Sturv Tafvherd
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Rationalizing Space Lords' space travel ...

I actually tried to find a different theme that would fit the mechanic first. And what struck me was that the Colony and Warship acted much like boats that can only travel through shallow water. The Space Tiles are much like Deep Ocean Water, in that case. And the Base ships are like rudimentary submarines -- able to submerge for short periods of time, but they would need to emerge onto shallow water.

Given that somewhat easier theme, I tried to tie it back to the original Space theme. The connection I made next is Deep Ocean Water ... well, perhaps that's "Deep Space".

And why would these ships have a hard time traveling through "Deep Space"? On the other hand, they can travel over "shallow space".

Well, you can probably invent a lot of science fiction mechanics here. But I'll take one more item into consideration: the planet tiles are somehow connected to these Deep Space tiles ... the game simply doesn't allow for planet tiles that are not somehow connected to a Deep Space tile.

I decided to take a cue from Einstein (at least, I think he's the guy who came up with this) : Gravity Drive. The ships in the game don't use rocket propulsion ... many science fiction writers have already dismissed that, citing that using rocket propellant over a long space voyage would be like taking a cross country trip on a car that can only hold one gallon of gas.

On the other hand, if you are able to "latch on" to the "gravity waves", that would be more economical.

So ... what about Deep Space? To fit the concept, if you have "easy-to-work-with-gravity" in "shallow space" ... then you'd have rough (gravity) waves, perilous (gravity) storms, and dead zones in Deep Space.

At any rate ... that's how I'm rationalizing it for myself.

Otherwise, I'd just treat it as a naval game; where the planets are islands, the space tiles are Deep/Rough waters, the common ships are row boats, and the base ships are pedal-screw submarines.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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zedturtle wrote:


Bio Bio Bio Bio
| | | | \ \ / /
| | | | \ \ / /
[Cor] [Core] [Core]
| | / /\ \ / /\ \
| | / / \ \ / / \ \
Bio Bio Bio Bio Bio

Above: Setup for 2,3 and 4 players


Actually, I have a different suggestion.

Rather than have every player's starting area already connected to everyone else, let's try having them start out on "isolated islands", and let them figure out how they want to connect to each other.

Basically, everyone starts out with 1 Bio planet and 1 Deep Space tile, and their starter complement of ships ... but the rest of the board is empty ... or maybe the *only* rare planet is in the middle.

Bio Bio
\ \ / /


Rare


/ / \ \
Bio Bio


It would be a long game, but it might be pretty epic.

edit ... got a picture for the 2 player "Islands in Space" setup:


 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Ok ... I got one more thing to suggest... and then I swear, I'll get back to actually playing the game.

Components

Yeah ... I know, I know ... you probably really want to make a hex-tile laying game, and avoid the entire "dudes on a map" thing.

But, I am finding it pretty fiddly to move the hex tiles around. Granted, I'm still using paper, and the ideal product might be something thicker than chipboard.

The problem, essentially, is that I'm having trouble keeping the hexes lined up even with my gridded background. Ideally, the ships would just slide on the outer perimeters. But there are many cases -- like the colony ships in that Space Wall post I made -- where the ships are moving through some tight spaces.

The solution I can implement for my grided background is to make my grid somewhat larger than the hexes. (Actually, right now, my grid is a little bit larger ... but I need more space) The reason is that if you put a larger gap between the hex tiles, you minimize the accidental nudges that would take place when you start handling tiles in tight places.

That solution can be implemented easily while using a grid ... but it's harder to do when there is no grid. Yeah, you could try eyeballing a regular amount of space between hex tiles ... but as the tile-map gets larger and larger, it gets tougher to keep those distances consistent.

Let's admit it ... anyone who has played Carcassonne has had at least some trouble keeping those tiles straight ... and that game usually just involves laying tiles down; it rarely asks for people to pick the tiles up and move them around.


So ... long-winded explanation comes to this conclusion ...

Would you consider using a hex grid map? Say, hexes that are about 0.5 inch radius?

And would you consider using square tiles? Maybe 0.75 inch per side?

Print-and-Play wise, it's very easy to cut and produce square tiles....


I haven't polled the Wargamer community; but they might agree that using square/rectangular tiles on a hex grid is a lot less fiddly than hex tiles on a hex grid.


