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Subject: Questions about Ascendancy rss

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Nigel Buckle
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I've had a few people ask me the same specific questions about Ascendancy, I thought the answers might be of interest to others.

How significant is technology in the game?
Very, you have to spend one of your 3 focus actions to gain a technology, so it is a significant investment. All the technology alter the game in some way - and which technology you choose and the order you take it is a large part of the game. Furthermore it is in limited supply, not everyone can have all the technology.

For example, your movement range is usually only to adjacent sectors, the Hyperdrive technology allows you to jump an intervening sector with any of your fleets that move.

Some technologies work well in combination too - for example Escape Pods brings your first loss in each combat back to your home sector rather than off the board, combining this with Hyperdrive means you can quite easily strike back when others attack you as you will be building a new stack of fleets in your Home sector each time you are attacked.


I see this game has player elimination - how big a factor is it, can you get eliminated early?

Yes, there is the possiblity for elimination with Ascendancy, and how easily it is accomplished depends on the players - if you make poor choices (for example ignoring combat technology and don't bother to expand your empire or build defences) and others decide they want you gone it is possible. However to be eliminated you need to have every sector you own taken and there be no empty sector for you to relocate to.

Practically this means it is hard to eliminate a player who is making reasonable game choices. Movement is either any/all the fleets from one sector to any other sector(s) in range, or any number of fleets in range to one sector - so massing and attacking multiple sectors in a round is difficult, unless a single fleet can eliminate all the defenders.

Concentrating entirely on cultural improvement (which scores victory points each round) at the expense of technology and board presence, will leave you weak in combat technology relative to the other players and holding few sectors with few fleets. Being in that position leaves you vulnerable to elimination - and you will be ahead in victory points which might be all the justification others need.

angry That's hardly elimination!

Player vs player conflict depends on the players, but 2 player games tend to have more of it as you only have one person to worry about and hurting them is just as good as helping yourself.

There is a variant for those who want a more vicious game. First you can eliminate all the empty barren sectors (so there are less possible places to relocate to and the map is smaller for everyone) and second you get a bonus if you eliminate someone, you get all their technology and resources!

This variant was included for those who particularly like the threat of elimination within their games.

Oh, and the map you select makes a difference too, pick a map where the home sectors are close and it's possible to have player vs player conflict earlier.

What's different about this game?
Why is the game only for 2-4 players?


Both answered (I hope) in this thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/302600
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Jorge Arroyo
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From your other thread:
Quote:
"3. Non-player Empire - most of the galaxy is controlled by a non-player power, the Empire. They are sitting on all the resource rich areas - players are out on the edge in barren space, so part of the game is hitting the empire and grabbing the valuable real-estate. Empire reacts to this, and will develop combat tech to make taking sectors harder."


Does this make a solo variant viable?

BTW, your new game seems very interesting. There never will be too many sci-fi games
 
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Nigel Buckle
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maka wrote:
Does this make a solo variant viable?


I intend to upload a solo variant like I did for Celtic Quest. It will be more of a puzzle than a game, as the Empire won't attack you - just add fleets to areas it controls and build defences.

It's quite useful for learning how the technology interacts, but doesn't give any feel for being attacked by other players and how to deal with it, nor much feel for the pressure/race on technology where you have to decide which technology is vital so needs taking early (even if ideally you'd like to take it later).

Of course the other way to play solo is to take 2 sides, that's more viable in the short game than the long game, as in the short game there is little hidden information (just the bonus chits) and it takes the round structure "I do an action, you do an action" rather than everyone secretly selecting their actions at the start.

-- Edit ---

Solo rules now posted here
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Nigel Buckle
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Some extras:

You said your inspiration was the Master of Orion (MOO) PC game and also Stellar Conquest - but I don't see any mention of population, how is that handled?

Some elements are abstracted to make the game playable in the time frame and to reduce the book keeping (I doubt many players would want to track population levels for each sector they own for example).

I'm assuming the sectors are populated by a number of races - not just you, and when you take a sector you're changing the leaders/governments/military rather than exterminating everyone and replacing with your race. The number of your fleets limits the size of your empire - your fleets are used to mark ownership (and holding a sector with just one fleet is risky unless you have sufficient technology and/or defences) and you only have a limited number at the start, a few on the board and the rest in your reserve.

Losses you suffer go back to your reserve to be reused - but you still have a maximum number of fleets you can put into play. This can be increased with technology and mobilise cards (which represent you using technology to improve ship design etc.), but it is decreased as you advance culturally. This means you can't just keep expanding unless you do something to get more fleets.


How much does your economy factor into the game - you mention resources but nothing about a stock market, or treasury, or trading?

There isn't 'cash' as a separate thing to track, and resources are not directly used for technology, building infrastructure or fleets - so in some ways economy is abstracted to a level where it does not really feature. For reasons similar to population, some things are much better tracked on a computer and not so easy with a boardgame.

