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Subject: Suggestions rss

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matt tolman
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Playtesters (or anyone else that wants to chime in): If you have a suggestion on how something might be better implemented in the game, please suggest it here.

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matt tolman
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Ports: Recommend coming up with different names since they all do something different.

The ports will be named in the future, I haven't had time to properly research that portion of the theme yet. If anyone has suggestions, by all means step forward!
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8) Consideration for components: It might make more sense to have the starting colonies a different shape than the regular colonies. They are already exempt from upkeep and cannot be turned in for founding Countries. Changing shape might reinforce the iconography you are using. From a thematic standpoint, these starting Colonies seem more like your mother country anyway. Just a thought.

Yes, great suggestion. I've been contemplating the pros and cons of this and I think you are right. I will look at making them more discernable.
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9) Improvements: I think these are going to generate the most questions since they "break the rules" and will be the most variable factor in the games. In addition, these may produce some combos that need interpretation.

You are right. I plan on doing a full appendix giving more details on the Improvements once they are finalized. Improvements are the part of the game in the highest state of flux currently.
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a) Immediate and Passive should probably be identified with some terminology and in bold. For example, I assume Canoe is an immediate effect only granted when you place your token(s). Whereas Loyal Colonists happen each time you take a resource from Colonies. It may also be a good idea to list the specific phases an Improvement would take effect.

I think there will be an icon made by the artist to differentiate these, and I will add it to the cards as soon as it's available.
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Jordan S.
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First suggestion I have regards the event ship track/event cards. You should draw lines in between each of the 3 resource sections on the event cards to differentiate them better and show that they aren't a single pool of resources.

It took me a really long time to realize that every player didn't get every resource on the card when placing a ship on the event card tracks.

(That's a TON of resources, which is what made me question it. If I hadn't had a concept of the value of each resource in my mind, I probably never would have thought twice about everyone getting everything.)
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matt tolman
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Good point. I'll do that.
 
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brian
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Differentiate the starting ships with some Icon so they are easy to pick out when they are face up.

On the Player boards, mark the left-most column as the "construction" column, and everything else as the upgrades (with the exception of the canoe/caravel, of course). Even just a simple outline around the first column with "construction" as the header would help remind people.

And I guess a new question on this: Can I "construct" any ship as long as I pay the leftmost construction fee and the associated upgrades? Or does upgrade only occur during Phase 3?
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matt tolman
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you can only construct ships if they are available. Upgrading during the ship building phase is not allowed.
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brian
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mopeymatt wrote:
you can only construct ships if they are available. Upgrading during the ship building phase is not allowed.

Oops, sorry. I posted in the FAQ thread and realized I had a component suggestion. So copied it here but forgot I had a rule question attached to it! I meant to keep everything in the proper thread.
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brian
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Two things that were a nuisance during gameplay.

1) Shuffling and stacking my ships each turn. It's a pain to shuffle up so few ships in the beginning, and I kept flipping them over by mistake.

Suggestion is to add bags in player colors if this isn't too costly.

Practical solution was just to mix them all up laying flat on the table and randomly draw one - but this would be more difficult to implement Improvements that tell you to place ships at the "bottom of the pile."

2) Flipping over settlements for resource collection and then forgetting what I had to determine if founding a colony was viable.

Suggestion is to have the settlement type printed on the backside too (without the resources and offset somehow) so you know what you have without having to flip everything back over again. Problem is it gives info when you randomize them at teh beginning of the game.

So same suggestion as above: have bags in each continent color to do the randomizing instead of shuffling stacks. This would be money better spent if budget was tight.

To a lesser extent - and this may just be the prototype - the white and gray are too similar in color. I appreciate the non-player colors used for the continents but there needs to be better contrast in the final product.

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matt tolman
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ColtsFan76 wrote:
Two things that were a nuisance during gameplay.

1) Shuffling and stacking my ships each turn. It's a pain to shuffle up so few ships in the beginning, and I kept flipping them over by mistake.

Suggestion is to add bags in player colors if this isn't too costly.

Practical solution was just to mix them all up laying flat on the table and randomly draw one - but this would be more difficult to implement Improvements that tell you to place ships at the "bottom of the pile."

2) Flipping over settlements for resource collection and then forgetting what I had to determine if founding a colony was viable.

