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Subject: EGG Struggle of Empires Deluxe Edition - Journal 1 - Game Board rss

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Ralph H. Anderson
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Struggle of Empires Deluxe Edition Journal Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks to introduce Martin Wallace’s Struggle of Empires Deluxe Edition by Eagle-Gryphon Games.

NOTE: All images and concepts in this post are in the prototype draft stage.

The Kickstarter for the deluxe edition will launch on August 15th 2019.

The purpose of these journals is to preview SOEDE to generate interest and comments.

We will be play testing to be sure these concepts work to facilitate play and that they are aesthetically pleasing.

• We have already introduced the prototype draft cover.
• This journal first entry will introduce the prototype draft game board.
• Subsequent entries will cover prototype components, rules, and variants.

I am the project manager and responsible for creative realization of the SOEDE.

João Tereso is our illustrator and is also responsible for the graphic design and layout.

THE GAME BOARD


Image has been uploaded to BGG Images for SoE – awaiting Admin approval.

In our preliminary discussion, João and I agreed that the SoEDE game board must be designed as an elegant and beautiful engine to drive the game. The key characteristics we felt necessary to achieve this goal are:
• Provide direction through a single Game Play Track
• Create a Map that facilitates game play
• Re-envision the components and make them easier to comprehend and use
• Provide a deluxe experience in all elements possible, including the rules.

The Game Track

The Game Track serves as a summary of play. It has reminders and sub tracks for each of the six games phases (I – VI)

I. DRAW AND PLACE 10 NEUTRAL COUNTRY MARKERS



II. DETERMINE GRAND ALLIANCES AND TURN ORDER

The sub track allows for placement of alliance proposals and the status of the two grand alliances.
It also serves as a reminder of turn order



III. PLAYER ACTIONS



The icons are a reminder that players have 2 actions in each of the 5 or 6 rounds of play (depending on number of players)
These are depicted as 2 regular actions or 1 regular and 1 special action (in any order).

In the standard edition, Special Actions were those actions that can only be done once per turn and were depicted by some of the tiles. Some of these special actions will be shown below and we will go into more detail in the journals for components and for rules.


IV. INCOME AND MAINTENANCE & POPULATION INCREASE




The three parts of this phase are gain income, pay maintenance, and gain 5 population.

V. ASSESS CONTROL FOR VICTORY POINTS




This section of the game board helps players score VPs for each of the 11 VP producing countries.

VI. END OF WAR




This section of the game board includes moving the War Marker to the next turn, return Local Alliance Markers on the board to players general supply and refresh (flip) tiles that have only 1 use per War.

THE MAP

MOVEMENT

* ADJACENCY

Players will appreciate the indicators on the map that show Great Britain is adjacent to the German States and Spain is adjacent to The Mediterranean.



It also shows the special relationship of The Mediterranean to the Ottoman Empire.



• NAVY ACCESS
Ship Icons indicate each country that allows access to naval units.



• DISTANT SEA MOVEMENT
The dashed borders and distant sea move die reminder make this detail easier to remember.



There will be more information about Distant Sea Movement and the special Distant Sea movement die in the upcoming Variants Journal.

• TILES & SPECIAL ACTIONS



Tiles have been redeveloped as various types of Special Actions. Some will be handled by player tokens to place on the game map (Local Alliances – see below), some will go directly on the game map (Trade – see below) and the others have been broken down in to 5 types, each with a different size and color, that will be available on the game board.

> Colonize and Trade with Gold Coast Neutral Country markers can be claimed as a Special Action.

> Free Action tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and provide 1 specific free action per War.

> Improvement Tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and provide a permanent ability.

> Military Tactics tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and are kept until use. After use, they are returned to the game board.

> Incite Pirate Attack and Incite Colony Revolt may be claimed as a Special Action and are immediately enacted. They may remain on board until attacked and removed, at which point they are returned to the game board.

• LOCAL ALLIANCES

The game map now displays the various Local Alliances available in each country. Players will have Local Alliance Markers in their own color.

As a Special Action, they can place one of these markers to claim a Local Alliance.



The Ottoman Alliance provides a Local Alliance in both The Mediterranean and the Ottoman Empire.



We have placed the Portugal Local Alliance in Portugal, of all places!



Portugal provides Local Alliance bonuses in 3 countries: South America, India, and East Indies. Claiming the Portugal Local Alliance will give you alliance bonuses in each of the 3 countries.


• TRADE



Unclaimed Trade tiles are placed on the board in their respective areas of influence.
As a Special Action, players may claim 1 Trade tile and place it on their board. They can only be used once per War and are flipped to their reverse when used.

