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Terra Prime» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Five new players vie for the Admiralcy rss

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David Etherton
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Donnie, Robert, Bryan, Alan, and I sat down to try this out. We'd all at least looked over the rules ahead of time (I've been over them a few times, but it was my first play). I volunteered to be last in the turn order since some threads here indicated you'd be at a disadvantage if you were unfamiliar with the game.

We started to expand slowly -- one unexpected result of "only one explore action per turn" was that the early players really couldn't move very far. We all spent our first actions on colony markers. Donnie headed for the upper right (relative to Terra Prime) while the next three went for the center and left. I followed Donnie. This turned out to be a problem for us, because on an early turn he explored yellow and exposed a warship+saucer that worked him over pretty good.

That kinda put a damper on the first few turns -- and this was *after* I'd already houseruled that we should all start with charged shields. On the other hand, damage early in the game isn't too bad -- you have no modules to lose yet anyway, so you just lose your starting 3 LP.

Pretty much right after that we figured out that you *can* in fact charge shields or buy shield upgrades at Terra Prime (yeah, it does say it right there on the player aid, nobody noticed it).

Bryan got a few colonies down close to home (brown and blue IIRC) that lots of people used over the course of the game -- they probably netted him around 15LP alone.

I got off to a very slow start because I got worked over by some rocks and had to backtrack all the way back to TP with no cargo to buy shield upgrades. After that I got a weapon upgrade and was back in the running. Having no weapon upgrade seems to make combat totally unwinnable, particularly when you're up against auto-hit warships.

Anyway, after a bit of a rough start, people started figuring out what to do -- there was an early rush of expansion and some combat, all of which turned over a lot of reward tiles quickly. But in the middle part of the game, exploration slowed way down as people started making deliveries and buying upgrades. Both Cargo Capacity upgrades went pretty quickly IIRC.

So Bryan pursued a delivery-heavy strategy, burning through a lot of demand tiles. Robert really went to town on the tech upgrades; by the end of the game he had nearly one of each of them. Alan, Donnie, and I kinda wandered around the board trying to colonize occasionally and deliver stuff when possible.

Donnie had to leave about three quarters of the way through the game, so we basically just did his production for him and gave him LP's when we used his colonies. He finished with about 25 points.

Robert and Alan both finished with 43 points. Robert had a kick-ass ship and was ready to go mop up aliens but the three red phase four tokens all showed up first thing in a row and the game ended before he got a chance to do that. Note, however, that the green demand tile pile only had one or two left anyway so the game was definitely ending soon anyway. Money was short for him for a lot of the game -- I think focusing on tech that much was not ideal.

Alan had some of the tech upgrades he wanted snaked out from under him and that threw off his strategy a bit. I had 60 points in the end -- I recovered from my early mis-steps and had good luck finishing up partially completed demand tiles.

Bryan made a ton of money on a trade-heavy strategy; perhaps his only mistake was waiting longer than he should have to pick up an engine upgrade. Donnie and Robert had them first (and Robert had Hyperdrive as well) and were getting more done per turn. Bryan also picked up the Delivery Optimizer, another good source of LP's for him, and colonized a distant red colony on what turned out to be the last turn of the game, netting a whopping 13 points and bringing his total to 83 points.

The four of us who finished out the game enjoyed it and definitely want to play again now that we feel like we know what we're doing. In retrospect, as last player in a five player game I should have probably bailed on the colony marker and just leeched resources from other people's colonies and gotten deliveries done sooner. With my extra ten credits I could have also upgraded my shields and guns sooner instead of wasting several turns like I otherwise did backtracking to TP.

One of my earliest concerns about the game was the potential for bad die rolls totally screwing you. We did see that to some extent, but not in any way insurmountably so. I will definitely get shield and weapon upgrades ASAP on my next game.

While the game started off slowly, it sped up quickly as we figured out what to do -- many turns were move, move, pickup, done. When Donnie left the game and there were only four of us, that seemed to speed things up nicely as well. So while the game definitely works fine with five, it will go quicker with four (something Seth recommends for first-timers in another thread anyway).

-Dave
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Rob Percival
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Having slept on it (and in doing so, spent some time thinking about how to more effeciently do battle) I'm begining to think that straight combat cannot hope to defeat trade in a head to head.