Suggestion is to have the settlement type printed on the backside too (without the resources and offset somehow) so you know what you have without having to flip everything back over again. Problem is it gives info when you randomize them at teh beginning of the game.

So same suggestion as above: have bags in each continent color to do the randomizing instead of shuffling stacks. This would be money better spent if budget was tight.

To a lesser extent - and this may just be the prototype - the white and gray are too similar in color. I appreciate the non-player colors used for the continents but there needs to be better contrast in the final product.


1. It's my understanding that bags are very costly, but it's something I'll definitely look at and consider.

2a. This is something I've consider and actually tried. and works well. I'm considering just giving out that much info for next round (the back of the top settlement for each continent) or having 1 to many settlements from each continent and moving it to the bottom of each stack each round before replenishing them.

2b. Same as 1, it's being considered, but probably too expensive, the money would be better spent on higher quality art/better components.

I agree that the grey came out too light in this printing. Gavan, the art director is much better at picking out dissimilar colors. The same can currently be said about the red, and the "less red" player colors.
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brian
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mopeymatt wrote:
1. It's my understanding that bags are very costly, but it's something I'll definitely look at and consider.

Thinking about it more, this is just something to suck up and do. If Improvements are out that call for things to be placed at the bottom of the stack, I can just stack them at that time.

Quote:
2a. This is something I've consider and actually tried. and works well. I'm considering just giving out that much info for next round (the back of the top settlement for each continent) or having 1 to many settlements from each continent and moving it to the bottom of each stack each round before replenishing them.

2b. Same as 1, it's being considered, but probably too expensive, the money would be better spent on higher quality art/better components.

Also thinking about this on the drive in - the other option would be to increase the number of player cubes/discs so that there is enough that when you harvest resources, just place a cube/disc on it to cover up the resources. This indicates it has been used while still being able to see the settlement type. No need to flip and flip back settlements, just clear off the cubes each round.

Also, this allows the start colonies to be on a single board - and perhaps your player board. That will further distinguish it from the settlements and prevent any attempt to convert them to colonies (like my wife kept wanting to do last night!)

The other thought was to just load up each settlement with resources at the start of each turn and when harvested they go in your "pool." But this would require way more components, I think, and possibly cause confusion if they are too close to players' areas already. Given just the 2-player game, we seemed to be close to running out of resources, especially Iron.

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I agree that the grey came out too light in this printing. Gavan, the art director is much better at picking out dissimilar colors. The same can currently be said about the red, and the "less red" player colors.

I thought it was my printer. The ships are orange enough so no worries there. The player boards color doesn't really matter as it has no game function (besides identifying your color if you happen to be all out of pieces). These could all be the same neutral color as far as I care.
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Jordan S.
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Got this to the table for the first time last night: in a 4 player game. I'll write up a full session report in a bit, but here are my initial thoughts.

Suggestions:

Existing map is TOO TOO BUSY. We kept overlooking stuff because we couldn't see past the map. The artwork is great; maybe fade it out a little more and emphasize the gameplay components more. I would also color the continents entirely. North America all one color, South America all one color, Australia all one color. I know that the colony borders and ship lanes for those continents are already colored; but it just wasn't enough. The map is just so distracting.

Echo having the improvements be cards. I think they should be able to be taken in hand and set aside. I nearly forgot to score my improvements (which was a swing of 40 points. I was very confused, because I thought I had done much better....).

Instead of flipping colonies over when they are collected from, place the ship you used to collect from them on the colony proper. When collecting an improvement, place the ship you used to collect it on the improvement itself. It is nice to be able to see what you've already done this turn and what other players have already done.

Comments that aren't necessarily suggestions:

Why is the buy column one lower than the sell column? Is this intended? As is, you can place a merchant ship, buy a resource, place another merchant ship and immediately sell that resource for 2 more than you bought it for. Seems odd to me, but not unbalanced....yet. We're going to play with merchants more in the future.

Friends and I noticed that this is a game about the era of sail (thus imperialism), allows you to buy and sell people, and ends in World War I. This may not have been intentional, if I were producing this, I'd be a little less overt with the slavery and European imperialistic dominist undertones. Not saying it's not accurate, but Puerto Rico still gets a ton of crap for their brown 'colonists'. Just pointing it out if you care.

