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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)» Forums » Variants

Subject: Simplified Sequence of Play v1.0 rss

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Marvin Lamb
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A number of problems exists in Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition for a majority of gamers. While some players certainly enjoy how the game presently goes, this is likely because they have played enough to feel comfortable with the many many actions possible.
In this Varient, I have attempted to make a more traditional sequence of play in order to simplify player options during any one phase and hopefully speed up the game. This SOP should also allow experience players to get newbies involved for a couple of games and then move them to the more difficult (normal) version of play. Of course, you might just like this version too.
Hopefully, we will be able to attempt these rules this weekend (if I can convince anyone to touch the game again).
Note: I added the leader bonuses as a new way of attempting to gain VP during the final game turn. I suspect that players will be very aggressive on the final turn though killing a player's fleet could result in him becoming the Trade Leader, which might defeat the purpose of the attack.

Sorry for the formatting, indenting didn't work too well.

Problem: Game takes too long

Solution: Simplify the sequence of play and make decisions easier
Problem: Often difficult to catch the leader
Turn order often is too important in determining victory
Players who have poor starting setup (bad luck) can not win

Solution: Aid the people who are trailing in the game

Problem: Victory or defeat in one battle can cripple an empire

Solution: Give such players _some_ help in rebuilding

Problem: Games often end (8 turns) before anyone has even a remote chance of nearing the end of the research tree.

Solution: Reduce the cost of technology in the beginning of the game and allow multiple technology buys each turn.



Sequence of Play
----------------

Planet cards are not needed but can be useful in adding resources/inf available

1) Refresh Game
a) Blockaded planet cards are placed back in the unused planet deck so they are not _accidently_ used.
b) Remove all Cmmand Counters (CC) from the map, put them in reinforcements
b) Damage Ships get repaired
c) Turn over new objective (first turn only, turn over 3 objective cards)

2) Choose Strategy Cards
a) Collect Strategy Cards from players
b) Determine Turn Order
I) by lowest VP, next lowest VP, etc.
Then by fewest Action Cards then by
Then by clockwise order from the last person to pick
If still unable to determine, randomly choose
c) In new turn order, each player chooses (1) Strategy Card

3) Resolve Immediate Strategy Cards in Turn order

4) Purchase Phase
a) Spend Influance
I) Command Counter: Each Command Counter costs 3 INF
II) Technology:
Each player purchases Technologies using Influence (the Technolgy card need not be out)
You can buy up to four technologies per turn, but no more than one technology of a type (red, etc.)
Players hold purchased technologies in their hands and all players declare their purchases at once.
Technology cost: Each technology costs 3 Inf + 1 Inf for each technology of that color you already own.
Technology Discounts reduce price as normal but minimum technology cost is 3 Inf/Trade Goods.
Using a planets to buy does not stop it from also being used to buy ships.
III) Trade Goods: Each Trade Good costs 2 INF
b) Spend Resources
I) Buy Ships/SpacePorts using Resources
Rule Changes: Every 4 fighters/troops count as only on "unit" for placement at SpacePorts
Carriers are limited to 4 fighters but have a carrying capacity of six
Each SpacePort's capacity is increased by 2 (Res + 4) since more resources will be avilable.
c) Place reinforcements on the map (this is limited to spaceport capacity).
d) Spend Command Counters
I) You may buy up to (3) Actions cards:
1st Action card costs 1 CC, 2nd card costs 2 CC, 3rd card costs 3 CC)

5) Action Phase
a) Player with lowest VP determines whether he starts the action phase or the player to his left does.
b) Players do actions in clockwise order until all have passed
Once a player passes, no more actions can be taken
Possible Actions are:
I) Use a Tactical Action
II) Use an Valid Action Card
III) Use a Transfer Action (building is not allowed)

6) Objective Collection
a) Each player may solve one objective, in lowest to highest VP order (see 2bI)
The first player to solve an objective, gains 1 Bonus Counter
Bonus counters can be traded at any time for 1 CC or 2 Trade Goods
b) The Speaker may solve a second objective card, as long as someone else has already solved it.

