Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Terra Prime updates for Eminent Domain Origins

IT's finally time! Last week I played a 2p game of Terra Prime to teach one of my playtesters, yesterday I started making tweaks to my copy of TP (the one with my prototype expansion in the box), and tomorrow I will play some more games with these changes to see how I like them, and identify what else ought to change for the re-implementation as Eminent Domain Origins.

I've started noting rules changes in the rulebook too. Here are the tweaks I've implemented so far (and will try tomorrow):

  • Add one "any module" slot to the command ship.
  • Add 1 "any resource" hold to the command ship.
  • Allow "Offload Colony Marker" at any time as a free action (describe this under "Load Colony Marker" and remove "Offload" as an action altogether)
  • Use expansion setup: space hexes face up from the outset, with face down Exploration tiles on top.
  • Set direction on tiles, so there's no possibility of illegal placements or configurations.
  • Re-examine distribution of hazards on exploration tiles (I haven't done this yet).
  • Clarify reward sequence (all simultaneous, so you CAN keep goods gotten as rewards for colonizing).
  • Change Weapon module cost (a simple $20 each. Or even just $10?)
  • Consider changing the Shield action (people have trouble with "Do one, the other, or both: Buy a shield module for $10, charge shields for $10"). Maybe recharging shields should be free?
  • Change Delivery Optimizer to "+1 LP when you complete a demand tile. At game end: 1vp per demand tile collected."
  • Start with energy on your built-in shield?
Players have suggested that they would like to be able to better customize their command ships, so I don't see any problem with adding 1 module slot that can hold any type of module. 

While I think I know why I did it, I feel it's annoying to have to buy a Cargo Hold in order to carry Yellium ("Silicon") at all, or to afford many of the upgrades. While that did keep some of the upgrades in the midgame, I will try giving players a 1-door cargo hold that holds anything in addition to the color-specific starting holds.

I've long regretted that offloading a colony marker was listed as an action,, required you to be at a colony, and gave a point to the opponent if it was their colony. I'm happy to cut that from the list of actions and just say that once loaded, you can offload a colony marker any time you want, without using an action. Thematically, the colony markers are equipped with low-power engines and autopilot to fly them back to Terra Prime, so if you find you don't need it, rather than jettisoning cryogenically frozen people into space, you can just send them back home.

I've never liked the complexity in the weapons costs. Each weapon you get is more useful than the last, so I made the costs escalate accordingly. However, that's more complicated than necessary, and basically means you'll never buy a 3rd weapon (you don't really need that many anyway)... there's no reason the cost shouldn't be more simple. I'm debating between making it a straight $10 and $20, not sure which way to go. Maybe just $10 would be fine, you could sort of use them as shields -- if you get hit without energy, you can lose weapons and get them back fairly easily for just $10 or 1 Brownium ("Crystal").

I'll see how these changes go tomorrow, and I'll look for more places to streamline the game.


Josh 'Dagar' Zscheile said...

Hey Seth,

sounds super good (even though I have not played TP yet, and I fail to put some points into perspective). I generally like your streamlining mind set.

Just a question/ comment: If it is possible to purchase three weapons but it is never useful, should it not either be made useful (by introducing events that could need or at least benefit from that) or be forbidden (by having only two weapon ports on a ship)? Some restriction there could help new players get along in the game.



Seth Jaffee said...

Thanks Josh!

There IS a benefit to having a 3rd weapon. In fact, each weapon is more useful than the last when it comes to fighting aliens. In fact, if you had 6 weapons, you would automatically defeat every possible hostile alien!

The thing is, in Terra Prime there were only 3 slots to add weapons. You also have a built in weapon, and you could get a technology that gives you one more weapon. So at a maximum you could have 5 dice, and you would only miss on a 6. However, to have that many dice to roll, it means you would have NO shields (other than your single built-in shield), AND the 3rd weapon module would have cost you 6 points worth of money. So it wasn't really a good idea to bother with that 3rd weapon (while a 2nd one is not uncommon).

I suspect that (a) adding a module slot, and (b) reducing the cost of each weapon module to $10, will lead to a potential Heavy Weapon strategy, where you can all but guarantee victory against aliens. In fact, with Battlestations tech (+1 Weapon), Cloaking Device (Aliens don't shoot you when you move/explore), and 4 weapons, you could automatically defeat every hostile aliens you come across, and that could potentially be an extreme but viable strategy.

Though realistically, you could probably do just as well with 1-2 fewer weapons. And if you choose to go THAT rout, with the additional module slot you could get a cargo hold to carry more goods AND get 2 additional engines (for 2 more actions per turn). Or just 1 extra engine, and 2 cargo holds, to carry even more goods, and still be able to kill aliens.

Michael Brown said...

How much do you think eminent domain origins will differ from terra prime?

Seth Jaffee said...

@Michael - Well, the list in this post pretty much sums up all the changes I'm making... If you're asking how much different EmDo Origins will FEEL than the original Terra Prime, I suspect it will feel pretty similar. I don't intend to make a different game, just a cleaned up/streamlined version of TP.