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Subject: Variant to speed up game play rss

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Wim van Gruisen
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Played AF for the first time today. A two player game and my opponent was suffering from AP. After two hours of play we had only placed nine colonies in total. Which made me cringe at the idea of having to play this game with three or four players that play so slowly.

As others have noticed, one problem with AF is that you cannot make plans before it's your turn, because you don't know which dice you'll roll. This variant tries to tackle that. As of now it's still untested.

The way it works is that when the player before you starts his turn, you take your dice and roll them. That:
* gives you time to think of how you want to use your ships. You cannot plan perfectly, since the active player might make moves that block you, but you can still plan ahead.
* opens up docking spaces for the active player, which gives him more options to carry out his plans.

If you use this variant, you probably should block docking spaces as if there is one less player.

I'll report back again when I've tested this. Might take some time, though, as I don't often have the opportunity to play with four players and when that opportunity arises, I'd first want to play with the rules as written, to see how that works. Meanwhile, though, if you think this variant is interesting I'd like to hear your experiences and opinions.
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Mathue Faulkner
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2 hours of play with only 9 colonies?! That's either some serious AP, or just some inefficient play. Our 2 player games take 45 minutes at most.

I'm not sure what you mean by "you don't know which dice you'll roll." You're rolling all of your dice every turn. You may not know which areas will be available, but you can place all of the dice at the same time. This is a significant advantage over Kingsburg which only lets you place one at a time and you're not even sure what's going to be available later. AP shouldn't be too much of an issue, especially in a 2-player game. Maybe you're playing a rule wrong??...

I definitely don't like the idea of pulling your dice out a turn early. It eliminates a big portion of the game which is blocking spots. And giving a player MORE options is just going to give him more things to think about.

In your case, I thought an easier solution may be to just buy a 2nd set of dice so that players can roll ahead of time (while still leaving their dice on the board), but it's still impossible to know what your options are until the player ahead of you places his/her dice.

IMO it seems like this was just a matter of it being your first game. I would recommend playing a few more games before altering the rules. As you learn the different strategies, you'll be faster and more efficient which will significantly cut play time. 4-player games should only take 90 minutes even if your group is slow. Our group is usually under an hour, or even less.

Just my 2 cents..
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Wim van Gruisen
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mfaulk80 wrote:
2 hours of play with only 9 colonies?! That's either some serious AP, or just some inefficient play.

It was our first game, so we probably made mistakes and could have played faster. A next time we probably won't have to explain all the Alien Tech cards as they appear. But even so, AP was important. My opponent spent a long time figuring out what she wanted to do with her dice. The more dice she got, the longer it took her.

mfaulk80 wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by "you don't know which dice you'll roll." You're rolling all of your dice every turn.

Yeah, sorry. What I wanted to say was "You don't know which results you get until the start of your turn, so you cannot plan in advance." My variant mainly intends to allow people to start planning before it's their turn.

mfaulk80 wrote:
I definitely don't like the idea of pulling your dice out a turn early. It eliminates a big portion of the game which is blocking spots. And giving a player MORE options is just going to give him more things to think about.

That's why I suggested to block docking spots. If you play with four, block spots as if you're playing with three players.

mfaulk80 wrote:
In your case, I thought an easier solution may be to just buy a 2nd set of dice so that players can roll ahead of time (while still leaving their dice on the board), but it's still impossible to know what your options are until the player ahead of you places his/her dice.

That's an idea. Or perhaps just use tokens to place on the docking stations.
Knowing in advance what your options are still helps to play faster, even if some of those options get closed before it's your turn. Compare with Scrabble (yes, I know); having the letters in front of you allows you to search the board for possibilities, even if you don't know which onese will be available to you on your turn.
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Andy Andersen
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It will play faster. Keep at it.
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Wim...I'm glad you got a chance to play Alien Frontiers. I'm sorry that your partner had a hard time deciding on her moves, though.