RETREATS
Players MAY retreat to an activated system but MUST spend 1 CC from their Command Pool in order to do so. Retreats into systems with enemy PDS or ships is not allowed. Ground troops do not affect retreat. You may not retreat into a system from which an attacking enemy brought ships from.

BATTLES
The way battles are handled has not been changed, though you could use your own rules easily.
The winner of a battle gains 1 trade good if the enemy had two or more ships and you destroyed at least one of them (fighters don't count).
The loser of a battle gains 1 trade good for each non-fighter, non-destroyer of his that was destroyed. Design your fleets accordingly.

ENDING THE GAME
When someone reachs 8 VP, the end game begins. One more complete game turn will be played ending with the Speaker having a chance to solve a 2nd objective (phase 6b).
After this, determine who, if any, gain LEADER VP awards.
Determine Victor
In case of ties, the player with the most Leader awards wins.
If still tied, the player controlling Mecatol Rex wins.
If still tied, the military leader wins
Otherwise, a multiple player victory occurs.


Strategy Cards Revised
The numbers on the cards are meaningless
The secondary actions are meaningless
Each player choices just one Strategy Card

Initiative (Immediate)
a) Gain Speaker Token
b) Your Influence during any political phase is +10% (round up) votes
c) Gain 1 CC
d) You will have the option to solve a 2nd objective card this turn

Diplomacy (throughout the turn)
a) Primary ability is unchanged.
Note: A player choosing this card is immune to blockades during that turn and the first phase of the next turn.

Political (Immediate)
a) Draw 2 Action Card and 1 CC
b) Draw 3 Political Cards, Choose one, and resolve its action
Note: All players will have their full INF available excepting blockaded planets.

Logistics (Immediate)
a) Gain 4 CC

Trade (Immediate)
a) Gain 3 trade goods
b) Other players may trade with you, and only you.
Both of you recieve 1 trade good if both agree.

Warfare (Available During action phase)
a) Primary ability is unchanged.

Technology (during spend influence)
a) Primary ability is unchanged.
b) This free technology is "colorless" but does count toward the limit of four technologies. Thus, you could get two technologies of the same color using this.

NOTES: The University can gain up to five technologies in a turn with one of them being free and colorless.
It is wise to use the "free" technology as the 2nd technology gained in a catagory to save more INF.

Imperial (Immediate and Action Phase)
a) player selecting this gains 1 VP (immediately)
b) All _other_ players: One space dock Gains +5 Units this turn



END OF GAME LEADER VP AWARDS

A) Technology Leader (2 VP)
Add your techologies bought and your technology specialties, if you have the most, gain 2 VP
If two players tie, each gains 1 VP
If three players tie, each gains nothing
B) Military Leader (2 VP)
Add your War Sun amount and your Dreadnoughts, if you have the most, gain 2 VP
If a tie exists, add Cruisers
If a tie still exists, each player gains 1 VP
If three players tie, each gains nothing
C) Territory Leader (2 VP)
Add your non-blockaded planets, if you have the most, gain 2 VP
If two players tie, each gains 1 VP
If three players tie, each gains nothing
D) Trade Leader (2 VP)
Add your unused Trade Goods, if you have the most, gain 2 VP
If two players tie, each gains 1 VP
If three players tie, each gains nothing
E) Objective Leader (1 VP)
If you have solved more objectives than anyone else, gain 1 VP
If two players tie, each gains nothing


OBJECTIVE CARD CHANGES
Since a vast number of technologies will occur in the game (rapidly too), a number of objective cards need changed.

1) I have at least 5 Technology Advances becomes
I have at least 11 technology Advances
2) I have technologies Advances in 4 colors becomes
I have 2 Techology Advances in each of the 4 colors
3) I have at least 9 Technology Advances becomes
I have at least 16 technology Advances


Marvin Lamb

 
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Carl Bussema
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I feel like we're slapping a bandaid over a burst dam here... the game is broken, and you pretty much have to write a whole new game (which you seem to have done, here) to fix it.

