Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients » General » Alliances too Strong in a 4 player game ?

Author: vyperx
I've played a couple 4 player games with Alliance rules.

In both games, the players that allied together completely crushed the other 2 players. I know some people will then say the other 2 players should then ally to counteract the other alliance, but we don't want all games boiling down to 2 vs 2 games.

Seems that if you are in the lead, you just need to ally with someone not too weak in order to ensure your victory.


What are everyone's thoughts on alliances in a 4 player game ? Is it potentially broken?
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:05 pm
Author: Funguy
If anything I think alliances are a bit weak. They are only a net gain of 1 point and they really don't prevent late game surges to gain territory. While these border alliances do offer some resource benefit at the beginning of the game, they are often not significant to make them game breaking.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:19 pm
Author: mfaulk80
Funguy wrote:
If anything I think alliances are a bit weak. They are only a net gain of 1 point and they really don't prevent late game surges to gain territory. While these border alliances do offer some resource benefit at the beginning of the game, they are often not significant to make them game breaking.

And players only have to focus on one of the alliance members in order to break it. If one player is obviously hurting in points, then it's no longer smart for the higher point player to remain in the alliance...
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:29 pm
Author: vyperx
What if the 2 allied players are both relatively strong.

Then, it's a no win situation for the other 2 players.

We don't want games where the winner is already pre-determined at turn 5 because of an alliance.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:45 pm
Author: Dreamshadow
Turn five is a significant distance into the game. you could argue that you might need to pay more attention to the paths to victory that those players are taking and already know it by that point.

(My apologies, I'm not trying to be rude. I rewrote that several times over and tried to keep the tone neutral. But it sounds very direct every time I read it. *sigh*)
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:56 pm
Author: vyperx
I guess my main point is if you are clearly the most powerful person. All you have to do is ally and victory is all but ensured.

So you could race to take the center as quick as possible and then find an alliance partner.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:09 pm
Author: mfaulk80
vyperx wrote:
What if the 2 allied players are both relatively strong.

Then, it's a no win situation for the other 2 players.

We don't want games where the winner is already pre-determined at turn 5 because of an alliance.

If the 2 allied players are both clearly the strongest players, then weren't the other two going to lose anyway? And if they're not significantly stronger, then you only have to take down one player to take down both scores. It's hardly predetermined.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:12 pm
Author: Dulkal
That was my thought too. In a four-player game, it seems like ir would be an obvious tactic for the two strongest players to pool more than half the military power behind an all-out attack for a good oldfashioned domination.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:13 pm
Author: mfaulk80
vyperx wrote:
I guess my main point is if you are clearly the most powerful person. All you have to do is ally and victory is all but ensured.

So you could race to take the center as quick as possible and then find an alliance partner.

And if you ally with the wrong person, then they can completely sink you. It's about picking the right ally, not just any ally. The scores average, so if I score 46 points, but my ally only scores 10, then our alliance score is 28...which is hardly a winning score. Victory is not ensured just by forming an alliance.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:13 pm
Author: Dulkal
mfaulk80 wrote:
vyperx wrote:
I guess my main point is if you are clearly the most powerful person. All you have to do is ally and victory is all but ensured.

So you could race to take the center as quick as possible and then find an alliance partner.

And if you ally with the wrong person, then they can completely sink you. It's about picking the right ally, not just any ally. The scores average, so if I score 46 points, but my ally only scores 10, then our alliance score is 28...which is hardly a winning score. Victory is not ensured just by forming an alliance.


But if your alliance represents the majority of the military power in the game, it is not about VP anymore. You can simply crush the other two players.
Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:29 pm
Author: dyepbr
The other players would only need to focus on 1 player (of the alliance), as the scores will average out. This may cause the higher VP player to unallie.

If the alliance crushes the other two players, then those players were probably playing sub-otimally enough that they would be lose in a 4 player free-for-all anyway.

If the alliance were focusing more on 1 player than the other, the other could easily turtle and VP up. The alliance would lose on points. Forming an alliance is both a benefit and a risk
Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:05 am
Author: Purple Paladin
I have played a game pre-expansion where the two strongest players decided to have a cease fire of sorts, then "team up" to make sure one of them would win.

I found it a bit "loophole'ish", and a bit against the spirit of the game; and us other 2 players pretty much just threw up our hands the rest of the game after that. But quite legal I suppose. So Alliances just seem to make people like that above officially teamed.

Although the fact that they now both win kind'a adds an extra yuk to the feeling of the game after that I would think. At least before, it was some consalation that at least one of them would still lose pulling the same thing.


Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:44 am
Author: Dulkal
dyepbr wrote:
The other players would only need to focus on 1 player (of the alliance), as the scores will average out. This may cause the higher VP player to unallie.

Not if he is winning anyway. If his targets are both focusing elsewhere, he will have an even easier time attacking.

Quote:
If the alliance crushes the other two players, then those players were probably playing sub-otimally enough that they would be lose in a 4 player free-for-all anyway.

Huh? The two strongest players against the two weakest players sounds like it would be lopsided in any game. If the strongest player wants to dominate in a free-for-all, he has to be strong enough to dominate three other players. If two players want to dominate, they just have to be strong enough to dominate two other players. There is a big difference.

Quote:
If the alliance were focusing more on 1 player than the other, the other could easily turtle and VP up. The alliance would lose on points. Forming an alliance is both a benefit and a risk

But the point is that they are strong enough to beat both. Each of the players in the alliance is stronger than either of the players outside the alliance. So they don't need to focus, they just fight one war each. If the other players focus their defenses on one alliance player, the other just tramples over his target that much faster, and then its two against one.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:35 am
Author: Petri
Alliance rules don't work very well in groups which give equal value to allied victory and individual victory. I consider the individual victory much more valuable and will rarely ally with anybody unless it's my only chance to win.

That said, we've also noticed that alliances aren't very enjoyable when two strongest player ally with each other. That's why we introduced a house rule where alliance members have to pay 1 influence disc on the alliance token as long as they are part of the alliance. This small modification often keeps strong players from allying, because they will lose a disc by doing it.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:44 am
Author: dyepbr
Dulkal wrote:
Not if he is winning anyway. If his targets are both focusing elsewhere, he will have an even easier time attacking.


As said before by turn 5, if two players are clear winners, above is moot, as 1 of the 2 alliance players that are dominating should win the game.

Edit: and if there is 1 clear winner anyway, alliance or not, he should be favored for victory.

By turn 5, almost every game is still up in the air, especially with hidden victory points, unspent resources etc. I've only played 1 game, where 1 player was clearly dominated by turn 5, nearly to the point of elimination, but ended up taking 2nd overall. Point is, by turn 5, as players play more with each other, the disparity between player states should be thinner by turn 5.

