Mark Perry
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Welcome to the second edition of this game. A little history on this game: I began work on this game in 2016 for the 2016 Print and Play contest, however, I had to pull it from the contest in July since I did not have the time to finish it, due to several changes to the game I made at the last minute. Then I became Terribly busy at work, and so couldn't work on it in other contests.

To follow-up on with the new discussion, jump to the end of the thread. To make downloading of files easy, I will place the files on this OP.

See the revised setting below:

This is a war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one. This game simulates the conflict between Martian forces and Earth's League of Nations during the first and second Martian Wars. Your goal is to protect Earth, to survive the Martian assault, to develop Earth's technology against the Martians, and to defeat the Martians on their home. Succeed so that Earth will forever persevere! Failure is not an option.

To play this game, the following components are necessary:

• The cards for this game;
• 4d6;
• A certain number of neutral color 8-mm cubes

Approximate playtime per game: 30 minutes

This game is not yet ready to play.

Components Available: (Not yet!)
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Travis Hill
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Super cool, Mark!
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Chris Hansen
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Welcome to the contest! I'm excited for more info!
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Thanks Chris and Travis! It's an honor yet accolades from you, work unseen. I love both of your stuff on Low Player Count and PNP patrol, respectively.

It's been a slow realization that I have to really take my time getting my stuff up. I am now realistically hoping to upload the rules and components this weekend. Sorry for the delay on this.

What I can tell those waiting/lurking is that the game takes about 30 mins to play. Components needed to play are 50 cards, 1d6, 3 eurocubes (beads work well, too), the 12 chits that come with the game, and something from which to draw the chits.

Being a deck builder and based on a war (though a fictional one), this game is similar to Wipers Salient. Having not played WS, only having watched YouTube videos, however, I do believe that the games are fairly different. Both games represent the "life" of the player using tracks, but I feel like this is a mechanic I have seen in many other games. As I play tested the game at home, I added mechanics as necessary to keep the theme, but also to keep the game balanced.

You might notice that there is a 1d6 in this game. I felt that this was necessary to make the game interesting and to emulate another player, namely one that behaves in an "alien" way. That said, I have added a handful of other mechanics into the game to help mitigate against "the dice hate me" syndrome.

My greatest concerns to potential playtesters are:

Is the game fun?
Is the game too easy?
Is the game too hard?
Is the game too random?
What did you want more of in the game?
What did you want less of in he game?

Thanks for looking!
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Eric Miller
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
MarkP1981 wrote:

My greatest concerns to potential playtesters are:

Is the game fun?
Is the game too easy?
Is the game too hard?
Is the game too random?
What did you want more of in the game?
What did you want less of in he game?

Thanks for looking!


All good questions Mark! And I'm sure they will all be answered in due time.

I'll be interested to see how the chits work and how you make the dice love me...! I've got Wipers Salient- what about similarities to Star Realms?

VPT-Miller
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I have taken a picture of my prototype. Hopefully it appears below:



As you can see, it is very much a prototype, and so playtesters will have very little issue printing out the game. If you have sleeves and a deck of cards you should be golden.

I was using chits in the game, but am considering eurocubes and to make the construction of the game even easier. The purpose of the chits is to simulate the re-engineering of Martian tech. I know it doesn't happen in the book, but the book primarily is from the perspective of a civilian, so who is to say that the British military didn't re-engineer any Martian tech...

Anyhow,I am thinking of adding an additional card to the game (shifting from 50 to 51) that would act as a key, reminding players which colors correspond with which technologies. Implementing this change, however, means that I need to devise symbols for five possible Martian technologies player can research from felled Martians.

I am also hoping to upload the cards during the week, with the version 1 instructions. Please forgive the tepid pace of all this; I am pretty much a novice at all of this.
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I have posted rules and cards in the OP. I have probably missed something in them, so if you see anything that seems missing, let me know.

Thanks! And enjoy!

(Note: If it is not clear, play-testing volunteers are welcome!)
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Oh, I also wanted to note that this game is not fully formed. The Martian cards, for example, still need flavor text, etc, but the game is entirely playable. I guess you could say hat at present it's functional, but that it is not a finished product. Ultimately, I aim to detail it with passages from hg Wells's classic, add some color or texture to the cards, add images from the the French 1905 edition of the book, as illustrated by Henrique Alvim Correa and update some of the iconography to be more thematic.

