Jason Meyers
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Spheres of Influence - A 9 Card Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest
By: Jason Meyers

Players: 2
Time: 10 minutes
Ages: 8+

Summary: As you explore new planets, you'll take control of industries on those planets, but you'll also cede control of others to your opponent. You will move your spheres of influence to try to control certain combinations that allow you to win the galactic emperor's favor. Win more favors than your opponent and you have manipulated your influence into control of the galaxy!

Categories:
Best Overall
Best 2-player
Best Thematic
Innovative Mechanic
Best Grayscale option
Best Cards only

Components: Just the 9 cards in the PnP file. Cards are two sided (planets must be matched up). Both full color and low-ink grayscale cards are provided in the link below.


Basic Gameplay: There are three victory cards that define the conditions for earning the galactic emperor's favor. This may be done by exerting control over specific combinations of industry or by avoiding certain types of control. Players explore new planets placing them between the two players, choosing which orbit to place it in (which icons will be facing which player). Political influence icons allow you to spin planets, changing control over their economies. If you match one of the conditions on a victory card, claim it! Earn two victory cards and crown yourself as having the ultimate spheres of influence.

PnP Rules and Cards: Maintained in this folder

Greatly appreciate any comments, feedback, or suggestions!
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Matthew Bishop
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Haven't looked very hard yet, but nice graphic design.
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Christopher Melenberg
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Subscribed. Looks up my alley.

Also do have a low ink version available? I like the graphic design but ink cartridge will not: that's a lot of black! You could do an inverse of the cards and it would likely still work and possibly even have a funky effect...
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Yup, right in the files folder, there's a gray/low ink version!
Enjoy.
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Welcome to the contest
 
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
boristhebad wrote:
Yup, right in the files folder, there's a gray/low ink version!
Enjoy.


O nice!

I've taken a look at the cards and rules. A couple comments/questions before playing.

1. Love how simple the rules are and they are quite well written. It did take me a couple peaks to understand that you could use ANY of your available political actions on ANY of the planets.

2. One rules question: If my opponent rotates a card 90. I can't undo it the next turn, but can I undo it the following turn?

3. I really like your graphic design. The only thing I'd consider changing is having R2D2 (I mean the observatory) and the communications get a tiny splash of color. The other two really pop leaving those two to look very drab in comparison. Even making the satellite antennae red and R2D2s collar a color would be good. If you agree don't rush it as I'll be doing greyscale low ink to begin with.

Looking forward to giving this a go!
 
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Printed and tested. Admittedly I played against myself blush I realize that this is not optimal, but I have some initial comments. AND I'm looking forward to playing with a real opponent!

I am amazed at how faced paced this game is. It was almost always over if the sixth card hit the table. With 6 possible ways of obtaining victory it was usually easy to find a way to get one by card 5 if not card 4.

I also noticed that only one of the 12 victory conditions includes political influence. I think this is a shame because I actually found that not having political influence seemed to be better, since it meant you were gaining access to the other resources you actually needed to get something. Yes it means sacrificing flexibility. Maybe with increased play and an opponent I'll start thinking differently. Of note my most stalled interesting game had the final requirement be either 4 food or 4 politcal influence.

I attempted a variant where players place out the 3 victory condition cards and then have to choose which side they will go for, thus choosing which side the other player can go for. This meant each player only had access to 3 conditions. I found the game went almost as quickly. Could be an something to consider if only as a variant.

Again looking forward to playing with someone else.

Chris
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
TopherMel wrote:

I am amazed at how faced paced this game is. It was almost always over if the sixth card hit the table. With 6 possible ways of obtaining victory it was usually easy to find a way to get one by card 5 if not card 4.

Yes, some of my playtests went really fast. Some took a little more time, but it's not a terribly long game. I have thought a bit about making the difficulty a little higher for some of the conditions (e.g. 5 of one type rather than 4; combinations that require 6 or 7 icons rather than 5, etc.) Need to keep thinking about some of these options. See if it makes it more challenging without making it nearly impossible to complete.
Quote:

I attempted a variant where players place out the 3 victory condition cards and then have to choose which side they will go for, thus choosing which side the other player can go for. This meant each player only had access to 3 conditions. I found the game went almost as quickly. Could be an something to consider if only as a variant.

