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Subject: Dominance cards too strong rss

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killy9999
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After playing 3 games of DS I have a feeling that some Dominance Cards are much too strong. It seems that they can give a great deal of undeserved advantage or allow to make up for poor decisions during the turn. Am I the only one having such thoughts?
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Jon Ben
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Try out this official variant it works well.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/722588/official-cardless...
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Sky Zero
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Play another 10-12 games and you'll be able to answer that question yourself.


The cards are no more or less powerful than glaciation, regeneration, competition, etc... Everyone has the position of the cards being too powerful until they learn that tactics and luck mitigation reign supreme in Dominant Species.
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Dave Long
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Well, after having GM'ed the first two DS tourneys at the WBCs, I can say it has been my observation that the good players, are ALWAYS looking at the cards when planning their moves so as to minimize the effect on their positions.

A great example - this year, the winner of the tourney, playing the insects, took Intelligence as his card. He did that, even though it was of no help to him immediately, because it keep him even in action pawns with the other players. My personal feeling is that people who complain about the Dominance Card's power just haven't figured out how to mitigate the risk or control the chaos. And at the heart of it all, DS is a game about risk and chaos management.
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Jade Youngblood
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Just make sure you are the one getting the powerful cards. If you miss out, you best be spending your actions to defend them. The strength of the cards in many ways is what pushes the game to the next level.
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Daniel Holz
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Arranging your turn so that you take a powerful Dominance card is not 'poor decision making'; letting someone else take a good card is!

We pass around the cards at the beginning of each round so everyone can inspect them, and plan their turn around them.
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Shawn Fox
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The simplest solution is to just not play with the cards at all and instead play for 6 rounds. The survival card would still be given to the player with the most pieces on tundra tiles and the ice age card would be played at the end of the 6th round.

The domination action would still allow you to score one area as normal, but instead of dominant species getting to take a domination card their domination would count as +4 species on that tile. This special bonus would not apply to the final scoring where each tile is scored, it would only apply when the domination action was used.

Dominant Species is a very good game using the standard rules but I agree that it would have been better without the domination cards (or if the domination cards were more balanced).
 
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Shawn Fox
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JonBen wrote:
Try out this official variant it works well.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/722588/official-cardless...


This does a good job of addressing the issue as well but I'm not sure that I like it better than what I proposed. It probably is a better solution though since it uses the bonus points table just like everything else does.
 
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killy9999
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Thanks for replies guys! The cardless variant seems interesting, though I think I'd prefer to master the cards. So far in my games first 2-3 turns were calm, but later each turn began by players taking all spaces in Domination and only later selecting other actions, first player having of course quite an advantage.
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killy9999 wrote:
Thanks for replies guys! The cardless variant seems interesting, though I think I'd prefer to master the cards. So far in my games first 2-3 turns were calm, but later each turn began by players taking all spaces in Domination and only later selecting other actions, first player having of course quite an advantage.


Your first action will almost always be to take the domination action since it is the primary scoring mechanism and the effect of the cards can be worth 1 to 3 additional actions.

When proposing any variant you'll always get a lot of push back from the community... I've never understood why that is. People say the game is perfect like it is then they rate it a 7 or an 8. How does that make any sense? Anyone that gives a game less than a 10 rating shouldn't be saying that the game doesn't need to be changed.

Personally I've not yet played a game that is perfect. Game designers are not perfect, they make mistakes all the time. Even if a game is perfect for one person it is going to be very flawed for another. It all depends on what you are looking for in a game. If you want a game that is decided 100% on skill, Dominant Species is not that game... not even close. If you want a game that has huge swings and is pure chaos, try out Chad Jensen's other game, Urban Sprawl (which was a absolutely horrible game as far as I'm concerned but some people seem to like it). If playing with a house rule helps you and your group to enjoy a game then you should do it and just ignore everyone that says a game should only be played exactly as the original rules were written.

