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Luca

Is the Naalu Collective too weak ?

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Hi everybody !

 

My friends and I have been playing T.I. since 2009 and we love this board game. We have played all the races and we have found that each one has its strenght and weaknesses. But there's one race everyone of us agree to consider too weak, and this is The Naalu Collective.

Its special abilities and starting technologies are almost useless, in particular in a space battle against a most powerful race such as L1z1x Mindnet, Barony of Letnev or Sardakk N'orr.

The Naalu Collective starts with a disadvantage, and it takes too much time to purchase technologies and get other kinds of "power up" in order to become competitive.

What do you think about it ?

 

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I am a bit surprised. I thought they were generally considered on of the most powerful races - if not the most powerful race - in the game. The same seems to show from the number of session statistics found online. Those must be read with the caveat that they are only representable for the type of gamers who bother sending in their session results, but it does suggest that they are at least not the weakest race.

 

I would not consider boosting them - but perhaps have a look at whether there is something in the way your group tends to play the game that, if also done when playing the Naalu, doesn't cater to their strengths.

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My friends and I tend to focus the game on space battle and technology purchasing rather than politics and trade. Playing this way The Naalu Collective has far less chances to win if attacked by a race which has already developed many red technologies (which are "war technologies") in the inital rounds. In this case Naalu can only rely on its "retreat ability".

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I still don't understand their percieved weakness. A few observations.

Home Systems
Let's begin with the values of their Home System and thus what they enter the game with. The average combined values of all Home Systems is 5.8. Naalu strike slightly above average with a total value of 6. Yes, only 3 of those are Resources and several other races have 4 Resouces to begin with (and a select few more than that) but it is often offset by those being on the same planet, whereas the Naalu have them spread over two planets and can thus use both their 3 Resources and their 2 Influence in the same round, whereas the more Resource-heavy HS often have their Influence on the planet they need to exhaust for Resources. Barony is off the charts, of course, with their starting Resources of 6 (+ 1 Influence) in their Home system, but to be honest it is the one thing they have going for them, bearing in mind that they actually have to pay Trade Goods to access their main racial ability.

Several races start with only 3 Resources on their Home System with which to buy Technology or units, so I don't agree to the Naalu being particularly poorly off - especially as it is more than amply made up by the fact that their other home Planet with 2 Influence is basically a free Command Counter each round, or an extra secondary from a Strategy Card (for instance the Political or Assembly that allows them to refresh planets) giving them plenty of flexibility over the more heavy Resource starters such as L1Z1X, Muaat, etc. that have just one planet which is needed for its Resource and with no alternative Influence.

Technology

It's almost a science in itself to discuss the worth of different starting Technologies in TI3. True, the Naalu starts without any red techs - as does several other races - however they are equally close to both XRD Transporters and Cybernetics (and the Enviro Compensator would be needed anyway as it is important to allow the Naalu to spit out fighters faster). A combo that gives them one of the most potent weapons available in the game. One you either need to have researched all your way to Advanced Fighters or be the Sardakk N'Orr to get (and keep in mind that the Combat bonus of the N'Orr is there defining one-trick-pony, whereas it is only one of several racial perks of the Naalu): Fighters that hit on 7.

That's the same ratio as for a non-upgraded Cruiser, yet a Fighter only costs a 1/4 the price of the Cruiser and it is unencumbered by the Fleet Supply allowing for some terrifying stacking possibilities - the rule of numbers will be in your favour with the amount of dice you will be hurling. For most races Fighters are merely a buffer to be used as casulties for more valuable ships - not so for the Naalu. Their storm of fighters will tear you apart. There is only two ways to counter them. Getting the Automated Defense Turrets, but the problem is that to make use of that you need to bring a lot of Destroyers to a battle and while they rock in the Anti-Fighter Barrage, they really don't supply much afterwards in the combat itself and unless the Naalu's are your personal enemy it is a tech that is often overlooked for much more generally powerful alternative techs. The other option: the Friendly Fire Action Card - which you need bad luck to run into repeatedly.

Add the XRD Transporter Technology and eventually your racial Hybrid Crystal Drives (which allows for you to have 2 Carriers with 12 fighters hitting on 7 for the mere use of one Fleet Supply! Measured up against using that one spot for bringing a single Cruiser, Hylar-equipped or not) and I would stay far far away from you and your swarm of fighters.

