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Subject: replayability and optimized builds? rss

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Ben Friedberg
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I really hate to be ~that~ guy, but I'm curious as to people's thoughts on optimized builds for each specific homeworld... With only 24 cards per galaxy deck, it seems like there could definitely be a set of cards to shoot for in each sector that would be 'best' for each homeworld.

Don't get me wrong, I see that there is CERTAINLY room for tactics here but I'm wondering if long-term replayability will suffer from 'sameness' faster than something like Dominion with all of the market combiniations or RftG with such a large deck of unique cards in a completely random order...
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Doug Faust
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Aside from their names, the homeworlds are all identical. You could try building your deck to work with your starting hero, but I've found that while it's some nice initial direction, you don't really see your hero enough for it to make a huge difference.
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Ben Friedberg
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oh really? does that make my question even MORE relevant then? How is replayability if the same 24 cards are 'up for grabs' each round? I understand that you won't see NEARLY all 24 in a 2-round set for the sector, but it still seems possible to me that the optimal cards for a given sector / deck might be a bit pre-programmable... I dunno, just wondering out loud...
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Doug Faust
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Of the cards in each galaxy deck, there are some that might be better or worse, but generally, it's all about how it fits with what you're already trying to do. Many of the cards help or enhance types of cards, so any given card may be worth more to you than to someone else. This is doubly true if you start planning for end-game scoring via Core Worlds. There end up being plenty of games that are very close between widely varying decks.

Remember too that drafting isn't your only option during your turn. You may need the energy that you'd use for drafting to deploy things to be able to conquer a planet this turn. Or you may need to deploy or conquer before you get around to drafting, because you're afraid that someone else may take the planet that you're set up for. It often happens that there is a card that would be perfect for my deck, but I need to pass it by because I needed to do something else first.

Additionally, I'd highly recommend for gamers (even those new to the game) that you use the initial drafting phase with Galactic Deck 0. It doesn't add much complexity to the game, but it does allow people to differentiate their strategies a little before the game begins.
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Andrew Parks
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Hi, Ben.

Doug's comments are all excellent, and he is excellent at the game so his advice is sound. Here are some additional thoughts.

In early playtests, we were very careful to address this issue. Essentially, it was our goal to make sure every draftable card was as desirable as possible without being too powerful. Some cards will be more helpful for some strategies (i.e. if you are going for a Robot strategy, then Robot cards are going to be more desirable for you than for other players).

However, you cannot predict which strategies will be stronger than others at the start of the game. As such, the strategies must grow organically. For that reason, we were also careful to make sure that off-beat strategies (combining an even mix of infantry and vehicles, for example) would also be viable if it looked like the type of cards you hoped for were not coming up as strongly.

The other reality is that you need Worlds to generate Energy, and if you focus too much on drafting the perfect strategy, you'll have a beautifully crafted deck with cards you can't afford to play! Therefore, you must continuously balance your desire for some of your favorite cards with your need to conquer planets at the same time.

The other interesting thing is that there are some cards that people like to draft, just because they appeal to that "player type." As such, our developers were instrumental in helping us craft cards that appeal to a variety of players. For example, I love power cards and efficiency cards. I'm just that kind of guy. I like to draft expensive cards and then develop a strategy that lets me play them efficiently. Other players like to focus on Tactics that allow them to be sneaky, others on accumulating big energy so they didn't have to think about efficiency, others on weenie strategies that allowed them to drop lots of cards at once and then go for the planet of their choice, etc.

What excited us about this is that certain cards that some might consider "optimal" were often passed up by others because it didn't appeal to the type of game they liked to play. Of course, sometimes you'll take that card just to mess with them, especially if they had to make the painful decision to draft one of their favorites or conquer a much-needed planet. They go for the planet, so you screw them over by drafting a card you know they wanted.

The best players, however, are those who craft an organic strategy during the game. They resist the desire for "favorites" (i.e. cards that reflect their player type), and start to draft cards without a strong focus until about Round 4 or 5, when they can analyze the planets they've conquered, the cards they've drafted so far, and the set of cards that comes out in Sector 3. That's usually when they make the hard choice of pursuing a couple of specific strategies that will allow them to achieve the greatest degree of in-deck synergy, and the greatest chance of strong bonuses on particular Core Worlds at the end of the game.

Andrew
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Ben Friedberg
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thanks for the feedback guys, I'm SUPER excited to get to play CW... Andrew, I enjoy thinking about game design as much as the next guy, but I don't envy the brain strain it must have been to go through the process you talked about above but still making sure that the game didn't play itself or just level itself out as you played. oof.
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Andrew Parks
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Thanks, Ben. Fortunately, I have a great team of people who help me work this kind of stuff out.
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