I am nearing the completion of the prototype for this game, but I still have a few tweaks to the rules to work out (costs, figure out possible distributions so it isn’t too easy or hard). I am also finalizing a few concepts of the game such as trade and victory conditions. Production wise, I only have two ships sets left to paint and the cards left to create. I will post some pictures of the board pieces in their final stage. I just wanted to submit a rough draft, or overview, of the rules to see what people thought. This is by no means a final draft or even close, but it is the first step.
BLACK ABYSS RULES
In Black abyss, players represent an alien race looking to fulfill a destiny. That destiny could be to rule the galaxy with force, diplomacy, knowledge, or through discovery. Players will begin with a home world and an infant Starfleet, the beginnings of space exploration. Players will then grow their empire by exploring the galaxy and colonizing hospitable planets. They will defend their colonies with growing fleets of starships and increase their knowledge and capabilities with new technologies. To win, a player could go the militaristic way and be the last race standing. Or, a player could win the galactic tribunal seat for 3 consecutive terms, forever becoming the dominant force in the galaxy. A race could also rule with fear by gaining the knowledge of the secret of life, which shows not only how to create all life, but take it away in the blink of an eye. Finally, a race could choose to explore the galaxy for the twin planets of the ancients. If they defeat the keepers of the twin planets, the race will discover the origins of the universe and the secrets needed to control it. (I still need to work this last one out)
Black Abyss is played with 3 to 6 players. However, there is a mini game and 2 player version of the main game.
104 hexagon board pieces containing planets, black holes, worm holes, asteroid fields, and empty space.
330 land tiles for planet exploration (green planet terrain, yellow, red, blue, and moon terrain). Some tiles contain trade icons.
6 sets of ships and player buildings.
4 sets of cards – technology, event, galactic tribunal, and ship cards
200 ship tiles
Plastic disks – to mark damage
Ship to ship Battle Board w/ ship to planet battle on reverse side
Small player boards to track income
300 currency markers
There are two options of map setup that I am toying with. 1 – the entire board is laid out, face down, in a large rectangle or circle. Players then take turns choosing the location of their home world and replace a face down tile with their home world. OR 2 – one hexagon starts in the center, with another 3 rings around that center hexagon, with home worlds spaced out, separated by 2 blank space spaces in the final ring.
A player also starts out with 10 each energy, food, and minerals, 2 fighters, a mine, a farm, and an energy plant on their home planet. Players place their player boards in front of them.
Black Abyss is played in cycles with each cycle containing a set of phases. Each player will complete a phase before moving to the next phase. At the completion of each cycle the first player will become the player to the left of the previous cycle’s first player. The phases are as follows:
V. Events (every 3 cycles)
Each player now collects income based on the production of Farms, Mines, and Energy plants on the planets they control. In the beginning each of these produces 2 food, mineral, and energy respectively. Technology can increase this number. On your player board, the production is tracked so players should refer to this number to determine how much to collect. Also, players collect one chip of the corresponding trade resource for each farm, mine, or energy plant that is on a trade resource.
A player begins with basic long-range engine technology allowing ships to move 1 space at a time. When exploring new space tiles, a player may only explore up to 2 spaces away from a colonized friendly planet. When using another players planet as reference, you must not be at war with them. (If you are at war, I am sure the other player will protest if you try to use their planet). Technology is available to increase ship’s long range engine technology, based on the class of ship. There is also technology allowing an increase in the distance from colonized planets (fuel efficiency).
If a ship is above a planet, it can scan the planet surface to explore, or drop off marines if it is carrying them as long as at least one tile has been explored and is suitable for landing (ie, not water or inhospitable terrain). Based on technology a player can scan a certain number of squares, or marines can explore each tile touching the tile they have landed on. (I think this will allow a more even distribution of land tiles instead of just drawing 7 at a time each time a planet is discovered). Some tiles will contain a bonus that can be collected by the discovering player such as a free colony, free marine, free technology, free, energy, food, or minerals, etc. This is collected immediately.
A player may move through empty or friendly spaces without stopping, however must stop in a space that contains enemy ships.
Wormholes allow instant transfer from a wormhole of one color to the wormhole space of its corresponding color only if it has been discovered. On wormhole spaces, it is the ships choice to enter if desired, it is not automatically sucked in.
Black Hole spaces may never be entered into. They affect the spaces that sourround them. Each hex that surrounds a black hole, is restricted to one movement per turn. (In the beginning this will not matter but as the game progresses it could be a problem or defensive benefit). So ships entering into the surrounding spaces must immediately stop movement if entering into a space next to a black hole. If the ship was already in a space adjacent to a black hole, it may only move 1 space to leave the black hole or move to another space next to the black hole.
Asteroid spaces present a hazard if a ship tries to enter it. The 8-sided die must be rolled for each ship and a roll of 6 or 7 will cause damage to that ship.