Whymme wrote:
The way it works is that when the player before you starts his turn, you take your dice and roll them. That:
* gives you time to think of how you want to use your ships. You cannot plan perfectly, since the active player might make moves that block you, but you can still plan ahead.
* opens up docking spaces for the active player, which gives him more options to carry out his plans.


If you play as you've outlined above then you're really NOT playing Alien Frontiers. One of the key aspects of the game is that your dice stay on the board until your next turn. This blocks some docks, it affects what numbers are needed for other docks, and it creates the tension of trying...and maybe failing...to carry out your optimal moves.

However, feel free to adapt that game as you feel necessary to get it to a state that you and your partner will enjoy. Good luck and have fun!
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Tim
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Pretty much everyone who's played this game with me has said something similar after one play. Trust me, after 2-3 more plays, it will be quick. We can knock out a game in under 50 minutes now, even with a new player at the table. There's really no need for any tweaks or variants to speed up gameplay.
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Scott Everts
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The early game should be very fast. The game does slow down a bit when you have more ships (dice) and several alien tech cards. I think the main thing I try to do is just do my turn as quick as I can and try not to think too hard about it. Sometimes you'll miss things but if you take 15 minutes per turn everyone else gets a bit bored and the fun gets sucked out.

I know I sometimes get AP but I've really tried to train myself not to let it ruin the fun. I've noticed once the turns get longer then about 5 minutes people start talking about other stuff, wander off, pull out the phone, etc and you can tell at that point you've lost everyone's interest.
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Wim van Gruisen
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thanks for the replies and for the encouragement, everyone.
CleverMojo wrote:

If you play as you've outlined above then you're really NOT playing Alien Frontiers. One of the key aspects of the game is that your dice stay on the board until your next turn. This blocks some docks, it affects what numbers are needed for other docks, and it creates the tension of trying...and maybe failing...to carry out your optimal moves.

I understand that blocking is an essential part of the game. That is why I suggested this variant for four players. When it's your turn, you still find yourself blocked by two other players, and by the static blocks that make the board fit for three players.

I certainly don't want to play this variant with two players. But I will keep everyone's advice in mind when playing again.

tofarley wrote:
Pretty much everyone who's played this game with me has said something similar after one play. Trust me, after 2-3 more plays, it will be quick. We can knock out a game in under 50 minutes now, even with a new player at the table. There's really no need for any tweaks or variants to speed up gameplay.

That's nice if I always play the game with the same people. That's not a given, though.
 
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Bruce Gazdecki
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Would the person whose turn it isn't have to hide his dice roll from the current player? Not sure how often it would happen, but the current player may do something just to block the next player (especially if that person is in the lead and close to winning) if he knows what numbers the person has.
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mateenyweeny
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One possibility for this variant is to block off the spaces as if you were playing with one less player. That way in a 4-player game the board is set up as if it's a 3-player game since only two other player's dice are on the board.
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David
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I have AP but I'm very good at planning when it's not my turn, so games that don't allow planning (like Alien Frontier, and original Carcassone) really bother me.

The variant of playing with a second set of dice to pre-roll is appealing.
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Tim
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Menace wrote:
I have AP but I'm very good at planning when it's not my turn, so games that don't allow planning (like Alien Frontier, and original Carcassone) really bother me.

The variant of playing with a second set of dice to pre-roll is appealing.


I prefer my method of just grilling you mercilessly when you start to slip into AP... But seriously, nobody minds your AP because you are aware of it and you try to be polite about it/try to keep it in check. When most people complain about AP, they are complaining about people who are completely oblivious to the impact they have on the rest of the game. I just like to grab my Ricochet Robots timer and threaten you with it.
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Juan Medina
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tofarley wrote:
Menace wrote:
I have AP but I'm very good at planning when it's not my turn, so games that don't allow planning (like Alien Frontier, and original Carcassone) really bother me.

The variant of playing with a second set of dice to pre-roll is appealing.