That said, if you wanted to try playing with these rules, you need to clarify / explicity state your rule change to TRANSFER actions since you just threw that in a paranthetical note (no building). Also, a valid action should be 'delay' for whatever race that was (I've long forgotten).

I worry that Cruisers just became strictly better than Destroyers since a Cruiser is now worth a trade good if it dies, and with fewer fighters, the Destroyer Anti-Fighter Barrage becomes even less useful than it already was, so remind me again why I'd build a destroyer?

Also, I notice you conveniently left out modified rules for galaxy setup... which means that the guy with the really good planets is still going to have a huge boost, and I don't really think that the catch-up bonuses will really help.

Other clarifications I'd want to see: it appears that influence and resources can be spent indepentendly, even if from the same planet. For example, if I have a 1R - 2INF planet "Foo" and a 1R - 1INF planet "Bar", I could (?) buy a CC with that INF, and then buy a Cruiser with those resources...

Also, can TGs be used to buy CCs? And where do the CCs for buying action cards come from (Strategy, I assume)?

And am I reading this correctly that no new CCs or Action Cards are 'automatically' acquired between rounds? That seems (esp the former) like it would massively slow the game down, or force very very small fleets, and seriously discourage the use of CCs to buy Action Cards (which is fine by me, I'd personally like a variant that removes the action cards from the game, since so many of them are horribly worded and contradict all known rules, interact poorly with laws (cf my acquisition of Rex in last game, despite the law saying we couldn't invade), etc.)....

Anyway, just my feedback. And no, I wouldn't touch the game again with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole. I was generous enough to give it a 2 here instead of a 1, but that's my limit.
 
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Matthew Goddard
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I really like the game but my game group found the problem was it ended just when it was about to get good. i.e. Just when we all had our ships ready and poised for battle, the imperial card would come up and someone would win. Even using the extended scoring path the same thing happened. Someone would always be well in the lead along the VP path.

We then tried Owl's house rules file found on the site and it seemed to really help. There isn't as many (and as drastic) changes as listed here but the subtle changes seemed to balance it out better. We always have large battles now and the victory points are pretty close and even near the end.

I suggest trying those as well to see how they suit your gaming group.
 
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Dick Hunt
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Personally, I think that any game that needs this much surgery is horribly broken. While I suspect that the game has some rather daunting problems (the Imperial Strategy Card, the luck-based starting setup, etc), I'm not yet convinced that the game needs quite this many adjustments. For one thing, I've only played one game under the original rules. I'd feel guilty trashing any game to the degree you're suggesting after just one play under its original rules.

Assuming that a few more plays under the original rules completely convinces me that the game is as big a mess as I suspect, I'd be willing to try it under Owl's house rules. Those were pretty interesting, and far less complicated than yours, Marvin. If all the fixes you've suggested are really necessary, then I'd just write TI3 off as horribly broken. Like Carl said, when you have to re-write the rules to the extent that you have, it's time to shoot the poor dog and put it out of its misery.

My biggest beef with the game is that it changes so much when you go from a 6-player game to any other number of players. The game is so much better with 6 players than it is with any other number that I'll only play it with exactly six players. I've never seen any other game where the number of players is so big a factor in how well it plays. So if you can find me exactly five other players who are willing to play the game a couple more times under its original rules before considering any changes, I'm in. I can't say I like your odds!
 
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Marvin Lamb
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DSHStratRat2 wrote:
Personally, I think that any game that needs this much surgery is horribly broken. While I suspect that the game has some rather daunting problems (the Imperial Strategy Card, the luck-based starting setup, etc), I'm not yet convinced that the game needs quite this many adjustments. For one thing, I've only played one game under the original rules. I'd feel guilty trashing any game to the degree you're suggesting after just one play under its original rules.


Guys, I didn't cover every situation that needed to be fixed nor every nuance of the game that changed. The point is that it is $80 worth of game parts that no one is using. I'm not concerned about whether the game is horribly broken or not. I just want to get some use out of the parts of the game that can be made work and hopefully have some fun too.
The changes I made were very minor to the actual combat, movement, and cards. What I did do was make the sequence of play much clearer, more orderly, and easier for players to learn and plan for. I'm under no illusions that this will play anything like the game that --none of us liked--.

