My Development Weblog

Sharing my development process with BGG and often asking for input

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Some new cards for another homebrew RFTG expansion

ErikPeter Walker
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If you've followed this blog you know I'm in the middle of creating a second custom expansion for Race for the Galaxy. The new strategy pathways are coming together and the cards are mostly sketched out, so I've started assembling them in GIMP. Here are the first handful for you to evaluate and comment on.

In my whimsy, I apparently started with cards that are more expensive and complicated than average.

ALIEN UPLIFT Patron
VP: 1 per Uplift (chromosome) world
VP: 1 per ALIEN card (including this one)
VP: 1 per other development
II: -1 cost to place developments
III: Gain 1 Favor after placing an Uplift (chromosome) world
Most of the 6-costs (and expensive worlds) in Patronage 2 represent influential patrons, alien or otherwise. I've turned Uplift into a generally useful, often Favor-generating keyword. The card above is a decent drop whether you're focusing on Alien cards, developments, or Uplift worlds, but to be victorious you'll probably want to emphasize one pathway over the others.

ALIEN Weapons Technology
1/0 Development
III: +1 Military per ALIEN development in tableau (including this one)
IV: May discard this card from tableau to draw 5 cards
AWT is basically the first card I designed for this set, and fittingly was one of the first cards I made. It gives a nice benefit combined with the other Alien Developments, or can be discarded as a makeshift Alien good for early card flow.

ALIEN Dig Site
2/1 Alien windfall world
6: Discard the Alien good from this world before selecting a first round action
Another card I've had floating around in my head since I designed Patronage. Balancing an Alien start world is delicate work. Time and testing will prove whether or not this is a good idea.

Gem Miners
2/1 Rare windfall military world
III: may discard a Rare Elements good to gain +2 Military this phase
Another start world. Right now it seems comparatively weak to some of my other ideas, but balanced-ish with base cards, so I'm not sure how this will perform. At the very least, it's versatile, which is always nice.

REBEL Flotilla
8/? non-production military world
VP: 2 per Rebel military world (including this one)
VP: 3 per card under this world
I: +1 Explore
III: may put a Rebel military world from your hand under this world
A cardset needs some big military cards, and this one fits the bill. Equivalent to a Rebel 6-cost, it lets you stash any smaller Rebel worlds you find for a few points while playing the bigger, better ones. At 3 points each this card could score big, but at the cost of synergy with Galactic Imperium.

ALIEN Patron
8/? Alien production world
Grants 1 Favor when placed
VP: 2 per different kind of world
IV: gain 1 VP for each kind of good you consume this phase (these VPs cannot be doubled)
IV: consume all remaining goods for 1 VP apiece
Another big card. Maybe too big, but I'm hoping it's still playable. Getting it to the table would be sure to net you a lot of VP.

UPLIFT Initiative
5/3 Development
III: may spend 1 Favor to double your total Military this phase
IV: discard 1 good to gain 1 favor
V: draw 1 card for each Genes good you produced
This is a tasty Consumer Markets analog for the "consume Genes for Favor" strategy I'm fleshing out in Patronage 2. Oh, and it lets you spend a Favor for x2 Military, which is probably really cool. I think I'll drop the semi-redundant "Advanced" from the card title.

Biodiverse Bishop Ring
5/2 Genes production world
Special: you may have two Genes goods on this world
V: Produce two goods on this world
Speaking of Genes consume, this card basically lets you play two genes worlds at once. I'm really interested to see if it is under- or over-costed.

Nanofabricators
2/1 Development
II: -1 cost to place developments
IV: discard 1 good for 1 VP
I designed this card as-is to meet certain demands I had for Patronage 2: It's an inexpensive development reduction as well as a Good-for-VP consume power. Entranced pointed out that Public Works is a superior card at a cost of only 1. I will probably test it out as-is but adding a card to the consume power is on the short-list for improvements. Making it cost only 1 would break it, though.
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:43 am
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Patronage 2: the softer side of the Imperium

ErikPeter Walker
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If you're just joining us, lately I've been talking about my plans for Patronage 2, a follow-up to Patronage (fan expansion to Race for the Galaxy), my homebrew expansion for Race for the Galaxy.

