Monday, March 02, 2009

Terra Prime - final touches?

With Terra Prime on the verge of being published, it's time to put on the finishing touches and finalize all the aspects I've been iffy on or unhappy with.

For the most part I'm very happy with and very proud of the game. There are a couple aspects that I'm not 100% sold on though. The offending items are...

Shield purchase/recharge specifics:
Since changing the rules for shields (a change I like, by the way), I've been unhappy with the fiddliness of the purchasing. I had thought the best way to go would be to have 1 action be to buy a shield module for 10, or charge up all of your shields with energy for 10. That did everything that I wanted to do, except I don't like having to spend 2 actions to get 1 fully loaded shield. My newest idea is to give the shield purchase action two parts. First, you may bu a shield module for 10 (this is optional). Second, you may charge up all of your shields with energy for 10 (also optional, though if you're buying a shield it's likely you'll want to do it). This makes a lot of sense, I just hope it isn't too complicated to explain. One of my least favorite things about the game is that it takes so long to explain.

Automatic damage from Aliens:
A recent addition is automatic damage from aliens. Single aliens do 0-1 damage, double aliens do 1-3 damage, and triple aliens do 2-5 damage. The reason for this was because before, if you prepared for combat, you could cut through aliens and come out with out a scratch. The intention was that the triple aliens should be pretty easy to defeat if you prepare, but you should have to limp home having been damaged. The automatic damage seems to work, but it might be a little too harsh. The biggest question is whether the stray asteroids and asteroid fields should work the same way (automatic damage) or not. I think the asteroids could be less dangerous than the aliens.

Game End conditions and using player markers for Upgrades:
I've always had some trouble with the game end conditions for Terra Prime. the current rule is that when a player puts their last marker on the board, the game is over. The markers are placed on Colonies, Aliens, upgrades, and demand tiles. I kind of like how this works, but there are 2 problems... the biggest is what happens when you have 1 marker left, and on your turn you can kill an alien and also colonize? Somewhat less annoying is the fact that it just feels wrong to have an upgrade use up one of your markers. I think the markers should represent scoring opportunities, so using them for colonies, aliens, and demand tiles seems fine - but the upgrades don't directly relate to scoring.

One solution is to use a different type of player marker - one that doesn't relate to the game end trigger - for the upgrades. Another idea is to have tiles for the upgrades such that when you buy the upgrade, you take the tile and place it in front of you. This is similar to the modules, so maybe would fit the game. It would mean an additional 24 tiles or so, but that might not be so bad.

So I guess it's time to test these solutions and find something I like!

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