You have resources - and they are used for bonus actions (Reserve Fleet Actions, where you spend resources and commit an unused fleet for the round to do something) and cultural advancement (which is an investment that generates victory points each round), or you can save them for victory points at the end of the game.

There is no direct trading between players, or even between players and the Empire or a 'bank'. You can collect an extra resource using the 'trade' Reserve Fleet action (representing you using some of your ships as traders), and when you take a resource sector in combat you gain a resource as a spoil of war. Against the Empire you take it from the pool, if the sector belonged to another player you take it directly from them - but it is not a trade (I get your sector and a resource, you lose fleets ...)


How do you get resources other than from holding sectors and fighting then?

You can use the Politics focus action to take 3 resources - this represents your empire focusing on economics, trading and stimulating internal markets etc, generating excess resources for you.

When you assemble fleets (add a fleet to each shipyard you control) you also gain a resource - representing trade and economic stimulation that this action would bring.

When you build infrastructure (initally shipyards, but you can research to build defences and monuments) you also gain a resource for similar reasons to the assemble fleets action.

Also the terraforming technology generates a resource each round - representing the increase in riches you gain from that. As does the Improved Terraforming technology.

Improved Hyperdrive generates a resource when you focus on movement (even if you just move between sectors you own), representing the trade you do outside the map with your improved range.
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Nigel Buckle
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Some further questions:

What player colours are there - and are they tied to a particular race?

Orange, Purple, White and Green. The Empire is 'metallic' gold.

In the short game race is tied to player colour, as each race is identical (gamewise).

This is the Purple/Velek:
 


In the long game you have a player mat that gives the colour and also the race if you play the 'no powers' variant. However if you are using race powers then you draw a race card and that goes on your mat (covering the top left corner). So you have free choice of race/colour unless you play a specific variant.

 


How much replayability is there?

Quite a bit I think - the board is made up of tiles, and there are a number of preset recommended maps provided, and you could build your own if you wanted. A big part of the game is the interaction between the technology combinations and race powers, and the achievement cards (end game vp bonuses) you pick - there are multiple routes to victory and different strategies to try.

How easy is it to learn?

That's hard to answer - the long game certainly has depth, there are many factors to consider and the learning curve is quite steep, although the actual game mechanics are relatively simple.

I recommend new players try the short game a couple of times to get a feel for how movement, combat and technology work and how to optimise your actions before moving onto the more complicated longer game.

The rulebook is quite long, but covers both the short and long game completely. By which I mean you have all the rules for the short game, then all the rules for the long game (even where the rules are the same) - hopefully players will find it easy to check rules during the game. We've included where technology alters the rules in the rulebook, so for example under the combat section all the exceptions are listed.
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Nigel Buckle
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Two additional questions:

Why is technology limited? That doesn't seem very realistic!


For play reasons - having free choice of all technology removes a pressure point, and forces the players to make decisions over what to research when, and what to do if a technology they wanted is taken. In my opinion the game is better with this restriction.

For a theme justification - don't consider the technology as meaning only races with it know anything about it. My assumption is every race has shields, just those who research the shield technology have an edge (and improved Shields a larger edge), as the races develop over time the edge remains.

Why is ship design missing from the game totally? In a 4x game I would expect to see some element of ship design, or at the very least different ship types

Play reasons - tracking individual ships would lengthen the game and add an administrative burden on the players. Scale of the game is each marker is a fleet of ships - how many actual ships depends on the technology, the race etc. The fleets could comprise of a number of ship types.

Ship design is abstracted into the mobilise cards - these cards increase your possible fleet size (by making more fleet markers available to you), but require specific technology to obtain each one. So this is representing you using the technology in improving ship designs, which then allows you more fleet markers. You're not actually getting more ships, rather you need less ships in each fleet.

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Nigel Buckle
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Another (very popular) question:

Is this game related to the PC game Ascendancy?

No, I've never played that. However I'm told that the PC game was a 4X type game, so there will be some similarities between it and Ascendancy the board game.
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Nigel Buckle
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I can't believe I haven't added this - as it's one of the most common questions I get asked! shake

When will the game be published, why is it taking so long (and other similar questions about order JKLM decides to release games etc)?

Short answer is I don't know

Longer answer is I don't work for JKLM, I have no influence over when they will publish my game - if you want to apply pressure or get the last information ask them. I try to keep people upto date here but I'm not always the first to know this kind of information.
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Nigel Buckle
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Another question (about technology):

Is there a tech tree - if so how is it implemented?

There is a tree of sorts - but it is very flat. With the short game there are basic technologies, none of which have any prerequisites.

However there are mobilise cards (representing incorporating tech advances into ship design) and these have technology requirements

In the long game there is an improved version of each tech - to get those you need the basic tech and also a tech called Research Labs (the only ability this gives you is access to the improved technology cards). This is more of a tree, but there is only 2 levels - basic and improved.

The technology side of the game is about building combinations of technology rather than researching down a tree to get the more powerful later techologies.
 
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