I got yet another test game of Terra Prime in yesterday, incorporating some of the ideas from the
last post. Most notably the reduced score for Delivery tiles (# of cubes on tile minus 1 = bonus), and the direct purchase of a 4th Engine.
The alternate delivery scoring probably didn't make much difference, but I think it's a step in the right direction for fair scoring across the game.
The direct purchase of Engines (aka Thrusters, aka Fuel Cells) was a big improvement. You still have to get out to a Yellow planet to get them, and you still have to raise some cash first. Now it seems like you can get extra actions at the appropriate point in the game.
Things I'm still iffy on:
1. Ease of defeating Aliens and Alien scoring - It seems too easy to kill aliens, and since I had increased the points for them, it therefore seems too easy to get lots of points. The obvious solution is to either reduce the points back down, or make the Aliens harder to kill. I want the Aliens to have a bigger impact on the game, so I'm opting for the latter.
2. Game end trigger (Yellow exploration tiles) - One thing I worry about is that the game might end a little too quickly due to exploring the Yellow tiles. This happens if all players are out looking for yellow planets, which didn't used to seem as common, but now it seems more prevalent. This may be due to the nature of the Yellow delivery tiles, which each require at least 1 yellow cube.
3. Perhaps the demand tiles ought to have more cubes on them, so a single player can't do an entire tile on their own without at least buying a cargo hold.
Things I thought of to fix them:
1. Make aliens a little more of a hindrance and a little harder to kill again. I think the appropriate thing to do is to keep the Attack action, which gives you a bonus for attacking (maybe change it to a +1 on the roll. On second thought maybe remove the bonus to attack), but remove the "fight back" retaliatory strike whenever the Aliens shoot at you. So the Aliens shoot at you once at the end of any action, and you only shoot at them if you dedicate an action to the attack. That seems cleaner and less confusing, and it makes you spend some actions to fight aliens, rather than getting free shots at them. It also means that if you fly into a sector with Aliens, even if the tile was face up and you knew they were there, they will shoot at you at least one time before you can wipe them out.
2. Maybe this doesn't have to be a game end condition at all. it doesn't relate to any of the main point-garnering strategies, so maybe it's inappropriate.
3. I hadn't considered this too much, so I'll think on it a bit. I'll also have to consider the size of the bonus relative to the points people get for delivering individual cubes.
To go along with my solution to the alien stuff, I thought of a Tech Upgrade that would be cool...
Cloaking: Aliens do not attack you at the end of a Move action.
This means you can sneak by Aliens if you're just passing through, or you can sneak up on them and attack. So this upgrade will be good for people who are hunting aliens, and for people who are exploring to colonize (explore is a special case of a Move action, so this upgrade will help avoid dangerous aliens while exploring). It'll be the first yellow upgrade, which means it's more costly than other upgrades, and probably should be cool. I think this upgrade sounds cooler than Explore 2x/turn (which I might leave on there too, because i want to see if it gets used).