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Subject: Variant Race: Zenshin Sovereignty rss

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EDIT: Did more playtesting and made some changes.

Zenshin Sovereignty, Version 2.0:

-> Key cost lowered to 1 colony ship, 1 science, 1 material.
-> Guidance bonus lowered to 1 computer, 1 initiative.
-> Starting tech added: Fusion Drive.

Here is the new player board:


Thank you so much for the board, lee elektrik! I really like the names you gave the ship classes, too. They suit the theme well! I edited your board instead of my version, I hope you don't mind.


The embassador tile, by lee elektrik.


The starting hex, courtesy of Vanish.

Thank you again for your awesome work, lee elektrik and Vanish. Please post below, folks, if you have tried the race and/or have feedback/ideas you'd like to share.

=======================================================================

After reading Greg Gresik's excellent review (A Review With Pictures - And Why I Wish It Was Higher) of Eclipse and the discussion on the element of luck/randomness in the game that followed, I came up with an idea for a new race. While certain races in Eclipse definitely require some degree of luck to do well, there are no races in the game that have any innate randomness to them. While I understand this is probably a strange starting point for a race, what really makes Eclipse enjoyable for me is how players must react to constantly changing circumstances, even if the changes are (sometimes! always!) caused by random draws, be it hexes, tech or Discovery Tiles. In fact, the random draws are an integral part of the fun for me. I love the feeling of excitement and anticipation – you know, I wonder what I'm gonna get?! – as I’m about to flip a Discovery Tile or place a Ring II hex between myself and my neighbor, and the “Yay!/Boo!/Hmm…” that follows.

So with that in mind, let me introduce the Zenshin Sovereignty. My apologies for the long backstory – it's the first draft, I'll try to make it a little tighter later.



Ever since the dawn of their civilization, the inhabitants of the Zenshinnai Kokura system have regarded the strange, hulking figure in the sky as their god. However, as their civilization developed over the millennia, they learned the true nature of the massive object – it was an artifact left behind by an ancient spacefaring race, now long gone. While this discovery did little to alter the divine status of the artifact within the population, it sowed the seeds of a bitter conflict that was to divide the entire race.

Some began to believe the builders of the artifact were the True Gods, and wanted to study the artifact, unravel its secrets, believing this would bring them closer to their god. Others considered such ideas blasphemous and insisted the artifact, which they still worshipped as their god, is to be left alone. Despite vocal opposition from the conservative side, research into the inner workings of the artifact begun. For years, progress was hindered by constant attacks by conservative extremists, until grinding to a halt as the conflict escalated into a full-blown, planet-wide civil war that lasted nearly two decades.


Eventually the progressive side gained the upper hand on the largest island nation on their homeworld, restored order and formed the Zenshin Sovereignty. Conservative resistance continued elsewhere but without access to Sovereignty-controlled territory, serious research into the nature of the artifact could begin. While scientists meticulously studied the divine object, speculation as to the purpose and content of the artifact ran rampant. Was it a means to communicate with the Gods? Was it a source of knowledge? Or could it be the end of us all – the apocalypse? Progress was slow and as it dragged on for years and years, unlocking the secrets of the artifact became an obsession for the majority of the Zenshin, the sole purpose for their existence.

Now, after 33 years, the painstaking wait is nearing its end. Zenshin Sovereignty scientists are confident they have finally found a way to activate the artifact. The Sovereignty’s plan to send a team of experts with the ‘key’ onto the artifact is in its final stages and the Zenshin are exuberant, anxiously awaiting the results. But regardless of the outcome, some of the most fanatical Zenshin have already set their sights on leaving their homeworld in search of more artifacts: after all, if the Gods built one, couldn't they have built more?




Here's a quick MS Paint mock-up of the player board, copypasted from various fan made races (sorry&thank you to everyone I stole borrowed from!):

(If someone would like to make a better player board, feel free to do so! The alien pic I used for the purposes of this mock-up I found on my computer, but unfortunately I have no idea where I've got it from or whether it's okay to use it or not.)