Dulkal wrote:
Huh? The two strongest players against the two weakest players sounds like it would be lopsided in any game. If the strongest player wants to dominate in a free-for-all, he has to be strong enough to dominate three other players. If two players want to dominate, they just have to be strong enough to dominate two other players. There is a big difference.


I understand what you are saying, but this is only a snapshot of a single point in time. This may be true if the game rule was to make alliances only possible after turn 5 (and if there were clearly 2 stronger and 2 weaker players).

This is not the case, as players could allie at any point in the game. In my games, the strongest players at turn 3 are different from those at turn 4, and again different at turn 5 etc. It's fluid.

Dulkal wrote:

But the point is that they are strong enough to beat both. Each of the players in the alliance is stronger than either of the players outside the alliance. So they don't need to focus, they just fight one war each. If the other players focus their defenses on one alliance player, the other just tramples over his target that much faster, and then its two against one.


If each alliance player are fighting 1 war each, this is no different than a 4-player free-for-all, where the two stronger players are beating on the two weaker players. Alliance or not, if the two weaker players are losing their 1 war each, then they deserve to be losing on the military VP. The losers are the same in both scenarios.

What would be different is the winners. With the alliance, the stronger players are avoiding/refusing sole victory, something that I would imagine would change in most gaming groups over time, otherwise I don't see Eclipse being that group's go-to game (50% of the gaming group would call the other 50% "bullies")

Weaker players will round the curve overtime, stronger players will want to get better by challenging each other, player state disparity will be thinner by turn 5 and be more fluid throughout the entire game.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:47 am
Author: dyepbr
Petri wrote:
I consider the individual victory much more valuable and will rarely ally with anybody unless it's my only chance to win.


This too!!
Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:54 am
Author: Dulkal
dyepbr wrote:

As said before by turn 5, if two players are clear winners, above is moot, as 1 of the 2 alliance players that are dominating should win the game.

I am not talkikg about clear winners, I am talking about military strength.

My point is that part of the balancing mechanism in the game is that military is only part of the victory condition, because military can only take you so far. If you try to win by crushing other players completely, you will eventually be facing an informal alliane against you. If nothing else, the defenses you have to break will be the armies of more than one player. To effectively eliminate all other players, you have to be stronger than all of them combined. That is never ever going to happen with enough time left on the clock to acually execute the finishing moves.

With an alliance, the two of you have to be stronger than the two of them combined, which will be possible very often. This is different from the free-for-all with two strong players beating on two weak players, because in the latter case, both strong players know that one of them will lose, so they have to guard against each other. To dominate militarily, either of them will have to destroy the other.

That the gamestate is normally fluid does not matter, because it will be a slippery slope. If the two strongest players on turn 3 attack the weaker players mercilessly, the weaker players will still be weaker by turn 5. It will, in effect, be similar to a two-player game, only the military forcu is even greater because the teams are stacked and the distance between players is smaller.

What this risks doing is strongly emphasizing the military aspect of the game at the cost of all other sources of VP, because military domination by itself becomes a viable victory condition regardless of VP scores.

Of course, if you accept a metagame where certain kinds of victory are inferior to others, you can discount an allied domination as an inferior victory. But a game mechanic that only works on the assumption of unspoken metagame mechanics that are not universally adhered to is unfortunate.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:28 am
Author: dyepbr
Dulkal wrote:
With an alliance, the two of you have to be stronger than the two of them combined, which will be possible very often. This is different from the free-for-all with two strong players beating on two weak players, because in the latter case, both strong players know that one of them will lose, so they have to guard against each other. To dominate militarily, either of them will have to destroy the other.


Those aren't different scenarios with regards to the question at hand. The OP asked if alliances were too strong in a 4-p game, in part implying that alliances in 4-P is OP and that it is unfair for those that are weaker players. In both scenarios the 2 weaker players are the losers either way. The only difference between the scenarios matters not to the original query.

In a 4-player free-for-all, if both strong players know that one of them will lose, perhaps they should re-evaluate who they are attacking, to put them in a better position to win.

Dulkal wrote:
That the gamestate is normally fluid does not matter, because it will be a slippery slope. If the two strongest players on turn 3 attack the weaker players mercilessly, the weaker players will still be weaker by turn 5.


If this is how games are to be played, then what's the point of playing beyond turn 3? Determine who is the strongest player by turn 3, declare him the winner.

Perhaps our game groups are different..


If these landslides are apparent and if indeed this is how it plays out, the scenario you describe is no different from a 4-player free-for-all, where the strongest players are refusing/avoiding attacking each other, knowing that 1 of them will lose.

In an alliance, the strongest players need to keep fighting their 1 war to maximize VP. If they attack together on 1 war, only 1 player gets each hex, in which they must share VP through average. Thus, the combined military dominance you speak of comes at VP cost.

If it's not such a landslide, and if players of an alliance are sharing a war, sharing military dominance in a hex means they are weaker on other fronts for another player to chip away at 1 of the stronger players, or turtle and VP up.

Dulkal wrote:
Of course, if you accept a metagame where certain kinds of victory are inferior to others, you can discount an allied domination as an inferior victory. But a game mechanic that only works on the assumption of unspoken metagame mechanics that are not universally adhered to is unfortunate.


Weaker players, in any game, will need to get better if they want to start winning. They will need to get to a point where they are no longer "out" of the game by turn 3, as you speak of.

Stronger players, alliance or not, continually pounding on weaker players game after game - where does that remain fun?


A tip for weaker players - Try forming diplomatic relations early with a perceived stronger player.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:45 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
I am in the OP's play group and I really wanted to like Alliances, but they simply don't work in a 4 player game. Simon gets why, it seems others don't.

In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this. Most likely anyone will be willing to ally since the lead player is a large benefit to them, but even if the weakest player allies it helps the lead player. By allying, he takes out one potential rival, he deflects attention away from himself (attack the weaker member of the alliance strategy), and he creates a second military force that can help him protect his interests (the ally will often be willing to protect the lead player's assets since they help his score). The lead player can use these advantages to create such a lead for himself that he can always just dump his ally if necessary, at minimal point loss.

People suggesting that "you only have to hurt one to break the alliance" are, in my opinion, speaking pure theory and have no actual experience in this situation. All the alliance has to do is make sure they do more damage than they take, and this is pretty easy when you are the strongest and have a coordinated effort. Even if the weaker player is badly damaged, the lead player can evaluate that and just break the alliance turn 8 and win anyway since everyone spent the whole game beating up his ally.

People suggesting that the two weaker players "played poorly" and "would have lost anyway" are deluded. In a non-Alliance game, the lead player and the second strongest player would be competing with each other and this would create openings for the people struggling and give the a chance to catch up. When these two strongest players are no longer competing it is next to impossible to stop them from further solidifying their position and winning.