Today I'd like to talk a bit about how I am shifting the Imperium strategy in new directions. In the BoW arc, Imperium is all about Rebel worlds and 6-cost synergy, with a few fat non-Military worlds, and Patronage essentially followed that formula. Alien Artifacts' Imperium focused more on the previously established tie to Rare elements, but worked well in Military by offering card draw in Phase V, and tempo from Imperium Supply Convoy) to counter a more general produce/consume.

As the design stands so far, Patronage 2's Imperium is more trade and economy-oriented, and less focused on Military. Even if it is generalized I'd like the Imperium to have a certain "feel", so I'll now present some of the cards I have sketched out to identify any refinements I need to make.
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Sun Jan 11, 2015 8:12 pm
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In the works: Patronage 2 Start Worlds

ErikPeter Walker
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Anyone who follows this weblog knows I designed a homebrew expansion for Race for the Galaxy, called Patronage. Eventually I decided I wanted to follow it up with another expansion that uses the same overarching mechanics (Agendas and peaceful worlds), and lately I've been been busy designing the set.

I have sketched out about 39 of 45 unique cards (45 cards + 9x duplicate developments = 54 cards for printing) at this point, which means it's about time to assemble the cards and begin testing them out.

I have a surfeit of ideas and have been having trouble deciding how to cut down the set, and right now I'm leaning toward designing a few too many worlds and then cutting some to balance the set through testing (possibly switching powers around to make it work.)

One new idea I'm implementing is a third color of start worlds. At the start of the game you get a green-numbered world along with your red and blue ones. (Why Green? No real reason. I could change it if it causes confusion with Genes worlds.) The green-numbered worlds are all focused on Favor-generating strategies. I put much more emphasis on Favor in this expansion so they should all be rather strong, which is also why I want to give every player the option of having one.

Here are my designs as they stand now--any of them could be subject to complete overhaul by the time testing rolls around.
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Wed Jan 7, 2015 7:56 pm
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Let's talk about Patronage 2

ErikPeter Walker
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A recent thread in the RFTG forums made me realize I should post here more often. I recently took a week's vacation in Montana and haven't worked on any designs for a while. Hopefully, sharing some ideas will get me back into the groove, so here goes:

Let's talk about Patronage 2.

After finishing Patronage (fan expansion to Race for the Galaxy) (There finally aren't any any pending "potential" changes,) I assumed I would take a break, work on my own games for a while, and possibly design another homebrew expansion down the road. I've brainstormed many ideas for that hypothetical expansion, which I may have casually mentioned in this blog: Destiny, Milestones/Great Works, Keyword Tokens, Co-Op, and so on.

However, a few months ago as I was working on a new cardlist for "Prosperity" using a turn-by-turn Destiny mechanic, I suddenly decided that maybe a brand new arc wasn't the best idea. Creating a new system requires a lot of testing and iteration, and it might not end up being any fun. Maybe it'd be better to revisit Patronage's agenda system (and peaceful worlds).
(For the uninitiated: Patronage is an unofficial, homebrew expansion for Race for the Galaxy. Each game, 2 agendas are drawn which grant favor tokens (worth VP) to players who play cards with matching keywords/symbols. When all of the favor tokens are claimed on an agenda, favor can be spent in various ways, such as gaining bonus Military or extra cards during Consume.)

After all, Patronage does work, and I think there's a lot more design space left to explore there, now that the rules are established and time-tested.

The most exciting aspect of recycling Patronage's rules is being able to more actively integrate Favor/Agendas into the cards. When I started designing Patronage, I didn't even know how Agendas would work, and so only a few cards ended up using Favor at all (though my Spend VP powers are often fueled by favor, a happy synergy). Starting fresh, I can incorporate Favor onto more cards and even create a "Favor Engine" strategy pathway.