(Incidentally, the hex tiles in the pictures I've posted are about 0.6 inch radius)
 
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Rocco Privetera
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zedturtle wrote:
Okay, here's a post I was trying to make hours ago but the internet kept eating everything:

1. The combat system: I really like the idea of one round of combat per turn of the game, with the loser having to remove a ship. Perhaps after each round, the losing player could be given a choice: retreat (maybe lose one more ship of loser's choice but all other ships move to nearest friendly planet) or consolidate (moving ships to prevent strandings). It could make it more tactical since the losing player would get the next turn to make and move ships in before entering combat in the next turn.


Actually in my original system you could have multiple combats, but it would be just a big rounds of fleet actions instead of the constant you shoot - I shoot it is now.

Quote:

For players where that strains credibility, explain that the combat zone is really a swirling maelstrom of capitol ships and fighters and the further out ships are fire support and containment. Also, it might go a long way to explaining everything if each counter represented a fleet: Warships become Battle Groups, Convoy ships are caravans of civilian ships (ala Battlestar Galactica), a Satellite represents the thousands of defensive, offensive and intelligence satellites that orbit a world, etc.


Like it.

Quote:

2. For more than two players, how about an idea of having a core tile? At setup the core tile would be placed in the center of the table and each player must place two empty tiles and then a Bio planet, while maintaining maximum distance from all other players. Thus a two-player game would look like the base game and a three player game would form a triangle, a four player game an X, etc.

Bio Bio Bio Bio
| | | | \ \ / /
| | | | \ \ / /
[Cor] [Core] [Core]
| | / /\ \ / /\ \
| | / / \ \ / / \ \
Bio Bio Bio Bio Bio

Above: Setup for 2,3 and 4 players


This is exactly my idea for more than two players. I assumed I'd get around to more than two players in the 'expansions'. I assumed "up to six players" - eventually one off each spoke of a hex.

Quote:


3. I might have missed but did we get a clear answer on whether a single planet can have multiple Satellites?


I never said you couldn't in the rules, and you can, but I'll include it in the next re-write.


Quote:
4. I'd agree with Sturv above about not keying color into turn order (in fact my suggestion to "bid" for turn order relies on players having already picked a color). If absolutely necessary, a First Player tile could be included in the bag.


Yeah I agree. I'll add it to the rewrite.

Quote:
5. Retheming might work wonders for the game: Megacorps doing cyberattacks against each other works the best for me. I think Eclipse has caused a rash of 4X Space games and something that separates you from the others might be worth it.


That's a good point. Lotta space themed games out there. I do love the Space Opera feel, but as evidenced, a thematic change might be a solution.
 
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Rocco Privetera
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regarding the space travel thing: I don't think it's so much the layout of space and planets and following the 'rails' so to speak, it's the context that these hexes are 'empty' and yet you can't move through them. AND, you could before. How?

In the current start position, a player in a Warship can fly straight down the line. Yet add a spoke of space and planets, and somehow the empty space you previously were flying through has now become much harder to fly through (since you have to fly around it). Which is true - effectively the distance between the two start points has been increased. And given that we've increased the distance with Empty Space, it seems weird, thematically.

People see the flat board being built and the overwhelming feeling of "why can't I go on top of it" appears. In games like Hive, where every piece is a Unit, its not so much an issue. But because I'm using tiles for... places, I guess you'd call them, the feeling of "its a place I should be able to go in or on" prevails.

I've got a couple of ideas about this: Internet comments ahoy!

1. Change the theme to something that suggests the 'structure' being grown is something either solid or abstract enough to match the one-dimension topography, if we like the gameplay as it stands.

2. Allow a sort of hybrid move-through that fits the theme and doesn't piss people off yet still maintains the chessy "all stats on the token" idea, which I like.

I think you could do something like "deep space" tiles. the game starts with something like 7-8 of them. 5 are used for the line setup and the others are in the bag. Deep Space can't be moved through except by Warping as normal. The rest of the space tiles are "normal space" and you can move through these (but can't stop on them). You make some placement rule that you can't place deep space next to more deep space.

What this would mean is the initial row of tiles still separates the left flank from the right, and even if there are 'arms' with planets on them you can fly past (through) them - although you'd still have to fly out the arms.