As has been alluded, the main problem is the shared victory aspect. Its too easy to just steamroll the two other players. The game also seems like it will constantly devolve into "Eclipse 2v2 Edition", which has zero appeal to me.

Alliances may work fine in larger games (although I have my doubts as the shared victory mechanic still seems lame and broken to me), but in 4 player games the mechanic simply doesn't work; any rational player with an early lead will just ally with the second strongest for a win/win situation for them both. These two players would compete in a game without alliances and keep each other in check, ensuring that most players would at least have a shot at the win.

Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:07 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
dyepbr wrote:
In an alliance, the strongest players need to keep fighting their 1 war to maximize VP. If they attack together on 1 war, only 1 player gets each hex, in which they must share VP through average. Thus, the combined military dominance you speak of comes at VP cost.


They are still netting more VP overall than they are losing, because that is VP they are also taking from opponents. And if they are smart about it they will balance VP gains as best as possible.

dyepbr wrote:
Weaker players, in any game, will need to get better if they want to start winning. They will need to get to a point where they are no longer "out" of the game by turn 3, as you speak of.

Stronger players, alliance or not, continually pounding on weaker players game after game - where does that remain fun?


You are completely missing the point. In a game without the alliance rule, players who have struggled early in the game still have a chance to come back. In a game with alliances, if the two strongest ally, the game is effectively over the moment they ally. Once people learn how to game this point you will see most 4 player Eclipse games being decided by mid game, which is stupid.

"Stronger players pounding on weaker players game after game" isn't the problem. The problem is a mechanic that allows players with an early lead to easily and reliably create an insurmountable advantage that those with slower starts cannot overcome. Our group has played about a dozen 4 player games in Eclipse and this situation never occurred until we (quickly) learned how to abuse the Alliance rule.



Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:12 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Purple Paladin wrote:
Although the fact that they now both win kind'a adds an extra yuk to the feeling of the game after that I would think. At least before, it was some consalation that at least one of them would still lose pulling the same thing.


Assuming everyone is playing to win, the second place player would eventually go after the strongest player, creating openings for the other two. With the Alliance rule they just beat on the two stragglers for a yawn of a win...
Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:18 pm
Author: rrrrupp
dyepbr wrote:

Those aren't different scenarios with regards to the question at hand. The OP asked if alliances were too strong in a 4-p game, in part implying that alliances in 4-P is OP and that it is unfair for those that are weaker players. In both scenarios the 2 weaker players are the losers either way. The only difference between the scenarios matters not to the original query.


It's a lot different though.

In a 4 player game without alliances, the two top players will likely battle each other and that may give the players in a weaker position a chance to even out a bit.

However, if you're playing with alliances and the current top two players form an alliance, the two weaker positioned players will continue to fall further behind.

I think it's a valid concern and I won't be using the alliance rules with this expansion. Of course, I've never liked 2 players sharing victory in any game that isn't a co-op.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:36 pm
Author: dyepbr
rrrrupp wrote:
dyepbr wrote:

Those aren't different scenarios with regards to the question at hand. The OP asked if alliances were too strong in a 4-p game, in part implying that alliances in 4-P is OP and that it is unfair for those that are weaker players. In both scenarios the 2 weaker players are the losers either way. The only difference between the scenarios matters not to the original query.


It's a lot different though.

In a 4 player game without alliances, the two top players will likely battle each other and that may give the players in a weaker position a chance to even out a bit.


The comment was in response to the 2 stronger players NOT battling each other, and only fighting 1 war each. Please read entire thread.
Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:12 pm
Author: Dulkal
dyepbr wrote:
rrrrupp wrote:
dyepbr wrote:

Those aren't different scenarios with regards to the question at hand. The OP asked if alliances were too strong in a 4-p game, in part implying that alliances in 4-P is OP and that it is unfair for those that are weaker players. In both scenarios the 2 weaker players are the losers either way. The only difference between the scenarios matters not to the original query.


It's a lot different though.

In a 4 player game without alliances, the two top players will likely battle each other and that may give the players in a weaker position a chance to even out a bit.


The comment was in response to the 2 stronger players NOT battling each other, and only fighting 1 war each. Please read entire thread.


He did read the thread. You should do the same. The whole point is that the stronger players going all-in on the weaker players and not battling each other is not going to happen without alliances.

Not only does the 'only difference' matter to the original query. It is the whole point of the original query.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:01 am
Author: dyepbr
Dulkal wrote:
The whole point is that the stronger players going all-in on the weaker players and not battling each other is not going to happen without alliances.


Well, you should know I was responding to your post specifically, where you mentioned that each stronger player only focuses on 1 war each with a weaker player. This happens all the time without alliances, especially when the stronger players positioned their hexes to favor this.

I really hope such players strive for happiness in their gameplay. If play is devolving to a yawn at turn 5, I think group mentality, especially for the winners, should change. Alliances have their place in a 4-player game. It is fun to form them to take down a perceived winner, and it is fun to break them or beat them when playing against them. I would not deliberately do something to make the game less interesting (which has not been the case anyway).

So if alliances don't work in your gaming group, don't use them. I have not found them to be OP in the ways we have utilized alliances, and the small nuances to desuade or beat them. Happy gaming.

Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:33 am
Author: Touko
Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:15 am
Author: rayffis
+1 thumbsup

I can't agree more.

Touko wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:17 pm
Author: Dulkal
Touko wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.


That makes sense.

I still think, though, that it is unfortunate that a game mechanic depends on unspoken metagame assumptions like that.

Some metagame assumptions are widespread, and can be assumed (players are expected to try to win). And most boardgamers with a bit of experience will buy that assumption.

But other metagame assumptions are controversial enough that they shouldn't be assumed without making them explicit (players are expected to try make sure others do not win, even if it is not beneficial to them)

If the second metagame is assumed, you risk creating a situation where the game does not work well for players who assume the first one (that they are expected to try to win)
Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:47 pm
Author: hellion23
I am in OP & Mr Suplex's playgroup. There are 4 players in our group and half is advocating that Alliances be banned and the other half is saying that it shouldn't be. We're presenting our cases in this forum, to solicit opinions and hopefully break this tie. My opinion for retaining Alliances is:

1) The expansion has been out only for a couple of weeks and we've only played 2 games with Alliances, so it's premature to judge that the Alliance mechanic are overpowered at this early stage.

2) Because of the small sample size, I don't think we've had sufficient time to adapt to and counter the new Alliance rules, and certainly not large enough of a size to make the assessment that it is broken in a 4 player format. I believe that there are ways, diplomatically & militarily to prevent the formation of unstoppable Alliances; we just haven't discovered it yet.

