Monday, February 25, 2013

EmDo: Exotica - latest updates

Today and tonight I played Exotica a couple of times with John. I'm still very happy with the structure of the expansion, but I'm not happy with all of the tech cards. I made another pass and have a list of updates to make:

Astroidal X cards

I'm happy with most of the Astroidal cards since the last update, which added an effect even if you don't have any Asteroids. Basically, with 0 Asteroids in play the card does something, but it's weaker than a regular level 1 tech card. With 1 Asteroid in play they are on par with an L1 tech, and with 2+ Asteroids in play they are stronger. I've got updates for two of them though:

Astroidal Research:
Action: Draw 1 card, then RFG up to 1 card in hand from the game.
Asteroid: Draw 1 card, then RFG up to 1 card in hand from the game.

I had it as "or" instead of "and" in the second half, and that did not seem attractive to me. I'll try this upgraded version and see if it causes problems, but relative to Improved Research I think it's about right. A little awkward though, I think you'd have to do the effects one by one - so with 2 Asteroids in play it would be draw, discard, draw, discard, draw, discard rather than draw 3, discard 3.

Astroidal Survey:
Action: Draw 2 cards.
Asteroid: Draw 1 card.
+1 Action

I had the same but without the +1 action. Drawing lots of cards is not very good unless you can play another one, so I thought I'd try this upgrade.

Alien X cards

I have yet to be happy with these cards. I like the idea of them, but so far I haven't gotten them right. I had decided a while ago to do what I did with the Astroidal cards, make them usable with no Exo icons in play, but better with each one - and now I've finally gotten around to updating them.

Alien Understanding:
Action: Trade 1 Resource and RFG up to 1 card in hand.
Exotic:  Trade 1 Resource and RFG up to 1 card in hand.

Alien Inhabitation:
Action: Settle 1 Planet and produce 1 Resource.
Exotic: Settle 1 Planet and produce 1 Resource.

Alien Recruits:
Action: Draw 1 card and collect 1 Fighter.
Exotic: Draw 1 card and collect 1 Fighter. 

Alien Translators and Mining X cards

I am happy with the Alien Translators, though they may be a little too strong. I'm keeping them as they are for now.

I also like the structure of the Mining X cards, but I fear they are too strong, so I'm reducing their effect a little bit.

Mining Base (Permanent L1):
When you flip an Asteroid...
Draw 1 card and collect 1 Fighter.

Mining Laboratory (Permanent L1):
When you flip an Asteroid...
Trade 1 Resource and RFG up to 1 card in hand.

Mining Colony (Permanent L1):
When you flip an Asteroid...
Settle 1 Planet and produce 1 Resource.

Exotic Tech

I'm happy with most of the Exotic tech, but I have edits on a couple of them. I'm not super happy with a few others, but I'm going to keep trying them as they are for now.

Astroidal Library:
Action: Reveal the top 2 cards of your deck.
Asteroid: Reveal the top card of your deck.
Put 1 revealed card into your hand and discard the rest. Until end of turn, treat Exo symbols in your Empire as any Role symbol on the kept card.

It was just 1 card in the first line, I think this will be more attractive. I might try 3, but I think I'll keep only 1 per Asteroid.

Babel Fish (Permanent L1):
Tuck a Standard role card from the Stacks under Babel Fish. You may treat Exo symbols in your Empire as if they were that role's symbol.

I wanted a sort of variable or generic Translator, and originally I had it as "Tuck a card from your hand..." - but that seemed unattractive, so I thought I'd try this version.

Alien Advisory (Permanent L3):
[Exotic symbol]
[Exotic]  = Hand Size +1

I had it without the Exo symbol before, and it was terrible, especially in comparison to Exotic Efficiency, which is a Level 2 card I'm pretty happy with. Now maybe it'll be worth getting, not sure yet.

Diverse Tech

I've been pretty happy with the Diverse tech so far, except for the Space Station. I like the idea of a permanent tech that counts as an Asteroid, but that alone doesn't seem attractive enough to purchase. Today I tried making it count as *2* Asteroids, but that seemed like it might be too good. It IS a Diverse tech, requiring 3 different planet types to purchase, so maybe that's not too strong after all. However I think I have a better idea now...

Space Station (Permanent L1):
Copy any 1 Asteroid in play.

