Wednesday, January 09, 2008

These 4 walls closin' in, gettin' bigger...

Last night I tested Terra Prime with a smaller board. I used only 1 row of green tiles instead of 2. The net result is that the "safe zone" without aliens was condensed, and the yellow and red planets were much closer. I actually think this was a positive change. The board might be too crowded with 5 players, so it might be that the small board is the 3 player (or 3/4) player board, and the larger board is for 5 (or 4/5) players. I'll have to test it out with different numbers of players. I did go through and mark a subset of tiles to use for the smaller board, to make sure planets and asteroids were distributed well.

The game also went much quicker - a 3 player game flew by in about 45 minutes. The small board is a lot less friendly as well, there's more competition for things, and hostile aliens feel like they're right on your doorstep.

I also tried adjusting the costs of things. I started each player with $3 instead of $2, and I made modules cost $2 + $1 per like type you already have, instead of $1 + $1/like type. I was happy I did because I thought it might be too easy to get a very quick 4th Engine (extra actions) that way, but now I'm not so sure. I might go back to the old cost structure.

I started each player with a "built-in" shield but not a gun. I adjusted the combat rules such that the more guns/shields you have, the better each of them work. I think next time I'll start each player with an innate shield and gun (not the same as "built-in" because built-in stuff affects costs), so that the starting money can either buy a Cargo Hold, or a Shield + Gun - and if you go Shield + Gun then you can reasonably take on at least a single alien.

I'm excited about the progress of these playtests, and I hope to get a few more in this week/weekend, then I send the game to Seattle to see if this publisher likes it!

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