Avoidance

Use your ability to dodge a combat now and then. Keep your enemies guessing whether you will engage or vanish in thin air. Move your fleet further forward into empty space between your planets and the enemies. That way you can always retreat easily to your own systems without leaving planets behind and unprotected. The enemy will have to engage you with enough of a fleet to take you out, yet if you just move out he is locked and might lack the fleet to make you the target of yet another attack as he already had to commit them once. True, it might cost you a Strategy Allocation to do a tactical retreat if the system you move to isn't already activated - but remember that it also costs your enemy a Command Counter (and even two once you get your Telepatic Mind Weapon, which makes for a toxic combo with your ability to remove yourself from combat). And more importantly it will over time make you less of a target to attacks as your enemies will realise that they will not be able to decidedly take you out in a space combat unless you yourself opt to take the fight (which also makes you a less interesting target for a number of space combat related Public Objectives). Players only have that many moves in a given game round, so effeciency is key, and attacking the Naalu is often ineffective and a potential waste of Command Counters. True you might also get bogged down by it as you have to activate the system you retreat to, however you always have the...

Initiative
You always move first. True, sometimes it is an advantage to be able to sit back and have the benefit of others moving first, however you can get your enemies horrible off-balance by retreating and binding them in striking distance of a larger number of your ships, knowing that you will move first the round after you dragged them in and retreated.

Also, this one ability is one of the biggest tie-breakers around when you enter the end game. Objectives are claimed in order of Initiative. Every other single player around the table have to win a round before anyone else are able to - that or they have to not only pick their Strategy Card in the last round on grounds of what they need to get the last VPs but also for it to be low enough of a number for them to get to claim those objectives before other contenders. Those kinds of worries are beneath you - you will always be the first to claim objectives and in a close game (which many are) you have chronology fully on your side. Which is also why, not surprisingly, that one of the most frequent end game uses I've seen of the Action Cards that allow you to copy or steal another race's special ability, is of getting that exact ability from the Naalu in the last round - as it might be the only possible path to victory in a close game.

In short, don't get caught up in how the lesser races play the game. Get into the brain of the mind-reading Naalu and think out of the box to screw your enemies in ways they had never anticipated.

**** it! Now I need to play the Naalu in my next game, revel in the flexibility, out-manouvering my enemies, and in bringing winged fighter doom to the galaxy!

Edited by Cremate
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WOW,  thank you for your deep and through analysis. It's full of good advices.

...so the best way to play Naalu is to produce a massive quantity of fighters and start a sort of "guerrilla" made of repeated strikes and retreats.

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You are most welcome!

Just make sure to play to your race's strengths rather than that of your enemies and the Naalu will excell. Also, their fighters are a forced to be reckoned with, but be careful to keep a balanced fleet still as using purely fighters might also make you vulnerable (that blasted Friendly Fire Action card again - though you will have an Agent as an emergency Sabotage if running into a Friendly Fire in a strategically important fight).

Edited by Cremate

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Excellent analysis, Cremate!  However, I have to dispute your claim that the Collective are the best.  The Emirates of Hacan and the Yssaril Tribes are much better, and the Universities of Jol'Nar come in close.

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I do not think they are the best. I is, however, my impression that they are commonly considered to be amongst the best, and that some even think them to be the best. For my own part I'll at least confess to not considering them the weakest.

I would likely point to the Yssaril too if I had to pinpoint one, both all in all designating a strongest race in the game is tricky as it depends on so many other factors. Hacan and Jol'Nar are also very powerful, I agree, though especially in 4 and 8-player games (as Trade and Technology, respectively, will then be activated each round). I could go on and on, but it really depend on what combo of rules you play with as well as all the random factors in a given session and - likely the most important - how they fit into the kind of play style you are most adapt as a player.

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In all our games, each time one of us played the Naalu he never scored more than 2 VPs. There isn't a single race that has won the most number of games, but so far there is one thing for sure: nobody of us wants to play Naalu anymore :D 

.... anyway I'm trying to reevaluate Naalu ! Maybe it was just bad luck and it's not so bad as it seems....

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To be blunt only getting 2 VPs in a full game (presuming that is to at least 10 VPs to win) can never be reduced to the race.

 

As for collecting data, the Naalu have been best across the no less than 17 games they have been in (with different players playing them) on this play-by-forum site. Now, this data is not generalisable, but it is an interesting indication of strength.

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We are trying to keep a statistics sheet like that. At the end of each game we record VPs, number of games played by each player, race and VPs average.

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This is a question I would expect to hear about the Xxcha or the Sarak N'orr, not the Naalu!  Kudos to you, Cremate, for your excellent analysis of the race.  You didn't leave me much to add, except that I would have further emphasized the importance of getting the wonderful Naalu Racial Tech, Telepahtic Mind Weapon, and the usefulness of the Naalu Flagship, the Matriarch.  The Matriarch not only gives you another six capacity carrier with two movement, but also kicks in effectively an additional three counters for fleet supply within Matriarch's space. 