3) Alliances do not form every single time in a 4 player format. If the strongest player is more powerful than the remaining 3 players combined, there is no reason why that player should create an alliance since he does not have to share the victory.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:04 pm
Author: galfridus
Dulkal wrote:
Touko wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.


That makes sense.

I still think, though, that it is unfortunate that a game mechanic depends on unspoken metagame assumptions like that.

Some metagame assumptions are widespread, and can be assumed (players are expected to try to win). And most boardgamers with a bit of experience will buy that assumption.

But other metagame assumptions are controversial enough that they shouldn't be assumed without making them explicit (players are expected to try make sure others do not win, even if it is not beneficial to them)

If the second metagame is assumed, you risk creating a situation where the game does not work well for players who assume the first one (that they are expected to try to win)


For a mechanic centered on diplomacy, it's not really a surprise that metagame comes into it.

The whole point of this expansion is modules you can choose to use or not.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:24 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Touko wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.


I'm happy to see the designer chiming in here. Very cool.

Other than wins with Alliances being "valued" less (even though this is not actually stated anywhere in the rules), how does a group combat the scenario I outlined?




Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:17 pm
Author: LazyJ
...Not use them?

If you're struggling a lot with Alliances, take them out. It shouldn't affect the play-ability of the game.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:20 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
hellion23 wrote:
Because of the small sample size, I don't think we've had sufficient time to adapt to and counter the new Alliance rules, and certainly not large enough of a size to make the assessment that it is broken in a 4 player format. I believe that there are ways, diplomatically & militarily to prevent the formation of unstoppable Alliances; we just haven't discovered it yet.


We have a whole 2 page discussion on this topic and no one has been able to show me how the scenario I outlined can be defeated, yourself included.

hellion23 wrote:
Alliances do not form every single time in a 4 player format. If the strongest player is more powerful than the remaining 3 players combined, there is no reason why that player should create an alliance since he does not have to share the victory.


A rational player looking for a win will always ally, period. Sharing the victory is still a victory according to the rules, and allying allows the lead player to solidify his position. Why fight a potential 3v1 when you can simply ally and fight a much easier 2v2?
Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:25 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
LazyJ wrote:
...Not use them?

If you're struggling a lot with Alliances, take them out. It shouldn't affect the play-ability of the game.


If someone can prove to me that the scenario I outlined is not broken I'm willing to use them. So far no one, the designer included, has given any realistic way around it other than some unwritten philosophy that alliance wins are less valuable than single player wins.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:27 pm
Author: LazyJ
Your scenario seems to be based on the fact that A) one player is "clearly" ahead of the others and B) another player is willing to become his ally.

I'm approaching this from the perspective of the two players who need to "stop" this from happening.

Step one: don't get clearly behind. Sounds simple enough, if not always easy to do. Talk big about your hidden reputation. Be bold. Take opportunities to keep chipping at each other. Pay attention to what others are doing. Are you consistently finding that people are so spread out in the early game that you can so easily tell who is first and second?

Step two: hammer on the "weak" link. Proclaim from the outset that he's making himself a target by joining the dark side. If you make that guy miserable, the top dog is getting dragged down by his score. This also contributes in the meta-game as your group knows that being second fiddle in the alliance is going to suck. So if you're clearly the weaker player in the alliance you have less incentive to enter it. You also make it more likely for the top dog to turn on him, which will lower top's score a bit, again contributing to the meta that alliances are not locks to help you win.

Step three: Counter-ally. Fight fire with fire.

I guess I don't see how a group that is roughly the same skill that has played this way a few times will be so willing to blindly play the same way every time.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:37 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
LazyJ wrote:
hammer on the "weak" link. Proclaim from the outset that he's making himself a target by joining the dark side. If you make that guy miserable, the top dog is getting dragged down by his score. This also contributes in the meta-game as your group knows that being second fiddle in the alliance is going to suck. So if you're clearly the weaker player in the alliance you have less incentive to enter it. You also make it more likely for the top dog to turn on him, which will lower top's score a bit, again contributing to the meta that alliances are not locks to help you win.


You speak as if this is happening in a vacuum. If the weaker ally is attacked, either his stronger partner will help him or counter attack. He can then either sustain the alliance if his partner is not beaten up too badly, or break the alliance on Turn 8 using the advantages he gained while his partner was taking all the heat.

LazyJ wrote:
I guess I don't see how a group that is roughly the same skill that has played this way a few times will be so willing to blindly play the same way every time.


Because it is the optimal way to play. We are looking for ways to stop it but so far I'm not convinced that any of these suggestions is a reliable counter.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:56 pm
Author: LazyJ
Mr Suplex wrote:

You speak as if this is happening in a vacuum.


Admittedly, I am speaking in a vacuum. I have no idea how good you are, or how good your group is. What techs are out? How do you position your hexes? How aggressive is everyone? What races are in use?

You have to admit - you're telling me a situation in a vacuum.

Mr Suplex wrote:

If the weaker ally is attacked, either his stronger partner will help him or counter attack. He can then either sustain the alliance if his partner is not beaten up too badly, or break the alliance on Turn 8 using the advantages he gained while his partner was taking all the heat.


...So why is that weaker partner in the Alliance then? What is he getting out of the situation? If you continue to force the leader to abandon his ally, do you think you will all blindly ally with the leader in the next game?

Mr Suplex wrote:

Because it is the optimal way to play. We are looking for ways to stop it but so far I'm not convinced that any of these suggestions is a reliable counter.


Optimal for the leader, maybe. Optimal for the "second fiddle"... you haven't convinced me of that.

Something I just thought about - is your group using any custom home rules? Sometimes I have seen groups modify a rule early on, forget they aren't playing "official", and then say something isn't balanced later.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:16 pm
Author: rayffis
Mr Suplex wrote:
LazyJ wrote:
...Not use them?

If you're struggling a lot with Alliances, take them out. It shouldn't affect the play-ability of the game.


If someone can prove to me that the scenario I outlined is not broken I'm willing to use them. So far no one, the designer included, has given any realistic way around it other than some unwritten philosophy that alliance wins are less valuable than single player wins.


In my opinion that unwritten philosophy is valid because every competitive player whom I have met seems to think so. And I think that it's just not me and my buddies.
Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:56 am
Author: Dulkal
rayffis wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
LazyJ wrote:
...Not use them?

If you're struggling a lot with Alliances, take them out. It shouldn't affect the play-ability of the game.


If someone can prove to me that the scenario I outlined is not broken I'm willing to use them. So far no one, the designer included, has given any realistic way around it other than some unwritten philosophy that alliance wins are less valuable than single player wins.


In my opinion that unwritten philosophy is valid because every competitive player whom I have met seems to think so. And I think that it's just not me and my buddies.


It is valid, and widespread. But it is NOT universally expected.

