Saturday, April 04, 2009

Terra Prime - final touches continue

I played 3 games of Terra Prime yesterday (and watched another - all 4 player), and 6 more today (five 3p and one 4p). I tested all the rules I posted about before, as well as some adjustments to them. I tweaked some of the tiles here and there as well. Here are some thoughts on how it's going (which, to sum up, is very well!)

Comments from previous post:

  • Instead of 1 cube per alien symbol, it costs 1 cube plus 1 per symbol.

  • This seemed fine. It's pretty tough to 'buy off' a triple alien this way, but it was tough before, and that's kinda the point. If you're being diplomatic, it's probably to get rid of a single or MAYBE a double alien.

  • As an action at a colony, a colony marker can be removed from your ship and returned to the supply. An opponent gets a point if you use their colony this way.

  • This still seems harsh, considering that if you're doing it, you're already screwed up. I'm thinking of making it a free action, but one that can only be done at a colony (and the player with the colony still gets a point for you using their colony this way)

  • Colonies on Red planets are called Bases, and work exactly like Terra Prime.

  • This turned out to be too degenerate, bu it's too bad because I liked the idea behind it. I changed it to Red planets providing Shields, which was OK, but still lacked something. Then Mandy suggested the Red colony have the ability to teleport your ship back to Terra Prime. I'd danced around that idea myself but never really thought about actually allowing your ship to teleport across the board. It might be a great compromise! Next I'll try Red colonies providing shields and teleporting players home (as an action, of course).

  • Command Ships have a built in shield (1 Energy). Asteroids and Asteroid fields in uncolonized sectors inflict 1 damage per symbol.

  • I like the built in shield, though I'm back and forth as to whether it should start with energy or not. I am currently of the idea that automatic damage for Asteroids isn't as fun as rolling dice and the potential to save a damage here or there, so I've been playing that a 3+ hits for asteroids. This is different that the 4+ for aliens, which is a little annoying but might be ok. It lends itself to a possible new Ship Upgrade: Navigation Computer (or "Astromech") which would make it 5+ instead (they help you plot a course so as not get hit by asteroids as much). This upgrade would help people who want to Explore/Colonize, so it should probably cost Yellow + Blue (or green) + Brown, and be worth a few points (maybe 3). It might combo well with a Cloaking device for someone who wants to sweep the Red Zone for exploration points and plant a colony out there as their endgame.

  • Asteroid Fields add 1 Leadership Point per symbol to the value of a colony.

  • I like this. I've tried to uninflate the VPs for aliens and colonies, so instead of scoring for all of the stuff in your colony, you score for the planet you colonize plus any Asteroids (since you had to withstand them to get there) plus of course the distance from Terra Prime. Thematically it makes more sense that planets would increase the value of a colony and asteroid fields would reduce it, but I can't worry about that right now!

    And further thoughts:
    - I mentioned the Nav Computer above. Not sure if I feel like adding an upgrade, especially since it changes the components. Strictly speaking it's not necessary so it might not make the cut.

    - I might change the Long Range Scan action to look at two tiles rather than just 1. People are hesitant to use the action because they feel they're wasting their time. Maybe looking at 2 tiles would help more. Also, I've upped the usefulness of Red planets, and also made them a little more scarce (made Yellow a little more scarce as well), so maybe it's more worth peeking at tiles to plan your future turns.

    - Early (phase 1) Reward tiles (game end timer) were a little too strong. Especially Cargo Holds. I have some ideas to fix this, one is to just give out weapons or half-full shields on the Phase 1 tiles. But first I'll try a color specific cargo hold - one for Green and one for Blue in phase 1, and the Phase 2 one will be a Yellow specific hold. This one is a little more awkward with regard to components (there has to be 3 special cargo holds that are different from the rest), but I think it might be worth checking out. As for player differentiation, the cubes you can carry have a big effect on which upgrades you can buy, and therefore which strategy you pursue.

    - I went back down to 2vp per explore, and changed Alien scoring to 2vp per symbol. I was annoyed that the player killing the aliens for points was the same one colonizing the planet they were guarding - it seemed too swingy. I think it's fair with a lower value for Aliens, though I might bump it back up to 3vp/symbol. I do think it's better than you get the VP per symbol though, so if you don't finish them off you still get your partial credit. I was thinking about a bonus for finishing them off, but that's what the reward tile is for. It may prove disappointing that sometimes you cannot hold the reward though - that bothered me at first, but now I think it's a neat variable extra VP for killing aliens or colonizing.

    - I might think about making the rewards an opportunity, or indicating a different reward for if you killed an alien or if you colonized to get it. this might be too much work to worry about.

    That's about it for now. I'm sure I'll test it some more this weekend with these new tweaks. I also tweaked some of the tiles for planet, asteroid, and alien distribution, so I'll see if I like that any better than what I had.

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