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Subject: Mammals seem to be overly powerful... rss

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the dare978devil
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Our game group played our first ever game of Dominant Species. One player had played a fair amount before, but 2 of us were noobs. We played for more than 4 hours before finally calling it quits with roughly half the deck still to go before getting to the Ice Age.

The finishing order was exactly as the food chain; mammals, birds, arachnids. It seems the mammals' advantage on the food chain is overwhelming. In every case, a tie went to the mammal. Particularly in the last round when we added up the number of species in each hex, that player spent the round just seeding as many hexes as he could with species. He had the least number of Dominant Species on the Earth, but by far the most number of species on each. Since he would win every tie, he placed first or second on virtually every hex and cleaned up.

Despite the arachnids being well in front by the last round, there was nothing that player could do to prevent the over-seeding. It seems the food chain gives too much power to the higher species, particularly in the end game. After the game was over, the next time we played, everyone wanted to be mammal. What are we doing wrong?
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Thomas Büttner-Zimmermann
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dare978devil wrote:
... Since he would win every tie, he placed first or second on virtually every hex and cleaned up.
...

You are aware, that the food chain does NOT decide ties in Dominance? Ties in Dominance result in neither species is dominant.

Only for the scoring of a hex, and thus for the number of species on a hex, the food chain resolves ties...

Edit: And you realized, that the special "power" of the mammals can only save ONE cube from extinction?
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Andy Cassola
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I have played 5-6 games.... the mammals never won.

(4 hours for half deck ? wow! You must be very slow!)
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the dare978devil
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the_spy wrote:
I have played 5-6 games.... the mammals never won.

(4 hours for half deck ? wow! You must be very slow!)


Yeah, calculating and recalculating Dominance seemed to be the primary action in this game. 2 noobs makes for a lot of explaining, particularly for this game. We play many different pick-an-action games (Age of Empires, Stone Age, Pillars, Railroad Tycoon, etc.) but I have to say this was by far the most complicated.

Reply to Thomas : Yes, the number of species for scoring the hex (not for dominance). The mammals didn't even try to dominate many hexes, they had 2 or 3 for most of the game, while the birds and spiders had 6 or more. But scoring hexes, particularly in the last round, went overwhelmingly to the mammals. He controlled every sea and wetland hex, even though he was dominant on none of them, and just raked in the points. He was also second on virtually every other hex on the Earth by virtue of ties.

The problem was, anytime he moved into any hex, he always moved in with at least 2 species. Then the spider power was more or less useless. It also meant other species had to counter with at least 3 to reacquire the lead. So he just stuck mammals everywhere, and the birds and the spiders, even kind-of working together, could not contain him.
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Mark Buetow
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Yeah, DS is pretty much an untested and broken game because of the super-epic mammal powers. No one yet has figured out a way to beat them. The really strange thing is that it's never been brought up in the forums. whistle
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Mike Forrey
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lol..you guys need more games in before you can say the game is broken or that one species is OP.
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Curt Carpenter
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OP: See all the threads that claim the opposite, that mammals are doomed because they can never get ahead on initiative.

You asked what you're doing wrong. I would say being a little too quick to draw conclusions on game balance.
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curtc wrote:
OP: See all the threads that claim the opposite, that mammals are doomed because they can never get ahead on initiative.

You asked what you're doing wrong. I would say being a little too quick to draw conclusions on game balance.


...said the guy who's already modded Urban Sprawl.
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J T
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dare978devil wrote:
Our game group played our first ever game of Dominant Species. One player had played a fair amount before, but 2 of us were noobs. We played for more than 4 hours before finally calling it quits with roughly half the deck still to go before getting to the Ice Age.

The finishing order was exactly as the food chain; mammals, birds, arachnids. It seems the mammals' advantage on the food chain is overwhelming. In every case, a tie went to the mammal. Particularly in the last round when we added up the number of species in each hex, that player spent the round just seeding as many hexes as he could with species. He had the least number of Dominant Species on the Earth, but by far the most number of species on each. Since he would win every tie, he placed first or second on virtually every hex and cleaned up.

