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Space Empires: Replicators» Forums » Variants

Subject: Idea for Rules Variants and New Stuff rss

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Matthew Sinn
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I've got some ideas for add-ons to SE4X. I'm curious whether anybody else has tried to use new counters and mechanics. Here are some of my ideas. I welcome discussion.

First, I like to play with a larger map. I enjoy the exploration and simple strategy of the early game. I'm also looking for ways to add new players since time constraints aren't really a problem for me.

Rule Changes

The following are wholesale changes to the basic rules set.

5.6 Recording Hits

Repairs are no longer automatic at the end of combat.

Although damage markers do not affect unit performance, units remain damaged until repairs are completed.

To repair, a unit must return to a shipyard, move to an Automated Array (6.12), or occupy the same hex as a friendly Recovery Tug at the end of a turn.

Exploration

The following are new "terrain" counters to be placed during set-up.

6.10 Trade Outpost

Your starships may choose to dock at, or destroy, a space station.

On your first visit to this location, receive a one-time CP bonus of 3. On subsequent turns, so long as one of your units occupies this hex, or if this hex is unoccupied and your unit was the last to occupy it, receive a bonus of 1 CP.

If a combat units enters this hex, it may choose to destroy the Trade Outpost. If the outpost is destroyed, remove it from play.

If a unit departs this hex without destroying the space station, an opposing player may enter this hex and trigger the encounter described above.

If a player returns to this hex after it has been vacated by another player, or if a player returns to the hex and destroys opposing units in this hex while the space station remains, they may again receive the 1 CP bonus each turn until either the station is destroyed or the hex is occupied by an opponent.

6.11 Plasma Cloud

Your starship encounters a dense cloud of radiation.

If this marker type is revealed during the Exploration Phase by a unit of Hull Size 1, that unit is destroyed. This represents the degradation to shields, armor, and electronic components caused by corrosive compounds.

A unit of Hull Size 2 or greater may enter, occupy, or move through a Plasma Cloud at any time.

For combat purposes, units fighting in a Plasma Cloud reduce their Hull Size by 1.

Fighters may not be deployed in a Plasma Cloud.

6.12 Automated Array

Your starship locates a space construct that is capable of repairing damaged vessels. It can be commandeered.

If this marker type is revealed during the Exploration Phase, units may halt their movement here. Players may remove up to 3 hit markers.

If a combat units enters this hex, it may choose to destroy the Automated Array. If the array is destroyed, remove it from play.

6.13 Homing Beacon

Your starship locates what appears to be a subspace transceiver broadcasting a series of coded messages on all frequencies.

When one of your units occupies the same hex as this marker type, you may choose to pay 2 CP to hire a mercenary warship (Alien Ship, class D, 3-1, x2).

If purchased, immediately place a Mercenary Ship marker of your color in this hex. This unit may move and act normally on your next turn.

If you cannot or chose not to purchase the mercenary warship, roll a 1d10. On a 1-5, nothing happens. On a 6-10, the Mercenary Ship attacks you.

If a combat units enters this hex, it may choose to destroy the Homing Beacon. If the beacon is destroyed, remove it from play.

New Units

The following are new unit types to be added to the game.

B - Battlewagon

Type: B-1
Class: B
Atk Strength: 4
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x2

CLK - Cruiser, Hunter-Killer

Type: CLK-3
Class: C
Atk Strength: 4
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x1

CVA - Armored Carrier

Type: AVC-1
Class: D
Atk Strength: 3
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x2

An Armored Carrier may hold a maximum of 2 Fighter Squadrons. Armored Carriers may be targeted at any time. Follow Rule 11.1.2 for Carrier Retreats.

DNS - Super Dreadnought

Type: DNS-1
Class: A
Atk Strength: 7
Def Strength: 3
Hull Size: x4

A Super Dreadnought may carry 1 Fighter Squadron. A Super Dreadnought may be targeted at any time. Follow Rule 11.1.2 for retreats when Fighters have not yet been destroyed.

RT - Recovery Tug

Type: Tug-2
Class: E
Atk Strength: 0
Def Strength: 1
Hull Size: x1

A Recovery Tug may repair damaged ships. To conduct repairs, the Recovery Tug must occupy the same hex as a damaged ship. Once per turn, a Recovery Tug may remove up to 2 damage markers from units occupying the same hex.
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Andreas Hunziker
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Trenacker wrote:
First, I like to play with a larger map.

