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Subject: Too many research available? rss

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Pierre Philippe Goyer
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After three 4 player games, our group thought that they were (it seems to us) too many research tiles available to make the research a bit more challenging.

Maybe it's our group thinking?
Maybe it should not be too restrictive in a 9 turn game?
Maybe we do not research enough?
Maybe our hexes had less Population science square available?

We would like to have your comments specially from experienced players...

Owll
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Hugh G. Rection
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owll wrote:
too many research tiles available


It may seem that way until the tech you really want doesn't get pulled from the bag turn after turn after turn...
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James Fung
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
It may seem that way until the tech you really want doesn't get pulled from the bag turn after turn after turn...

This.
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Well, by the end of the game, there are X techs that were never pulled depending on the number of players:

2 players -> 52 tiles left
3 players -> 34 tiles left
4 players -> 24 tiles left
5 players -> 14 tiles left
6 players -> 4 tiles left

With 4 players, 75% of the tiles have come into play.
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Carter
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sigmazero13 wrote:
Well, by the end of the game, there are X techs that were never pulled depending on the number of players:

2 players -> 52 tiles left
3 players -> 34 tiles left
4 players -> 24 tiles left
5 players -> 14 tiles left
6 players -> 4 tiles left

With 4 players, 75% of the tiles have come into play.


I did find that in 2player games, as a result of the stats you quote above, having any sort of tech related strategy is moot. It might be an interesting variant to match the number of tiles of each tech to the number of players in the game, before adding them to the bag. That way, you avoid having a big pile of one tech, and have more varied options.
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Jeff A
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:

It may seem that way until the tech you really want doesn't get pulled from the bag turn after turn after turn...


Exactly, I wonder what it would be like to play with a reduced draw every turn, with more available at the start, and or maybe a game starting draw that allows no duplicates.
So lets say 4 players
stick to the 16 starting tech tiles, however no duplicates are allowed to be pulled. Then 16 of the 24 total techs are available at the start. There would be some small extra chance of duplicates in the rest of the draws. Also it would give an additional first player advantage and a additional advantage to the Hydran 2x Research ability.
 
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Nate Straight

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I made some calculations and suggested a few simple tweaks [i.e. not requiring pulling out any tech tiles] in a mostly passed over variant thread a few weeks back. I probably need to spend some more time on this, but I came up with a relatively balanced-across-player-counts solution with the only difference being the variance in the expected number of tiles of each type drawn.
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Nate Straight

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Kingsix wrote:
maybe a game starting draw that allows no duplicates.


That would be disastrous.
 
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Tery McAlister

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In 2 player games what I do eliminate all tech draws that are impossible to research (i.e. usually the third tile onwards, but starting techs can cause the second or even first tile to be eliminated).
 
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Hugh G. Rection
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Maeltne wrote:
In 2 player games what I do eliminate all tech draws that are impossible to research (i.e. usually the third tile onwards, but starting techs can cause the second or even first tile to be eliminated).


They're not so impossible if someone gets a discovery token with the boost in research.
 
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Nate Straight

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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Maeltne wrote:
In 2 player games what I do eliminate all tech draws that are impossible to research (i.e. usually the third tile onwards, but starting techs can cause the second or even first tile to be eliminated).


They're not so impossible if someone gets a discovery token with the boost in research.


I think he's saying to throw away the 3rd tile of any given technology drawn [since there's not a 3rd player to research it].

This would have a very large effect on the availability of technology in a 2 or 3-player game [not so much in 4-player, since there's only 3 techs in each track with more than 4 tiles to begin with].

I suspect it would be a bad effect [but then I don't really think the game is all that interesting with less than 4 anyway].
 
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Daniel Hammond
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Maeltne wrote:
In 2 player games what I do eliminate all tech draws that are impossible to research (i.e. usually the third tile onwards, but starting techs can cause the second or even first tile to be eliminated).


They're not so impossible if someone gets a discovery token with the boost in research.


Plus those are known entities that you can plan for, I think that that is critical for planning a good strategy (I passed the first 2 turns on tech last night so I could get advanced labs, I had 3 planets that tripled my research per turn).
 
