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Merchant of Venus» Forums » Variants

Subject: Pilot Deck Variant rss

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Jared Beiswenger
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The Pilot Deck Variant introduces a 10 card deck of multi-use cards for each ship type that is used for movement, trade, and the pilot number. It mitigates some of the luck of the dice, gives you an extra level of interesting choices, and even speeds up the gameplay.



Files can be found here.

Demo video can be found here.

I made my own copy of the Michael Christopher redesign several years ago. Despite it being a beast of a project, I enjoyed making it and was quite satisfied with the results. The part of the game I enjoy the most is the variable setup, exploration, and route building. Overall it was a good game, but it just didn't stand up to the other modern games in my collection. Sometimes turns seemed to play themselves with no decisions to be made, and every once in a while I felt like I didn't really get to "do anything" on my turn due to a bad dice roll or poor planning/risk management.

It made me sad that I put all this love and effort into building this game, but rarely got it to the table. So inspired by the clever design of the cardplay in Mage Knight, I designed the Pilot Deck Variant. We will never go back to the dice after playing it this way.

A simple gameplay summary:
You start with a 10 card draw deck for the Scout. If you ever buy a Clipper or Freighter, you'll switch out your deck for a faster Clipper deck or a slower but more trade-heavy Freighter deck.

You'll draw 6 cards and play each card for either its movement value, as a pilot number, or for its trade value. If used as a pilot number it cannot also be used for movement or trade. You also don't get an automatic 1 buy/1 sell when you arrive at a planet. You have to use your cards for trade actions. So 1 point of trade from a played card will let you buy or sell one good/equipment or pickup one passenger. At the end of your turn, you discard any played cards. You may choose to keep or discard any unplayed cards, then draw back up to 6 cards. When your deck runs out, shuffle the discard and make it your draw deck.

These are the basics. There are more rules that you'll need, especially for the relics, but you can read them in the full rules document linked above.

How this variant improves MoV:
- Nav circles are less punishing. If you don't have the pilot number this turn, you will have it next turn, and you can plan for it. Nav circles will always slow you down though, especially since your best movement cards are the ones with the pilot numbers.
- All situations give you some leeway to do extra trading instead of movement or vice-versa. Came up just short of a planet last turn? Save a couple cards with trade actions and do extra trading. Did you forgo movement to do unlimited trades? Discard your trade cards to stack your deck for maximum movement next turn.
- Speed of Play! We remove the movement direction declaration at the beginning of the turn, which allows us to draw our cards and plan our turns while we're waiting. When your turn comes around, you will have all your cards laid out and ready to play.

The game plays so fast with this variant that the biggest hold-up is replenishing the market. I'm going to test having a "future market" where I line up the next few tokens to come out. That way you could even take your turn simultaneously with the person before you if you know it won't change the outcome.

I'm excited to share this with everyone. It's been a big hit with my group and has given an old game some new life. I don't use any other variants, and I haven't played the new Fantasy Flight version, so I can't say whether it works well with those, but I'd be interested to hear feedback from others. Also, we typically play to $2500, so that's how this variant was playtested.

This has been a labor of love, and I would not have taken the time to post it if it wasn't worth an MoV fan's time. Let me know what you think, especially if you're able to give it try.

Edit: Thanks to Eric Summerer for a positive review on The Dice Tower! What an awesome surprise that was!
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Keith "Boaty McBoatface" C
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I was hesitant at first, but after reading this and watching the overview video you posted, I'm really interested in trying this. Bear in mind, I've been playing this game for almost ten years, built my own copy as well and have played in the tournaments at WBC. So, you could say I'm a fan. But, I am really interested in trying this out.
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stevun spence
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this could work very well with having more then 6 players, im gonna have to try this out when I'm done making my version.
 
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Jared Beiswenger
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funnnymerchx09 wrote:
this could work very well with having more then 6 players, im gonna have to try this out when I'm done making my version.


I haven't played with more than 4 in a long time, but I've been planning to gather together a group of 6 to see how well the variant speeds things up. I suspect more than 6 players would still be brutally long, but I wish you luck if you try it.
 
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I just completed my game, working on the final touches right now.

there are a few things I'm gonna do to make a 6+ game work.

#1 use the point system.
#2 every complete turn cycle players will vote on the
rastur invasion starting or not. (in a 7 player game each, each player will only have 3 turns left is no rastur gets killed.)

and finally I took your idea for having players go at the same time and
used it in a alliance variant I made.

so
#3 in a 7+ game, with a even number of players, alliances will be made at the beginning of the game.

Advanced Exploration
and home species pref will also be used.

I would be using this variant as well
but merchant ships need to be used, and
it's something to get used to first.

hope you make it compatible with the new ships btw,
 
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Jared Beiswenger
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funnnymerchx09 wrote:
hope you make it compatible with the new ships btw,


Unfortunately I only have the base game ships, so I won't be creating more decks, but you're welcome to do it yourself if you're inclined.
 
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