Friday, October 08, 2010

Eminent Domain - Level 3 technologies

The current level 3 technologies are as follows:

Metallic: Play an additional Action during your action phase
I think this one's cool and appropriately powerful.

Fertile: Draw an additional card when not following
This one isn't bad, though it may be a little boring.

Advanced: Remove 1 card in hand from the game before choosing a role
This one is kind of weak. I'm OK with the Advanced Level 3 tech being the weakest of the three, because it's the easiest to get (all the cards you get en route can have Research icons - and there's the Research-Research tech at level 2)

The following are possible alternatives for the Advanced level 3 tech (and perhaps the Fertile one as well). Leave a comment with your thoughts on these - especially if you've played the game before!

- Remove any number of cards each turn
(often won't be more than 1 or 2 anyway)

- Use any 2 matching cards to boost any role
(makes your deck more efficient once it's filled with crappy or useless cards - this is a sort of alternate way to "rid your deck of bad cards")

- Play the Action phase and the Role phase in any order each turn
(this could be a lot more efficient, timing-wise)

- You may Settle/Attack while Following a Colonize/Warfare role

In related news, I've been testing a slightly improved Research action because the original one (remove 1 card in hand from the game) really didn't do much. You have to add a card to your deck each turn, so removing just 1 doesn't seem like progress. I have been testing an upgraded version of the basic Research action: "Remove up to 2 cards in hand from the game" and it does seem better. This change necessitates an upgraded Tech-Research card (formerly remove up to 2 cards) - I've been trying "Draw 1 card, then remove any number of cards in hand from the game." I guess that's ok, but I wonder if removing ANY number is too good - I figure often it won't be more than 2 cards anyway, but for example tonight I removed 5 cards that way. Is that OK?

the Level 2 Research-Research tech card says "Draw 2 cards then remove any number from the game," and I think that is good enough even with the upgrades to the other cards. That card having 2 Research icons is already quite a boon.

Finally, while most people haven't registered any complaint or comment about the name, at least 2 people have lashed out about "Eminent Domain" as the title of this game. I really like that title, and I think it's thematically appropriate (exception: Warfare doesn't really fit very well). Yet these 2 friends insist that the name does not evoke the right images for the game.
Please leave a comment if you have an opinion on Eminent Domain as a title, or if you have an idea for an alternate title. I do really like the current title, so unless I really like a proposed alternate, or unless a lot of people have strong negative reactions to Eminent Domain, I doubt I will change it. However one proposed alternative, Manifest Destiny, isn't terrible. It was also suggested that a year be added, like Manifest Destiny: 3012 or something. Generally speaking I hate game titles with a year just stuck in there, but I do see how it could help some.

I don't normally say this, but for those who follow my blog, thanks for reading. I hope to see your opinions in the comments!


Jeff said...

I don't know if I'm one of the 2 who have already registered their opinion on this, but yes, Eminent Domain doesn't strike me as a very good title for a game about space colonization. As you no doubt know, eminent domain is a legal term with a precise meaning that can't really be extrapolated to anything that seems to go on in your game, so it will certainly create confusion among potential customers. And its acronym is about as bad as "TP"'s.

"Manifest Destiny", of course, also has a precise historical meaning but it strikes me as being more adaptable to a space colonization game, particularly with a year tacked on to make it sound more futuristic; that also separates it from the existing GMT game "Manifest Destiny". Although I'm not sure that it's the most exciting title you could come up with, it's a bit better than Eminent Domain. I don't have any great suggestions but I'll let you know if I come up with anything...

Tim Harrison said...

Count me among those that have a strong negative reaction to "Eminent Domain."

On the other hand, Manifest Destiny is already the name of a game by GMT. I own it. (Not that you couldn't use it, or a variation.)

tomg said...

First the name. I kind of agree with your friends. The name does not evoke what the game is about. It evokes images of a city council taking someone's land for a new road. How about Eminent Frontiers? That, to me, talks about colonists, settling, expansion, an American West or Golden Age of Exploration feeling.
The cards -
Level 3 Tech -
Possibility 1 - I would limit the number removed to 3 or 4.
Possibility 2 - I like this ok. I would be good to be able to use 'useless' cards.
Possibility 3 - Neat idea and a good one. I can see ways to use it. Double Attack?
Possibility 4 - Powerful. I like it. There were several times in my last two games where I would have liked to been able to Settle on a Follow.
Research -
I like the upgrade.
Tech - Research/Research - seems fine.
I'll try to get a couple of plays in this weekend.

Seth Jaffee said...

"The name does not evoke what the game is about. It evokes images of a city council taking someone's land for a new road."

This is the main complaint that I have heard with regard to the name. What I don't get is this... the image of the city council taking someone's land is exactly what the game is about - the "city council" is you and your empire, and the "someone's land" is the planet you're annexing!

