The rules say that for a learning game with 2 or 3 players it's suggested to not use the non-player rules and have players run multiple factions. I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts are on each style.
Our first play should be tonight and it's looking like it will be two players. I haven't played this game before but from the surface it seems like playing two factions would be MORE complicated than using the bot rules, but the game manual suggests the opposite. What is "best" for two new players?
I would agree that for a first play between two new players it's best to use the no non-player option. Using the bots before you're familiar with each faction's operations and special activities can slow the game down a lot -- you may have to look up not only the bot action but also how to execute that bot action.
As Gordon says, though, the game plays quite differently with the no non-player option than with the bots or with four human players.
I think I've said this before elsewhere on the forums, but I kind of enjoyed my 2-player game of AA with both players playing 2 factions. I've only played it that way once though. I think the game reminded me a bit of Labyrinth when played that way. You could do some interesting combinations with the operations of the different factions you control.
But as others said, this really is a different game when played like that. And I also agree that you shouldn't try to go for the non-player option in your first game. The non-player operations can seem a bit convoluted at first. I still haven't played a full solitaire game of this as I'm always a bit unsure if I'm doing everything correctly with the non-player players.
First game went well - it did end up two players and we took the advice to play two factions each. The first propaganda card came up about 2 hours in and we decided to run that phase and call the game a learning opportunity and end it there.
Playing two factions while learning the game was a bit tough; it was hard to keep focused on what steps each faction can take to achieve their goals. However it was great for teaching us the game and understanding some of the interaction, so I'll call it a success
We ignored the rule book suggestion of not flipping the next turn card, that did add some time to the play with increased AP problems. I think it was the right decision anyway as it allowed us to see the choices that come up in play where taking a sub-optimal option might be the best action in order to prevent an opponent from getting a really good event on that or the next turn.
The game was speeding up we went, I'd estimate a 3 campaign game would have taken us around 5 hours; definitely within expected range for first timers. We both enjoyed it a lot and now I'm trying to work out a full four player game so we can get into the meat!