There may be a slight issue with runaway leader syndrom. He who buys more ships gets more actions and can get more resources to buy more ships. Especially if they're merchant ships. I don't know if this is a balance issue yet (we've got to play more), but I'm going to keep a close eye on it during our games.

Overall, we liked our first play. This is a good game that just needs a bit of refinement.
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brian
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metaridley18 wrote:
Instead of flipping colonies over when they are collected from, place the ship you used to collect from them on the colony proper. When collecting an improvement, place the ship you used to collect it on the improvement itself. It is nice to be able to see what you've already done this turn and what other players have already done.

The problem with this is that a single ship can do multiple actions. If you use your 2-ship, you can harvest a resource and claim an improvement. So this will get a little unwieldy.
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matt tolman
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Echo having the improvements be cards. I think they should be able to be taken in hand and set aside. I nearly forgot to score my improvements (which was a swing of 40 points. I was very confused, because I thought I had done much better....).


The problem with this is setup, don't you guys think it would be too much work to randomize them, and then also find the multiples and stack them?

Quote:
Why is the buy column one lower than the sell column? Is this intended? As is, you can place a merchant ship, buy a resource, place another merchant ship and immediately sell that resource for 2 more than you bought it for. Seems odd to me, but not unbalanced....yet. We're going to play with merchants more in the future.


Yes, it's intended. Merchant ships earn you money, or allow you access to cheap goods.

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Friends and I noticed that this is a game about the era of sail (thus imperialism), allows you to buy and sell people, and ends in World War I. This may not have been intentional, if I were producing this, I'd be a little less overt with the slavery and European imperialistic dominist undertones. Not saying it's not accurate, but Puerto Rico still gets a ton of crap for their brown 'colonists'. Just pointing it out if you care.


Technically, it's called the labor market (which should probably be in the rules). It represents the cost of labor, and settlers aren't necessarily slaves in this game, although it can be correctly assumed that slaves were used to colonize, but so were free men and women. Does this reasoning help?

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There may be a slight issue with runaway leader syndrom. He who buys more ships gets more actions and can get more resources to buy more ships. Especially if they're merchant ships. I don't know if this is a balance issue yet (we've got to play more), but I'm going to keep a close eye on it during our games.

We've never really noticed this to be a problem, so please do keep an eye on it. Mostly I'm concerned with people thinking they are behind more than I am with them being actually behind. Despair is not a great feeling in a game.
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Overall, we liked our first play. This is a good game that just needs a bit of refinement.


Thanks! And thanks for the great feedback, I look forward to hearing more! :D
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brian
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mopeymatt wrote:
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Echo having the improvements be cards. I think they should be able to be taken in hand and set aside. I nearly forgot to score my improvements (which was a swing of 40 points. I was very confused, because I thought I had done much better....).


The problem with this is setup, don't you guys think it would be too much work to randomize them, and then also find the multiples and stack them?

I just say randomize them. No need to pull the multiples. So my personal feeling is you don't need all 5 canoe cards in a 5 player game. If they come out great, and if only 1 comes out, oh well.

You can have some control over this by printing the number of players on the back of decks so you know how to sort them before you shuffle them. That way you are not getting stuck with all 5 canoes in a 2-player game.

I think a little set up time is worth the trade off for the time lost in game trying to read the cards and remember what you own in the center of the board.
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matt tolman
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I'm thinking I might switch the improvements into 2 different types, some would be actions that you don't claim, like "build a canoe" and then some would be as you suggest, claimable. Retrofitting is an example of one that could easily become a repeatable action.
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Jordan S.
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ColtsFan76 wrote:

The problem with this is that a single ship can do multiple actions. If you use your 2-ship, you can harvest a resource and claim an improvement. So this will get a little unwieldy.


We missed this. Holy crap. That changes everything. Thanks!
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matt tolman
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Also thinking about this on the drive in - the other option would be to increase the number of player cubes/discs so that there is enough that when you harvest resources, just place a cube/disc on it to cover up the resources. This indicates it has been used while still being able to see the settlement type. No need to flip and flip back settlements, just clear off the cubes each round.