But to be honest... I love the "building walls in places there weren't any" aspects. I might be alone in this.

 
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Rocco Privetera
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I guess I'm not terribly opposed to the mat and square tiles for PnP. As everyone knows I'm doing this PnP first before trying to make it for real, so I'm sort of focusing on that aspect. For now I may need to keep that in mind until I fix the underlying rules issues.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Rocconteur wrote:
But to be honest... I love the "building walls in places there weren't any" aspects. I might be alone in this.


You're not alone. I like it too.

You mentioned considering a re-theme. I think "rowboats" and "Empty Space" = "Rough Seas" works; so perhaps consider an "Ancient Mediterranean" theme?

If I remember right, the ancients relied more on propulsion via rowing rather than trusting to the winds (and probably because the science of sailing wasn't well developed yet). So most of the travel was restricted to the shallower waters near the coastline. So you could feasibly say that they're also traveling along the border of Rough Seas ... and they can't really go through land (planet tiles) either.

Rough Seas appearing where it was calm or shallow before? Not that hard to imagine. Erosion underwater, or even temperature changes, can lead to changes in the way the water behaves.

I'm still tempted to go with Rudimentary Submarines to substitute for the Base ships -- those submarines don't travel through shallow waters, but they can bypass rough waters by travelling underneath. As for going through land ... I can only rationalize that by saying that the islands are really just floating on top of the water. Yeah ... now we're going for Fantasy-Mediterranean, LOL ... maybe it should be Chinese ... don't they have some kind of belief of islands being the top portions of giant turtles or sea monsters?

Oh ... and Satellites. That would be the much vaunted Island Defense Force that uses simple rafts. Inspired by that Tom Hanks movie where he demonstrates how he can't escape the islands on a just simple raft.

 
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Derek H
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Rocconteur wrote:
But to be honest... I love the "building walls in places there weren't any" aspects. I might be alone in this.

I agree - its your game and its not a "simulation". It does not have to be justified - it just is. If the game is broken in some way because of the lack of ability to move through "space that is not there", then that is a different matter.

If I had to justify it, I would say all ships are moving by "hyper-space" travel (whatever that means) and this has to be mapped. Colony ships are the only ones who can map hyperspace (and this takes time). Everyone else has to wait. The resulting game construct is not a "star map" per se, but a topology of permissible hyperspace nodes.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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gamesbook wrote:

I agree - its your game and its not a "simulation". It does not have to be justified - it just is.

I just had to point this out; it is SO TRUE.

Call it "Deep Space" tiles. Or call it "Eddies in Hyperspace". I don't really see anything broken with the way the Space tiles work. And I honestly wouldn't want more Explore-Tile-Placement rules than what you currently have.


I'm still looking into the Stranded issue....
Rocconteur wrote:

My original combat originally worked like this: you took ALL the ships in a conflict that were touching as one big fight; tallied up both sides, and whoever had more won and the loser lost one ship. So in this example from the rulebook:

Where the current rules has B being attacked by A and C as one "round", then F and H against G as a round, etc.
Originally instead since every ship in that example are all touching, you'd just tally up both sides (in this case, 12 for Red and 17 for Blue) and say Blue won and Red has to remove one ship.

I sort of prefer that older way, but I had some players complaining that it (again) felt weird to have a ship 6 hexes away "over there" contribute to the death of a ship "over here". So I've been trying this way.

Have you decided which one YOU prefer? Especially given Zedturtle's "Combat is a Maelstrom" rationale ... which I think is pretty convincing.
 
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I think the biggest issue with the empty space thing is the "i used to move and now I can't" - the idea that empty space somehow "blocks" you from moving. Consider this:



This is mostly what people seem to dislike. Why can't I just move through the one empty space?

Of course if I got rid of the "empty space" tiles and used a cloth hex instead, and just placed planet tiles on the map, it would be a 1-to-1 ratio of movement to get where you need to go. But. I *like* the abstract fun of "space is limited to these solid tiles".

If empty space (in this game) were "bricks", and ships were "things that move along brick walls by clinging to them" adding more "bricks" makes sense - you can't go through brand new bricks.