There a some of us that still hold to the notion that unless otherwise specified, the goal of a game is to win, and that throwing away a near-certain win because you want to win in a more impressive way is contrary to the spirit of the game.

I have no problem with games being designed to work on a different basis. I also realize that I am free to (and will) avoid playing with alliances in 4-player games. Also, props to the designer for maling the assumption explicit in this thread.

I just think players need to be aware of it. Because the alliance system WILL break the game in a 4-player group that follows the 'play to win' philosophy.
Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:02 am
Author: vesssla
My gaming group are totaly in the 'play to win' category and we have experienced this "error" as we think of it. Its according to us totaly broken. It may be that our group, like MR Suplex's is not cut out for the alliance variant. But we like the idea so much! It was very fun the first game we played with it and it really boosted our commitment for the team. (Because of this the 4 player game took over 8 hrs)

We will try out Petris(?) variant suggested earlier with the influence disk remove.

We also thought of a small tweak ourselves. Only to remve the shared victory condition. This will render the alliances to very specific situations when it will be good. This way the second and third strongest may want to team up to try to bash the leader and later hope to come out of the alliance with the most points. This will not be used as often, but might pop up in a few games.

(Btw we like the expansion a lot, it add a lot nice things to the game)
Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:08 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Petri wrote:
That said, we've also noticed that alliances aren't very enjoyable when two strongest player ally with each other. That's why we introduced a house rule where alliance members have to pay 1 influence disc on the alliance token as long as they are part of the alliance. This small modification often keeps strong players from allying, because they will lose a disc by doing it.


I like this idea and I am willing to give Alliances a second look with something like this. Are you finding it is still working for you? Have others used this rule to good effect?
Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:54 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Dulkal wrote:
rayffis wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
LazyJ wrote:
...Not use them?

If you're struggling a lot with Alliances, take them out. It shouldn't affect the play-ability of the game.


If someone can prove to me that the scenario I outlined is not broken I'm willing to use them. So far no one, the designer included, has given any realistic way around it other than some unwritten philosophy that alliance wins are less valuable than single player wins.


In my opinion that unwritten philosophy is valid because every competitive player whom I have met seems to think so. And I think that it's just not me and my buddies.


It is valid, and widespread. But it is NOT universally expected.

There a some of us that still hold to the notion that unless otherwise specified, the goal of a game is to win, and that throwing away a near-certain win because you want to win in a more impressive way is contrary to the spirit of the game.

I have no problem with games being designed to work on a different basis. I also realize that I am free to (and will) avoid playing with alliances in 4-player games. Also, props to the designer for maling the assumption explicit in this thread.

I just think players need to be aware of it. Because the alliance system WILL break the game in a 4-player group that follows the 'play to win' philosophy.


Exactly. Our group is very competitive but we also read the rules as is. And those rules do not anywhere state that an alliance win is any less of a win than a solo win.

Thankfully the designer chimed in and let us know that the intention was otherwise, and alliance victories will now be mocked and ridiculed in our group as appropriate (assuming we even continue to use the mechanic).
Wed Jan 2, 2013 4:52 pm
Author: Dulkal
Mr Suplex wrote:
Thankfully the designer chimed in and let us know that the intention was otherwise, and alliance victories will now be mocked and ridiculed in our group as appropriate (assuming we even continue to use the mechanic).


They should still work well in any game where an alliance can only be less than half the players in the game. Eclipse is, by design, very resistant to military domination because of the reverse feedback loop (when losing systems, you get the disc back immediately while keeping the cubes in the graveyard, giving you free resources to 'bounce back)
Wed Jan 2, 2013 5:02 pm
Author: Ceraus
For the record: in most of our games, alliances got pounded; only once did an alliance even get close to winning, and even then, it came third.

There are many reasons for that, all of which have been mentioned in this thread:
- the weaker player fears getting left behind later on
- being in an alliance paints you with a big target
- shared victory is perceived as inferior
- just one member of the alliance needs to lose for the whole alliance to lose

No amount of military superiority has managed to turn all that around. Actually, the close game happened when players who were not winning allied to take out the top player militarily, but they only managed to close most of the gap.
Sat Jan 5, 2013 8:11 pm
Author: postbryan
I'd love to hear more from the developers on this. I also interpreted the rules as "allied victory = individual victory", despite any social or pride factor. If an individual victory is worth more than an allied victory, how much more? Is there a way to make it work within the math of the game? Does the influence disc discard work, or is it just there to discourage alliances and the whole thing should be scrapped?
Mon Jan 7, 2013 7:26 am
Author: Vanish
postbryan wrote:
I'd love to hear more from the developers on this. I also interpreted the rules as "allied victory = individual victory", despite any social or pride factor.


Mr Suplex wrote:
In a nutshell, Alliances allow a player with an early lead to solidify his position and almost always guarantee a win. Whoever has a clear advantage early in the game should ally with the strongest player they can, every single time. There is no down side to doing this.


Touko wrote:

If you feel this is the case, I think alliances are not for your group. They were designed the idea in the mind that players value winning just by themselves more than winning in a group.


What more can be said?
Mon Jan 7, 2013 2:56 pm
Author: LazyJ
postbryan wrote:
I'd love to hear more from the developers on this. I also interpreted the rules as "allied victory = individual victory", despite any social or pride factor. If an individual victory is worth more than an allied victory, how much more? Is there a way to make it work within the math of the game? Does the influence disc discard work, or is it just there to discourage alliances and the whole thing should be scrapped?


Geez you guys are literal. From the game's perspective Win = Win regardless of players in an Alliance.

The designers are simply tapping into gamer preference. There's no quantifying this. Either you personally believe that winning is better if you do it by yourself or you don't.

Just don't play with alliances if your group doesn't like them. I can't believe how much people are griping about this. Do you gripe about ties? Pretty sure you can get the same result of a shared win if two players end with the same number of VPs and then have the same amount of combined resources left.
Mon Jan 7, 2013 3:19 pm
Author: postbryan
LazyJ wrote:
Just don't play with alliances if your group doesn't like them. I can't believe how much people are griping about this. Do you gripe about ties? Pretty sure you can get the same result of a shared win if two players end with the same number of VPs and then have the same amount of combined resources left.


I don't think this is a fair statement. I'm not "griping", I'm simply trying to understand the mechanic, and how it can work for me and my group. A tie because two individual players ended up with the same number of VPs and resources at the end of a (presumably) hard fought game is not the same gameplay experience as two strong players allying in turn 6 and then steamrolling the rest of the table.

Vanish wrote:
What more can be said?


Nothing, I suppose. I apologize for asking, I was just wondering if the alliance mechanic was still being looked at from a "math" perspective by the developers.