Also, this allows the start colonies to be on a single board - and perhaps your player board. That will further distinguish it from the settlements and prevent any attempt to convert them to colonies (like my wife kept wanting to do last night!)


Hmm, I'm now thinking there might be areas on your player board that indicate whether or not the colonies have been collected from, so you move them to the right side of the board when they've been collected from, and the left side of the player board is for unharvested ones. What about that, can someone try it?
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brian
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mopeymatt wrote:
Hmm, I'm now thinking there might be areas on your player board that indicate whether or not the colonies have been collected from, so you move them to the right side of the board when they've been collected from, and the left side of the player board is for unharvested ones. What about that, can someone try it?

So like a line down the middle, just toggle them back and forth. Sure, this should work, it is how we keep track of actions in Jambo.

My one caution is this though. Some people like to arrange their tokens so that they can remind themselves what Colony they are founding or for other reasons. So they may not like moving settlements around.

We did start using the player cubes to mark them and that has worked well.
 
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Rick Scholes
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I started moving settlements into piles in our first game. But then, in most games I habitually move tokens into piles while planning my moves.

I think the colony vs. settlement nomenclature is getting fuzzy here. We are talking only about settlements here aren't we?

I've created "cheat sheets" on 3x5 cards. Gives the list of equivalent ship designations because players need to be able to read & understand improvement cards on their own. I also included the victory point schedule so they can keep their eyes on the ball.[This might be a good thing to add to the game board or player boards.]

Major suggestion so far that I haven't seen here is for larger type size on the Improvement cards.

Matt: I have several suggestions regarding the rules. Should they be sent via geek mail rather than posted here?


 
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I think the colony vs. settlement nomenclature is getting fuzzy here. We are talking only about settlements here aren't we?

Yep, my bad.
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Matt: I have several suggestions regarding the rules. Should they be sent via geek mail rather than posted here?


Post away!
 
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Rick Scholes
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Matt,

I’ve been GMing games of two to five players under the version 2 rules. Printing version 3 tonight, with games already scheduled for three days this week.

Many of the suggestions I garnered were already posted. A few are covered in the change to rules version three.

Here are those that seem to me to survive the version change:

1. Most often heard: the word “action” is greatly overused and causes complications. The “actions” triggered by playing a ship into the spent ships pile are doubly confusing when this also triggers a merchant “transaction.” Some of the improvements refer to things like “income action” which is not defined anywhere. In version three you have added “Action” cards. This troubled experienced players more than the mid-level players, who expected to remain somewhat confused after I explained the rules. If I wasn’t constantly monitoring every player most games would run amok on this issue alone. [I do NOT explain the rules in full to begin with. I save merchant transactions, colony purchases, and steel ship bumping for the end of the first round. I talk about war settlements needing meeples and the last round absence of "normal" settlement tiles to buy colonies in round three or four.]

2. The improvements cards were hardly ever used. I don’t think lowering their cost will solve the problem as I observed it. Something else needs to increase their use. Players focus on settlements at first, not improvements, When they do get enough resources to buy them it is too late in the game for the benefit to be worth the cost.

These cards need to be read in full before the game begins as, if they are to be utilized, even first turn strategy can depend on knowing what is available. Each player needs a player aid giving all improvement text. It is too much delay at the beginning for each player to pick up and read each improvement card. Small type size is an issue but the main problem is that players sit all the way around the board and thus reading the cards in place would be reading text that is upside down or sideways. I think the lack of use of improvements reduces re-playability as they are the major factor providing variety. In my opinion the cost and usefulness of everything, and possibly even the game mechanics, need to be adjusted to force substantial use of improvements and they need to have even more various uses. Otherwise Sails to Steam, though full of interesting mechanics, is full of the same ones each game and will probably not achieve immortality.

3. Conversely, the circles on the improvements [if they still exist] were felt to be too small. “Canoe” could have up to ten cubes and does not have enough space for half that number.

4. For the same reason as item two, the “Round sequence,” and now the explanation of Upkeep, need to be on the player boards, not the game board. Players reading those upside down or sideways are disadvantaged to the extent that it hurts their game play.

5. The left most section of the player board needs even more distinction than you’ve added. I’d drawn a vertical black line there and it wasn’t enough to end constant attempts to build initially the faster ships.