What about something super abstract, like ships on the edge of the universe that fly around literally creating new space? There have been some fantasy tropes that match that - you venture forth into Chaos, and carve new lands out of the formless stuff.

As for combat: I prefer my original version. This new back and forth fiddling means a) ships fire more than once, or you need some kind of mechanic to keep track of who shot and b) its more complicated. My original version was easier and elegant in the abstraction, but again, the theme of ships fighting seemed to make people (maybe just my people) want a less abstract method.

Edited to move new combat to new post.
 
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Derek H
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Rocconteur wrote:
What about something super abstract, like ships on the edge of the universe that fly around literally creating new space? There have been some fantasy tropes that match that - you venture forth into Chaos, and carve new lands out of the formless stuff.

Um, I think I prefer the mapping concept... shake
 
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Derek H
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Speaking of movement... What is the difference between a "hex face" and a "tile edge"? These are not defined anywhere (a picture showing each of these would be excellent!) Because of this, the movement rules for Warships and Colony ships are not clear (to me) at all.
 
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Derek H
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Tossing some ideas into the mix...


1) Scoring

If the game "as is" takes about 20 minutes I would not add rules for scoring. If takes more than 30 minutes, then scoring provides a way to shorten the game. The game either ends after a fixed number of turns; or at the end of the round after the one in which the last Planet is placed. Score (in points) is then:
* 1 for each Space tile placed
* 2 for each Planet tile placed
* Each enemy Ship destroyed in combat is worth 1 point less than its combat value
* At the game end, score Bonus points if you have:
** More ships in each category than your opponent e.g. 3 if you have more Warships; 3 if more Satellites etc.

Scoring will of course require pencil and paper (or perhaps just good mental arithmetic and memorisation!)

2) Where no Colonist has gone before...

If a Colony ship draws and places a blank Space tile during "Explore Randomly", then the player may immediately draw another tile (assuming all the pre-conditions still hold). If this tile is a Planet, it is placed as normal. If this tile is a blank Space, then the Colony ship is lost and is replaced by the new blank Space tile. {NOTE: if Scoring is in place, the player will score 3 (not 2) for the double space placement, and the opponent will not score any points for the loss of the Colony ship.}

3) Wonderful Warping

It seems from early feedback that a Base is very powerful once the upgrade is in play. One way to restrict it somewhat is to rule that a "long warp" (greater than 1 hex) must be in a straight line.
 
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Rocco Privetera
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The original version of combat read something like:
Quote:

Two ships touching are in conflict and are resolved by comparing the two CV's with the lower CV losing. The loser removes his ship tile.

A third ship touching an enemy ship already in a conflict is part of that same conflict, and adds its CV to its side. Additional ships may join this chain of ships in conflict, provided that each ship that joins is touching at least one enemy in that conflict. In a large scale conflict like this, the loser loses one ship tile of their choice.

Examples:
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Rocconteur wrote:
I think the biggest issue with the empty space thing is the "i used to move and now I can't" - the idea that empty space somehow "blocks" you from moving.
...
This is mostly what people seem to dislike. Why can't I just move through the one empty space?


I think the solution is simple ... stop calling it Empty Space.

I'm actually beginning to like that "Schrodinger's Cat" description ...

Ensign: "Sir, there's a warship up ahead."
Captain: "Engage the Explore-a-Vision Ray!"
Ensign: "Sir, a planet appeared between us the and warship."

;p


I don't know if you've managed to read through my Giant Turtle gibberish ... but I'm seriously thinking of re-theming these concepts now...



Quote:
As for combat: I prefer the original version. This new back and forth fiddling means a) ships fire more than once, or you need some kind of mechanic to keep track of who shot and b) its more complicated. My original version was easier and elegant in the abstraction, but again, the theme of ships fighting seemed to make people (maybe just my people) want a less abstract method.


Mind if I ask for details for the original version of combat?

The current back-and-forth fiddling actually reminds me of chess ... and perhaps "your people" are chess fans.

(edit: I see you posted your original version while I was writing ... lemme read through that ... thanks for reading my mind!)
 
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Cat Lord
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Stormtower wrote:
I'm actually beginning to like that "Schrodinger's Cat" description ...


