Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

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Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  psychomansam on Sun 13 Aug 2017, 14:00

So I'm pining for some of this 4x goodness. We'll be looking at around 6 hours of weekend gaming with a full player count.

I'm free on Sat, or happy to look at dates in Sept.

I have lots of very good tea, a bit of pop and the odd beer in the house. I can also provide some crisps / biscuits etc. Feel free to bring anything you want of your own, but you're not at all obliged to bring anything.

Do watch a video or two and read through rules or player aids from Bgg. I'll start the afternoon with a quick rules summary / try to answer any questions - but I'm not giving a runthrough of every detail, so get your head around things in advance. It's a great game and should fall into place after a round or so.

Videos:

1) https://boardgamegeek.com/video/42208/exodus-proxima-centauri/miami-dice-137-exodus-proxima-centauri-revised-edi
2) https://boardgamegeek.com/video/97872/exodus-edge-extinction/dice-tower-reviews-exodus-edge-extinction
3) https://boardgamegeek.com/video/61201/exodus-edge-extinction/undeadviking-videos-exodus-edge-extinction-review

Condensed Rules:
https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/135841/exodus-rules-merger-base-game-and-expansion

I'll suggest leaving the Han Xia race out of the game as it appears they're one of the more difficult races to counter.

On the subject of races, I think we should assign those in advance this time - it allows players to research racial strategies, which seems to make a big difference.

1 SamS
2 TomS
3 SamV
4
5
6

Backup
1
2

Date TBC


Last edited by psychomansam on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 23:46; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  SamVS on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 16:02

Despite what I said in the Game Discussion forum about this game, I'll join you for this one. I've got to give it at least a second chance, and bits of the game I remember having good fun with, like the action selection and the tech tree, and the differences between races are pretty dramatic and interesting.

I'm sure nobody playing this game for the first time is likely to make as disastrous an attempt of it as I did in my first game. You've only got to beat 16 points, so take that your guide.

Happy to assign races beforehand. Do you want to do it randomly, or...? Do you have more than six races? Otherwise if you leave Han-Xia out and have a full player count, you'll be a race short.
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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  psychomansam on Tue 15 Aug 2017, 23:45

Good point on the races. We'll just give them to a new player then ;-)

The stuff you mentioned is good, but I think the politics is the bit which really brings it to life - and the way the factions interact.

Other people seem to suggest a lot more WMDs than we've been using... So that's gonna happen.
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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  psychomansam on Wed 23 Aug 2017, 11:58

Come on now SamV, I'm awaiting your review after Sat!
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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  SamVS on Thu 24 Aug 2017, 01:16

Hmm, yes. Okay.

I'm still deciding how I feel about this game, I suppose, but that makes sense — I'm also still trying to work out how to not lose for once. I had great fun the second time around, though.

Okay, a few very short, quick thoughts:

The techs are great fun. Just 25 (or so) coolstrong abilities. Consider techs in Eclipse: you get advanced mining, which is beneficial IF you are on planets with the advanced resources, and if you are you probably won't have many of them, and then you have to spend dropships to get your people there, but you might have other things to do with the dropships anyway. In Exodus you pretty much just get twice as much of a resource when you get a certain tech. Plus the whole tech tree is open to you. So in Eclipse it's like "Eh, that would be nice but maybe it can wait? Then again maybe I can't get anything else more useful this turn...", and in Exodus it's like "I want that tech right now, but I also want these 10 others!". Then you look at somebody else and ask "What did you get this turn? That one? Hmmm, yeah, that looks powerful." It's fun.

Ship upgrading is pretty simplistic compared to Eclipse, though. Guns, shields, drives vs. gun, hulls, shields, computers, drives, energy sources, missiles, and several exotic special ship parts. Eclipse really gives you more to think about, more strategies, and gives more character to your ships, really makes them feel like you designed them rather than just made them a bit stronger. I mention this specifically because it's one of the things I love about Eclipse and one of the reasons Exodus doesn't replace Eclipse for me.

Okay, politics. To me, politics in a game always sounds appealing -- you can imagine having these heated parliamentary debates where you're making desperate deals and appealing to people with different levels of authority to get what you want or make the best of a bad bill -- but pretty much every games that claims to have politics has fallen short of that. Exodus isn't really any different, but it does have a little phase where you have to accept one of three bills every round. It's a quick side-activity, a nice change of pace, gets people talking a little, and there is usually at least a slightly interesting decision to make. So in a sense it's better than Eclipse, which has nothing of the sort. I actually like it in Exodus a bit more than the politics I have seen in TI, because in TI I have more often seen agendas get approved if they're mostly harmless. In Exodus, you have to vote something through. But I suspect I just haven't yet seen a game of TI where the politics has had a big impact — I imagine that it can do, and also that there is more scope for deals and trading in TI than in Exodus. I think.

By the way, as far as I can tell TI4 is actually changing so its political system works at least somewhat more like Exodus, with a compulsory political phase each round. Interesting...

Some things in Exodus didn't feel like... I don't know, "smart" game design. Bits that didn't feel shaped properly.

Take the end, for example. How weird is it that so much of what you can achieve in the fights at the end of the game is determined by turn order, which comes down to the blind pay-all bid. I had the best units in the game, and I couldn't touch anybody because you both moved after me (therefore could always run away) just because I happened to pay less in the bid. Even if I had recognized the importance of turn order at the end, what if I had paid just ONE CP less in the bid, and still had no chance to get any points out of you, because of that one CP. It might as well be random at that point.