6. The spent ships space needs to be larger, to accommodate what may become a splayed pile of ten or more.

7. The ships on the player board are too close to each other. Ship size is o.k. but it is too easy to displace a whole line while picking up one.

[The synthesis of the last four comments is that the player board needs to be substantially larger.]

8. The border surrounding the merchant transactions box should be the same shade of green as the number on the merchant ships. Just the reminder on the Round sequence list, which I’d added with a sharpie, is not enough. I find myself reminding every player about merchant transactions every time they play a merchant ship. It seems to be news to most players even late in the game. [Both experienced and immediately post-gateway players. I haven’t had any players that don’t report full understanding of at least one of TtR, Dominion, Settlers, or 7 Wonders.]

9. Likewise, the color of the wood cubes/discs should be exactly correct on improvement cards, the game board, and particularly the player boards. Questions were asked about what those orangish cubes might be, even after several explanations.

10. Similarly, the meeples on the player boards are yellow. This game is complex enough that experienced players all asked what they were. They expected yellow meeples to mean something different from the white meeples everywhere else. [Not to mention the understandable fact that the wooden meeples you sent me are red.]

Play-test copies aren’t perfect but all of these issues are causing untoward problems.

11. Orange and red are not distinguishable by some. This is exacerbated by the light print quality on the ship pieces, but on questioning, players said using both colors not good even with the intense colors on the player boards I had printed on a color laser printer.

12. Even experienced players had trouble with the red “X” meeples on the settlement tiles. They repeatedly wanted to pay a meeple to claim a colony when using those tiles. [Incidentally, this is another place some standardization of language is needed. Perhaps “journeyman” to prevent allegations of you condoning the selling of slaves. But we’ll all call them meeples regardless of your efforts to the contrary.]

13. The board size was criticized as too small. Players wanted more area not covered by cards and larger, very distinct borders around the improvement cards. They also wanted bigger, more intensely colored borders around the settlement tiles. The lack of sharply different hues between gray and white borders on the tiles lead to attempted errors when buying colonies. People were severely disappointed that they had planned their strategy for two turns based on their incorrect perception of the color of tile in their hand.

14. Delay caused by analysis paralysis produced widely varying behaviors. The less experienced often were not paying attention and tried to play before it was their turn. More experienced players caused more AP themselves.

15. Experienced players asked for an additional way to trigger market transactions. They felt there was plenty of money but not enough resources.

16. Cutting out a round was the wrong way to go. Most players wanted more rounds, not fewer. They wanted more opportunity to develop strategy and use the improvements they had just obtained.

17. Experienced players did not like the war round. Almost all said it was a different game that didn't fit well. They did not like the large number of VP's available which created too much of an opportunity for weaker players to move ahead because of chance factors in the last round. They would rather end with an additional one or more normal rounds.

My own suggestions about version 3:

1. Use Australia and South America settlements in two player games, rather than North America. As it stands now, with only two players the colony track isn’t ever overcrowded and all the settlements have the same color. The two player game is thus markedly different from those with three or more players. “Scarcer” settlement availability caused by two colors could help.

2. I infer from your 3/22 e-mail announcing the changes that improvements are only claimable by one player. I do not find that to be clear in the rules [which still refer to now absent circles on the improvement cards.] Knowing what zero cost improvements you might want to claim the first turn can be very important and I expect some players may be upset if someone else grabs a game changing improvement or action early on.

3. My general take on improvements is that they still are not attractive enough to be a major factor. Zero cost actions may be grabbed,but my experience differs from what others have reported. In every game but one so far the run away winner was the player who focused on upgrading steel ships. The one exception was the only game I’ve played in myself. I won by hoging colonies.

Relevant here is that some other players didn’t like the concept of steel ships bumping in the shipping lanes. One experienced player said the need to keep track of which steel ships other players had and which they had played in each ship placement round was more work than he wanted in even a medium-heavy game. I personally found that to be a pleasurable task.

4. Several important concepts: improvement card actions, market transactions, and loans are “hidden” in the game rules without any larger print title referring to them. Referring to the applicable rule during a game will thus be very difficult for typical game purchasers. [I’ve done this so many times now I can answer players’ questions from memory but that isn’t going to get you good reviews when the game is published.]