Another benefit I see is "fixing" the theme. I liked the Alien Nemesis themes in Patronage but the Uplift pathway isn't as grounded (especially now that I've read David Brin's Uplift trilogy). There's an Uplift Cult and a gene proliferation project, but no sense of the galactic community that's all about Uplifting new species.

Finally, reusing the mechanics is just easier and speeds up testing and design. So that's why I've decided to work on Patronage 2 instead of some new homebrew mechanics.

The following is the short list of design goals; let me know what you think!

Finally, a template!
•I'd like to emphasize a Genes consume strategy and create a "More Uplift is generally better" pathway.
•I'm going to boost Explore "See more" bonuses and make deep search a good option, not just a desperation move.
•Design only 54 cards to make Artscow printing much more convenient.
•Allow people to mashup Patronage 1&2 into one big "arc".
•Besides Favor generation/use, focus on powers that compare players tableau to others (e.g., Mining Conglomerate, Ravaged Uplift World)

Here's some more stuff I expect to appear in Patronage 2:

•A third Start World color (green), all related to favor engines
•At least a couple new Agendas (got any ideas?)
•More peaceful worlds, with emphasis on favor generation
•Multiple "Uplift Patron" 6-cost developments/high defense worlds
•A consume/trade-oriented Imperium
•Good Military options
•Alien developments

That's about all I have right now, still tinkering with some basics but I'll leave you with this question: In your opinion, which is a better starting point when designing a set: Start Worlds or 6-costs?
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Thu Jul 3, 2014 1:56 am
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Thinking about NaGaDeMon

ErikPeter Walker
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It is November, and once again time for National Game Design Month. I have a nagging doubt that I won't be able to accomplish much this year, for various reasons (screaming kids), but I'll see what I can do.

And unlike previous years, I'm feeling inspired! Last night I was glancing through some of my old docs and came across an outline for a new take on a worker placement game. The basic idea was that players would each have one worker to move around a small number of action spaces (e.g. Le Havre), but adjacency for worker spaces would matter, so a worker could only take what actions are nearby.

It dawned on me that a map (as opposed to a small grid where every location was reachable within a turn or two) would allow for interesting, expendable benefits like "move an additional space" or "move to any space" which could enhance the unpredictability of action blocking, and let people jump on a resource their opponents thought was out of reach.

Finally, inspired by some ruminations I've had about building a "deck builder--without the deck" I realized it could be cool if the spaces themselves could be built upon, so a player might increase the benefit of a given space when he places his worker there, or benefit a little when his opponent does.

Slowly, the idea crystallized. I think sci-fi, 4X (economic 3X?) would work well as a theme. The 'workers' are megacorp fleets, moving around the board from system to system in the local cluster to expand and profit. No one is at open war, but neither would they be so bold as to occupy the same system as another fleet. Instead, the megacorps interfere with each other by building bases and other features in various sectors.

Streamlined down, it would resemble worker placement, with fleets gathering resources and building improvements, with victory points determining the winner at game end. But there might be a political aspect as well, and plenty of ways to capitalize on your opponents' decisions.
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Fri Nov 1, 2013 10:28 pm
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Let's talk about new RFTG Start Worlds

ErikPeter Walker
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Alien Artifacts isn't out yet, and my custom expansion is done, so ... time to design another custom expansion! As I've mentioned in previous entries I've been focusing on designing the next one, "Prosperity", from the ground up, so that the cards can be built around the mechanics, instead of vice versa. I'm hoping to put a "Destiny" power (gaining or spending) on at least 2/3 of the cards.

But anyway, I'm looking for a couple start world ideas!

You don't really need to know about the Destiny mechanic, except that it's a limited resource that is tricky to get, and allows you to do cool stuff (which, hopefully, is thematic).

In "Prosperity" the Imperium leans toward novelty consume; Right now I'm pondering two Imperium start worlds (I just might use both):

IMPERIUM Peacekeepers
2/1 Military non-production world
III: +1 Military per Imperium card in tableau
III: Gain (Destiny) after placing a (Rebel world)

Not shockingly good, but I'm trying to balance these against the base game start worlds. I'm hoping to support this strategy by having some more low-cost Imperium and Rebel worlds in the deck.