SIZE

Each of the following items must be taken into account to determine the necessary size for the game board. We have planned on using the same size as the game boards for Lisboa and On Mars:

850mm x 500mm (approx. 33.5” x 19.7”).

Based on my experience playing the standard game board, this feels roughly equivalent in terms of table space used, as the deluxe board incorporates items that were placed around the board (tiles, etc.)

600mm x 425mm (24” x 17.75”)

The board includes the following areas:
• Score Track

• Game Play Track

• Game Map

• Wooden components for military units (Soldiers, Ships, and Star Forts) and control markers. (More on these in the upcoming Journal on components).

• There are also other wooden components that will go on the board including the Incite Piracy and Incite Colony Revolt Special Actions.

• There are other tiles and special markers that will be available on the game board as explained earlier.



We will be play testing to make sure the game board, markers, units, and other components all work together in harmony.

Thanks for looking through this first journal! I look forward to your comments.

Ralph, João and the Eagle-Gryphon Games Team
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Neil Helmer
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Wow, beyond excited!!! Love the look, keep up the awesome work
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Glenn Drover
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Fantastic game!
Two fixes needed: (Which we did for Conquest of the Empire 2)
1) The combat system is not great. Needs a fix to give it a bit of depth.
Solution: A simple die-face matching for hits a la Conquest of the Empire 2' would work wonders.
2) The upgrade 'buildings/ techs' offer is much too vast to grock.
Solution: turn them into a deck and have 3 or 4 cards available in the offer at one time fed by the draw deck.
Conquest of the Empire 2 was basically an improved version of Struggle of Empires re-themed to Rome.
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Rudi Baum
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This version is more Age of Reason than CotE2. Good work, the latter!
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Ralph H. Anderson
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Thanks for your comments!

Clarifications

Conquest of the Empire was originally a Milton Bradley game and has a BGG rating of 6.3.

Conquest of the Empire (2) is a remaking of that game with variant rules by Glenn Drover and Martin Wallace. It comes in at a BGG rating of 6.8.

Age of Reason is Martin Wallace's simplified and strongly modified version of Struggle of Empires with a BGG rating of 7.1.

Martin Wallaces's Struggle of Empires has a BGG rating of 7.4.

These are all fine and worthy games in their own rights. And they are all quite different despite sharing some core ideas.

Our Mission

As stated previously, we believe Struggle of Empires is deserving of a deluxe edition in its own right.

Here is what we are doing.

We are updating the rules to make them easier to understand.

We are developing variants that address many excellent recommendations for improvements.

We are re-imagining the entire system of tiles and markers to make them easier to understand AND easier to use.

We are updating the art, graphic design, and layout.

We are upgrading the components.

We are NOT changing the basic game play overall as we believe it has stood the test of time and stands on its own. And, in my humble opinion, Struggle of Empires is in a class of its own.

To be specific

I don't agree that "fixing" the combat system as described is necessarily better. I am quite fond of the Struggle of Empires system and in fact, it is one of the unique and interesting things about the game. I understand that others prefer a different style of combat. I say, to each their own.

The trade, local alliance, and improvement tiles do need help. And we have developed this area to make a tremendous improvements here by breaking them into specific types (each with their own size and color) that can be explained as a group. Furthermore, we have placed over a third of them on the game map itself, which makes understanding them and claiming them much easier.

There will be further explanation and demonstration of all of the components in the next Journal entry.

In Summary

I hope this helps everyone understand the differences in the games mentioned, as well as the special place that Struggle of Empires holds for us - and for our fellow players.

Kind regards,
Ralph
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alan beaumont
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Re: Game Board.
The board still shows VP awards for the impossible 3rd places in the Baltic and Ottoman Empire areas. Are you proposing to vary the number of Country Counters from the original?

Not a fan of putting the counter display and other play aids into the main board and would rather the VP track was elsewhere too.

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Ralph H. Anderson
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Excellent catch regarding VPs for Baltic States and Ottoman Empires. With 5 or less Neutral Country markers for each, it is not possible to have a third place. This will be corrected.

I have taken note of your thoughts on the score track, counter display and other play aids on the main board. As more is revealed, I look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Kind regards,
Ralph
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Rodney Loyd
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SoE is a GREAT game and worthy of an update and reprint. Greatly looking forward to the Kickstarter.

With that said, I'm not a big fan of the direction in the new design. One of the issues in playing the game, is the amount of chits that end up in the high scoring countries (ie, Germany). Those need much more space and this map seems to not improve that. Also, easily readability of the board elements and icons is highly needed.

