Andy Daglish
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In our first play we didn't look at all the planets in a system on arrival, rather we landed on one chosen at random. Last night we played according to the rules and in a number of respects the playing experience appeared to be less good. Players seemed to play the same type of action cards consecutively, for example movement cards for the current "magic" system, and this looked redundant. Sometimes trading cards came out together, and so on, which made me wonder if the game was presenting the players with a surfeit of information to the disadvantage of all. I wondered if our initial error had returned a better game, then I went one further and asked if the unnecessarily powerful trading action allows reorganisation of a card hand [which itself may be redundant by being over the ten card limit] such that its actual card distribution is rather unimportant ie. you can easily switch them to what you want. From here I extrapolated to the proposition that if the card distribution of hands can be shown to be unimportant, then types of planets/cards are less important than their total. This seemed to be backed by our second game where all players seemed to have nearly all the cards they needed at all times. Certainly in both our games, trading with the bank at two-for-one has been much more popular than inter-player trading. In short, would the game's mechanism work just as well, or better [but with less appeal to the gamer], if planets were kept face down and resource cards were all shuffled together and dealt randomly? I suppose this dark & impure thought is tantamount to suggesting that the game has not been thought through properly, but in this regard the silliness of one or two of the alien cards lends it a degree of support: the 10VP card [in a 50VP game] wrecked the end of our second game by its obvious and patent absurdity.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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In reference to the 10vp card, it is one of two cards the rules explicity say to leave out if you think it adds too much chaos.

 
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Ed Browne
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I believe the reasoning behind letting players look at planets is so you can pick planets that go along with your strategy as well as to keep the game moving by letting players only land on planets they wish to land on. If you go random, then extra time will be taken up landing on planets you don't need or want. I've had people choose not to land on any planets in a system because they don't want to take the time to develop what they found and also don't want to reveal the planets to the other players.

It also makes more sense thematically that you would scan the planet(s) system and decide where to land rather than just landing on a random planet and hoping it has what you want.

The person who is going to win AD Astra is the person who takes the most advantage of other people's cards and the best use of their cards. Having two trade cards come up after each other doesn't sound like such a bad deal to me since you say your players were hesitant to trade with each other. It's only the faction playing the trade card that gets to trade with the bank, if I'm remembering correctly.

And if your player types are that they seem to play the same kind of orders together, that is something else to take into account for your strategy. Perhaps you should pick a different place in the order to put your card or take advantage of production and/or victory points at a time when others are concentrating on moving. Placing what type of order, and where, replaces combat as interaction between players as you try to maximize your score while not allowing others to capitalize as much from your orders as you do from theirs.

It almost sounds like you just want it to be another kind of game. Sure you could have random planets and put all the order cards together and deal them out one by one, but it takes away much of the strategy from the game and becomes something akin to "Talisman in Space" if you do it that way.

Give the designers a decent chance and play a few times with the rules as written and then make a judgement. Unless it was so terrible the time you played it that you don't want to play again, which your post doesn't sound like is the issue.
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Scott Everts
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We played a 5 player game last Saturday and found during the trading turns most of the trades were between the players and not the bank. Everyone needed at least something each turn. Near the end of the game it became less of a problem once people had a ship or base in each planet type. But I certainly didn't see too many people trade 2 for 1 with the bank often since most people were glad to trade 1 for 1 on something they needed. But this could change with a smaller group of people.
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Andy Daglish
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Grimstax wrote:
I believe the reasoning behind letting players look at planets is so you can pick planets that go along with your strategy as well as to keep the game moving by letting players only land on planets they wish to land on.


Perhaps you could expound such a strategy, that depends on some planets but not others? A terraforming strategy requires all six commodities [to build factories on water + food worlds], and you are unlikely to be producing more than four resources before game end.

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If you go random, then extra time will be taken up landing on planets you don't need or want. I've had people choose not to land on any planets in a system because they don't want to take the time to develop what they found and also don't want to reveal the planets to the other players.


It seems to me doing this is a long walk off a short pier.

