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Leaving Earth» Forums » Variants

Subject: "Private Company" fan expansion rss

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Josh Zscheile
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Hey LE fans,

although I am generally quite busy, I just could not help but thinking about how to incorporate (see what I did there?) private organizations (PO from now on) into the game.

Currently, for me this is just a note after (months of on and off) brainstorming. For you, it hopefully is an interesting read that spawns some constructive criticism. I have not done any testing yet, nor are any of the systems final. Naturally, the same goes for any rules or numbers mentioned here. Hopefully, testing will follow soon. If you want to help in any way, feel free to let me know.

I'll start with the base guide lines of what I want to do:

1. Keep government organizations (GOs) mostly as they are now, meaning they have the same objectives and the same mechanisms.
2. Do not alter the game system more than I have to. It should still feel like LE. That includes trying to stay within the components the game provides.
3. Bring in POs as an alternative to GOs, with their own goals, advantages and disadvantages.
4. Make it possible for both LE and OP to be played with the expansion. Ideally, it should also fit seamlessly to any new expansion Lumenaris is bringing out, but I cannot possibly guarantee this.

So far, I have some steps in mind I want to try, bringing in more variety with more systems. As is advisable in game development (or pretty much any development), one should start with the most bare bones system you can imagine, and get more complex over time, and so will I.

Step 1: The Bone

Aim: Private Organizations are typically seen as more agile and more efficient than Government Agencies, but due to the need of profitability and the risk included, they rarely are the pioneers (at least in space travel). This shall be reflected here. I want to create a system where GOs naturally research new fields, give or sell this knowledge to POs which then produce the parts and sell them back to GOs for their missions. Additionally, POs can take contracts from the private sector to do missions already fulfilled by GOs for profit.
POs should mainly produce parts and sell them, testing them mostly for the sake of making a better offer than any competitor.
POs also might start selling payload space and start transporting parts to e.g. Earth Orbit, once the technology is secure enough.

Goal for POs: Having the most money at the end of the game. For now, there is no conflict between GOs and POs, maybe some score translation (money of POs vs. points of GOs) is necessary. For now, it is assumed the game is played by at least four players, with at least 2 POs and GOs respectively.

Additional material:
1. cubes or tokens (just called cubes from now on) in player colour to mark who produced a part

Rules changes from the base game:

1. Cost modifier of parts for GOs: 2 (multiplier)
2. Increase in number of outcomes for GOs: +2
3. Increase in cost to remove outcomes for GOs: +5
4. If you buy a part from any other faction, you do not get the advancement, unless you purchase it normally. That includes rockets. - If you use a part not produced by you, draw an outcome of the faction that produced the part.
5. Unless it is already done, mark a location you successfully maneuvered to with something (e.g. time token or cubes, colour is not important)
6. POs may keep any money at the end of the year.

New rules:

1. If you get any part from any other faction, mark it with a cube of the factions colour, unless both of you have the advancement with no outcome cards left.
2. POs use the same costs and card numbers as factions in the base game do unless stated otherwise.
3. Cost modifier of research for POs: 2 (mult)
4. Yearly income of POs is 0.
5. POs may not attempt a maneuver to an unmarked location. That assures that GOs are the pioneers that will travel to any yet unvisited location.
6. POs may not claim missions.
7. POs are always behind GOs in player order. They PO with less cash plays first; if tied, the one with less achieved mission points plays first. If still tied, they (only the ones tied) stay in the same order they played in the previous year.
8. Once a mission is claimed, there is a bidding phase for POs, in which they may offer the "private market" to repeat the mission for money. The maximum offer is 5 times the point value of the mission. If you make an offer, you must state how much money you want to be rewarded and also include how many years you want to have time to fulfil the mission. Time taken may never exceed the number of years yet to play. The lowest bid in reward money + time granted to fulfil the mission is taken. In case of a draw, the offer with less time taken is the one chosen. If still drawn (if two or more players make the same offer), the 'winner' is the faction with more cash money. Add the reward money, the according number of time tokens and a cube from the 'winning' faction. The mission may still be achieved by a PO that did not 'win' the bid.
8. If a PO achieves a mission, at the end of the year the player gets the reward money from the card. Discard all time tokens and the cube from the card and add two cubes of the achieving players colour to indicate the mission is fulfilled. If the achieving player (1) was not the one that 'won' the bid (2) and player 2 achieves the mission in the same game round (not year! This means 2 has to be after 1 in player order and achieve the mission immediately after 1 did), 2 achieves the mission instead. This is to reward bolder bidding. There is no penalty if the achieving player was not the one that 'won' the bid.
9. Remove one time token from each mission card at the start of a new year. If there is an unfulfilled mission card (i.e. it has only one cube on it) without any time tokens at the start of the year, remove all the reward money from the card. The player that 'won' the bid on this mission is penalized: He loses as much money as the point value of the mission. If this is more than he currently has, add the difference to the mission card. To indicate this is a debt still to be payed, add two cubes of the players colour to the card.
10. At any end of the year phase, POs may pay parts of their debts. For each 1M$ paid, remove 1M$ of the debt of the players choice. If a debt is completely paid (i.e. there is no money left on the respective mission card), remove all the cubes from the card.
11. Of the POs, the one with the most (money - (debt * 2)) at the end of the game wins; in case of a draw the one with less debt wins; if still drawn the player with more points on mission cards with two of his cubes on it wins.