I'll start by assuming a fully built ship for both types. i.e.
Trade = Cargo upgrade, trade optimizer, one or two cargos, prob hyper
Combat = Cloak, Hyper, targeting, battlestations, nav computer, cargo upgrade, two weapons, one shield, and prob one each booster and cargo

If the combat guy goes out and explores every single red and kills everything in it. (here I'll generously assume two aliens per space.) That nets him 54 points, plus whatever falls out of the rewards.
- 9 tiles * (2 for explore + 4 for two aliens each)

If the trade guy gets even half of the demand tiles he nets 36.
- 9 tiles * (lowball of 2 each + 2 for trade optimizer)
Plus the points for cash in having filled those orders. (prob at least 4 points worth per tile)
That is a total result of 72.


So my problem here is that I'm pretty much assuming 100% completion from the combat side, while generally lowballing the trader and yet he still wins. Not to mention the significant extra equipment required for combat to mitigate susceptibilty to bad die rolls. (To which the trader has zero exposure.)
In addition, the trader then has space for several colonies so he should be able to plant more if desired once combat has cleared the way into the really valuable areas. (i.e. Yet another area where I probably lowballed the trader vs the fighter.)
With the tiny little cherry on top in the form of reward tiles for the fighter that generally seem to be trade cubes which he frequently must jettison for lack of space or proper color.


Not necessarily bashing the game here, as I still think I'd like to have another go at it, just pointing out the risk/reward imbalance that has shifted my perception of the game a bit. No longer a Trader vs. Fighter sort of spacefaring deal; I now see it as a resource gathering game with occassional, unfortunate, and generally undesired combat.
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Rob Percival
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It might be nice to see some slightly more proactive aliens; ones that occasionally encroach into otherwise cleared territory. At least to give back lines guys a reason to harden their ships a bit and expose them to *some* random rolls.

I really liked galaxy trucker's ship building as well, so some crossover towards that style could also be neat.

Though now I'm just making the game even longer than it already is. =P
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Rob Percival
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The following thread details some different economics that would have removed the cash as LP advantage of trading.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/120520/new-rules-for-eco...
I'm curious what happened there. (Looks like the fighter would then be getting too *many* points for his trouble, but those could be dropped.)
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David Etherton
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I wonder how simply removing the end-game LP bonuses for cash on hand would affect the game.

I suspect it may just be that while you can win entirely via trade, you cannot win entirely via combat (and besides, you'd obviously have to do some trade to outfit your ship). On the other hand, a combat-heavy ship is probably also going to score a lot of points founding distant colonies on red sectors. I think we played too conservatively and took too long to tackle red; probably a result of Donnie and I getting spanked by the first yellow tile's warship+saucer combo.

The problem with combat over trade also is that it's riskier unless you really sex up your ship -- a few bad rolls can screw your tempo. When I tried to take on two warships and a saucer, I ran out of turns and couldn't finish them off. On the other hand, I *did* get LP's from the two I killed, so I was tempted to "farm" them for LP's again on the next turn, but my shields had taken too much of a beating.

Also, at first glance there's very little direct conflict in this game -- you cannot attack another player, and you can't steal a resource from somebody's own colony since it will replenish at the start of their turn.

On the other hand, if somebody was going to try to "stop" Bryan's trade strategy, I'm not sure what they could have done besides trying harder to poach his demand tiles, or buy certain upgrades they knew he'd want.

Personally, I actually prefer "multiplayer strategy" games where I'm *mostly* left to my own devices and try to build a better engine than everybody else. Direct conflict and/or lots of random events tends to make me whine far more than I'm proud to admit.

Some of my favorite games are Race for the Galaxy (haven't played with the expansions yet) and Vegas Showdown (which does have some conflict in the bidding, but it's minimal, and the events tend to be hiccups rather than game-wreckers like the dreaded Rune Wars), so Terra Prime fits the bill for me nicely.

I also prefer games with smaller numbers of players, because it's easier to keep track of what's going on and the downtime is better; I'll generally pick a 3 or 4 player game before a 5 or 6 player game.