When I “designed” the 5-player map I especially tried to keep the distances between the players (to the sides and over the center of the map) exactly as on the original map. If you expand the gap between factions the research and buildup-time is prolonged, and the differences in the techs empires will have researched will be eroded. So I assume (wrongly?) the bigger the distance, the more similar the empires will be?

Trenacker wrote:
I'm also looking for ways to add new players since time constraints aren't really a problem for me.


[commercial]
With the 5-player map you can exactly do this, without expanding the time needed to play the game.
[/commercial]
I am looking forward to “Replicators”, I hope that I will be able to add a 6th player on my 5-player map “for free”…

Trenacker wrote:
Repairs are no longer automatic at the end of combat.

I like the idea that damage is carried over after combat and has to be repaired. We all had those almost-wins, only to see the enemy fleet attacking without a scratch next turn… It would change how attacks would have to be planned, and add another needed (ore sorely missed) support unit to the fleet beside the SW.
But game wise I am a bit skeptical because of the additional book-keeping involved. We never played with combat-experience exactly because of that reason. And SE4X has the “forced grouping of ships of the same type / tech and experience level” as a base mechanism. How would that fit here?

Trenacker wrote:
The following are new "terrain" counters to be placed during set-up


I think all of the listed new terrain counters are feasible, but I am a bit skeptical with the “Automated Array". Since the game limits how players gain new technologies, it seems to me not consistent story wise (ho ho, yes, I know), that an alien unknown space station just can repair everything it encounters. Of course, everybody and her dog just can come up with an narrative why and how, but for me it does just not fit easily.

I like the plasma cloud, though.

Important for me would be that the new tiles are replacing their original peers in the outer space tile mix, so that the ratio of good, interesting and not really helpful (aka “Danger!”) tiles is preserved. BtW, can a plasma cloud be mined for CR like a nebula?

Trenacker wrote:
The following are new unit types to be added to the game.


With new units of course immediately following questions come to mind:
- do they bring something new to the game
- how do they influence the balance and game mechanics
- how can I blend their needed new counters into the physical game”

“Replicators” will bring – if I am correct – “Advanced Technology” which will allow to build “Battle Carriers” and other stuff, to mitigate the “Mines issue” (at least I think this will change the endgame). So some new stuff is on the horizon. Another way of adapting the units are unique ships. I have to admit we never played with them yet. But I think all of your modifications should be expressable in this framework?
Maybe you would have to allow to build more than one unique ship type per player? This would also help solve the “how to bring new physical counters into the game” issue, since there already are some which could be used).
To keep the game-balance intact, what are the CR costs for those proposed units, do they have a technology attached needed to be researched, and what hull-size tech-level would be need to build them?

One other issue with too many changes and new stuff is play-testing. Since I got the game (I was in on p500), I was able to play it 20 times, one of them a 2-player, two 3-player, and the rest 4 or 5-player games (which take you 6-8 hours to play and may take almost as long to organise the players and the day…).

BTW, sorry for my English, all errors (which I will see immediately after I clicked the submit button) are of course those of my spell-checker soblue
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Matthew Sinn
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Thanks very much for your thoughts, Andreas!

Will a larger map mean that factions are too much alike by the time they encounter one another?

This is an excellent point.

There are two possible remedies for this.

1. Include more technologies. This increases the likelihood that each player will still be fairly unique through the end-game.

2. Sort technologies by player. Once you give each empire a special identity (e.g., "Star Trek"), it's only a short hop to a unique deck of technologies.

Obviously, Solution #2 involves a lot of balance issues. It helps that I play games to do interesting things. I'm less concerned about competitiveness or balance.

The 5-Player Map

Andreas, did you print yours on any special kind of paper?

Persistent Damage

Even with the forced grouping, you can still associate "hit" tokens with specific ships. Am I misunderstanding the rules?

New Terrain Types

I prefer to think of the Automated Array as a kind of "Precursor" technology more advanced than anything potentially available to the players.

Other terrain types include:

Debris Field - Can be mined like a Nebula, but more lucrative.

Turret - A 2-1 (x2) stationary unit that attacks anything that enters its hex. Can be boarded and seized by players.

