Alex Bagosy
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Ladera Ranch
California
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Hello, everyone -

We played out first full game of DS today and really enjoyed it. However, after some thought, Boudicca and I thought of a fairly simple variant for slightly speeding up game play while at the same time adding uncertainty (ie: no sudden rush moves when the end of the game is obviously drawing near.)

So, suppose you divided the deck in half (how many is really a matter for discussion, I realize - but say, three turns worth of cards would make up the first half). Second half would have the Ice Age card shuffled in some where, and would be placed beneath the first half. This would mean that you would have "X" number of turns before the Ice Age card comes up, but after that point, one would not know whether it would come up in the next set of five, or the last. The game would always end with the Ice Age, but in this way you'd never be quite certain when that Ice Age would hit.

Does anyone think this would work?

Just a suggestion,

Alex
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Jason Reid
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Well, I imagine it would "work", but it would be too much uncertainty for my preferences. The dominant strategy would be to try to take and hold onto first place by the end of turn 3, and then hold that position for the rest of the game. With the full game of DS, however, cube management is more of an issue in that you need to score well throughout the game while maintaining a strategic reserve of cubes to be able to place in the endgame. Knowing when that endgame is coming is paramount...if that varies greatly from game to game, it stops making sense to worry about it.

When I want a shorter game of DS, I remove 4 specific cards: Omnivore, Parasitism, Intelligence, and Immigrants. Three of those cards provide AP. So both by having less cards, and by having less actions per turn, the game is shortened, but not so much that cube management goes away. Ice Age goes on the bottom.

Alternatively, if you really want some uncertainty, I could see mixing Ice Age in somewhere with the last 5 or so cards, providing for about a turn's worth of endgame variance. Much more than that...well, you'd certainly still have a game, but just not to my preferences.
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Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
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Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
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Agreed. Seems too short.

One of the strengths of DS is that in a full game, there is a definite narrative arc is that an early dominant species tends to die out giving rise to a new wave of species taking over as the first ones cubes give out.

So if you do that, I would suggest reducing the number of cubes available. We play with 4-5 less cards randomly removed, but any more and early speciation would be too strong.
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Kristof Bodric
Serbia
Novi Sad
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Not a bad idea, though practice and decisiveness is a better bet since, as Tim said, the full game is definitely worth playing. I have mentioned this several times, but after 25+ games, our playing time of the full game dropped just below 2 hours, which, IMHO, is eminently acceptable.
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Alex Bagosy
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I'll attempt to remove cards then. I don't think we'll -get- to 25 full plays, given the length of the game, if we don't do something to adjust game length. The almost universal reaction of friends, so far, is that the game is a great one, but it's simply a hair too long; hopefully some sort of minor adjustment will correct that.

-Alex
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Jack Smith
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Sol Invictus wrote:
I'll attempt to remove cards then. I don't think we'll -get- to 25 full plays, given the length of the game, if we don't do something to adjust game length. The almost universal reaction of friends, so far, is that the game is a great one, but it's simply a hair too long; hopefully some sort of minor adjustment will correct that.

-Alex


As Kristof says you may find a considerable reduction in play time after even a few plays, we did. You get to realise detailed analyses is a waste of time and you grow to feel the board and your position. If you have one player insisting on deep analyses every pawn play though that will not happen (he is unlikely to ever win as well)
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James Ruddle
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My game group really enjoy savouring the decisions in this game. We are at 10 plays and game time is not massively dropping although obviously we aren't spending time learning the rules or the likely outcomes of the cards (although it seems that a few cards have innumerable possibilities).

The thing about reducing the number of cards to drop play time is that the gene pools are then too big and people don't bother doing competition.
It also seems a shame to take out the cards that increase/decrease the number of AP's since although helping with time is a nice imbalance to have to work around and spices up the game.

Having played mostly with 3-4 players it does seem that some of the cards make a lot less of an impact on the game. They don't suit the way any of us wish to play so the effect is to deter people from taking a domination action and this really does slow the game down.

To overcome these 3 factors and still speed the game along:
1) lay the cards out before shuffling and remove 8,9 cards at 2each,3each for 4p,3p
2) remove 2 species from each gene pool for each card removed

You can tinker with this to be a bit less savage.

Of course this is not playing the game so is a kind of DS lite but is massively fun still and you can still make it into work the following morning.

The thing we do to introduce a new player is not play mammals and let them be reptiles. They get a kind of double special ability from this which just helps the balance on a first play.

Before you post your vehement disagreements with the above, I do appreciate that this probably just suits our group so take it with a pinch of salt if it sounds wrong.



 
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Gleb Semenjuk
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One more quick idea of how to make the game shorter without taking the cards out of the deck. Allow one more cylinder onto the domination action and open one more domination card per round. It will shorten the game by about a turn and all the cards will still be used.
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