Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nothing much to report

I feel like I haven't been posting enough, but then again I haven't had much to report. I wonder if those two phenomenon aren't related to some extent...

I went to BGG.con a couple weeks ago, and I had a pretty good time, but on the down side I got kinda sick on day 2, and was coughing all week. I even threw up one night. :( I hope I didn't infect anyboy else.

I didn't get to all of the things I wanted to play at BGG.con, but I did manage to play my number 1 priority: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. It was awesome, just as I expected it to be. People make a big deal about the gears, or about how they thought the gears would just be a gimmick... but if they've read anything about how the game works, then there's no reason they should not see that the gears are not a gimmick, but an integral part of the game. It could have been a plain board with 5 tracks to place workers on and a round counter, and a fiddly accounting phase where you advance all markers on each of those tracks - which would have worked just as well, but may have simply been too much physical work, and distract from the game itself. The gears simply make that a reality - automatically updating each of those tracks with a quick turn of the gear. I like the game a lot, and cannot wait to play it again.

Looking at that board makes me think that maybe gears are a way to make possible the changing streetlights for Hot & Fresh.

I did get to spend some quality some of my good friends that I hardy ever see. There are people I missed or would have liked to spend more time with of course, but such is life.

I didn't play any of my prototypes that I brought with me, though I did teach EmDo: Escalation to 1 group, and played Venice and 8 Minute Empire once each.

Now that I've sent the completed rules and everything for Escalation to Gavan and Michael (I hope they have coordinated a schedule on that), I have started looking at EmDo: Exotic again. I haven't looked at it since before I was done with Escalation, so I would like to update my thoughts on it and bring in line with the other expansion (which will precede it). For example, I've introduced new concepts in Escalation such as paying Fighters for Tech cards, Fighters/Resource icons on Tech cards, Recon, Reparations, and Replenishing slots... I might like to expand on those concepts in Exotic. Of course, I would also like to ensure that Exotic is playable without Escalation as well...

I'm also considering all kinds of new types of things for Tech cards. For example, I would like to create a run of tech cards who's action is, in effect, boost-able. For example:

Unnamed Metallic L2 Warfare Tech Action
Action: Collect 1 Fighter for each [Warfare icon] in your empire (you may play [Warfare icons] from your hand).

In effect, an Action that acts like a Warfare role. I can see this for each of the standard Actions:

Unnamed Metallic L2 Survey Tech Action
Action: Recon the Planet deck for "X" where "X" is the number of [Survey icons] in your empire (you may play [Survey icons] from your hand). Take the top Planet card and put it into your Empire, face down.

Unnamed Advanced L2 Research Tech Action
Action: Choose 1 Technology card who's Prereqs you satisfy. If you pay its cost with [Research icons] in your empire, put it in your hand (you may play [Research icons] from your hand).

Unnamed Advanced L2 Trade Tech Action
Action: Trade 1 Resource for each [Trade icon] in your empire (you may play [Trade icons] from your hand). Collect 1 Influence from the supply for each Resource traded.

Unnamed Fertile L2 Produce Tech Action
Action: Produce 1 Resource for each [Produce icon] in your empire (you may play [Produce icons] from your hand).

Unnamed Fertile L2 Colonize Tech Action
Action: +1 Colony. You may place [Colonize icons] from your hand under Planets in your empire as Colonies.

The impetus for this was new wording on a tech card I had in mind for Exotic:

Exotic Efficiency:
Action: For each [Exotic icon] in your Empire, Draw 1 card or remove 1 card in hand from the game.

There's an open question as to how big this expansion should be. I believe the original plan was to have mini-expansions, which wouldn't cost terribly much, and would fit in a box the size of The Resistance (about 4"x6"). In that respect, a couple of tiles and a small handful of cards would be enough. but will that significantly impact game play enough to warrant having it? I am very happy with the effect on game play that Escalation provides. I would be disappointed if Exotic didn't deliver on that front as well.

On the other hand, perhaps Exotic could be a smaller mini-expansion to tide things over while I work on the next more significant Agenda expansion I've had in mind all along. I'll keep that in mind as I revisit Exotic.

Here's a question... would it be acceptable to have a subset of cards in Exotic that are for use only if you also use Escalation, and if you don't have ESC (or don't care to use it) then you just leave those cards out? Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and any other thoughts you have on integrating one expansion with another (in addition to integrating with the base game, obviously).

