Saturday, March 10, 2012

Warmonger update - 3/9/12

I have been playing with the most recent tweaks, and I feel like I'm getting an even better understanding of where I want these new cards to go. Here are my latest thoughts on the Warmonger expansion cards that have been in flux:

Fleet Tile

I like the Improved Fleet idea, though it clearly needs some tweaks. I am waffling back and forth on whether it should give VPs just for flipping the tile, and then more VPs if you also have your Dreadnaught at game end - or if all the VPs should come from having your Dreadnaught in play.

A new idea is to add a defensive aspect to the Dreadnaught. This may be more specific to the Military Campaign card, but the idea is that a player could discard their Dreadnaught in order to cancel an attack on their planet. this would of course occur after the attacker has discarded their Dreadnaught.

e.g. "I will play a Warfare card for my action to attack. Since I have Military Campaign, I will attack your Advanced planet with a Research symbol. I discard my Dreadnaught and 3 fighters (because your planet is worth 3vp)... do you discard your Dreadnaught, or do I get your planet?"

Also, I think I'll take the 'discard a Dreadnaught in lieu of Fighters' text off of the standard fleet side to save text space. It's so costly to get your Dreadnaught in the first place (without flipping the tile) that I figure it's unlikely to happen much anyway.

Finally, I think that the Improved side is a little too good - it becomes too easy to get a dreadnaught, I think. Unimproved it costs 6 fighters and 3 actions to get a Dreadnaught in play. Improved it only costs 2 fighters and 2 actions. I feel like that's too much of a discount. What are the options for Improved Fleet then?
Option 1:
3 Fighters -> Destroyer
1 Destroyer -> Dreadnaught
(total: 3 Fighters + 2 actions, discount of 3 Fighters + 1 Action)

Option 2:

2 Fighters -> Destroyer
2 Destroyers -> Dreadnaught

(total: 4 Fighters + 3 actions, discount of 2 Fighters)

Option 3:

2 Fighters -> Destroyer
1 Destroyer + 2 Fighters -> Dreadnaught

(total: 4 Fighters + 2 actions, discount of 2 Fighters + 1 Action)

The intent was to make it easier to get both Destroyers as well as your Dreadnaught by upgrading the tile, which implies that Option 3 is the way to go.

Start Planets

I continue to be very happy with the expensive Start planets, despite some reports of players feeling like they were set back too far (by not being able to do Research as early). In most of those reports, the player with the expensive Start planet even won the game, but still felt disadvantaged in the early game. In my games however it feels exactly right, and the player with the expensive planet is only delayed in Researching by about 1 round if they try hard enough.

I have made 3 more expensive Start planets - the same as the first, but with the costs flipped - in order to try it out. I would like to provide at least enough for each player to have a choice between a cheap and an expensive start planet, and I intend to add a 5th player to the mix, so that implies I should use all 6 expensive Start planets. 6 is not a bad number, as there are 6 starting planets in the base game as well.

I've also tried the Utopian planets with Symbols on them, and they seem pretty much fine so far. I might not include them at all, or I might only include the 3 weaker symbols on them (Trade/Produce/Survey), but they're definitely an improvement on the previous cheap planets with icons!

I played with a cheap Prestige planet (Cost: 2/2, 4vp, no other use), and it was pretty neat as well. You CAN flip it quickly, but it does not help you to do so. To compensate you for that, it's worth an extra couple of points. I like it, but I don't know if I'll include it this time - mostly because I'm not sure how many Start planet tiles I really want to have in the box!

Tech Cards

I'm happy with all the tweaks I made to the tech cards such as Destroyer Technology, Dreadnaught Technology, Utillity, Freedom of Trade, and Biosphere. I've also tweaked a couple of other cards since my last post, which I'll discuss below...

Peace Treaty + Warfare Tech: This continues to be strong, but not broken as far as I can tell. Some players suggest that it is too good (and in fact 1 group has said they think the Peace Treaty by itself is so good as to be an auto-purchase every game) - but I haven't seen the player who gets this winning the game in my own experience... so I'm still hesitant on this one.

