Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Alien Frontiers» Forums » Variants

Subject: Reducing Down Time - Adding more interactivity rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Greg
United States
Brea
CA
flag msg tools
This space intentionally left green.
badge
GRRREEEEEEEEENNNN!!!!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In another thread CleverMojo posed the following question:
CleverMojo wrote:
...if one wanted to adjust the game so that there was less down time and/or more things for the non-active players to do during down time...what would one propose?

I think there's a lot of ways to grant new abilities to the players: new tech cards, alternate territory bonuses, unique player powers, new default abilities, abilities added by having ships at a particular facility, new gameplay elements like the Outer Belt, etc. In this thread, I'm not worried about discussing HOW the abilities would be implemented(though ideas are of course welcome), rather, I just want to come up with a list of abilities that could be granted that would add some kind of interactive element to the game for the non-active players. Also, all of the abilities would have some sort of cost upfront and/or recurring that I'm not going to worry about here.

Here's the ones I can think of:

1. Piggyback actions at Obital facilities. When the active player uses a facility, you have the option of also using that facility in some way. Here's 1 example
Example: Pay x fuel to move your colony on the Colonist Hub when it is used by active player.
Payment could be to stock or active player or both. The idea is that you're bribing
someone to include some of your colonists on their ship.

2. Remove a docked ship to guard 2 of your resources against raiders. This ship would be placed in the maintenance bay at the start of your next turn. I'm imagining a small player mat of some sort where players could keep their resources and the guarding ship.
3. When the active player sends your ship(s) to the maintenance bay, you pay to immediately reroll and dock those ships elsewhere.
4. Adjust the value of docked dice to make it harder for the active player to dock.
5. Adjust active player's dice (I don't like this because in the end I think it would just slow down the game as people stock up on alien tech and have to always have extra fuel on hand to defend their dice.)
6. Move your ships to new dock without activating the facility.
7. Discard alien tech stock card(s).
8. Block Alien tech card usage or make it more expensive.

I'd try to stick with abilities that allow the non-active players some choices, rather than passive powers like collecting extra resouces. The whole point is to keep players engaged when it's not their turn. That said, I think it's also important to make sure that the non-active players' attention wasn't required. In other words, the active player should be able to complete his turn without ever losing his 'active' status unless another player chooses to interrupt. This would hopefully keep AP from getting significantly worse. Last, the abilities as an aggregate shouldn't slow dow down the game. For every ability that stalls a player, there should be a power that speeds a player up.


3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lee Fisher
United States
Downingtown
PA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Can we move this to variants?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonas
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I personally don't see where people have issue in this game regarding downtime. I've played it a couple times with 4 player and I never felt time drag. I mean Someone rolls their dice, looks at the open spots for their turn and see if they can place them anywhere.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg
United States
Brea
CA
flag msg tools
This space intentionally left green.
badge
GRRREEEEEEEEENNNN!!!!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
lfisher wrote:
Can we move this to variants?

This thread isn't offering a variant to the rules. It's more of a design discussion, so I thought General was more appropriate. Hopefully the ideas here will spawn a couple variants. I already have one in mind.


chessduffer wrote:
I personally don't see where people have issue in this game regarding downtime. I've played it a couple times with 4 player and I never felt time drag. I mean Someone rolls their dice, looks at the open spots for their turn and see if they can place them anywhere.


Read the review linked in the first post. The big issue discussed in that thread is downtime. While I agree that it is a game that offers lots of opportunity for social interaction, advice, and politicking, the fact is that one can walk away from the board when it's not their turn, and it does not materially affect the game. In that sense, especially if it's a quiet group, or one that frowns on advice or politicking between players, over half of the time in the game is down time, and you can't really plan you next move until the dice are rolled.

