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Subject: Is the tech/income track too powerful? rss

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John Rogers
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Help me out here but does the game often degrade into a race for income?

After our first session the player with highest income pulled away quite easily over the final two decades and never looked back. The combination of tech benefits, income, and income as VPs seemingly makes the track the most important element of the game.

With income equaling money (2-1), the winner won by 20+ pts over second place and 50+ pts over last place. If money did not count as income the difference between first and last would have been 13 pts, a single forestation plant would have changed the outcome. I understand that this can be mitigated by every player aggressively pursuing the tech track but then it just becomes a race does it not?

Now that we know the power of the tech track everyone is going to focus on moving up it, not because of power plants they wish to build, but because of the income/VPs it generates (I should note that the winning player also had the goal card for being the highest in every tech). For me this detracts from the theme and well-balanced nature the rest of the game exhibits.

Has anyone consider not having money = VPs?


 
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Harold Coleman
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The tech track is very important for generating income, especially early in the game when only the first two leaders in each track receive it. At game end, remember that EVERYONE gets income where they are on ALL tech tracks, regardless of position. I've rarely seen it make more than a few points difference, i.e. something like 20 coins vs. 14 or 3 VPs.

In my few plays, I've come to realize that end game CEPs are the key factor in winning. For example, you control three areas of the board and gather 10 CEPs from them at game end and the market is at 6, that's 60 coins or 30 VPs! So while the game is semi-cooperative to some extent, you must keep area control and CEPs at the fore-front of your strategy.


If the player in your games who hit the tech track early pulled away for the victory, it was likely because he was using that early income to construct plants, get area control, etc. etc. If it was solely due to hoarding coins, then I imagine you might have been playing something incorrectly or not enough of you were competing on the tech track early. It's difficult to gather income on more than 2 or possibly 3 tracks due to scarcity of scientist or the matching projects to place them.
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John Rogers
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hgcoleman wrote:

If the player in your games who hit the tech track early pulled away for the victory, it was likely because he was using that early income to construct plants, get area control, etc. etc. If it was solely due to hoarding coins, then I imagine you might have been playing something incorrectly or not enough of you were competing on the tech track early. It's difficult to gather income on more than 2 or possibly 3 tracks due to scarcity of scientist or the matching projects to place them.


With the exception of the income track, the rest of the game was quite even .We all had about the same number of plant and his (winner) were not of the highest values. We each controlled 2 regions (though he did get one more CEP than are 2nd place finisher), the winner had one less scientist than the rest, and one more UN goal card (though again not the highest values) than the 2nd place finisher.

hgcoleman wrote:
not enough of you were competing on the tech track early.


This seems the likely culprit. The other players were going up on the tech tracks as it aligned with what they wanted to construct on the board. The winner was going up because he was a) motivated by his UN goal card to do so and b) because of the income. He wasn't that interested in constructing a variety of plants as was evident in his low diversity therein.

 
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John Rogers
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Again I go back to the power of the tech track.

No other area gives you as many benefits as it does. A scientist on a proposal/instillation gives you a single bump, a summit can give you a bump or two, a power plant gives you VPs and a bump, proposals and instillations often generates one or two benefits. The tech track gives you: income, vps, resource cubes, ceps, the ability to construct, and the ability to earn extra tech bumps. It feels way out of balance when compared with the rest of the game. If you are not aggressive with it I don't think you have a prayer in the game.
 
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Ben
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CO2 is not really a "multiple paths to victory" sort of game. In particular, the expertise tracks should not be seen as one alternative source of pointsamkng many. Almost everything you do tactically has a direct relationship to the expertise tracks; they are an integral part of the game.