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Tery McAlister

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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Maeltne wrote:
In 2 player games what I do eliminate all tech draws that are impossible to research (i.e. usually the third tile onwards, but starting techs can cause the second or even first tile to be eliminated).


They're not so impossible if someone gets a discovery token with the boost in research.


To clarify when I say impossible I mean impossible. As in a single player cannot research the same tech twice; so if you have the X+1st tech in an X player game; it is impossible for it to be researched.

What you are talking about is 'unlikely' which is entirely different than 'impossible'.
 
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Hugh G. Rection
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Ah, that makes more sense. Wonder why that's not in the rules.

 
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Ah, that makes more sense. Wonder why that's not in the rules.



Because the game is balanced around not everyone being able to get what they want. If you reduce the number of duplicate techs in the bag, then you increase the number of different techs that will be drawn throughout the game.

In this manner, it acts similarly to the cards in Agricola, allowing each game to play out differently.
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Tery McAlister

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It still doesn't guarantee that the tech is available when you need it or want it; and it definitely doesn't guarantee that there is enough for you to get one. In fact this variant brings the 2-3 player play far closer to the 4+ player play rather than radically different as it is by RAW.
 
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Hugh G. Rection
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Vanish wrote:
Because the game is balanced around not everyone being able to get what they want. If you reduce the number of duplicate techs in the bag, then you increase the number of different techs that will be drawn throughout the game.


Except that it can be kept in balance by reducing the number of tiles drawn. It does seem kind of silly to have more tiles of a particular tech in the pool than players.
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Nate Straight

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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Vanish wrote:
Because the game is balanced around not everyone being able to get what they want. If you reduce the number of duplicate techs in the bag, then you increase the number of different techs that will be drawn throughout the game.


Except that it can be kept in balance by reducing the number of tiles drawn. It does seem kind of silly to have more tiles of a particular tech in the pool than players.


Right, but until we know what to balance, you can't just make these adjustments willy-nilly.

The default position has to be that the game is balanced as is to the specifications intended by the designers [especially since so much of the rest of the game is so incredibly well put together and balanced].

I came up with an alternative seeding / drawing schedule by number of players that equalizes the number of tiles available per player per tech throughout the course of the game across all player counts, but this still has issues. The uncertainty / variance is not constant, for one thing.

For one thing, the game as-written has a higher expected number of tile draws per tech per player at lower player count [interpretation: it's harder to be shut out of a technology at lower player counts]. Is this intentional? Is this a design goal? If not, what was / is the design goal?

How would we identify what "balanced" means? There are multiple measures one might use; tweaking the probabilities to balance any given one is simple. Choosing one that makes sense for the game structure is hard.

If someone has a legitimate, mathematical, well-defined "thing" to balance, I can work on it.
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Jim Richardson

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In a 3-player game, having player A get plasma missiles, player B get shields/improved hull and player C get screwed out of the techs -- if the PM player A attacks the weak player C, he is opening himself up to attack by player B, at least providing some kind of balance.

In a 2-player game, having player A get plasma missiles and player B get nothing to combat them... you can see where that's going. Without more players to act as a balancing force, I would certainly hope more techs would be available per player in the lesser player games, to prevent woefully lopsided tech draws.

I don't see anything wrong with the given numbers of tech draws. If you want to reduce them for less players, at least couple that with replacing useless techs.
 
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Carter
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Hugh_G_Rection wrote:
Vanish wrote:
Because the game is balanced around not everyone being able to get what they want. If you reduce the number of duplicate techs in the bag, then you increase the number of different techs that will be drawn throughout the game.


Except that it can be kept in balance by reducing the number of tiles drawn. It does seem kind of silly to have more tiles of a particular tech in the pool than players.


I agree. It would be better to discard tech tiles drawn that exceed the number of players. But, as pointed out above, the designers seem to mitigate this instead by increasing the tiles drawn per player for games with fewer players (perhaps to reduce fiddly-ness?). Clearly one would want to normalize the tiles drawn per player to one of the higher player count conditions.

I am going to add this to an earlier variant thread where I have tried to summarize these sort of simple tweaks.
 