Plan to follow the design as this is one of my favorite games of all time. A classic that doesn't get the love it deserves.
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Peter Varga
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I'm very excited about the new edition, and I really like the art so far.

One nitpick: the scores do not look too easy to read from a distance. the colors, the stars around the numbers make it a bit too hard.
I especially think that the icons for 2nd and 3rd position do not need to get smaller - that only makes them even harder to read! it is really enough that they are 2nd and 3rd in the order from left to right. they could just be equally big.
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Ralph H. Anderson
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scorba wrote:
I'm very excited about the new edition, and I really like the art so far.

One nitpick: the scores do not look too easy to read from a distance. the colors, the stars around the numbers make it a bit too hard.
I especially think that the icons for 2nd and 3rd position do not need to get smaller - that only makes them even harder to read! it is really enough that they are 2nd and 3rd in the order from left to right. they could just be equally big.

Noted, thanks.
Of course, you are looking at a low res illustration on your screen and not the actual game board in real life. It makes a difference - but point noted nonetheless.

Ralph
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Ralph H. Anderson
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hotrodqt wrote:
SoE is a GREAT game and worthy of an update and reprint. Greatly looking forward to the Kickstarter.

With that said, I'm not a big fan of the direction in the new design. One of the issues in playing the game, is the amount of chits that end up in the high scoring countries (ie, Germany). Those need much more space and this map seems to not improve that. Also, easily readability of the board elements and icons is highly needed.

Plan to follow the design as this is one of my favorite games of all time. A classic that doesn't get the love it deserves.

There have been a few questions about the map and component sizes.

Here is a picture I took with prototype components near to same size as the new wooden pieces to show space in German States. The actual control markers will be a little bit bigger. [The control markers shown are the original cardboard markers].

Disclaimers:
The board is not final art and the pieces are prototypes. This picture is just to give you an idea of the space.

The most control markers that can be in German is 8 as depicted. I also have 18 armies, 2 forts, and 2 local alliance markers in the German States. You can still see everything and there is still room to fit in more.

It is getting crowded but not nearly as crowded as with the original cardboard markers. The wooden markers will allow closer spacing and will be easy to count.





I will work on getting a rendering from our illustrator of a comparable shot with more accurate markers. This will take some time as other work takes priority at this stage.

Kind regards,
Ralph
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Felix Martinez Osle
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I wonder if the duration of the game will still be 180–240 Min
Are you considering changing it or adding shorter variations?
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Ralph H. Anderson
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It is a good question.

The best answer I can give is to quote from the movie Amadeus (a movie about Mozart). The quote is below. But first, let me give a more direct answer.

Player Count Consideration

One answer is to play with fewer players.

Struggle of Empires allows each player a total of 30 actions (3 Wars each with five rounds and 2 actions per player per round) for 5, 6, and 7 players and 36 actions (3 Wars each with six rounds and 2 actions per player per round).

This means the total number of actions in each game depends on the number of players:
7 - (7*30) = 210
6 - (6*30) = 180
5 - (5*30) = 150
4 - (4*36) = 144
3 - (3*36) = 108

Some turns are quite short while others (attacks) take a little longer. With seasoned players you could argue that on average each turn takes 1 minute so the counts above would give you the play time just for the player turns. This will be longer for new players as they learn the game and can be shorter for more experienced players.

Adding to the time will be the Alliance Auction, which will take some time - let's say 10 to 15 minutes. Other phases all occur rather quickly - maybe 5 minutes in total for each War.

So add 15 to 20 minutes to the player turn totals above and you have a good approximation of how long it takes to play the game.

Other Means to Shorten the Game

We have taken steps to reduce the amount of time needed to address the rules. Most of what you need to know is now built into the game board and player aids so there is little need to reference the rule book itself. There are many helpful reminders.

Players will spend some time learning the tiles, which makes the first game longer, but with familiarity it goes more quickly in future games. Nevertheless, this is the most AP (analysis paralysis) factor in the game.

To address this, we have made the game state easier to read and have provided player aids to make it easier and quicker to look over the tiles, such as iconography and other helpers to the game board and map and the components to make it quicker and easier to use. This all helps move the game along.

As to game play, we have modified some rules (although we always preserve the original rules as a variant) and have provide some optional variants that may help quicken the game marginally.

Negotiation
This is a game with negotiation. That takes time and how much will depend on your game group. However, one of the remarkable aspects of this game - and the most admired innovations in this game, is the alliance system. Of course, introducting an Alliance Auction adds time to the game, but players have commented that overall it makes the game more interesting to play and reduces the number of options to consider while taking turns because you have fewer options of who you can attack (as you cannot attack other players in your alliance), thus gaining back that time and more.