As a sort of recap, I'll briefly mention that the main thrust of the Exotic expansion is a new planet type. Thematically, the players have finally left the recognizable portion of the universe and are running into exotic planets with alien life and technology. So far all of the "characters" we've seen have been human, the aliens will likely be humanoid but decidedly foreign and not human.

The thing about exotic planets is that they provide benefits, but without the ability to translate or understand it, it's not useful. I.e. there's a new role symbol, but all by itself it doesn't do anything. While some planets in Exotic will provide this new, useless symbol, many other planets will proved "translators" which allow a player to use an Alien symbol as another type of symbol. This sounds like a lot of work, but when you consider that multiple different translators work on the same Alien icon they become very flexible. The idea is that if you collect a lot of effects from this expansion, they build on each other. And of course all tech cards in the Exotic stack will have Alien icons on them...

Another thing about exotic planets is that they produce a different type of resource: Crystal. Which could be interesting in certain deck builds.
Now that Escalation has introduced Civilized, Hostile, and Bustling planets, I could add Exotic planets of these types. I am hesitant to add TOO many new planets though, and I'm already planning on 9 Exotic planets and 6 new planets of the basic types. I could see NOT adding Civilized planets, because thematically that doesn't make a lot of sense, and mechanically there are plenty of those already. I could see adding a Hostile planet, but unless I change the Warfare cost (which I suppose I could do), then without a Fleet tile from Escalation, how do you attack it? Adding Bustling planets (that is to say planets with Actions on them) would be the easiest, but of course I'd have to decide which actions to add.

In other news, I haven't done too much in the way of gaming lately. Since returning from BGG.con I have only played Robinson Crusoe (this week) - which was highly thematic, but other than that had little-to-nothing really going for it as far as I was concerned. Seemed long and fiddly, it felt like we were probably forgetting rules or playing wrong, it seemed pretty darn easy, and even if not, it just didn't feel like fun to me. 
Other than that, I've only been playing Glory to Rome - best of 3 with my roommate John almost every evening. I probably win 60+% of our 2p games, but he was beating me pretty bad last week. Maybe it was because I was under the weather, I don't know. but I'm happy to say that while he beat me 2 days in a row, I have been beating him the last few - so I'm getting back to true form :) I have been experimenting with trying to control the game end a little better, and for the most part it was working. I will also say that in the past 4 sessions or so I have seen way more successful Colosseum action than I ever had before, as well as a Forum victory. Almost every game we've played, John has been able to go first and many of them he was able to hire a Craftsman (I got anything from a Merchant in the best case, to a laborer in the worst case). ONCE I got to hire a Craftsman turn 1, and that game I barely used him! :)

Glory to Rome is really a great game, and anyone who doesn't think so is just wrong - that's all there is to it.


Paul Owen said...

Hey, Seth, did you realize that Z-Man has a Reiner Knizia game called "Escalation" already?

Seth Jaffee said...

Yeah, but I'm pretty sure it's not called Eminent Domain: Escalation :)

PSchulman said...

Question about the new types of Planets:

Do they provide a "planet" when it concerns researching techs (i.e. they work as say metallic/advanced/fertile as well as hostile/civilized/bustling?

If not, wouldn't the deck be to "full' with 6 diferent types of planets?

Seth Jaffee said...

@PSchulman: The Hostile/Civilized/Bustling (which is what the "action" planets are called) qualifiers are subcategories, so a planet isn't just a "Hostile" planet, it's a "Hostile Advanced" planet. So this doesn't change the number of planet types at all.

So that Hostile Advanced planet counts as an Advanced planet in every way, the only thing "Hostile" means is that it costs a Destroyer, and has a replenishing Fighter slot on it. :)

In other news... in the above post I said:
Unnamed Metallic L2 Survey Tech Action
Action: Recon the Planet deck for "X" where "X" is the number of [Survey icons] in your empire (you may play [Survey icons] from your hand). Take the top Planet card and put it into your Empire, face down.

I messed up the wording on this something fierce. It should read

Action: Recon the top X cards of the Planet deck for 1, where X is the number of [Survey icons] in your empire (you may play [Survey icons] from your hand). Take the top Planet card and put it into your Empire, face down.

Jason @ Game Convention Central said...

Thanks for the review of the con and games. Hope you're feeling better. Can't believe we missed BoardGameGeek.CON on our calendar; I added it last night.