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Subject: [WIP] 4x Space Game w/ Orbiting Planets rss

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Evan McKinney
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Hi all. I've been working on this almost daily for two months. It's the third game I've started to design and the first I think is worth sharing here. I've always been a fan of the oooold game Star Flight and recently had an itching desire to try and make a simplified board game adaptation.

Core mechanics: orbiting planets, three resources, deterministic combat, variable win conditions, asymmetric factions

I did some research on orbiting planet mechanics and it doesn't seem like any games (maybe one, but I can't remember the name) have been published, for various reasons. My take is unique in that in a 2-player layout, there are three systems, each with 4 planets. The planets orbit within their systems and players' actions will be influenced by the orbit, in that they need to anticipate where planets will be when making decisions.

Goal: Fulfill the win conditions that are dealt to you at the start of the game. These conditions are related to ships, structures, research, and planets. Currently there are six possible conditions and each player is dealt just two. They are kept hidden from opponents and at the end of a round a player may declare victory and reveal their cards. If they have indeed satisfied both cards (eg., build all structures and control 7 planets), they win.

Resources: The three resources are metals, gases, and population. Metal is used to accomplish non-movement actions like building ships. Gas is primarily used for moving around the board. Population is required to build and colonize. Resources are acquired at the beginning of every round based on the planets you control.




What in the world is going on there? This is a 2-player game in action just last night. The board is made of 3 large hex boards, with 3 small strips bordering them. The empty space in the middle represents the center of the galaxy and is impassable (black hole, natch). Each big green circle is a rock planet and is habitable. Orange circles are gas planets. The two face-down discs are undiscovered planets. Players start the game in different systems, with the third system being empty and ripe for discovery and domination.

Combat: Players build ships in order to gain control of planets and to engage other players. The process is simple: purchase a ship and spend gas to give it ammo. Every faction has only one kind of combat ship and EVERY ship has a fundamental hull value of 1. If two opposing ships are moved into the same hex, they immediately battle. Every ammo deals 1 damage, and every hull can take 1 damage. All damaged is resolved at the same time and a ship with 0 hull is destroyed.

Factions: There are currently 3 factions and I intend to create one more. Every faction has 4 structures they can build on planets they control. Every faction has a research structure that gives them access to 4 unique technologies that upgrade something in their arsenal.

Potential theme issues: The game isn't realistic.

- Inner planets take 6 rounds to orbit, but a player could travel across the whole board in a single turn if they have the gas. Those are some fast ships!

- 9 of the 12 planets on the board are habitable. Even assuming the planets are just a bunch of Mars-like planets, that's a lot for one little section of space.

- Metal and gas are put into a pool, so metal acquired at planet X can be used to make a ship on planet Y. Gas is magically transported to any ship that needs it.

--

This is the rough and long-winded explanation of the core game. The board is still naked until I am brave enough to mark things like orbit paths and the suns. I didn't spend half an hour making each of those boards to write something on them that I need to change. lol

Any tips or questions based on this? I researched about 6 or 7 space games before starting this project and so far it seems that I'm going in a fairly new direction in terms of 4x space board gaming.
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Pete Belli
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Nice work.

Quote:
The board is still naked until I am brave enough to mark things like orbit paths and the suns. I didn't spend half an hour making each of those boards to write something on them that I need to change.


You might consider "art tape" aka "drafting tape" from Hobby Lobby or a similar shop...



...which is available in red...



...and could be useful for your project. Various widths are sold.

The tape is flexible enough to conform when a slight bend is needed. It is easy to cut. It can be adjusted and repositioned. Check to see if the tape will harm the tiles or leaves a residue.
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Jake Staines
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qklilx wrote:

I did some research on orbiting planet mechanics and it doesn't seem like any games (maybe one, but I can't remember the name) have been published, for various reasons.


I started work on orbital mechanics for MAJESTY at one point, which already has a Newtonian representation of inertia and acceleration - I quickly found that it was a lot of work to do it mechanically! Not in terms of design, but in terms of fiddling with things on the table while playing the game. I would highly recommend a fixed number of positions for the orbital bodies which are marked directly on the board, so you can always just say "move each planet on to its next position"! Every six turns planet A will be on the same hex, or whatever. It may not be so realistic, but it makes it more plausible to reliably plan for more people - counting isn't a difficult or strategic skill, but it would be frustrating to have a plan fail because you were off by one on a six-turn projection of exactly which hex each of four separate planets would be in.

