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Subject: 4 vs 5 Player rss

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David Jackman
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Hi!

Played space alert yesterday for the first time.
We did a trial run (and died horribly),
then did a simulation (and died really horribly),
Then one advanced sim (and cried while dying horribly).

Well, judging by our stellar record in training, we immediately hopped into the real missions.

The first one we tried was...tough. A Sabatour and a Space Crab vented the port side into space in short order.

The second mission was chaos, and terrible, but we managed to pull through pretty soundly and finally won.

But i digress.

Now to my question. We were playing with 5 players. is this game harder with 5 players vs 4 or vice versa?
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B. Perry
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It's pretty balanced between the 4 and 5 players, due to the "unconfirmed reports." I suspect that you're playing something wrong--is that possible?

If you have a Rio Grande Games printing, the tutorial and mission CDs are mislabeled, compare them against the mission log cards.

On your tutorial mission, did you stack the threat deck as they had indicated (S-1 through S-6, with S-1 on top) using the trajectories suggested (1, 2, and 3)? There are no internal threats in the tutorial mission. I don't recall if the simulation had internal threats.

And, just in case you've missed something obvious, you've separated the serious threats from the normal ones, and you're using the white threat decks without any yellow mixed in?

If you're OK on all of these, feel free to put me in my place. I'm certainly not trying to patronize you.
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David Jackman
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We figured out the incorrect labels part - that was supremely confusing initially.

Once we figured out the labels part, i hadnt realised that the comm officer had already reshuffled the threat deck while i was switching to the correct CD. By the time i realised what had happened, the mission was already going, and i figured we were learning anyway.

So the first runthrough was a genuine mistake that led to our demise.

The other ones were just bad coordination and some bad luck - we did everything right, but, for one, one of the players had all actions that were C before we introduced C actions, and one had all battlebot actions before we had battlebots.

Im not complaining about the difficulty, mind you - the game is great and losing is a great learning experience. It also made ending on a win much more gratifying. I was just curious as to how it would play with 4 compared to my 5 player experiences.
 
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B. Perry
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4 and 5 play very similarly. With five players, it's easy to keep all the rooms staffed, so we'll use the fliers (the shuttles?) more and rarely touch them in 4 players. I haven't played it enough to detect an appreciable difficulty difference between 4 and 5 players.
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Matt Davis
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I think the game itself is slightly easier with 5 - you suddenly have 12 more actions to deal with 1 more threat. Not bad. However, coordination becomes more difficult with more people, of course. They do seem to end up about the same.
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Brian M
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I find the game more challenging for 5 players. While you may have more people and more actions, the ship doesn't have any more power or weapons, coordination becomes more difficult, and the chances of somebody screwing up increases.

I also find it much more fun and chaotic with 5 players.
 
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Chester
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I think its common for a group to die the first couple times or so. It IS easier with 5 players since you have that many more actions defending the ship. Its not an automatic advantage, though, until you use them wisely.

It seems like having one player (as a crude basic strategy) take each of the outside 4 compartments and one player shutting up and down to toggle the computer and load the energy or fire the bottom lasers is another decent strategy. Of course, nothing stays that way, but its a good way to make your initial dispositions...and in doing so 5 is much stronger than 4.
 
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Jay Quirk
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My experience matches cornjob's. 1 player handling energy and possibly the bridge while everyone else mans the lasers and battlebots works great in a 5 player game. In a 4 player game, there just isn't slack to let someone handle engineering full time.
 
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David Kiehnhoff
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Our experience was that we were easily handling all 8 mission tracks with only advanced (yellow) threats with 4 players and racking up scores in the high 40's or even 50's. With 5 players, the added chaos more than overbalanced the advantage of having extra actions and our scores dropped into the 20-40 range with a few utterly epic failures mixed in.
 
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Julian Steindorfer
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after our 6 failed missions today i think four player is much harder then with five players ,because you have so little people to do so many things!
and the 1-2 threats you get for the fifth player are no problem ! so i think 4player is much harder then 5player.
 
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Christian Wilson
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I think a lot of it depends on how autonomous your players are.

I usually end up in the Captain role, so I tend to be responsible for watching everything and making sure all threats and power concerns are being handled.

With four players, I can watch everyone pretty closely. I usually have enough awareness to spot when someone's made a mistake or has miscalculated power levels or threat range. At any given point during the Action Round, I have a pretty good feel for how the mission is going. I'm not a micromanager by any stretch, but having two sets of eyes on every threat and its solution helps a lot.

With five players, I find that there's just too much to keep track of. I can help coordinate on a basic level, but a lot of times there's so much going on that I can't watch most of the action outside of the areas I'm personally dealing with. More than one five-player session has ended with all of us asking "so... did anyone ever shoot at those Nebula Crabs?".

Fortunately, my five-player group turned out to be very resourceful and didn't need much direction to figure out what to do. One guy tended to gravitate to "main engineering" and took care of the reactor and pulse cannons, while the other four generally split up and worked as teams of two. I really didn't do much "directing" as Captain (which was good, because I was so busy making my own mistakes!).

I'd say with a group of players with good communication skills who aren't afraid to take initiative, the five-player version is going to be a bit easier. On the other hand, if your cooperative games tend to be dominated by one or two players, you might be better off with four; it's almost impossible to direct everything during a full five-player mission with the extra unconfirmed reports.
 
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Matt Smith
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I've found that more humans equals more talking equals more confusion. We're actually most successful with 3 humans and one android. That doesn't make it more fun. More humans still equals more fun, but not more success.
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Saan wrote:

We did a trial run (and died horribly)


Can someone confirm whether this is possible? I didn't think it was.
 
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Christian Wilson
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SevenSpirits wrote:
Saan wrote:

We did a trial run (and died horribly)


Can someone confirm whether this is possible? I didn't think it was.

It's definitely possible.

In the first Trial Run, the Destroyer's X and Z actions together will do six damage to the White Zone if the shields are down (which they may well be, since the Pulse Ball always takes them down initially before you can kill it).

In the second Trial Run, any of the three threats can destroy the ship (the Gunship can do it all by itself, and the Energy Cloud combined with either of the other two threats can do quite a bit of damage too).
 
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Sean McCarthy
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Oh, right, you do have to go shoot at the Pulse Ball.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
On the other hand, if your cooperative games tend to be dominated by one or two players, you might be better off with five; it's almost impossible to direct everything during a full five-player mission with the extra unconfirmed reports.

Fixed your statement

I agree with others on here; more successful at Space Alert is by no means more fun!
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Christian Wilson
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
On the other hand, if your cooperative games tend to be dominated by one or two players, you might be better off with five; it's almost impossible to direct everything during a full five-player mission with the extra unconfirmed reports.

Fixed your statement

Well, the idea was that if most of your players need hand-holding, it'll be easier with four. It's harder for one or two people to watch everyone with five, plus you have extra threats to deal with (making a lack of self-starting crew members even more dangerous).

Quote:
I agree with others on here; more successful at Space Alert is by no means more fun!

Now this is a point I'll agree with. I don't remember much about the games I've won, but watching everyone futilely scramble to try to stop that Space Octopus at the last second -- and firing a bunch of empty weapons because the guy who was supposed to charge the reactor looked out the window instead -- will remain etched in my mind forever.
 
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