Christopher Beck
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We played a game on Saturday with a similar setup to another session report just posted and a similar Muat Victory.

The Muat, Letnev, and Arborec (me) were experienced players and Yin and Ghosts were second time players. We played with the standard strategy cards except Imperial II and Age of Empires variant and the Technology II card (which greatly aided the Muat player).

It all started pretty badly for me (the Arborec) who suffered from "game owner prejudice" in the map setup. We played with standard map-building rules from the Shards expansion, but we did not use the Shattered Empires planets (because I don't like the trade stations and tappable planets for troops). The Arborec and Letnev hand of tiles were terrible, Arborec had 3 empty tiles and Letnev had 2, and each had a supernova and asteroid field respectively. The seating arrangement had Arborec and Letnev next to each other (but farther away), Letnev next to Muat (closer, in 5 player game setup), Muat in between Letnev and Yin, and Ghosts in between Yin and Arborec. Because I (Arborec) was the most experienced, the others decided to dump trash all around me (and forced me to place my own empty system near me, due to being last to place tiles) so that most of the good planets where on the Ghosts, Yin, and Muat side of the map. Luckily, Arborec has statis capsules, or I would have been sunk from the get go.

The game was rather odd. The ghosts didn't have access to any wormholes and the player (a bit inexperienced) never got his racial tech or flagship! So, in effect, he never used his racial abilities! I was flabbergasted at this, but - as his neighbor with a huge expanse of empty systems and the nearest to both wormholes - I wasn't going to correct him.

The Yin had the strange preliminary of building all 6 of their PDS, which stifled his aggression and also dissuaded others from attacking as he backed them up with Deep Space Cannons and that tech that allows PDS to reroll. So, in effect, he could hit ships coming near his homeworld with all 6 PDS and reroll those that missed. Unfortunately, due to this goal and his inexperience, he was relatively passive, meaning that his neighbor the Ghosts and Muat were allowed to expand pretty much unmolested.

Muat had the clear advantage in setup, he had the best planets nearby (and the nebula planet of Industrex bordering his homeworld on the side versus his nearest neighbor Letnev). Industrex's two red tech symbols really aided him in getting the techs needed to make his War Sun move quickly and be more of an impossible force to deal with.

Letnev, who has played several games but is "newer" to this level of complexity (my 64 year old father) did his best to handle Muat, but - without the support of the other neighbor Yin, could not deal with Muat's superior Warsun and Flagship. I suggested that he buy his flagship and his racial tech (Non-Euclidian Shields) but given that he didn't have the resources and was consistently blocked from trade agreements by other people grabbing the trade card and denying his trade offers, he wasn't able to do much more than field his Dreadnoughts and hope for the best. In the end, he made a great initial foray into Muat territory but was crushed by two Warsuns and the Flagship. Muat also got very lucky to get a preliminary, Researcher, to get tech symbols - which he had to conquer Letnev's planets to get, and then immediately draw the Secret objective to destroy all of an opponent's SDs. Given that he now already had a force in Letnev territory, it only took another turn to achieve that goal - giving him 4 VPs pretty easily.

As the Arborec, I used Stasis capsules to leap toward some planets 2 away from me that were near the Ghosts. Next turn the Arborec Cruisers dropped off a troop on Mecatol Rex, giving the Arborec early control of the center. I would control Mecatol Rex for most of the game, given the Yin's war-shy playing and skillful use of the Diplomacy Strategy Card to prevent the Ghosts from seizing the imperial seat. The objectives were a bit nasty for a person with only one planet (a 2-2) adjacent to them - spend 10 resources, spend 6 trade goods, have 3 techs of the same color, have techs of all 4 colors. Luckily, there was a "control Mecatol Rex" objective, and with Mecatol and high influence planets between the Ghosts and me, I was able to achieve the 3 point goal of having more influence than the combined influence of my two neighbors - particularly after Muat conquered so many of Letnev's colonies.

We played as allowing the Arborec to build anything with their GFs but I never had the resources to field much more than Crusiers (at one point I had all of my Cruisers on the board). Because I had lower resources (only 8 at the height of my glory, but an influence of 17), I used the 3 green tech planets I owned to purchase mostly green techs, which meant I never had XRD Transporters - a great tech to use with Cybernetics. My preliminary, to destroy 2 Cruisers in 1 turn was hijacked by the fact that none of the other players built Cruisers! The one time I tried to achieve it, I struck at the Ghosts with a force of 5 Crusiers and 2 Destroyers and the Action Card Enhanced Armor that gives Cruisers Sustain Damage - but I failed miserably.

