Tuesday, September 13, 2011

EmDo Expansion update

Last time I posted about the EmDo expansion I mentioned that I was worried about the Exotic stuff, and preferred the idea of differentiating the resources more by making things cost resources. I thought maybe some tech cards could cost resources, and some planets could cost resources - and the specific resource costs would require players to get particular planets into play in order to afford them.

I whipped up a few such tech cards, as well as some techs that cost Fighters instead of Research symbols, some that require 2 different planet types, and some that contain a resource in lieu of a symbol (you can discard that card from our hand just like discarding a resource token from a resource slot in your Empire). Tonight I played a couple games with John, and got a chance to feel out how these cards felt.

The Good
I did get a feeling of exploration again while I tried to figure out ways to use these new technologies. Many of them were just Improved [X] techs, just like the level 1 techs, but the different costs meant you could get them without focusing on Research. For example, in the first game I spent my first 2 turns collecting 3 Fighters so that I could follow John's turn 2 Research even though I had nit flipped over my planet yet. While I'm not sure I actually want people to be able to do research without a planet in play, I do like the idea of a player not having to add research cards to their deck in order to get some tech cards.

The Bad
I constantly found it annoying and irritating to have a pile (even just a small pile) of tech cards with specific individual costs. It's a pain in the ass to remember which is which, and what costs what. I specifically chose to make all the level 1/2/3 tech cards cost the same thing (3/5/7 Research) to avoid this type of thing. As a result, I did not like the tech cards that cost specific resources.

The Ugly
Furthermore, in exploring the different ways to make the different resources do different things or acting different ways, I think I've decided that it's not worth doing. It represents a change to the fundamental design of the game, and no amount of monkey wrenching will make it feel right to me. It was worth a shot, but I think trying to add inherent meaning to the resource types is a mistake, considering that the game was built on th premise that the types themselves are not inherently different.

The correct way to make it matter that there are different types of resources is to provide more things like Specialization, Diverse Markets, and Genetic Engineering. To that end, I have come up with a new technology:

Specialized Production
Action: Choose a resource type. +1 Influence for each resource of that type you produce this turn.

Another type of thing I've had in mind to emphasize the importance of having one resource over another is like the Agendas I've discussed before. One thing I tried tonight (though in the 2 games we played neither John nor I made use of it) was a global effect (like an Agenda) in play from the beginning of the game. This one was called Trade Leader, and said "When leading a Trade role you may put the first resource traded onto this card (replacing any already there) instead of trading it. Resources of that type trade for +1vp." This affects the value of the resource type for ALL players, and anybody can change it if they want. I realized during play that I think you should be allowed to use a Trade Action to activate that agenda as well. I think it might be good to add one (some?) of these sorts of global effects to the 1st expansion as standard, then later in an expansion focusing on Agendas, add more and the Politics role to deal with getting them into play.

Techs that cost fighters
On the other hand, as I said, I did enjoy the techs that cost fighters. The fact that they can cost the same amount - 3 fighters for an Improved tech for example - but not require a big investment in Research. So I think those (or some form of them) will stay. They fit better into my vision of the expansion anyway.

The first draft techs of this type were simply the Improved Techs, with a cost of 3 Fighters and no planet requirement. I think I will add back on the planet requirement, and I'm toying with the idea of adding a Fighter icon to the native icon... meaning you could discard the card during an Attack action like it were a Fighter in your Empire. Thus, doing warfare based research gets you a tech card that can be used as a Fighter.

While I have not done it yet, I still plan on introducing Destroyers and Dreadnaughts (medium and large ships), and I think it follows that Level 2 warfare based tech would cost 1 Destroyer, or 2, or 1 plus some fighters... something like that. Level 3 warfare tech would cost a Dreadnaught. I'm considering various ways to go about obtaining Destroyers and Dreadnaughts, so the exact cost for the level 2/level 3 techs will depend on that.

Double Time
Play 2 additional cards during this Action phase
Of the few people who had playtested the Exotic expansion (and told me about it), the Double Time cards seemed universally popular. Everybody likes to play more cards, take more actions, do more things! I modified those for this playtest to remove the Exotic icon (replacing it with a resource icon), and put 2 different planet types on them. Requiring 2 different planet types is not much different than requiring just 1 planet, it's just more available to a player who begins setting up for a varied planet 'strategy' as opposed to the normal thing to do which is to double up on your start planet if you intend to go the research route (because the level 2 tech requires 2 of the same planet type). Also, it's not available from turn 2 because you do need a 2nd planet in play.

On that note, I think any Level 2 techs I add of this type should require 1 planet of each of the three main types (Fertile, Metallic, and Advanced).

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