Wednesday, March 09, 2016

More Oblivion tests and thoughts

I got some really nice comments on my last post about Oblivion, but the game has been on the back burner ever since. But I did bring it with me to SaltCon last week, and I managed to play several games, with 2, 3, and 4 players. They were a good sample of games, and they reinforced for me that the structure is sound, and that what I need to do is flesh out the rest of the expansion.

Adding tech

I'd said that I don't want to add more tech to the stacks. But it seems natural to add at least an L1 tech to each stack that has to do with with the Agendas or the Clout tokens.

Perhaps I could add a couple Diverse techs, as that stack isn't terribly big so far.

Or as mentioned in that last post, I could make a new stack of Prestige tech... hopefully that won't throw off people who read the original rules for Prestige planets which say they don't help with research (I had meant that they don't qualify you for the techs that existed at the time).

As an example, I think it would be good to have a tech that gives you a permanent Politics icon.


I have edited many of the Agendas to try and make them all attractive to activate, but a few still need work. The key is that all Agendas have a benefit for the person activating them so that they don't just sit there being boring. Some of the really good ones are like "Increase all warfare costs by 2. When activating this agenda, settle a planet."

I created a series of 6 agendas that give everyone the action "trade [Food] and [Iron] for 4vp and [Silicon]" or similar. There are 6 so that they cover every combination of food, water, iron, and silicon. The idea being that if you produce exactly those resources, then those agendas are really good for you, and if you don't, then you can use your Political Influence tile's action to trade what you do produce for the right stuff.

I like these, and it's kind of neat to chain them together, but I don't like that there are so many of them. It's a bit boring if multiples come up, and especially if nobody tries to take advantage of them. I thought about just having 1 or 2, and letting the activating player choose which resources get traded in ("When activating this agenda, place 2 different resources from the supply onto it. Action: Trade the two resources on this card for 4vp"). Michael suggested instead that I make 4 cards, each with 1 specific resource, and let the activating player choose the other ("When activating this agenda, place 1 resources from the supply onto it. Action: Trade Water and the resource on this card for 4vp" - maybe force the chosen resource to be different than the given one, maybe not). I don't mind that idea, but I wonder if 4 is still too many such cards.

I had originally made 4 different cards that gave +1vp when trading at least 1 resource of a particular type (one for each type), and I cut that down to 2 cards where the activating player chooses the type. I suppose just 1 of those could be enough? And maybe 4 of the "Action: Trade 1 X and 1 Y for 4vp" (where X is given, and Y is chosen by the activating player) might be OK too. Worth trying at least!

"When activating, put a resource on this card. ACTION: Trade that resource for vp + any other resource" might be a good Agenda to try as well.

I made 2 agendas that adjust people's hand size: one that increases your hand size by 1 for each permanent tech you have, and one that decreases your hand size for each permanent tech you have. These hand size adjusters should probably get "When activating, draw 3 cards" or something added onto them, to encourage people to activate them. Or maybe "...draw 3 cards and then play an Action" or "...draw 3 cards and ignore your hand limit this turn." Michael suggested that instead of "Hand size -1 for each permanent tech (min hand size 3)" that it should be "Hand size -1 for each permanent tech (max -3 hand size)" because he didn't like the idea of someone's hand getting completely obliterated such that they can't play... but that would only happen if they have a lot of permanent techs, and that's kind of the point of the card, so I don't think I would want to change it. I figure that agenda might be most useful in conjunction with Escalation, to combat things like Peace Treaties. It's inclusion however might help justify adding a few permanent techs to the game (maybe 1 in each stack, for example, plus 1 Diverse or Prestige type).
Agendas that give you an action upon activating them seem really cool. I really like the ones that let you attack or settle a planet for example, or take an L1 tech card.
Maybe an Agenda that says "Collect 1 Influence when you play a L1 (3-cost) tech for it's action." would be cool. Maybe you get to take an L1 tech (that you qualify for?) when activating it. That would benefit everyone, since most players would have a couple L1 techs, but it would really benefit a player that has many L1 techs, when most of the time you'd just want a couple, then you want to get to L2 techs asap. I could imagine a strategy where you get that in play, get a lot of L1s and thin other cards out of your deck so that you're gaining a vp each turn from playing an L1 tech :)


I've been saying that I would like to add some of the tech-style abilities onto Bustling planets instead, which means adding some number of planets to the deck. I don't mind adding planets to the deck -- the more I do that, the less bad it is to do big surveys.

What I've been strongly considering is giving each planet in this set an alternate "Annex" cost in addition to the Colonize and Warfare costs. This cost would likely be about 4 or 5 in all cases. Then, as a 3rd option during a politics role, you could use the politics icons to Annex a planet that has an Annex cost. Then the Improved Political Influence tile could have the ability (instead of a trade bonus) to give every planet an Annex cost of 6 or something like that.

Alternatively, maybe the standard PI tile gives everything an Annex cost of 8, and the improved side brings that down to 6.

Another idea is to have an action that says "ACTION: Reveal X Politics icons to Annex a planet", which would be sort of like a boostable action. This could be on the Improved Political Influence tile, or potentially on a new Bustling planet. I'm not sure if I want to add a boostable action to the game all by it's lonesome though.

An interesting comment on my last post suggested that the new planets be not shuffled into the deck, but permanently available to the first player to Annex them. This is an interesting idea which merits more thought... it's not what I had in mind, but it might be a good idea.

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