As much as you might hate this being a "dudes on a map" thing, why not make the colony ships a little more vital and movement logistics more set: If you go with the etched board/hex grid concept, you can create the map at the beginning with all of the tiles facedown. Colony ships can reveal hexes. If flipped and it's a planet, then sweet! The planet stays. If revealed as empty space, then it's gone and you have a new avenue to move. Otherwise you're using the same movement rules because you can't just fly into unexplored space, and the removed tiles will be spaced out properly.

(Feel free to shoot down the idea - I find your additive method quite intriguing, but the subtractive method seems to suit your current mechanic better)
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Quote:
If you go with the etched board/hex grid concept, you can create the map at the beginning with all of the tiles facedown


That's actually similar to my alternate board setup idea (mentioned it way way back). The idea is: you start with the two Bio planets and the five tiles, and people take turns setting down one random tile at a time according to the tile placement rules, building the map. the "themed" assumption is the whole "sector" is scanned before people come in. Then both players determine first player and pick starting worlds.

Yeah, both ideas (yours and mine above) fix the mutating space situation at the expense of some random dynamics and in-game circumstance. The layout in the above system is also probably more "fair" since both players will try and build a balanced board so they don't give whoever is first a cluster of worlds.

What you sacrifice is fun stuff like: the colony ship out exploring gets destroyed, so that side of the board gets lopsided, and player B is exploring a huge ridiculous arm to slow down the wing.

 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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PhantasyIV wrote:
If you go with the etched board/hex grid concept, you can create the map at the beginning with all of the tiles facedown. Colony ships can reveal hexes. If flipped and it's a planet, then sweet! The planet stays. If revealed as empty space, then it's gone and you have a new avenue to move.


That's actually so painfully obvious that I'm surprised it didn't come up earlier!

Okay okay ... I wish I thought of it. It's a great idea!
 
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Rocconteur wrote:
What you sacrifice is fun stuff like: the colony ship out exploring gets destroyed, so that side of the board gets lopsided, and player B is exploring a huge ridiculous arm to slow down the wing.


However, the game can quickly be come interstellar DigDug (enjoy the reference).

As a personal allegory for the big decisions about whether or not to change a mechanic you like so much. I had a situation in the (exteremely) early stages of my game where because I love rolling multiples of different dice, I had an XdY mechanic of [pilot stat] d [vehicle stat]. As much as I loved the ability to wield a handful of d12s for the first time since dragon HP in D&D, it created such skewed ranges of numbers that it highly favored min/maxing, which I decided was exactly what I wanted to avoid. Now I more or less have a fixed number of dice rolled, but dipping into both pots as to which and it's a far more balanced system. Of course, when the suggestion that there are "too many numbers" came back to me from a couple playtesters, I staunchly held my ground in that the numbers are essential to the balance of the mechanic.

In short, I know I'm being annoying with my oppositions at times, but I respect and encourage you to hold onto the items that make your game what you want it to be. What you keep determines what you need to change - so if you keep the "Additive" method, then you might need to retool movement. Maybe give colony ships 3 movement, and warships 2 so the defenseless buggers can RLH in a pinch. (I also recommend being a little more clear about upgrades)
 
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PhantasyIV wrote:
(I also recommend being a little more clear about upgrades)


Actually, I haven't gotten to a game that involved upgrades. Typically, the series of events are:

-- someone finds a rare planet.
-- we get into a planet-contesting frenzy.
-- someone finally manages to free up enough contested planets to build a Base ship ...
-- the guy who didn't get a Base ship eventually loses the game.
 
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Stormtower wrote:
PhantasyIV wrote:
(I also recommend being a little more clear about upgrades)


Actually, I haven't gotten to a game that involved upgrades. Typically, the series of events are:

-- someone finds a rare planet.
-- we get into a planet-contesting frenzy.
-- someone finally manages to free up enough contested planets to build a Base ship ...
-- the guy who didn't get a Base ship eventually loses the game.


Then it sounds like I*definitely* need to make upgrades better. I've noticed the same thing - they are so hard to get they are only things rich players buy. I need to make a few more, easier to purchase somehow.

Cat, others, here's a question, which is better:

Pre-laid out map, tiles face up (say players alternating placing tiles so the board is even), re-do colony ships (since you won't need them - maybe they are "Exploit" ships that mine resources, or maybe just get away from them altogether and make a scout class.

or -

Pre-laid out, *random* draw, tiles flipped down, still need colonyships to flip them over.