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Jeff A
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I am not sure how having no duplicates on the board at the start of the game is disastrous Nate? As in play, what is great for one player can always disastrous for another.
All that it ensures is that you see more diverse techs early.
Yes if there is 2 good techs that the hydran player can snap up as first player (or one as others) and it will give them an advantage. But the next tech draw (which has no duplicate rule) could end up releasing the another of the same tech, just like normal. Except that there is a better chance that a tech to counteract that will be available to another player.

I read through your numbers in the other thread and while I get what you are calculating, I was unable to intemperate info on duplicate techs.

So if you would please do some calculations with this no duplicates initial setup. Obviously the first round the chances that any tech has to be available is 2/3.

I did some calcs, and I am no mathematician, so maybe I did something wrong, but I don't get the same values that you do in the other thread. Lets walk through this.
For a tech with 4x in the bag, Take a 4 player game, 16 starting tiles, 7 drawn per round. 96 Total tiles.

Chances a tech will be drawn = 4(of type)/96(total) x 16 Draws. Obviously this doesn't account for tile by tile draws. This would calc a 66% chance that a tech with 4 tiles in the bag gets drawn in the initial 16 tile draw. It feels wrong, but its too early in the morning here for me to think critically.
 
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Nate Straight

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Kingsix wrote:
I am not sure how having no duplicates on the board at the start of the game is disastrous Nate?


The game is built around unlikelihood. This reduces it. In particular, this would force the higher-value techs to be available considerably earlier than they'd otherwise be expected to be. Because of the way the bag is seeded [with a glut of low-value techs and relatively few high values], the big techs don't generally come out until late, and relatively few of them come out when they do. The no-duplicates method would seed the board with on average 6 of the 9 highest value techs to start the game. That seems incredibly high. I guess "disastrous" might be an overstatement, but the game is essentially built to put a high probability of multiple players getting early access to low-value techs rather than a high probability of a single player having early access to a high-value tech. This pushes that in the exact opposite direction.

Quote:
I read through your numbers in the other thread and while I get what you are calculating, I was unable to intemperate info on duplicate techs.


That's because I didn't really calculate anything about duplicate techs.

Quote:
So if you would please do some calculations with this no duplicates initial setup. Obviously the first round the chances that any tech has to be available is 2/3.

I did some calcs, and I am no mathematician, so maybe I did something wrong, but I don't get the same values that you do in the other thread. Lets walk through this.
For a tech with 4x in the bag, Take a 4 player game, 16 starting tiles, 7 drawn per round. 96 Total tiles.

Chances a tech will be drawn = 4(of type)/96(total) x 16 Draws. Obviously this doesn't account for tile by tile draws. This would calc a 66% chance that a tech with 4 tiles in the bag gets drawn in the initial 16 tile draw. It feels wrong, but its too early in the morning here for me to think critically.


The probabilities would be a little awkward with this no-duplicate restriction.

I'm loathe to look much into it because I don't find it an interesting restriction.

My probabilities in the other thread might be different than yours because I'm reporting the probability of drawing at least 1 of the tile [i.e. 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, or all 5 as the case may be] by a certain round [using a standard hypergeometric distribution and summing up the relevant individual event probabilities]. It's possible I did something wrong in my calculations by sheer error, but I don't think I did.
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Jeff A
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Ah yes, I do see your point there Ben with the high end techs.
There has to be some way to deal with these issues.

The problem I seek to rectify is such as this, in my last game I needed orbitals, I needed them badly. But in 9 rounds (2 player), Orbitals didn't come out once.

I don't know maybe some system where you add certain levels of tech on a later turn, like everything right of the advanced economy's are added on after the second turn or something.
 
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Tery McAlister

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I don't know why you'd want to go with no duplicates; as opposed to limit duplicates to the number of players.
 
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What about some kind of "compromise" - Limit Duplicates to "number of players + x". Maybe x=2 or something. Thus, in a 2-player game, you could get up to 4 of a tech (making 2 "worthless" ones), but you still reduce some of the duplication and allow that 52-techs-unused number to be drastically reduced.

With X=1 or X=2, it would still only affect 2- and 3-player games in most cases, although in 4-player games with X=1 it MIGHT have some minor impact on a few techs that some races start with.
 
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