The Zenshin Sovereignty: Version 1.1
Zenshinnai Kokura: Money, Science, Materials, Artifact, 2VP
Starting Resources: 4 Money, 2 Science, 2 Materials
Initial Technologies: -
Trade Rate: 4 to 1
Movement: With the Move action may move up to two Ships (two activations).
Reputation Track: 1 diplomacy/reputation, 3 reputation
Colony Ships: Three Colony Ships

Ship Blueprints:
Interceptor: Materials Cost: 3; Base Template: Nuclear Source, Nuclear Drive.
Cruiser: Materials Cost: 5; Base Template: Nuclear Source, Nuclear Drive, Ion Cannon, Hull, Electron Computer.
Dreadnaught: Materials Cost: 8; Base Template: Nuclear Source, Nuclear Drive, Ion Cannon, Ion Cannon, Hull, Hull, Electron Computer, Empty Ship Part.
Starbase: Materials Cost: 3; Base Template: Ion Cannon, Hull, Hull, Electron Computer, Empty Ship Part.

Special Abilities:
The Skeleton Key: Once per each artifact in a system you control, you may flip a colony ship and pay two science and two materials to draw a Discovery Tile. You may not keep the tile as VPs.
An armada of experts, a little bit of scientific know-how, some on-the-spot modifications to the key prototype, and if the Gods give us their blessing, we’re in.

The Collection: Get one Victory Point at the end of the game for each Artifact in a sector with your influence disc.
All that bloodshed. All those lives lost. All of it worth it. Each of the divine artifacts brings us closer to the Creators and makes us the envy of the rest of the galaxy.

Divine Guidance: When fighting in a hex with an artifact, all your ships gain one initiative and +1 to their attack rolls, while your opponents ships receive a penalty of -1 to their attack rolls.
The proximity to the artifact did something to us, changed us, heightened our senses. We pulled off moves we thought weren't even possible.

Special Explore Action: When exploring, may draw a tile from the discarded hexes pile.

My goal with this race was to give the player certain mini missions or goals, something in addition to the typical ”take the Galactic Center” or ”attack the nearest OK enemy hex.” But I also wanted the player to feel like it’s worth it to go the extra mile – to mount an assault on the system three hexes away instead of the one closer to you, to research the warp gate development in order to attempt to snatch a system on the other side of the galaxy – hence the incentives and perks.

With Divine Guidance, attacking and defending artifact systems is quite a bit easier, hopefully encouraging the player to go for those faraway systems. The Skeleton Key serves two purposes: to reward the player for successfully taking an artifact sector, and to add another random variable into the mix, possibly making you change or even completely revamp your strategy/tactics on the fly depending on what you get. The Collection, while not an earth-shattering bonus, works as another incentive to try to hold onto the artifact system, even if it’s a resource-poor world across the galaxy, sandwiched between Orion and Eridani fleets. It also works the other way around: it encourages other players to take the system from you – artifact systems are all valuable, two or three VPs each, and even more valuable to the Sovereignty.

Now, balancing a race with this much inherent randomness is a tricky business. The perks must be good enough to warrant the extra effort, yet not game-breakingly good. As well, the race cannot rely entirely on these special perks; it must be able to stand on its own if the race-specific goals are, for one reason or another, unattainable. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure if it is possible to make a concept like this work. It could simply be too random. But that is exactly why I need your feedback and ideas. Let's see if with your help we could get this thing into a playable state!

EDIT: Edited the race based on the feedback I received and added a new player board to reflect these changes.
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So before discussing balance in more detail, let's take a look at the number of artifacts in the game:

(Excluding Pulsar/Supernova)
Ring I: 2/8 (25%)
Ring II: 2/14 (14,2%), or up to 6/18 (33,3%) with Ancient Homeworlds
Ring III: 4/26 (15,4%), with Ship Pack One: 5/27 (18,5%)
Discovery Tiles: 2/30 (Orbitals, 6,7%)

As you can see, the likelihood of you drawing a hex with an artifact is not really that great.

But then of course you have the Galactic Center and the homeworlds of other players to balance out the randomess a little. No matter what, the galaxy in a 4-player game will contain at least 4 artifact systems the Sovereighty can attempt to conquer. Adding the random draws into the mix while keeping in mind the limited number of tiles in the galaxy, we'd be looking at another 3-5 artifacts on average that are, at least theoretically, up for grabs. Yes, I know – that is a lot of ifs and maybes. Some of them will no doubt be too far, or lack a suitable wormhole connection, making them poor targets.

However, based on past games with 4-6 players and some solo testing I did recently, a player's area of influence would usually contain at least an artifact or two, and that's without aggressively going after other players' artifacts. Then, a player can also attempt to influence the number of artifacts around him. For example, with a well-timed explore action (and by possibly discarding a ”bad” tile) a Sovereignty player could drastically increase his chances of obtaining an artifact tile in Ring I, or at least make it more likely that the two artifact sectors in Ring I will be placed. This leads me to an educated guestimate that an aggressive Sovereignty player could realistically at least attempt to get their hands on ~4-6 artifacts during a game.

