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Subject: Simulated Early Turns rss

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Christopher Halbower
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I've reviewed many people's thoughts on Simulated Early Turns (SET). We've been using SET for the past several games we've played. And my group's experience is at odds with those of the majority of posters here.

I'm not sure why that is. We have found that:
1. Those races with a slow start (Xxcha, Sardakk N'orr) get a more level playing field, thus making the game more interesting.
2. Those races which are only one tech away from being competitive (Mentak, and others) can start the game with that tech, making the game more fun.
3. The races which start with 2 carriers (also the most powerful races ta'boot) get a slight nerf (Yssaril, Hacan, Jol Nar). This is because everyone will start with two systems along with their home system.

I have found that SET doesn't really shorten the game. What it does is bring the game to an interesting situation right out of the gate. Politics is very important when everyone has more than their homesystem's starting influence; trade is important. Taking Bureacracy on the 1st/2nd turn can be crucial. Taking Diplomacy is a decent option.

The complaints don't address why people hate SET--only that SET is disliked.

Is there more to the anti-SET crowd than what I gleaned?
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Charles Hildebrandt
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We now *always* play with Simulated Early Turns; with that and the pre-set maps, the game just seems much more fun. As you say, it evens out the racial advantages, but, at the same time, makes the game more interesting, because everyone starts play right on the verge of conflict with other players.

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Jeff S
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We've only used it the last two or three times, but my group would concur.
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Scott Lewis
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I'll be a dissenting voice. I've used the option twice. Both times, it felt very bland and boring, and the "balance" that it supposedly brought to the races didn't really do much for balance in the long run. It didn't make the game any shorter, and we felt that it didn't add anything useful to the game.

It left a very sour taste in my mouth. I gave it a second try to see if it was just a bad game, but nope - just as boring, useless, and uninteresting as the first time. It killed all the early-game expansion and bargaining amongst the players. In one game, the Hacan were very hurt by it, because those 2 missed rounds of trading can often be vital to their early game.

I can't imagine ever wanting to play with that option again. If it truly shortened the game significantly, perhaps, but it doesn't - it just changes the early game dynamics and doesn't add anything that I find beneficial.

EDIT: I should point out that I generally like the official options and variants. This one I just didn't. Maybe it was just our group's playstyle, but it was unanimous for us - we don't like it.
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Shaun Murphy
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halbower wrote:
I have found that SET doesn't really shorten the game. What it does is bring the game to an interesting situation right out of the gate. Politics is very important when everyone has more than their homesystem's starting influence; trade is important. Taking Bureacracy on the 1st/2nd turn can be crucial. Taking Diplomacy is a decent option.


LucasTrask wrote:
We now *always* play with Simulated Early Turns; with that and the pre-set maps, the game just seems much more fun. As you say, it evens out the racial advantages, but, at the same time, makes the game more interesting, because everyone starts play right on the verge of conflict with other players.


Another way of making the game interesting from the start due to what you two have said is playing with a much more interesting asymmetric setups and shorter distances between Home Systems:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/674131/variant-galaxy-precon...
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Necessary Evil
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SET sucks... it ruins the game for some races (Saar, Hacan) and well the early play is key to setting up you game. Also I find it shortens little as it tends to lead to early conflict and that steals all the time back out of the game. It also take out a few turns of negotiations, and that people is what this game is about, if you are not wrangling with the other players at the tank, YOUR DOING IT WRONG.

Also I am going on record saying with the exception of Xxcha (who we give stasis caps to speed up) the races are balanced out of the box. Or to be a dick about it, I can kick your asses with any race The trick is knowing how to exploit the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of each.

-M
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Jon Horne
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I also really like SET. I don't feel like it nerfs any race; it allows you to personalize your race. Buy a second carrier if you want. Get a juicy tech. Get more ground forces, or destroyers, or PDSs, or whatever. SET allows you to get whatever you think you are lacking for YOUR strategy in THIS game of TI3 based on the board layout and the other races in the game.

malloc wrote:
SET sucks... it ruins the game for some races (Saar, Hacan) and well the early play is key to setting up you game. Also I find it shortens little as it tends to lead to early conflict and that steals all the time back out of the game. It also take out a few turns of negotiations, and that people is what this game is about, if you are not wrangling with the other players at the tank, YOUR DOING IT WRONG.

I don't get the argument that it removes negotiation from the game. Just because I am claiming a system on my turn instead of moving in a carrier doesn't mean I don't talk about it with my neighbors. We still cut deals and create tension by claiming systems over the objection of others. Why would a slightly different mechanic change that?

sigmazero13 wrote:
I'll be a dissenting voice. I've used the option twice. Both times, it felt very bland and boring, and the "balance" that it supposedly brought to the races didn't really do much for balance in the long run. It didn't make the game any shorter, and we felt that it didn't add anything useful to the game.

It left a very sour taste in my mouth. I gave it a second try to see if it was just a bad game, but nope - just as boring, useless, and uninteresting as the first time. It killed all the early-game expansion and bargaining amongst the players. In one game, the Hacan were very hurt by it, because those 2 missed rounds of trading can often be vital to their early game.

I can't imagine ever wanting to play with that option again. If it truly shortened the game significantly, perhaps, but it doesn't - it just changes the early game dynamics and doesn't add anything that I find beneficial.

On the contrary, I find the first couple of turns without SET to be fairly boring. There is usually some negotiation, but really, players generally grab the systems clearly falling withing their sphere of influence, at least on turn 1. Plus, as halbower said, some Strategy cards are pretty crap until people have spread out a bit.

