I have been thinking about how choosing strategy cards works in the 4 player game, and I don't like how all cards are in play every round. I think that really changes the dynamic of the game for the worse. For instance, the choice of whether to take the tech card or not is lessened when you know that for sure you'll at least have the option of buying a tech as a secondary action when someone else takes that card and plays it. I think not having some cards in play each round makes the game more interesting.
But how to handle this in a four player game? If you only let people pick one strategy card each, that leaves too many out of play, and the bonus counters pile up too much, on cards where you don't actually need an incentive to take them.
Here's a suggestion:
Have two rounds of picking strategy cards, just like normal, ie: each player gets two choices. But, on the second round, instead of choosing a second strategy card, they can choose to take an extra command counter instead and place it in any of the three allocations on their race sheet. So you could have only four stategy cards in play, but I think chances are most of the time you'd probably have between 5 and 7 in play.
Is a free command counter a decent trade off instead of a strategy card here? Would people just always pick two strategy cards anyway? Is there some better way to actually force less than all eight cards to be put in play?
Maybe only have one round of choosing strategy cards, but the last player to pick gets to pick two, and all the other players get a bonus command counter? That would force only 5 cards to be in play in any round, and it would give an bit of a bonus to the player who picks last, who is typically at a disadvantage anyway.
Also, has anyone ever tried picking in reverse order for the second round, also as a way of evening things out for the last player to pick? (ie: they get to pick two cards at once, and then you go back around the table backwards for the rest of the second round of selections).
Try taking out #8. With the ISC gone and three cards getting bonuses each round, the choices get a little more strategic in the Strategy Round.