That's just one example — there are a few more mechanics/systems where I haven't quite worked out why I feel weird about them, but I do. More testing needed. More plays, for science.

Talking about movement, that seems to be the slowest, clunkiest part of the game (movement phase for Sam and Sam, and Gordon, who only has basic drives, will have a cigarette break), and slower and clunkier than movement systems in other games. But the OTHER four phases of the game flow really nicely, and much better than Eclipse or TI. Simultaneous action selection just moves faster, and there is less waiting around. Then the council stage is all bidding which is again simultaneous. Really nice pacing for most of the game.

Anyway, I lost the game by, what, 50 pts? But I felt like I was in a strong position throughout. You get the same thing in TI. In that game, you have to remind yourself that it's not about killing people, but about victory points. Eclipse kind of rewards you for everything. It's the grandma that has the kids doing things around the house and gives them a sweets each time they do. Exodus is an uncle who gives the kids a ladder so they can get onto the roof, and then crosses his fingers. Which do I prefer? Well, Eclipse was fun from the first play, but my first play of Exodus was one of the most frustrating, demoralizing games ever.

Conclusions:

Yet somehow it got better. Saturday really was a fun game. I was building WMDs, and sneaking cloaked ships into enemy space to steal their resources, and quietly hoarding the resources for a superfleet to be launched on the last turn.

So, if I had Exodus and Eclipse in front of me and could decide which one to play, I think I'd choose... Exodus? Maybe that's because I'm still curious about Exodus, or that I've played enough Eclipse, but it's also that Exodus has a smoother, multiplayer oriented method of selecting actions; makes it more likely that you'll get cool things like strong techs in round one; and has quite a bit less arithmetic or tactical bookkeeping (my bad adding up has caused me great losses in Eclipse).

I do think there is more game to be had with four players over three, though any more than that and I think it would start to drag. I can also see the appeal of a random starting set up, and recorded movement. When are we playing next?
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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  psychomansam on Fri 25 Aug 2017, 00:02

Cheers Sam, enjoyed reading that. I know Gordon had a really good time (his first game) but I do agree that Eclipse can be a bit more intuitive and thus potentially enjoyable to pick up at first. Of course, that might depend on playing style and player strengths/weaknesses- collapses in Eclipse can be brutal, but are generally avoidable and the result of bad counting, as you suggested. But some people struggle with them, while they might prefer the metagaming in Exodus.

That said, yes, I think Exodus is more complex and perhaps opaque both at first and overall. It's slick, it flows nicely and often simultaneously, but there is just a lot going on.

From the start: The techs are all available - and with the expansion you can pre-select quite a few in the set up. This means less randomness than the Eclipse tile-drawing (which I do enjoy) , but retains massive replayability. With the new races, people often finish a game and say they'd like to play the same race again, but differently, with a different strategy and tech. But, as a new player, tough decisions from the start. And like you say, they continue - you spend the whole game wanting almost all the techs. In fact, the only ones I really find I don't want are the ones where I have race-specific tech which is better i.e. Even. More. Options.

And overall (scoring): As you found out, you can have a great game, but not really score points. In my mind, games like this are spiky as opposed to flat-line everything-on-the-level all-good-options fruit-salad games. There are peaks and troughs and time boundaries on what constitutes a good decision. Being first player might be important this round, so I can play that action card and activate my own secondary, not giving anyone else a chance to take it first; and might not matter next round, because that law we've just voted in will mean I'll have multiple options. Winning a big space battle in the penultimate round might get me some good points, but did I give even more points to the person who lost but took out my carriers? And would I have been better off amassing forces for the final round?

That final round is important - because it acts as a 'snapshot' of area control scoring, a bit like the meetings and end-scoring in Kanban which can catch you too early or too late. You have to shine, and more than your opponents, at just the right time. Scoring like that can be a bit brutal for beginners. But it's an interesting challenge. Non-obvious and complex to do well. Being first player really matters, although having faster drives might matter more, depending on how you play it. And even if you play fairly well in space, it can all come down to the planetary populations at that moment, and if that's even it might be the racial scoring that swings it - especially if you let the scientists run away with it.

Ship development and battles: Eclipse is definitely more developed, and TI definitely less developed. I guess I don't like Memoir 44 and you do: the dice-rolling fighty bit of Eclipse isn't as much of a bonus for me as for others, and that's even if you house-rule or play with expansions to fix the broken base missiles. But it's a very well designed idea and the tit-for-tat ship alterations have something about them.
But I'd rather have less of that and have politics. And yes, where Exodus reduces the importance of random dice rolling, it brings in the terrifying near-randomness of the political and turn-bidding decisions. How much should you spend? It. Is. Painful. But then so are a lot of the decisions in Race ft Galaxy, spending cards to build others. I hate those decisions and like both games all the more for it.

Which would I rather play? Exodus for me, because having played Eclipse a fair few times, I just feel like I've done it - it's relatively predictable, with less interaction and less strategies and options. Where as with Exodus the races bring so much more variety and the tech options multiplied by the laws that might appear and the huge level of player interaction from the start mean that my brain is always left steaming and wanting to know what else could happen, and what other options might have worked better.

And there's a second expansion on the way. Totally modular, so bound to have at least some good stuff.




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Re: Exodus Proxima Centauri + Edge of Extinction

Post  Jamie on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 01:16

Does Exodus have some kind of simultaneous play, where you all write move orders etc, and reveal resolve in order?

Also, sending cloaked ships in to enemy space sounds interesting; if you're writing down orders and tracking movement of your own cloaked ships, but other players can't see where they are. Is that how it works?
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