I had originally built it with the two victory conditions facing away from each other, so only one would be in the "right" orientation. This gave the game more replayability as there are more different combinations, but it did make it a little more of a struggle over particular things rather than some open possibilities. Maybe the right combination of ramping up the difficulty on the conditions and restricting options will find a sweet spot.

Quote:

Again looking forward to playing with someone else.

Chris

Thanks so much for taking a look at it and for your feedback. I really appreciate it.
 
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
I've uploaded a sheet of alternate victory conditions that increase the challenge of the game a little. It's all on one page (one could put them back to back) just to try them out. You can play either with the rules as written (fulfilling either side earns the card) or by placing one end of the card toward the players and both players try to complete just that one condition. They haven't been fully playtested yet, but I figured I'd throw them out there. Once I find a good mix of them, I'll update the final game.
Thanks for the idea of mixing in influence conditions, Chris! We'll see how they play.
Folder for all components (including the sheet of alternate victory cards (low-ink only)): Found here
 
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
TopherMel wrote:
2. One rules question: If my opponent rotates a card 90. I can't undo it the next turn, but can I undo it the following turn?


You may have missed my earlier question above.

Also thanks for taking my feedback seriously. We'll see about an increased difficulty. It's possible it could make it too difficult thus causing stalemates, but it is definitely worth seeing where the sweet spot is.
 
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Quote:
One rules question: If my opponent rotates a card 90. I can't undo it the next turn, but can I undo it the following turn?


Sorry, yes. I think its fair to undo a move later in the game, just don't want to set up a move, undo move, redo move stalemate situation. So long as there are some intervening things it should be legal (this gives the opponent time to prevent the reversion by doing a switch of what influence opponent has, perhaps).
 
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
boristhebad wrote:
Quote:
One rules question: If my opponent rotates a card 90. I can't undo it the next turn, but can I undo it the following turn?


Sorry, yes. I think its fair to undo a move later in the game, just don't want to set up a move, undo move, redo move stalemate situation. So long as there are some intervening things it should be legal (this gives the opponent time to prevent the reversion by doing a switch of what influence opponent has, perhaps).


I think this is the best way to do it because otherwise you need to remember the last move anyone made on all cards.

It's still possible for a stalemate situation to occur I rotate card X, you rotate card Y, I unrotate card X, you unrotate card y, ad infinitum, but this is much less likely to occur and doesn't require a memory.

That being said you may still wish to employ a stalemate rule to ensure players know when to draw as you don't want people to get into the frustrating situation where there is some kind of repetition that perpetuates like the above example and not know how to resolve it. I nearly had the above happen in one of my games.
 
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Jessica Eccles
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
boristhebad wrote:
Yup, right in the files folder, there's a gray/low ink version!
Enjoy.


I just printed out the greyscale version and noticed that you haven't swapped the left and right planets for double sided printing (like you have on the colour version).

Luckily I had decided not to print double sided but instead pop them into sleeves with a playing card between.
 
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Jessica Eccles
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
I just played this three times with an (almost) 8 year old who won all three times. The first two times we used the original three goal cards and the last time we used three of the new ones. I preferred the slightly harder goal cards because it seemed that you have more of a chance to prevent the other player from getting a goal (not that I managed to do that much because I was too busy looking at what I was aiming for).

The game plays really quickly, I forgot to time it but it felt like around 10 minutes.

My playing partner didn't like that other people can turn the planets away from you. I enjoyed it (even though I seem to be terrible at it) and will see if I can find someone else willing to play it with me.
 
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
jade_alarm wrote:
boristhebad wrote:
Yup, right in the files folder, there's a gray/low ink version!
Enjoy.


I just printed out the greyscale version and noticed that you haven't swapped the left and right planets for double sided printing (like you have on the colour version).


Good catch! Fixed it and updated the files in the folder. The peril of double-sided cards!

Quote:

I just played this three times with an (almost) 8 year old who won all three times. The first two times we used the original three goal cards and the last time we used three of the new ones. I preferred the slightly harder goal cards because it seemed that you have more of a chance to prevent the other player from getting a goal (not that I managed to do that much because I was too busy looking at what I was aiming for).

Glad you enjoyed it. I'm still trying to figure out which of the slightly harder victory cards I want to make the default, but they do definitely make it a bit harder. Did you play with them where you could complete either side, or just with one side available?

Quote:

The game plays really quickly, I forgot to time it but it felt like around 10 minutes.

