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Subject: Card auction feels contrived and distracting rss

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Bonaparte
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We have played HF three times now and find the simulation of near space exploration unique, intriguing and, challenging. The game has done a masterful job of allowing technology selection to have direct impact on the process and success of missions. That said, the economic/fuel acqusition/tech selection process is ponderous and distracting. Mixing research, fueling and resource acquisition is a mistake that detracts from the game. Putting up cards as "research" when one is really trying to generate income falls flat. At the point in the game where a person has the components of a ship and needs to boost and fuel them, the mechanic of putting cards up for "research" / auction is monotonous and not at all consistent with the rest of the game that works very hard for accurate simulation. The system does work when a component is desired by 2 people, but otherwise it is a dry routine that has no connection to economy or research...and it is boring.

(edit: it should be noted this comment is based on the basic game: no advanced cards)
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Fortunately, there is an alternative. Just generalize the 2-player "no auction" rules for multiplayer games.
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Bonaparte
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sdiberar wrote:
Fortunately, there is an alternative. Just generalize the 2-player "no auction" rules for multiplayer games.


Yes, this is an option, however it eliminates the competition for components entirely. That is not the best outcome. Competition for components and the scarcity of them is a valuable part of the game. It is the economic generator that falls short. I would not want to eliminate the competative nature of the auctions but think that it should be seperate from other players income generation.
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Calavera Despierta
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I strongly, strongly disagree.

The auction, and the metagame it facilitates is a significant element of the thematic consideration of this game. It represents the pre-exploration conflict over the information, technology, design, and resources required to even getting a rocket out of earth's gravity well.

Space exploration is not just about bolting the pieces of a rocket together and boosting them into LEO. It is just as much a race between competing governments/organizations to research and control that technology and those resources. The government or organization that controls this competition, and manages its economic resources effectively, will have an advantage once out in the solar system. Not all of those rockets, robonauts, refinerys, etc are equal. Some are significantly better than others, and provide HUGE bonuses and advantages, especially once flipped to their black side. Project Orion alone is almost game breaking if used correctly, and so it's important to have a recourse to control who has access to what technologies and when.

Think about colonialism during the age of empire. It was as much a domestic competition to build better, stronger, faster naval ships and control the local european economies (which were importing the wealth and resources discovered abroad) as it was a race to discover and colonize the richest foreign locales.

The auction in HF represents this element perfectly.
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Jerome Cormier
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Quote:
Competition for components and the scarcity of them is a valuable part of the game. It is the economic generator that falls short. I would not want to eliminate the competative nature of the auctions but think that it should be seperate from other players income generation.


I think I understand your point as this is something I once felt. This was until I realized that the "income" in water tank is just one of the many "means" to acquire a specific technology. The water is a resource that can be an income (as per 5.1); but the same is true of the blueprint itself that can be exchanged between players (1 for 1 barter). Selling it for a 3 WT is a fixed amount conversion of ressource, yet many other "open ended" conversions are (or could be) possible. The power of Japan is to be able to accumulate technologies to exchange them for opportunities (or high WT value).

I think that the auction is monotonous if there is not enough interactions around them. For example, buying a tech for 1WT and selling it for 3WT a turn later is actually a 1WT profit per turn. But buying a tech for 2WT during the other player turn, to exchange it to a third player as a free action - so each of you save a turn of development - may constitute a decisive move to the detriment of the auctioneer player. Especially in a (space)race!

I don't think that the auction is the brilliant idea of the game, yet I don't think it have to be monotonous, as long as players use it as a lever for competitiveness or cooperativity.
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Bonaparte
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MScrivner wrote:
I strongly, strongly disagree.

The auction, and the metagame it facilitates is a significant element of the thematic consideration of this game. It represents the pre-exploration conflict over the information, technology, design, and resources required to even getting a rocket out of earth's gravity well.

Space exploration is not just about bolting the pieces of a rocket together and boosting them into LEO. It is just as much a race between competing governments/organizations to research and control that technology and those resources. The government or organization that controls this competition, and manages its economic resources effectively, will have an advantage once out in the solar system. Not all of those rockets, robonauts, refinerys, etc are equal. Some are significantly better than others, and provide HUGE bonuses and advantages, especially once flipped to their black side. Project Orion alone is almost game breaking if used correctly, and so it's important to have a recourse to control who has access to what technologies and when.

Think about colonialism during the age of empire. It was as much a domestic competition to build better, stronger, faster naval ships and control the local european economies (which were importing the wealth and resources discovered abroad) as it was a race to discover and colonize the richest foreign locales.

The auction in HF represents this element perfectly.


