Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
16 Posts

Alien Frontiers: Factions» Forums » Sessions

Subject: AF: Factions 5 player Playtest rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
"Nobody gets me. I'm the wind, baby!" - Tom Servo
badge
"Push the button, Frank!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yesterday we played our first game of Alien Frontiers with the Factions expansion. It was a 5 player game and all players had played the base game before though a couple only a few times. I did a quick rules overview and then explained the Factions additions.

The five players & turn order (Tom Decker, Mary Taylor, Chris Taylor, Mark O'Green, & Scott Everts)

Tom played Smuggler's Alliance.
Mary played New Gaia Engineers.
Chris played Proxima Centauri Scholars.
Mark played Scavenger Fleet.
Scott played Homesteader's Union.

We first passed out the free Alien Tech card, 2 Agenda cards (pick one), and the Factions boards. Since everyone was new, we randomly distributed the Factions. In our next game we plan to seed the 3 unplayed factions so we will be sure to get them all played at least once. Normally they are picked but for speed of startup we did it randomly.

The reason I chose random selection was because I was afraid we’d have spend 30+ minutes mulling over the choices. The bad part of doing this is it can make a player feel forced into a certain strategy that they normally don’t like to play. But I think it will be important to make sure each Faction gets tested and didn’t want players to keep picking the same ones each game.

We made one known mistake in that the Faction owner didn’t have to pay 1 Fuel to use their own Facility. But discovered after the game that the owner still pays and it goes to the supply.

We had a few questions on how the Faction powers worked and based on how we interpreted them seemed to indicate some were either almost worthless or super powerful (more on that below).


The Game
We got lucky and 2 of the new Alien Tech cards were available start of game (Astrogation Servo & Lunar Tunneler).

Tom snapped up Astrogation Servo early and it turned out to be really useful. With the new ways to kick ships out of docks, the Maint. Bay got heavy use. Mark also benefited from the Maint. Bay since it got him a steady stream of Fuel. Though we misplayed it for a few turns (see below faction questions).

Mary eventually picked up Lunar Tunneler which is a great way to collect Ore. There are various ways to collect ore now (Smuggler’s Alliance) so it was easier for players to get ships/colonies built.

Surprisingly the early game went fairly fast though there was some early confusion on Faction powers and we under utilized them at first. I made Faction reference cards for each player which helped greatly but it took awhile before everyone remembered who had what and what was actually out (More discussion on ref material below).

The game was much more chaotic then the base game. With new facilities and new tech cards there were a lot more choices. We noticed several board facilities got way under utilized- Orbital Market, Alien Artifact, & Raider’s Outpost hardly got used most of the game. This will probably change based on what Factions are in play.

AP is going to be more of a problem now. Late game its always been a problem once you have 5 or 6 ships and lots of Tech cards. But now you have the addition of 4-5 new facilities which change game to game.

Agenda cards changed how players used the planet. Before them you tended to land in spots that helped you on your strategy. But now you also had to take into consideration those potential 3 extra points so sometimes you planted a colony is a spot you didn’t really need. For me gaining Asimov was a huge benefit. Everyone ignored it even though it was helping me land colonies fast. Without Agendas I think someone would of eventually stopped me (more comments below on agendas).


End Game comments

At the end Tom, Mark, & Scott (me) were close to winning. The player order- Mark, Scott, Tom put me in a position to finish the game after I had locked out use of my Homesteader’s facility from Tom. If I had left it open, Tom would of finished the game. I was gambling Mark could not land his last colony and I could. We both had the same points at the time but I missed him pickup up Alien Monument and was banking he had only 1 Agenda (he had 2, I had 1). Even so if I had looked at the points, what he had, and what I had, I probably should of not finished the game. He had more alien tech so even if we tied, he would of won on that. I turned out to be the kingmaker. If I hadn’t denied Tom my Homesteader’s Facility the previous turn, Tom would of won. So that swung the game in Mark’s favor.