Possibly also I should include pictures in the manual of gameplay and detailing the iconography...

So many goals! So little time!
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Chris Bogert
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Cool, sounds like you have some good ideas to flesh it out graphically.
In the meantime I will try to pnp it and give it a whirl.
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Nick Herman
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Hi!

I played six games of Martian Wars today. I found it a bit hard to understand the rules (as the document is right now), because a lot of things aren't really explained - like where cards go when they are recruited. I presume you want everything to be handled like in other deckbuilding games (Dominion for example), so I tried to handle things like there.

--------------------------------------------------
Let's start of with some rules questions - all I say below them is based on my plays with the rules as I understood them, so if I was wrong somewhere, my impression on gameplay will likely be off.

1) When I play cards do I get all of the benefits (recruitment points, attack/defense points and card action like on the Cavalry card) or do I have to pick one or one sort? (I took all benefits)

2) When I recruit new units, do the cards go to the discard pile or my hand? (I did put them in the discard)

3) Under V.3.b. the rules say: "The powers from this card can be activated when two engineers are placed under it". I take it that this means that I draw one martian technology and then remove the martian card and the engineers from the game?

4) Under VI.7.b. the rules say: "Has 1 engineer point: This can be used to unlock martian technology; using of an engineer in this way causes the engineer to be scrapped". This doesn't fit to the description under V.3.b. (I played it that the engineer is placed under the martian card instead of being scrapped and two engineers under one martian card got me one technology)

5) The descriptions on martian technologies are very brief. How exactly is the Cellular Technology used? I think I can guess the usage of the other technologies, but this one has me puzzled.

Some other things that I discovered in the rules:
1) Under IV.4. the rules say "...discard 4 cards." This would leave only four martian cards for act I, but the rules claim elsewhere that act I would have five turns.

2) Under IV.5. the rules speak of a "marketplace" and make you set up three rows of cards. It is not explained what a "marketplace" is. And does it need to be set up in three rows?

------------------------------------------
On Gameplay:
I love the theme, but I'm not sold on the gameplay yet. I lost all of my six games, half of them on 8th turn, two on 7th and one on 9th. I tried different strategies (promote volunteers, get martian tech with engineers, get reinforcement points early, get attack points early), but none of them did seem to work well. I think the problem was that with the game ending so early, none of these strategies had time to really develop. In just a handfull of turns, you can't do a lot of deckbuilding.

Possible solutions:
1) Make the game last 15 or better 20 turns (maybe two human turns before each martian turn?).
2) Or give the player a bit more to work with at the beginning, like exchanging one supply for a special supply (with two reinforcement points) and exchanging two infantry for two special forces (with one attack and the action that it can be scrapped for one additional attack) in the starting deck.

Quote:
Is the game fun?

It is fun when you have cards that let you do something else than just get new units or attack/defend. Royal Marines, Engineers, Artillery and Cavalry are fun, especially if you can combine them.

What I dont like is the elaboate setup of martian and unit cards (too much sorting, shuffling, discarding). You could just make different sets of martian cards for each act, shuffle them separately, discard some and combine the rest to one pile that doesn't need to be rebuilt halfway through the game. The unit card setup should be less elaborate, too.

Quote:
Is the game too easy?
Is the game too hard?

I'd say it is too hard as it is now. I don't have the feeling that I can do/influence a lot and the martian attacks (and life points) seem to be too much for anything I can put up.

Quote:
Is the game too random?

I think the attacks on the martian cards are too random. When a martian can attack at three different places with either 1 or 6 damage, depending on a die roll, there is no way of telling where it makes sense to defend.

And one more thing on martian cards:
Martians with more life points do more damage, too. That means if you get a martian card with a lot of life points, you can neither defend well nor attack well. If the martians with more life points would do less damage and the ones with less life points would do more damage, you would have a chance against every one - some martians would be easier to attack while others would be easier to defend against.

Quote:
What did you want more of in the game?

A longer game. Cards that let me manipulate things, like the die roll of the martians. Or cards that I can scrap for a one-time boon or that let me copy the card action of another card. Stuff like that.

Quote:
What did you want less of in the game?

Less setup time (in particular the setup of the martian and unit cards).