Despite the arachnids being well in front by the last round, there was nothing that player could do to prevent the over-seeding. It seems the food chain gives too much power to the higher species, particularly in the end game. After the game was over, the next time we played, everyone wanted to be mammal. What are we doing wrong?



You really need to play this again before decrying how powerful one species is over another. Mammals are pretty weak overall due to their terrible initiative placement. I've played DS 5 times now and feel I have a good understanding of the game at this point to the level that I can teach it reliably to anyone. Mammals are on the low end of power but can still win (1 out of the 5 games I've played was won by the mammal player, 2 by the amphibian, 1 by insects and 1 by reptiles). It's too bad your first game took such a crazy amount of time to play - I know that can really sour people on a new game. DS is totally worth a second & third play imo.
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Quote:
Mammals seem to be overly powerful...


Play another 6 times and come back and let us know.

BOb
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Wot!
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Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?
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dwrigley wrote:
Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?


Yeah. You haven't played enough. Play six more times... laugh
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dwrigley wrote:
Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?


I think that if after this amount of time since it was released, and all the plays logged on here, there is not a clear agreed opinion that animal X is 'best' (as there does not seem to be), then the most reasonable assumption is that Chad got the balance right. Thus I see no need to change things like the food chain or initiative order, as that would be likely to lead to imbalance.
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Jesse Dean
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I am at over 20 plays and I feel pretty sure that Mammals are not the best. They are pretty good, but the initiative penalty is a tough one to overcome, and they are likely to be devestated by the more destructive dominance cards and the last choice in placing pawns. This is not to say that they can't overcome this disability, it is just something that more than makes up for their tiebreaker advantage.
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
dwrigley wrote:
Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?


I think that if after this amount of time since it was released, and all the plays logged on here, there is not a clear agreed opinion that animal X is 'best' (as there does not seem to be), then the most reasonable assumption is that Chad got the balance right. Thus I see no need to change things like the food chain or initiative order, as that would be likely to lead to imbalance.


I think that what I am saying is that my proposal is not intended to be a fix, but a variant in the sense that this gives another option to chase for (because yes, food-chain order MAY impact your particular strategy)
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dwrigley wrote:
Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?

Food chain order variable? Is theme that meaningless to you?
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John Richert
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I think the mammals are strong, but no more so than other animals. Having played the amphibians, insects, mammals, and birds in different games, each animal has their own set of strengths. This leads to a play style vastly different from animal to animal. Our group leans towards the amphibians being a very powerful animal. The next animal is up for debate, I lean towards birds, arachnids, and mammals. Others lean towards insects and reptiles.

Another consideration, three player games tend to have a lot more variance than a larger game. With 5 or 6 players, there is a ton of competition for the abundance and adaptation spots. Plus, the speciation track is much more competitive often locking people out of placing new species on the board in a spot they can eat. With fewer players this competition is not there. Also, I can see where this would work to the mammal player's advantage because his weakness in turn order is not as pronounced with fewer players.

I would suggest playing additional games with the multiple animals variant. There are some gamey moves that do creep into this (bird APs being used to place food for mammals, etc.) but the fact you are scoring your lowest animal ameliorates most of this.

Finally, some other tactics by other animals may unwittingly play into the mammals hands. A game that is high on competition will lead to fewer species on the board. This tends to hurt insects quite a bit since they lose ties, they need to have masses of species on the board. It can also hurt mammals as they tend to be spread out and tied for positions. Hitting one or two mammal species per turn can put a serious dent in this. If arachnids are hitting the guy with the most species on the tile, he could be playing into the mammals hands.
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David Tolin
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Warhammer wrote:
I think the mammals are strong, but no more so than other animals. Having played the amphibians, insects, mammals, and birds in different games, each animal has their own set of strengths. This leads to a play style vastly different from animal to animal. Our group leans towards the amphibians being a very powerful animal. The next animal is up for debate, I lean towards birds, arachnids, and mammals. Others lean towards insects and reptiles.