Final Scores
Mark scored 10 (2 agendas, 4 colonies placed, 1 alien monument, 2 areas controlled, 1 positron field)
Scott scored 8 (1 agenda, 5 colonies placed, 2 areas controlled)
Tom scored 8 (2 agendas, 4 colonies, 2 areas controlled)
Mary scored 5 (1 agenda, 3 colonies, 1 area)
Chris scored 5 (1 agenda, 2 colonies, 1 area, 1 alien city)

For the Factions I think Homesteaders was amazing. Scavenger Fleet was also good since you get free fuel (when Maint Bay has ships) and can kick out other ships. Smuggler’s Alliance benefit wasn’t that useful since Raider’s Outpost rarely got any use. But the Ore facility ability was nice. Take 1 or 2 plus fuel to turn it into an Ore sometimes was handy in a pinch. Proxima Centari Scholars is a great late game power. Adding/removing/moving generators can really mess up your plans. If Chris was able to get more colonies out he could of really scored some nice points and annoyed everyone else! New Gaia Engineers was the least useful. We thought the 1/3 chance was too low for their own power and the Facility ability seemed really weak. It never got used. If this doesn’t get changed I expect this faction will never get played (unless we misinterpreted the facility rules).

Faction questions/issues/comments
Can the Smuggler's Alliance place any three dice into the Raider's Outpost or does it need to be a sequence of three? I’m guessing the correct rule is you can put any sequence of three. So if someone has a 4-5-6, I could replace it with a 1-2-3 or any other sequence. But the wording in the manual was vague.

Scavenger Fleet benefit applies to all ships in the maintenance bay, correct? Or just the players? We’re assuming all ships but it could read either way.

New Gaia Engineers Facility seemed terribly under powered unless we were interpreting it wrong. You spend a Fuel to park a die there but the cost of using the Terraforming Station is a Fuel and Ore. I suppose if you were desperate to get an Ore and had no other choices you could use this. The entire game no one used it. And the NG Eng’s Benefit was only a 1/3 chance of activating. We thought it should be at least 1/2 chance considering the poor facility power. But maybe we misinterpreted what it does?

Homesteader’s Union was fantastic for me. Once I got Asimov Crater I just bum rushed the Colonist Hub. It’s a powerful Faction but you need to dominate Asimov and hold it. The other players never contested it and I picked an Agenda card that supported it which was lucky.

Proxima Centari Scholars can not manipulate new "U" generator? It wasn’t on the Faction card as an option so we played that you could not.

Various comments
Ore is easier to get which means more building. Colonies were popping up faster then in the base game.

Alien Tech was under utilized in our game. Players focused on Faction Facilities to get what they needed. Late game tech started to be purchased. For myself I never bought one card (just my starting one).

Why is there only 1 copy of each Alien Tech? The base game/promos included 2 of each. These cards are pretty nice so seems odd they limit them so much. Maybe trying to force players to steal them but that takes a dedicated amount of resources so not always a good use of dice. Just seems inconsistent with base game and promo cards.

Scavenger Fleet has a great power and got used quite a bit.

Proxima Centari Scholars, wow, what a power. Finally a quick way to get those Field Generators moved around. We always under utilized them in previous games (no one wants to discard a valuable Alien Tech). Now they can easily be swapped around. Chris used this to great effect to keep me out of Van Vogt Mts which we both shared an Agenda location for.

Agendas were fine. I love hidden victory points in games. The base game can become a rather dry affair at the end since you can calculate exactly what points everyone has and figure out if ending the game is going to give you a win. Plus it can turn the game into a king making situation when you know you can control the final score based on what you do. Agendas give you just a few points to remove that math-y endgame problem. Or at least add a little mystery. The problem we had was the cards were boring! Each gave you 3 random planet locations that you can get points based on control. So as the game proceeded you could guess who had what agendas. What this deck needs is other VP cards. Such as points for most tech, or most fuel, most ore, build all 6 ships, end game with just 3 ships, etc. There are tons of new cards you could add that would be more interesting then just 3 random locations. Sure, you can have those but put some more in to shake up the choices. We were most disappointed with these cards since they weren’t very interesting.

New Tech was amazing but (as mentioned above) only 1 copy of each.

This game will need some kind of mini card Faction references. My reference sheet was ok but it required everyone to remember who had what. A small deck of 4 copies of 8 faction mini cards would allow each player to have a quick reference next to their play area. I realize if you played this constantly it wouldn’t be so important but more casual players will never remember game to game what options they have. I’m assuming the designers probably don’t want to add this expense so plan to make my own. But something to consider if there’s enough development money.

I wouldn’t use Factions with new players. The tech and agenda cards would be fine but Factions adds so many new options that it would confuse and slow down the game. Definitely for experienced players. Don’t get me wrong, they are awesome, but it does add a lot more to think about.

Time
1:45 minutes total playing time. 15-20 minute rules explanation. 15 turns.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scott...

Thanks for the session report!