...that is, if we ignore a certain issue within the game mechanics. Players are allowed to discard the hexes they draw, and I could see Sovereignty's neighbors at least considering it as an option, possibly leading to a boring game for the Sovereignty. How to fix this? I was thinking about allowing Sovereignty to have the option of drawing from the discard pile when exploring, but it is perhaps a little clumsy and I can't think of a way to explain it thematically. Any ideas?



Alright, so next up: balance. I would really like to get some feedback and ideas on some of the aspects and abilities of the race. Also, I'm sure I have missed some issues/balance problems, so do let me know if you notice something I didn't.

1. The Skeleton Key. Revamped this ability altogether. You now draw Discovery Tiles.

2. Divine Guidance. This is a tricky one. Sometimes I feel like the bonus is just too good, sometimes it just seems too situational and meh. It makes it much easier to attack artifact sectors, and especially to defend them from other players' attacks, but at the same time the Sovereignty is in no position to compete with, say, Orion in the race for the Galactic Center.

3. The Collection. On top of having a boring name, right now the ability is just a carbon copy of the Artifact Link development, granting the player a few extra points at the end of the game. My original idea, to continue with the theme of randomness, was to have the player draw reputation tiles at the end of the game, instead of just getting a single point per artifact. At least in our games there's so much fighting going on that by turn 9 the bag has only ones and twos left. But I thought it was too strong and ditched it, although I guess it'd work as a good incentive for other players to fight. Can you think of a way to pull this off? A reputation tile per two artifacts? Too clumsy. Or would there be another way to incentivize the player (in terms of VPs) to go for/hold onto artifacts, as the random tech alone is imho not enough – something that wouldn't be an exact copy of Artifact Link?

4. Starting Resources. My rationale for the 4/2/2 split was to give the player a plethora of choice. The Sovereignty, much like the Lost Souls of Argalon, has to choose whether to spend their initial resources on the bonus waiting for them in their homeworld – it could help them, it could not. Having four money grants them an extra action which allows them to manipulate Ring I (ie. draw and discard Ancient hexes) or look for artifact systems in Ring III. They could also trade their money for materials and build a 2nd interceptor if an Ancient sector nearby has an artifact. Or, they could wait until the second turn and go for a cruiser instead. I'm not sure, though, if the low(ish) science/materials combined with the cost of The Key just makes most people play it safe every time and not unlock the homeworld artifact until round 3 or so, something I really didn't intend to happen.

5. Starting Tech. Initially I wanted the Sovereignty to start with a random tech, but because I really like the way Lost Souls have to make a choice regarding their starting sector Discovery Tile, I opted to go for a similar approach. I was thinking about maybe letting them start with a Fusion Drive, though. I find it thematically plausible (if you're going artifact hunting to the far reaches of space, the first tech you'd want to have is probably a better drive) and it would help them race other players to unclaimed artifact sectors. Would it be too strong, though?

6. Traitor Card. The poor trade rate and lack of ambassador slots are there not only to balance out the artifact bonuses, but also to depict Zenshin Sovereignty as the religious fanatics they are. They're obsessed with collecting artifacts and care little about establishing diplomatic relations with other civilizations. In fact, I was considering to have them start with the Traitor Card to better illustrate their hostility towards other races and ban diplomatic relations altogether until later in the game when there is war raging in the galaxy and the Sovereignty is forced to choose sides. However, I think the Traitor Card is too restrictive and in general a little too harsh of a penalty.
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It's been a long time since I've been to Japan and I don't have my dictionaries anymore. What does Zenshin and Zenshinnai Kokura mean?

I like the idea of having a race revolve around artefacts. And I love the idea of religious fanatics. The Collection makes sense; if you want a race that tries to get as many artefacts as possible, they should get VP for that. Perhaps it makes sense thematically to give them points for possessing the artefact key as well; it means that they found the meaning behind the artefacts.
Or possession of the artefact key allows them a number of VP per artefact (instead of getting resources, maybe).

The Skeleton Key - how do you keep count of the number of times it has been used during the game? And what if you lose an artefact sector after you have used the Skeleton Key's power for it? If you have used the Skeleton Key three times, but after losing a number of sectors you have only two artefact sectors left, is that all right? What happens when you gain another artefact sector? Can you use the Skeleton Key again, or do you have to wait for a fourth sector?