The Ghosts had a wedge into the board and toward Mecatol with a decent force of fighters, Destroyers, and Dreads, but got too caught up with Mecatol and never attacked the Yin (who was weak on their side). Gen Synthesis and high numbers of spawned GFs (using Bio Plasmosis, production, and 1 per turn spawning) made the Arborec planets hard to seize - particularly because Arborec PDS blocked Bombardment.

In the end it was a Muat victory as he achieve his preliminary and secret goals, then built up enough TGs to get 3 VPS from spending 12 and then 6 respectively. Getting 3 techs of the same color and techs of all 4 colors gave him 2 more VPs, and he could easily spend 10 resources for another VP. His first VP came from getting 5 planets outside his system, and easy goal for a guy completely surrounded by planets.

However, even with poor positioning, the Arborec got 9 VPs and was in a race to win the game. This is largely due, not to their racial power - which is good by not OP IMHO - but from the fact I was allowed to keep Mecatol Rex for most of the game and could use the Imperial card and benefit from the high influence.

In summation, I wish I could say more about the powers of the Ghosts, but he never once used them. I was excited to see how they would work but ultimately this didn't happen. The Arborec powers are highly useful, but I would not say that this is particularly OP as they are limited by resources rather than production capacity. Given a higher resource start, this might have turned out differently. What I see as their main strength is the high number of very mobile GFs that the Arborec can create and shuttle around with their Crusiers and the ease with which they can benefit from Gen Synthesis - a natural ability for them to get. 5 GFs, protected by a PDS, with a +1 to combat rolls is a great psychological deterrent against invasion.
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Casey F
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My girlfriend saw your subject line and thought I was reading about someone with an STD.

Anyway, awesome session! Thanks for sharing.
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casper jorgensen
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Great report. One thing though, that I can never figure out, is why people want to create an unbalanced galaxy. I realize some may feel this is part of the game, however, for such a large scale (and time consuming) game, it seems to be a little rough on those who are sitting tight in a bad spot.
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Brian Petersen
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Texas
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It's usually just getting dealt a crappy set of planets. Last game I was dealt 2 blue tech discount planets. One was 1r3i the other was 2r1i. I was Jol-Nar so naturally experienced players wanted to gimp me. During setup, I was given a beta wormhole, 2 empty systems, and a Gravity rift, such that my whole spoke had +1 movement and the wormhole was between me and Sol. I was between 2 new players and could have invaded the Xxcha HS several times or blockaded the Sol HS 90% of the game.

Because I didn't want to be aggressive towards the new players, I had to tap all of my planets each round to gain a blue tech while using the other free tech to get a different color. I built with TGs only, getting 6 per round. As soon as I saw that the new player was getting aggressive, I got Electroresonance Turbines which I was only able to use once. It still profited me 1 TG, but cut me short one tech.

The bad setup of planets steered me towards getting +1 movement to all my ships (all 3 of my systems were adjacent to a wormhole or Gravity Rift), and +1 movement to carriers. The POs involved TGs, 1 tech of each color, 3 techs of same color, 3 tech specialty planets, and all 3 SDs. Since I was crippled by planets, players were willing to give me good trade agreements and all of the POs that came up were doable while only controlling a couple systems. Much to my chagrin, on the final turn when I was going to win with Imperial I, Imperium Rex came up. Luckily, I won the tie-breaker because the other player at 9 had done his SO. The next objective that would have come up was "I have 9 techs."

Thus the meta-game usually turns into "Well, we gave this player a crappy area of space, lets give him good trades and not be too aggressive towards him." However, if the N'orr gets a crappy start up, nobody trades with him, and his neighbor is aggressive aka Mentak, he could have his SD and carrier destroyed during the course of the first two turns.
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Christopher Beck
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aermet69 wrote:
Great report. One thing though, that I can never figure out, is why people want to create an unbalanced galaxy. I realize some may feel this is part of the game, however, for such a large scale (and time consuming) game, it seems to be a little rough on those who are sitting tight in a bad spot.


I had debated using the pre-built maps, but with a 5 player game this is very awkward and silly looking and thus opted for the traditional method.

Brian is right here though, the upside of getting "dumped on" with an imbalanced start is that nobody wants to compete over or enter your side of the galaxy. Letnev, who has powerful ships and war techs, was mostly uninterested in coming toward me given that we only had 2 planets between us (yes, this is a HIGHLY unusual and imbalanced setup). This meant also that people reacted less dramatically when I took planets within a few spaces of their homeworld, they knew I had no other choices in my recent vicinity.