--------------------------------
As I said above, I love the theme of this game and I like deckbuilding games in general, so I will keep my eye on this one and will offer some more help with playtesting if needed.
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Thanks for the review, Nick. I see that I have more refinements of the rules to do. I have found when developing the game that it was either too easy, or too hard. Getting the balance right has been difficult.

Also, I can see that some of the rules need clarification or fixing.

In answer to your queries:

1) Once you have a card in your hand, you can use all the benefits, as in Star Realms.

2) when you recruit, you put them in the discard pile. I could have sworn that was in the instructions, but I will make that clearer.

3) Hmmm ... I had played with two engineers activating Martian tech, but found that meant that I never had enough time to use the Martian tech. so I think 1 engineer would work best. Should you ever destroy a Martian (which probably won't happen often, by design), you take the Martian card out of play and place it in your tableau. To research the tech, pay with an engineer, and discard both cards (the engineer and the Martian). The pick a chit or a cube from the bag and see what you can now use once per turn.

I have been torn on the Martian tech, since 50% of them make it so that the Human is at a very high advantage of winning. However, I like the idea of it, and think it needs to be in there.

4) On cellular technology, which is the most common tech, it's was supposed to be a reshuffle of the discards and the draw deck, but that doesn't seem very interesting, honestly. Maybe a better power would be to let all more units switch when defending Britain, not just the war balloon, giving the simulation of officers communicating on the battlefield using that sort of tech. Radio and telegraph was in its infancy at the time, bubI like the idea that another Martian tech would be better communication, so being able to switch the placement of your units after the Martians attack.

The marketplace is the place from which you recruit units. Donyou have a better suggestion for name? Since this is Dominion style, not Ascension style deck building, you can see all the different types of units available per game.

On making act II, maybe you should deal out 5 cards and keep those... I will make that one clearer, too...

Wrt not winning, I understand, however, it is my intention that the game not be easy to win. Part of my hope actually was that the not have enough time to win in most cases. Plus you only have to survive, not defeat the Martians. One thing I was going for with the cards, I think I need to work on more, which is the distribution of the attack per Martian. If you look at some o the Martian cards, you will notice that some of the values are clustered at 2 or 3 or other values, so a strategic player will defend those cards first with their units, since the probabilities are in their favor.

I do like your ideas to change the beginning deck to have more than the typical deck of bad cards that starts in a deck builder. I will see what that does to game play; it might make it seem a little more fun if you have a little bit of a chance at the beginning, since I think a lot of the charm in the game is from buying new cards and playing them together in interesting combinations.

Thank you again for your review! I greatly appreciate it!
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I tried one of Nick P's ideas, namely starting with 2 special forces units, namely with an engineer and a cavalry. That made gameplay quite interesting, actually, I think it was pretty fun. But I also won, though just nearly. In this play through, the Martians lost with Britain's pop at 3, territory at 2, and resolve at 2.

I also changed cellular tech, from reshuffling the discards to being the same power as the war balloon, but extended it to another non warballoon card. I will definitely need to test this out with just the cavalry, as well as starting with other special forces units, but I think this adds an intesting wrinkle to things.

Thanks Nick, for the idea.

Wrt to the Martian cards, I am going to hold off on changing things ... I need to see how this new change to the game works before I change something else. Also, if I make only one special forces card, should I take out 1 infantry or one supplies ...?

I will try to answer these questions with more playtesting.

Thanks!
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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I tried the game, this time with 1 cavalry, and it ended up being really easy. At one point in gameplay I recruited 2 battleships and had Martian heat ray tech... I ended game play withb2 Population, 3 territory, and 4 resolve. Not sure if this is OK, so I will try some more tomorrow, maybe this time without cavalry, and instead an engineer, or artillery.
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Nick Herman
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I'm glad that you like the idea of altering the starting cards. This should give the player some more options from the start.

Quote:
I have been torn on the Martian tech, since 50% of them make it so that the Human is at a very high advantage of winning. However, I like the idea of it, and think it needs to be in there.


I agree that martian technology should be in the game, it is an interesting feature and fits the setting well. I like your idea that cellular tech could work like a war balloon. I guess that the heat ray is too strong as it is now and should be toned down. I'm not sure about the black smoke - haven't tried it yet.


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Mark Perry
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
So I have tried 5 games with the additional card at the beginning, I like this idea, but it has this unfortunate caveat: I have won every time. However, I am unsure if it just me as the designer and that I understand the game really well having built the system.