As I mentioned in an earlier post I started on a major edit of the version two rules. [Editing is my second career.] This takes one to two hours per page. Most of what I’ve done is now obsolete because version three appeared. I’ve decided to put this project on hold until you arrive at stable game play. Not to be too harsh here but these rules REALLY need editing for clarity and consistency. You use “ships” and “boats” to mean the same thing in consecutive sentences in “Ship building.”

5. Sloop is not the best name to use. I know I encouraged its use earlier. However, you switched to generic “wooden, merchant, and steam” for the other ships. “Sloop” refers to a particular rigging design. These are as similar as apples and hieroglyphs.

Play test rules version three is now calling game pieces bearing pictures of canoes “sloops.” I suggest changing the terminology back to “canoe” or something else generic and change the phase two title to “Resource gathering.” Much more evocative. [BGG posts are full of harsh criticisms for lesser inconsistencies.]

6. The red “X’s” for upkeep don’t say as much as they could. “$” would be better but due to the confusion reported with the coin symbols on the version 2 round cards, perhaps “U” for upkeep would be best.

7. To facilitate sorting mark the backsides of the settlements with player or continent colors or a “war” designation.

8. The iron cubes were in short supply in five player games, even with only one person focusing on upgrading steel ships. This may be a play test shortcoming but should be given attention in final production. In my opinion a quality game does not ever need additional, improvised components. If a maximum number of each resource is specified that becomes an element of player strategy. Otherwise, oversupply everything.

Rick
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matt tolman
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bankrupt wrote:
Matt,

I’ve been GMing games of two to five players under the version 2 rules. Printing version 3 tonight, with games already scheduled for three days this week.

Many of the suggestions I garnered were already posted. A few are covered in the change to rules version three.

Here are those that seem to me to survive the version change:

1. Most often heard: the word “action” is greatly overused and causes complications. The “actions” triggered by playing a ship into the spent ships pile are doubly confusing when this also triggers a merchant “transaction.” Some of the improvements refer to things like “income action” which is not defined anywhere. In version three you have added “Action” cards. This troubled experienced players more than the mid-level players, who expected to remain somewhat confused after I explained the rules. If I wasn’t constantly monitoring every player most games would run amok on this issue alone. [I do NOT explain the rules in full to begin with. I save merchant transactions, colony purchases, and steel ship bumping for the end of the first round. I talk about war settlements needing meeples and the last round absence of "normal" settlement tiles to buy colonies in round three or four.]

There is currently only one type of action, a "ship action", in the game. Would it help if the merchant transaction was renamed, or is it the act that is confusing?

The new action cards are ship actions, not a new type of action.
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2. The improvements cards were hardly ever used. I don’t think lowering their cost will solve the problem as I observed it. Something else needs to increase their use. Players focus on settlements at first, not improvements, When they do get enough resources to buy them it is too late in the game for the benefit to be worth the cost.

These cards need to be read in full before the game begins as, if they are to be utilized, even first turn strategy can depend on knowing what is available. Each player needs a player aid giving all improvement text. It is too much delay at the beginning for each player to pick up and read each improvement card. Small type size is an issue but the main problem is that players sit all the way around the board and thus reading the cards in place would be reading text that is upside down or sideways. I think the lack of use of improvements reduces re-playability as they are the major factor providing variety. In my opinion the cost and usefulness of everything, and possibly even the game mechanics, need to be adjusted to force substantial use of improvements and they need to have even more various uses. Otherwise Sails to Steam, though full of interesting mechanics, is full of the same ones each game and will probably not achieve immortality.

I'm going to start a new thread on this topic.
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3. Conversely, the circles on the improvements [if they still exist] were felt to be too small. “Canoe” could have up to ten cubes and does not have enough space for half that number.

No longer a problem in version 3.
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4. For the same reason as item two, the “Round sequence,” and now the explanation of Upkeep, need to be on the player boards, not the game board. Players reading those upside down or sideways are disadvantaged to the extent that it hurts their game play.

This will probably be that way in the next major update.
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5. The left most section of the player board needs even more distinction than you’ve added. I’d drawn a vertical black line there and it wasn’t enough to end constant attempts to build initially the faster ships.

I'll see what I can do.
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6. The spent ships space needs to be larger, to accommodate what may become a splayed pile of ten or more.

