Friday, March 15, 2013

EmDice: Zeroing in...

I played another game of EmDice last night. Still just 2 player, this time with Mike (not John), and this time with a strict game end timer: When the supply of Resource/Fighter/VP chits runs out, game over.

Game End Timer

I'll clarify, this is the initial end trigger I had expected to use, but I was very hesitant (and still am) to have the game timer affected by both produce and Warfare roles, and with Fighters coming out of the supply and then going back in as well, I thought that might be weird. I am a little worried that Fighter hoarding will cause some kind of problem, and mostly I'm worried about the wildly variable game length that I expect from this trigger...

However, it's very possible that I've gotten all worked up about nothing. The timer seemed to work well enough last night - very well in fact. In the 2p games with John, neither of us were ever able to get to the top of any of the tech tracks, but we finished with 12+ planets in play (too many, I think). In last night's game (2p with Mike), Mike got to the top of a tech track (concerted effort - he specifically took 2 planets with Research symbols on them, and got a 3rd on his way up the Advanced track). We ended the game with about 6 planets each - a much better number I think.

Now, there were some differences in the game setups that could account for some of this... John and I never really used a game end trigger, we just played for a while and then stopped. We went on much longer than we would have if the token supply trigger existed. So we had lots of planets and lots of trading points, but oddly still didn't manage to top out a Research track. Also, in the game vs. Mike I had added some Dice Manipulation to the 1st level of each track, and Mike got that right away. I used too powerful an effect as well - so he was dissenting at the end of his turn each turn (choosing a set of dice to re-roll, AFTER rolling the dice he'd used).

So I think I've decided to embrace that game end trigger that I've been fearing, and see if it proves to be a problem or not. I'll just add enough tokens to the supply to make sure the game lasts long enough. Who knows, maybe it's perfect.

On the down side, there's no guarantee the game will ever end that way. I think it's unlikely to go on forever, because producing and trading is quite lucrative, but if you don't do it, then the trigger could theoretically never happen. I could try adding backup/fail-safe game end triggers, such as "Top of each Tech track is reached" or "Planet supply is exhausted," but there's no real guarantee that either of those things will happen. One nice thing about the card game was that the stacks were the game end trigger, and each player takes a card from the stacks each turn no matter what.

Tech updates:

We tried allowing multiple tech buys if you could afford it, but I don't think I liked that too much. I'll probably go back down to 1 tech buy per turn.

After the last game I have made the following updates to the tech board...

1. Specialization/Genetic Engineering give you +1vp each time you LEAD Trade/Produce roles, not just participate in them. Just seems more correct.
2. Clarification: Adaptability ("Research icons are wild") refers to icons on DICE, not on planets or from Data Network.
3. "At the end of your turn: Dissent" was too strong, and I didn't like how you had to roll your dice first, then think about what to re-roll. Instead I want to use "Re-roll: +1 die" - meaning "When you are re-rolling dice (from using them or dissenting), you may pick up 1 additional die and re-roll it as well." That will also be the effect of the planets with the "+1 Hand Size" icons.

I think that last one will give a fair amount of dice manipulation, and won't be too good if you manage to get it 2 or 3 times. I thought about "Set 1 die to any face" but I don't like the sound of that, especially when you can get it 3 times. Setting 1/2 your dice makes it no longer much of a dice game!

I'll re-post the current rules below:

Eminent Domain: the Dice Game

28 Role Symbol Dice (6/player + 1/player for Oversight Committee)
36 Planet tiles (12 of each Advanced, Fertile, Metallic)
+/- 36 Fighter / Resource / VPs tokens
Draw bag
Tech board
16 Tech markers (4 in each player color)

* Set the tech board in the center of the table and put all the Tech markers on or near it.
* Place 1 die per player on or near the Oversight Committee tech space.
* Shuffle all planet tiles in the draw bag. Draw 5 planet tiles and place them FACE UP above the Survey slots on the Tech board.
* Each player takes 6 dice and rolls them into their Empire.
* Each player takes 1 Start planet at random and places it FACE DOWN in their Empire. Return unused Start planets to the box.
* Determine a Start player via any method you choose.
Game Turn
Players take turns choosing roles in order to Survey new planets, Settle or Attack them, Produce and Trade resources, and do Research. On a player's turn, that player does the following:

1. Choose a Role. 
There are 6 roles to choose from (Survey, Warfare, Colonize, Produce, Trade, Research). The player can freely choose any role.