In terms of putting stuff on the board, the tape that Pete mentions may be cool, but for playtesting purposes you should really be able to manage fine with post-it notes or bits of card blu-tacked to the board. If it were me, I'd make up a load of little square chits with "planet A position 1", "planet A position 2", "planet A position 3" (or probably just "A1", "A2", "A3" etc.) on, and blu-tack them to the board. Then they're clear for playing, and easily moved if you decide to change the orbits.
 
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Evan McKinney
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I'll check an art shop down the road for art tape. Never heard of that stuff. Thanks for the idea!

Bichatse wrote:
I would highly recommend a fixed number of positions for the orbital bodies which are marked directly on the board


It's not obvious from the photo I provided (gotta get that art tape!), but currently the planets on the inner rings indeed have a 6-hex orbit. The planets on the outer ring have a 12-hex orbit. After every player takes a turn, the round ends and every planet on the board moves clockwise one space. I did read some posts about people trying to push their game into reality by having triggers that would orbit planets mid-turn, variable orbits, and so on, but if I had to choose a single fundamental for this game, it's simplicity.

As the designer I've been just using my head to move planets, but there is no doubt that lines on the board (with little reminder arrows) will make the process much clearer. Moving 12 discs on the board every few minutes isn't too difficult, and the job should be easier once I start testing with other people.

Thanks for the input from both of you!
 
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Mike Hoyt

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Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century Game has orbiting planets that follow fixed paths printed on the board (typically the game ends before some of the planets make a full circuit, which is somewhat disappointing for a reason I can't quite explain, but something to think about). Also, each planet is two sided, one side showing the entire planet, the other just a crescent view. This makes it easier to track which planets have moved this turn, you start everybody on the "full" side, then flip to crescent as you move them. And then either flip everybody back to full to start the new turn or just play the even turns on the crescent side

For playtesting/design purposes, lay a sheet of plexiglass over your tile map and you can draw the orbits with a wet erase marker.

Not sure how you built your hex tiles, but you might be interested in buying a role-playing style hex map, or this product which will come out eventually

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gamenightlife/gnl-mats
http://www.gamenightlife.com/
http://gamenightlife.blogspot.com/
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Evan McKinney
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blockhead wrote:
Not sure how you built your hex tiles, but you might be interested in buying a role-playing style hex map, or this product which will come out eventually


I made my boards using this material I found that is almost as sturdy as a board game box. It might be as sturdy once wrapped in its label and shaped into boxes, but I have no way of telling. I printed a single hex and traced onto the board, then used a box cutter. The 2p set-up is almost 3 feet across. I'm hoping to shrink it a tad, otherwise a 4p game will be quite large.

Those hex maps from GNL are beautiful, but it doesn't look like they have size selection available at the moment. The 2" grid MIGHT work for me, but I'll have to measure it out in the morning. Thanks for the tip!
 
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Evan McKinney
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Here is a ghetto mock up of the Human faction board. This (or some variant down the line) would be in front of the player. 1-5 and C1-C3 are the ships. When you play a ship, you move it from here to the main board. All armor and ammo would be placed into these boxes (although a friend recently suggested 3D-printing ships in lieu of The Game of Life, so the armor and ammo can be pegs that are placed directly onto the ships. brilliant!). I can at least say with confidence that the first test with this board was a big improvement from no board at all. I made the boards for the other two existing factions as well. They are similar so there is no need to upload them here.

The point track is currently to be used as a turn order indicator each round, but I'm currently pondering a second use to give it more meaning and variance throughout the game.

If it isn't obvious, I am NOT a graphic designer and definitely plan to hire someone down the line if my game reaches that point of development.

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Jordan Williams
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Hey! you recently commented on my WIP so i thought, why not take a look at his and offer up any opinions!
I like what it is so far, especially the mechanics of the moving planets. You mentioned that the game isn't realistic, is that something you were trying to achieve from the beginning? I ask this because when I was formulating the ideas in my head I initially sought out to make it realistic, or at least as much as I could. But my question to you is, its sci-fi, is it necessary for it to be totally realistic?
I would say your game is more Euro style than American since its focusing more on the managing sides rather than on warring with one another, which is great since to be honest there aren't many 4x game THAT I KNOW OF that focus more on the managing side of things
Now some questions,
Since you said the races are asymmetrical how are each race different to one another?
What role does the population play in the game apart from colonizing the planet itself? do they work and produce more resources or something else?
is there a limit to ships you can build and how are battles played out? dice rolls etc like in risk? I ask because if its simply 1 damage 1 health point that would mean that the one who's got more ships attacking will be the clear winner so wouldn't the players find themselves in a 'Mexican Stand off situation' where neither one or the other can win since they have the same amount of ships?