If you have specific suggestions as to what points I missed, I can address them. I can not address "its horribly broken".

Starting setup: You can easily deal one double and one single planet hex to each player, place them and do the rest randomly (that's quick and reasonable). But even a normal setup really will not be an issue because you just need to look at the sequence of play to figure out that anyone who gets behind will not stay behind (at least in VPs).

Carl Bussema wrote:
... you pretty much have to write a whole new game (which you seem to have done, here) to fix it.


Great, let's play the new game. Call it Marvin's Madness!

Carl Bussema wrote:
That said, if you wanted to try playing with these rules, you need to clarify / explicity state your rule change to TRANSFER actions since you just threw that in a paranthetical note (no building).


The rule change is that you can not build at SpacePorts (or build new SpacePorts) during a Transfer action. No more clarification is needed.

DCarl Bussema wrote:
Also, a valid action should be 'delay' for whatever race that was (I've long forgotten).


That race should be discarded or rewritten. It delays the game way too much.

Carl Bussema wrote:
I worry that Cruisers just became strictly better than Destroyers since a Cruiser is now worth a trade good if it dies, and with fewer fighters, the Destroyer Anti-Fighter Barrage becomes even less useful than it already was, so remind me again why I'd build a destroyer?


Huh? The anti-Fighter Barrage is more useful because a higher percentage of fighters die. Limiting fighters is certainty better than giving the DDs more dice to throw. Also, it is less of a change to the game's battle mechanics.
PS: Since CAs cost twice as much as DDs, I would think that they should already be "strictly better than DDs". Since you seem to think they are not currently, that is an issue I'll count as resolved

Carl Bussema wrote:
Also, I notice you conveniently left out modified rules for galaxy setup... which means that the guy with the really good planets is still going to have a huge boost, and I don't really think that the catch-up bonuses will really help.


I disagree but I'm willing to play with any setup you desire.

Carl Bussema wrote:
Other clarifications I'd want to see: it appears that influence and resources can be spent indepentendly, even if from the same planet. For example, if I have a 1R - 2INF planet "Foo" and a 1R - 1INF planet "Bar", I could (?) buy a CC with that INF, and then buy a Cruiser with those resources...


I wrote "Using a planet to buy does not stop it from also being used to buy ships.". So yes, the influence and resources can be used independently of one another. I don't see where that makes the slightest bit of difference in the game except that it is fewer decisions to make and will speed the game up a bit.

Changed wording to
Using a planet's INF to buy does not stop it from also using its RES to buy ships.

Carl Bussema wrote:
Also, can TGs be used to buy CCs?

Sort of -- TG are usable as 1 INF or 1 RES. Since CC cost 2 INF, using 2 TG to buy one CC is possible.

Carl Bussema wrote:
And where do the CCs for buying action cards come from (Strategy, I assume)?


Interesting question: In the name of simplicity, I'd allow them to come from anywhere but Strategy would work too.

Carl Bussema wrote:
And am I reading this correctly that no new CCs or Action Cards are 'automatically' acquired between rounds?


Forgot that step. Same as the normal game.
d) Each player gains 1 Action Card and 2 CC.

Carl Bussema wrote:
That seems (esp the former) like it would massively slow the game down, or force very very small fleets, and seriously discourage the use of CCs to buy Action Cards (which is fine by me, I'd personally like a variant that removes the action cards from the game, since so many of them are horribly worded and contradict all known rules, interact poorly with laws (cf my acquisition of Rex in last game, despite the law saying we couldn't invade), etc.)....


That was the most difficult part of trying to do this varient. There are so many pieces of the game that removing any of them would require so many changes to the race's themselves as to make the whole thing pointless since I am trying to keep most of the flavor of the game.
 
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Dick Hunt
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Starfire512 wrote:
Problem: Game takes too long

Solution: Simplify the sequence of play and make decisions easier


I think the biggest contributor to this problem--especially where the game's learning curve is concerned--is the varying player/race abilities and all their interplay. I think the best and easiest way to learn this game would be to simply play it once or twice without using the races and their abilities.