I prefer my method of just grilling you mercilessly when you start to slip into AP... But seriously, nobody minds your AP because you are aware of it and you try to be polite about it/try to keep it in check. When most people complain about AP, they are complaining about people who are completely oblivious to the impact they have on the rest of the game. I just like to grab my Ricochet Robots timer and threaten you with it.


I have to agree. The AP guy that is apologetic and chatty is actually fine. At least he is trying to interact. The AP silent guy "don't interrupt me I am thinking" type gets on my nerves rather quick.

Lastly, the AP guy that is trying to intuitively figure out what to play but is unsure I can forgive. The AP guy that is counting the points for every possible option needs to find a different game partner as I am very bothered by this, specially for the ones that write down every move on their turn!.
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mateenyweeny
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I really don't understand the fear of suboptimal play.
Unless it's the very last turn and it's down to the last few points, it's okay to make mistakes and learn along the way.
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Juan Medina
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slinkydink wrote:
I really don't understand the fear of suboptimal play.
Unless it's the very last turn and it's down to the last few points, it's okay to make mistakes and learn along the way.


Very well put. I do play games the best of my abilities, but with the idea of playing, not of winning. I think the goal I have is to have fun, and winning is not a requirement for me to enjoy games.
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Alex Martinez
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Alien Frontiers is one of the fastest games I own. If you're having your games drag out, the best fix is not to play it with that group of players. Because if your game is taking this long, it's because someone is dragging you down.

Don't blame the game. Blame the dead weight.
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Richard Dewsbery
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The game generally speeds up as it progresses - the first couple of colonies take more effort (and more time) to place than the last couple. Generally I've found the game suddenly ends right around the time tat I start thinking "this game could drag if it went on for another 15 more minutes" - which is roundabout the 90-minute mark.

But I did play a 4-player game recently that took 3.5 hours. Partly it was my fault in miscounting the colonies (I'd issued everyone with 7 instead of the 6 that are needed for a 4p game), but mostly it was down to the fact that this particular group has one *very* slow player. You know the one - agonizes about every decision, then starts a conversation, and when the conversation stops, asks "whose turn is it?".
 
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Juan Medina
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RDewsbery wrote:
You know the one - agonizes about every decision, then starts a conversation, and when the conversation stops, asks "whose turn is it?".


I am a patient guy, but I don't think I would put up with someone that dragged a game of Alien Frontiers to 3.5 hours. That is just ridiculous.

IMHO, Alien Frontiers is not AP prone. Although it is very tactical and you have to realign your play once the player just before you finishes, if you are paying attention to what they are doing you should be able to make decent decisions on your turn in a reasonable amount of time.

I am quite sure the situation where this is taking too long is going to repeat due to a particular player, regardless of the game.
 
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Wim van Gruisen
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KingCroc wrote:
Alien Frontiers is one of the fastest games I own. If you're having your games drag out, the best fix is not to play it with that group of players. Because if your game is taking this long, it's because someone is dragging you down.

Don't blame the game. Blame the dead weight.

I'd rather not do that to my wife. What's your second best solution?
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Juan Medina
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Whymme wrote:
I'd rather not do that to my wife. What's your second best solution?


Hahaha, hilarious. At home my wife is the one that gets impatient and starts kicking my butt so I play faster.

For whatever reason I am not that fast playing "Pastiche". Anything over 5 seconds playing a tile and I would be sleeping on the sofa.
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Alex Martinez
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Whymme wrote:
KingCroc wrote:
Alien Frontiers is one of the fastest games I own. If you're having your games drag out, the best fix is not to play it with that group of players. Because if your game is taking this long, it's because someone is dragging you down.

Don't blame the game. Blame the dead weight.

I'd rather not do that to my wife. What's your second best solution?


The second best solution is just not to play the game when she's around. It'll be easier for everyone involved.

But if she likes the game, well, I'm out of ideas. Good luck. You'll need it.
 
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Brandon Freels
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Whymme wrote:
KingCroc wrote:

Don't blame the game. Blame the dead weight.

I'd rather not do that to my wife. What's your second best solution?

Divorce?
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