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Subject: 2-player long game playtest (June 2008) rss

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Nigel Buckle
United Kingdom
Thornton Heath
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NSKN are publishing my next game :)
Omega Centauri Published in 2014

This session report is based on a 2 player playtest of a long game of Ascendancy, the published version may be rather different.

Player comments are in italics, as are mine. Both players are experienced at Ascendancy, so I was expecting a close game …

Pre game
Veleks vs Populi

Veleks – I plan to use a burn and move strategy, I’ll take out the Empire and then move on, allowing them to rebuild so I can attack them again, to maximise on my special ability and the VPs from it. Lack of infrastructure development might be an issue, but as it is a 2 player game I should have lots of opportunity to hit the Empire

Populi – I plan to limit advancement on the culture chart, instead I’m going to grab as many sectors as I can and try to dominate the galaxy that way. Starting with lots of fleets in reserve helps.

Veleks are going first, so Populi select Shields as the starting tech, Veleks go for Torpedoes.

Fairly standard technology picks – I expect the Veleks will take targeting to go with the torpedoes …

Round 1 (of 9)
1. Veleks – research, Assimilate; Populi – research PSI labs

Shows what an expert I am! Neither player picked the other combat technology, which surprised me, I can see the immediate use for Assimilate for the Veleks against the Empire, but I think the Populi should have taken targeting

2. Veleks, move – taking 3 empire sectors and assimilating 3 fleets; Populi, politics for an achievement card.
Fairly passive start for the Populi … not my style of play at all

3. Veleks, politics for 3 resources; Populi, assemble fleets (add 1 fleet)
Veleks are grabbing resources to advance on the culture chart – not really sure what the Populi have in mind at this point

Veleks advance to Era 1 Mid (using 6 resources), Populi can’t advance.
VPs: Veleks 35, Populi 0

Empire: Builds a monument and a fleet in each remaining sector (9 now held).
Time – Populi spent less time this round, and elect to play 2nd in the next.

Veleks: I’m surprised targeting is still available, and that I’m going first – means I get the powerful combination of firing first for 2 hits and I can get a mobilise card …
Populi: As expected my opponent now has all his fleets on the map, he needs more now, maybe he’ll take energy cells If he does I’ll have to take Escape Pods to guarantee I get the Long Range Patrol mobilise card.

I think the Populi player has made an error, either he should have taken targeting or picked to go first so he can get it next round, he did neither … and he’s behind 35 vps already

Round 2 (of 9)
1. Veleks – research Targeting; Populi – research Energy Cells (use PSI Labs to convert 1 empire fleet).

Not surprising given the comments from last round, but I’m not sure the Populi need more fleets at this point, he only has 4 on the map and a huge pile in the reserve …

2. Veleks – politics, mobilise card Strke Formations (3 fleets added to the reserve); Populi assemble fleets (add 1 fleet)

If the Populi had picked orbital docks instead of energy cells he’d have more fleets in play, even more if he’d picked it on the first round

3. Veleks – move, taking 2 more Empire sectors, but abandoning one to do so; Populi – move, taking 2 Empire sectors.

Veleks advance to Era 1 late, Populi to Era 1 early.
VPs: Veleks 65, Populi 7

Empire: adds 1 fleet to each sector (6 now held) including the one vacated by the Veleks.
Veleks have used less time, and decide to go first.

Veleks – Strategy is working so far, I wanted to go first this round to grab sub-space radios, I want to be able to take multiple sectors in a single movement, so I need the technology to move multiple fleets. My lead in VPs is nice, but I haven’t got an achievement card banked.

Populi – Again as expected, but my lack of early resources has slowed my advance on the culture chart, that might be a mistake as early investment scores points throughout the game. I’m not planning to advance very far, but I probably should get to the final point as quick as I can, I’m well behind on VPs now.

Round 3 (of 9)
1. Veleks – research, Sub-space Radios; Populi research – robots (use PSI labs to convert 1 Velek fleet, sector now empty).
2. Veleks – move, taking 3 more Empire sectors but abandon 2; Populi Build 2 shipyards.
3. Veleks – politics for an achievement card; Populi assemble fleets (add 3 fleets).

Veleks advance twice, to Era 2 late (losing a fleet), Populi advance to Era 1 Mid.
VPs: Veleks 118, Populi 16

Empire: Does nothing (6 sectors held – 3 lost but 3 regained through being empty)
Populi have used less time and decide to go first.

Veleks – I’m very happy with the way the game is going, I’m short on fleets so I’ll look at technology to get a mobilise card. Losing sectors and fleets to PSI labs is annoying, but it is more profitable to keep hitting the Empire at the moment.

Populi – This game is turning into a disaster, I’m so far behind on VPs I don’t see how I can pull it back. I’ll get Planetary Defences and start building those to hold my sectors (as the Veleks don’t have shields) as well as giving me vps at the end of the game. I need to get this now as it has 2 mobilise icons and I’m sure he’s looking for more fleets.

Round 4 (of 9)
1. Populi - research (use PSI labs to convert 1 Velek fleet, sector now empty) Planetary Defences; Velek – research Hyperdrive
2. Populi – build (2 defences); Veleks – move (take 4 Empire sectors but abandon 2)
3. Populi – move (take 1 Empire sector); Veleks – politics for 3 resources

Populi advance to Era 1 late, Veleks advance twice to Era 4 (losing 2 fleets)
VPs: Populi 28, Veleks 200

Empire: Develops Torpedoes and gains a fleet in each sector (3 sectors now held)
Veleks have used less time and decide to go second.