I find it hard to believe that the Hacan were crippled by a loss of what, maybe 6 trade goods? I wasn't there, though, so it may be as you say.

SET only removes one turn from the game (only one extra objective is revealed), and it's generally the fastest one, so I agree that SET doesn't really speed up the game much. Still, I like starting the game with an empire rather than a planet. If SET speeds up anything, it's conflict, which is what makes TI3 interesting for me.
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Scott Lewis
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AxleKerrigan wrote:
If SET speeds up anything, it's conflict, which is what makes TI3 interesting for me.

We didn't find that it sped up the conflict at all. It put people closer, sure, but it also caused the players to not want to attack because the other neighbors were just as close.

I wouldn't say it DECREASED the conflict, but it certainly didn't increase it. For us, SET didn't add anything beneficial to the game. While the first few turns of non-SET are fairly rote, we find that those early game negotiations often set the stage for the entire game, and it's not uncommon to see skirmeshes over the border systems during those first couple turns of RAW. With SET, these skirmishes didn't happen because there were more ships involved, and thus there was a little bit more early-game turtling.

The only SC that rarely gets picked in first turn for us is Bureaucracy; all of the others tend to be viable for us, depending on the map, the player, and the race selecting them. SET didn't change this for us - Bureuacracy wasn't picked in the first "real" round of either of our SET games, either.

It may just boil down to group dynamics, playstyle, and personality. All I can say is, we found nothing about it that made us want to try it a third time. None of the above "positives" stood out to us, and in some cases, like the increased conflict, were just not true for us.
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Scott M.
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Simulated Turns....

NEVER!!!.. HARK.. the blasphemy!...
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Barry Figgins
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AxleKerrigan wrote:
I also really like SET. I don't feel like it nerfs any race; it allows you to personalize your race. Buy a second carrier if you want. Get a juicy tech. Get more ground forces, or destroyers, or PDSs, or whatever. SET allows you to get whatever you think you are lacking for YOUR strategy in THIS game of TI3 based on the board layout and the other races in the game.


That's kind of a cool interpretation! I wonder if the option would have been more accepted if it was called 'Advanced Starting Positions' instead of 'Simulated Early Turns'.
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Christopher Halbower
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beri wrote:
AxleKerrigan wrote:
I also really like SET. I don't feel like it nerfs any race; it allows you to personalize your race. Buy a second carrier if you want. Get a juicy tech. Get more ground forces, or destroyers, or PDSs, or whatever. SET allows you to get whatever you think you are lacking for YOUR strategy in THIS game of TI3 based on the board layout and the other races in the game.


That's kind of a cool interpretation! I wonder if the option would have been more accepted if it was called 'Advanced Starting Positions' instead of 'Simulated Early Turns'.


Ya know, you might be right. SET certainly does not reduce game time appreciably. But what it does offer was certainly misnamed.
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Scott Lewis
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beri wrote:
AxleKerrigan wrote:
I also really like SET. I don't feel like it nerfs any race; it allows you to personalize your race. Buy a second carrier if you want. Get a juicy tech. Get more ground forces, or destroyers, or PDSs, or whatever. SET allows you to get whatever you think you are lacking for YOUR strategy in THIS game of TI3 based on the board layout and the other races in the game.


That's kind of a cool interpretation! I wonder if the option would have been more accepted if it was called 'Advanced Starting Positions' instead of 'Simulated Early Turns'.

It wouldn't have mattered for me; we didn't like the results regardless of what the name was.
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Martin DeOlden
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Being that the Hacan and the Saar are two of my favorite races I do not like SET.

If I were to try it again I would house rule that the Saar still get there Trade Goods for the planets they start out with from SET and if the Hacan were in the game I would add to SET that Trade Agreements are set-up at the beginning of the game.
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Barry Figgins
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tawnos76 wrote:
Being that the Hacan and the Saar are two of my favorite races I do not like SET.

If I were to try it again I would house rule that the Saar still get there Trade Goods for the planets they start out with from SET and if the Hacan were in the game I would add to SET that Trade Agreements are set-up at the beginning of the game.


The Saar tweak seems reasonable.

For the Hacan, Trade III might help there, since you get your TGs right away after making deals. It does seem like a reasonable bump for the Hacan to allow them to have trade agreements established at the start of the game. Or maybe just one. Or maybe just give them a few Trade Goods.
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Shezmaine
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How many SETs?

I figured that 1 SET would be ideal, mostly for thematic reasons:

Almost all of the 'great races' who are vying for the Imperial Throne have been spacefarers since the days of the Lazax Empire. Yes, there's been this twilight interregnum, but really are we to suppose that the races retreated to their home systems and left no-one out in the black trying to phone home?

I figure that a single SET (essentially 1 extra round of builds and one colony adjacent system) would do a lot to smooth over racial inequalities while not taking too much away from Hacan and Saar as cases in point.

Thoughts?
 
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Scott Lewis
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shezmaine wrote:
but really are we to suppose that the races retreated to their home systems and left no-one out in the black trying to phone home?

The backstory basically says just that - after the Lazax fell, the infighting between the races grew so severe that they eventually just withdrew to their own little clusters for a long time. I'm sure there were some minor contact between the races, but they lived in isolation.

The rules don't explain really why the races decided to rebuild the empire all about the same time, but it is just a game after all - they also all just happen to be conveniently spaced around Mecatol
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