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It also makes more sense thematically that you would scan the planet(s) system and decide where to land rather than just landing on a random planet and hoping it has what you want.


why would you want one commodity over another? maybe if one player got a number of the energy planets it might create problems for the others, but otherwise you will get the VP in some way or other whatever you do.

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Having two trade cards come up after each other doesn't sound like such a bad deal to me since you say your players were hesitant to trade with each other.


i would hope they were, but it was the multiple movement cards that didn't seem to be working, as everyone was desperate to get to the systems with most planets as soon as possible.

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And if your player types are that they seem to play the same kind of orders together, that is something else to take into account for your strategy.


its more the case that the game is forcing play, and I think this can be avoided by only looking at the planet you land on.

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It almost sounds like you just want it to be another kind of game.


I detect you already think it is, but unfortunately it isn't.

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Sure you could have random planets and put all the order cards together and deal them out one by one, but it takes away much of the strategy from the game and becomes something akin to "Talisman in Space" if you do it that way.


explain "the strategy from the game" please.

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Give the designers a decent chance and play a few times with the rules as written and then make a judgement. Unless it was so terrible the time you played it that you don't want to play again, which your post doesn't sound like is the issue.


the original way we played seems to be a middle way between the too-easy extreme represented by the rules, and the hypothetical extreme contained in this thread's title. I thought the game played well this way without any particular concerns, whereas the rules as they at present stand introduced a degree of redundancy too general to miss.
 
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Ed Browne
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So you landing on planets at random is as good as picking the planets you land on? It seems you are saying the reason why is because none are more "important" than others since you need some of each to build things.

This makes sense for your first couple of planets. But when you have a few planets, you are going to be looking for a particular planet and picking one out of 5 works better than hoping it is the random chit turned over.

No difference since there are trade cards? Let's say you have two food planets and I have 1 food and one fuel. For you to get a fuel, there has to be two food productions and you have to play a trade card. Then you will have one fuel and no food. In the meantime, I am getting one fuel every time anyone plays a fuel production card and a food every time anyone plays a food production card (like you trying to get enough to trade for a fuel).

And if you are choosing planets, rather than picking them randomly, landing on alien planets is not just a random happenstance (with a possible 10 vp card drawn), it is a strategy someone has to pursue. You don't get any production from colonizing alien planets, only victory points. So while others are more quickly getting production together, you are banking on being able to come up with the resources to build your buildings without production planets, hoping the victory points you gain from it will help you win. And if you take this strategy, there is a small chance you'll get paid off by drawing a 10vp card. In your game, if everyone is jumping on alien planets to see who gets the 10vp card, then use a different strategy (you'll only have to beat the guy who drew the 10vp card, if it came out at all as the others will be way behind).

I would be happy to test this by playing with you and letting you land randomly on planets and letting me choose which ones I land on. You can test it yourself by doing this with your friends. And if you see any of that as less than fair, then the answer is "yes" there is a difference between choosing and getting a random planet.

I'm not sure what you are referring to by "what cards you are dealt." Each person has access to each of their cards for their faction. Each person chooses what actions to use. They choose where to place it. Are you asking if the factions are different in the makeup of their cards? Are you suggesting orders should be random as well because you don't see a difference between a production order, a movement, and a trade in someone's strategy? Since no cards are "dealt" in the game, I'm not sure what you are talking about.

 
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Andy Daglish
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Grimstax wrote:
So you landing on planets at random is as good as picking the planets you land on? It seems you are saying the reason why is because none are more "important" than others since you need some of each to build things.


yes. I think this is proven by the contrast with Settlers, where you have many "planets" from the beginning and where ports have to be built. In Ad Astra the trade action is always necessary, unless you get free cards off an alien event.

Quote:
This makes sense for your first couple of planets. But when you have a few planets, you are going to be looking for a particular planet and picking one out of 5 works better than hoping it is the random chit turned over.


in our games you'll have many cards, often more than ten, and trade with the bank for the rare resource. It is great to have two factories producing the same thing because then you benefit greatly from all the production cards of that type, which come out more often because of scarcity amongst opponents.

