Friday, March 20, 2009

Terra Prime: New endgame trigger playtest

I got a chance to play Terra Prime again tonight (finally!), and try the new endgame trigger again. I tried the 'game timer tiles' 2 weeks ago, and they worked well, but I didn't like that the rewards on them were all various amounts of VPs. This time each tile had some 'stuff' - a free module, or some resource cube or other. I liked that a lot better!

However, I did uncover an issue... I was awarding these timer tiles whenever anyone killed an alien, Colonized a sector, or finished a delivery tile. The first two of those worked very well - you get a little something immediately upon doing the scoring action. The latter though caused problems both thematically and mechanically. You deliver resources and are rewarded with... more resources! Which you can immediately deliver again without doing any work? That's lame.

The fix is easy though. When completing a delivery tile, you already get the tile which comes with some bonus VPs. So I'm simply not going to award a timer tile for that. Instead you'll only take a timer tile (and thereby advance the game end) when defeating aliens (via combat or diplomacy) and when colonizing a sector. I might need to reduce the total number of timer tiles to ensure a good game length, but that's certainly easy to do. Oh, and since deliveries don't progress the game end, I think I might add one more game end condition as a failsafe - if the delivery deck runs out (either one) then the game will end. I don't think this will ever actually occur, but better safe than sorry.

I'll want to test the game some more with various numbers of players to make sure I get the right number of timer tiles, and to make sure there's no balance issues introduced by the early free stuff (in particular the potential free cargo hold).

The game went well... it was pretty strange actually. There were 3 Blue colonies made, and no Green ones, but the initial demand tiles required 2 blue and 4 green cubes. The only player that had never played before did the best, winning over me by a pretty good margin. One player did very poorly, not grasping what it was he could do to repair some early bad play. Every move he tried to make just happened to be overshadowed by another player's play, and he just didn't see it coming. One player got 3 different tech upgrades, another got 2 and I got 1. All but about 2 yellow and 3 or 4 red tiles ended up being explored, which was pretty good - the game ended before the whole board was explored but not too early.

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