How long does it take for one game? It seems like quite an interesting one. I would deffo play this with some of my mates. Just subbed to the thread
Keep up the good work thumbsup
 
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Evan McKinney
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IronWill Jordy wrote:
You mentioned that the game isn't realistic, is that something you were trying to achieve from the beginning?


To a certain extent, yes, but to be fair, even Star Flight was pretty unrealistic in that you traveled to a LOT of different systems in what was perceived to be a short amount of time. Star Flight became a legendary video game that became a direct influence on future space games.

IronWill Jordy wrote:
Since you said the races are asymmetrical how are each race different to one another?


Currently there are Humans, Machines, and The Hive (all tentative names, of course).

Humans are power based. They're the only faction that has structures that deal damage, and they are the only faction that has entirely independent combat ships.

Machines are fast expanders. Every point of hull is actually a robot and they sort of combine like Voltron. As a result, they use slightly fewer resources in the early game. Their ships double as colonizers.

The Hive is mobile. They have a structure that can transport ships back to key planets in an instant and their motherships both build and carry combat ships, kind of like ID4 ships or Protoss Carriers.

IronWill Jordy wrote:
What role does the population play in the game apart from colonizing the planet itself? do they work and produce more resources or something else?


Currently population is used to build ships, build structures, and reload colonizing ships. The machines have a structure that also utilizes population. In practice, this works quite well to force players to consider location when building, but it's still lacking something. I need more ways to use this resource. Population also serve as 0DMG defense for planets.

IronWill Jordy wrote:
Is there a limit to ships you can build and how are battles played out? dice rolls etc like in risk? I ask because if its simply 1 damage 1 health point that would mean that the one who's got more ships attacking will be the clear winner


If you take a look at the image I posted above, you'll see some nice big red numbers. Each one represents a ship for the Human faction. 5 battle ships and 3 colonizers. I went with a game-wide combat number of 15 for each faction after doing some early testing. Humans have 5 ships that can have 3 hull each. The Hive has 15 fighters (5 per mother ship) with 1 hull each. Machines can have 5 ships with 3 hull. These numbers require research to be maximized. During solo testing I've found that even though combat is very linear, choosing your battles is crucial. You might want to go after the defenseless colonizers, or even a planet where an opponent has built structures (which cost a lot more than ships in early game). Basically, ships act as a "screw your neighbor" mechanic.

IronWill Jordy wrote:
How long does it take for one game?


A 2p game played solo has ranged from 50 minutes all the way up to 2 hours. Most have taken 90 minutes.

Thanks for the support! I subbed back and look forward to your progress!
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Evan McKinney
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A lone machine unit has entered human-controlled space to blow stuff up. A couple turns later the humans still prevailed. This game took 90 minutes and tested the new art tape for orbits, sun spaces (no actual effect, just made the board look cleaner), an alternative opening strategy, and a somewhat revised point system.

CURRENT GOALS: develop fourth faction now that I have a good idea for them, test revised ship construction, edit a handful of structures for balance

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Edington Watt
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The game really looks interesting. Having said that, my impression is that the moving of the orbiting planets may be a bit fiddly.

Maybe you can elaborate on how a planet's orbit effects player choices.

While it may be neat to have the planets moving, I just don't think players would necessarily like on every turn to move a number of little pieces representing the planets.

I, of course, maybe wrong.

I would at least consider how to cut down, like another poster recommended, on how often you move them and/or reduce the number of of possible orbiting positions (right now it sounds like 6 or 12).

--DarkDream
 
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Evan McKinney
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DarkDream wrote:
Maybe you can elaborate on how a planet's orbit effects player choices.


Certainly! The orbits can affect the following decisions:

- Where to move colonizing ships. To save gas, it is wiser to move your colonizer into the next space in a planet's orbit. That way the planet will move to you instead.

- Ship construction. I want to build a ship. I have the resources. But should I right now? If I wait a couple rounds the planet will be closer to where I want to go, which saves me gas for movement.

- Structure construction. If I build this thing now, an opponent won't need to spend much gas to blow up my incomplete building. I should probably wait. OR, this building has a function that makes future board location important. I should build it now so that in a few turns the structure will have enough counters on it and the planet will be closer to a target area.

