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Subject: Empire of the Stars > Galactic Emperor (Part 2) rss

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A. B. West
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Role Selection

Another aspect of GE that just didn't work as well as one hoped was role selection. Clearly this was a well-used mechanic - pick a role, everyone takes an action and you get a benefit. Puerto Rico was the first game where I encountered it (GE was aptly called Puerto Rico in space because of it) and even the granddaddy of 4X Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) saw the value in the technique. Did it need fixing? It was tried and true. It works great in those other games. It wasn't the first thing that came to mind (there were many other improvements needed). But when it came down to it, I needed to 'encourage' roles more - PR does this by dropping a $1 on an unselected role (something that was removed from GE's implementation). And I at least wanted something a bit unique.

What I came up with was a bit of a rondel feel - but with only a single selection pawn. But then I was wondering about the roles themselves - which did I want to encourage and how would I do that? To select something, you moved a pawn and if you passed over a role, you had to pay $1 - placed on the passed over role. Simple - roles passed over got a bit more valuable and were 'encouraged'. The typical pattern of a rondel is a circle - you move around your own pawn (again, typically) and have to pay extra to move further - to reach an action sooner, you paid more. It works great in many Mac Gerdt's games (I think he is the originator of the technique?) that I adore. My question then is: how to order the roles? Sometimes, a rondel will have the same action two or more times - want shipping to happen more often? Put it on the circle twice. The role I thought should be most encouraged was Explorer - but after play tests, the role I found needed most encouraging was Warlord. Surprising? It was to me - completely counterintuitive in fact - and again proves the point of the critical importance of testing.

In any event, the 'shape' of the rondel changed a lot over tests. It started as just a list - go up or down this listing of roles. For a time, I had a morphic rondel - it literally changed during play - you moved the action you left and placed it elsewhere. Pretty cool - might use that in another game - but in this game, there was no motivation on where to place the role - you would end up placing it 'there' just for random reasons (or so it felt). No decision - so I axed that - and ended with a fixed positioning - and have tweaked the shape and sequence of role spots. The shape isn't a circle - it's more a star - and that allowed me to position roles very precisely based on their needed 'encouragement' in the game. It is the single new mechanism that is getting the most positive feedback. It just feels easy and natural and plays quite well - yet has a nice decision space. During play, on your turn, you get to select from almost all the roles always - except the one just taken. And as play unfolds, roles not selected get more valuable (you take the $ on the role when you select it) keeping the game moving along correctly, but at a pace driven by the players.

The other place this comes in is for who holds the Galactic Throne. In GE, the Throne let you determine turn order - go left or right around the table. But in Empire, if you hold the throne, you don't pay $ to move the pawn - you can go anywhere for 'free'. It's just enough benefit I think. Money is fairly tight in the game (too tight for awhile - hopefully getting better with every test now) - no money, you can't move where you want, you have to take what the previous player gives you. With the Throne, you can keep the money - do exactly what you want, when you want. Thematically perfect and simple.

So this is a major change from how roles were selected in GE and I think a superior system, a more original feeling, more integrated with the game, more decision space on your turn giving you a better feel for control of your plans! It makes Empire 'better' than Galactic Emperor.
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Neil Helmer
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I like the direction this is taking - look forward to hearing more, cannot wait for this to come out! Please let me know if you need help with playtesting 😀
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A. B. West
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Thanks for the support! As you can likely tell, I'm very excited about improving GE - and I think I'm doing so in all aspects. Nothing is really being 'removed' but only being honed and added to.

There's loads of new content as well: new player powers (30 of them) and new techs (75 of them). This widens replayability to the extreme! All inspired by fans over the years!
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Yours Truly,
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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adamw wrote:
...But then I was wondering about the roles themselves - which did I want to encourage and how would I do that? To select something, you moved a pawn and if you passed over a role, you had to pay $1 - placed on the passed over role. Simple - roles passed over got a bit more valuable and were 'encouraged'...


This part reminds me of Small World (and it does work as intended very well there...)
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Gwenael Bouquin
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I'm on !
Any idea about the KS launch date ?
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A. B. West
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JohnnyDollar wrote:
This part reminds me of Small World (and it does work as intended very well there...)

Oh yeah! I hadn't thought of that. Small World self balances in this way - things skipped by players get $ (1 vp), things they want (typically newer things) cost more. Solved by a very simple system (used in many other games).

Love Small World. Such a smart, elegant game! One of the greats!

Yaourth wrote:
I'm on! Any idea about the KS launch date ?


Thanks! Launch soon? I'm not rushing and want to make sure all is right in the design and material. Costs are more unpredictable than ever! I will be announcing everything here - so if you subscribe to the game page, you'll be up on everything! BGG really is my social media .
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JT Schiavo
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A. B. West
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The best I have to offer is subscribe here! I'll be posting updates on progress and prattling on about the design!
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