A. Space Battle
When two opposing players end the movement phase in the same space and they are at war, a battle ensues. Players move their ships involved to the battle board. If a planet is involved, the planet side board is used. The first player to attack is the player with the highest total of onboard computer number. To get this number, add the total numbers for computers (the number is printed on the computer tile on the ship card, the number varies with technology) for each ship involved. Then subtract the opposing players total number of jammers. If there is a tie, then the player that owns the ship with the largest computer rating goes first. If there is still a tie, the attacker goes first (the one that moved into the space square that was already occupied by the enemy). Ie. Race one has brought his two fighters and a frigate with him. His current fighter technology is a computer rating of 1. He has also equipped this frigate with a computer rating of 3. So his computer total is 5. Race two has equipped his cruiser with a Jammer that has rating 3, he has no jammer technology for his fighters. So the total for Race one is 5 – 3 or 2. Race two has one fighter and a cruiser. His fighter technology is computer rating of 2. However, he used a standard computer when building his cruiser so it is only a rating of 1. Race two has a computer total of 4. Race one equipped his frigate with a standard jammer, rating 1. His fighters do not have jammer technology. So the total for Race two is 4 – 1 or 3. Race two goes first. The player that goes first can now move his ships and fire if in range. Movement is determined by the ships short-range engines that it is equipped with. Its weapon range is determined by the weapons it is equipped with. Also, each weapon will determine what is a hit and what is not. Fighters start out with a basic laser. It has a range of 1 and uses a 6-sided die. A roll of a 6 is a hit. However, a defending ship may be equipped with shields. The shield rating reduces the roll of the attacker. (Ie. The attacker has a weapon that hits on a 5 or 6 with the 6-sided die. The defender has a shield of rating 1. Thus, the attacker must roll a 6 to hit because the shields reduce the roll of a 5 to a 4 and a 6 to a 5). If a ship is hit, the owner of the hit ship decides which section of the ship to disable and covers it with a clear red disk. This portion of the ship is no longer useable by that ship. (ie. If the ship is hit and the owning player chooses to cover the shields, the shields no longer reduce the attackers hits) Once a ship has each square covered with red disks, the ship explodes and is returned to the defender to build again in the future. For fighters, they explode on the first hit. The battle continues until one side is either eliminated or is able to flee. A player must fight in the first round of combat but at the beginning of the next round has the opportunity to flee to a friendly space if available.
If a planet is involved, it will always go first, (unless a ship’s technology states otherwise) and can fire its defenses if available. Bombing ships must be in a square adjacent to the planet on the battle board to release bombs (unless technology states otherwise). If a bomb hit is successful, the owner of the planet chooses which building to destroy. If there are two races occupying the same planet, the attacker chooses who is being attacked and that person decides which building to destroy. A ship carrying marines must also be next to the planet to deploy marines to the surface. Marines can only be deployed to a friendly or empty planet tile so it may be necessary to bomb first to clear a landing area.
B. Ground Combat
If marines have landed on a planet this turn, they are not able to attack until next turn. However, if the marines had landed on a previous turn or were purchased in a previous turn on the planet, they can go to battle. A marine can move to an adjacent square on the planet but can not move diagonally. If the new space contains an enemy marine, they will fight. Based on the marines technology, it will roll the dice to see if it gets any hits. The defender will do the same simultaneously. The players will then add of the hits they each had and then remove their own marines based on the other players hit total. The battle ends when there are no enemy marines left in the square. If a marine ends its turn in a square that no longer contains enemy marines, it can choose to capture the building and make it their own, or destroy the building. If there is no building on the square, nothing happens.
NOTE: A colony’s habitats are required to allow buildings to function. A habitat can support 3 buildings. If a habitat is destroyed, the owning player must determine which of his remaining buildings are unusable by covering those buildings with red disks after the battles are over to show that they are unusable. Ie. A player had 2 habitats and 5 farm buildings on his planet. An enemy destroyed his habitat by taking it over with a marine. The battle is over now so the player will need to cover 2 of his farms with a red disk leaving 3 functional farms and 1 habitat.
If a ship that is equipped with a colony pod is circling a planet after the space and ground combat phases, that player may place a habitat building on the planet, creating a colony. The habitat may be placed on any terrain type except for water. A ship may only colonize a planet that is currently hospitable to the race. For most races, only green planets are hospitable in the beginning. Technology can eventually lead to blue, then yellow, and finally red planets being hospitable. You may colonize a planet even if another race is present, as long as the habitat is created on an empty terrain space.