I have to rush off to my day job...no holiday for me ...but when I get home tonight I'll give a detailed set of answers and ask some more questions...you might want to read my comments in the other session reports as I know I've addressed a couple of your questions before.

One thing...there are no free alien tech cards when using Factions.

Thanks again!!!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
"Nobody gets me. I'm the wind, baby!" - Tom Servo
badge
"Push the button, Frank!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry to hear you don't get the day off. soblue

Also, forgot to mention how nice the playtest set was. When you invited me to the playtest I thought I'd just get a PDF emailed to me. Surprised the heck out of me when I got this nicely made set in the mail! Well done!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ScottE wrote:
Sorry to hear you don't get the day off. soblue

Also, forgot to mention how nice the playtest set was. When you invited me to the playtest I thought I'd just get a PDF emailed to me. Surprised the heck out of me when I got this nicely made set in the mail! Well done!

My pleasure...sorry there were no purple dice...i got a good bulk deal on white dice for the prototypes.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
"Nobody gets me. I'm the wind, baby!" - Tom Servo
badge
"Push the button, Frank!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CleverMojo wrote:
ScottE wrote:
Sorry to hear you don't get the day off. soblue

Also, forgot to mention how nice the playtest set was. When you invited me to the playtest I thought I'd just get a PDF emailed to me. Surprised the heck out of me when I got this nicely made set in the mail! Well done!

My pleasure...sorry there were no purple dice...i got a good bulk deal on white dice for the prototypes.

No problem there, I had already built purple as part of my fancy plastic colonies and got purple dice & rocket for them. The purple dice don't quite match the production ones but I'll swap them out when Factions comes out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James 3
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
i have a game group that meets weekly at my house, and we've all played Alien Fronteirs multiple times now. And we often have 5 players. Factions sounds interesting. We'd love to try out the expansion if you are looking for more playtesters whistle
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
OK, Scott...I'm here to do the commenting, answering, and questioning now.

#1...No free Alien Tech at the beginning.

#2...Faction owner docks a ship and pays the stock to use his own orbital facility power.

#3...Faction Reference Cards...good idea...I'll make a note.

#4...Agenda cards affecting strategy...This is as I hoped. I wanted people to get out of the ruts and try something new.

#5...Kingmaker implies deliberately trying to make another player win. sounds like you just made a decision with imperfect information.

#6...Homesteaders Union and Asimov Crater is a powerful combination. Other players will need to take notice if you try that again.

#7...Smuggler's Alliance's owner benefit is fairly weak if players are not doing a lot of raiding, on the plus side, though, it makes it easy to bump yourself and get two raids in one turn if you have any two runs. So, that answers your question, too...you can use ANY three-ship sequence/run to bump any existing ships at the Raiders' Outpost.

#8...Proxima Centauri Scholars can be a chaos machine in the right hands but it is nice to see more field tokens in use. The PCS does affect the Utopia Field as well. The UF was a late addition and I forgot to update the PCS faction board. Sorry for the confusion.

#9...Most people find the New Gaia Engineers a nice safety net if they can get a lucky roll to retain their ship, but the facility power rarely gets used. As it stands now, you dock a ship and pay a fuel and if ANY OTHER PLAYER uses the Terraforming station they pay you instead of the stock. Problem is that you'd spending a ship and a fuel to gamble that another player will make a specific play on their next turn. If they're the spiteful type they might avid the TS like the plague just so you don't benefit. I think that facility power will change.

#10...Scavenger Fleet benefit is to get one fuel for every ship in the Maintenance Bay AFTER the player gathers his fleet. So, it is only other players' ships, never his own. Also, The benefit does not kick in until the second turn when all of the original ships placed there at the beginning of the game have been removed.

#11...With the abundance of fuel thanks to the Solar Harvester and the Scavenger Fleet, did you find that players utilized the Orbital Market more to trade fuel for ore?

#12...Keep me posted if Alien Tech cards continue to be under utilized.

#13...We only included one of each new AlienTech because we are worried that the deck will get bloated and make it hard to find the cards people want/need. The original deck was 22 cards, then add 2 space cranes, 2 mind control helmets and 16 new cards for Factions (if we sent 2 of each) and you've nearly doubled the size of the AT deck. Seemed too much to us.

#14 ...We're working on a new set of Agenda cards that will offer the option of getting 1VP immediately for achieving a specified game state (move 5 levels on the colonist hub, land three colonies in one turn, move colonies so that you and an opponent both increase their score, etc...) or you can hold onto it for up to three VP's for territory control at the end of the game.