With the small chance of finding an artefact sector, it might make sense to make an artefact-related search power. Perhaps something like: for each artefact sector in your control, you may once per game, during an EXPlore action, either discard a system and draw a new one, or draw a sector from the discard pile.

Hm, this doesn't really bring more randomness into the race, does it? Instead, it reduces it.



If you could go the way of reducing luck, you might try another system - something I once thought about for a role playing game.
You'll need a number of dice of another colour. The Sovereignty player rolls one die whenever he gains control of an artefact sector and places that die in front of him. Once per round, during battle, the player may 'switch dice'; one of the dice rolled in battle gets the result of the artefact die, while the artefact die gets the result of the battle die.

Example: I explore, then control an artefact sector. I take an unused artefact die, roll it (a five) and place the die in front of me, with the 5 up. Then I get into battle. I need a 5 to hit. I roll a 4. I switch dice: the battle die switches to value 5, while I pick up the artefact die and place it down with the 4 on top.

When the player loses control of an artefact sector, he sacrifices his artefact die with the highest value.

The Skeleton Key at the start of the game is a gamble. If you draw the wrong tech, it could sour the whole game for you. If you get an awesome tech (the notorious plasma missiles, for example, before people can get good defences against it), it could sour the game for your opponents. I don't mind a bit of luck, but that much luck at the start could have a lot of game-destructive potential.

Starting with fusion drive tech sounds OK to me. It seems about in line with some other starting techs. The drive costs an extra energy, so unless the ships power up, the drive restricts them in upgrading the ship in other useful ways.
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Thank you so much for your feedback and my apologies for the late reply. We had a game day yesterday and while we got a game of Eclipse in, we didn’t have a player board for Zenshin Sovereignty so unfortunately I couldn’t playtest the race properly. However, I chose Magellan and pretended to play Sovereignty, going aggressively for artifact sectors. Finished the game with four artifacts, drawing one artifact sector (Ring I) and snatching two from other players (another Ring I plus a Ring II across the galaxy via a warp gate). It was a really tight game and it would have been interesting to see how the Sovereignty would have fared.

Whymme wrote:
It's been a long time since I've been to Japan and I don't have my dictionaries anymore. What does Zenshin and Zenshinnai Kokura mean?

There are quite a few words in Japanese that area pronounced "zenshin" and the meaning depends on the kanji (Chinese characters) you use to write the word. Zenshin means going forward/progress/advance, for example to make progress with a plan to get more artifacts. It can also mean virtue or moral sense, hence the religious background of the race. And then it means something like "entire body" or even literally "one’s whole heart" which in this case I interpret as obsession over artifacts. There are other meanings too, and the translations I came up with aren’t necessarily 100% accurate, as I am not Japanese (or a native English-speaker, for that matter) but they ought to be close enough. Anyway, it seemed like a fitting name for these guys.

Whymme wrote:
The Collection makes sense; if you want a race that tries to get as many artefacts as possible, they should get VP for that. Perhaps it makes sense thematically to give them points for possessing the artefact key as well; it means that they found the meaning behind the artefacts.
Or possession of the artefact key allows them a number of VP per artefact (instead of getting resources, maybe).

Yeah, I was kind of thinking what to do with the Artifact Key. I considered many different kinds of ideas for the tech but in the end decided to keep it as is. I wanted to cut down on the complexity as much as possible. And actually I quite like the way the key works. If you manage to get a couple of artifacts it becomes a nice bonus - another incentive to collect as many as you can. I wouldn’t want to have the VP bonus depend on getting this tech, though. I think the incentive needs to be there from the get-go. And having the tech grant even more VPs (along with Artifact Link) would be much too strong, I think.

Whymme wrote:
The Skeleton Key - how do you keep count of the number of times it has been used during the game? And what if you lose an artefact sector after you have used the Skeleton Key's power for it? If you have used the Skeleton Key three times, but after losing a number of sectors you have only two artefact sectors left, is that all right? What happens when you gain another artefact sector? Can you use the Skeleton Key again, or do you have to wait for a fourth sector?

Good point about keeping track of the artifacts that you have ‘unlocked.’ I hadn’t thought of that at all. Somehow I still had the image in my head that most people would use The Skeleton Key right away but that was earlier when it was a free bonus/much cheaper. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. On one hand I’m not sure if I like the idea of having counters/bits for this purpose, as I don’t like clutter, but on the other hand keeping it all in your head might create issues as well.

In any case, this is how I meant the ability to work: you find an artifact, you use the key once to see what’s inside, you grab it, run, and it’s yours. Then the artifact is empty, there’s nothing else there for you to find. It’s a one-off ability so it doesn’t matter if you lose control of the artifact later. Sorry, I think the way I worded it is a little unclear.