I think Eclipse is a great game, largely because of it's balance. To me the game feels like a lot of effort went into the mathematical "back end", so to speak, so I was surprised to hear that a feature from the expansion was included with a pretty serious caveat ("alliances are allowed, but allied victories are inferior to regular victories, obviously") that wasn't mentioned in the manual. That said I do appreciate the developers insight in this thread, and I'm interested in any tweaks that people are using.



Mon Jan 7, 2013 5:22 pm
Author: Purple Paladin
Variant??? : If an alliance team's score is the winning score, this insures one player in that alliance will win the game. Each person in the alliance then count's their victory points seperately, and the one player with the highest score among that alliance is the winner!

This should knock out a lot of the kinks inherant with the current alliance rules I would think . . .

Mon Jan 7, 2013 5:34 pm
Author: dyepbr
postbryan wrote:
I think Eclipse is a great game, largely because of it's balance. To me the game feels like a lot of effort went into the mathematical "back end", so to speak, so I was surprised to hear that a feature from the expansion was included with a pretty serious caveat ("alliances are allowed, but allied victories are inferior to regular victories, obviously") that wasn't mentioned in the manual.


I do think this is an interesting topic. Before this thread, it had never really crossed my mind that Allied victory = Solo victory. Everyone has different assumptions.

This is comparing apples and oranges, but I guess there are people out there who feel Tied Victory = Solo victory, as many rulebooks even state that "...if players are still tied, all players share victory." Even with rulebooks stating this, I still perceive solo victory to be superior, and I feel many would agree. The rulebook didn't have to state that the tied victory was inferior. Again, apples and oranges, but I won't give argue to anyone who felt Tied victory = Solo victory, but I have not yet come across such a person.

In Eclipse, the presence of the traitor and unallie mechanics provide avenues to strive for solo victory. The Syndicate are groomed for this as well.

It just depends on the group, and I guess it goes into the psychology of how we perceive a win more valuable than a loss, a first place more valuable than a second place, a 7th place more valuable than an 8th place (or if people consider 7th or 8th valuable at all) or a solo victory more valuable than a tie.
Mon Jan 7, 2013 5:55 pm
Author: Hannibal Rex
I still appreciate that it's possible to play Eclipse as a team game now, even though I agree that the Allaince rules are unsatisfactory in a 4 player game if the two leading players ally.

But you could, for example, determine the alliances at the start of the game and play 2vs2. That's a good way to do it if you have two experienced players and two newbies.
Mon Jan 7, 2013 6:42 pm
Author: Icelom
I have not played with alliances yet but with my group there is no way the 2 strongest players would ally with each other.

Who wants to share victory with the other scum in the universe, i can see the two weaker players allying to give them a chance but if they took the lead that alliance would shatter so fast as they attempted to secure individual victory.

In the games we play, if someone wants to "ally" with you then you better watch them closely because they are attempting to lul you into a false sense of security before they attack.

If people want to share winning, then they are playing the wrong game and should go play tic tac toe where everyone "ties" every time, YAY we all win!
Tue Jan 8, 2013 7:24 am
Author: Purple Paladin
Until I read this thread, I had not thought of it, but I'm pretty sure this would happen in my group, because, there were two players that were in the lead in past games, and they made a "verbal agreement" not to attack each other so one of them could win for sure.

That means with alliances, they'd be far more likely to do the above.
Wed Jan 9, 2013 12:15 am
Author: Mr Suplex
Our group is still toying with ideas of how to make these work. There is a misconception that this thread is a whine, and it is not. It is a discussion to figure out how to make the mechanic work better, as it clearly has faults that have already been mentioned and have not been rebutted.

We like the proposal of removing a disc from each player in the alliance as a "cost of maintaining the alliance/supply chain" type dynamic. Has anyone else used this, and what were the results?

We have also thought of removing the shared victory component and making only certain parts of a player's VP count be shared, while others remain with the single player. The idea has merit, but we haven't been able to sort it out yet as to what is fair to share and not share. The main benefit we hope to get from this is to make people less likely to form an alliance with the strongest player, since they can't piggyback on his success so directly.

Lastly, we looked at making the lowest single player score in the alliance the team's score, although I'm not sure this will really stop the "2 strongest players allying" problem.

Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:23 pm
Author: Dulkal
Mr Suplex wrote:
We have also thought of removing the shared victory component and making only certain parts of a player's VP count be shared, while others remain with the single player. The idea has merit, but we haven't been able to sort it out yet as to what is fair to share and not share. The main benefit we hope to get from this is to make people less likely to form an alliance with the strongest player, since they can't piggyback on his success so directly.


I am not sure I understand. So the weakest player in the alliance loses anyway, and the strongest player loses points? Why, then, would they consider the alliance in the first place, if both players are guaranteed to be worse off?

Quote:
Lastly, we looked at making the lowest single player score in the alliance the team's score, although I'm not sure this will really stop the "2 strongest players allying" problem.


On the contrary. This will make the "2 strongest player allying" the only time an alliance is a viable move.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:29 pm
Author: Vanish
Mr Suplex,

If the game had no limit on the amount players in an alliance, would your group really form an alliance of all 4 players? That would be the surest way to win!

I once had a friend who forced us to play communist monopoly. Whenever someone would hit GO, we would pool all our money together and divide it equally. It wasn't a very exciting game, but hey, I didn't lose!
Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:14 pm
Author: Dulkal
Vanish wrote:
Mr Suplex,

If the game had no limit on the amount players in an alliance, would your group really form an alliance of all 4 players? That would be the surest way to win!


I don't think that is a good comparison. 'Everybody wins' has an implication of 'this is a draw' that 'these two players win' doesn't.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:40 pm
Author: galfridus
I don't understand why...by his logic, if everyone wins more often, everyone is happy.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:38 pm
Author: Dulkal
galfridus wrote:
I don't understand why...by his logic, if everyone wins more often, everyone is happy.

That is a strawman.

He said a shared victory between two players is as much a win as a solo win, not 'if everyone wins all the time, everyone is happy'.

Do you not see the difference between 'two players ally and win' and 'everyone wins'?
Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:57 pm
Author: galfridus
Dulkal wrote:
galfridus wrote:
I don't understand why...by his logic, if everyone wins more often, everyone is happy.

That is a strawman.

He said a shared victory between two players is as much a win as a solo win, not 'if everyone wins all the time, everyone is happy'.

Do you not see the difference between 'two players ally and win' and 'everyone wins'?


I do, but I also see the difference between 'two players ally and win' and 'one player wins', which he does not. Hopefully this strawman will illustrate his thinking.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:17 pm
Author: Vanish
Dulkal wrote:
Do you not see the difference between 'two players ally and win' and 'everyone wins'?


Dulkal wrote:
I view a win as a win. I'm prepared to accept another meta if the game calls for it, but unless stated otherwise, I do not rank wins. I don't rank losses either.


It seems more like you are the one who does not see the difference?

