Sunday, 17 October 2021

Beyond the Sun - Level 4 tech


On 25 Sep 2021 Allen, Han and I played Beyond the Sun again, online. We had played this before, but had never managed to develop a Level 4 tech, so we were keen to attempt that. This time we succeeded. It was Han who developed the Level 4 tech. I wanted to do it too, and if I had insisted, I would have been able to achieve it. At one crucial junction, I picked a colonisation action over a research action. I knew that to forgo research meant I would not likely be able to reach the Level 4 tech before the game ended. I decided to colonise because by doing so I would be first to have four colonies. That would give me achievement points. You can't have everything. That's life. Once anyone claims the first achievement, you know the end is nigh. 

One of the techs Allen developed this game allowed players to jump (move their spaceships) then earn ore if they manage to wrest control from other players. This was a powerful tech that encouraged expansion and aggression. When you wrest control of star systems from others, you are also removing their farm or mine tokens, and adding your own. This is highly lucrative, killing three birds with one stone! Even peaceniks like me couldn't resist the temptation to go on the offensive when the time was right. No I'm not joking, I am a peacenik!

At the top left you see two star system cards instead of one. This was due to a special event giving us an extra star system, which was considered one jump away from the normal star system next to it. This extra star system works the same way as regular star systems. You can control it, place your farm or mine on it, and colonise it. However once colonised, you don't draw another star system card as a replacement. You will return to just having four star systems on the map. 

This was the Level 4 tech which Han eventually developed - Parallel Universe Generator. It is not easy to get to Level 4. In this game if you want to develop a Level 2 tech, you need to have first developed a tech to open a worker placement spot to do that. Same thing for a Level 3 tech and a Level 4 tech. Quite a few stars (figuratively) have to be deliberately aligned. Also, in order to aim for a Level 4 tech in a specific position of the tech tree, you need to make sure you research all the prerequisite techs. Often not all of them align with your strategy, so you will be picking suboptimal research options for the sake of building your research pyramid to reach that Level 4 tech. It takes focus and discipline to get to Level 4. If you research too broadly, you won't be able to build up the pyramid in time before the game ends. 

Level 4 techs give a big boost to your score. The one that was picked in our particular game gave a one-time special ability, which helped greatly in scoring. Having learned this tech also gave an additional scoring criteria at the end of the game. This basically meant two new ways of scoring from a single tech. Being able to research a Level 4 tech in itself is an achievement, and achievements are worth points too. Going for a Level 4 tech is a "do or do not, there is no try" thing. If you want to do it, you have to be committed and not stray from the path. Otherwise you might waste much effort only to fail due to the lack of focus. 

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