Here's an update on the Exotic expansion. Would it be acceptable to call it "Exotica"? Or does that sound too much like something naughty?
exotic things or objects.
I have been thinking about this expansion a lot, and have mocked up some cards and played a few games. In addition to adding 1 planet type, I have been toying with adding another type of card to the Planet deck. I think this makes Survey choices more interesting and I hope it will encourage players to care more about which cards they keep when surveying, care more about which sets they get in their Empire.
I started with 2 additional types of cards: Asteroids and Moons. Asteroids are supposed to be sub-par unless you get the right tech, then they should be on par or above average. Moons on the other hand were supposed to be different - they would attach to planets in your Empire, and effectively just add to their VP value. I toyed around with some techs that made it good to have moons (such as Lunar Laboratory (Level 1 permanent tech: if you have at least 1 Moon in your Empire, Research Symbol). After playing with this stuff, I do like the idea of it, but I did not like how Moons were working (both mechanically and thematically), and I'm not sure there really need to be 2 types of "junk" in the Planet deck. 1 type of "junk" might be cool though. And remember, this is junk that, with the right techs, could become good to have in play.
I'm currently leaning toward removing the Moons and re-working the techs that applied to them to apply to Asteroids only (or cut them). The Asteroids are currently 2vp apiece, have 1 icon (W/S/R/T/P/C/Exo/Hand Size), and 1 resource slot which produces Crystal (the new resource which comes on Exotic planets). You currently cannot flip them by normal means, but there is a tech in each stack which allows you to Attack or Colonize Asteroids as if they were planets:
Settle as if it were a planet with Colonize cost 1
Settle as if it were a planet with Colonize cost 2 or Attack as if it were a planet with Warfare cost 2
Attack as if it were a planet with Warfare cost 1
Discard your hand, flip 1 Asteroid.
And I made a Level 2 Exotic tech as well (though this might fit better in a Diverse stack, if I decide to make one for Exotic):
Recon the planet deck for 1 Asteroid. After your role phase, Flip 1 Asteroid.
I have made an organizational decision as well. I want the Exotic stack to be on par with the Standard tech stacks (Base game + Exotic expansion), and then I want to make a few additional cards which are for use only when also playing with Escalation. I have relegated the 2 Double Time cards to that stack, since Escalation has Double Times in each stack. Those cards can also have alternate Research costs (Fighters/Destroyers/Battlecruisers). I am happy with that decision, and I have started to fill out and zero in on which techs I want to have in each of those piles.
I developed some fun interactive and "escalated" type techs for the EXO+ESC stack, my favorite is probably this one:
That's No Moon!
Level 3 (3vp): Cost 7R/B
Action: Remove a Planet in any player's Empire from the game. Reparations: That player may Recon the Planet deck for 1 Asteroid, then put that card into play face up.
So you blow up a planet and it becomes an asteroid :) Originally I thought Asteroids would not be worth any points, and so was going to make this card turn a planet into *2* asteroids... but then I decide they should probably be worth 2vp, and therefore it should only be 1. Note that the victim of the card gets to choose which Asteroid (and therefore which Role symbol) they get.
I like the idea of Level 1 tech cards that say, for example:
Action: For each Asteroid in your Empire, draw 3 cards.
So with no Asteroids it's useless. With 1 Asteroid it's an Improved Survey. With more than 1 Asteroid it's multiple Improved Surveys! That sounds like fun to me, like a player could put together an Asteroid "strategy" so to speak.
In the near future, once I've decided which cards I think I'll want to keep, I'll post a list of techs for anybody following along at home.