One thing that new players don't often recognize is that plant-building is not the overriding source of in-game points. When you factor in the VP-cost of the money outlay and the opportunity cost of acquiring the tech resource cubes, constructing plants produces only a small VP bump. The choice of which plants to build and when should be tied to pursuing UN goal cards, competing on expertise tracks, and (to a lesser extent) controling regions.
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John Rogers
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chally wrote:
CO2 is not really a "multiple paths to victory" sort of game. In particular, the expertise tracks should not be seen as one alternative source of pointsamkng many. Almost everything you do tactically has a direct relationship to the expertise tracks; they are an integral part of the game.


YES Ben exactly! The game is the expertise track.

chally wrote:
One thing that new players don't often recognize is that plant-building is not the overriding source of in-game points. When you factor in the VP-cost of the money outlay and the opportunity cost of acquiring the tech resource cubes, constructing plants produces only a small VP bump. The choice of which plants to build and when should be tied to pursuing UN goal cards, competing on expertise tracks, and (to a lesser extent) controling regions.


Yes we all made that mistake. The guy who won did so accidently as none of us knew about the money/vp element. The winner admittedly pursued the track the way he did because it was his company goal to do so.

The game obviously pointed to this; however, I was blinded by the theme (a surprising mistake given my veteran gaming status). I guess what it comes down to is my expectations and how I wanted the game to be about building green energy plants, avoiding disasters (which have no teeth by the way), and sweating out the PPMs (no sweat needed, that was too easy).
 
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John Rogers wrote:
and sweating out the PPMs (no sweat needed, that was too easy).


In a 3 or 4 player game, you really need to use the increased difficulty (take six gas power plants out of the game), in my opinion.

However, in our last 5 player game, we choked the Earth and all lost due primarily to us all fighting over the tech track.
 
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After talking with the winner of our session this morning I have a different perspective on the theme of the game.

Theme according to the game:

The goal is to [a] stop the increase of pollution, while [b] meeting the rising demand for sustainable energy — and of course [c] profiting from doing so.

Theme as I see it after talking with the other players this morning:

Green energy is financially inefficient; however, looking like a big among your peers is quite lucrative. Gain government subsidies (income), prestige among your peers (VPs), and technology bonuses (expertise bumps, CEPs, etc) by dominating the image (expertise) tracks of various industries. Don't bother providing a lot of green energy plants as they are largely a waste time, instead do just enough to avert a global crisis.

I think my re-theme is a) more accurate and b) funnier. Think of it as Greed Inc. within the energy industry.

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John Rogers wrote:
Theme according to the game:

The goal is to [a] stop the increase of pollution, while [b] meeting the rising demand for sustainable energy — and of course [c] profiting from doing so.


You are running a business in the game. Profit is never a second or third thought, it is always the #1 priority.

To me, the theme has always been the profit. It gets called out last because it's the most important thing. Reading that theme sentence I picture the slick billionaire - "blah blah save the world blah blah think of the kids blah blah sop to the treehuggers but of course PROFIT is really why we're here".
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
To me, the theme has always been the profit. It gets called out last because it's the most important thing. Reading that theme sentence I picture the slick billionaire - "blah blah save the world blah blah think of the kids blah blah sop to the treehuggers but of course PROFIT is really why we're here".


I see that now but I didn't get that from all the video reviews, comments, and session reports. I would have preferred a narrative description in the vein Greed Inc.

 
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hgcoleman wrote:
At game end, remember that EVERYONE gets income where they are on ALL tech tracks, regardless of position.


Wait... what? Where is the rules does it say that?

BOb
 
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pilotbob wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
At game end, remember that EVERYONE gets income where they are on ALL tech tracks, regardless of position.


Wait... what? Where is the rules does it say that?

BOb


We played the final income scoring the same as it is throughout the game; however, under the Game End heading it does say to "distribute income to all players". Either way it wouldn't have made a difference in our game.
 
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John Rogers wrote:
pilotbob wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
At game end, remember that EVERYONE gets income where they are on ALL tech tracks, regardless of position.


Wait... what? Where is the rules does it say that?

BOb


We played the final income scoring the same as it is throughout the game; however, under the Game End heading it does say to "distribute income to all players". Either way it wouldn't have made a difference in our game.