Another consideration, three player games tend to have a lot more variance than a larger game. With 5 or 6 players, there is a ton of competition for the abundance and adaptation spots. Plus, the speciation track is much more competitive often locking people out of placing new species on the board in a spot they can eat. With fewer players this competition is not there. Also, I can see where this would work to the mammal player's advantage because his weakness in turn order is not as pronounced with fewer players.

I would suggest playing additional games with the multiple animals variant. There are some gamey moves that do creep into this (bird APs being used to place food for mammals, etc.) but the fact you are scoring your lowest animal ameliorates most of this.

Finally, some other tactics by other animals may unwittingly play into the mammals hands. A game that is high on competition will lead to fewer species on the board. This tends to hurt insects quite a bit since they lose ties, they need to have masses of species on the board. It can also hurt mammals as they tend to be spread out and tied for positions. Hitting one or two mammal species per turn can put a serious dent in this. If arachnids are hitting the guy with the most species on the tile, he could be playing into the mammals hands.


Finally. Took nearly an entire page of replies before someone actually offered some helpful advice.
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Mark Kelsey
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Also since you only played half a game, did you score the end game Ice Age card or just jump ahead to the end game scoring? That would give a lot of points to the players with the dominant hexes which often counter act the hex scoring (or at least something seasoned players can take into account.)

Another thing you may not come across is that species that are killed are out of the game. There can get to be a point in the late stages of the game where you just don't have the cubes anymore to do what you need or want to do to keep up because you did such explosive growth early on. It's something you need to keep track of or else it'll bite you big time. Those mammals that were everywhere mid game could be long extinct by the time the end game rolls around.

Finally, you'll find there is a bit of group-think in the game, if your animal is percieved to be ahead mid game, you'll be the happy target of the harsher Dominance cards to come.

I've played 8-10 games so far and the insects have won about as much as the mammals.
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DavidT wrote:
Finally. Took nearly an entire page of replies before someone actually offered some helpful advice.

I actually think it's harmful advice. Many people have complained about the multi-animal variant, and I think most of htem have been people not comfortable wit the game yet. I would stick with single animal per player for a while, then "upgrade" to multiple.
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the dare978devil
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DavidT wrote:

Finally. Took nearly an entire page of replies before someone actually offered some helpful advice.


:-)
My feelings exactly.

I was about to reply and underline "Mammals SEEM to be overly powerful", but your post says it all.

And John, thanks for the informative reply.
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DavidT wrote:
Finally. Took nearly an entire page of replies before someone actually offered some helpful advice.
Not so. By the 5th post the most important piece of advice (get more experience of the game before deciding it is broken) had already been given.
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Malacandra wrote:
curtc wrote:
OP: See all the threads that claim the opposite, that mammals are doomed because they can never get ahead on initiative.

You asked what you're doing wrong. I would say being a little too quick to draw conclusions on game balance.

...said the guy who's already modded Urban Sprawl.

Yes, for a completely different reason.
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
DavidT wrote:
Finally. Took nearly an entire page of replies before someone actually offered some helpful advice.
Not so. By the 5th post the most important piece of advice (get more experience of the game before deciding it is broken) had already been given.

I agree completely -- partly in the sense of "try it again and maybe you'll have a different opinion", and mainly because the game wasn't finished. If it is clear to the other players that the mammals are running away with the game, there are numerous opportunities to inflict damage through cards and attacks. This obviously would not be the case in a game where it was decided to call it quits early.
 
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Smoo wrote:
dwrigley wrote:
Although I don't agree with the OP, when I play the game I do think that food-chain order ought to be variable. Having it fixed feels wrong to me. I have thought about amending the order by some mechanism such as dominance-ordered or species-count ordered.

Any views?

Food chain order variable? Is theme that meaningless to you?


Thinking about this more ... maybe the food chain order should be based on the number of types of resources an animal has ? Therefore, as all animals start with one type, then no change in order from the default on ties, but as I become more omnivorous with more types, then I may be better suited on the food-chain order than an animal which relies on fewer types - so I beat it on the food-chain ?
 
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