Monday, January 25, 2010

Updated ED Proto?

Despite deciding that I probably don't want to go with a 2D array of planet cards or tiles, I went ahead and made a set of tiles... each one has a planet type and one of it's associated icons (or a + hand size icon or +1VP icon). The intent is to lay them out in a hexagonal board. The center tile has all 6 symbols represented, making it good for all actions, and therefore more valuable. Player 'home' planets would be attached to 5 blank tiles in a sort of pyramid shape, and appended to one side of the large hexagon, so in order to get to any planet tile you'd have to move your ship 2 spaces from your home planet.

The idea here is that the Survey action moves your ship around, the Warfare action attacks the tile your ship is on (for a standard number of armies maybe 5), and the Colonize action colonizes the tile your ship is on for a variable price, which increases as you approach the center of the hexagon.

There are 4 rings to this board, the first ring would cost maybe 2 to colonize, the next ring would cost 3, the 3rd would cost 4 and the center tile would cost 5 (or something like that, maybe it would ramp up more, like 3/4/6/7). When you attack or colonize a tile you would take the tile in front of you so you could see what bonuses you've got, and you would place a player marker of some sort on the space... the VPs of the tile would be based on it's location as well, representing that you had to do more work to colonize a tile near the center. After colonizing or attacking (let's call that "claiming") a tile, your ship would jump back to your home tile, and you'd have to make your way out there again.

One benefit of this board is that it lets you aim for particular bonuses - if you want to go the warfare route, you might target tiles that give you +1 Warfare. If you notice a number of tiles near your base that have Harvest and Trade icons, maybe you'll decide to go that route. Maybe you'd prefer to survey your way out toward the center of the baord and try to claim tiles that are worth more points. Or maybe you'll eschew abilities and go for planets with +1VP on them. Another plus is that it could create more direct player interaction - the early Surveys move your ship in front of your own home base, but later in the game you might decide to move over to the area in front of an opponent and compete with them for planets. Most notably, suppose another player chooses the Survey role, moving to a particular tile, and you can follow and move to the same tile, then on your turn you colonize it out from under them!

On the down side, this idea is kind of bulky. Is the game a board game or a card game? Does it need a bunch of (60+) tiles in addition to a whole lot of cards? It might just be simpler to draw from the deck, and my latest ideas on that mechanism seem to be working out alright.

Latest Survey mechanism
In my last playtest I tried laying out some planets (face down) in a similar manner to what I described in a previous post. This time I said "If you pay 2/3/4/5 symbols you get to take the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th card AND EVERY CARD BEFORE IT, look at the back, choose the one you want to keep face down in front of you, and put the rest back in any order." This meant an opponent Following the role would do the same thing, but they would have to have at least 3 symbols as that would be the cheapest card available. that worked alright, and I realized afterward that that was almost the same thing as saying "draw 1 card from the deck per symbol, keep 1 face down and put the rest back on top." Except for the costs of things. The next time I'll try that, the Role action will be "draw 1 card per symbol, keep 1." and the Follow action will be "draw 1 card for every 2 symbols, keep 1." This is a little cheaper than the original rules for 1 card, the same cost to look at 2 cards, and a little more expensive thereafter.

If that goes well, I might consider redoing the planets a bit so some are definitely better than others, to lend more value to looking at more cards at a time. But will that feel like luck of the draw if I can only afford 1 planet, and it happens to be a good one? In any case, the planet you get goes face down, and you still have to Claim it via Warfare or Colonization actions.

I'm using the same format for Research as well - draw 1 card per symbol when you choose the role, 1 card per 2 symbols if you Follow the role. I'll see if that works. Of course, this would change if I ever get around to changing the technology system to one where you bu the tech you want with research symbols. Lately I've been thinking that while that would be good, I'm kind of wondering if it's necessary. Maybe I'm just getting used to the original system.

I also made player aides describing the turn order, and the Action, Role, and Follow effects for each of the 6 Role cards. I think that'll help, since some of the Role cards don't describe what they do.

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