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Subject: Techs are too expensive? rss

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None of the multiplayer games that I have participated in have lasted longer than 13 econ turns. Within this time frame it does not make sense to buy big ships (bigger than CA) even when the opponent(s) do not zerg you immediately. Big ships are not sufficiently effective due to expensive high level tech. Also, terraforming is too expensive unless you play with alternative victory conditions (which I do not) or you can easily grab another player's barren planet. With one barren planet colony it takes at least 8 econ turns to break even and you cannot buy the terraforming right away. Theoretically, you could colonize deep space planets. In practice, they are too well guarded by aliens and it makes more sense to attack colonies of other players.

The terraforming and bigger ships could be useful in a long scenario but: a) there is no long scenario for four players unless all players turtle; b) the game is already touch too long –maybe I am very slow person but I do not think that I could manage 2-player 13 econ turns in less than 4 hours unless both players turtle.(Note that I do not have time to play boardgames very often and there are many other games, which I also like to play, i.e. it is very unlikely that I will become a space empires-zen-master who can make all the important decisions in split second and juggle with the counters with lightning speed.)

Having this in mind, it seems to me that certain technologies should be much cheaper, e.g. terraforming should cost 15, att/def should cost 20 regardless of level, every ship size level should cost 15 after the 3rd level. What do you think? What have I overlooked?

I am also curious: what multiplayer scenarios you play, how many econ turn it takes to finish them, what is the final tech level, how long the games last in real time?

Thank you for your time, answers and opinions!
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Herodian Smith
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I generally buy 1 tech per turn. I don't find it restrictive, but I have to admit my experience is stronger in the computer game 4X genre than in board games. I love battlecruisers, and I usually have them (along with attack, defense, and tactics 1) by turn 7 or 8. I have seen opponents who like to go for high movement early, and that seems to work well for them also. There are a lot of tough choices in this game. One can't afford to do everything, as it should be! I hope my perspective is helpful.
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Chris Wilcoxon
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The main point I keep coming back to in discussions like this is that Jim (the designer) says the point wasn't to let us get every tech in every game, he was trying to force us to make hard decisions about what strategy we pursue. So, whether you need the bigger ships or terraforming depends on what your opponent is doing in addition to your own strategy.
Furthermore, this isn't meant to be a light Euro, it is a wargame so it will last longer than some people expect.
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divedeeper wrote:
The main point I keep coming back to in discussions like this is that Jim (the designer) says the point wasn't to let us get every tech in every game, he was trying to force us to make hard decisions about what strategy we pursue. So, whether you need the bigger ships or terraforming depends on what your opponent is doing in addition to your own strategy.


I too think that tech decisions should be tough. What I am saying is that certain techs are too expensive to be worth it regardless of what the opponent does (except maybe turtling). This actually makes tech decisions easier not harder because there are fewer viable options. Besides, there is higher risk that new players make suboptimal tech decisions.
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Jim Krohn
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Divedeeper is right. That was my thought.

However, I've said all along that the game was meant to be mod-able. If you want more tech in the game, play with a lower cost. It will change the game, but it won't break it.

In fact, to add to the variability in the game in the expansion, there is a Galactic Situation Table they can roll on before the start of the game - it basically changes the game slightly each game. One of the results on the table is "Smart Scientists" where all the of the tech costs are reduced by 5 CP.

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John Richert
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Cruelsader wrote:
None of the multiplayer games that I have participated in have lasted longer than 13 econ turns. Within this time frame it does not make sense to buy big ships (bigger than CA) even when the opponent(s) do not zerg you immediately. Big ships are not sufficiently effective due to expensive high level tech. Also, terraforming is too expensive unless you play with alternative victory conditions (which I do not) or you can easily grab another player's barren planet. With one barren planet colony it takes at least 8 econ turns to break even and you cannot buy the terraforming right away. Theoretically, you could colonize deep space planets. In practice, they are too well guarded by aliens and it makes more sense to attack colonies of other players.


I think there is a bit of groupthink going on in your group. I have played a few games, and big ships are the rule for our group. The increased effectiveness of the dreadnaught over even the battleship is a big deal. Sure, a single mine can take them out, but mines can also be cleared relatively easily.

Movement was not a option for our group until the last game we played. Then it was an arms race, or at least a movement race. "I'll see your move 1 and raise you a move 2," etc.