Transport ships that have cargo from one planet that are circling a planet with the matching trade resource may cash in the trade to collect income as long as there is a trade house on the planet, either friendly or their own. The income collected is equal to the distance traveled for the resource. Ie(grapes grow in green plains, so does barley. A transport is carrying three grapes and has arrived at a planet that has barely and a trade house. The player can cash in the 3 grapes for food. The player traveled 2 spaces from the planet where the grapes were produced to the planet with barley. So each grape is worth 2 food each for a total of 6 food chips. (2 spaces x 3 grapes). Other trade goods are available that give energy or minerals.
Players may now spend their food, energy and minerals to purchase items. Items take a combination of these currencies to create. Technology takes energy and food. The amounts depend on the technology. Ships take energy and minerals, amounts depend on the ship being created. Ship improvements take a variety of food, energy, and minerals, but mostly take energy and minerals. Buildings mostly take food and minerals to create. However, some buildings take a variety.
Ships can be built at space docks, the base ship is purchased first. A ship can then be outfitted with improvements at the space dock. There are two type of space docks, the larger ships can only be built at the large space dock. A ship can also return to a space port, a separate building, to repair damage. Repairs are at a cost of half the original price of the upgrade being repaired. If there are no upgrades in the space being repaired….(I have to figure out costs of technologies and buildings and ships still so this is up in the air right now)
A player may also build buildings at this point. Buildings can be built on planets where the player owns a habitat. Each habitat can support 3 buildings. A building may be placed on an empty terrain space. Some buildings have limitations where they can be placed. Mines can only be placed on mineral spaces, farms can only be placed on plains, and Energy plants may only be placed on energy spaces. A player can also bulldoze or remove a building but can’t move it. So to move a building the player would need to bulldoze the building and then buy the building again for placement. When farms, energy plants, or mines are placed a player needs to increase the tracker on their player board to track the income they now receive. This must also be adjusted any time a player loses a mine, farm, or plant.
Technology may also be purchased at this time for the cost listed on the technology.
Every three cycles events and elections occur. This time is tracked on the player board. At this time an event card is drawn and read aloud for all players. It may be good things (such as extra harvest for farms for one cycle) or bad (spawning of a space monster that roams the galaxy until destroyed)
After the event is read and any actions required are taken, the players then enter into the elections process. In this process, first a resolution is drawn and voted on. (resolutions could be things such as prohibiting the use of worm holes) This resolution is voted on and either passed or rejected and returned to the deck. Past resolutions still in effect are then voted on too. Each race gets votes determined by the number of planets that contain their colonies + the number of regions they have buildings on including their home planet. (ie. First player has habitats on their Home Planet and 1 blue planet. The home planet has 6 regions with his buildings on them. The blue planet has 4 regions with his buildings on them. His voting total is 12. Player two has habitats on his home world and 3 green planets. His home world has 4 regions with buildings on them. He just barely colonized the 3 green planets so each planet only has 1 building on it, the habitat. So his vote number is 11.)
After resolutions are voted on the tribunal seat is voted for. The candidates are automatically the top two players with the most voting power. If there is a tie for second place then the player with the most planets is the candidate. If there is still a tie, then the third player is now a candidate. Next all players vote for who they believe should be the tribunal leader. Players may vote for themselves if they are a candidate. Players may also abstain votes if they don’t wish to vote for anybody. It is important to keep in mind that a player can win by becoming the tribunal leader so it may be good strategy to vote even for your enemy if it means you can prolong the game to have a chance at winning by preventing the third win for a player. (The tribunal leader does get some small privileges but I have not worked those privileges out yet.)
This is the end of the cycle, if there is a winner either through technology or military domination, or twin planet victory the game ends. If there is a tribunal leader that has been elected for the third time, the game ends. Otherwise, the first player passes to the left and a new cycle begins.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Falling behind in technology and focusing strictly on warfare will leave you in the dust.
It is very important to try and keep balance production in each of the three areas of energy, food, and minerals. Land can be scarce, especially when there are a lot of players.
Watch other players. If a player is expanding rapidly, they are also expanding influence when it comes time to voting. Try not to let a race get to large while you fight the other races. A race can come up from behind if ignored and gain control through votes, passing resolutions that hurt you.
Think about the ship upgrades that you give and which ships are part of which fleets. You don’t want a bunch of bomb heavy ships together as they will be defenseless in a battle with long range weapon ships.
Marines shouldn’t be neglected, especially on planets with trade resources. They can be a great way to take over a planet without having to pay the cost of rebuilding. They can also protect a resource from takeover. There are a few wonder buildings that can have great benefits that you would want to protect as well. Once built, wonders can’t be destroyed.
So there it is, the basic rules for my game. I was able to include most of the major stuff needed for playing. There are small things I have left out that need to be addressed like specific wonder abilities, how to win in the twin planets scenario, etc. I also need to tweak the rules for the two player versions. There will be a two player version mini game for just playing battle between fleets, using a certain amount of points to outfit ships and then battle to the death. Also, a two player version of sudden death and a version of capture the flag. Hopefully the game prototype will be done soon.