Whymme wrote:
With the small chance of finding an artefact sector, it might make sense to make an artefact-related search power. Perhaps something like: for each artefact sector in your control, you may once per game, during an EXPlore action, either discard a system and draw a new one, or draw a sector from the discard pile.

I’m not too worried about the spread of the artifacts. I think having an ability to find artifact tiles is perhaps unnecessary. Based on past games and the testing I did, it seems fine. Yesterday’s game was fine, too. Everyone had their HW artifact plus "easy" access to other three artifacts or so. If you don’t draw any artifact hexes, you just have to go and take them from other players just like any crazy fanatic worth their money would. And no matter what, you always have the Galactic Center and your neighbor’s homeworlds pretty close. The hexes I draw myself I consider a bonus.

What I am worried about though is other players discarding sectors, especially the hexes in Ring I as they are the most reliable source of artifacts-within-reach in the game. I like your idea about artifacts helping you shift the odds but is it unnecessarily complicated? Simply adding an icon next to the hex above your explore action (letting the player know they can use discarded hexes) would be, I think, an easy way to pull it off without creating too much clutter, but the problem still remains: how to explain it thematically?

I like the idea someone on these forums (sorry, I forget who!) came up with; how exploring means stabilizing unstable wormholes. This explains why it’s possible for the same wormhole to lead to different systems if one discards the tile. Maybe we could somehow work with that idea but I’m drawing a blank right now.

Whymme wrote:
If you could go the way of reducing luck, you might try another system - something I once thought about for a role playing game.
You'll need a number of dice of another colour. The Sovereignty player rolls one die whenever he gains control of an artefact sector and places that die in front of him. Once per round, during battle, the player may 'switch dice'; one of the dice rolled in battle gets the result of the artefact die, while the artefact die gets the result of the battle die.

So, a bit like Lyra, eh? It sounds like an interesting idea but I think it detracts a little too far from the original concept. Rerolls in general are really powerful and I think it might be better to design another race altogether, one that revolves around mitigating luck in battle. For this race I'd prefer a more straightforward approach: artifacts = a Discovery Tile type of thing + VPs.

Whymme wrote:
The Skeleton Key at the start of the game is a gamble. If you draw the wrong tech, it could sour the whole game for you. If you get an awesome tech (the notorious plasma missiles, for example, before people can get good defences against it), it could sour the game for your opponents. I don't mind a bit of luck, but that much luck at the start could have a lot of game-destructive potential.

I think this is a valid concern. Your point about the game-ruining potential is a good one. It was certainly something I was struggling to balance when designing the ability. It really is a gamble. Then again, it being a gamble was sort of the point. You can take a risk and slow down your progress in the beginning of the game in order to jump ahead in tech. Yes, you could get Neutron Bombs, Gauss Shield or Nanorobots. While of course expensive technology in this case, they are all still solid tech that will help the player in the long run. I wouldn’t say drawing one of them would sour the game for me.

But then, at the other end of the spectrum, you could get the aforementioned plasma missiles. But think about it this way: if it’s the odds you’re worried about, we’re looking at a 2,8% chance of having a first turn plasma missile interceptor(1) versus Eridani’s 62,5% chance for a double dreadnaught start in a 4-player game (or 87,5% in a 6-player game.) And Orion? They start with two strong cruisers every time. The odds don’t really favor the Sovereignty.

And if it’s the effect of having plasma missiles (or any other strong military tech) right off the bat that worries you, keep in mind the Sovereignty won’t really be able to utilize the tech until the 3rd turn or so. The Sovereignty would have to get really lucky with Discovery Tiles to be able to build, say, two cruisers on turn two or three, and combine that with the chance of scoring a strong military tech and we’re talking about
 
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JuhainJapan wrote:
I think this is a valid concern. Your point about the game-ruining potential is a good one. It was certainly something I was struggling to balance when designing the ability. It really is a gamble. Then again, it being a gamble was sort of the point. You can take a risk and slow down your progress in the beginning of the game in order to jump ahead in tech. Yes, you could get Neutron Bombs, Gauss Shield or Nanorobots. While of course expensive technology in this case, they are all still solid tech that will help the player in the long run. I wouldn’t say drawing one of them would sour the game for me.