In general I'd say Dominant Species achieves a pretty good balance but the domination action is too important due to the power of the domination cards. As far as I'm concerned it would be a better game without them. I don't think Chad's proposed cardless variant makes any sense because each player should end up taking the domination action about the same number of times if they know what they are doing. Taking the domination action should already be worth 5 to 9 points vs the other players so why do we need to make it any stronger? What needs to happen is the domination action needs to be weaker so that there are more viable strategies to win the game with. You do have to have domination mean something throughout the game though which is why I suggested treating the dominant species as having +4 species on that tile.
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Mark Buetow
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killy9999 wrote:
Thanks for replies guys! The cardless variant seems interesting, though I think I'd prefer to master the cards. So far in my games first 2-3 turns were calm, but later each turn began by players taking all spaces in Domination and only later selecting other actions, first player having of course quite an advantage.


That's hardly a guaranteed strategy to win. Good players, while certainly choosing Domination cards, could outplay by effective use of the other actions.

Chad's games tend to be like that: When you first learn them, you tend to figure something out and get frustrated when the resources aren't there to do it. Later, as you get better, you look at the resources and make your plan accordingly.
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Steve Bachman
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sfox wrote:
Taking the domination action should already be worth 5 to 9 points vs the other players so why do we need to make it any stronger? What needs to happen is the domination action needs to be weaker so that there are more viable strategies to win the game with.

I disagree. The Domination cards can often make the action weaker. My most recent game took a few turns longer due to the fact the player taking the Domination action had to choose between scoring maximum points and giving an opponent the card, or scoring fewer so that nobody got the card.

When you see a player focus on hte Domination cards, you need to focus on taking away their dominance on the hexes.
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Chadwik
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Ward wrote:
When you see a player focus on hte Domination cards, you need to focus on taking away their dominance on the hexes.

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Ward wrote:
sfox wrote:
Taking the domination action should already be worth 5 to 9 points vs the other players so why do we need to make it any stronger? What needs to happen is the domination action needs to be weaker so that there are more viable strategies to win the game with.

I disagree. The Domination cards can often make the action weaker. My most recent game took a few turns longer due to the fact the player taking the Domination action had to choose between scoring maximum points and giving an opponent the card, or scoring fewer so that nobody got the card.

When you see a player focus on hte Domination cards, you need to focus on taking away their dominance on the hexes.


I'm not sure what game you have been playing but that just doesn't work. At best you'll screw that player and give the game to someone else who isn't you. The problem is that if you don't manage to take away dominance (which you are very unlikely to be able to do in a 3 or 4 player game), the domination cards are worth at least 1 action by themselves and quite often much more than that. So what ends up happening is that the person who takes the domination cards gets the points and uses the ability of the domination card to reverse (or more than reverse) whatever action you took to try to stop them.

So the net effect is the player who takes the domination cards ends up with more points than you and in better position since the effect of the domination card is usually better than any other action.

Maybe you are playing 5 or 6 player games where the number of action pawns is very restricted, and in that case I'd agree that the domination action is a bit weaker. The game is terrible for 5/6 players though if you actually like to have strategy in your game. When you get up to that many players the winner is decided more by what other players have done than what that individual does. It is almost as bad as playing Urban Sprawl.

Dominant Species is a great 3 player game using the standard rules and it is quite solid with 4 players. If you play without the domination cards it is just short of being a masterpiece. I rated the game 8.25 which makes it my #12 game out of the 260 I've rated, but the game isn't anywhere near perfect.

The point I always try to make is that unless you are rating a game a 10, you obviously don't think the game is perfect either. Maybe you have different problems with it than I do, or maybe your rating is just an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat, but if you haven't given the game a 10 there must be something about it that you'd want to change as well. I'd also say that unless you've played DS at least 10 times against reasonably strong opponents and actually won more than your fair share of those games, saying something like 'well just focus on X' is a highly uninformed opinion. I can assure you just focusing on taking domination away from the players that take the domination action just isn't going to work. It is not going to allow you to win the game. At best, you'll just be playing the kingmaker and will be handing the game to someone else that you didn't spend all your actions attacking.
 
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Steve Bachman
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sfox wrote:
Ward wrote:
sfox wrote:
Taking the domination action should already be worth 5 to 9 points vs the other players so why do we need to make it any stronger? What needs to happen is the domination action needs to be weaker so that there are more viable strategies to win the game with.

I disagree. The Domination cards can often make the action weaker. My most recent game took a few turns longer due to the fact the player taking the Domination action had to choose between scoring maximum points and giving an opponent the card, or scoring fewer so that nobody got the card.

When you see a player focus on hte Domination cards, you need to focus on taking away their dominance on the hexes.