My playing partner didn't like that other people can turn the planets away from you. I enjoyed it (even though I seem to be terrible at it) and will see if I can find someone else willing to play it with me.

It is definitely a quick, light game. The turning can be tricky to manage. One can always try to turn cards such that the opponent has none of the political influence icons....
Thanks for giving it a try, and glad you enjoyed it! I've gotten beat by my 10 year old a few times....

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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
boristhebad wrote:

Glad you enjoyed it. I'm still trying to figure out which of the slightly harder victory cards I want to make the default, but they do definitely make it a bit harder. Did you play with them where you could complete either side, or just with one side available?

Either side.
 
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
I noticed that there's a typo in the name of your game in the first post of this thread also I think you're supposed to link to the contest in your first post like so:
Spheres of Influence - A 9 Card Nanogame for the 2018 9-Card Nanogame Print and Play Design Contest.

boristhebad wrote:
One can always try to turn cards such that the opponent has none of the political influence icons....

Yes, but then they can influence the planets any way they want!

I've played the game a further four times with my spouse, who likes it enough to be keen to play it a few more times.

I found that the games took a bit longer with us considering our moves more, but they were still about 10 minutes (I'll try actually timing them) that means the games I played with the 8-year-old were probably more like 5 minutes.

My spouse initially thought the observatories were tanks but he could see that they were observatories when I pointed it out. He suggested using beakers (to go with the science guy reference). I like that the icon you've got references both science and space. Perhaps a pop of colour as mentioned above would help (I like the idea of a yellow dome).

boristhebad wrote:
I'm still trying to figure out which of the slightly harder victory cards I want to make the default, but they do definitely make it a bit harder. Did you play with them where you could complete either side, or just with one side available?


We played two games with all the goals available to everyone and two where we could only access the goals on our side of the card. We had different preferences there: one preferring having more choice through access to everything and the other preferring the reduced analysis space of the reduced possibilities.

As for which goals to keep that's really hard. I like the new ones where political influence is needed in addition to the other things. If pressed I would remove Economic Monopoly (too similar to Jack-of-all-Trades [I liked the old name, Diversified Economy, better]), The Great Communicator, The Science Guy and Old MacDonald had a Galaxy.
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Finally got back to this game after too much craziness elsewhere in life. I tweaked the cards to give them a little more color.


Also had some great playtesting sessions and decided on which victory conditions we'd keep. Unfortunately, given the limitation on number of cards, I can only have 12 victory conditions, so decided to cut the ones that combine political influence and other elements. There was a nice symmetry of having the monopoly on each element, the absence of each, and the combinations. Mixing in some of the political influence combined ones would somewhat devalue the non-influence cards. So we're going to leave the influence as being mostly about moving things around. (At least for this iteration! Who knows what shape things will take in the future?)

Thanks to everyone who gave a look and happy to take any more comments or suggestions!
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Juan Dalvit
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Hey, I recently printed your game and playet it several times. I had a long flight and decided to print some of the competition entries to kill some time and help with playtesting, this was by far the one my flightmate liked the most.

I tried the three different victory condition variants and I've got to say that the third victory condition method (shared objectives) was my least favorite, as I felt it was the least strategic and once each player had 1 objective the game dragged on for to long. I think I will probably use the second victory condition method when teaching the game or playing with nongamers and the first when I want a meatier game.

Finally, one minor observation, for the objectives that require you to have 0 of a certain icon and the 6 planets in play, the "N planets in play" part isn't mentioned anywhere in the rulebook. It is pretty self explanatory, but adding a little mention wouldn't hurt.
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Jason Meyers
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Thanks for taking a look. I'll get things updated in the rules soon!
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Are the cards currently the most updated? I see that some victory conditions do still require political influence.

Thanks,

Chris
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Yes, they are the updated set. There are some victory conditions that user political influence but not as pairs (i.e. there are the no/lotso political influence but not a pairing of influence and science).
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Re: [WIP] Spheres of Influence - A Cards-Only Nanogame for the 2018 9 Card Contest [Components Ready]
Got to play this game once with my wife on the weekend. I don't think she was in the mood to learn a new game and did not enjoy herself. Ugh... It's too bad because I really like it.

This is still my favorite 9-card only game.

Chris
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Jason Meyers
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I think we'll declare this game contest ready!
 
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Interesting theme, subscribed. I will look into the rules first.
 
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