But then, at the other end of the spectrum, you could get the aforementioned plasma missiles. But think about it this way: if it’s the odds you’re worried about, we’re looking at a 2,8% chance of having a first turn plasma missile interceptor(1) versus Eridani’s 62,5% chance for a double dreadnaught start in a 4-player game (or 87,5% in a 6-player game.) And Orion? They start with two strong cruisers every time. The odds don’t really favor the Sovereignty.

And if it’s the effect of having plasma missiles (or any other strong military tech) right off the bat that worries you, keep in mind the Sovereignty won’t really be able to utilize the tech until the 3rd turn or so. The Sovereignty would have to get really lucky with Discovery Tiles to be able to build, say, two cruisers on turn two or three, and combine that with the chance of scoring a strong military tech and we’re talking about

It might only be a 2.8% for Plasma Missiles, but its a 16.8% chance to get an "end-game" (last two rows) tech right off the bat. Having one of the Advanced Planet Techs on turn 1 would dramatically change things as well.

The rest of the race seems reasonable to me!
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The random draw for a tech tile is way too swingy. How about swapping out [along with possibly recosting--INCREASING the cost] the ability for a random discovery draw?
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Vanish wrote:
It might only be a 2.8% for Plasma Missiles, but its a 16.8% chance to get an "end-game" (last two rows) tech right off the bat. Having one of the Advanced Planet Techs on turn 1 would dramatically change things as well.

The rest of the race seems reasonable to me!

Yeah, the more I think about it the more I feel like you're right. Although only three of the end-game techs would be of use right away, building ships with Gluon Computer or AM Cannon on turn 3 or 4 is a little too much. My rationale was that if Sovereignty got something really really good, other players would react to it. They would, for example, counter by researching sources so Sovereignty couldn't power the tech and thus slow them down even more but I'm starting to think it's too unreliable anyway. And I'm also thinking I relied too heavily on our group-think here, thanks guys for making me realize it.

I thought about the Advanced Planet Techs and it was part of the reason why the race doesn't have any advanced planets in their homeworld and why using the ability costs Colony Ships. Maybe it just isn't enough though.

NateStraight wrote:
The random draw for a tech tile is way too swingy. How about swapping out [along with possibly recosting--INCREASING the cost] the ability for a random discovery draw?

Hmm, maybe that could work. What would you consider a reasonable cost though? The current cost is already pretty brutal for early game, not so much for end game of course. Also, about a third of the DTs are resource boosts. If the cost is increased, these tiles would yield very little, if any, profit/progress. Many others, like the cheapest tech tile or finding a cruiser/two interceptors, would hardly be worth it as well (apart from not having to use an action.)
 
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Made the following changes:

1. The Skeleton Key now lets you draw Discovery Tiles instead, as NateStraight suggested. I kept the resource cost the same, at least until I get more feedback and/or playtesting done.

2. Changed the Influence Action Colony Ship bonus from two to one.

3. Added a symbol to reflect the ability to draw from the discarded hexes pile as a part of your Explore Action.

4. Edited the player board to reflect the changes.

What do you think? Still broken?
 
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This race seems has a great flavor to it.

I like that you went with discovery tiles for the Skeleton Key. However 2 money, 2 mat and colony ship seems expensive, especially without having the opportunity to take the VPs... What about one of each resource? Still not convinced about the colony ship, especially since you nerfed the influence action (reason for that?).

Just a couple of thoughts. Overall very cool and I like the theme around artifact keys
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TopherMel wrote:
This race seems has a great flavor to it.

I like that you went with discovery tiles for the Skeleton Key. However 2 money, 2 mat and colony ship seems expensive, especially without having the opportunity to take the VPs... What about one of each resource? Still not convinced about the colony ship, especially since you nerfed the influence action (reason for that?).

Just a couple of thoughts. Overall very cool and I like the theme around artifact keys

Thematically using Colony Ships makes sense, though. The artifacts must all be a little different from each other, right? The Sovereignty has to send an armada of experts in there to figure it out. Plus I think Colony Ships are a little underused in the game. Only Magellan and Lyra use them for something else than colonizing planets.

But the main purpose of the Colony Ship requirement is to help prevent snowballing. Discovery Tiles can give you a major boost in the beginning of the game, and if Sovereignty gets lucky, they could easily be looking at 4-5 tiles in the first two turns or so. Having to spend Colony Ships slows you down quite a bit. Playing as Rho Indi, let alone Lost Souls, can be often be a little frustrating during the first couple of turns, as you have all these juicy systems just sitting there, ripe for the taking, but you can't colonize them due to having no ships left. This was also the reason for nerfing the Influence Action; I wanted to make sure the Sovereignty doesn’t snowball out of control. I haven’t playtested the race though, so maybe I’m overreacting.