I'm not sure what game you have been playing but that just doesn't work. At best you'll screw that player and give the game to someone else who isn't you. The problem is that if you don't manage to take away dominance (which you are very unlikely to be able to do in a 3 or 4 player game), the domination cards are worth at least 1 action by themselves and quite often much more than that. So what ends up happening is that the person who takes the domination cards gets the points and uses the ability of the domination card to reverse (or more than reverse) whatever action you took to try to stop them.

So the net effect is the player who takes the domination cards ends up with more points than you and in better position since the effect of the domination card is usually better than any other action.

Maybe you are playing 5 or 6 player games where the number of action pawns is very restricted, and in that case I'd agree that the domination action is a bit weaker. The game is terrible for 5/6 players though if you actually like to have strategy in your game. When you get up to that many players the winner is decided more by what other players have done than what that individual does. It is almost as bad as playing Urban Sprawl.

I prefer to game with folks who play the game as published rather than making houserules to tweak the game to suit their ineffective groupthink. YMMV.

I've played the game with 6 and it is far from "terrible", but that does help to put your opinion into context. I am now even more interested in trying Urban Sprawl...thanks!

sfox wrote:
The point I always try to make is that unless you are rating a game a 10, you obviously don't think the game is perfect either. Maybe you have different problems with it than I do, or maybe your rating is just an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat, but if you haven't given the game a 10 there must be something about it that you'd want to change as well.


Your point is invalid, so what's the point of always trying to make it? A 10 rating here doesn't equate to perfection, it equates to a desire to always play the game and not expecting that to change. I married my wife and consider her a 10 not because she is without flaws, but because I enjoy being with her and don't expect that to change. There is no such thing as a "perfect game" and to expect such a thing is irrational. Tweaking DS by taking the Dominance cards out of the game is making the game worse, not better.

sfox wrote:
I'd also say that unless you've played DS at least 10 times against reasonably strong opponents and actually won more than your fair share of those games, saying something like 'well just focus on X' is a highly uninformed opinion. I can assure you just focusing on taking domination away from the players that take the domination action just isn't going to work. It is not going to allow you to win the game. At best, you'll just be playing the kingmaker and will be handing the game to someone else that you didn't spend all your actions attacking.

You say it "just isn't going to work", but it has so I think it is clear which opinion is more uninformed.
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Ward wrote:
Your point is invalid, so what's the point of always trying to make it?


Your claim that my point is invalid is invalid. Why is it irrational to expect a perfect game at only give out a 10 to a perfect game? Who are you to say how I should be rating games? If a game was perfect you would want to play it all the time I would think. Removing the dominance cards does in fact make DS a better game and many other people agree with that. Just because you don't agree doesn't make me wrong. What makes a good game good/bad is subjective. I have no idea what your wife has to do with anything, I'm sure she is perfect for you but chances are high I wouldn't like her and she wouldn't like me. That of course is the whole point.

Why would you first say that YMMV for changing the rules and then say that I'm wrong? What you are doing in games with your friends is one thing, but it won't work against moderate to expert players. You cannot ignore the dominance cards and have any chance of winning the game if you are playing a 3 or 4 player game. The other 3 players will take all the dominance cards and you won't be able to stop all of them. Certainly if one player took them all that wouldn't work, it would be stupid of them to do so because there is no way they could score 5 different areas. But the cards could be split 2-2-1 between 3 players leaving the 4th player with 0 cards, and if that happened every round that 4th player would lose horribly. Are you actually arguing that your score would be competitive in that situation?

Ward wrote:
sfox wrote:
I'd also say that unless you've played DS at least 10 times against reasonably strong opponents and actually won more than your fair share of those games, saying something like 'well just focus on X' is a highly uninformed opinion. I can assure you just focusing on taking domination away from the players that take the domination action just isn't going to work. It is not going to allow you to win the game. At best, you'll just be playing the kingmaker and will be handing the game to someone else that you didn't spend all your actions attacking.

You say it "just isn't going to work", but it has so I think it is clear which opinion is more uninformed.


Back to my previous point, are you saying you can play an entire game without taking the domination action in a 3 or 4 player game and win? I call bs on that, there is just no way. Maybe you could pull it off when playing against newbies and going the survival route, but I rarely see that strategy win anymore since it is so easy to disrupt.
 