Also, I've only played the game once, and have a tendency to over-analyze things without enough experience with the game. I know Seth has an expansion in the works -- I'm seriously considering attending the labor day strategicon if he's gonna be there with it!

-Dave
 
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Rob Percival
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Quote:
Also, I've only played the game once, and have a tendency to over-analyze things without enough experience with the game.


Ditto...Obviously. =P
 
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David Etherton
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etherton wrote:
I wonder how simply removing the end-game LP bonuses for cash on hand would affect the game.


Actually I'm not sure that would work -- if all the tech upgrades that awarded LP's were gone you'd lose that extra avenue of LP production. You'd still get the LP's for satisfying demand tiles of course.

Personally (being last in the turn order in the 5p game) I would have rather seen a "once the endgame condition is triggered, play out the remainder of the round" rule instead. But you could argue the cash bonus for going fourth or fifth is supposed to offset that.

-Dave
 
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Seth Jaffee
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etherton wrote:
I know Seth has an expansion in the works -- I'm seriously considering attending the labor day strategicon if he's gonna be there with it!

Indeed I will! I hope to see you there.

Thanks for writing up this session report. I love that you guys have played, liked, and have been thinking about Terra Prime! I hope to see another report now to see how your next game goes (with the experience and analysis behind you)!
 
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Seth Jaffee
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etherton wrote:
Personally (being last in the turn order in the 5p game) I would have rather seen a "once the endgame condition is triggered, play out the remainder of the round" rule instead. But you could argue the cash bonus for going fourth or fifth is supposed to offset that.

You get something like 90 actions in the game, so in the end I decided that finishing out the round was unnecessary. Instead, you score some points for stuff still on your ship - so if you were about to drop off a colony, you get 3 points instead of nothing, and if you were about to deliver some resources, you get 1 point each instead of 2 or 3. I had to be a little careful with that because I didn't want players who were NOT about to place a colony to be able to pick one up with their last action and score too many LP for it. 3 worked as a nice compromise.

I did try finishing out the round, but more often than not there's simply nothing constructive for you to do when you know it's your last turn - many things that score anything take more than 3 or 4 actions, so if you're not about to deliver or colonize, then you're not getting points anyway, and that last turn was boring and pointless.
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Seth Jaffee
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rperciva wrote:
Having slept on it (and in doing so, spent some time thinking about how to more effeciently do battle) I'm begining to think that straight combat cannot hope to defeat trade in a head to head.

I'll start by assuming a fully built ship for both types. i.e.
Trade = Cargo upgrade, trade optimizer, one or two cargos, prob hyper
Combat = Cloak, Hyper, targeting, battlestations, nav computer, cargo upgrade, two weapons, one shield, and prob one each booster and cargo

If the combat guy goes out and explores every single red and kills everything in it. (here I'll generously assume two aliens per space.) That nets him 54 points, plus whatever falls out of the rewards.
- 9 tiles * (2 for explore + 4 for two aliens each)

If the trade guy gets even half of the demand tiles he nets 36.
- 9 tiles * (lowball of 2 each + 2 for trade optimizer)
Plus the points for cash in having filled those orders. (prob at least 4 points worth per tile)
That is a total result of 72.


So my problem here is that I'm pretty much assuming 100% completion from the combat side, while generally lowballing the trader and yet he still wins. Not to mention the significant extra equipment required for combat to mitigate susceptibilty to bad die rolls. (To which the trader has zero exposure.)
In addition, the trader then has space for several colonies so he should be able to plant more if desired once combat has cleared the way into the really valuable areas. (i.e. Yet another area where I probably lowballed the trader vs the fighter.)
With the tiny little cherry on top in the form of reward tiles for the fighter that generally seem to be trade cubes which he frequently must jettison for lack of space or proper color.


Not necessarily bashing the game here, as I still think I'd like to have another go at it, just pointing out the risk/reward imbalance that has shifted my perception of the game a bit. No longer a Trader vs. Fighter sort of spacefaring deal; I now see it as a resource gathering game with occassional, unfortunate, and generally undesired combat.


To be fair, the game is about exploration and colonization... Alien hunting is a viable side-strategy, but you're right, you aren't going to win by ONLY hunting aliens. If you DO hunt aliens, part of the benefit of doing so is dropping off a colony maker on a juicy colony. As you say, just clearing out space for another player will result in their scoring 13 points off of your hard work!

