Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Terra Prime changes tested, now what?

Well, I did test Terra Prime last night, some of the changes seemed good, others not so much.

* Game Length
The game length seems good still, though it still seems to end a bit abruptly. If there were a magic way to make the game feel like it coasted to an ending rather than coming to an abrupt end, I'd love that!

* Game End Conditions - I might like to scratch the exploration trigger, and have the only game end condition be when someone runs out of markers, then I want to add that you get rid of a marker when you fill a tile (which you collect for the bonus points). I might also have that the tech upgrades get marked out of your supply of colony markers. And I'll give people like 10 markers instead of 8 (for 3 player... 1 fewer for 4 player and 2 fewer for 5p)
I didn't use counters for delivering, but I did use them for upgrades - which I liked. Eric ended the game via alien hunting, getting all his markers on the board that way. He had 2 upgrades and 3 colonies and killed 3 aliens. That seemed fine, but the rest of us each had 4 markers left... so I'm not sure if that's good or not.

* Demand Tile change - Instead of adding a yellow tile when a yellow colony is founded, I think one of the green tiles should be replaced with a yellow tile. Similarly, when a red colony is founded, the red tile should replace the other green tile. In other words, there would only be 2 delivery tiles available at any given time.
I think I liked this one, and will try it again to see how it plays out.

* Combat change - I'm going to try to streamline the combat a little.
I don't think I was happy with this version of the combat. It made early asteroid fields almost automatic hits, it made aliens very, very dangerous... Then again, in a sense they're supposed to be. Here's what I will try next:

Ships have a built-in shield (I'll print it on the ship board), with the target number 6 on it, indicating that shields work on a roll of 6. Each additional shield module allows you to roll 1 additional die and reduces the target number by 1. I'll indicate this by putting a little "-1" on the shield tiles. This way you have some semblance of defense even if you don't buy a shield, and with 1 shield the system mirrors the current one, each additional shield is even better.

Weapons could work the same way, only I think the ships won't start with a built-in weapon. Each weapon module will give you 1 die and an effective +1 to hit on all your dice. So 1 weapon hits on 6, 2 weapons hit on 5+ each, and 3 weapons hit on 4+ each.

Aliens and asteroids can work the same way as the weapons, 6 as a base target number, roll 1 die per symbol, and reduce the target number by 1 per symbol.

This should make small aliens less dangerous but just as in-the-way as ever, and larger aliens will require work to kill (as usual) and should deal some damage (as they ought to).

Ideally, when coming out of combat with a triple alien you should have scored your points, colonized your juicy colony, and then you have to limp home battle worn.

One thing I might do which has been suggested once or twice is make shields available at red colonies as well as at Terra Prime. That way if you get in a scuffle and get beat up, you don't have to go all the way home to get more shields. Although, you're supposed to have to limp home if you get beat up, and it makes a more interesting decision as to which module to lose if you get hit. If you are near more shields, you just lose the shield and buy more. It's not supposed to be that easy.

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