While I agree with that Terraforming seems a bit high, you can significantly impact the pay back by focusing on the barren worlds. If you get terraforming early, you can possibly colonize 2-3 barren worlds by turn 7/8, which significantly improve your payback.

Also, I notice that payback is not as big a factor as cash flow is in the game. If you are making a ton of cash from planets, but your maintenance costs are high, that is worse than having few ships, with less income. Also, I find that aliens have more bark than bite. The fact that they can only take one hit is a big advantage for someone looking to take them on.
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Michael Matecha
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You could also try a game without aliens.
That should speed play a bit and make colonizing barren worlds easier.

At first I didn't see the profit in Terraforming when I crunched the numbers, but I found it's not always about the numbers.

The tactical advantage of a forward planet can be worth more than mere CP. It's not my goal to amass the most CP as if they were victory points. I'll do whatever it takes to get an advantage even if it's not CP efficient.

I found piplelines to be the same. At first I counted out the benefit vs cost but when the enemy fleet makes a surprise thrust at one side having the pipeline in place to assist me in moving my fleets to counter the enemy is priceless.

My group is very aggressive so we rarely field dreadnaughts. That's just our group's tendency in ANY game. We favor fast moves and lightning strikes.

One other method we've tried is to use the quick start rules where all player's system markers are flipped and fully developed colonies are placed on all non-barren planets. We start with one 4-strength shipyard on the homeworld as usual but no scouts or colony ships. Instead we begin the game with 100 cp to spend immediately so you can grab a few techs and send out more powerful scouts or get a faster start on the big ships.

Cheers!
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Quote:
I think there is a bit of groupthink going on in your group. I have played a few games, and big ships are the rule for our group. The increased effectiveness of the dreadnaught over even the battleship is a big deal. Sure, a single mine can take them out, but mines can also be cleared relatively easily.

Movement was not a option for our group until the last game we played. Then it was an arms race, or at least a movement race. "I'll see your move 1 and raise you a move 2," etc.


My goal was that each tech path would be viable. I too have seen what you describe. A group can get into a rut on tech and then someone goes a different rout and wins and everyone has to adjust. If you know the tech path everyone else is taking (because of scouting or because of their habit), you have an advantage.

Quote:
Also, I find that aliens have more bark than bite.


You got that, my friend. I can't count how many alien planets I have taken with very few casualties.
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Warhammer wrote:
I think there is a bit of groupthink going on in your group. I have played a few games, and big ships are the rule for our group. The increased effectiveness of the dreadnaught over even the battleship is a big deal. Sure, a single mine can take them out, but mines can also be cleared relatively easily. Movement was not a option for our group until the last game we played. Then it was an arms race, or at least a movement race. "I'll see your move 1 and raise you a move 2," etc.

I bet there is fair amount of group thinking. Everybody seems to value tactics and movement in our games. However, ship size was not ignored. I have tried three times to focus on ship size and lost the games. When I tried it in a 2 player game I was overwhelmed by zerging before I could tech up sufficiently. I actually had a few BBs out but with low att and def they were no match to numerically superior zerg forces. In one 4 player game I first built up defences (mines, bases, SY) then went for big ships. I did not have time to actually build them: two players were zerging each other until one of them collapsed. I did not have resources to be ready to intervene in their battles in a crucial moment, defend my colonies against the 4th player and tech up.

Jim wrote:
I can't count how many alien planets I have taken with very few casualties.

I do not have enough experience to argue on that basis. On the basis of number crunching it seems that you cannot take an alien planet with a few scouts. You need a large fleet or better ships to take a planet with 4 defenders with a few casualties. This means CPs for tech and maintenance and build up time. Extra time before colonization means loss of CPs. Also, even a few casualties cost quite a lot in CPs etc
But enough of theoretical talk and heretical arguments with the Designer! Next time we play I will suggest 2 alien ships per planet and terraforming cost of 20. We'll see how it impacts the game.
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Jim Krohn
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
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Well, it all depends on the situation.
 
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Fair enough! I actually do believe that the techs are balanced taking into consideration that the game is designed to accomodate much longer scenarios than we play. This is what I like the most about the game: it is very well thought out and streamlined.

However, I am still curious. It would be very interesting to know which multiplayer scenarios you play, how long your games normally last (in econ turns and real time) and what is the final tech level?
 
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