Also keep in mind that your group may be very quick, but I played a game last monday that lasted, I kid you not, almost 4 hours. So downtime was a huge annoyance during that game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonas
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I guess I just don't feel that way when I play. I think there is plenty to think about when it's not your turn, especially as you rack up your tech cards that give you many different options.
Also 4 hours?? I can't even fathom a game taking nearly that long.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd France
United States
flag msg tools
IF ONLY I had a plan...
badge
The lesser of two evils?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm just transposing my initial response to the question from the other tread:

Off the top of my head, I could see some Alien Tech cards that let you:
A) Modify other player's dice (Pay 2 fuel to reduce the value of another player's unplaced ship by 1)
B) Piggyback off other player's Facility usage (whenever a player uses the Colony Constructor, you may pay 1 fuel to advance your Colony 1 position on the Colonial Hub)

Theoretically, Facilities could be modified to do similar things if you have dice docked there (After a player has activated the Alien Artifact, any other player with dice docked at the artifact may pay 1 fuel and 1 ore to purchase one of the remaining Artifacts).

To really be interactive, they'd have to involve decisions Something like (whenever the Solar Collector is activated, you may collect one Fuel for each ship you have docked there) could be useful, but isn't really interactive in the sense I think we're talking here.

Now, if you were to implement anything of this sort, you'd quickly run into a couple of hurdles. Anything involving manipulation of other people's dice will get into timing and primacy issues. Can you wait till your opponent declares where he's going to place his dice before using your option? Does the active player now have to wait and ask if anyone wants to use their option before continuing with his turn? And anything you add along this vein will increase the length of the turn itself. you'd be breaking up the downtime between turns but at the cost of increasing the total time between turns. It's quite possible that "fixing" this "issue" could be costly to gameplay in other ways.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sos
United States
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
chessduffer wrote:
I guess I just don't feel that way when I play. I think there is plenty to think about when it's not your turn, especially as you rack up your tech cards that give you many different options.
Also 4 hours?? I can't even fathom a game taking nearly that long.


Played a 3 player game last nite that took 35 minutes. Average time for 3 players has been about 40 minutes.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Todd France
United States
flag msg tools
IF ONLY I had a plan...
badge
The lesser of two evils?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wwscrispin wrote:
Everyone plays games differently but at 4 hours you are doing something wrong. With 4 players the time between a single player's turns should certainly be less than 5 minutes. There are just not that many combinations to think through for even the most AP prone.


Actually, if it's everyone's first game, I'm not sure an hour per person is totally unreasonable. Using your numbers, at 5 minutes a turn, with 4 players that's 20 minutes a round. To 6 Colonies, assuming new players average a Colony every other turn, that's 12 rounds, or 4 hours.
You should at least be able to cut it in half for game two though. If not, maybe a 2 minute turn limit would help...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate Walker
United States
North Andover
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
So many douchebags, so few bullets.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gdapkus wrote:
I played a game last monday that lasted, I kid you not, almost 4 hours.


What on earth were you guys doing on your turn? After you roll your dice there's only so many things you can do. Not to mention, when there are other players' dice on the board blocking spaces, it limits what you can do.

I've played 5 times:

4p: 1st time for all 4
4p: 1st time for 2
3p: 1st time for 1
4p: 1st time for 3
4p: 1st time for 1

The absolute longest any of those games took was 90 minutes and that was the first one when we were all new to the game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gdapkus wrote:
I played a game last monday that lasted, I kid you not, almost 4 hours.


During the early stages of development, Tory kept telling me that he always played AF with 4 players during his lunch hour at work. The very first time I held a play test group for Alien Frontiers the 4-player game took 3 hours. I'm sure Tory thought we were whacked in the head, or something. After three or four games we finally broke the 60 minute barrier though. It does speed up with experience.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matthew M
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
flag msg tools
admin
8/8 FREE, PROTECTED
badge
513ers Assemble!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Moved to Variants
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Randall Bart
United States
Winnetka
California
flag msg tools
designer
Baseball been bery bery good to me
badge
This is a picture of a published game designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
wwscrispin wrote:
There are just not that many combinations to think through for even the most AP prone.

