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A Handful of Stars» Forums » Variants

Subject: Handful of stars + Mystic Vale rss

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Nick Knack
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Hi!
I just wanted to float an idea here that I'll likely go on to tinker with, and wanted to spur a discussion around.

I enjoy A Handful of Stars, but feel like something important is missing.
The deckbuilding mechanics and combat feel solid, but the gameplay ends up feeling stale and repetitive to me due to aggression being the exclusive means of success.
Apart from spending population to plunk down colonies on habitable planets, there's really very little one can do to build infrastructure. Thus players are forced into endless wars as expansionism becomes the only reliable avenue to VP. Also, while Tech, Matter, and Energy are always useful for various actions around the board, population quickly devalues once you've placed outposts and colonies wherever you can.

What if you could invest in making the planets you already have more valuable?
This got me thinking about how Mystic Vale handles upgrading cards via its "Card Crafting System" and how it could be implemented here.

Here are my thoughts:
1: Add a new card market next to the tech market where, by spending Matter and Population as an action, players can purchase planetary upgrades - translucent plastic overlays with additional bonuses printed along the left (just under where population or Matter normally appears on the card.) that can slide in front of a sleeved Planet card.
2: These bonuses can add anything, like 2 energy, or 3 Population instead of what that planet would normally produce, or +3 defense, or 4 VP if in your reserve at the end of the game. (Think of these as planet specific tech or development cards.)
3: These upgrades are permanent, and are not removed if the card is tossed from a deck, or conquered by another player.
4: Only one upgrade per planet allowed.

This would give players another venue of specialization: customizing their planets to give them the resources they need for their playstyle, or outfitting their planets with abilities based on their tactical position on the board.
It also gives a means for players to spend resources on something other than just building more ships with which to fight bigger territory wars.

Thoughts?
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Tim Park
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I am intrigued by that, and when playing Mystic Vale, I was unimpressed but thought it might make a nice mechanism in a board game some day (like Dominion and A Few Acres of Snow, and eventually, Handful.

But it is a different game then. The thematic setup for this game -is- conquest. You are reconnecting your scattered systems, conquering the stuff inbetween.

I think we have the components to make a different, 4Xified game using something like you describe.

I like some of the other alternate play ideas here on BGG as well, like the MoO-ish 4 corners start. But again, it's a different game, I fear, and I want to get a few more plays of the basic game in before I muck with it.

I can start making acetate inserts to test your idea, though, once I get those plays in.
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Nick Knack
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You make a fair point. It would change the spirit of the game a bit.
But if nothing else, I think Handful of Stars is a solid base from which to start tinkering with the possibility space of using customizable cards in board games!
 
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