Trading gets messy when you start trying to mentally factor in the special ability of the Hacan? The trading procedure would probably be a snap if you didn't have the Hacan complications messing everybody up.

I had the Jol-Nar and their ability to collect technologies more quickly and easily, but the headaches caused by trying to keep all that crap straight more than cancelled out any "advantage" it supposedly conferred.

A couple of the races are easy to play, but some of them really throw a monkey wrench into every strategy decision and even some of the game's basics. I think it would be a heck of a lot easier to get the basics down pat if we could play the game a couple of times without giving every player a different special ability, a different starting setup, etc. The Secret Objectives already give us all different ways of scoring VP's; do we really need to tie ourselves up in knots right from the get-go with all these special and different ways of doing everything? It seems like not a phase of a turn goes by without somebody's special ability complicating everything. And when it came time to choose the Strategy Cards, it seemed like somebody's special ability was hosing them up for everybody. A particular Strategy Card might not be worth a whole lot to Player X, but he sure didn't want to leave it there for Player Y to take, because Y's special ability made that Political Strategy Card a real butt-kicker, etc.

Quote:
Problem: Often difficult to catch the leader
Turn order often is too important in determining victory
Players who have poor starting setup (bad luck) can not win

Solution: Aid the people who are trailing in the game


I only got to play TI3 once, and it was a fairly tight game with everyone involved, so I don't remember any particular leader-catching problem. However, this complaint seems pretty common for this game. I don't remember any particular "help the trailers" problem, but for the same reason I'm sure--in my one game, nobody got way ahead or way behind that I can remember.

As for the poor starting setup thing, I remember that being a BIG handicap. Carl had nothing but double-planet hexes around his home planet while others were forced to range far and wide just to fight over the scraps.

Quote:
Problem: Victory or defeat in one battle can cripple an empire

Solution: Give such players _some_ help in rebuilding


The problem with this, as I remember it, was similar to that of other games I've played. A attacks B, so C wins no matter who actually wins the battle. Like other games involving lots of combat (Titan, Wallenstein, Attack!, Sid Meier's Civilization, Risk, etc), the guy who can avoid fights the longest seems to do very well. Carl started getting aggressive towards me very early, and we back-and-forthed with each other fairly well on the battlefront. Meanwhile, everyone else could chuckle, sit back, and build their forces up while we spun our wheels.

In games that provide you with tons of pieces which are obviously meant to build up huge battle forces (or at least lots of smaller ones), it's terribly ironic how they all seem to reward turtling. Suckering your foes into dogfighting each other while you stay blissfully uninvolved is always a good strategy if you can pull it off.

Quote:
Problem: Games often end (8 turns) before anyone has even a remote chance of nearing the end of the research tree.

Solution: Reduce the cost of technology in the beginning of the game and allow multiple technology buys each turn.


I'm totally agin this one. First, the technologies quickly bog the game down into a constant struggle to figure out just what the hell you're good at. Second, tracking what everyone else's technological strengths and weaknesses are is a real hassle. You certainly can't afford to ignore your opponent's technologies, of course--you end up attacking the guy especially well-suited for kicking your hiney. Third, the technologies in TI3 are almost as bad as the races--they give you so many ways to break the game's basic rules as to render the basic rules useless.

Much of this game's learning curve is greatly complicated by this sort of thing, so I'm firmly against making technologies easier/cheaper to get. Besides, I think we're playing with fire here anyway. The difficulty of getting technologies is a major factor in the game, not to mention a speciality of one of its races. If you make technologies easier for everyone to get, you've watered down the Jol-Nar, who are already disadvantaged in battles (-1 to die rolls?). Of course, that's the problem with any tinkering you do in TI3--you can't help but screw one of the races over, because every rule in the game is bent or broken by at least one of them!

I think the technology tree is unreachably tall for a reason--you're not supposed to be able to collect all that crap. You have to choose which ones you pursue and which ones aren't worth the effort. As for the really cool ones down at the bottom of the chart, well, those are only going to come into play during the longer games. I think that's probably by design, and on that particular point, I agree with the game's designer.