Ok.
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7. The ships on the player board are too close to each other. Ship size is o.k. but it is too easy to displace a whole line while picking up one.

[The synthesis of the last four comments is that the player board needs to be substantially larger.]

There probably be major changes to the player boards in update 4, but that's a ways off.
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8. The border surrounding the merchant transactions box should be the same shade of green as the number on the merchant ships. Just the reminder on the Round sequence list, which I’d added with a sharpie, is not enough. I find myself reminding every player about merchant transactions every time they play a merchant ship. It seems to be news to most players even late in the game. [Both experienced and immediately post-gateway players. I haven’t had any players that don’t report full understanding of at least one of TtR, Dominion, Settlers, or 7 Wonders.]

Good idea.
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9. Likewise, the color of the wood cubes/discs should be exactly correct on improvement cards, the game board, and particularly the player boards. Questions were asked about what those orangish cubes might be, even after several explanations.

Noted.
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10. Similarly, the meeples on the player boards are yellow. This game is complex enough that experienced players all asked what they were. They expected yellow meeples to mean something different from the white meeples everywhere else. [Not to mention the understandable fact that the wooden meeples you sent me are red.]

Play-test copies aren’t perfect but all of these issues are causing untoward problems.

I'll change the player boards to white, but they still won't match your red meeples unfortunately!
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11. Orange and red are not distinguishable by some. This is exacerbated by the light print quality on the ship pieces, but on questioning, players said using both colors not good even with the intense colors on the player boards I had printed on a color laser printer.

Orange will be getting the axe soon.
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12. Even experienced players had trouble with the red “X” meeples on the settlement tiles. They repeatedly wanted to pay a meeple to claim a colony when using those tiles. [Incidentally, this is another place some standardization of language is needed. Perhaps “journeyman” to prevent allegations of you condoning the selling of slaves. But we’ll all call them meeples regardless of your efforts to the contrary.]

Lol, maybe I'll just call them meeples in the rules then! Meeple market does have a nice ring to it.
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13. The board size was criticized as too small. Players wanted more area not covered by cards and larger, very distinct borders around the improvement cards. They also wanted bigger, more intensely colored borders around the settlement tiles. The lack of sharply different hues between gray and white borders on the tiles lead to attempted errors when buying colonies. People were severely disappointed that they had planned their strategy for two turns based on their incorrect perception of the color of tile in their hand.

The new board has better contrast. As for the tiles, something I've done is take the australia tiles and hold the whole stack together and draw a bunch of lines down the sides which gives each tile a dotted exterior which helps with visual identification.
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14. Delay caused by analysis paralysis produced widely varying behaviors. The less experienced often were not paying attention and tried to play before it was their turn. More experienced players caused more AP themselves.

Noted.
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15. Experienced players asked for an additional way to trigger market transactions. They felt there was plenty of money but not enough resources.

This will change when trying version 3. In fact, it may be too far the other way now, which I'm working on...
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16. Cutting out a round was the wrong way to go. Most players wanted more rounds, not fewer. They wanted more opportunity to develop strategy and use the improvements they had just obtained.

Interesting, I'm glad you said this. I wonder if the problem is that they aren't obtaining the improvements until later is more of a problem than the actual game length. I'm working on a new way of getting the improvements out sooner that may give the players the development they seek.
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17. Experienced players did not like the war round. Almost all said it was a different game that didn't fit well. They did not like the large number of VP's available which created too much of an opportunity for weaker players to move ahead because of chance factors in the last round. They would rather end with an additional one or more normal rounds.

As I've previously stated, the war round round was not added on a whim, or for fun, but was added to solve a problem. The last round feels strange if it's a normal round. It's extremely anticlimatic as well. There just isn't much of interest in the last round if it's a normal round. I will think on this, but the war round is the best I've been able to come up with so far. In short, it bugs me too, and I'll address it as soon as I'm able to come up with something better.
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My own suggestions about version 3:

1. Use Australia and South America settlements in two player games, rather than North America. As it stands now, with only two players the colony track isn’t ever overcrowded and all the settlements have the same color. The two player game is thus markedly different from those with three or more players. “Scarcer” settlement availability caused by two colors could help.