I strongly, strongly, strongly think you do not understand what I am saying. I do understand what the game is trying to represent in political and technological struggle. Also, as a teacher of world and United States history I do understand colonialism, imperialism, and technological progress and the advantages it gives. The things you are describing are not at all what I am addressing. I am saying that connecting the income, fuel, and tech development mechanisms in the way that the game does is not realistic or fun. The early tech acquisition is fun and has interesting strategic and tactical application. Once people have acquired their desired techs, or been forced to settle for others, it is not fun or representative of any real system to have people "research" a technology that has already been recycled previously when their intention is not to research at all but to acquire fuel, which also represents money. I am not saying that the auction component is not good. It is the melding of the tech, finance, and fueling systems into one process that falls short in my opinion. Putting up a card for a "zero" bid, calling it research, and having someone bid "one", simply to limit your income, is awkward and gamey. The game needs an economic engine that is separate from the technologic development. It also needs to not "recycle" technologies back through and have them "researched" again, simply to create fuel and finance.
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Bonaparte
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bandini wrote:

I don't think that the auction is the brilliant idea of the game, yet I don't think it have to be monotonous, as long as players use it as a lever for competitiveness or cooperativity.


Thanks for you thoughtful response. I agree with you that this is the case in the early part of the game. The more the game develops, the more mundane and disconnected this component of the game feels. There are times when all a player needs is 12 water to get boosted and fueled. This is monotonous. It may represent reality (though I do not believe it does) but it is boring and unimaginative.
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Jerome Cormier
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Quote:
Putting up a card for a "zero" bid, calling it research, and having someone bid "one", simply to limit your income, is awkward and gamey. The game needs an economic engine that is separate from the technologic development. It also needs to not "recycle" technologies back through and have them "researched" again, simply to create fuel and finance.


Again, I really am not sure that "fuel and finance" are the only reasons. There is no real currency available for finance and the (un)availability of tech through recycling is giving Japan a specific power and function within the game. I also think that having to research back forgotten tech (or strategies) can be thematic as it is part of many innovative processes in real life...
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Jerome Cormier
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Quote:
The game needs an economic engine that is separate from the technologic development.


I think that this is where we diverge. I really appreciate that the economy of High Frontier is not founded on currency (money) economy; but use-value resources.

Quote:
Putting up cards as "research" when one is really trying to generate income falls flat.
[...]
There are times when all a player needs is 12 water to get boosted and fueled.


Don't you beleive that a player trying to get 12WT through the blueprint stacks (especially in a latter game) must know a wealthy player craving for an actual tech on top of a pile and ready to pay for it. Otherwise he seems to have made a very weird exploration planning as this kind of ressources are more readily available in space stations or by selling black cards... A plan that may very well trap him spending 12 turns accumulating fuel tokens.

I absolutely agree with you that the fuel generating capacity of the blueprints change through the game. This is the principal mean at the beginning but an unusual one toward the end.
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Calavera Despierta
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Dave Davies wrote:
I strongly, strongly, strongly think you do not understand what I am saying.


I do, I just think you're wrong.

Quote:
Putting up a card for a "zero" bid, calling it research, and having someone bid "one", simply to limit your income, is awkward and gamey.


Not at all. A group of scientists at, say, the University of Someplace, have an idea for a tech that they may want to develop--a tech that would give a significant advantage to the government or organization that develops it. They put out the feelers and NASA responds that they are interested but that due to budget limitations, they aren't willing to pay more than a tiny bit to do that development. The ESA has been looking for something like this tech though, and so says they are willing to outbid NASA. That's when China speaks up, realizing that it can harm the capitalist imperialist dogs of the western world and secure a monopoly on a powerful new tech if they outbid ESA and so on. How is this gamey? If anything, this is a thrilling!

And anyhow, maybe you didn't notice, but this is not a space simulator, it is a game. Some gamey elements are going to be inevitable.

Quote:
The game needs an economic engine that is separate from the technologic development. It also needs to not "recycle" technologies back through and have them "researched" again, simply to create fuel and finance.


Disagree. The technology of spaceflight and the economics of spaceflight are irrevocably intertwined.

Recycling techs is also thematically appropriate. If I decide, as Shimizu, not to purse development of a tech I own the rights to and dump it back in the market, why can't the scientists behind the tech decide at some later date (after the non-disclosure agreements have expired and the card has made back to the top of the deck) to sell their idea to another organization or government?
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Bonaparte
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bandini wrote:

Don't you beleive that a player trying to get 12WT trough the blueprint stacks (especially in a latter game) must know a wealthy player craving for an actual tech on top of a pile and ready to pay for it. Otherwise he seems to have made a very weird exploration planning as this kind of ressources are more readily available in space stations or by selling black cards...


Due to the end condition of 7 factories, at this point in the game most people have their rockets and are trying to squeeze out a last point or victory condition.
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Bonaparte
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MScrivner wrote:

And anyhow, maybe you didn't notice, but this is not a space simulator, it is a game..


Here is one of the many places that we disagree. Understand though that I am not saying this is a bad game, just that I feel that it has a flaw. That said, this is a simulation first, and a game second. This is a design to simulate developing space exploration. The victory conditions, and the victory points for that matter are put in place to make the simulation a game.

MScrivner wrote:


Disagree. The technology of spaceflight and the economics of spaceflight are irrevocably intertwined.


Agreed. It is not however requisite that they are intertwined in this way. I contend that this way not only falls short of the panacea that you claim, but that it is in fact limited and at times boring. I think it could be done better. (Yes I do think I could do it better).