To illustrate my point better, I think we can extrapolate the numbers.
What if we were playing a game with 1000 people? Do you view the win the same if you form an alliance with 998 of those people and one guy loses as you do when you alone defeat 999 other people?

If you can honestly answer they are the same to you, that's fine. That's why there are so many different games, people enjoy different things.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:23 pm
Author: Dulkal
Vanish wrote:
Dulkal wrote:
Do you not see the difference between 'two players ally and win' and 'everyone wins'?


Dulkal wrote:
I view a win as a win. I'm prepared to accept another meta if the game calls for it, but unless stated otherwise, I do not rank wins. I don't rank losses either.


It seems more like you are the one who does not see the difference?

To illustrate my point better, I think we can extrapolate the numbers.
What if we were playing a game with 1000 people? Do you view the win the same if you form an alliance with 998 of those people and one guy loses as you do when you alone defeat 999 other people?

If you can honestly answer they are the same to you, that's fine. That's why there are so many different games, people enjoy different things.

Now you've gone from trying to understand our viewpoint to trying to ridicule it.

I think that is it for this discussion.
Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:31 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Dulkal wrote:
I think that is it for this discussion.


I'm just ignoring the idiots who don't want to take this seriously and who are coming up with ridiculous and irrelevant comparisons to the issue Viper and I have raised.

Clearly enough people see where we are coming from to have a worthwhile discussion. Thank you for being one of the grown ups here.

Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:17 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
Dulkal wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
We have also thought of removing the shared victory component and making only certain parts of a player's VP count be shared, while others remain with the single player. The idea has merit, but we haven't been able to sort it out yet as to what is fair to share and not share. The main benefit we hope to get from this is to make people less likely to form an alliance with the strongest player, since they can't piggyback on his success so directly.


I am not sure I understand. So the weakest player in the alliance loses anyway, and the strongest player loses points? Why, then, would they consider the alliance in the first place, if both players are guaranteed to be worse off?


Its complicated (and I'm not a huge fan of it). Basically, no shared victory, but certain portions of the alliance points are summed and divided. This way, people will be less inclined to ally with a player who is clearly in the lead to piggyback on the win, since at the end of the day they can't share in his victory.

So purely as an example, alliances share sector points and tech research points, but not discovery tile points or reputation tiles. This way, there is still some variance in the score and it makes alliances a bit less certain. We see this as a way to promote more fragile alliances than what we are currently seeing in the game.


Dulkal wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
Lastly, we looked at making the lowest single player score in the alliance the team's score, although I'm not sure this will really stop the "2 strongest players allying" problem.


On the contrary. This will make the "2 strongest player allying" the only time an alliance is a viable move.


I could see weaker players allying to take out a stronger player in this scenario, and doing their best to help each other and make sure the success was shared. But honestly we are just brainstorming at the moment and I threw all the things we've thought of into my previous post, so who knows...
Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:25 pm
Author: galfridus
Mr Suplex wrote:
Dulkal wrote:
I think that is it for this discussion.


I'm just ignoring the idiots who don't want to take this seriously and who are coming up with ridiculous and irrelevant comparisons to the issue Viper and I have raised.

Clearly enough people see where we are coming from to have a worthwhile discussion. Thank you for being one of the grown ups here.



I was using logic to analyze your position. If all wins are equal, then everyone winning is the same as two people winning. If that seems ridiculous, then maybe the number of people involved in the win makes a difference!

Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:46 am
Author: Mr Suplex
galfridus wrote:
Mr Suplex wrote:
Dulkal wrote:
I think that is it for this discussion.


I'm just ignoring the idiots who don't want to take this seriously and who are coming up with ridiculous and irrelevant comparisons to the issue Viper and I have raised.

Clearly enough people see where we are coming from to have a worthwhile discussion. Thank you for being one of the grown ups here.



I was using logic to analyze your position. If all wins are equal, then everyone winning is the same as two people winning. If that seems ridiculous, then maybe the number of people involved in the win makes a difference!



No, your "logic" is dealing in absolutes, and really has no relevance to the discussion the adults in this thread are trying to have. You and that other guy are making fun of the position by comparing it to communism, talking about games where all players form an alliance for a win, 1000 player games, etc. Don't act like you are not being condescending.
Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:46 am
Author: LazyJ
I really don't think people are trying to be condescending. At least, I'm not. But I feel like there is a deep, psychological impasse here. Clearly you play in a much different group than I do.

In my group all wins are equal, but some are more equal than others. We try to win, but if we make an epic comeback or get the lucky roll then the story of that win is remembered. If we boringly lead the whole game and nothing is in question, that's "worth" something but it doesn't get bragged about later (usually). These "meta" game conditions affect our gameplay. The guy who won last time or who talked a lot of trash is a target, no matter what their current game position. The game is a way for our group to share an enjoyable experience. Alliances make our games more fun and we prioritize that over optimizing how we ally. In other words if I am in second place and the guy in first is a jerk tonight then I don't want to be his ally even if it's the best way for me to win.

If you play only to win, and winning is all that is important, and getting a win by any means necessary is how everyone plays... Then truly, I don't think you should use alliances. I think you will just frustrate each other with unnecessary complexity if you try to house rule anything. Leave diplomatic relations to Ambassasodors only and be done with it. Or just start with alliances pre-defined.

Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:51 am
Author: Mr Suplex
LazyJ wrote:
I really don't think people are trying to be condescending. At least, I'm not.


No, I'm not saying everyone was being condescending. Just a few select individuals, and I think its pretty obvious who. You and many people in this thread have been civil and contributed to a good discussion, and I appreciate that.

LazyJ wrote:
If you play only to win, and winning is all that is important, and getting a win by any means necessary is how everyone plays... Then truly, I don't think you should use alliances. I think you will just frustrate each other with unnecessary complexity if you try to house rule anything. Leave diplomatic relations to Ambassasodors only and be done with it. Or just start with alliances pre-defined.


Yeah, this is the conclusion I am coming to. We are not completely robotic, but we do prioritize winning quite highly, and the current alliance rules do not work in a group like this. I would like them to work because I think they can reduce the "build your forces up until Turn 9 and then backstab each other" state that often develops in games without alliances. But so far no dice.

Anyway, thanks for the reply.
Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:53 am
Author: LazyJ
If you have an evenly divided number of players, you could always try pre-defining the alliances before game starts either randomly or by negotiation. Pair the guy who is winning all the time with someone who hasn't won in a while, maybe.

Anyway, good luck!
Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:23 pm
Author: Mr Suplex
I think our resolution is just going to be to "officially" rate alliance victories as lesser victories. I see no other way to make the rules work with our group. I'm going to suggest that we start keeping a running tally of wins within our group (as well as second place, etc). Alliance wins will count for less, probably half. Depending on the scoring this could actually make Alliance wins worth less than second place solo, or something like that. Its the only thing I can think of without trashing the rules entirely.