As for the resource cost of the ability... well, I’m inclined to agree with you. It may be a little steep right now. NateStraight however expressed concern over the resource cost, saying it was too cheap. I was reluctant to raise the resource cost though and opted to nerf the Influence Action instead, making it the same as Magellan’s. But yeah, one of each resource sounds about right to me. I can see it costing them money, too.

NateStraight, Vanish, Whymme, others... opinions? What would you consider a reasonable cost?
 
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JuhainJapan wrote:
Whymme wrote:
If you could go the way of reducing luck, you might try another system - something I once thought about for a role playing game.
You'll need a number of dice of another colour. The Sovereignty player rolls one die whenever he gains control of an artefact sector and places that die in front of him. Once per round, during battle, the player may 'switch dice'; one of the dice rolled in battle gets the result of the artefact die, while the artefact die gets the result of the battle die.

So, a bit like Lyra, eh? It sounds like an interesting idea but I think it detracts a little too far from the original concept. Rerolls in general are really powerful and I think it might be better to design another race altogether, one that revolves around mitigating luck in battle.
I can see what you say here. Just wanted to point out that you don't really reroll here. You swap dice; if your artefact dice came out crappy in the first place, you can't use them. You'd first have to charge them, so to say, by swapping a winning die in combat to an artefact die. Likewise if you 'spent' an artefact die. But I see how this idea wouldn't fit the Zenshin.

I like FlyingNeko's idea of using the skeleton key to get discovery tiles. The cost seems steep, but discovery tiles would be worth it. Some discoveries give you back more resources than what you paid. We need playtests to find out whether the cost is right. Thematically, though, wouldn't it make sense to spend Science to use the Skeleton Key? You are researching artefacts, after all.

You need an idea of when you discover the orbital with artefact. Does that mean another artefact in the same system?


Edit: The Divine Guidance could work well as a technology, instead of a power. Alternate use of or bonus from the Artifact Key, perhaps?
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Whymme wrote:
I can see what you say here. Just wanted to point out that you don't really reroll here. You swap dice; if your artefact dice came out crappy in the first place, you can't use them. You'd first have to charge them, so to say, by swapping a winning die in combat to an artefact die. Likewise if you 'spent' an artefact die. But I see how this idea wouldn't fit the Zenshin.

Ah yes, that's right. I worded my reply poorly. I understood the idea and I think it's interesting. You should consider designing a race that revolves around that idea somehow.

Whymme wrote:
I like FlyingNeko's idea of using the skeleton key to get discovery tiles. The cost seems steep, but discovery tiles would be worth it. Some discoveries give you back more resources than what you paid. We need playtests to find out whether the cost is right. Thematically, though, wouldn't it make sense to spend Science to use the Skeleton Key? You are researching artefacts, after all.

The idea was that the Zenshin had already done most of the research on their homeworld artifact and only needed to figure out the slight differences between artifacts, hence the low science cost. The reason for requiring materials was mainly to slow the race down a little. It also made thematic sense that they'd have to modify the key prototype a little, costing them materials.

I'm hoping to get to play a game early next week, so I'll give Zenshin a go. It'll probably be a 3-player game though, which isn't optimal, but it should give me some kind of idea about the cost. Also a little worried about the Guidadance bonus, but I'm not sure if I'd like to make it an unlockable ability with Artifact Key. I think there needs to be something from the get-go, just not sure if it's too good atm.

Whymme wrote:
You need an idea of when you discover the orbital with artefact. Does that mean another artefact in the same system?

Yep, that's exactly what would happen. A little weird perhaps, finding an orbital inside an orbital inside a monolith (If you use Vanish's DT mod like we do) inside your homeworld artifact. But you know, there are stranger things in the 'verse, I guess. zombie
 
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Can you or someone else create a starting hex for this race? I realize you could just use Planta's starting hex, but it would be nice to have the option of this one playing with Planta. I've seen several others. Hopefully I'm not just missing it somewhere.
 
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Here ya go fellas. Let me know if anything is wrong.

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That looks great to me! Thanks Vanish!
 
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Well Paul, what's the word?
 