MScrivner wrote:

Recycling techs is also thematically appropriate. If I decide, as Shimizu, not to purse development of a tech I own the rights to and dump it back in the market, why can't the scientists behind the tech decide at some later date (after the non-disclosure agreements have expired and the card has made back to the top of the deck) to sell their idea to another organization or government?


You clearly have a superior imagination to mine, and if all this is going on in your head as you play the game, it has definitely worked as a simulation for you. (And what you are describing is a simulation.) That said, I still think it is not well simulated. You seem to think that what is simulated is exactly what would happen or will happen in the future. I think not. For example, the International Space Station. While I think the next generation of space exploration will be collaborative, this game assumes it will instead be capitalistic. If it is, it will not be nationally driven at all. But let's assume it is capitalistic and nationalistic. I still think the game should separate out the element of purchase power from fuel and technology. I am glad it works for you. I still enjoy it and think it is a very creative work, but missed on this piece. I might suggest you avoid the review that I write after another play or two.
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Dave Davies wrote:
At the point in the game where a person has the components of a ship and needs to boost and fuel them, the mechanic of putting cards up for "research" / auction is monotonous and not at all consistent with the rest of the game that works very hard for accurate simulation.


At the risk of sounding condescending, I think with experienced players you will observe (at least that's what my observation has been) that taking the quick 1-income action is usually a far superior way of generating income than putting a card up for auction. Putting a card for auction that you don't need enables somebody to acquire it without losing a turn (which is huge), and cycling the deck if you already have all the cards you need gives others too much of an advantage. I believe the new rulebook actually gives some pointers about being very careful about using the research action for pure income generation.

Also, my observation has been that any player who needs to spend income or research operations for a lot of turns just to get WT to fly a big rocket will be crushed by an experienced player. I think the best strategies involve flying smaller rockets in the beginning, and/or refueling enroute instead of bringing all the fuel along, as well asgenerating money with research opportunistically rather than systematically (i.e. only calling it when you know you will get a ton of WT either because someone really needs a card or nobody can bid and you can get a card plus its two supports for free -- Shimizu is particularly good at that).

Edit: another point that just occured to me -- in the advanced game, there is usually more money floating around (because (a) you get more cards on average during a research phase and (b) people are more likely to hit their hand limits) while the costs of boosting and flying remain about the same. So if you find yourself in the drudgery of making money in the base game, maybe that's a sign you're ready to move on to the advanced game! (Though I still recommend exploring low-money strategies and strategies where others call research for you leaving you with more turns.)
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Jerome Cormier
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Quote:
Dave Davies wrote:
At the point in the game where a person has the components of a ship and needs to boost and fuel them, the mechanic of putting cards up for "research" / auction is monotonous and not at all consistent with the rest of the game that works very hard for accurate simulation.


Quote:
Russ wrote: [...]taking the quick 1-income action is usually a far superior way of generating income than putting a card up for auction. Putting a card for auction that you don't need enables somebody to acquire it without losing a turn (which is huge), and cycling the deck if you already have all the cards you need gives others too much of an advantage.
[...]
Also, my observation has been that any player who needs to spend income or research operations for a lot of turns just to get WT to fly a big rocket will be crushed by an experienced player.


This is precisely what I meant.

I admit that I once thought that auctions were monotonous (and they can be). The game doesn't prevent players to use it each turn, hoping to get more incomes, while in fact it's just slowing down the game while helping another player. Ass Russ said, this is mostly a matter of experience. It can be considered a faulty design, but I think that this is part of the openness of the game.
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bandini wrote:


This is precisely what I meant.

Ass Russ said, this is mostly a matter of experience. It can be considered a faulty design, but I think that this is part of the openness of the game.


First of all, let it be clear that it was you, not me, that called Russ an Ass. Some of what we are experiencing may be that we are not playing the advanced game. We are using the advanced map, radiation, slingshots, but not the advanced cards.

And this may be a lack of experience, and Russ, I do not take your comments as condescending. But I consider it a game issue if the game feels monotonous still at this point or in the basic game. Also, I get that taking one water may be the best income option, it is just a very boring option. I understand trying to keep cards out of other peoples hands. At this point in my experience with the game, and my experience with games in general, that the income mechanism is under-developed for a game that took so much time and care with the rest of the system.

I appreciate all you responses.
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Michael Theiss
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I found this that way too. I bought 4 decks of basic game cards. Each person starts off with a set of thrusters, robonauts, and refineries.
We just pay double launch to LEO cost license rights ( if mass = 0 then pay 1 ) I also gave each player 28 water to start the game off with a boost. We were up in space within 2 years. Bidding only on radiators, generators, and reactors went on in the first turn then we built what we could with what we had, launched, and started bidding as we needed more water latter in the game.
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James Moore

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sdiberar wrote:
Fortunately, there is an alternative. Just generalize the 2-player "no auction" rules for multiplayer games.

What 2-player no auction rule is that? I don't see it in the rulebook. What am I missing?
 
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