#15...Factions is definitely not meant for first timers. Get your friends to play the base game a few times and THEN introduce them to Factions.

#16...Was there any problems or confusion with the Colonist Hub using the 5 player rule? It seems like it might be confusing since it shoe-horns in that fifth player, but we find that it works well in practice once you get used to it.

Thanks again for testing Factions and I look to more feedback as you play more games.

David
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
"Nobody gets me. I'm the wind, baby!" - Tom Servo
badge
"Push the button, Frank!"
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi David, thanks for the comments! Very helpful in our next game.

CleverMojo wrote:
#5...Kingmaker implies deliberately trying to make another player win. sounds like you just made a decision with imperfect information.

You are right. I miscalculated points so wasn't kingmaking, just me being an idiot!

CleverMojo wrote:
#6...Homesteaders Union and Asimov Crater is a powerful combination. Other players will need to take notice if you try that again.

I got lucky and was the only one with Asimov as an Agenda location. So the other players were focusing on control of other locations and ignored it. We had many overlaps so there was several big control fights and Asimov just stayed the entire game with my 1 colony. That's what I like about Agendas, you have that push to control those locations fighting with allowing another player to take advantage elsewhere. They add a nice new dynamic to the game.

CleverMojo wrote:
#11...With the abundance of fuel thanks to the Solar Harvester and the Scavenger Fleet, did you find that players utilized the Orbital Market more to trade fuel for ore?

In our game I think the Orbital Market was only used once. But to be honest in the dozen times I've played of AF its been one of the least used locations. It's expensive, requiring two dice and two 1's for the best rate. And our first Factions game had Smuggler's Alliance as an alternative Ore location. Factions offers so many new options, we were probably not playing optimally trying out all the new stuff. Orbital Market can be a great location if you control Heinlein. I once had a game I controlled Heinlein and Lem which is a powerful combo.

CleverMojo wrote:
#12...Keep me posted if Alien Tech cards continue to be under utilized.

I certainly will. Normally I love Tech and tend to buy quite a few cards. I think this was the first time I never bought any. With Factions, so many new options and buying Tech requires 2+ dice so probably a good reason we bought less.

CleverMojo wrote:
#13...We only included one of each new AlienTech because we are worried that the deck will get bloated and make it hard to find the cards people want/need. The original deck was 22 cards, then add 2 space cranes, 2 mind control helmets and 16 new cards for Factions (if we sent 2 of each) and you've nearly doubled the size of the AT deck. Seemed too much to us.

I see what you mean. I suppose one way to deal with it is make it easier to cycle cards (Dark Space Explorers helps if out). Though currently there is only 1 card that interacts with Utopian Field (unless Scholars is out). But I'm not sure its so bad to have a big stack of cards. You can go fishing but its not always going to be successful no matter how many cards are in the deck.

CleverMojo wrote:
#14 ...We're working on a new set of Agenda cards that will offer the option of getting 1VP immediately for achieving a specified game state (move 5 levels on the colonist hub, land three colonies in one turn, move colonies so that you and an opponent both increase their score, etc...) or you can hold onto it for up to three VP's for territory control at the end of the game.

Great to hear! That should make them much more interesting and keep players guessing.

CleverMojo wrote:
#16...Was there any problems or confusion with the Colonist Hub using the 5 player rule? It seems like it might be confusing since it shoe-horns in that fifth player, but we find that it works well in practice once you get used to it.

Not at all. But we've played several 5 player games using your official variant rules which work just the same.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brandon Freels
Australia
Rooty Hill (Sydney)
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
New Gaia Engineers
CleverMojo wrote:

#9...Most people find the New Gaia Engineers a nice safety net if they can get a lucky roll to retain their ship, but the facility power rarely gets used. As it stands now, you dock a ship and pay a fuel and if ANY OTHER PLAYER uses the Terraforming station they pay you instead of the stock. Problem is that you'd spending a ship and a fuel to gamble that another player will make a specific play on their next turn. If they're the spiteful type they might avoid the TS like the plague just so you don't benefit. I think that facility power will change.


Okay I have to interject now that this has been said twice...

I went out of my way to use the facility power in a game just because of this and it really helped me to win a game! I was using the facility almost every turn docking my weakest ship there.

