Thursday, April 07, 2011

Eminent Domain: Exotic Expansion

Eminent Domain: Exotic Expansion

I mentioned recently that I was working on the first full expansion to Eminent Domain. For ease of communication I will refer to the Prestige and Utopian planets as a promo-pack or something, and I'll refer to the Exotic expansion as the "1st" EmDo expansion - that should be close enough for government work.

While I like the idea of keeping things a secret, I cannot ignore the benefit I get from using my blog to think things through, and the comments I get from people, though sparse, are also helpful. And let's not forget then my readership is pretty darn small compared to the gaming population in general, so when the expansion comes out, plenty of people will still be surprised by all the new stuff!

That said, here's what I'm looking at, 2nd draft now, for the Exotic expansion. I welcome comments, especially from those who have played the game before!

New Start Planets:
First off, as I'm adding a planet type, I clearly need to make a Start Planet of that type which is equivalent to the other Start planets. Therefore there's an Exotic start planet which costs 2/2 and has 1 resource slot. Currently the resource that Exotic planets make is called Unobtanium, though I suspect that will change by the time I'm done. Anybody have a good idea for what resource the Exotic planets might make?

In addition to the standard Exotic start planet, I've made an additional Start planet of each type (Adv, Met, Fert, and Exo) for a grand total of 5 NEW Start planets. Back in development I tried adding icons/abilities to the start planets, and I really didn't like it. I wanted players to EITHER flip their start planet and start doing Research, OR Survey up a better planet first to make use of it's ability. For alternate start planets I thought adding icons would be good, but to avoid the problem I had before I decided to make these 5 more expensive than their standard counterparts. Here's what they look like:

COSTS: Warfare: 6, Colonize: 5. Slightly higher than the average planets in the survey deck because these planets are a little better than the ones in the survey deck.. So far this seems ok.

ICONS: The Advanced. Metallic, and Fertile planets each have 2 icons on them - the appropriate ones for that planet type. So Fertile has both Colonize and Produce icons on it. The Exotic planet only has 1 icon (Exotic), and it also has +1 Hand Size.

RESOURCE SLOTS: None of the alternate Start planets have any resource slots.

INFLUENCE: Each of the alternate Start planets are worth 2 Influence.

Exotic Planets:
The main thrust of this expansion is the new planet type and the associated icon and technologies. I've created a 9-card cycle of Exotic planets similar to that of the other planet types.

COSTS: Each of the Exotic planets cost Warfare: 5 / Colonize: 4.

ICONS: Six of the Exotic planets have an Exotic icon (my prototype uses a cute little 1-eyed alien face) on it, as well as a new icon in the Game Effect box (where the Hand Size +1 icon appears in the original planet cards). This new icon looks like:

[Exotic Icon] => [Other Icon]

Meaning that all Exotic icons can be used in place of that specific other icon. So if I had a planet that said [Exotic]=>[Warfare], then (a) because it's got an Exotic icon, that counts as a Warfare icon already, and (b) if I get another Exotic icon in play, that icon would ALSO count as a Warfare icon! So [Exotic]=>[Warfare] means "all of your Exotic icons count as Warfare icons."

The implication here is that if you get multiple Exotic planets in play they sort of build off of each other, making all of your Exotic icons more flexible and more powerful.

RESOURCE SLOTS: The other 3 Exotic planets do not have any Icons. Instead they have TWO resource slots. Unobtanium is pretty rare, only produced by 4 planets (one of which is a Start planet), but when you find some, you find a lot of it!

INFLUENCE: The 6 Exotic planets with icons are worth 2 Influence. The 3 Exotic planets with Unobtanium are worth 3 Influence.

Exotic Technology:
To go along with the new planet type, I have a new Technology stack for the Exotic planets. In it there are 6 Level 1 technologies (3-cost, 0-Influence), 4 Level 2 Technologies (5-cost, 2-Influence, 2 of them are permanent and back-to-back), and 2 Level 3 technologies (7-cost, 5-Influence, permanent and back-to-back).

Level 1: Each of the standard "Improved" technologies occurs 1 time, with the appropriate icon as well as an Exotic icon. So the Improved Survey card has a Survey icon and an Exotic icon, and its action is "Draw 3 cards". Obviously it'll have the same illustration as other Improved Survey cards as well. The Exotic icons on these cards are not useful unless you have a card in play that allows you to use Exotic icons as some other icon.