This is a valid point, and I'm shocked that I didn't consider it. What I did consider is the fact that longer lanes are more interesting for gameplay generally. This, coupled with the fact that 5 colonies/round is more appropriate for 2 players caused me to make the change.

*5 min later*

You are probably right, I'm gonna go back to Australia and S. America for 2 players.
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2. I infer from your 3/22 e-mail announcing the changes that improvements are only claimable by one player. I do not find that to be clear in the rules [which still refer to now absent circles on the improvement cards.] Knowing what zero cost improvements you might want to claim the first turn can be very important and I expect some players may be upset if someone else grabs a game changing improvement or action early on.

There are no zero cost improvements. I expected it to be more upsetting that it was when I first tried it (I was initially against this method for the same reason). The costs of the improvements usually mean that I could have had an improvement I lost out on if I had made a greater effort, which results in me blaming my own greed, rather than feeling like I was screwed by the game, or another player.
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3. My general take on improvements is that they still are not attractive enough to be a major factor. Zero cost actions may be grabbed,but my experience differs from what others have reported. In every game but one so far the run away winner was the player who focused on upgrading steel ships. The one exception was the only game I’ve played in myself. I won by hoging colonies.

Relevant here is that some other players didn’t like the concept of steel ships bumping in the shipping lanes. One experienced player said the need to keep track of which steel ships other players had and which they had played in each ship placement round was more work than he wanted in even a medium-heavy game. I personally found that to be a pleasurable task.

Money is now tighter, so upgrading steel ships generally means you will lose pace to the people upgrading the wooden ships, which means the steel ships are less powerful overall.
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4. Several important concepts: improvement card actions, market transactions, and loans are “hidden” in the game rules without any larger print title referring to them. Referring to the applicable rule during a game will thus be very difficult for typical game purchasers. [I’ve done this so many times now I can answer players’ questions from memory but that isn’t going to get you good reviews when the game is published.]

As I mentioned in an earlier post I started on a major edit of the version two rules. [Editing is my second career.] This takes one to two hours per page. Most of what I’ve done is now obsolete because version three appeared. I’ve decided to put this project on hold until you arrive at stable game play. Not to be too harsh here but these rules REALLY need editing for clarity and consistency. You use “ships” and “boats” to mean the same thing in consecutive sentences in “Ship building.”

There's no such thing as being "too" harsh! I realize that everything you have done and are doing is generous and for my own good! I will definitely appreciate the rules being gone through heavily once we are at that point, and I'm more than willing to compensate the people who put in a serious amount of work in some way or another.
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5. Sloop is not the best name to use. I know I encouraged its use earlier. However, you switched to generic “wooden, merchant, and steam” for the other ships. “Sloop” refers to a particular rigging design. These are as similar as apples and hieroglyphs.

Play test rules version three is now calling game pieces bearing pictures of canoes “sloops.” I suggest changing the terminology back to “canoe” or something else generic and change the phase two title to “Resource gathering.” Much more evocative. [BGG posts are full of harsh criticisms for lesser inconsistencies.]

So you don't think that it's thematically possible that wooden, merchant, and steam ships are "lines" of ships made up of several different types while sloops are just sloops? After all, you can't ever change the characteristics of a sloop, but the other can be upgraded/changed.
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6. The red “X’s” for upkeep don’t say as much as they could. “$” would be better but due to the confusion reported with the coin symbols on the version 2 round cards, perhaps “U” for upkeep would be best.

Noted.
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7. To facilitate sorting mark the backsides of the settlements with player or continent colors or a “war” designation.

Good idea.
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8. The iron cubes were in short supply in five player games, even with only one person focusing on upgrading steel ships. This may be a play test shortcoming but should be given attention in final production. In my opinion a quality game does not ever need additional, improvised components. If a maximum number of each resource is specified that becomes an element of player strategy. Otherwise, oversupply everything.

Agreed, I feel the same way.

Thanks for the feedback Rick, it is very much appreciated! I hope I don't come off as argumentative, I just like to hash things out as much as possible, and I often play devil's advocate in an attempt to further probe a person's stance and reasoning, so that I may better understand it.

Some people have said that they feel their feedback on previous versions is now irrelevant that version 3 is out, your post proves to me that nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the feedback was still very much relevant.
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