Try experimenting with the various strategies and see how you fare... I don't want to give any spoilers though you could read my Under the Hood post for some hints on how to go about various strategies.

And yes, the longer the game goes on, the more Credits a delivery strategy can pile up - so one way to stop that is to end the game more quickly by killing aliens and colonizing!

I look forward to the next session report to see how your strategies evolve!
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Seth Jaffee
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rperciva wrote:
It might be nice to see some slightly more proactive aliens; ones that occasionally encroach into otherwise cleared territory. At least to give back lines guys a reason to harden their ships a bit and expose them to *some* random rolls.

I really liked galaxy trucker's ship building as well, so some crossover towards that style could also be neat.

Though now I'm just making the game even longer than it already is. =P

Watch for the Terra Prime / Galaxy Trucker crossover, coming soon from Tasty Czech Games!

In Terra Prime it is perfectly fine to avoid alien conflict and thereby forgo the need to 'harden your ship' - that's on purpose. Note though that you still have to deal with random die rolls if you explore or if you fly through Asteroid Fields.

I wanted to allow a player to play the entire game without rolling any dice if they were so inclined, because I know how some people feel about dice!
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Seth Jaffee
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rperciva wrote:
The following thread details some different economics that would have removed the cash as LP advantage of trading.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/120520/new-rules-for-eco...
I'm curious what happened there. (Looks like the fighter would then be getting too *many* points for his trouble, but those could be dropped.)

I used that income system briefly, but the Delivery Tile thing just ended up working a lot better than the supply/demand tracks you may have read about. And as for ATMs, that evolved into just allowing you to pay Brownium like it was 10 credits.

As for the alien scoring, those values were for when the aliens were more badass then they are now, so they were worth more points - and yes, as the game tuned up, they ended up being worth too much, so in the end I nerfed them some, and made them worth fewer points, but I added that you get partial credit (LP per symbol killed) rather than some number of points only if you defeat ALL the symbols.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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Just wanted to bump this thread and see if the original poster has played again, and how the game went if they did...
 
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David Etherton
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Not yet, but there's definitely still interest. I suspect it will be next in rotation.
 
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Kevin B. Smith
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sedjtroll wrote:
To be fair, the game is about exploration and colonization... Alien hunting is a viable side-strategy, but you're right, you aren't going to win by ONLY hunting aliens. If you DO hunt aliens, part of the benefit of doing so is dropping off a colony maker on a juicy colony. As you say, just clearing out space for another player will result in their scoring 13 points off of your hard work!

In my first 3 games, the winner was the person who had geared up and killed aliens. As you say, colonizing distant planets and asteroids is a significant part of that score. Also, every one of our games has ended due to the END from the reward tiles, not from running out of demand tiles. I guess nobody in our group has successfully set up an efficient pickup-and-delivery engine.

It's interesting how groupthink can work. We had been wondering how any non-alien-killing strategy could win, but then 2 nights ago I won with a colonize+pacify strategy.
 
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Seth Jaffee
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peakhope wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
To be fair, the game is about exploration and colonization... Alien hunting is a viable side-strategy, but you're right, you aren't going to win by ONLY hunting aliens. If you DO hunt aliens, part of the benefit of doing so is dropping off a colony maker on a juicy colony. As you say, just clearing out space for another player will result in their scoring 13 points off of your hard work!

In my first 3 games, the winner was the person who had geared up and killed aliens. As you say, colonizing distant planets and asteroids is a significant part of that score. Also, every one of our games has ended due to the END from the reward tiles, not from running out of demand tiles. I guess nobody in our group has successfully set up an efficient pickup-and-delivery engine.

It's interesting how groupthink can work. We had been wondering how any non-alien-killing strategy could win, but then 2 nights ago I won with a colonize+pacify strategy.

It's common for the game to end through the E-N-D coming up rather than the Demand Tiles. It's not intended that those two game end triggers be equally common.

The Demand Tile game end trigger is for the possibility that people stop exploring/colonizing and just do deliveries. Eventually the demand tiles will run out, and what happens then? Answer: game over!

More often people will continue to colonize and potentially hunt aliens.
 
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