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Subject: What is a good number of players? rss

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Bill Parker
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My gaming group is thinking of taking on Time Agent for our once-a-year all day get together. None of us has played this game before.

Does anyone have an opinion on the optimum number of players? Are there any number of players that you would caution against?
 
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Jon Dieringer
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Disclamer: I have not played the game.

I was kibitzing a game that was a 5 player and I got the impression that not including the 6th threw off the balance a little. You get points for turning on and off technologies through time. As such, the humans weren;t there to change things to their will giving the advantage to races that contradicted human ideals.

That was my impression from the after game discussion, they only wanted to try it again with a full 6. Does the rules give a list of recommended raced per number of players?
 
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Allen Doum
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Having played the game 3 times, I would agree that the full 6 is best for the reason above. You could probably find a set of 3 or 4 that work OK.

OTOH, if you played regularly with the same 5, players would make allowances for the "imbalance". But if you're only playing once a year...

The best Heavy game on the topic. The game ending concept is great. It tends to be a little abrupt.
 
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Key Bounce
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If you only have 5 players, the other option is to leave off the Brualti (I hope I have that spelling right).

Since this is the "top of the heap, everyone either hates us or ignores us" race, this is (arguable) the better race to leave off, not the humans.

Good choices? Basically, the game wants to be played with all 6 races. That doesn't have to mean 6 players.

3 players, each controlling two teams, works.
Also, an option is to give the two weakest races to the weakest player. While they now have two groups to control, their goals are very similar, and their races are intended to work together.
 
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Brian Bankler
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hodji wrote:
My gaming group is thinking of taking on Time Agent for our once-a-year all day get together. None of us has played this game before.

Does anyone have an opinion on the optimum number of players? Are there any number of players that you would caution against?


I've played 5-9 times, but not recently. Six is, of course, ideal. I think that if you are playing with five then dropping the Buralti makes the most sense. [The Buralti usually try to end the game ASAP, which can be vaguely unsatisfying when it works].

I'm not sure what mix with four. I'd probably avoid it. Three players has each player controlling two races (and adding up the VPs, I believe).

Advice for new players -- in the first game, someone often shuts off the main time machine, which results in flipping all the tiles and checking if the secondary inventions connect. Depending on the layout, it's fairly likely that they will connect.

The next player, if winning, will usually be able to shut off time travel (usually by rotating a key tile or two). If they aren't winning, they may be able to flip a few events and then shut it off. Any player not smashed out of the running will then have a shot to win. So, the ending will often be:

1) A tries to Win, but the secondary inventions keep the game going. [A may have lost enough other VPs by some other major invention suddenly being cut when the rest of the tiles flip[.
2) B tries to win, but fails a combat (to flip a key event)
...
n) Player X makes the key event roll, shuts of time travel, wins.

Often Player A will not get a turn after 1, because n will be small.

If you are A and winning, look for ways to cut time travel at the bottom. It's foolproof (and prevents nasty surprises suddenly cutting off your favorite technology). If you just shut off things at the top (while the secondaries are active) you are risking the game on the flips.

Often this is a decent risk (perhaps 30%, which isn't bad for a 6 player game), but many people find that ending unsatisfying. FYI. On the other hand, that does bring the game to a conclusion.

[If you've shut off/disconnected one of the secondaries, then the odds of actually ending the game jump up].

You know, my current group may really like this.
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Joe Huber

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hodji wrote:
My gaming group is thinking of taking on Time Agent for our once-a-year all day get together. None of us has played this game before.

Does anyone have an opinion on the optimum number of players? Are there any number of players that you would caution against?


Unless you're all experienced, I wouldn't recommend the game for 3. There's just too much to absorb to run two races.

I'm not sure I'd ever suggest the game for 4, regardless of experience level. Missing two races is tough on the game balance.

6 is definitely optimal; in my experience, 5 works fine as well. And, oddly enough, 6 might make for the fastest playing game.
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Gregory Wong
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From what I've read above...

6 players: Ideal situation

5 players: Leave out the Buralti

4 players: ?? Leave out the Buralti and give one player the 2 weakest species? Which two would that be? Alternatively, which 3 species would you leave out?

3 players: Everyone gets a pair of species. What pairs make for a balanced and fun game?
 
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Tom Lehmann
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Use the scenarios provided with the game, which note which scenarios are recommended for newer players:

Three 5-Player scenarios are provided; for new players, use 5C, without the Humans.

Two 4-Player scenarios are provided; for new players, use 4B, without the Fiolli and Humans.

For 3 players, Buralti/Veneb; Fiolli/Humans; and Roo/Zytal are the pairs.

For 2 players, pit the Buralti/Veneb/Fiolli vs. Humans/Roo/Zytal.

All this info (and more) is listed in the section on the summary card: "Scenarios for fewer than six players".
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