Right, but I didn't read that as ALL players regardless of place. But, yes, these points are important throughout the whole game and you must pay attention to them.

BOb
 
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pilotbob wrote:
Right, but I didn't read that as ALL players regardless of place. But, yes, these points are important throughout the whole game and you must pay attention to them.

BOb


There is a thread on here where the designer clarified that the end game income is distributed to all players regardless of position.
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pilotbob wrote:
John Rogers wrote:
pilotbob wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
At game end, remember that EVERYONE gets income where they are on ALL tech tracks, regardless of position.


Wait... what? Where is the rules does it say that?

BOb


We played the final income scoring the same as it is throughout the game; however, under the Game End heading it does say to "distribute income to all players". Either way it wouldn't have made a difference in our game.


Right, but I didn't read that as ALL players regardless of place. But, yes, these points are important throughout the whole game and you must pay attention to them.

BOb


Vital explained it in a rules thread on here somewhere. Everyone gets paid out income at the end of the game, even if not in first or second place on a given track.
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Kubigaruma wrote:
pilotbob wrote:
Right, but I didn't read that as ALL players regardless of place. But, yes, these points are important throughout the whole game and you must pay attention to them.

BOb


There is a thread on here where the designer clarified that the end game income is distributed to all players regardless of position.


Thanks. Glad I read this thread.
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Harold Coleman
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John Rogers wrote:
Again I go back to the power of the tech track.

No other area gives you as many benefits as it does. A scientist on a proposal/instillation gives you a single bump, a summit can give you a bump or two, a power plant gives you VPs and a bump, proposals and instillations often generates one or two benefits. The tech track gives you: income, vps, resource cubes, ceps, the ability to construct, and the ability to earn extra tech bumps. It feels way out of balance when compared with the rest of the game. If you are not aggressive with it I don't think you have a prayer in the game.


I agree whole-heartedly that the tech track is powerful and important. However, my point is that it necessarily happens just from the flow of the game. In the beginning, everyone is proposing their own projects and putting scientists on those projects. You are only allowed one tech advancement per turn. The only way you can "get aggressive" with it is to get an extra scientist or two and move one of them to a summit, or hope other players "get aggressive" for you by using a project occupied by one of your scientists so you get an extra free scientist move on that player's turn.

As I stated in my original reply, I have yet to see one player dominate the tech track by a large enough margin over other players to a point where it meant a victory. But I HAVE seen players dominate regions to where the VPs gained from selling their CEPs awarded them dwarfed other players' scoring in the end game and catapulted them to victory.

Another point - the CEPs you gain from the tech track do NOT go to you; they go to a region of your choice. And if you do not control a region, you're giving VPs to another player. I've seen it happen several times where someone advanced on the tech track and had to place a CEP in an area controlled by another player because they had no area control.

As to Ben's assertion that the gain from building a plant is marginal, I think you are ignoring the end game CEP scoring. Building one green plant highest in demand in an area can end up giving you control of that area and, for example, 4-5 CEPs at end game worth $20+ or 10+ VPs, hardly "marginal." I don't disagree that building plants should be somewhat dictated by the UN card bonuses, but that's just another justification for plant construction and another argument against your "marginal benefit" theory.

In the final analysis, John, are you saying that the player who ignores plant construction and just does everything he can to earn income - advance on the tech track, install plants for money, sell CEPs whenever he gets the chance, etc. - is going to beat the player who conscientiously builds plants to gain area control, while also gaining VPs from UN card bonuses and from the CEPs at game end, all the while maintaining his own advancement on the tech track? I just don't think so.
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hgcoleman wrote:
In the final analysis, John, are you saying that the player who ignores plant construction and just does everything he can to earn income - advance on the tech track, install plants for money, sell CEPs whenever he gets the chance, etc. - is going to beat the player who conscientiously builds plants to gain area control, while also gaining VPs from UN card bonuses and from the CEPs at game end, all the while maintaining his own advancement on the tech track? I just don't think so.


