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Merchant of Venus» Forums » Variants

Subject: Shields taking up half a hold rss

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Paul Grogan
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Hi all,

I have the original of this game and enjoying playing it. Over the next few months, I am planning to pimp up my version of the game with all the nice images here on the geek.

However, I have always played with the variant rules provided by Tom Lehmann years and years ago. A lot of them make a lot of sense and I trust his judgement.

However, since I am going to the effort of printing off fancy new ships, I wanted to ask about one of the rules I am curious about.

That is the first shield on a ship takes up half a hold.

I think in the original rules, a shield took up no space, but after countless games, Tom felt that having shields count as half a hold makes combo drives a bit more powerful and makes the choice of which 2 of the 3 (red drive, yellow drive or shield) to be a bit tricker. I think everyone was just always buying a shield early on which made it a bit boring.

So, I've always used this rule, and if I continue to use it, it means I'll have to modify the ship cards before I print them, so I wanted to get other peoples opinions.

Thanks all.
 
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J Bernardo
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I was under the impression that shields always took 1/2 a hold, even in the original rules. That's why relic shields are better. They don't take up any space.
 
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evilpanda wrote:
I was under the impression that shields always took 1/2 a hold, even in the original rules. That's why relic shields are better. They don't take up any space.


Relic shields are better because they stack with normal shields for -40. Shields don't take up any space in the original rules.

That's how I've always played, too. Shields are fantastic but I've never felt the need to tone them down or do any counterbalancing with house rules / variants.
 
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Tim Seitz
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evilpanda wrote:
I was under the impression that shields always took 1/2 a hold, even in the original rules. That's why relic shields are better. They don't take up any space.

Nope. Shields are hull-mounted.
 
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J Bernardo
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out4blood wrote:
evilpanda wrote:
I was under the impression that shields always took 1/2 a hold, even in the original rules. That's why relic shields are better. They don't take up any space.

Nope. Shields are hull-mounted.


dammit. that's right. drives and passengers are the 1/2 a cargo hold tokens. whew... hopefully no one will find out that I own this game... whistle
 
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Rainer Kraft
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Only the first shield is hull mounted. All shields thereafter take up 1/2 hold. The same goes for lasers and nova balls.
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Paul Grogan
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yes, that is the rules in the book. However, I'm trying to work out how many people use the variant where the first shield takes up half a hold
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Jorge Arroyo
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I don't think I'd enjoy that variant. It just makes the early game harder... When you have a bigger ship, it's not so much an issue but at the start losing half a hold is a lot, and if you don't get the shield, you'll be stopping a lot because at the start you don't have much money to spend on penalty markers...
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Paul Grogan
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I kinda like it for the reasons Tom gave. It makes it a tricky decision as to whether to go for a red drive, a yellow drive or a shield.

Having the first shield take up no space generally means everyone will buy one early, it is a no-brainer.

I think what I might have to do is to print the ship cards with that section missed off, so that I can change my mind all the time
 
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PaulGrogan wrote:
I kinda like it for the reasons Tom gave. It makes it a tricky decision as to whether to go for a red drive, a yellow drive or a shield.

Having the first shield take up no space generally means everyone will buy one early, it is a no-brainer.

I think what I might have to do is to print the ship cards with that section missed off, so that I can change my mind all the time


I don't the proposed variant sounds like something I'd enjoy. One cargo hold in a clipper? Yech. Part of the fun of the early game is the agonizing decisions you have to make about upgrades early on. It stops being a no-brainer when getting a shield (or a Clipper) now means hanging out for an extra turn while an opponent scoops up another IOU nearby.

The only reason I can think to take a combo drive (or any drive, other than the ultra-mini relic yellow drive) is if you plan to move a lot of fares. You can make a decent bit of money in fares, especially since they don't cost you a turn to pick up and drop off (no buying or selling involved). And that combo drive will send you zipping through space like a bolt of lightning. If you aren't moving fares, though, you're probably better off using that extra space for cargo, and taking advantage of other means (gates, certain relics) to go fast when you can.

One thing to consider: a combo drive will prevent you from having to pay most of the penalties, anyway. So I think a combo drive/shield would be a pretty major waste of space.
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Slev Sleddeddan
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The same effect could be had by making the first drive hull-mounted, without the slow-down of effectively nixing shields.
 
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Richard Irving
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PaulGrogan wrote:

However, I have always played with the variant rules provided by Tom Lehmann years and years ago. A lot of them make a lot of sense and I trust his judgement.


Sorry the variant rules have some major flaws:
- The west end connection: It does make the west easier to explore, but on the regular map any one does go west (young) is well compensated with IOU's. Having witnessed hundreds of games as the WBC MoV GM, going is NOT a disadvantage long term. It fixes a "flaw" which isn't there.
- Factories being worth half value: Tom noticed a pattern that that for every factory, it they worth half their value, you make the exact same net profit as the regular good:
4a) Finest dust: Pay $10, Sell $50 ---> Profit $40.
Dribble glass: Factory $200, Pay $120, Sell: $200
Profit: $200 + (commission) $60 (1/2 value factory) $100 - $200 -$120 = $40

7b: Servomechs: Pay $200, Sell $300, Profit: $100
Pedigree Bolts: Factory #$100, Pay $100, Sell $200
Profit: $200 + $50 (Commission) + $50 (1/2 Factory) - $100-$100 = $100

This is true for ALL factories and factory goods. So since Tom saw this pattern he decided set the game winning value to half the purchase price of factories (and also for spaceports).

But with the variant, factories are worthless! Every regular good gets the SAME prfoit, all of it in liquid cash. In addition regular goods have demand markers, factory goods don't. SO the regular good might generate MORE profit than the factory & factory good. You usually need more money up front for the factory/good for the same profit (but the factory/good profit is partially tied up in a non-liquid asset.) If you fail to buy both factory and good, you lose a lot of money!

Why would ANYONE buy a factory in this variant? Except through exhaustion of all other goods or maybe at your own port. (Ports OTOH still can generate enough value to offset the $100 penalty under this variant and since they speed up trading can be worthwhile.)

The pattern Tom noticed was set by designer Richard Hamblem to ensure the factories are a competitive option with other investments in the game. Tom's variant makes them uncompetitive. This speaks ill of Mr. Lehman's judgment.




That being said, one option that hasn't been discussed, is used my Green Taters variant: Any one piece of equipment, could be a shield, could be a drive, could be any purchased relic (which take up 1/2 hold normally). Players could take a shield OR a drive without using a hold. This tends to create more variable ship designs.
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See I always played with the understanding that players were only allowed
one shield, one laser, one nova ball, one hyper drive. Having more just brakes the game.

Edit: I'm talking about hull space too, not cargo space, that's just used when you steal someones equipment or buy extra in case someones damages are steals yours.
 
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