Dark Star - Roll 1d8. On a 1-4, your ships gain 1 defense to reflect a stealth effect relative to enemy targeting sensors.

Treasure House - Your ships wander across a world used to store goods of incredible rarity and value. Returning this to your homeworld yields 15 CP.

Temporal Shockwave - Deals 1d8 damage to any ship it encounters as it moves off the board in the closest direction, 1 hex every turn.

Excavation Site - Gain a free technology.

Stranded Crew - Rescue a marooned crew. They join your own. Add 1 experience level to a single ship in your fleet.
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Andreas Hunziker
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Trenacker wrote:

Obviously, Solution #2 involves a lot of balance issues.

I think that Solution #1 has the similar issues.

Trenacker wrote:
Other terrain types include:
...

The same goes with too powerful terrain types. If they give you a big bonus, then the luck-factor in the exploration part of the game can become the decisive part of the game. Which it should not be in a 4X game, imho.

Trenacker wrote:
It helps that I play games to do interesting things. I'm less concerned about competitiveness or balance.

But if game balance is not your first concern, then yes to all .

Trenacker wrote:

The 5-Player Map
Andreas, did you print yours on any special kind of paper?

A friend of mine printed it for me at his office on a plotter-printer. But of course you can also print it part-wise on normal paper and puzzle it together.

Trenacker wrote:

Persistent Damage
Even with the forced grouping, you can still associate "hit" tokens with specific ships. Am I misunderstanding the rules?

No, you are correct, I think. I assume it would work like experience. But as I stated earlier, I never played with experience, so I do not now the rules here...
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Matthew Sinn
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I'm not convinced that the balance issues associated with Solution #1 are anything new to the game. After all, the technologies in question would be available to everyone.

I think that luck is already a major factor in SE4X. I'm thinking back to a specific game played by the YouTube personality calandale in which one empire revealed two Doomsday Machines in the early game that immediately wiped them out completely. Larger map size helps, of course.

What are the benefits of a plotter printer? Large size, of course. Is the 5-player map mounted on thicker board, for example? This is a major issue for me, since I want to start trying to use The Game Maker and similar websites to print pieces but don't know where to start.

It is my understanding that assignment of experience is done at the level of the individual starship, meaning that damage should function similarly.

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Andreas Hunziker
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Trenacker wrote:
I'm not convinced that the balance issues associated with Solution #1 are anything new to the game. After all, the technologies in question would be available to everyone.


Yes, of course everybody can research the same technolgies. But if a specific technology is too strong in a certain game-situation, it could tilt the power-balance to easy/fast. So the impact of a new tech on the game should be evaluated carefully. CV and Mines comes to mind... (yes, I know, I know, research and start tu build SW early... ).

Trenacker wrote:

I think that luck is already a major factor in SE4X. I'm thinking back to a specific game played by the YouTube personality calandale in which one empire revealed two Doomsday Machines in the early game that immediately wiped them out completely. Larger map size helps, of course.


I never played with Doomsday Machines. I can see their merit in a single-player szenario, but not in a multi-player game. I also only played the game with the conquest of another home-planet as the only and decisive victory condition. A doomsday machine in a empire would probably just the hand victory to the faster of its neighbours?

Trenacker wrote:

What are the benefits of a plotter printer? Large size, of course. Is the 5-player map mounted on thicker board, for example? This is a major issue for me, since I want to start trying to use The Game Maker and similar websites to print pieces but don't know where to start.


The main benefit is that the print is in one piece, and I did not have to puzzle it together. My map is still considered a game-test-prototype, so I did not mount it. We just put a plexi on it.

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Matthew Sinn
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I agree wholeheartedly that every new technology requires rigorous play-testing, especially in combination.

SE4X involves a dose of luck. This is introduced both by the need to roll dice as well as by the exploration mechanic. This forum is full of stories about players that have lost whole fleets to Danger! chits.

Okay, the "put-a-plexi-on-it" strategy appears to be a good one, and I'm leaning toward it. Does anyone know if a properly-sized plexi is available from Lowes or The Home Depot? I'm not quite sure where to buy such an item.

Andreas, did you just mount all your new chits on particle board from an office supply store and cut them out using a straight edge?
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Andreas Hunziker
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Trenacker wrote:

SE4X involves a dose of luck This is introduced both by the need to roll dice as well as by the exploration mechanic.