Summary
The game takes the time it needs in order to provide the options and experiences necessary to fulfill its mission.

To explain that, I refer you to:

Excerpt of dialogue from Amadeus:

EMPEROR: Well, Herr Mozart! A good effort. Decidedly that. An excellent effort! You've shown us something quite new today.

[Mozart bows frantically: he is over-excited.]

MOZART: It is new, it is, isn't it, Sire?

EMPEROR: Yes, indeed.

MOZART: So then you like it? You really like it, Your Majesty?

EMPEROR: Of course I do. It's very good. Of course now and then - just now and then - it gets a touch elaborate.

MOZART: What do you mean, Sire?

EMPEROR: Well, I mean occasionally it seems to have, how shall one say? [he stops in difficulty; turning to Orsini-Rosenberg] How shall one say, Director?

ORSINI-ROSENBERG: Too many notes, Your Majesty?

EMPEROR: Exactly. Very well put. Too many notes.

MOZART: I don't understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required. Neither more nor less.

EMPEROR: My dear fellow, there are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening. I think I'm right in saying that, aren't I, Court Composer?

SALIERI: Yes! yes! er, on the whole, yes, Majesty.

MOZART: But this is absurd!

EMPEROR: My dear, young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.

MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

EMPEROR: Well. There it is.

Kind regards,
Ralph
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CW Lumm
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DragonCat wrote:


• TILES & SPECIAL ACTIONS

Tiles have been redeveloped as various types of Special Actions. Some will be handled by player tokens to place on the game map (Local Alliances – see below), some will go directly on the game map (Trade – see below) and the others have been broken down in to 5 types, each with a different size and color, that will be available on the game board.

> Colonize and Trade with Gold Coast Neutral Country markers can be claimed as a Special Action.

> Free Action tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and provide 1 specific free action per War.

> Improvement Tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and provide a permanent ability.

> Military Tactics tiles may be claimed as a Special Action and are kept until use. After use, they are returned to the game board.

> Incite Pirate Attack and Incite Colony Revolt may be claimed as a Special Action and are immediately enacted. They may remain on board until attacked and removed, at which point they are returned to the game board.


Hard to tell from here how special actions are allocated and how much this will change the game.

I have never been in love with the static count of tiles independent of player count - the ratio of Army Training available relative to the number of players at 7 tends to induce an arms race that isn't really to my taste.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about tiles and special actions more specifically in further updates. Are any tiles being eliminated, are counts changing, or are these staying the same for the most part? I've always felt that Improved Agriculture was particularly weak, and it rarely gets taken by experienced players I've played with - is it changing?
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Ralph H. Anderson
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Hi CW LUMM

The big change in the tiles is how they are implemented. We have broken them down into different types so we can use iconography and tile banner color to indicate they share a similar mechanism. This makes them much easier to recognize.

>>Trade Tiles - These tiles are now placed directly on the Map. Players take them to their personal supply. They are free actions that can be used once per wary. They are flipped when used as a reminder. They are refreshed at the end of each war. By taking them out of the general display, they are easier to recognize and free up that area.

>>Local Alliance Tiles - these have been removed. Instead each Local Alliance is marked on the map. Players will have wooden Local Alliance markers they will use to claim these alliances. They are removed and returned to the players at the end of each War. Removing these from the general display and putting them on the map makes them easier to recognizs and further reduces confusion in the general display.

>>Military Tactics - These tiles you keep until you use them and then return them to the general supply when used.

>>Free Actions - These tiles can be used once per war. They are flipped on use as a reminder and then refreshed at the end of each War.

>>Immediate Actions - These are used immediately and then removed from the game.

>>Improvements - These tiles provide continuous benefits. They are kept faceup for the rest of the game.

>>Covert Actions - These are one time actions and can have a presence on the board. We have converted them into special markers to call them out more. If they fail, of if they succeed and are later defeated, they are returned to the general supply.

I have made a change to Improved Agriculture. It now gives 1 extra Population when taken in addition to providing 1 Population as a free action once each war. I am also considering reducing its cost by 1 gold. These changes have been recommended in the BGG Forums for Struggle of Empires.

I will have a Variant for those who want to reduce the number of tiles for fewer players. Personally, I think the current variety of tiles and actions allows the players to make meaningful choices. There are many routes to gaining advantages in the game and I find the current selections available to be a feature, not a bug for the most part.

There will be more when I put out the Journal on Rules and Variants. Still hard at work on that! (As one of my high school teachers told me so many years ago: "There is no writing, there is only rewriting.")

Kind regards,
Ralph
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