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Oh, how could I forget the Matriarch! :o

 

Also, don't get me started on the Xxcha. I recently had a victory with them without ever being in a single combat, not even once. Well not entirely true - I did get to roll combat dice one single time in that game, when firing a Deep Space Cannon equipped PDS.

Such a different and interesting game to win purely through assemblies and diplomacy.

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Oh, how could I forget the Matriarch! :o

 

Also, don't get me started on the Xxcha. I recently had a victory with them without ever being in a single combat, not even once. Well not entirely true - I did get to roll combat dice one single time in that game, when firing a Deep Space Cannon equipped PDS.

Such a different and interesting game to win purely through assemblies and diplomacy.

Happens to the best of us :).

 

Really?  Congratulations!  Did you have any of the really good Political cards come up?  And did you purchase either of the Xxcha racial techs? 

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Oh, how could I forget the Matriarch! :o

 

Also, don't get me started on the Xxcha. I recently had a victory with them without ever being in a single combat, not even once. Well not entirely true - I did get to roll combat dice one single time in that game, when firing a Deep Space Cannon equipped PDS.

Such a different and interesting game to win purely through assemblies and diplomacy.

Happens to the best of us :).

 

Really?  Congratulations!  Did you have any of the really good Political cards come up?  And did you purchase either of the Xxcha racial techs? 

 

Actually I only recall some of the details - most importantly how interesting it was winning a game and only having rolled the dice once (PDS).

The game had 3 or so objectives that related to technologies and I succesfully dominated the first Assembly to give myself one of those elect player titles that makes tech easier and cheaper to get, though I think I might only have picked up one of the otherwise fine racial technologies as I was otherwise occupied with getting the techs needed for the objectives.

I also used the secondary of Diplomacy when needed to expand a bit, but other than that I basically literally 'turtled' down (the Xxcha are turtles after all) with a a total of 9 PDS w/ Deep Space Cannon concentrating fire around me three most valuable systems. How 9 you say? Two of them from the Flagship and one from the Mercenary that functions as one. That, together with a reasonable, but not extensive, fleet as well as my racial perks made me a tough target to dig into - while I used other non-aggressive objectives to take the victory.

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In our group, having played exactly 39 games, and I keep a record of all the results, the Naalu Collective have won 6 times!  This is More than ANY OTHER Great Race!  "Initiative '0'" may be the most powerful racial ability in the game, definitely on par with the Yssaril Tribes "Skip" ability.

Edited by SFRR

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Oh, how could I forget the Matriarch! :o

 

Also, don't get me started on the Xxcha. I recently had a victory with them without ever being in a single combat, not even once. Well not entirely true - I did get to roll combat dice one single time in that game, when firing a Deep Space Cannon equipped PDS.

Such a different and interesting game to win purely through assemblies and diplomacy.

Happens to the best of us :).

 

Really?  Congratulations!  Did you have any of the really good Political cards come up?  And did you purchase either of the Xxcha racial techs? 

 

Actually I only recall some of the details - most importantly how interesting it was winning a game and only having rolled the dice once (PDS).

The game had 3 or so objectives that related to technologies and I succesfully dominated the first Assembly to give myself one of those elect player titles that makes tech easier and cheaper to get, though I think I might only have picked up one of the otherwise fine racial technologies as I was otherwise occupied with getting the techs needed for the objectives.

I also used the secondary of Diplomacy when needed to expand a bit, but other than that I basically literally 'turtled' down (the Xxcha are turtles after all) with a a total of 9 PDS w/ Deep Space Cannon concentrating fire around me three most valuable systems. How 9 you say? Two of them from the Flagship and one from the Mercenary that functions as one. That, together with a reasonable, but not extensive, fleet as well as my racial perks made me a tough target to dig into - while I used other non-aggressive objectives to take the victory.

 

Good heavens!  You really gave new meaning to the term "turtling" with that playing of the Xxcha :blink: !  Again, my congratulations!  

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Yeah, it just sorta happened - the merc and such - but it work well to my advantage as I spotted a non-violent path to victory. Well at least not militarily-driven violence, that is ;)

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their other home Planet with 2 Influence is basically a free Command Counter each round, 

 

Hi, thanks for the great post.  I'm going to be playing TI3 for the first time this weekend and will be playing the Naalu, so your post was very useful.

 

Forgive me for possibly having missed a rule, but can you explain how the 2 influence planet basically means a free Command Counter each round please?

Edited by GuiltyCol

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When someone activates the Leadership strategy card, everyone else has the opportunity to buy up to 3 command counter for 2 influence each.  A 0-2 planet is ALWAYS used in this way, since the leadership card is always taken by somebody.  I've played many a game of TI3 and have yet to see that strategy card go unpicked.

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Ah I see, thanks Ironglaive.  As this is our first game, we're playing the base set of strategy cards, so no Leadership card sadly.

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