IMPERIUM Merchant
2/1 Non-military(?) Novelty production world
III: +2 Military/-2 Settle cost when placing (Novelty worlds)
V: Produce

I think it's simple, pretty great, but since the bonus is only for novelty worlds it won't make card flow blow up. I could be wrong, and maybe having the world be novelty itself is too strong, but I think choosing it would be much more situational as a non-production world.

What do you think?

Another one I'm considering is
ALIEN Dig Site (6)
3/1 Non-military Alien Windfall
IV: Discard an Alien good to gain (Destiny)
(6): Discard this world's good before the start of the game.

Assuming you cycle Produce/Trade it's a tiny bit faster than DAF, but I feel that's more than balanced by the drawback of being a windfall.

Thoughts? Ideas? Start worlds are always fun to play around with and try to balance.
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Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:30 am
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Expanding my RFTG Expansion

ErikPeter Walker
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My custom RFTG Expansion is done. Essentially. It's been played hundreds of times and works great... ALMOST perfect.

For those of you who have been following the development of my expansion, the final tweaks were as follows:

Alien Artifact Smugglers, the 2/1 military non-production start world, got its good-for-two-cards consume power bumped to three cards. They're shady, after all, that they aren't above a little forgery now and then.

Of all the start worlds, it had the most issues, and the change makes it a lot more desirable. Many times, it's hard to make good use of its Military vs. Alien power, but with a good for three cards, it's not hard to generate significant card flow. By the numbers it seems overpowered, but I'm not too worried about it.

The last two tweaks were minor changes to the Agendas.

Uplift Prophecy's mini-search has been weak ever since the beginning, and so it now provides +1 Keep per Favor spent besides the +5 draw.

I also added a "VP can't be doubled" symbol to Galactic Enrichment. That had always been my design intent, but it was tested both ways. Being able to freely double your Favor VP makes Galactic Enrichment a little too strong for favor-heavy builds, and completely overshadows Arms of the Imperium.

I haven't had time to update the files here on BGG, but I'll get around to it sooner or later. It feels good to be done.

Or am I? In the post title I mention expanding my expansion! What gives?

Well, dear readers, since the expansion is finally finished, I've decided to print out a finalized copy using Artscow. Having not planned ahead for this eventuality, I designed my expansion at something like 69 cards, which means building it out of 2 decks for a total of 108 cards.

So, with 69 cards, plus 7 for agendas (including two blanks), I'm left with 32 cards to add to get my money's worth. And I decided to fill those spots mostly with proxies from the original expansion arc, which I might shuffle in anyways if I didn't want to pull them out of my other set all the time.

My goal when picking cards to re-use was trying to keep the current strategies balanced, and maybe emphasize a couple that are weak (or non-existant) in my expansion (rare elements, uplift military).

To ensure that the negative military strategy still works, I needed to make a couple more peaceful worlds. Here they are. I hope there will be enough sources of negative military (besides these worlds) to keep it viable and exciting.

Also, I needed one more fat military world, since BGG user erak (a regular RFTG buddy who has played my expansion more than anyone besides me) is always asking for more. I didn't want to throw in either of the big rebel worlds, or Alien Guardian which would overshadow my Alien Nemesis, so I decided to make one more card: Imperium Armada. It'll be 7/6 or so, with perks. I'd love your ideas for any signature powers I could give it.

Here are the other cards I have mostly settled on accompanying my set. In creating the list below, I realized that I had been undervaluing how simply awesome the cards are in Rebel vs Imperium. I obviously like them a lot (though, I avoided cards using the prestige mechanic, which probably skews the distribution away from BoW).