To use the facility costs you $3, with $1 going to Gaia.
(1 fuel = $1, 1 ship = $2)

What you are calling a GAMBLE, I call a DETERRENT! For one thing, Gaia needs to use the shower in order to get use out of her ability. If she doesn't use it, I have paralysed her. If she does, I get my fuel back + 1 ore = $4 (1 ore itself = $3). For me this was just as if I used the Lunar Mine. Also, $4 is the payment for placing a normal colony so I have my fee for placement on my next turn.

Similar thing for other players, they pay me or I block off one of the three ways down to the planet (and a very quick one as well)! I smiled when players with many dice would roll a 6 and not use the Terraforming Station "out of spite". Good! Stay off the planet! It's mine anyway. I get longer to use my bonuses, and I control the pace of the game. Well worth the $3/turn.

And the really cool thing about this tactic: if they are scared to use the Terraforming Station, that leaves the shower open for ME! Let Operation Dumbo Drop commence!

Food for thought maybe?

(still working on a hairy-long playtest wrap-up after a dozen games this last weekend...)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James 3
United States
Atlanta
Georgia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
CleverMojo wrote:

#13...We only included one of each new AlienTech because we are worried that the deck will get bloated and make it hard to find the cards people want/need. The original deck was 22 cards, then add 2 space cranes, 2 mind control helmets and 16 new cards for Factions (if we sent 2 of each) and you've nearly doubled the size of the AT deck. Seemed too much to us.



in non-faction games, we are not cycling cards too often, and many cards are somewhat interchangeable. I think having a thicker stack of cards of 2 each would be fine, as I don't think variability in Alien Tech choices is a bad thing. You can't reliably find a specific card now with 2 dice, so making it a tad harder doesn't seem unreasonable or game warping. my 2 cents.

I suppose it really depends on what the new cards do and if some DEMAND to have multiple copies.

one observation on Alien Tech numbers and The Holographic Decoy in particular: in 3 player games, with only 2 copies of the Decoy, I've seen it happen multiple times where 2 players get a decoy, leaving one person the only person vulnerable, which warps the raiding aspect of the game a bit I think in a 3 player game, having only 1 decoy in the deck (or 3 somehow!) might make for a better gameplay. Yes, you can always raid the decoy and change who is vulnerable, but we didn't really like how it felt in action. in 2 players, both could be protected, and in 4, atleast 2 would always be vulnerable, so less of an issue there.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Brandon...This is exactly why I love getting the alphas out into gamer hands like yourself. I honestly did not fully comprehend the effects of Gaia's facility power to intimidate other players. Very cool observation!

Thanks!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
James...you might actually have a good argument there for having only ONE of every AT card in the deck.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Anderson Imes
United States
Redmond
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Spittledung wrote:
What you are calling a GAMBLE, I call a DETERRENT!


I'd not thought of it this way. You tend to do the math on these things and don't think about preventing actions sometimes. Sometimes it feels like if they don't use Terraforming station, you wasted your ore and ship, but the fact that they didn't use it is the real advantage.

I'll try this next time I play. Thanks for posting this.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad
United States
Kearney
Nebraska
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
CleverMojo wrote:
James...you might actually have a good argument there for having only ONE of every AT card in the deck.


I haven't read enough to gather how many tech cards were added, but the idea of a tech deck roughly the same size but with only one of each does sound nice. Easy to change the existing deck, and would add more excitement to cycling through the deck. My simple 2 cents.

Thanks for the great game,
Mynd
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Eglinton
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's been a little while since I checked up on the expansion - it sounds like it's all looking really good, and I can't wait! My gaming group absolutely loves AF, so anything to expand it can only be good

And for the sake of saying it, if you want any more playtesters..

(No, I do not expect that to actually have any success!)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
New Hampshire
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I tried to post this a new thread on the Sessions forum because it related to all of the sessions that all of our alpha and beta testers have played...but BGG declined to approve it...so I'll post it as a bunch of individual posts on the individual session reports.

============

Subject: Alien Frontiers Factions: Alpha and Beta Tests Now Closed -- Thanks For All Your Help!!!!

I just wanted to let the Alpha and Beta Testers know that play testing is now closed on Factions. I have just launched the Kickstarter campaign.

http://kck.st/qxaBYK

As promised, all of the Alpha and Beta testers will get a free copy of AF: Factions and I will also include the Faction Pack #1 expansion booster described on the KS page.

Please send me a geekmail with your full name and address.

If you will also include the full names of your play test groups, I'll list you all in the AF:F rule book.

Thanks again for all you've done to help make Factions a great expansion.

David

 
 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.