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Robert Stewart
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sfox wrote:
Ward wrote:
Your point is invalid, so what's the point of always trying to make it?


Your claim that my point is invalid is invalid. Why is it irrational to expect a perfect game at only give out a 10 to a perfect game?


I think Battlestar Galactica and Merchants & Marauders are better games than Dominant Species. That doesn't mean I think that Dominant Species would be improved by adding a hidden traitor mechanic, or by converting it to a pirate theme.

I also don't think tictactoe would be improved by adding a worker-placement mechanic or by bidding for turns. Rock-paper-scissors isn't improved by adding a combat die.

A game can be the best that game can be and still be "worse" than some other game - a fairly common complaint about Galactica is that it's too long and complex. If you simplify and shorten BSG, you end up with something that looks a lot like The Resistance, which is another great game, but that doesn't mean that you should house-rule BSG in a Resistance clone.

The minimum size of change to improve a game can be larger than the maximum size of change before it just becomes a different game - the top of Snowdon is nowhere near as high as the top of Everest, but if you want to climb mountains in Wales rather than in Asia, you can't get higher than Snowdon's summit.


As for actual strategy, if you have three players co-operating in using dominance cards against the fourth, then of course the fourth player is going to lose. On the other hand, if the three players are attacking each other and ignoring the fourth, then the fourth player is going to have the advantage in endgame scoring by having more cubes left - play survival; play triple-wanderlust; play initiative; control the shape of the world; speciate and migrate so you score first in tiles where others get the card. And, yes, take a dominance action if it's left open - there's a gap between ignoring dominance actions and not fighting for them. I don't pretend to have played the game enough to know what works, but when the game's designer, who might just have played the game a few times, approves the posts of people saying there are ways to keep the cards from being decisive, I tend to assume he might know what he's talking about...
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Steve Bachman
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sfox wrote:
Ward wrote:
Your point is invalid, so what's the point of always trying to make it?


Your claim that my point is invalid is invalid. Why is it irrational to expect a perfect game at only give out a 10 to a perfect game? Who are you to say how I should be rating games?

Re-read your post. You were the one telling people how to rate games and equated 10 with perfection. It may be how you scale it, but it doesn't follow BGG recommendations. That's fine, but it is irrational to persistently try and force your personal scale on others.

sfox wrote:
If a game was perfect you would want to play it all the time I would think. Removing the dominance cards does in fact make DS a better game and many other people agree with that. Just because you don't agree doesn't make me wrong. What makes a good game good/bad is subjective.

Are you for real? Yes, good game/bad game is highly subjective. So how does your opinion become fact? You want to call b.s.? Call it on yourself first then. Then go look up the definition of "fact".

sfox wrote:
Why would you first say that YMMV for changing the rules and then say that I'm wrong? What you are doing in games with your friends is one thing, but it won't work against moderate to expert players.

Okay, trying looking up "reading comprehension" this time. The YMMV was regarding playing with groups that like to houserule games, not houserules themselves. Additionally, I didn't say you were wrong to tweak the rules, only that I disagreed with your assertion that it made the game better. Perhaps if your friends played the game by the rules with moderate to expert players instead of you, they could come back and explain some strategy to you.

sfox wrote:
You cannot ignore the dominance cards and have any chance of winning the game if you are playing a 3 or 4 player game. The other 3 players will take all the dominance cards and you won't be able to stop all of them. Certainly if one player took them all that wouldn't work, it would be stupid of them to do so because there is no way they could score 5 different areas. But the cards could be split 2-2-1 between 3 players leaving the 4th player with 0 cards, and if that happened every round that 4th player would lose horribly. Are you actually arguing that your score would be competitive in that situation?

Seriously, reading comprehension classes would be of benefit to you I think. Nobody claimed ignoring the Dominance cards is a strong or even viable strategy. Maybe you should start back at the beginning of the thread (with the original post - which according to you was a highly uninformed opinion - that questions the imbalancing of the cards) and read your way through to get a better feel for this discussion.