With Alien Frontiers just coming out I think I would want to avoid that word in the title, but thanks for the suggestion! Keep them coming!

tomg said...

Ok. I see your point about the name. But 'colonize and settle' does not evoke the 'i'm the empire here to take over your planet' feel to me. Colonize and settle is a lot more peaceful to me. Maybe "Infiltrate/Take Over" would say that to me. But it definitely changes the game to more of a wargame. This is a tricky one. I thought about 'Alien Frontiers' after I posted. It is close to another game but not as close as 'Manifest Destiny' is.
More later.

Seth Jaffee said...

@tomg: I would prefer to change the terminology to match the name than to change the name... perhaps instead of "Colonize" and "Settle" I could use "Occupy" and "Annex" for example. For a while I was going to use the term "Expropriate" instead of "Colonize" - I like that word and think it sounds cool, but it's long, cumbersome, and a lot of people probably aren't familiar with it (is that good or bad?)

The only real action that doesn't so much fit with the theme is Warfare, because if you're the government annexing planets, why would you have to fight at all?

Manifest Destiny is a closer fit thematically, I have to admit. As for similarity of name, the prior game called Manifest Destiny is dissimilar in scope, theme, and genre, and it came out 5 years ago. Alien Frontiers on the other hand is a similar theme, similar genre, and came out 5 minutes ago. Between the 2 I think it would be safer/more appropriate to share title with Manifest Destiny.

So maybe the title should change to Manifest Destiny: 3012 - what do you think?

Sean McCarthy said...

As you know, I don't think Eminent Domain is a good name.

I think Manifest Destiny without a date is out of the question, as it is a) taken and b) still does not evoke a space theme! Adding a random future year fixes both, but sounds tacky in my opinion.

I can't say I've thought of a name I think is actually good, but here's some brainstorming.

From Perseus to Centaurus
(attempted analogue to "from sea to shining sea", for the milky way)
100,000 Light Years
(also referencing the extent (diameter) of the milky way)
Settlement of Stars
Conquest of Stars
Via Lactea
(Latin for milky way)
Galaxy Incognita
(Latin for, um, unknown galaxy, in reference to terra incognita)
Astra/Sidera/Stella Incognita
(Unknown stars... not sure which one would be the best Latin)

Yeah, I don't know. Race for the Galaxy, that would be a good name. Or Alien Frontier maybe.

tomg said...

I like 'Occupy' and 'Annex' as is 'Expropriate'.
I agree about Warfare. Is it really necessary? You could drop it and break 'Harvest/Trade' into two separate cards and not increase your card count.
Manifest Destiny with a date works for me. I liked it when it was suggested and still do.

daje10 said...

You might also want to consider the non nativ english speaking people in the world. And a name such as Eminent Domain might mean somthing to you I think manny people will not have a clue on the subtle undertones/meanings implied with the name. They will probobly just go WFT? Also comparing a modern term with a post modern action might not be the same. To me the anexastion is much bigger so it would desern a term of it+s own. Or would you say that the city council just anexed some land?

I also think not using the "colonize", wich is a term well known, would be a mistake.

I like that you try give the gamers the feel of the game in the title of the game. I do not know much about the game but maby a name like "the new frontier" or just "Frontier" you could even put in a date if you want to. The name frontier gives the game a feeling of being about pushing the boundries and discovering new planets. I do not know if this is the feeling you want to the game.

nolan said...

Regarding the name: I don't really like it. I think that Eminent Domain and Manifest Destiny both have negative connotations. Because I have no better suggestions, and because it doesn't really bother me, I didn't complain at all prior to this. :D

The Metallic level 3 is my favorite. I like the Fertile level 3 well enough. I'm not sure that I've ever seen the Advanced level 3 played, unless it was just played for points (of course, this is only a small sampling of plays when playing the tech rules correctly).

Regarding each option
#1 - I don't think this would be too powerful. If you trash more than a couple cards in a turn, you are certainly handicapping yourself for that turn anyway. It's certainly not my favorite of the 4.

#2 - Is this two matching cards to boost your role once? E.g., two surveys can be used as a single colony? That particular example is a bit inelegant, but otherwise I can see this working. I'd be curious to see how often it gets used. It seems that junk cards may too often come in singles.

#3 - I like this. It seems that except for the "Produce 2 resource" action, this would primarily be used in conjunction with Colonize and Warfare, possibly with Survey. I'm not sure if this is bad, or not but...

#4 - I like this better. It would work beautifully with either a Research-heavy or Harvest/Trade strategy countering a Colonize/Warfare strat. In fact, it might be too good.

Ranked, without actually trying any: #4, #3, #1, #2.