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Subject: Why the endgame rules make sense rss

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Ron Rhinehart
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My future roommate and I decided to give some new boardgame a go last night. My girlfriend wanted to play on her computer (peggle and TMZ), so we needed to play something that could do well with 2 people. I have been really jonesing to play both Starcraft and Tide of Iron since I got them for christmas (well, I got ToI for christmas, and bought myself starcraft a few days later). I had only played Starcraft once, also 2-player, and I have never gotten a chance to get ToI out.

We decided on Starcraft, since I have played it once it might be a little easier to get into. My friend and I chose races--he Jim Raynor ("because Arcturus Mengsk was a $%&! in the PC game") and me the Overmind. We created a four-planet board with minimal VPs and a linear structure (with the Z-axis, it was basically a circle), dug out our huge piles of units, cards, tokens, and etc, and jumped in.

The rules for Starcraft are, in my opinion, pretty brilliant in design and execution, and my second play really helped me understand what they are and why they exist. Combat is especially interesting, although both my opponent and I found ourselves very often with way too many cards to choose from. Needless to say, we both started to follow the rules really well, and the game took off.

I decided, with the zerg, that physical force was the best option for the beginning of the game, so I had all nine zerglings out pretty quickly, along with a number of hydralisks. My opponent, on the other hand, decided to focus on ground and air troops, ignoring his machine shop. I had Ultralisks on turn 2, and he had battle cruisers on turn 3, and we were ready to kick ass.

And that's when the game ended. He had 'accidentally' fulfilled Jim Raynor's victory requirement (six resource spaces), by turn 4, after I sent in a number of units but left a hole on my home planet. We were both sort of like, "oh. game's over." there was a long, dramatic pause, then we decided to just keep going.

and going. and going. The End is Near came and went, I fulfilled my own victory requirements, and yet we continued. Galactic conquest, as it were, was beckoning to us. The only problem was that we both had the maximum number of units on each of our planets, and after every battle, we simply rebuilt and moved forward. The game was almost at a total stall.

What the purpose of this play session was, then, was to teach us (or at least me) why the victories come the way that they do. The game is designed, it would seem, to allow for combat and resource gathering and all, but that was not necessarily a way to conclude the game. A strategy of discerning how best to complete your victory requirements, while keeping others from completing their own, seems to be the name of the game.

Yes, it feels too sudden when it happens. It seems like the game has only started. But I imagine that once we have some more skill and strategy with the game, and more than 2 players, it will become more difficult to fulfill such requirements, and thus the games will play out more naturally.

However, the blandness of the combat by the end (only because it was mutalisks and ultralisks vs. Battle Cruisers galore) over and over was much less interesting and exciting than the thought of having to plan and strategize around keeping the other player from winning.

We declared him the winner, since he was first to fulfill his requirements. We both enjoyed the game, but felt that more planets and more players would dramatically increase the fun value of the game. Now that we both know how to play, it's likely the game will be on the table again soon (especially since we'll be roommates in less than two weeks).

The moral of the story? I wont think twice about how the game endings come about. Next time we play, we'll try to keep those under control. IF they still remain a problem (too early, too easy), we'll develop some house rules to prolong the victory a bit. All in all, though, I'm pleasently fulfilled by Starcraft- great theme, fun execution, and a wonderful(ly diceless) combat system.
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Chris J Davis
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Two things - one to check, one to recommend:

1) You only checked your special victory condition once Stage 3 of the game had started, right? No one should be able to win with their special victory before Stage 3.

2) If you want to prolong the game a little, use the variant rule where Stage 3 only starts the round *after* the first S3 card is revealed in the event deck.
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Ron Rhinehart
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bleached_lizard wrote:
1) You only checked your special victory condition once Stage 3 of the game had started, right? No one should be able to win with their special victory before Stage 3.


Right. The problem is, in a 2-player game, there are only 5 event cards in stages 1 and 2. Thus, you can get to stage 3 in 3 turns if both players are trying.

What we decided we needed was maybe 1 extra planet (to get away from the linear board) and maybe two or three more e-cards from each stage before 3.
 
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