Still, the inexperience of the players factored into this. They should never have placed the planets they did near Muat. That is just asking for them to get both War Suns and a Flagship on the board.

I forgot to add that the game lasted every bit of seven hours! We still haven't gotten the notion of "streamlining." I'm considering using the Shattered Empires Strategy Cards next go around, as they look as if they might lend themselves toward a bit faster play.
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Lucas Skinner
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Great report.

I've also played several 5-player games and we use the standard TG-weighted layout. Mostly because I don't want to play a "worm-holes over the gap" pre-made map. We all enjoy the semi-random nature of galaxy creation. It is, in my opinion, one of the best features of T.I. No two games are the same.

T.I. just isn't that friendly a 5-player game. Still a blast, but the balancing as always bugged me a little even though we've had a game won by every position. Except maybe the middle player on the crowded side. I'm not sure they've won, though I am sure they've competed for victory.

Our last couple games the players have realized the setup for what it is and expanded accordingly. Namely, the 2 players forming the sandwich on the crowded side of the map need to expand away from the 3rd player in between them. If no one checks the growth of those 2 on the outskirts, especially if the map layout has nothing for the outskirt races to fight over, they'll end up with a large advantage. The player in the middle of the crowd needs to work some early diplomacy and strong expansion.

Basically you are forced into some strategies by nature of map layout and your position. In 4 and 6 player games your strategies are strictly based on the systems and you have more freedom to play the way you want.

Hopefully we'll have a 6th for our next game July 9th.



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Anders Kernel
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Thx for the report.

Casper and I are in the same TI3 gaming group, and normally we meet the evening before a game, and lay out the galaxy with 5 resources, 4 influence and 2 tech symbols for each player in the 3 - 4 tiles next to each home. This changed after Shards, now it is more like 6, 4 and 2 (with slight variations all around).

The thing is, that we use a lot of time on these games, and it is easily our favorite game, but would be a hard one if some players were too nerfed, imo.

Cheerio,
ST
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Christopher Beck
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SovTech wrote:
Thx for the report.

Casper and I are in the same TI3 gaming group, and normally we meet the evening before a game, and lay out the galaxy with 5 resources, 4 influence and 2 tech symbols for each player in the 3 - 4 tiles next to each home. This changed after Shards, now it is more like 6, 4 and 2 (with slight variations all around).

The thing is, that we use a lot of time on these games, and it is easily our favorite game, but would be a hard one if some players were too nerfed, imo.

Cheerio,
ST


Call it experience, call it luck. But even with the heavily imbalanced planet distribution (as in, I only had 1 adjacent, a 2-2, and then others within 2 spaces of both me, my nearest neighbor and Mecatol Rex), I still came in second place. Partially this was due to a lack of aggressive behavior with 2 players - but one of the two's infrequent aggression was focused solely on me - so I wasn't exactly "left alone."

Given the setup of the Muat player or even the Ghost player, I believe I could have won the game far earlier than the Muat player (and as is, he and I were neck and neck for that final VP).

With a setup like that, you also learn the value of Stasis Capsules as a starting tech.
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Brandon Barkley
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I understand the appeal of using a pre-made balanced map, but I think there is a lot of fun in the map making. Sometimes you are going to have terrible starting tiles and some people will have "sweeter" starting areas than others, but I think you can create a relatively balanced map with a group of experienced players.

For example, in a game that I recently played, I got the short end of the stick a few times and ended up with a ton of empty space around me. This actually ended up working out great for me though for a few reasons.

1. No one seemed to mind the two decent systems I was able to play adjacent to me.
2. I was able to talk a player into "throwing me a bone" since my setup was so bad. It was Rigel I,II, and III; but I was Winnu and appreciated the Tech planets.
3. My preliminary was to control two systems adjacent to Mecatol. Since I didn't have much interesting near me, it did not alarm other players too much when I struck out toward some resource heavy planets there (though circumstances intervened and one of the two systems I ended up controlling was an otherwise empty gravity well).
4. This might just be me getting lucky, but I drew the perfect Secret Objective "Control 8 systems outside your home system." I told my neighbors that I wanted to bolster my defenses and asked if it was okay to move one cruiser or destroyer into the blank systems that were closer to them. They didn't mind and I easily cruised to get my Secret the very next round with 4 empty/special systems and 4 'real' systems.

I didn't win mind you, but my inferior starting position really let me sit back, chill, and lay low while people across the board were bickering over planets.
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