- Attacks. Is your planet close to an opposing planet that has key structures or is a nuisance? Is it worth spending extra resources to travel farther to take out an opponent's base? Should I spend the resources to straight take over the planet?

DarkDream wrote:
While it may be neat to have the planets moving, I just don't think players would necessarily like on every turn to move a number of little pieces representing the planets.


I totally agree. As a person who has been moving 12 planets each round, roughly 12-15 times per game, I have found that it's not all that bad, especially when those movements can lead to emotions normally elicited by a good roll of the die. If there are other players (I hope to have the first test with another human this month) there will be less to move per player, so it should be okay. I hope...

DarkDream wrote:
I would at least consider how to cut down, like another poster recommended, on how often you move them and/or reduce the number of of possible orbiting positions (right now it sounds like 6 or 12).


If I did explain it in another post, it was probably vague (I'm not good at explaining these kinds of details), so here's the breakdown under the current rule set:

Planets orbit one space per round. One round consists of the Collect, Buy, Explore, and Orbit phases. The first three phases are done by each player in turn. Collect phases are finishes, then Buy phases are finished, and finally Explore phases are finished. Then all planets orbit one space. In the early game orbiting happens early since turns go fast with the limited resources, but mid and late game brings longer turns, and so the orbit burden is buffered.I expect a 4p game to have a maximum of 24 planets. If the players decide at the beginning of the game which systems they will orbit (so it's easy to keep track) it should be simple. Again, I hope...

And indeed, inner planets orbit 6 spaces, while outer planets orbit 12 spaces. 4 planets per system, 2 inner and 2 outer. Those numbers are irrelevant to the act of moving a planet along its orbit path, though. Every planet moves a single space each round.

Thanks for showing interest in the game! I've got a few tests to run over the new week and hopefully I can put up a nice solid update after that!
 
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Evan McKinney
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Hey everyone. It's been a minute! I've been busy with some other projects, including releasing my album (I'm also a rapper!) and getting started on another game, which get a thread in a week or so. Aaaanyway...

After doing some more testing, I've made some very boring changes. A lot of them, but after nearly a month the list is pretty short.

I radically adjusted the structures and research. It's still 4 each per faction. Each faction now has one structure that produces extra resources. One produces metal, one gas, and one lets you choose. Each faction also has one research that increases this to fill in gaps. I removed all defensive structures since they were useless. The most recent test has shown that these changes have been mostly balanced. I'll continue testing to make sure.

I simplified the alien motherships to produce fewer maximum fighters, but they no longer need to be loaded and unloaded from the mothership. If they are on the same hex as their paired mothership, they can all move as one. There is research that allows fighters to move as one WITHOUT the mothership, but I'm not sure yet if this is balanced.

GOALS

The game is very bland, although (in my opinion) the strategy is fairly deep. I plan to add some bonus tokens to the board. Maybe some bonus resources strewn about, maybe make the inhabitable planets SLIGHTLY varied. The board needs more action.

I've scrapped the win conditions mentioned in my OP. After doing 22 solo tests, I think they make the game a bit too narrow. There aren't enough elements in the game to make them super variable without doing lots of mix and matching. I'll be experimenting with a euro-style point system instead. I'll be including some point loss to shake things up, and the win conditions will become bonus objectives to gain some extra points. I may include some of these objectives as bonus tokens, mentioned above. It would be cool to discover a planet that has a log of some sort, and the log gives you a mission to accomplish. The game can absolutely include an all out brawl mode where the last man standing wins, but I can see that taking quite a bit of time in most games.

The game still only has 3 factions. A 2-player game, using the win condition cards, takes 90-120 minutes. I haven't had any 3p tests yet, but I would wager that it would take 2 hours minimum. Given the nature of the game, I wonder if putting time into a fourth faction would make sense. Probably... I'll sleep on that one for awhile. lol
 
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Evan McKinney
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Here are crops of each board so you can see the structures and research. Blue is the aliens, red is humans, and yellow is machines.





 
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Jordan Williams
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In what way may I ask do you find your game to be bland? does it not have enough content or is it that the factions find themselves matched at some point and then no one can win easily?

 
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Evan McKinney
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IronWill Jordy wrote:
In what way may I ask do you find your game to be bland? does it not have enough content or is it that the factions find themselves matched at some point and then no one can win easily?


In some ways it's that there may not be enough content, but I had a plan from the beginning to make a simple, strategic, short game that mimics some of the core aspects of Star Flight. So far, most of my personal tests have lasted for 2 hours and that just feels too long for what the game is. Perhaps I'm distracted and I don't realize it? Maybe it's because each change I make causes some unintentional PA the first time around? I don't know yet. Maybe it's that I don't have those bonus tokens yet. I'll continue working on the game, no doubt.