Like all actions, Dominance is one that can not be ignored. Just as one must consider the implications of an opponents use of Competition and Depletion, one must consider the impact of the cards against you.
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Steve there is no cause for you to be resorting to ad hominem attacks. Please address the argument not the person. My original statement was quite clear, that the domination action is usually the first action taken. Nothing you have said even tries to refute that. Every other action in the game can be taken rarely or not at all and the player can still win the game. This is not true of domination. Sure there will be situations where the domination cards are all weak or a player's position is so bad that they cannot take the domination action, but picking one situation and saying "well this happened once so you are wrong" is not a valid argument.

You originally stated that "When you see a player focus on hte [sic] Domination cards, you need to focus on taking away their dominance on the hexes.". To me that statement implies that you are saying you can ignore the domination cards and instead just attack the players who are taking them. If that isn't what you meant you should have clarified that statement in your response rather than calling me an idiot.

I then later follow up and ask if you are implying that you can ignore the domination cards, to which you again reply with a personal attack.

I have played DS many times against highly competitive players, several of whom have won tournaments multiple times in multiple different board games (as have I). I can assure you that all of them agree with me that the domination cards are very powerful, that some of them are game breaking in some situations, and that the domination action is almost always going to be the first action taken. I do, however, acknowledge that they do not all agree that the game is better when the cards are removed, that is just my opinion and I know several people who agree with me on that. Many people like the randomness that they introduce and I'm perfectly fine with that, I do not think they are idiots because they do not agree with me and I certainly do not insult them.

The main point that I would make is that any statement made about the quality of a game is subjective and everyone has a right to their opinions. It is fine to disagree, if is fine to state your argument as to why someone making such a statement is wrong, but it is not acceptable to resort to direct attacks on the person who is making the assertion.
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I've only played the game a half-dozen times or so, so can't really comment on the various assertions made within this thread other than this: I have no problem with the significant power of the dominance cards, given that the game is titled "Dominant Species." To me, they're simply an element of the game that has to be dealt with.
 
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sfox wrote:
Steve there is no cause for you to be resorting to ad hominem attacks. Please address the argument not the person.
I apologize for the shortness of my previous post. However, I was addressing the argument that you were making and that it was largely a break from the discussion.
sfox wrote:
...rather than calling me an idiot.
I did no such thing. Matter of fact, "idiot" was never used by me.

sfox wrote:
The main point that I would make is that any statement made about the quality of a game is subjective and everyone has a right to their opinions. It is fine to disagree, if is fine to state your argument as to why someone making such a statement is wrong, but it is not acceptable to resort to direct attacks on the person who is making the assertion.
I disagreed with the part of your post that I quoted, so your argument that I am disagreeing with other points in that same post is just plain false. You responded with as much a personal attack as you've colored mine as. The irrelevant tangents you've continued to throw out I will no longer address as I see now where you are headed with it. I apologize to the rest of the board for being reeled in there for a bit and congratulate you on the baiting.
 
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sfox wrote:
Back to my previous point, are you saying you can play an entire game without taking the domination action in a 3 or 4 player game and win? I call bs on that, there is just no way. Maybe you could pull it off when playing against newbies and going the survival route, but I rarely see that strategy win anymore since it is so easy to disrupt.


We tested it. Chad won a game against a full table of experienced players without ever taking a Domination action the entire game and without using the Survival strategy. We saw it coming, played against it, and he still outplayed us. We were able to pull that off more than once (even against Chad) by piggybacking on points as other players scored tiles.

I have noticed that newer players tend to focus heavily on Domination, where more experienced players don't.
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Quote:
are you saying you can play an entire game without taking the domination action in a 3 or 4 player game and win?

Unequivocally, yes. I've done so myself in full 6-player games (once with mammals and the other -- I think -- with reptiles). And, no, the opponents weren't newbies or toddlers.
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Chad Jensen wrote:
Quote:
are you saying you can play an entire game without taking the domination action in a 3 or 4 player game and win?

Unequivocally, yes. I've done so myself in full 6-player games (once with mammals and the other -- I think -- with reptiles). And, no, the opponents weren't newbies or toddlers.


Most definitive answer methinks!
 
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freddieyu wrote:
Chad Jensen wrote:
Quote:
are you saying you can play an entire game without taking the domination action in a 3 or 4 player game and win?

Unequivocally, yes. I've done so myself in full 6-player games (once with mammals and the other -- I think -- with reptiles). And, no, the opponents weren't newbies or toddlers.


Most definitive answer methinks!


I don't think answers get more final than that here on BGG!
 
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