I believe if someone chooses to focus on everything but the expertise track, that is they only go up high enough to construct plants, they will most certainly lose and do so badly. If someone focuses primarily on the expertise track and only builds a plant when it is conveinent (that is don't worry about proposing/installing just build when the opportunity is present) then that player will win and do so handily.
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Hi, John, you are defending that the game is unbalanced because to build power plants are not a good way to get the victory, and the scientists are the secret after all. Did you notice how many threads are defending the oposite and saying the game stalls in the end, because building power plants is to powerfull and nobody wants to install, and also notice others saying that the secret to the victory are the CEPs? So whos right and whos wrong?

Am I wrong to conclued that the game is balanced after all and may have different ways of aprouch?

Just for curiosity, John! How many times did you played the game, and with how many players? Did you try the game with different number of players?
Seems that you only tried a 3 players game, maybe you get a different conclusion after a 4 players game.
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hgcoleman wrote:
As to Ben's assertion that the gain from building a plant is marginal, I think you are ignoring the end game CEP scoring. Building one green plant highest in demand in an area can end up giving you control of that area and, for example, 4-5 CEPs at end game worth $20+ or 10+ VPs, hardly "marginal." I don't disagree that building plants should be somewhat dictated by the UN card bonuses, but that's just another justification for plant construction and another argument against your "marginal benefit" theory.


I think you're misreading what I have said just a bit.

Here's what I said:
chally wrote:
One thing that new players don't often recognize is that plant-building is not the overriding source of in-game points. When you factor in the VP-cost of the money outlay and the opportunity cost of acquiring the tech resource cubes, constructing plants produces only a small VP bump. The choice of which plants to build and when should be tied to pursuing UN goal cards, competing on expertise tracks, and (to a lesser extent) controling regions.


My point is that the VP's gained from taking the construction action are not particularly large. For this reason, constructing plants isn't something you do for its own sake, but rather should be a means to other ends. Players should construct in order to gain VPs from the UN goal cards, in order to gain VPs or other benefits from the expertise track, or in order to obtain control of regions.

We likely agree on this, but I mentioned it all because John's post made it seem like he expected the number and value of the plants built to be a primary determinant of end-game scores, and that the expertise tracks were just pre-requisites to building rather than VP sources in themselves:
John Rogers wrote:
With the exception of the income track, the rest of the game was quite even. We all had about the same number of plant and his (winner) were not of the highest values.
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hgcoleman wrote:

In my few plays, I've come to realize that end game CEPs are the key factor in winning. For example, you control three areas of the board and gather 10 CEPs from them at game end and the market is at 6, that's 60 coins or 30 VPs!


Those that are losing the CEP race are well advised to sell to the market to reduce the point value of each CEP.

BOb
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chally wrote:

My point is that the VP's gained from taking the construction action are not particularly large. For this reason, constructing plants isn't something you do for its own sake, but rather should be a means to other ends. Players should construct in order to gain VPs from the UN goal cards, in order to gain VPs or other benefits from the expertise track, or in order to obtain control of regions.

We likely agree on this, but I mentioned it all because John's post made it seem like he expected the number and value of the plants built to be a primary determinant of end-game scores, and that the expertise tracks were just pre-requisites to building rather than VP sources in themselves:
John Rogers wrote:
With the exception of the income track, the rest of the game was quite even. We all had about the same number of plant and his (winner) were not of the highest values.


Yes Ben has it right. The theme is somewhat misleading, at least to me. The narrative description should focus much more on the importance of expertise and downplay the (vp) value of the power plants.

I've read several posts which recommend building the cheapest or low-end plants because the larger ones are not worth the investment (cost and time). Does this not also downplay the importance of "providing green energy" at least in the forms of the largest, possibly most efficient plants (solar, reforestation)?