2. Boost the Role.
The player may use any number of dice in their Empire with symbols matching the role symbol to Boost the chosen role. Roles may also be boosted with role icons on planets or techs controlled by the player. The player also gets a Leader Bonus of +1 Role Symbol (+2 Role Symbols for Survey).

3. Resolve the Role.
The effect of the role is carried out. See below for the effects of each role. Each opponent in turn order may choose to Follow or Dissent. All dice used are re-rolled.
* Follow: An opponent choosing to Follow a role may use any number of dice in their own Empire with icons matching the chosen role (as well as icons on planets or techs controlled by that player), to carry out the effect of the role for themselves. All dice used are re-rolled.
* Dissent: An opponent choosing to Dissent a role may re-roll any number of dice in their Empire that all share the same symbol. This need not be the symbol of the chosen role!

Remember, whenever a die is used, it is then re-rolled!

Game End
Play continues until the supply of Fighter/Resource/VP tokens is exhausted. When the game is over, Influence is counted and a winner is determined. Count 1 Influence for each face up planet (+1 Influence bonus as indicated on some planets), 1 Influence for each resource traded during the game, 2 Influence for each Level 2 Technology, and 5vp for each Level 3 Technology (the tech board currently reads the total influence you get, so you don't add the levels below your marker). The player with the most Influence is the winner!

Remember, when resolving the chosen role, the active player may count 1 additional role symbol (2 for Survey) as a Leader bonus.
Above the Tech board there is a display of face up planet tiles that cost 2/3/4/5/6 Survey symbols to take, with the rest of the planet tiles in a draw bag (or a face down draw stack). Choose any of those planets you can afford, then slide the rest of the planets down and draw a planet from the bag (or stack) to fill the missing slot. The planets are refreshed after each planet is taken.

Collect 1 Fighter for each Warfare icon OR Attack a planet instead.
When you Attack a planet, discard a number of Fighters equal to the Warfare cost and Flip the planet.
NOTE: Unlike the card game, in this game, you CAN Attack a planet when following!

Settle 1 planet. You must spend as many Colonize icons as the Colonize cost of the planet.
NOTE: Unlike the card game, in this game, you CAN Settle a planet when following!

Produce 1 resource for each Produce icon. When producing a resource, place a Resource token on a planet in your Empire. Each planet can hold 1 resource token. Produced resource tokens with no planet to place them on are returned to the supply. (Actually, they're never taken FROM the supply, so no sneaky triggering the game end when you cannot hold the resource!)

Trade 1 resource for each Trade icon. When trading a resource, take a Resource token from a planet in your Empire and place it into a Score Pile. Each of these tokens will be worth 1 Influence at the end of the game.

Pay the appropriate cost and satisfy the planet prerequisite to advance your Technology marker on one of the Technology tracks on the Tech Reference Board. There are 4 tracks on the Tech board: Advanced, Fertile, Metallic, and Diverse. The first 2 spaces in each track cost 3 Research icons, and require 1 planet of the appropriate type. The 3rd and 4th spaces cost 5 Research icons, require 2 planets of the appropriate type, and are worth 2 Influence. The 5th space costs 7 Research icons, requires 3 planets of the appropriate type, and is worth 5 Influence. The Diverse stack is a little bit different, it requires 1 planet of each type.

Each Technology confers a bonus of some kind. Potential bonuses can be:
* Re-roll: +1 Die (When you're about to re-roll dice, you may pick up 1 additional die and reroll it as well).
* +1 Die (Take a 7th die from the Oversight Committee tech space).
* +1 Role Symbol.
* Colonize die faces = Produce die faces.
* +1 Influence when you lead Trade.
* +1 Influence when you lead Produce.
* -1 to all Warfare costs.
* Research icons on dice can be used to Boost or Follow any role.
* When dissenting, dissent again.
* After your role, attack a planet.
* Trade Fighters like resources.
* You may choose a 2nd Role each turn.

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