UPLIFT Revolt World (4/2 genes windfall military world, BoW)
REBEL Colony (4/4 military world, TGS)
Primitive REBEL World (1/1 novelty military world, RvI)
Alien Monolith (8/8 alien windfall military world, RvI)
UPLIFT Mercenary Force (2/0 start world, BoW)
Abandoned ALIEN UPLIFT Camp (1/2 world, RvI)
Galactic Developers (2/1 start world, RvI)
Mining Mole UPLIFT Race (3/2 rare production world, BoW)
Gem Smugglers (3/1 rare windfall world, RvI)
Interstellar Prospectors (3/2 rare production world, RvI)
ALIEN Data Repository (7/6 alien production world, RvI)
Gene Designers (6/3 genes production world, RvI)
Galactic Bazaar (3/2 novelty windfall world, TGS)
Dying Colony (0/0 novelty windfall, RVI)
IMPERIUM Troops (1/1 development, RvI)
R&D Crash Program (1/0 development, RvI)
Galactic Advertisers (3/2 development, RvI)
Mercenary Fleet (3/1 development, RvI)
Galactic Salon (4/2 development, RvI)
Galactic Exchange (6/?, RvI)
Prospecting Guild (6/?, RvI)
Imperium Lords (6/?, TGS)
Plus the newer version of gambling world, and one more copy of contact specialist.

Any changes you'd suggest in that lineup? Thoughts? Criticisms?
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Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:49 am
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Try this RFTG Milestones scenario

ErikPeter Walker
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Just in time for the long holiday weekend, here's a simple, unofficial Mini-expansion for Race for the Galaxy: Milestones! It may be just what you're looking for to spice up the game before Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts is released.

(Speaking of Alien Artifacts, BGG user entranced has compiled this fantastic thread containing info on most of the cards in the new set: a must-read for any RFTG fan.)


Milestones represent significant cultural achievements for your civilization to work toward. Mechanically, milestones are similar to Goals, but often more complex.

Before each game, randomly select four Milestones to be available during that game. Milestones are accomplished by meeting the requirements shown on the tile. Multiple players can accomplish the same milestone. At the end of the game, players earn 4 VP per milestone accomplished.

However, if a player is able to accomplish three different milestones, they immediately win the game! (If multiple players achieve this at the same time, use the standard tie breaker.)

While it usually isn't too hard to accomplish one or two of the milestones, limited cross-over makes it hard to finish three before the game ends normally. The real balance is working toward milestones for VP while building the best scoring tableau--and if the right cards drop to achieve an early instant victory, try to go for it!


Details for each milestone follow, to better explain the tile graphics.

First row:
- The player must have three Military worlds and three non-Military worlds in tableau.
- The player must have a total Military of 10 or more.
- The player must have seven or more Developments in tableau.
- The player's tableau must provide a total Explore bonus (additional draws) of +3 or more, and a total Military of at least +3, and grant two additional cards when any goods are sold.
Second row:
- The player's tableau must contain each keyword (Alien, Imperium, Rebel, Terraforming, and Uplift) at least once.
- The player's tableau must contain at least two cards with the Alien keyword and at least two cards with the Uplift keyword.
- The player must have at least two powers in each phase, plus Trade, in their tableau. (Double the Innovation Leader goal.)
- Blank. Create your own!

I hope you enjoy experimenting with this scenario--please let me know if you do! Please keep in mind that I haven't tested it extensively, and only with the base game. Keywords are more prevalent in the expansions, so some of the milestones will be easier to accomplish when playing with the full first arc.

If you find that automatic victories are happening too often when playing with expansions, select a fifth milestone but require four for an instant win. And be sure to post your ideas for additional milestones!


To my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! And to those RFTG fans outside the U.S., Happy Alien-Artifacts-Might-Actually-Be-Released-Sometime-This-Year!
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Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:04 am
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New scenarios for RFTG

ErikPeter Walker
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In the spirit of NaGaDeMon, this month I've decided to use this weblog to brainstorm some new scenarios for Race for the Galaxy. Think of them as mini-expansions.
Each scenario should:
Significantly alter the normal game progression for at least one player.
Avoid adding new cards, and require as few additional materials as possible (to facilitate printing/testing).
Ideally be playable with or without expansions.
Ideally be playable with other scenarios.
If possible (especially with the base game alone) create a stronger narrative linked to choice of homeworld.

