively, because you can possibly be attacked anywhere at any time. With the orders, you at least have an idea of where your opponents are focusing their turn. It would be a total surprise without the orders. It would definitely be different.
 
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Chris Cieslik
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That's an interesting idea. A totally different game, but it would be fun to try, certainly. Be sure to post if you try it with results!
 
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Gregory Wong
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I do enjoy the cat-and-mouse nature of the planning phase. You put a token down in the enemy's base, but is it a mobilize order, or a research order (i.e. a fake)?
 
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Andrei Filip
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The order mechanics is what kills half of the fun of this game for me. Why can you not look at your orders? So not only do I have to play the game upside down, but I also have to keep mumbling to myself what I a about to be doing for the next hour? It's ridiculous! People should be able to review they orders any time they want to in order to react properly and strategicaly to their opponents. There are better memory games out there, not to mention far less complicated.

The strategic depth of this mechanic is also questionable. Some people have no problem playing the game thinking it from tail to head. I'm happy for them, but my question is: why? In my eyes the fact that the designer wants you to do so does not justify the effort I need to put into the game. I'm playing a game reversed because I can? Does it also work for other games? Can we have a variant of chess where we start with the checkmate and finish with the opening?

Onto your suggestion. Why activating orders at all? You're still stuck to 1-2 types anyway so no need to remember yourself you can only do so much in a turn. I mean how much building can you do given the restrictions present? Same goes for research. As for moves, who needs more than 3 moves in a turn anyway? And if you do want to take same action 4 times, you loose the benefit of the other 2 so I guess in the end things even out. The only advantage about playing the way designed is the possibility to block other players, which is always nice but not with this expense. Just go ahead and do what you want, like most games would allow you to do.

And while you're at it, drop the workers. And the transporters, which again are just excuses to push chits arround and waste resource in a false "balance" mechanic. Sure, if you want strong economy you're going to have to sacrifice a little resources from military first, I can understand that. It just doesn't justifies the amount of shuffling and the division of atention needed compared to other aquisition mechanics. You could also do without the annoying building sequence that nobody can follow while also planning several expenses on multiple turns.

PS: Yes, I probably should have waited a bit to calm down but I ended (not finished) my last multiplayer game of Starcraft yesterday night. 4 games all with the same result, less and less apreciacion for this game.
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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As a variant to this variant, you can make player select 4 orders from their stack. Then thay play them one after another immediately (no stacking) but they must use the 4 orders they have picked. So for example, you might want to keep a mobilise in your stack in case you get attacked and want to kick out the ennemy from your planet. But if you forgot to keep one, then you are screwed you need to wait for the next turn.
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Stefan Sasse
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Where's the problem to allow reviewing the orders in your own round if that sets you up?
 
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alexandre Boureau
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Sorry for answering to such an old thread, but the order planning phase I see as a problem too:
We had a team game where the third player started near the 4th one, with 0 planet he could expand to, so the 4th could execute 2 builds, 1 tech and attack him before N° 3 could even move. The defence order did not change anyhthing (both were zergs, and the attacked was attacking at +1) which resulted in the 3rd player being wiped out before he could execute a single order(He had a poor combat hand, but it's not like he had any chance to draw...).

The problem with the planning phase is that although it adds some thoughts to the game, it doesn't bring much to the table, and does't fit the them at all. It just feels gamey.

We have been thinking about 2 ways to alter it a little (without completely removing it):

The first one would be to segment the turn phase:
There would be a first order phase during which everyone would put one order, and a first execution phase during which everyone would execute it, then the last 3 orders would all be placed at the same time, and resolved normally.

The second fix we thought about would be to allow someone who doesn't have any available order to recover one during his turn (instead of resolving an order or drawing an event card). The recovered order would be available to play the next time he has one order to execute.

But removing the order phase might be the better fix.
 
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Scott Lewis
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I have to kind of agree with Skellie. For me, the order system is what sets Starcraft apart from "just another tactical war game". Yes, the system does take some getting used to (especially the "put things down in reverse order" bit), but I think the level of tactical intrigue it brings, and the importance of planning things out (rather than just winging it every single action) makes a huge difference.

While I'm sure some would probably enjoy it with a more "mainstream" system, I personally think it would take a huge factor out of the game that sets Starcraft above other similar battle games. And, as has been mentioned, I think it would increase turtling as players would be a lot less likely to stick their necks out as other players can always IMMEDIATELY react rather than having to plan things out ahead of time.
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alexandre Boureau
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it is not a problem of getting used to it: I have played about 20 team games, and although I don't take as much time as I used to, I like the system even less than before (I used to find it fun in the beginning, but now, I find it somewhat ruines the game):

The problem is that it makes things unfair, as the player to your left has a huge advantage over you during the whole game.
It doesn't make the game deeper, it only makes it trivial if you can attack the player to your right early on, and stupidly hard if you can only attack the one to your left, as there are many configurations in which a player will easily be wiped out in turn 1 or 2 (we only play team games, so stacking makes wiping someone out very easy, which will result in a team forfeiting).

And I am not even sure it is that efficient against turtling: We already have these nice cards and stacking limit that makes attacking more efficient.

Game of Thrones order phase works a lot better, and doesn't promote turtling, without feeling too gamey. Same thing for Diplomacy: it might be complex, but it doesn't feel out of place.
It might work better to put the order tokens on the planet the units are leaving ala game of thrones, but we would have the same problem once 2 ennemy players end up on the same planet.


The problem is not even the reverse order phase, but the way you can easily block someone else's order. It does not even require any thought or strategy, when someone plays before you, you don't have much effort to do to ruin his plans, while he needs to make huge efforts just to have things work normally. And it doesn't change from one turn to another: 3 turn out of 4, you'll be at a huge disadvantage against the player to your left.

I'm in favor of a planning phase, but I would like one where blocking someone's else order is not that trivial.
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Scott Lewis
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I guess I just disagree. Yes, the player to the left has an advantage on that front, but knowing about this means you can plan around it.

And often times, having the LAST order to execute (which the first player will nearly always have) can be vital - you will almost always get an order that cannot be "countered". Sure, that means you have to have things work out to get to that point, but again, I've found that knowing that the players on your left can block you just means you have to be more careful about throwing it down willy nilly.

I don't know Game of Thrones. Diplomacy's simultaneous thing looks OK, but I don't think I'd like it in Starcraft.

I guess it just boils down to, some people like the planning phase, and some people don't. I'd probably be a lot less interested in the game if it wasn't for the challenging decisions you have to make to get things going. Without the planning phase, I still think this game would just turn into "another conquest game".
 
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alexandre Boureau
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Don't get me wrong, I like the planning phase too, it's just that the mechanics allowing you to mess the player to your left feels really too gamey for me.

We have come up with an alternate variant I like much better anyway:
When playing a defence order, the defence token remains on the planet for the turn, and during the execution phase, when it is his turn to execute an order, he can discard both the defend order and a guard token to immediately resole his top order on the planet, even if it has been covered.

We have played our last game like this, and it has worked like a charm, allowing you to chose between the defensive bonus, or a "rushed production" (or early counter attack).
Playing later is still better most of the time, but there are now more situations in which you are happy to play first.
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