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No difference since there are trade cards? Let's say you have two food planets and I have 1 food and one fuel. For you to get a fuel, there has to be two food productions and you have to play a trade card. Then you will have one fuel and no food. In the meantime, I am getting one fuel every time anyone plays a fuel production card and a food every time anyone plays a food production card (like you trying to get enough to trade for a fuel).


I refer to the answer i gave some moments ago.

Quote:
And if you are choosing planets, rather than picking them randomly, landing on alien planets is not just a random happenstance (with a possible 10 vp card drawn), it is a strategy someone has to pursue. You don't get any production from colonizing alien planets, only victory points. So while others are more quickly getting production together, you are banking on being able to come up with the resources to build your buildings without production planets, hoping the victory points you gain from it will help you win. And if you take this strategy, there is a small chance you'll get paid off by drawing a 10vp card. In your game, if everyone is jumping on alien planets to see who gets the 10vp card, then use a different strategy (you'll only have to beat the guy who drew the 10vp card, if it came out at all as the others will be way behind).


the 10VP card won't work in a serious game. Obviously if it goes to the wrong player it wrecks the game. I doubt even with it an alien strategy will work often enough to make it viable. You have to produce a lot to colonize anything.

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I would be happy to test this by playing with you and letting you land randomly on planets and letting me choose which ones I land on. You can test it yourself by doing this with your friends. And if you see any of that as less than fair, then the answer is "yes" there is a difference between choosing and getting a random planet.


I am not sure this would form an accurate test. I noticed things of a questionable nature when playing by the rules, but not when landing on planets "at random", without looking at the others in the system. I think that there are some fine points here, concerning whether you go to a system with many or few planets. Again I think our error returns a better game in this regard because of these points, but admittedly they are 'fine'.

Quote:
I'm not sure what you are referring to by "what cards you are dealt."


I was comparing resource cards in your hand derived from planets you have landed on, versus resource cards dealt at random, after "processing" by a trade action. Is there that big a difference? if you pursue a terraforming strategy, you have to give it up at least temporarily if you run out of terraformable planets, and you may not get any in a system you visit, which causes temporary delay of the next terraform build, which nullifies looking at all the planents. If however there is more than one such planet in a system, whoever looks at all of the planents first may well get two or more of them.

I believe those concerned at Nexus may have fallen prey to illusory worries about this game and therefore instituted rules to combat them, which may benefit gameplay more by their absence, if only slightly.
 
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Stephen Owen
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4 of us played in the same game as Andy earlier this week. None of us agreed with him but I suppose he is entitled to his opinion (pity he splashes it over the internet). I won the game without the 10vp card but rather enjoyed playing it to see the look on my opponents faces.
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Eric Rampson
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It sounds to me that the main problem you are decribing is that everyone is playing their "own" card instead of drafting off of others. If everyone is playing, for instance, Produce Water and Produce Food (except of course the person who has both on one card) because they all want to build Terraformers, well then, you ain't doing it right. We've played several games of Ad Astra and, outside of our first game, having 10 cards at the end of a round doesn't happen that often. You need to be drafting off of other players' action choices. In a four player game, I'll very rarely play both a production AND a build card in the same round (unless I absolutely, positively MUST have both happen) because most likely someone else is going to call Build, so I'll play something else which allows me to gain tempo on everyone else. This is a game about tempo and doing things faster (i.e. in fewer "moves" than everyone else) is key.

How many rounds is your average game lasting?
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Andy Daglish
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Scud-O wrote:
so I'll play something else which allows me to gain tempo on everyone else.


this is hard, and transient, in our games.

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How many rounds is your average game lasting?


not many. I am thinking 7 or 8, for 7x7 VP for the leaders. 50 VP seems few, though in a five-player we are not quite revealing every planet by game end. Maybe 75% of the VP cards get played twice. Its a sprint.
 
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Andy Daglish
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steveowen wrote:
None of us agreed with him


you're supposed to tell us why, but for that we'll need the big brain at temperature, pulsating at cruising speed at least.
 
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