Below are a few potential scenarios I'm mulling over.

BORG: One player starts with a powerful homeworld that offers significant discounts; however, their ability to generate card flow is limited.

Immediately after producing any goods (or placing a windfall), the Borg player places those goods into his hand. Thus, the Borg player cannot consume or trade any goods. To make up for this the Borg player gains a -1 discount to place developments for each development he has in his tableau, and gains bonus VP for military strength at the end of the game. In addition the Borg player should be given a special consume power that lets him discard a planet from his tableau in return for cards and VP.

NEMESIS: The players are working cooperatively to defeat an alien menace before it annihilates the galaxy. If they can achieve the normal game end conditions, they win. In contrast to some of my earlier co-op ideas this would have a smaller art/design footprint--e.g., no new cards or card powers related to the scenario.

The relentless progress of the nemesis is controlled by a doom track which increases steadily. When players call Explore, they increase the likelihood of alien attack; when phase II and III are called, the nemesis adds cards to its tableau. Nemesis cards represent challenges the players must overcome--meeting certain military milestones, or discarding cards, with required values based on the doom track--and if too many nemesis cards are in play at once, the players immediately lose.

MILESTONES: Each start world is given a unique, alternate victory condition. For example, placing rare worlds or discarding cards at round end might be worth huge bonus VP. There should also be the opportunity for each start world to take one special, once per game action to make it more significantly "different". Obviously the idea would have to be fleshed out a bit; What do you think?

PLACEMENT: All cards placed are added to the same galactic grid, which comprises all tableaus, with each card marked with a token to claim ownership. Players' empires must remain contiguous, but receive positional discounts based on cards adjacent to the cards they place, and can even buy (I.e. claim dual ownership of) opponents' developments instead of placing their own.


That seems like enough ideas to start screwing around with at first. Anyone interested in testing these once I actually crank 'em out? Got a favorite among the above?

Any ideas of your own? I'd be happy to reward any clever ideas for other scenarios with !
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Wed Nov 7, 2012 9:00 pm
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More RFTG Expansion Tweaks

ErikPeter Walker
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It's been almost a year and a half since I started putting together my homebrew RFTG expansion, "Voxen's RFTG Expansion #1" (Alright, so maybe not the most creative title.) The expansion had a warm reception here on BGG, and I've been testing it extensively over the course of the past year. Finally I'm happy to announce another round of card tweaks and balances, which I'm hoping is the last round of card changes.

Many of these changes are related to "Intel" powers, a set of themed powers I created which leech off of other players' actions. The preliminary idea (and implementation) of Intel powers was that you would gain the benefit for the indicated phase, even if you didn't select it yourself. E.g., a power might get you +1/+1 Explore if an opponent selected it and you didn't.

These powers were semi-useful but not incredibly desirable in play. Since you didn't get any benefit if you selected the matching action, and the Intel powers didn't stack with each other, the best you could do (in terms of developing a strategy around them) is nickel-and-dime minor benefits in phases you didn't pick.

To make Intel powers more useful and more Interesting, I just had to simplify them a bit. Instead of "Gain the Develop bonus when an opponent selects it (Never apply it more than once)", the basic phase II power becomes "-1 to place developments if an opponent selected Develop". Not only is this power easier to understand, it's also much more useful, since it stacks with your own Develop bonus.

Another interesting aspect of this change is that Intel bonuses stack with each other, meaning with the right cards out, your opponents could give you a -2 or -3 develop cost when they Develop. Combined with Core Intelligence's new focus on developments, Intel cards may finally form a strategy pathway of their own.

Another card I'm excited about is Research Intelligence, which used to be pretty terrible. In addition to including the revised version of phase II Intel, it has a new power: "ROUND END: Gain a (Favor) Token if you had to discard any cards." This is Budget Surplus in card form and could benefit a Trade/Produce card flow strategy.



I'll be uploading the last few tweaked cards and updated Agenda rules as soon as I don't have a cranky 2 1/2-year old in my lap.
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Wed Aug 8, 2012 9:16 pm
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