I could consider separating the Peace Treaty and the Warfare Tech abilities, putting them back to back. In that case I worry the Peace treaty by itself is too weak, so I could add a symbol - Survey/Trade/Produce for the Metallic/Advanced/Fertile versions. If I did this, I'd need to come up with a new level 1 permanent tech to go opposite Utility, Freedom of Trade, and Thorough Scanning, because I like those three!

Scientific Method: I was concerned that Scientific Method (Permanent tech - buy 1 additional tech card during Research roles) was not strong enough, because it's difficult to have enough symbols to buy 2 things at a time (if you have 6 symbols to buy 2 level 1 techs, you'd still rather have 1 Level 2 because it's worth VPs). So I added a Research icon to the card. It seemed far and useful, and so far it's been used several times to good effect! This might seem a little too good in conjunction with Warfare Tech, but I think that's more of a comment on Warfare Tech than on Scientific Method.

Scientific Discovery: Since I upgraded Scientific Method, I also had to upgrade Scientific Discovery. It suffered from another problem as well - Scientific Discovery has a Research icon on it, and it only offers a discount of 1 symbol per tech card purchased (and the ability to purchase 1 additional tech card). Therefore if you're only buying 1 tech card, it's better to not play the action and simply use the card for the symbol. You'd only play the action if you were going to buy two Level 1 techs (for 4 symbols), two level 2 techs (for 8 symbols), or a level 1 and a level 2 (for 6 symbols). That sounded OK to me at the time, but the purpose was supposed to be to allow a player to EITHER get 2 smaller techs OR help them get 1 bigger tech. So I tried upping the discount to 2 symbols per card purchased... this makes it similar to a card with 2 Research symbols (like Data Network) when going for a big (level 2 early, level 3 later) tech, and it makes getting two Level 2 techs fairly easy in the mid-game (you still need to have the right planets).

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure how much I like this bigger discount. It certainly seems to work, but I'm also considering some alternate effects for this card:

Action: Take any 3-cost Tech card into your hand. This includes tech cards you do not have access to normally, as well as Double Time.


Action: Remove a standard Role card from the game [or maybe return it to the Stacks]: Take an Improved tech of that type into your hand. So like remove a Survey card from the game, take any Improved Survey into hand (including one you haven't got the planets for, or one that costs Fighters instead of Research symbols). This one is a little more limited (no Double Time, and you have to have the right card in hand), but it also allows you to trim a lesser card from your deck.

I welcome any thoughts you may have on this, please leave a comment!

Other ideas - maybe for another expansion or maybe for this one:
I kinda like the idea of a tech card that gives you an extra Role phase. I figure there could be 2...
1. Level 2: Action: Choose a Role (other players may Follow or Dissent)
2. Level 3 Permanent: Choose an additional Role during your Role Phase each turn.

I might also like to see more tech that costs a Destroyer, tech that costs a Dreadnaught, and a tech that has a Fighter printed on it (like the Hostile planets).

If I were to make the 'take 2 Roles' tech above and have it cost Dreadnaught/7 Research, what should be on the back side of it? A card with a Destroyer printed on it (like the Fighters on Hostile planets - a Destroyer you could spend once each turn)? Also, what could these techs be called? I think they'd be in the "1 of each planet" pile.


Kirian42 said...

Totally need to tag this with EmDo so it shows up on the "tagged" list.

Seth Jaffee said...

Regarding the Improved Fleet tile...

It was suggested to me that I could have it be like this:
Action: 2 Fighters -> 1 Destroyer (as many times as you like)
Action: 2 Destroyers -> 1 Dreadnaught

That's 4 Fighters + 2 actions = Dreadnaught, like Option 3, and it has the benefit of allowing a player to make multiple Destroyers more easily (which I'd like to find ways to make viable or worthwhile).

On that note, I'll probably tweak some of the costs in the multi-planet tech pile so that more of them costs a Destroyer (like 5 Research / 1 Destroyer rather than 5 Research / 5 Fighters).