Again, I am of the opinion that the most important element, that is the area one should focus on, are the expertise tracks. That is not to say you should outright ignore the other avenues, but to place priority on them is not a wise move. Remember that nearly everything you do points back to the expertise tracks. Why do think that is?

 
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newrev wrote:
Hi, John, you are defending that the game is unbalanced because to build power plants are not a good way to get the victory, and the scientists are the secret after all.


I believe the expertise tracks are far and away the most important aspect of the game, yes. For what it's worth I prefer almost every other aspect of the game (meeting co/un goals, proposing/installing/building, going to summits).

newrev wrote:
Did you notice how many threads are defending the oposite and saying the game stalls in the end, because building power plants is to powerfull and nobody wants to install, and also notice others saying that the secret to the victory are the CEPs? So whos right and whos wrong? Am I wrong to conclued that the game is balanced after all and may have different ways of aprouch? :)


I mean no disrespect but I feel as though they misunderstand the focual point of the game. Perhaps those peripheral elements become session deciders when all players are equal on the expertise tracks; however, that doesn't make them more important. Nearly every action points you back to the tracks and in turn the tracks give you bonuses for nearly everything.

newrev wrote:

Seems that you only tried a 3 players game, maybe you get a different conclusion after a 4 players game.


Perhaps. Though I think it is more likely the different outcome will come from everyone keeping even on the track.
 
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pilotbob wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:

In my few plays, I've come to realize that end game CEPs are the key factor in winning. For example, you control three areas of the board and gather 10 CEPs from them at game end and the market is at 6, that's 60 coins or 30 VPs!


Those that are losing the CEP race are well advised to sell to the market to reduce the point value of each CEP.

BOb


I agree from a practical standpoint, Bob, but I think this is difficult for them to do in reality. Rarely have I seen those who are losing the CEP race sell enough to significantly lower the price by game end. For one thing, if they install plants, they need CEPs. And there are other things those controlling regions can do to raise the price right back up, like installing forestation plants and others that gain them CEPs and buying them back at the now reduced price until the market is depleted and the price rises again. In the two games I've played since we starting playing by the correct market rules , I think the final price was 5-6 in each game. Those not interested in CEPs were unsuccessful in lowering the price to a large degree.
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John Rogers wrote:
hgcoleman wrote:
In the final analysis, John, are you saying that the player who ignores plant construction and just does everything he can to earn income - advance on the tech track, install plants for money, sell CEPs whenever he gets the chance, etc. - is going to beat the player who conscientiously builds plants to gain area control, while also gaining VPs from UN card bonuses and from the CEPs at game end, all the while maintaining his own advancement on the tech track? I just don't think so.


I believe if someone chooses to focus on everything but the expertise track, that is they only go up high enough to construct plants, they will most certainly lose and do so badly. If someone focuses primarily on the expertise track and only builds a plant when it is conveinent (that is don't worry about proposing/installing just build when the opportunity is present) then that player will win and do so handily.


But that's my point, John. It is impossible to ignore the tech track unless you choose not to place a scientist on your turn or park him on a summit that will never complete while not gaining any more scientists. That would be insane and the player would not be playing the game efficiently.

I think where we disagree can be summed up as follows:
- You think that the tech track is the main strategy in the game to get VPs, where everything else is incidental.
- I maintain that building plants is the key to scoring via UN cards and end game region control, and that the tech track is an incidental bonus of normal game play.

Let me ask you this - how do you propose to concentrate your strategy on the tech track? How do you advance more than any other player? As I stated before, each player only gets one free scientist move and one tech advancement per turn. So unless you magically place your scientists on summits and no one competes with you for the bonuses and you are the only one doing summits, I just don't see how you can advance far enough over the other players to make a huge difference.

On the other hand, as I have stated in my response above, I have seen a player gain 10 CEPS at game end worth $6 apiece, which was worth 30 VPs while another player got zero CEPs. This dwarfed any possible differences in income from the tech track.
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