...and we play with the variable research points, where you buy D10's for 5 RP...

Trenacker wrote:
This forum is full of stories about players that have lost whole fleets to Danger! chits.


But, honestly, if you move a fleet into an unexplored outer-space-hex, you ask for it, don't you?

Trenacker wrote:
Andreas, did you just mount all your new chits on particle board from an office supply store and cut them out using a straight edge?


White 1.5 milimeter cardboard. I would not now what kinds and brands you would have in U.S. stores.... I glue them on the cardboard with 3M spray glue and I cut them out with a X-Acto-knife (we here call those for unknown reasons "Japanmesser"...) and a ruler.
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Matthew Sinn
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You did "ask for it" if you moved a whole fleet into an unexplored outer space hex, but what if I lose all three scout ships during the early game? What if my first outer space hex is a Doomsday Machine?

Looks like all I'm missing to make new chits/counters is a template and a printer.

Do you have a template for the right counter size?
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Niko
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Trenacker wrote:
You did "ask for it" if you moved a whole fleet into an unexplored outer space hex, but what if I lose all three scout ships during the early game? What if my first outer space hex is a Doomsday Machine?
Then you build more scouts, CAs, or unique ships geared for exploration. Or you send a single ship of your combat fleet into a new hex instead of the entire fleet.

Then you leave a 2 hex ring of unexplored hexes around it and ignore it until you can take it out. It will never enter your homespace nor end its movement on an unexplored hex.

There really isn't any excuse for sending more than one ship into an unexplored hex, and very few good ones not to make that ship a SC or cheap unique ship.
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Matthew Sinn
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I've been trying to make new counters.

I tried making some in GIMP, but it's a very finicky program and the learning curve seems too high for such simple art.

I've considered using PowerPoint. I don't think that layers are required.

Has anybody tried this approach? I plan to basically match the colors and font, add the limited quantity of text, and a suitable image. Since this isn't for sale or distribution, I shouldn't have a problem using images from Google.

Anybody know how to adjust PowerPoint to spit out 5/8 counters?
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Ed Vena
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Trenacker wrote:

New Units

The following are new unit types to be added to the game.

B - Battlewagon

Type: B-1
Class: B
Atk Strength: 4
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x2

CLK - Cruiser, Hunter-Killer

Type: CLK-3
Class: C
Atk Strength: 4
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x1

CVA - Armored Carrier

Type: AVC-1
Class: D
Atk Strength: 3
Def Strength: 2
Hull Size: x2

An Armored Carrier may hold a maximum of 2 Fighter Squadrons. Armored Carriers may be targeted at any time. Follow Rule 11.1.2 for Carrier Retreats.

DNS - Super Dreadnought

Type: DNS-1
Class: A
Atk Strength: 7
Def Strength: 3
Hull Size: x4

A Super Dreadnought may carry 1 Fighter Squadron. A Super Dreadnought may be targeted at any time. Follow Rule 11.1.2 for retreats when Fighters have not yet been destroyed.

RT - Recovery Tug

Type: Tug-2
Class: E
Atk Strength: 0
Def Strength: 1
Hull Size: x1

A Recovery Tug may repair damaged ships. To conduct repairs, the Recovery Tug must occupy the same hex as a damaged ship. Once per turn, a Recovery Tug may remove up to 2 damage markers from units occupying the same hex.


I like a lot of these designs but wanted to follow up with what your thoughts were on unit pricing. Just following the UN table for pricing yields these prices:

Battlewagon - 16cp and requires SS5 (BBs)

CLK - Cruiser, Hunter-Killer - 13cp and requires SS4 (BCs)

CVA - Armored Carrier - 14cp and this is including the the "Mini-fighter Bay" from UNs. And requires SS4 (BCs) but guessing you'd allow with Ftr1?

DNS - Super Dreadnought - 31cp and requires SS7 (TNs), including the "Mini-Fighter Bay". Not even accounting for the extra hull to x4. So for 32cp I can buy a TN and have x5 hull. Not seeing the benefit here

RT - Recovery Tug - 9cp and SS2 (DDs) from UN table. Technically not legal to build w/o AT1 at least there.


 
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