We've got a bit of a gamer's dilemma here. I don't think we've played the game enough to do all this tinkering, and it sounds like none of the rest of you will go near it until it's "fixed!" Personally, I like a lot of individual aspects of this game. It's when you try to bring it all together at once that it bogs down into being downright unplayable. It's almost like they were so bent on covering everything that they included far too much...of everything! I certainly don't hate TI3 as much as Carl seems to, but it's so darned unwieldy as published that it's way down my list of games I want to spend my precious gaming time on. I stand by my original assertion, Marvin--if we really need to do all the stuff to TI3 that you've suggested just to make it palatable to the group, I think we're better off playing something else.

Dick Hunt
 
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Michael Riewe
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I also came to the conclusion that for me and my game group to like that beast, I have to radically change it (also look under http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/96443 for my session report with the original rules).

I think your variant is a step in the right direction, but stops short. You do not really simplify the game, at least it looks just as tedious as the original and I think it also will not be much faster. Also the unpredictability and risk of doing battles has not been adressed which I think a central point of a faster, more battle oriented variant.

--

Because I too saw no chance to bring this game onto the gaming table again in it's original form I have written a "conquest variant" of TI:3 which totally changes the game away from a cold war diplomacy/role playing game to a light conquest war game.

Already playtested it with 3 and 4 players two times. Tomorrow we will finally test it with 5 and after this I will upload the rules and the new Strategy Cards and Race Sheet overlays and post a session report as well as a post at the general board to comment and to ask questions.

So far the feedback from the players has been very good. The game definetely now plays below 3 hours with 3-4 people that NEVER before played TI:3! Combat is prevalent and fast. Downtime is as low as you can expect from a light wargame with that many units.

Also the revised Strategy Cards and the new turn sequence are much more straightforward yet allow for tactical planning.

This variant may not be for diehard TI:3 players who know every Political Card by hearth and look at a bad starting position at 6th place with the Xxcha into a 5+ hour game as a great roleplaying opportunity. It is for those who prefer Nexus Ops over TI:3 and who really would like to use the cool bits and taste the flavor of this game in a light version.
 
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Marvin Lamb
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Dornam wrote:
I also came to the conclusion that for me and my game group to like that beast, I have to radically change it (also look under http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/96443 for my session report with the original rules).

I think your variant is a step in the right direction, but stops short. You do not really simplify the game, at least it looks just as tedious as the original and I think it also will not be much faster. Also the unpredictability and risk of doing battles has not been adressed which I think a central point of a faster, more battle oriented variant.


Dornam,

Our group has not played that much, so I was hoping to take an in between step before deciding if even bigger changes are needed.

 
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Michael Riewe
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I did not mean to offend you starfire, I may sound a little bit rude because english is not my first language.

Maybe you will try my variant when I have uploaded it and tell me what you think, that would be very nice.

Skeletor - I am sure many like TI:3 with the original rules and official variants - but these do not come here to change the game obviously.
 
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Joseph Cardarelli
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I, obviously, like the game as it is. Mostly. The IS should only be 1 VP, and all the Objectives (10) should be visible from the start. Also, when setting up the map, just evenly distribute the hexes with planets on them, randomly deal the rest out, then set it up.

This is not really a "Wargame", but a political game. Its the threat of War that drives you. There is, of coarse, warfare in the game (no pun intended), but thats not really the point. Building up, and GETTING VICTORY points, is the point.

The people who come in WAY behind the leader just lost sight of why they were playing the game in the first place. Also, pacts with the stronger guys can help. If you don't like negotiating, arguing, and having a good time....go play T&E.

goo
 
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Michael Riewe
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Exactly, as I said, this is a game of Galactic Diplomacy and Roleplaying.

However it was advertised as a game of Galactic Conquest and I bought it because of this. If I want Diplomacy, I save myself 3 hours of play and 30 minutes setup time and play Diplomacy or A Game of Thrones.

So I think it is legitimate to want a Variant where you actually fight the others players and conquer their planets to win.
 
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Joseph Cardarelli
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Fair enough.
 
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