We have played a 3p session of Stations (+Outer Planets).
Being aware of the balance issues, we introduced the following easy tuning:
- Shuttle costing 20$
- Large Tank costing 8$
- Small Tank costing 2$
- Fuel Generator costing 4$
- Spare parts generating "Supplies" and Fuel tank and "Supplies" generating Fuel tank (2 tanks from 1 spare parts variant)
The play was as follows:
I have started the Outer Planets rush, focusing on quick Ion access. To boost things quickly I invested in the immortal Soyuz. With 30$ a turn there were no problems with proper investment. Other players focused on different goals at the beginning (mainly low VP missions).
I have formed a Joint Venture soon with one of the player and 2 more Joint Ventures followed. As the result there were 3 JV formed by 3 pairs of players, exactly following a game theory... The missions soon became JV-only with massive tech sharing and end-of-turn money saving through JV agencies. There were event rescue missions possible with the massive trading going on (Hydrophonics did not work on Luna well and the 1st rescue mission sank in the dust).
There was a major incentive in the fair play of JV since 3 pairs of JV in a 3p game is a natural solution. There was a constant temptation of selling shares to the bank once JV scored huge amount of VP. I have sold some shares for massive cash and those who did not know what to do with cash rebought shares from the bank.
Deadalus was used mainly as a Lunar bonanza (having discovered $$ there). They were linked with Ions for minimal expenditure. A pair of Small Tanks generated 4 samples a mission. The cash flow was dependent on the amount of transporting Ions.
As Mars was not a major focus in the game, Deadalus did not make it to that planet. Fuel Generation worked on the Earth.
The Shuttle was mainly used as the transport of people in/from the orbit. Early in the game there was not a Shuttle rush since its price was artificially elevated. We have found that it was too high. The sweet spot should have been 6$ per Large Tank and 15$ per Shuttle. Nice to know for the next games. The Shuttle was also the good mean to the Cycler transport and a good Capsule to live on Mars with no madnes risk.
Apollo and Vostok also made some use, especially int he early orbital transport. As the radiation level was 2, Aldrin was a must-have in all the manned missions. Ground habitat has been built in many locations (Venus, Luna, Mars), one suicide science mission to Ganymede has been performed and one sience mission in Aldrin made it to Titan with hydrocarbon lakes. The Hydroponics module has been used in many missions, however some missions used stacked food instead. A nice balance. Manned Ceres mission did not see a habitat. Instead, folks returned to Earth Orbit and were too lazy to land on Earth - they continued to build a ground habitat on Mars! The manned science mission to Titan also performed a flyby study of Io sample, prepared earlier with Galileo Probe and picked up with 2 Protons.
Yes, all components have been used but Explorer (no Explorer missions drawn).
In the final scoring I have collected around 210VP while the others scored 110VP and 86VP (one of the player was very young and novice to the game). Many of my points came from Outer Planet exploration. Yes, Outer Planets strategy is still valid. Its reliance on Ions and early firings make Shuttle rush less important (but there was a house rules nerfing of it nevertheless).
The game lasted 5+ hours. With JV it was a massive fun. Features added a next level of adventures. This was fantastic. Pilots at Lunar landing really saved mission from destruction. Rovers on Mars and Venus scored many points. Both Life missions have been accomplished.
At the end all missions have been accomplished in the Hard game level and all locations revealed (although Mercury has been revealed just for fun since it saw no mission).
We have also observed a problem with Ceres samples (see another post for not diving in too much spoilers here).
This is a really good addon. JV is really a boost in the 3p game. In a solitaire or 2p it will not work. Many base game issues have been resolved (e.g. lack of components, useless Pilots and Mechanics etc.). Nice to have this addon - even with house rules, which proved sufficient to make the game playable.
However we have somehow missing some base game elements like $$ rich locations and (after seeing all mission cards) some missing sample return missions which were very adventurous. Perhaps we will just include those missing missions in the shuffled piles of Stations missions - they will surely work. We are unsure if mixing of old location tiles will be a good idea - probably it will makde features less present in the game. Maybe a 50% chance after drawing a legacy location - and only the locations which are not repeated in Stations. Will try this later.
What a game!
Removed sample return missions:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
As there are no Cere SR and Mercury SR in Stations, I would like to have them back to at least make Ceres Samples worth somthing.
Here are the rules I will try next:
- upon discovery of VP feature on Ceres, draw Ceres Sample Return mission
- upon revealing of 30$ Mercury location, draw Mercury Sample Return mission
- upon formation of a JV, draw a Sounding Rocket mission for the JVs only
- All three missions are drawn after a die roll of 5-8 (Very Hard), 6-8 (Hard), 7-8(Medium), 8(Easy). Otherwise they are not available.