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After play testing this race several times, I find them to be very well balance if not a little under powered (which makes for a good challenge). The first game we played, we forgot about the battle bonus if in an artifact hex (which I think would have changed things as it made picking your battles more important especially in games to follow). I was a little afraid the "Skeleton Key" ability would be too much of a bonus, but honestly, there is a fairly high risk it doesn't pay off in the long run (especially if you pull a +5 science or cruiser tile). Also, I don't see this specifically anywhere, but we played that you could only use the skeleton key once per artifact (not being able to use that ability on the same artifact throughout the game). It seemed to work thematically. I also really like the ability to explore a discarded hex as this prevents other players from discarding all the artifact hexes. Overall, I feel like this race is a little more luck based race in the sense that the discovery tiles can really make a big swing (especially if you pull the orbital tile which not only gives you an extra cube out on the board, but also a victory point as it has an artifact). Regardless, I like the fact artifacts now do more than just the artifact key tech when playing with or against this race.

The only improvement I would maybe say is making the "Skeleton Key" ability one material cheaper as it makes it really hard to build ships early (so 2 science, one build, and one colony ship), but again, for me, I like the challenge. Well done on the race!
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Nice concept! We'll be trying this race in the near future; I cleaned up the playermat and added an ambassador token.

(The space monk image is Schoolism Alien by DavidRapozaArt)
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Okay guys, first of all my apologies for disappearing for such a long time. I've been absolutely swamped with work the past five six months. Haven't even had the chance to play board games for the past couple of months, let alone a nice long game like Eclipse.

So, when I checked out the forums for the first time in quite a long while, I gotta say I was surprised to find the homeworld hex (thank you, Vanish!) and the renewed and awesome player board and ambassador tile (thank you, lee elektrik!) Excellent work, guys! I really like the artwork on the player board - much better than my random alien dude. Fits the theme well.

And thank you, Dymond Kyng, for playtesting the race. I did a bit of playtesting too before I had to focus on other things, but I didn't have the time to post about it here on BGG.

Dymond Kyng wrote:
After play testing this race several times, I find them to be very well balance if not a little under powered (which makes for a good challenge).

Hmm, this is really interesting. You mention forgetting the [+1 / -1 / ^] bonus the first time you played the race but in your other games you used it, right? I'm asking because we thought the bonus was way too good. I know it *only* helps you in the artifact systems, but if the Zenshin player makes sure there are 3 artifact hexes in the center of the galaxy, they're looking at a massive boost to their ability to play king of the hill and hold onto those three extremely valuable sectors.

In fact, we had already dropped the -1 shield bonus, leaving them with the +1 computer and the ^ initiative boost. We were talking about increasing the initiative to 2, though, but we never had the chance to test it. What do you think?

Dymond Kyng wrote:
Also, I don't see this specifically anywhere, but we played that you could only use the skeleton key once per artifact (not being able to use that ability on the same artifact throughout the game).

Yeah, that's how it's supposed to work. It's once per artifact. The idea is to go hunting for more Maybe I worded the description poorly, my bad.

Dymond Kyng wrote:
Overall, I feel like this race is a little more luck based race in the sense that the discovery tiles can really make a big swing (especially if you pull the orbital tile which not only gives you an extra cube out on the board, but also a victory point as it has an artifact).

And a new discovery tile, should you choose to loot the orbital artifact! Who knows, maybe you'll get the 2nd orbital DT, in which case I have no idea what happens because I believe you can only have one orbital in a hex. Put it in another hex maybe? Draw another tile? Suggestions?

Oh and I really recommend replacing the Ancient Monolith DT in the official Nebula expansion with Vanish's version that adds an artifact onto the monolith. There aren't enough artifacts in the game, imo.

Dymond Kyng wrote:
The only improvement I would maybe say is making the "Skeleton Key" ability one material cheaper as it makes it really hard to build ships early (so 2 science, one build, and one colony ship), but again, for me, I like the challenge.

This was our conclusion as well - the ability is too expensive to use. You tend to fall behind in the early game and that was not the intention. I think 2 science, 1 materials and a colony ship is fine, but we were even talking about lowering the cost to 1/1/ship. Would that be too cheap?

Also, we were discussing the possibility of giving them the Fusion Drive as a starting tech. After nerfing their combat bonuses, we wanted Zenshin to have increased mobility and thus better chances of going artifact hunting/raiding. In this case the Divine Guidance initiative bonus would definitely remain at +1, as the drive would boost their initiative. It would, of course, also limit their early game ship build options a bit due to energy constraints.

Again, thank you so much for your help Dymond Kyng, Vanish, lee elektrik. If anyone else has had the chance to try the race out, let us know what you think. I'm hoping to get in a game or two over the next few weeks so maybe I'll get to playtest the race some more.

 
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Could anyway create a player token for this one?
 
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