Personal remarks:

1. There are most likely some loop holes in here. If you find any, feel free to comment.
2. It bugs me that determining a system for a single winner will be very complicated and situational, because that means that the variant can only played by at least four players. If any of you can come up with an elegant and reliable system (i.e. it should depend on the points value of the achievable missions), let me know.
3. I know the rules are not didactically elegant. If you want to help (e.g. by writing examples, referencing the base game manual, bringing the rules in a sensible order), comment accordingly.
4. I know some of the rules changes for GOs seem harsh, as they are seriously penalized to produce and test for themselves, but I feel without this playing a PO would not make much sense.

Outline
(all of this is obviously also subject to change)

Step 2: Contracts between players
Step 3: State of development system that reflects how well a part was tested when it was produced and reflects that you cannot always fix a faulty part automatically.
Step 4: Additional, repetitive missions for POs (e.g. Satellite launch, Tourists in Orbit) with diminishing returns and offer-demand system.
Step 5: Production system with production capacity and factory upkeep
Step 6: Additional technologies to go with the system (e.g. more efficient factory management, Extraterrestrial Assembly Line, Extraterrestrial fuel plant)

Did I miss anything? Almost guaranteed. Any questions? Post them.

Josh 'Dagar'
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Christopher Larson
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This is being worked on for the next expansion.
 
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Josh Zscheile
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Can you link a quote from Joe for it, please?

Christopher Larson
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Joe Fatula
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Chris heard it from me in person at Pacificon.

One of the expansions I've been working on is an asteroid mining/deflection module. This one features private companies that can be in competition with national space agencies.
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Josh Zscheile
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Interesting. Are they player controlled or are they a NPC-like element? How do you intend to differentiate them from space agencies?
 
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Joe Fatula
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Dagar wrote:
Interesting. Are they player controlled or are they a NPC-like element? How do you intend to differentiate them from space agencies?

They're player controlled. You'd play as either a national space agency or a private company.

National: Start with $25, reset to $25 each year. When a different national agency completes a mission, you collect $10.

Private: Start with (some larger amount), gain (some small amount) each year without resetting your funds. When you complete a mission, you collect $10.

Still working on good numbers for the starting and annual funds.
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Josh Zscheile
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Hmm, okay. Well, since RL already keeps me well busy right now, maybe I'll just wait for the expansion to learn what concepts you bring into the game. We'll see.
 
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Michel Kangro
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Interesting. So they basically start a little quicker and don't waste money by tests at EOY.

I'm not sure wether that can be really balanced. Wasting money isn't a major factor anyways. Having more money early is a huge advantage. I believe it'll be hard to find amounts where the money up front won't be too much an advantage...

If you have enough money to easily reach the first easy missions and thus gain those rewards, you might have a lead that's hard to catch up to. If you don't - well, it might be hard to live on that small income.

Maybe some more complex logic: Start with some medium number x, gain a very small number y each year, but have the possibility to take a credit whose interest depends on past successes? Something along those lines, maybe?

IDK.
 
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JR
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mideg wrote:
Interesting. So they basically start a little quicker and don't waste money by tests at EOY.

I'm not sure wether that can be really balanced. Wasting money isn't a major factor anyways. Having more money early is a huge advantage. I believe it'll be hard to find amounts where the money up front won't be too much an advantage...

If you have enough money to easily reach the first easy missions and thus gain those rewards, you might have a lead that's hard to catch up to. If you don't - well, it might be hard to live on that small income.

Maybe some more complex logic: Start with some medium number x, gain a very small number y each year, but have the possibility to take a credit whose interest depends on past successes? Something along those lines, maybe?

IDK.


Symmetry is not required for balance. The COIN series of games, pioneered by Volko Ruhnke are specifically designed to be wildly asymmetrical while remaining tightly balanced. From the quality of the LE design and its expansions, I have little doubt Dr. Fatula can achieve similar balance.
 
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Michel Kangro
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I know that symmetry isn't required for balance. I love well designed assymetric games. But LE already has many mechanics in place and with the sparce information given, I believe symmetry is hard to achieve.

Not impossible though.
 
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Joe Fatula
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mideg wrote:
I know that symmetry isn't required for balance. I love well designed assymetric games. But LE already has many mechanics in place and with the sparce information given, I believe symmetry is hard to achieve.

Not impossible though.

I'm feeling the same way myself -- balance here is going to be hard to achieve. If I can make it work, there will be private companies in the next expansion. If not, they'll be shelved for later.
 
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