Veleks – Great lead, I ended up taking the resources with politics, as I got an unexpected Hyperdrive so didn’t have the technology to get a mobilise card, but I’m happy as I got to advance further and I have both movement technology cards.

Populi – I feel a bit happier now, even though I’m far behind in VPs. Veleks only have 7 fleets on the entire map! And none in reserve, I’ll try to squeeze him now, missing out on hyperdrive was a mistake, I’d forgotten how quickly tech disappears in a 2 player game, mostly I play the 4 player version.

Round 5 (of 9)
1. Populi – research (PSI lab another Velek) Orbital Docks; Veleks – research Research Labs.
2. Populi – build, Shipyard and a Defence; Veleks – move (take 2 Empire sectors but abandon 2)
3. Populi – politics, mobilise card (3 extra fleets); Veleks – politics (achievement card)

Populi advance twice to Era 2 late (lose 1 fleet), Veleks do not advance.
VPs: Populi 49, Veleks 265

Empire gains a fleet and a defence is each sector
Populi have used less time and decide to go first

Veleks, it had to happen, the Empire now have defences which is a problem as I don’t have shields – so I lose a fleet entering the sector. I took research labs so I can get the improved technology cards and access to the improved mobilise cards as I’m short on fleets; all in all not a great round for me.

Populi, The empire getting defences might help a bit – I’m struggling with lack of movement, this happens to me all the time in this game, I end up wanting to do 4 actions but I’m only allowed 3. Now I need to get Research Labs to keep up with the technology.

Round 6 (of 9)
1. Populi – research (PSI lab another Velek), Research Labs; Velek – research Improved Research.
2. Populi – assemble fleets (adding 2 per shipyard thanks to orbital docks); Veleks – politics (take an achievement card).
3. Populi – Move (taking the sector emptied by the PSI lab attack); Veleks – move (taking 2 empire sectors but abandoning 2)

Populi no advance, Veleks advance to Era 5 (and lose a fleet)
Veleks have used less time and decide to go first.

VPs: Populi 74, Veleks 337
Empire: Develop Shields, gain +1 fleet and a bonus chit (5 sectors held)

Veleks – I’m glad I grabbed those 2 sectors before the Empire got shields – now they are quite difficult to take, fortunately my VP lead is huge. I need more fleets.

Populi – Not having hyperdrive (or sub-space radios) is really hurting me, I can’t get at the Veleks now he’s abandoned sectors next to me and moved to the edges of the map, and he’s got more achivements and advanced further. I can’t see how to recover. I need to play more 2 player games, it is rather different to a 4 player.

Round 7 (of 9)
1. Veleks - research, Improved Torpedoes; Populi – politics (take a mobilise card).
2. Veleks – politics (take an improved mobilise card); Populi – research (PSI lab an empire fleet) Improved Defences.
3. Veleks – move (taking 2 empire sectors, abandoning 1); Populi – move (taking Velek sector and Empire sector)

No advances (Velek advance prevented by Populi takin a key resource after winning the sector)
Time spent tied, so Populi select as Veleks were first this round – and decide to go first

VPs: Populi 97, Veleks 409
Empire: Gains a fleet and a monument in each sector (3 sectors held)

No further commentary was given, the players got engrossed in the end game and forgot to record any!

Round 8 (of 9)
1. Populi – research (PSI lab Velek Home world), Improved PSI Labs; Veleks – research Improved Hyperdrive.
2. Populi – build (2 defence markers) and Improve PSI labs the Veleks; Veleks – politics (improved mobilise card).
3. Populi – politics (mobilise card); Veleks – move (take 2 empire sectors)

Populi, no advance. Veleks advance to Era 6 (and lose a fleet)
Populi have used less time and decide to go second in the final round.

VPs: Populi 127, Veleks 485
Empire: Develops Targeting and builds a defence (1 sector held)

Round 9 (final round)
1. Veleks – research Improved Targeting; Populi – assemble fleets
2. Veleks – politics (improved mobilise card); Populi – politics (achievement card)
3. Veleks – move (taking Empire sector); Populi – move (taking Velek sector & empty sector)

Veleks advance to Era 7 (and lose a fleet), Populi advance twice to Era 4 (lose 2 fleets).

VPs: Veleks 597, Populi 196

End of Game scoring
Veleks have 32 from Improved Research, 30 from Improved Mobilise, 100 from the mobilise achievement, 50 from technology achievement and 20 from Expansion achievement. Along with 51 in bonuses = 880 total

Populi have 126 from defence achievement, 90 from expansion achievement and 105 from ships in play (special power) and 30 in bonuses = 547

An interesting game – the scores reflect the quality of play – the Veleks successfully carried out the strategy of hit and run raids against the Empire. The Populi were starting to get the upper hand as the game ended, but the in game VPs collected by the Veleks were just too many.

What do I think the Populi did wrong? The two biggest errors were not taking targeting in the first round and not taking Hyperdrive once sub-space radios had been taken, the Veleks were able to use the extra combat tech to help against the Empire the whole game and the lack of mobility made it hard for the Populi to use their larger fleets to crush the Veleks as they were limited to the sectors they could invade each round.

If the Populi had advanced on the chart earlier they would have picked up more points, but this is minor compared to the lack of mobility.

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