The factions feel very different so far. Each one has its own strategy in terms of what to build and research, and the different ships also shake things up. I think I've succeeded in this regard.

I forgot to add one goal: external testing! I think the game is now ready to have a friend over to try it out.
 
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Evan McKinney
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I learned how to upload photos here! lol

Today I tried testing the game with a single solar system. I inserted more planets. Until now I have been playing with 3 systems, with 4 planets each. This is one large system with 9 planets. To compensate for the smaller overall board size I removed the gas planets. I used all of my 3-hex strips as the outermost ring.

This test went surprisingly well! Maybe it's because it's fresh, but the close quarters really made things interesting. There was a lot more action both via structure purchases and even combat. Since both players share one system, units were quite interspersed for much of the game. I'll be testing this layout a few more times.




Tentative goals:

- I'm expecting a parts shipment in a few days that includes parts for this game. Gotta test 'em!

- Bring back variable planets. Currently all (rock) planets provide 2 metal and 1 gas. I will try adding a small number of 1/2 planets and maybe even a 2/2 planet. This will maintain the one random aspect of the game.

- I may need to reduce the cost of Machine ships by 1 metal. In this layout the humans advanced very quickly.

- If this layout works out, I will make one large board using two pieces of cardboard. This one will feature slightly smaller spaces, but they will actually be right hexagons this time. It will also sport another ring to hold planets for 3-4p games.

- This layout also will require yet another change in certain structures and research. I will also need to adjust the ship fundamentals for the Alien faction.

- This layout should give bonus tokens (that also orbit!) more potential.

- Since players start on the outskirts of the system, I'm considering adding a second universal structure that will utilize the sun.
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Evan McKinney
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Just for kicks I tried a 3-player game for the very first time. It was just as fun as yesterday. I think this single-system layout is definitely the way to go. I used hexes from an old game idea on the outer ring. Variable planet resources seemed to work, but I'll definitely need to test that out a lot more. Once my parts arrive I'll start work on a new board that will look nice and clean.

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Jordan Williams
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How long did it take for this version of the 3-player game? also will you be adding more variation to the resources gained from the planets? having higher value planets would normally make the game more strategic as players would want to go after those planets first. This would make them use more ships to attack and/or defend it which would leave the other planets vulnerable?

Just throwing things at you hoping I am helping out!!


Keep up the awesome work!
 
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Evan McKinney
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I was VERY distracted during that game, but it took me just over two hours before I decided I was done. My next test will have a re-incorporated point system that will be used to determine the winner. I'll be choosing a semi-arbitrary number at first. I'd like to control the length to about 12-15 rounds.

I actually am considering raising the resource control value to 4, actually. It should speed up the early game and make the mid and end game much more dynamic. I could then have 3/1, 2/2, 1/3 planets with a 0/4 gas planet. The reason I don't want to make the planets TOO different is that sheer luck could bring a high-value planet to your side of the board and no other players would have a chance to grab it. I could raise the colonization cost, but if the player can't meet it they could lose the planet to the harsh mistress of gravity (it orbits to another player in a few turns).

One last option I'm considering, which could be a nice solution, is having the points as a secondary resource. I've considered using them to gain emergency resources, and now I'm considering the possibility of using them to analyze planets so you can see what they are ahead of time. Not sure if that is a sensible move but I might as well try it out.

Anyway, my package arrived. I hope to have a new screenshot up with an update in a few days! Thanks for keeping up! I just saw that you have two threads for your game. One is much more active than the WIP (that I subbed to before) so I subbed to it as well.
 
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Jordan Williams
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That's not bad at all 2 hours. I think best aim for game like this is around an hour of game per player (Or a bit less like in your case).

How would your point system work in order to find out the winner at the end of the 15 rounds?

I understand what you mean by having luck play a part in it but you'll find that if you start making the game too fair in that sense the realism can quickly go away. having one or two or even three high value planets could spice up your game in the very sense you have just said. 'Should I risk sending my fleets now to try and capture that planet? but that would leave my other planets poorly defended and I can see the Hive is preparing for an offensive.'

Would mean those planets would constantly be under attack and changing owner. maybe you could have some sort of relics or bonuses as you have already stated that give off points? make it a kind of Control Point type game mode?