LazyJ wrote:
If you have an evenly divided number of players, you could always try pre-defining the alliances before game starts either randomly or by negotiation. Pair the guy who is winning all the time with someone who hasn't won in a while, maybe.


I think there is a misconception amongst people in this thread that one or two players in our group are always winning. This is not the case. When I say "strongest" player, I mean the player with a distinct advantage in any given game. We have a pretty even distribution of wins within our group.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions and maintaining a level of maturity that others obviously could not.
Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:11 pm
Author: dyepbr
Mr Suplex wrote:
I think our resolution is just going to be to "officially" rate alliance victories as lesser victories. I see no other way to make the rules work with our group. I'm going to suggest that we start keeping a running tally of wins within our group (as well as second place, etc). Alliance wins will count for less, probably half. Depending on the scoring this could actually make Alliance wins worth less than second place solo, or something like that. Its the only thing I can think of without trashing the rules entirely.


I think running a tally would work great...and you may not need to manually lessen the value of alliance wins.

Running a tally should automatically decentivize alliances for the strongest players. You would want a lone 1st place tally and your opponents to receive the lesser value tallies (2nd, 3rd, 4th). By sharing first place victory, both players earn the 1st place tally (moving up 2nd and 3rd, with no 4th). After all, overtime, you are striving for more 1st place tallies than other players in your group, and players tied for 1st place wins, want more 2nd place wins... etc.

I think this perfectly illustrates the core idea and intended value of alliances, and why many players assume allied victories are inherently lesser than solo victories.

Weaker players would only ally if they feel they can move their way up the ladder, and potentially reduce leaders ahead of them. By the same token, this is balanced by 3rd and 4th place NOT always allying, as the 3rd place would not want to share 3rd place with a weaker player unless he felt the alliance could move up in victory place.

Of course, you can manually devalue alliances further, but I think by simply running a tally by itself, you may see more inline with what the designers had intended.

edit: spelling
Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:20 pm
Author: Nemesis420x
Vanish wrote:
Mr Suplex,

I once had a friend who forced us to play communist monopoly. Whenever someone would hit GO, we would pool all our money together and divide it equally. It wasn't a very exciting game, but hey, I didn't lose!


Communist Monopoly, eh?

Just those two words together seems kind of contradictive to me.
A monopolistic economy that thrives without capitalism. Hmmm...
I'm confused...
Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:18 pm
Author: hudcrab
Nemesis420x wrote:

Communist Monopoly, eh?

Just those two words together seems kind of contradictive to me.
A monopolistic economy that thrives without capitalism. Hmmm...
I'm confused...


If you can only buy from the state then the state has a monopoly.

Back to the original topic. I played a 4P game which featured an alliance yesterday.

Orion took the centre early, and was starting to bed in, in such a way that it looked like the game was heading for a stalemate round the middle and an eventual Orion victory. Two other players, allied in turn 7, or 8, and their combination of ships allowed them to defeat Orion's stronghold at the centre.
At this point the fourth player, who believed Alliances to be OP started talking about a counter-alliance with Orion to prevent the alliance from steamrollering. Orion pointed out that all he needed was for someone to Harry the alliance elsewhere in order to give them a run for their money, and for that they did not need to ally.

In the end, the alliance scored 29 points, Orion scored 30 points and the third race scored 35 points.
It was very tight and, sure, it required the non-allied players to cooperate, but ultimately the alliance did not prosper.

I was pleased to see the alliance form because it broke a stalemate, and made for a more interesting game. I do think, however, that they can be too strong if formed very early, because they so easily allow you to negate your race's weaknesses and expand unimpeded. I would consider a house-rule preventing alliances until, say, turn 5.
Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:12 pm
Author: DsnowMan
Has anyone mentioned the game Diplomacy yet?

I see Alliances in Eclipse as serving a very similar purpose to alliances in Diplomacy. I capitalized the first because they are an official rule, and the second because they are encouraged, but no formal tiles exist to bind you to them.

The victory condition for Diplomacy are simple:
1) one player controls more than half the board, they win
2) all surviving players agree on a draw, and split the win equally.

Often condition (2) is referred to as a joint victory by the ~3 players who achieve it, but make no mistake, it is not a full victory.

Anyone who has played Diplomacy will see long-term alliances lead to both conditions (2) or (1), the most satisfying victories caused by a brilliant betrayal of the alliance.

In Eclipse, I personally see Alliances as the same vehicle for leading to a joint victory if played properly, or an opportunity for brilliant solo victory. Notably, solo victory feels like a more complete victory. In Diplomacy, it officially is, so if you have played Diplomacy, you will probably have the same feeling when you play Eclipse.

The remaining question is: was it the intent of the designers for a allied victory = solo victory, or are they former Diplomacy players who didn't make the distinction clear? I feel like Touku is encouraging solo wins with his statement in this thread, without actually taking an official position.

As it stands, my group values a solo win over an allied win because of our history. How you play is up to you. If someone values allied wins as solo wins and you don't, you still have table-top diplomacy and in-game tools to defeat them.
Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:08 pm
Author: lofung_hk
it is the same as trying hard to win in eclipse. if one want to win that hard, always play orions. but there are some higher-level players who always want to do a impressive win with eridani...

a matter of silliness and childishness.

Thu Feb 7, 2013 3:36 am
Author: thisisnotatest
I think Mr Suplex's logic about alliances in 4-player games is unassailable. I too was puzzled that the game seems so stacked in favor of making alliances. You get a point bonus for free, but that's not even as important as having a player who now has zero -- actually, negative! -- incentive to attack you! I've only played about five games, but in every game, I felt like I won or lost because of how I incentivized others to attack me, or to attack someone else. I think some people here are severely underestimating the importance of that.

I like the proposed fix that an alliance win is considered a lesser win ("half a win" would be reasonable). That means that the people in third and fourth, being desperate, might make an alliance, which would suddenly make the game very interesting, but a person in first would hesitate. And it opens the possibility of Diplomacy-style backstabbing, which is actually totally awesome. It's interesting that the designer implicitly assumed this to be the case. Like some of you, I would have supported a single-sentence acknowledgement of this in the manual, something like "Some groups may consider a shared victory less glorious than a solo victory, but of course that is up to you to decide."

If you want to consider shared victories as full victories, another very simple fix, I feel, is to not allow a single alliance to include 50% of the players. That would basically mean shifting the "minimum number of players for an alliance of size N" up by one. So,
4 player: no alliances
5 player: 2-player alliances (unchanged)
6 player: only 2-player alliances (but no 3-player alliances)
7+ players: 3-player alliances (unchanged)
Wed Mar 6, 2013 3:28 am