Then it'll only be 1 Asteroid, but it'll have an effect as well, and you may even get a little choice in the matter. if someone else gets the Asteroid with the symbol you want, you can build a copy of it :)

The rest of the Diverse tech seems OK:
Alien Artifact (Permanent L1):
[Exotic Icon]

Tractor Beam:
Action: Recon the Planet deck for 1 Asteroid. Put that card into your Empire face down.

Double Back:
Action: Take 1 Planet card from the Planet discard pile and put it into your Empire face down.

Coalition (Permanent, L2):
Exotic planets count as any planet type for Research.

Organized Labor (Permanent L2):
At the beginning of your turn, fill all resource slots on Asteroids in your Empire.

With the exception of the L2, each of these cards only costs 3 Research. I have been trying to keep the Tech cards in the expansions such that players can get them without concentrating on Research. In Escalation the new tech cards can be purchased with Fighters. In Exotica most of the new techs only cost 3, so they can be bought without a deck full of Research.

Now to update my card files and print out new cards! Unfortunately, my 10 year old Pagemaker 7.0 program has stopped exporting to PDF, so sharing prototype files has become difficult. I will attempt to rectify this, but in the meantime I won't be able to share prototype files :(

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Exhibit update

I don't know if I mentioned, I may have found a publisher for Exhibit! It's not really a TMG style game, and Michael said he didn't mind my shopping it around, so I scheduled meetings at Essen with some publishers and the very first one I talked to said they were interested. There's no contract yet, so nothing's set in stone, but it's exciting to have non-TMG interest in my work :)

The potential publisher for Exhibit said they'd like the game to be shorter, and that's something I'd been thinking myself as well. The obvious first fix for that is to simply reduce the number of Artifacts in each stack, making the game last fewer rounds. So that's what I tried. At first I simply removed one of the Eras altogether, and it worked pretty well. However it was too easy to make sets based on Era when there were only 2, so I went back and made a distribution such that there are 2 Early, 2 Mid, and 2 Late tiles in each Artifact stack.

So now there are 6 tiles per stack, and I'm still starting with 2 tiles in each Auction the first round. That makes for a 5 round game, and in the games I played at Strategicon last weekend that translated into a 45-60 minute play time, which is just fine!

Brian pointed out that now there's less time to make use of the Weapons and Tools, so Art should be worth 1 point instead of 2. I agree with that, so I'll adopt that change. I probably ought to reduce the VP value of the Holy Grail as well - instead of 4 additional points (5 total), it should probably be worth 3 additional (4 total) - or maybe just 3 total.

2 last minor changes (for those who have been following along)...
1. I am still using the Grant tile - a 1-time use tile for each player. It had always been used only for an Artifact auction, i.e. not on the Purple (Special) auction. However, to make the rule simpler, I have been thinking it should simply be a "1-shot purple weapon" - meaning it could be used on the Purple auction as well. I don't see a huge down side, and it'll be simpler.

2. I've always thought the set scoring ramped up too quickly. I was using 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8. So I finally decided to adjust that down a bit. I'm now trying 1+2+2+3+3+4+4+5. I'm hoping this will make large sets less dominant, but still an attractive option and a tough decision vs making multiple smaller sets.

That's about it for now!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Orccon bound!

By this time tomorrow afternoon I'll be in (hopefully) sunny California. Well, at the very least I'll be at a hotel next to LAX, settling in for a weekend of gaming at Strategicon's annual Orccon event.

I'm looking forward to a great weekend. Here's what I'm bringing with me:

GAME PROTOTYPES - Find me to play!
* Eminent Domain: Escalation
* Eminent Domain: Exotica
* Captains of Industry
* Exhibit: Artifacts of the Ages

* Eminent Domain Playmats - I would love to sell a couple of these, or potentially trade for a game or two.

* Ground Floor Short Guides - I'll have a handful of these to hand out. Find me if you'd like one.
* Rincon 2013 Flyers and Business Cards
* Rincon 2013 Exhibitor Packets - to hand out in the Vendor room.

It has been a while since I've really participated in any tournaments at the Strategicon events, and that's one of their stronger features. So maybe this time I'll try to get into more of the tournaments, see if I can't earn some Dealer Dollars and go home with a free or discounted game.

Are you going to Orccon this weekend? Leave a comment below and let's get together for some gaming, or a trip to lunch or dinner!