Looking forwards to the pictures you'll be uploading

Thanks for subbing to my other Thread. I'll be uploading an idea I had for my map system today
 
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Evan McKinney
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In regards to rounds, I don't necessarily mean forcing the game to last X rounds. I mean that I would set the point value so that games would generally not last longer than that. I'm currently starting basic and will award points for stuff like colonizing a planet or destroying opponent structures. Point loss will also be a thing. My old win condition cards might be adjusted and re-incorporated as bonus goals worth extra points. If you meet a goal, immediately take the corresponding card.

After thinking about it, having a nice middle ground for planets might be the way to go. An easy game would have all the planets provide the same resources. More advanced games can include variance with a few really nice ones. It's not hard to "design" the planets, after all.

I like the control point mode. Could be a cool King of the Hill variant.
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The new board is finished! This new setup actually provides me with more flexibility in terms of the core game. I can now sensibly test with a wider range of planet counts (I'm thinking 6 planets on that outer ring for epic 4p madness!). It consists of 3 20-hex boards and a single extra hex. The hexes are smaller than on the original board, but everything fits onto them and the correspondingly smaller planets just fine.

The white space is where I plan to keep the turn order tracker, should I use one down the line.

I will be running tests on the game this week and will provide another picture! I'll also give a better rundown of the rules since I know my original post is quite disorganized.

 
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Had my first test using the proper version of my new board. Went great!

I stuck with 3-resource planets, but I did toss in a couple 2/2 (metal/gas) planets and dealt everything out randomly. Of the 15 planets available, I put 13 on the board with only the starting planets being a set 2/1.

This was also my first game in awhile using points. I went with an arbitrary 15, and I think it worked pretty well. I need to adjust the amounts at which points are gained and lost in a few instances, but otherwise 15 points seemed like a fair number for a medium-length game.

Currently points can be gained by completing structures, completing research, and colonizing planets. Points can be lost by losing structures and losing control of planets. This gives players a very good reason to go after opponents.

I'm currently debating if I want to put art tape on the new board. For my solo testing I don't need it, though on the old board it certainly made things look nicer. I didn't like that it's double sided though; there is friction when moving planets. I'm scared to go the permanent route with a marker, but I may give in. That board was a 3-hour job, mind you. lol



Current goals:

- Heavily tweak the Hive faction (they're blue). I may need to wait until I'm ready to order a new parts shipment, but I think I know how I want to tweak them.

- Test the Human structure Beam Cannon and the Warp Drive research.

- Rework the player mats to be more organized and clean.

- FOURTH FACTION!

- I'm just about ready to introduce bonuses to the board.

- Still need a good way to incorporate turn order changes during the game.
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Evan McKinney
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Core rules!

The game is played in rounds. Each round consists of 4 phases:

Upkeep
Purchase
Explore
Orbit

Upkeep:

In this phase, each player in turn does the following: removes all work counters (currently green cubes) from their ships, structures, and research. A control token is placed on research where a cube was removed, and points are allotted as necessary. 1 labor token (unless otherwise specified) is placed on each planet the player controls that has less than 2. The player collects metal and gas according to each planet they control.

Purchase:

Each player in turn may purchase ships, structures, and ship ammo/hull or conduct research. Anything purchased gains a work counter. Anything with a work counter cannot be used, although it can be attacked. To build a ship or structure or conduct research, you must have a labor token in the space in question.

Explore:

Each player in turn may navigate ships around the board and engage in combat. 1 gas is spent for each hex moved, unless otherwise specified. Combat occurs when two players' units are in the same hex and one player chooses to engage. A player may engage even if it is not their turn.

Combat:

Players in combat spend ammo counters from their ships one at a time simultaneously. 1 ammo causes 1 damage. All structures and labor tokens have 1 hull, and so can only take 1 damage. Ship hull is visible on the player mats and can vary with each ship. Combat is over when both players can no longer attack.

Orbit:

In this phase, all planets are moved one space in their ring clockwise. Orbits can be done in any order, however it is convenient to the players. If an undiscovered planet orbits into a hex occupied by any ship, that planet is "discovered" and its resource value is immediately revealed to all players.

Extra rules:

Structures may be activated during the Purchase and/or Explore phases as long it is your turn. With only a tiny number of exceptions (to be made clearer later in development), 1 labor token is used to build structures, conduct research, colonize, build a ship, and activate a structure. Planets cannot be colonized unless there are NO enemy units or tokens on that space. Each planet may only hold two structures.

Currently the game is won if you have at least 15 points at the end of a round.
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