You have clearly never met the most AP prone.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Anders Pedersen
Denmark
Copenhagen N.
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gdapkus wrote:
Read the review linked in the first post. The big issue discussed in that thread is downtime. While I agree that it is a game that offers lots of opportunity for social interaction, advice, and politicking, the fact is that one can walk away from the board when it's not their turn, and it does not materially affect the game. In that sense, especially if it's a quiet group, or one that frowns on advice or politicking between players, over half of the time in the game is down time, and you can't really plan you next move until the dice are rolled.

That is a very rigid definition of downtime.
By that line of reasoning even a 2-player Carcassonne has downtime - let go fix Carcassonne!
Seriously though. There are plenty of stuff you can (and should) take into consideration while waiting for your next turn.
I would not spend time with a gamer that doesn't look at the board, and player positioning, between turns. If that player insists on digesting all the new information only after having rolled his/her dice, I would leave the table for good.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg
United States
Brea
CA
flag msg tools
This space intentionally left green.
badge
GRRREEEEEEEEENNNN!!!!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
man, ask a simple question and get a bunch of irrelevant answers.

This is supposed to be a discussion about ways to modify the game to allow player to interact when they are not the active player.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Hoffman
United States
Cortlandt Manor
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The issue I have with altering the game to allow off-turn interaction is this: it fundamentally changes the core of the game.

I think, if people are complaining about downtime and not feeling the game is interactive enough, one *could* change from the current un-turn scheme to a turn-based scheme, a la Stone Age.

So, I'm Player One. ALL players roll their dice and I get to place dice at ONE location. Then Player Two gets to place at ONE location. Then Player Three and Player Four. When we're back to me, I get to place at one location again, and so on until everyone either passes or runs out of dice.

Then, execute the locations in a pre-determined order, clear all the dice from the board, pass the Player One marker to the next person in order and go again.

HOWEVER, the game you will be playing at this point will not be Alien Frontiers. To my mind the core of the gameplay and the thing that makes AF the wonderful game it is is the fact that the board's memory persists from player to player.

You're hoping to get into a spot so you watch as it fills and empties during other player's turns. You try to anticipate what's going to happen, who's going to go where, and what you can do to get the things you need.

A key element to the game is SCARCITY. Scarcity not of resources (though that does come into play as well) but of available actions. Someone's filled up that area and you can't get in there? What's your backup plan?

I've often voiced the opinion on these forums that the great thing about dice-based games is not hoping for good luck with dice but planning for bad luck and how to work around it. How to minimize it. In Alien Frontiers, you can use the cards to "break" bad rolls, to cheat your way into spaces that are filled, to steal things from other players, etc. The mark of a good player is going to be someone who puts the dice at his or her own mercy and is not at the mercy of the dice.

I can see where Alien Frontier -- The Stone Age Variant might be enjoyable and I might even give it a try sometime (my wife was frustrated by the scarcity of available locations on the board -- but that's less because she was actually frustrated and more because, um, she was losing). It won't be Alien Frontiers we'd be playing, though. Not saying it wouldn't be fun, but the heart of this game isn't rolling dice and hoping for the best; it's watching for that opening, exploiting it, and trying to block the other players from getting the things they need.

--------------------

On a side-note, aren't there a whole lot of games where players do not interact when it's not their turn? Further, I consider "watching what the other players are doing and how it fouls up my plans" interacting when it's not my turn. I can't think of many things worse in gaming that the player who doesn't pay attention at all when it's not their turn, then grinds things to a halt as they evaluate the gamestate, figure out what they want to do and what they're able to do and if they're going to be able to do it.

While everyone else waits, eh?

In AF, the dice may limit what you can do, but with a couple tech cards, you can limit the dice's affect on you. By the end of the game, if you're hamstrung by bad rolls, I submit that's more to do with poor play than bad rolls.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Earls
United States
Flower Mound
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I haven't noticed much downtime in this game. So far, it's been very important to focus on what other players are doing and even barter or negotiate with them in order to make sure I can get my plan enacted. None of our games with 4 (mostly new) exceeded 2 hours and they were very interactive and engaging.

Thanks
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.