Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BGG.con report - My games

Terra Prime
I believe Terra Prime is about as done as it's going to get except for whatever fine tuning a publisher might require. I wouldn't mind the game end trigger being a little better defined, but I think I actually know how to do that with components - basically an Exploration track which advances whenever a Yellow or Red tile is explored (the Red tiles are worth 2vp to explore, the Yellow tiles aren't). When it hits a certain number (currently 12) then the game is over.

On the one hand, the game has a space/Sci Fi theme, which could be a difficulty for a publisher since at least in the Euro market, I hear Sci Fi doesn't sell well. On the other hand, Race for the Galaxy, Galaxy Trucker, and Starcraft came out this year, which are all Sci Fi themed. Last year there was Space Dealer and Battlestations. Does this mean the market is flooded with space games? I personally don't think so, but then I'm not the publisher. Does Terra Prime provide something that the other space themed games don't? I think it does - a solid, medium/heavy Eurogame that encompasses Exploration, Colonization, Alien combat, and Resource delivery, all in under 2 hours. It has proven to be a good mix of theme and euro-style mechanics. Some will discount the randomness of the die rolls for Alien attacks, but you can better your odds by preparing, and you can play the whole game without rolling a single die. Some will discount the swingy scores as you score 13 or 15 points at a time, which is why I refer to it as medium weight (if it were heavy then people would expect 2 point victories) - its a silly point, but people argue it. From my perspective, if you win by 1 colony, or 1 delivery, or 1 Alien kill, that's a close game, whether it's 4 points, or 14.

I ran 1 game of Terra Prime at BGG.con, and everyone seemed to enjoy it a lot. Here's what some of them had to say:

Gil Hova (IngredientX): I met up with my buddy Seth Jaffee at this point, and we were able to play his prototype. Why this game isn't published yet is a complete mystery to me. It's a space-exploration game with incredibly streamlined mechanics. You'll hear players say, "Oh, it's my turn already?" a lot. Seth puts a lot of thought into his games, and it really shows with this one.

One of the playtesters had a problem with the relative lack of player interaction, and it's true that you can't blow up another player's spaceship (though there are plenty of aliens willing to do that for you). I suppose that's a question of aesthetics. If you think a spaceship game should involve lasering other players into oblivion, then maybe this game isn't for you.

But there's plenty of interaction in picking up resources just before your opponent, or getting VP for having your opponents make deliveries to your colonies. If that sort of thing sounds like it appeals to you, then try this game if you get a chance. Spread the word and get it in print!

John Lopez (Godeke): My son and I then went over to try out one of Seth's prototypes. Terra Prime feels very much "feature complete". The action point system keep things rotating around the table quickly and there appears to be multiple viable paths to victory. Even though each player took different approaches to the game, the final scores seemed quite reasonable and reflected the success with those approaches to the game. With a nice rulebook and components would be an easy sale in our house. Recommended.

Kevin Felker (kevinfelker42): As space explorers on the outskirts of known space from the Terra Prime spacestation, one attempts to win by attaining the most victory points. The closer hexes are green, then yellow, then red. Green is mostly safe, with less hostile aliens and asteroids.

Your ship card has upgradable modules and starts with only a cargo hold/no weapons/no shields, so you'll have to earn some money to make your ship deep space worthy.

First, create some colonies by taking cryogenically frozen people to a planet (or asteroids which produce a unique good for the tech chart). These start producing goods. Pick up and deliver these goods back to Terra Prime to make money (or to go up on the tech chart for some special abilities like cloaking or increased revenue on deliveries). You'll have to weigh the options based on your strategy.

Combat is fairly forgiving as you roll again if your first roll is a failure, stripping of a ship component. There's even a political option to eject goods as an offering if your ship isn't combat worthy.

There are many ways to generate VPs. Money translates into VPs. The further out the created colony is, the more VPs generated. People picking up goods from your colony nets a VP. Being the first to defeat each Red tile nets 2 VPs.
I played the merchant strategy, and VPs were similar to someone on combat/colonize strategy.

Some tweaking is still needed as Seth noted to us in that by the time we got to the furthest Red hexes, the game basically ended.

Player interaction is distilled to being a race since all are on the same side (humanity), but the turns move very fast so there is little downtime.

As I typed this, I realized how multi-leveled this game is and kept bumping up my rating.
It feels like a Runebound in space, except better and more streamlined.

I would like to see this published, curious on how the final artwork would be...quirky/cartoony or serious.

All for One
I ran a game of All For One as well at the con. The reaction of the players this time was less enthusiastic than I'm used to. The thing about All For One is that it's pretty hit or miss. Either you love it or you hate it. The players said they liked it alright, but I got the impression they were just being polite. I still think it's a solid game, and looking at all the feedback I've ever gotten from players at cons, its been overwhelmingly positive. So that's good!

I sent this one home with Zev Shlasinger from Z-Man games, I'm hoping he'll have a chance to play it again. He's played it once before, and he had some comments, some things he would have liked to see addressed. The recent changes will hopefully serve to address those items, as well as improve the game overall.

Blockade Runner
In theory, Blockade Runner will be published next year by Shifting Skies Games, so I've got that to look forward to :) I ran two games of it at the con, and the reactions were positive. There were some comments with some ideas for variants or variations of rules I'm going to look into.

Wizard's Tower
Wizard's Tower was a big hit at the convention. I played it 7 or 8 times with a total of 8 different people, and I think they all liked the game very much. One of them explicitly said that it felt like a real game (or something to that effect).

One of the people I played it with was Zev, who said that abstract games aren't really his thing, personally. I believe he said I could send it to him for further review, so I'll be emailing him about that. I think the production costs would be pretty low for that game, considering it's got fewer (and similar!) bits than Masons or Carolus Magnus.

Brain Freeze
I always like to bring Brain Freeze along to play while waiting. The whole game takes about 1 minute to play, so it's the ultimate filler. On the down side, it requires a chess clock, so it's probably imminently unpublishable. The people who played it this time seemed to like it. Edward and Eduardo played for over 1/2 an hour straight!

I found a better way to handicap myself in that game - before I was giving myself less time, but that wasn't the best handicap, even if only because it meant resetting the clock all the time. This time I tried playing left handed. Now that is a handicap!

Rodeo Drive
The new prototype Rodeo Drive s still in its infancy, but I wanted to see how certain friends liked it, because I know they like Liar's Dice. We played a partial game just to see how the mechanics worked. I couldn't really tell if the players were into it or not. The auction works really well, I'm not sure about the scoring part yet. In any case, I think its a really good start, seeing as only a couple days thought has gone into it so far.

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