Thursday, April 30, 2009

Terra Prime publication

As I've mentioned, Terra Prime is being published by Tasty Minstrel Games. Art is being done by Josh Cappel, who's work on Wasabi, Gheos, and Pandemic has proven to be amazing. I've seen some samples and so far the style looks pretty slick. A little more cartoony than I had originally imagined, but as long as it's consistent I think it will look great!

Since my last post I've finalized some rules...

* As discussed, asteroid fields and stray asteroids hit on 3+ now. I ended up making the Astromech Navigational Computer (which will probably just be called "NavComp" or something I can't be sued for) upgrade after all. It only costs Blue + Green, which means you can buy it without having to get a Cargo Hold or do any exploring first - which is good because it helps in exploring. I also attached a few points to it to make sure it's worth getting rather than delivering goods early in the game. The result is that if you can complete a tile and you want the bonus from the tile then you might want to deliver. If you're not going to complete the tile you might rather grab an Astromech which could help later, gets you your points (though less flexible than if you'd delivered and gotten money), and it doesn't help the delivery guy finish the tiles. Also, to make sure it wasn't useless I made the effect be that with the Astromech you only get hit on a roll of 6 for asteroids.

* I tried the 'red planets can teleport you home' rule and I like it. That is now the official rule.Red planets don't produce a resource, so instead of gathering a resource there, you can teleport home (giving an opponent a Leadership Point if you use their colony, of course). This makes the prospect of trips to the far reaches of space a little less bleak because you can get back in a hurry.

* I'm sticking to 2vp per alien - with the caveat that, if it can be described simply enough, I might make Warships worth 3vp. "What the hell is a Warship!?!" you ask? Well, to better describe the extra damage done by double and triple aliens, I've decided to have 2 types of symbols: Scouts and Warships. The Scouts will look less menacing than the Warships. A single alien is really just a Scout. A double alien is 1 Scout and 1 Warship. And a triple symbol will be 1 Scout and 2 Warships. Simply put, all alien ships roll 1 die to attack, and Warships do 1 additional damage. And as I said, Warships might be worth 1 more vp. However if it's not easy enough to describe, I'm OK with all the aliens just being worth 2vp. I'm also considering awarding the same VP for Diplomacy (which is currently 0vp) now that I've made it more expensive. That way it's consistent, and I'll note that it's still a relatively bad deal compared to delivering. Then again, maybe I'll leave it as is... Diplomacy was intended to be a sort of backup plan anyway. It's a way to clear out aliens so you can colonize, even if you're not really prepared to fight aliens. Only awarding points for killing aliens rewards the investment in weapons, and I've always liked that.

* I did decide to turn discarding a Colony marker into a free action, but ne that can only be done at a Colony (and thereby using the colony - the owner gets VP).

* I decided the game is better without players starting with Energy on their built-in shield. They can always charge it up, or buy a shield and charge, before heading out into the unknown.

* As for starting player advantage or disadvantage... a lot of people comment that the early players have an advantage because they get to colonize the closest planets to Terra Prime. It's pretty even for the first 3 players, but players 4 and 5 need to make alternate plans. In a way I like that dynamic, and by definition their first colonies are worth more points because they're farther away from Terra Prime. I used to start players with different amounts of points to begin, but I found something I like better... players 1, 2, and 3 start with 20 credits like always, but player 4 and 5 (in a 4 or 5 player game of course) start with an additional 10 credits. This will help them buy both a gun and a shield if they want, in case they need to clear out an alien before planting their first colony - for example. All players will start with 3vp, so that if they risk an asteroid without shields in the very beginning they actually have something to lose. It's small, but I like the dynamic - in particular for a player who wants to colonize an Asteroid Field directly next to Terra Prime on the first turn (such a colony can be very lucrative).

* I like the change in colony scoring - that you get points for asteroid fields rather than additional planets. There's interesting tile laying now regarding whether or not to group planets to create or destroy further colony locations, and if you want to boost the score of your colony then you risk damage. That often just means having to refill shields, which takes 10 credits (=1vp) and an action - but that's a cost all the same.

* I have been allowing 2 tiles to be examined using the long range scanner, and it seems fine.

* For Reward tiles I went with color specific cargo holds, Green and Blue in the first phase, yellow in the 2nd. All of these flip to a regular 2 cube hold if you get the Cargo Capacity upgrade. I also retooled some of the later ones to give a cube and some energy. Some players didn't like not being able to use the cubes that popped up, but most of the time you can use Energy.

* I figured out an ingenious method of organizing bits... currently in my prototype I have glass beads for colony markers, and you place them on the planet that defines the colony - thereby covering the only important piece of information on the board. Instead of that, I want to use pac-man shaped tiles as colony markers, each circular tile the size of a sector with 1/3 cut out. Thus, you place this on the board covering ALL BUT the important information. It cuts down on clutter, and keeps from obscuring the only important info a colony provides. The only problem with this idea is that the tiles are too big to fit in the cargo holds on the ship board. But lo, Josh came up with a solution for that! A supply of generic pac-man shaped tiles onto which you place a colony marker! When he asked me how many would be needed, I had another stroke of genius... you only need as many colony markers (also used to cover aliens) as there are Reward tiles, as when those run out the game is over. Therefore, the reward tiles themselves could be pac-man shaped, with the reward on one side, and a starscape on the back to cover stuff on the board!
... I'm so proud of myself :)

Sadly, the publisher is balking a bit at having a special piece for the colony markers - they might have to be rectangular tiles - which wouldn't be the end of the world... but little double-dome shapes with a tub-like hallway in between them would be pretty cool. Or a Cylinder split down the center perhaps. I guess we'll see what happens there.

1 comment:

Gil said...

It's great that Josh is doing your art! He's quite good.

Do you have a publication date?