Should anyone test this game after Nick, I would find it valuable to know how long it was before you win if you make your starting deck consist of 4 infantry, 5 supplies, and 1 special forces unit. I have tried with cavalry and with artillery in this place, and have survived the invasion. Special forces would be cavalry, artillery, royal Marines, or engineers.

If playtesters like the addition of a special unit, I think I may have to increase the difficulty of the martians orblength of the game. I would prefer not to make the game longer, though. I might also put in a rule to myself to not allow for above an attack of 5 by the Martians. I am still thinking on this, since I think the first time a Martian can attack with 6 are Martian cards with a hex of 9, so by the time those are fought, it should be round 6 or greater, in which case you should have a more powerful military force and should be able to mitigate against the full attack.

I will try to get revised rules and cards today, but probably won't be up until sometime this week.

Thank you to Nick and any future playtesters! I really appreciate your help!
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Nick Herman
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I'm looking forward to opinions by other playtesters, too!

I just tried the game one time with one cavalry, four infantry and five supplies as the starting deck. I got the cavalry on the opening hand and with the extra draw I had four reinforcement points and recruited two more cavalries. Then, with my third hand, helped by cavalry extra draws, I got all three cavalries and enough supplies to recruit the battlecruiser - on turn 3! On the rest of the game, with the battlecruiser in my deck and a lot of extra draws from cavalries (and some added artilleries) to speed through it, the game was actually not that hard to win.

So it seems that the cavalry is too strong to be in the starting deck. May I suggest that you create a new unit type for the starting deck? Something in strength a bit better than an infantry or supply, but less strong than a cavalry or one of the other existing recruitable units?

On a related thought: From this game I also got the suspision that the cavalry might be stronger than the Royal Marines (drawing a card always helps you immediately, while scrapping a card from your hand hurts you first and only helps later). How do you think about that?

Some other things:
Instead of "Marketplace" you could say "Recruiting office" or something like that. The name you choose is actually not that relevant as long as the rules briefly explain what it is for.

May I suggest that the Territory, Population and Resolve cards are renamed? These terms sound very abstract IMHO. If you would change it to geographical terms like South England, Central England and North England or Wales, England and Scotland, it would feel more like your fighting over substantial things.
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I like the ideas, Nick. And thanks for the additional playtests, too.

Yes, the cavalry card is pretty powerful in groups. That's one strategy for winning the game, I have found. Another is using the engineers to put discards back into the deck, but I find myself not buying them quickly since they have no combat ability. (Originally, they did, and the game was far too easy, so I limited their abilities to noncombatantive units).

Maybe one way to fix the cavalry is to make them more expensive. I will try the game with cavalry costing 3. Also I wonder if a good starting deck would be 1 engineer, 1 artillery, 4 infantry, and 4 supplies. I think that would allow some combos in the beginning, but not be too powerful to start. I will try that too.

If that's too powerful, I might take a page out of Dominion / Friday / Airborne Commander, and add "Civilian" Cards to the starting deck (Cards that take up space in you deck /hand). This would make getting the royal Marines actually practical. Also, I am not sold on the volunteer cards, since they really seem like a wasted move for the player. Maybe it would be better if they were Medic cards, thus giving the player another way to survive the martians...

On the Britain cards, I like the idea, but I am not sure of that it works within the context of the game. (At least as it is presently) If I were to change them, I guess all three would represent the Empire and they might be A) Great Britain, B) The British Raj and the Far East, and C) Australia and Canada... but I think that would make for a re-envisioning of the game, since if Australia were to fall, I think the Empire would continue... the game would have to be that you lose when all 3 tracks are exhausted, and which would make for a longer game or a more powerful AI... that might be the way to go, but for now, I think I will work on the pacing ...
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I tried 3 more games using the following alterations: each of the volunteers became Medics with the ability to only heal on space on one of the tracks; each of the cavalry units costs 3; and the starting deck is composed of 1 medic, 1 artillery, 4 infantry, and 4 supplies.

Using this set up, the game seems to be back to being a challenge: I lost all three of my games, but just barely. Something I noticed, however: It did not seem possible to amas enough recruitment points to purchase a boat. To Fi. This, I think I will bring back the volunteers, but this time their power would be one combat point and 1 recruitment point.I haven't done the math, but I think it would certainly be more possible to purchase a boat if more capital were available at the beginning of the game.