Level 2: There are 2 Level 2 techs that go into your deck (with 2 Exotic icons on them), and 1 double-sided tech card that stays in play. The ones that go into your deck have 2 Exotic icons on them, which are useless unless you have a card that translates them into another type of icon, and then they are pretty good. If you have multiple translators then they become really good.
Deep Space Probes (Exo/Exo): Action: Search the Planet deck and discard pile and choose 1 planet card. Shuffle the rest to create a new planet deck and put the chosen card on top.
This is to be used before a Survey role in order to get exactly the planet you want.
Cryptology (Exo/Exo): Draw 3 cards, then place up to 2 cards in hand back in their respective Stacks.
Sort of the opposite of Artificial Intelligence. It allows you to thin your deck, as well as maybe lengthen the game a little bit.
Coalition Victory (Perm): If you have 2 of each (Adv, Met, Fert) planet face up in your empire, you win the game.
Alternate win condition, a bit harder than it sounds as you need 2 of EACH planet type - the three listed as well as 2 Exo planets in order to play this card!
Thorough Survey (Perm): Survey Role: You may draw 2 fewer planet cards. If you do, keep 1 additional planet.
Allows a player to obtain 2 planets at a time, at the cost of requiring larger Survey roles.

Level 3: There is 1 double-sided tech card that stays in play:
Cult of the New (Exo): Each Exotic icon in your Empire is worth 1 additional Influence.
Bonus points for Exotic icons on planets in play (tech cards in your deck do not count). This one is actually worth 4 Influence in stead of the usual 5, because it also gives you an Exotic icon, which will score a bonus point at the end by itself.
Premium Product: +1 Influence for each Unobtanium that you trade.
The name on this one is really just a placeholder (that's true of several of these, actually). This one rewards you for trading Unobtanium, which is something you might be able to do a decent amount of if you specialize in Exotic planets. For the 2nd version I'm considering adding an Unobtanium resource slot or two to it.

5 Player Support:
In addition to the new stuff, I'm planning on providing additional cards and potentially a game end or rules tweak to make a 5 player game work. I haven't gotten a chance to play with 5 players yet, but I think that adding enough cards for another 10 card starting deck, and 1 or 2 more cards per stack would be good - and probably keeping the game end trigger on 2 piles (I think 3 would be too many, though I suppose it's worth a try). The rules tweak I am considering is only allowing players to Follow/Dissent Roles led by their neighbors. The main thing here is that I think I don't like players being able to Dissent 4 times in a row and then start their turn with 9+ cards. I'm also not sure I like so many opportunities to Follow, although in reality you only have so many cards in your hand, so maybe that's a self limiter. I'm curious whether players would be upset or not if they were hoping to follow Survey (saved cards for it), and one of the 2 players that they're not adjacent to called Survey - would that be an interesting dynamic? Or just annoying? I'd like to try it and see.

I welcome any comments on this. At this time I have still not assigned any meaning to the different sized Fighter tokens, I believe that will be part of another expansion. My early thoughts on that are Hostile planets, which must be flipped with Warfare, and perhaps Peaceful planets as well, which must be Colonized and not attacked. I think the medium sized token will become a Destroyer and the largest one a Dreadnought. There will probably be some mechanism to upgrade some number of fighters into a Destroyer, and etc... and for certain things you'll need Destroyers or Dreadnoughts. I haven't got that fully worked out yet, one thing at a time :)


SDS said...

Cryptography gave me an idea. Would it make sense to have something like an alien world deck, some thing that you can't draw from, until you've hit some amount of X to "understand" how that alien stuff works?

RP said...


RP said...


Re: fighters
Sounds like you will have rules for new planets. But what about the planets in the base game? In order to take advantage of the diff types of fighters, need a rule to work with them as well. Maybe something like: when conquering planets 4+, must use at least 1 destroyer / 6+, at least 1 dreadnought (strengths 2 and 3)? Other things to think about:
- Can either upgrade (3 fighters = destroyer, 4 = dreadnought) or build when you recruit armies (2 armies = destroyer, 3 = dreadnought).
- Dreadnoughts: max 1/player, and not destroyed (spent) when conquering? Thinking Planet Killer; should probably cost more to build

tomg said...

Fighters: I like RP's ideas. Similar to what I was thinking.
Unobtanium = sedjtrollium?
I like what I've read on the expansion so far. I am very interested in the 5 player version. I think the limited Dissent is probably a good idea.

kvenosdel said...

One quick thought about the follow/dissent change. I don't really like the idea of only being able to follow or dissent based on your neighbors. For one thing it requires additional rules which need to be adjusted based on how many people you play. Another situation I see arising is that someone who is not my neighbor surveys, my neighbor follows. I was really hoping to follow a survey so I had saved mine knowing my neighbor would follow. That's now ruined. It adds to the chaos factor and puts too much randomness into your strategy.

I would suggest instead posing a hand limit size. So the initial 5 cards would be termed your "draw limit" just to not be confusing. Essentially, if you dissent and draw cards and have more than X cards in hand you must immediately discard some. It prevents you from having too many cards in your hand.

Its an idea but it still as its limitations. I do agree though that drawing four cards before your turn is just ridiculous, but then again I think that problem already exists a little bit in the 4 player game, which is why I prefer 3.