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Vanished Planet: Racial Advantage Expansion» Forums » Reviews

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Jim Carvin
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Ah, the diabolical Dice … a word of caution; don't throw them when you're alone. The fiends lack loyalty, and their notion of nourishment is quite disturbing.
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So, you’ve played Vanished Planet but you wondered why even bother with different races, they’re all the same anyway! Well, Vanished Planet Games has heard our cries. The recently introduced expansion “Racial Advantage” introduces special abilities or technological advantages that each race can have. The expansion is available for free download on the company website: www.vanishedplanetgames.com.

Before we get into the individual advantages for each race, let’s review changes the expansion makes to the general rules. First of all, each race has two optional abilities that the player can choose from or they can opt to use none of the races special abilities. Choosing no advantage leaves the individual goal points at 5, choosing the lesser power (red) increases the goal point for that player to 6, and the greater power (blue) increases it further to 7. Each player chooses which, if any, ability to use; it cannot be changed once the game starts. So, in a three-player game, the total goal points could be anywhere between 15 and 21. The increased goals also increase the time to play the game though the advantages often offset this by making some goals easier to accomplish.

The second major change is the effects of the “Creature Growth” cards. This is a BIG change and a devastating one! Normally, when a “Creature Growth” card is drawn the creature grows one space towards that player, but now when a “Creature Growth” card is drawn, the creature grows towards ALL planets. Playing on anything greater than the standard difficulty setting seems almost impossible with this new rule.

This brings us to the major non-change that I’d hoped to see. With increased difficulty and goal points in addition to race specific advantages that make certain goals easier to attain for certain races, it seems natural that goals should be available for trade. However, that is still not the case. It seemed during my playing of the game, both with and without the expansion, that the person most suited to complete a certain mission almost never managed to draw that particular mission. The question that has already been brought up by Joan Wendland still needs answering, “… why we can't trade goals. If we can trade people surely we can trade information about what needs to be done to help save Earth. If we can trade people, money, ore, etc. why can't we trade responsibilities?” Not having the ability to trade goals introduces a major luck factor into the game with a card draw that can ruin an individual’s strategy. The ability to trade goals works very well with the entire cooperation theme.

Now, on to the advantages….

RIKAE:
EDGE DRIVE (6)
“Ships may travel off the edge of the board & reappear on the other side of board using normal movement.”

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY (7)
“Rikae fleet comes pre-equipped with the translocator.”

Both are great advantages to have, the edge drive makes certain goals such as visiting every home planet much easier to reach but for one additional goal point the free translocator is an unbeatable deal! You can start knocking out goals much earlier in the game than normal while the other players work towards keeping the beast off your back.

SAAVYL:
MERCHANTS (6)
“The Saavyel may trade twice on their turn. They also get their choice of any two resource cards at the beginning of the game.”

EXPERT MERCHANTS (7)
“The Saavyel may trade twice on their turn. Other races may trade with the Saavyel on their turn in addition to their normal trade with another race..”

A nice advantage, no doubt, but not quite as good as some of the other races. Allows you to get the resources to who needs them more easily. Works well in tandem with the Meeyat – Industrialists” and Talis -“Wealthy” abilities.

MEEYAT:
FORESIGHT (6)
“Meeyat begins the game with three tags already placed on the board.”

INDUSTRIALISTS (7)
“Meeyat have 15 tags.”

Having three tags already on the board is great, stick them in tough to reach far-away spots and start pumping out upgrades quicker than everyone else. Have 15 tags is an excellent advantage to have for completing the “tag 7 of…” goals plus you’ll have access to lots of resources and on the receiving end of a lot of trades.

TALIS:
COMMUNICATIONS (6)
“Draw a goal card before the game begins. The Talis may hold and pursue two goals at one time.”

WEALTHY (7)
“The Talis collect 3 money from each trading station tagged.”

The Communication ability would be great if you could trade goals, allowing you to hold one for another player while they finish the one they’re working on and also allowing you to have one (or two) of your own to attempt.

XIINEN:
TECHNOLOGY (6)
“Xiinen fleet comes pre-equipped with either neutron drive or phase shielding”

WARRIORS (7)
“Ships and harmonic oscillators are constructed without soldiers. Goals that normally require a solider to complete do not require the soldier. Immune to Thieves Event Card.”

Starting with Neutron Drive or Phase Shielding is awfully temping; you can actually grab a goal on your first turn. But the better ability is Warriors, which over the long haul will save you a lot of resources especially when building mines. This allows you to build a mine and still slowly gather resources to accomplish goals.

GAERHULE:
KAMIKAZE (6)
“Gaerhule ships can act like mines. They can also make suicide runs into the creature, temporarily clearing a particular hex of the creature.”

HEROIC (7)
“Gaerhule can pool resources of all other players and use these resources to build the personnel or mine required to immediately avoid a bad event.”

Kamikaze seems like a great idea, but at a huge price; you lose your ship. In addition, it seems that the likelihood of actually needing to use this ability is pretty slim. It seems a better alternative for each player to instead just build phase shielding. Heroic, on the other hand, seems great but only if everyone truly works together, otherwise it will just aggravate the players who will cooperate. The 1 freebie prohibit of a tentacle growth is nice though.

Once again, cooperation is a key component to effectively using the expansion advantages. If the races’ abilities that are chosen to compliment one another, than the game will go much smoother. Otherwise, they may add some neat abilities but also add more goal points that make the overall game too tough to complete. Overall, the expansion is a great step forward though the change to the creature growth cards can be too powerful unless everyone chooses a special ability.
 
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Jeff Wood
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You may wish to review the current version of the racial powers. The review here seems to be talking about the beta version.

Several changes to the offical expansion include:
Racial powers are different (Rikae gets Translocator rather than Edge Drive, Gaerhule Kamikaze is replaced with choose-resource Fervor, etc. Much more reasonable and useful overall).
New Race Kyrin, which optional special ability to trade goals!
Creature Growth cards: three dice are rolled, matching tentacles are grown instead of one or all.
Anomolies: Tag two (by anyone) to create conduits between them
Phase Shielding: The Creature is your highway to the stars, travel safely through the Creature at zero movement cost.

I like this expansion and always recommend it for VP.
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Jim Carvin
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Ah, the diabolical Dice … a word of caution; don't throw them when you're alone. The fiends lack loyalty, and their notion of nourishment is quite disturbing.
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Yes, you're right. This was my review on the beta version. Since they decided to make this expansion a separate entity here on the geek, I just decided to move my review over here too. When I find some time, I'll be sure to revise this. Thanks!
 
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