I will try this and post more tomorrow.

Good night!
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Note to volunteers: I am hoping to post new files this weekend so that you can try out the new version of the game next week. Work and home life have all been rather busy, so I haven't been able to update the card files or the rules. I am hoping to incorporate a visual set up of the game into the instructions in version 1.2, but not being an artist, and having a wife, dog, and 4-yr-old, it is very slow going.

Thanks for looking!
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Just started working on the TTS mod for this. Did you anticipate changing any of the cards? Or will it just be the rules?

Also, I made some cardbacks:



Too bad the cards are oriented sideways for two of them. Doesn't actually affect gameplay though.
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Well those are sweet. My thought to image differences for each deck/pile?
 
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
Right now, yes I am thinking if a few differences to the card count and to the powers. It's mostly to address the discussions posted between Nick N and I, namely the insertion of Medic cards, and changing of the volunteer card powers, also making the recruitment value of cavalry be 3, not 2. Will post an errata soon. Actual changes to the cards probably not tonight... sorry

Awesome card backs, btw ...
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I have placed a link to the updated cards. A few things have changed, namely:

1) The price of cavalry
2) The powers for volunteers
3) How three of the Martian Techs work
4) The introduction of two new cards: medics and civilians.

I will post new rules within the coming days.

If you want to get started here are some brief changes to rules:

A) The starting hand should consist of 2 civilians, 1 medic, 4 infantry, 4 supplies, and 1 "special forces" unit. Special unit cards are any of the following: volunteers, artillery, cavalry, royal marines, engineers.

Between Nick P and my playtests, it appears that an easy game will have cavalry. For more of a challenge, start with a volunteer as your special forces. I am not sure about the difficulty of the others.

B) Volunteers no longer may be promoted. Their function is just to fight/defend and recruit.

C) The Medic card may heal one "damaged" part of the track. If for example you have 7 on the territory track, you can use the medic to increase that value to 8. After using the card, discard it into the deck.

D) 1 Engineer is used to activate Martian tech. Take it from your hand and scrap both it and the martian card you felled from play. Then pick a cube at random and place it in the indicated field. You may only equip 1 heat ray and 1 black smoke per game. You may equip multiple tripod or uses of cellular tech during gameplay.

E) Cavalry now requires 3 recruitment points to put that unit into play.

F) When setting up the Martian cards, take the 5s, 6s, and 7s into one deck (Deck A) and the 8s, 9s, and 10s into another deck (Deck B). Shuffle the Deck B face down. Place it to the right of the track cards. Then shuffle Deck A face down. Remove one card from Deck A and discard it. Place Deck A on top of Deck B and flip over the top card.

I may be introducing 2 more Martian cards, but not for the foreseeable future.

Again, updated rules which collect all of the ideas listed above will come out (I hope) this weekend.

Thanks for following!

Mark
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I wanted to also note that the new files also include updated chits in case you choose to use those. I noticed that I accidentally included 2 black smoke in the previous upload and 1 heat ray, when it should be 1 black smoke and 2 heat ray.

Thanks again for looking!
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Re: [WIP] 2016 PnP Solitaire Contest Entry - The Martian War (A war of the worlds deck-building wargame for one player)
I do some more testing today. I thinthe game works better with a starting deck of 2 volunteers, 4 infantry, and 4 supplies.

Also, civilians seem only optimal to add to a starting hand with cavalry. Anything else just sloooows the game down. Right now I am wondering about the optimal starting deck size. I figured 12 cards if the cavalry is involved to limit the cycling through the deck in the beginning as well as the addition of civilians to slow the player down, but the game seems to have become much harder too ...

I think 10 cards probably is the sweet spot, which is why most deck builders have that number of cards in the starting deck. So I am thinking maybe 1 cav, 1 Civ, 4 infantry and 4 supplies.

I am also toying with the idea of adding 2 more Martians to make the game a little easier; one of the charms of the game is being able to use the Martin tech. If that becomes impossible, then I am less happy with the product since it does not accomplish one of the aims that it hints at / promises players.

Since very often I found that the number of cannons is equal to 4, probably there should be at least 1 of those in game play.

I will see how that goes and report back. Thanks for reading!

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