All this means it’s difficult to do anything secretly. There's no way to quietly mass a huge security force off your rival’s flank and then perform a surprise hostile takeover - they can see that you’re using your reinforcement cards over and over again and prepare for it. How is anyone ever meant to make a living in such sickeningly fair conditions?
That’s not to say you can’t game the system, of course. Cards take a certain amount of time to both prepare and recharge, so canny organisations will send their employees on a time management course. One of the most important cards in the game - Reinforce Security - has a prep time of six hours, so it’s tough to use efficiently. You should be able to get four uses out of it in any 24 hour period, but playing it at 9pm means your reinforcements will arrive (and the card will be ready to use again) at 3am - when you’re sound asleep - not good for the CEO who needs more manpower in a hurry!
It's frustrating that you get so much information about your competitors, but it also keeps the paranoia at bay
A far better strategy is to activate the card at 7pm, as then it’ll be ready to go again at 1am, allowing an early 7am play over breakfast and one final activation at with lunch. That’s the kind of efficiency that can get a company to the top of the mining charts, oh yes. Think how happy you'll make the shareholders.
The real niggling problem with the game, though, became apparent once we were around half way through our-two week game - the win condition. It’s too...nice. You don’t have to go out there into the market and actually attack anyone if you don’t want, you don’t have to actually interact, backstab or scheme. Companies can just sit quietly in a corner, keep their borders and budgets tight and mine away happily.
Granted, this will only get you so far; eventually one of the more bloody minded CEOs out there will feel the need to crash headlong into another company’s territory and get the ball rolling, but it makes the game feel flat. Being the first company to act only makes you a target (as their forces will be stretched) so there will be a period of posturing before anything actually happens. Add this to the initial period where CEOs are dealing with the aliens and making their early land grabs and half the game is gone (basically, half the victory condition has already been achieved) before it’s even got started.
Battles take a little while to work out, but the system is good
I should stress that I enjoyed the game that I played; it just felt as though it never quite reached the crescendo achieved by Neptune’s Pride. Travel speed plays a part in this as it's standardised in Jupiter’s Folly (eight hours hard slog between nodes), whereas it ramped up in Neptune’s Pride as people researched better technology. This gave the game a feeling of coming to a head as it progressed - something that was sorely lacking from Jupiter’s Folly.
That said, it’s a worthy (and free) distraction, and it’s openness and slower pace mean it’s a more healthy pastime than Neptune’s Pride - you actually stand a chance of holding down a job while playing it. Unfortunately, for those addicts like me who are looking for one last high, it’s just not quite got the same kick as the original. To tell you the truth, I’m starting to doubt if anything ever will.
Jupiter's Folly is currently in beta 3.0 and is free to play over on ironhelmet.com