In the second scenario, how do I avoid all the planets being in a clump in one place?
 
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Rocconteur wrote:

In the second scenario, how do I avoid all the planets being in a clump in one place?


One rule could be: "If a newly flipped-up planet tile appears next to an existing planet tile ..."
... "discard the newly flipped-up planet tile"
or
... "replace the newly flipped-up planet tile with a space tile"


Still, that won't prevent having an uneven distribution of planets, and players may complain of there being a large "luck" factor in the distribution.


Now that I think of it, the best features of your original feature are:
(1) Every planet/space tile is potentially used, none are discarded or replaced.
(2) Players have more control over the way planets are distributed -- they're still random, but they will always be along the path that those colony ships take.
 
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Strangely enough, I could see both methods being included. You could have the "open" version and swap the colony ships for scouts and a "hard difficulty" blind map.

Between the two, the second option has more appeal. You could even turn some of those blank tiles into a free one-time resource that can only be picked up by a colony ship. As for clumping, there's no fair way to determine that. Perhaps the players make two piles of tiles - splitting each type in half, mixing them up, and placing each pile on each half of a decided horizon of the game area.
 
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As long as we're suggesting ideas for the "map" ... here's another.

Instead of just using 1-unit-wide space/planet tiles, how about using space&planet tiles that are more than 1 unit wide?

The picture below is almost what I mean:

That's a "2.5 6 unit" wide tile, and you can put 1 planet somewhere in the center. (Or maybe some tiles have 2 planets?) The rest of it is maneuverable space.


edit: correction on the width of the hex tile.
 
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Rocconteur wrote:

Then it sounds like I*definitely* need to make upgrades better.
I've noticed the same thing - they are so hard to get they are only things rich players buy. I need to make a few more, easier to purchase somehow.


The approach I tried to take in Conquest of the Skies - which I think is pretty standard fare in tech-tree games - was to have three broad 'stages' of upgrade, essentially. In CotS it's literally three stages, but obviously it doesn't have to be.

In the first stage, upgrades are relatively cheap so anyone should be able to finish one in a turn or two, and they fill the role of opening up new options to the player. So a tier-1 resource-harvesting upgrade allowed players to harvest resources using mobile units rather than having to rely exclusively on the upgrades next to their starting settlement. This opens up the possibilities a lot, so it's not the case that some players do it and some don't, it's the case that players simply do it at different times in the early game depending on their priorities. These are the important allow-you-to-do-things upgrades.

In the second stage, upgrades are getting more expensive and while they each have their utility, they mostly improve a player's ability to do something they already do, rather than open up new options. The richer players in the mid-game can get these upgrades more easily and use them to get a bit ahead, but they shouldn't really make such drastic differences as the first-stage ones, on the whole, so the left-behind players aren't left behind by too much yet.

In the third stage, the upgrades are the big game-ending super-weapon types of upgrade, which make the same kind of dramatic difference as the first-stage upgrades did. They're much more expensive, they won't come out 'til the end-game for the most part, but when players do get to them they get a big advantage for it - the left-behind players have lost their chance to catch up and the game is probably nearly over.




The problem is that I'm not sure quite how you'd go around dropping this kind of functionality into something so minimalist!






Rocconteur wrote:

In the second scenario, how do I avoid all the planets being in a clump in one place?


What you could do if you wanted to pursue the second option is alter your setup rules a bit. Have the players randomly draw tiles and place them as in the first option, so in the same way you get a relatively-balanced placement of everything, but don't have the specific planet tiles in the random draw - instead, have a similar number of 'unspecified planet' tiles, so when a player draws one of these, he doesn't know what kind of planet it is. He can then place it appropriately, and when a colony ship arrives a planet tile is drawn from the planets bag to discover what kind of planet it is. You could even just sit the planet tile on top of the unknown-planet tile to avoid having to lift a hex out of the middle of the 'map'.

Thematically this works relatively well, it seems, as we can see where relatively-local planets are from Earth, just with our current level of technology... but we don't know what kind of resources we could get from them until we go there and take a look.




However, I think you should still carefully consider how much you want the game to be affected by luck.
 
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