Andrew Wright
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I've been lurking around for some time, and finally got the courage to create this account and post about the game I've been working on for the past year or so. It's been pretty impressive to see everything that is produced by the people in these forums, so I hope my entry into the fray sparks some interest.


The Expanse is a card-based exploration game, a contest to be the first to move around a randomly generated board and research the different astrological phenomena. The board will grow more complex and dynamic as the game goes on and anomalies come into play, and players will need to use all the resources at their disposal to be the first to claim the last needed destination.

Flavor text:
A newly discovered pocket galaxy, known as "The Expanse" has just been discovered, it contains a wide variety of different astronomical phenomenon in surprisingly close proximity. The race is on to unravel the mysteries of this new microcosm, and prestigious research institutions with deep pockets are clamoring to be the first to know most about it. New, highly experimental ships are commissioned that can quickly move between systems using powerful, volatile drives and reality altering engines.


This has been my first formal foray into physical game design, and this title has gone though a fair number of revisions and overhauls as I drilled down to what made it fun, and now I think I've got a fairly solid game.

I'm very grateful to my friends, family members, Protospiel-South attendees (who may not recognize the game anymore), and the people at my local game shop for their time playtesting and great feedback. However, I've been at each playtest to explain how to play so far, and if this game is to go anywhere, I can't be there every time someone new wants to try it. So I've come to you, the members of the BGG design community, for what I hope will be a minimal commitment of time to take a look at the (4 page) instructions for "The Expanse" and help me to find any oversights and/or areas for improvement.


The instructions can be found here: They're done! The final version has passed multiple blind playtests and is available as a free download on game's page at The Game Crafter, where the finished game is available to purchase.

Thanks everyone for you help!
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Oliver Kiley
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
Took a look through the rules. The game sounds interesting for sure. A few things that jumped out at me as odd:

It's wasn't clear to me, until the example on the last page, that multiple player's can claim a destination. You might want to add some additional text to the destinations section on page 1 about being able to claim destinations even if others have previously done so. You might also consider ditching the world "claim" althogether. To me, "claim" implies exclusive ownership/control, which isn't the case. Perhaps substitue for "explore" or "discover" or "investigate" or "research" or something.

The movement example on Page 2 is a little confusing. Moving to the dwarf cost's one and the solar wind reduces the costs of "leaving" by two. You don't specifiy that the leaving cost for the current location is zero, and even then, it's unclear why the solar flares bonus of reducing the "leaving cost" would apply also apply to the destination/arrival cost.

Really what the example is saying is that your Total Move Cost = Cost of Leaving Current Location + Cost of Arriving at New Location. The solar wind reduces the total cost by 2. Is this a better way to phrase things?

Hope this was helpful!
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Nate K
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
Can you explain the purpose of System Destination cards? They're mentioned several times, but have no clear purpose other than as an additional source of fuel.

[edit] Looks cool, by the way. Almost forgot to mention that.
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
Thanks for the great suggestions so far! I'll be incorporating them very soon, stay tuned
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Kevin B. Smith
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
Looks interesting.

At the start, you should say the number of players, and roughly how long the game takes to play.

Before discussing Movement, you should discuss the various options for "Play any number of cards". It looks like the players can play anomalies and destinations at this time, but that's not actually said.
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated
Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to look at the instructions so far, I very much appreciate the suggestions and compliments .

I've updated the instructions with changes that I hope will improve them overall as well as address everyone's concerns, please take a look:

The Expanse Instructions 0.6

Mezmorki:
Your mentioning the oddness of the term 'claim' in the game's context prompted me to make a change I think I've been wanting to make for a while. I modified the terminology so that Destination cards are now Explore cards, and instead of claiming them, you are simply exploring the indicated location when you play them. Let me know if it makes more sense to you.

I've also approached the cost of moving between two locations in a different, and hopefully clearer way.

kurthl33t:
The Explore cards (formerly destination) are now explained earlier and more often.

peakhope:
A details section has been added, and the section discussing how each card is played has been moved to before the movement section.
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
interesting design!
on page 3 example, the figurs says 'solar wind' but in the text you mention plasma storm

Just a detail
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
matmo:
Good catch! Thanks for pointing that out.

I've fixed the above oversight, as well as making some terminology and syntax tweaks; the updated instructions can be found here, as well as in the original post:

The Expanse Instructions 0.7
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
I've just updated my printer-friendly prototype cards to better mesh with the updated terminology in the rules above.

If anyone is interested in trying the game out at home (it's 85 cards total), or just taking a look at/reading the cards, please let me know via GeekMail.

Thanks again to everyone who's helped so far!
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers wanted
After reading this thread, I've decided to post a few sample images from the Beta test cards, let me know what you think!

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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!
I have uploaded the most recent version of the instructions (0.8) which have a small rule change (starting position), and a few minor edits to improve clarity and flow.

The download link has been updated in the original post to reflect this new version. Thanks for looking!
 
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Samantha RD
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!

Hey there, just acouple of quick questions:
1) Any particular reason you lay the cards face down initially if you are just going to flip them immediately? Might as well start face up
2) ‘The symbol in the upper left corner when the card is landscape to indicates how the card is placed’ could you clarify this?
3) (Among other things, this anomaly reduces the cost to leave a location by two.) Perhaps change this to: The cost to enter a new location is reduced by two, as you have already stated earlier that by default leaving an area is free.

That's about it from the rules - sounds like fun: In terms of timing, when are you allowed to play different cards? Only on your turn? On other players as well? (ie: Can you drop anomalies on other players?)

For the card layout, that font is a bit of an eyesore on the print and play cards - perhaps keep it simpler.

Hope that helps, good luck with further development
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!
Sica wrote:

Hey there, just acouple of quick questions:
1) Any particular reason you lay the cards face down initially if you are just going to flip them immediately? Might as well start face up
2) ‘The symbol in the upper left corner when the card is landscape to indicates how the card is placed’ could you clarify this?
3) (Among other things, this anomaly reduces the cost to leave a location by two.) Perhaps change this to: The cost to enter a new location is reduced by two, as you have already stated earlier that by default leaving an area is free.

1) This seemed to be the most straightforward way to have the players start on random corners. If the cards were face up, there would be need to be additional mechanics to decide what corner each player starts on.
2) Erk, typo! The 'to' shouldn't be there, thanks for finding that!
3) That's a pretty good explanation for a concept can be a tricky one at first for some players. I'll take another look at it.

Quick question relating to the last question, when you see "By default, it doesn’t cost anything to leave a Location" do you read it as stating that the cost to leave a location will always be zero, or that it will be zero as long as nothing has modified it? I've had another question about this same situation, and I'm wondering if I just read it differently than others.

Sica wrote:

That's about it from the rules - sounds like fun: In terms of timing, when are you allowed to play different cards? Only on your turn? On other players as well? (ie: Can you drop anomalies on other players?)

You can only play cards on your turn right now.

Thanks for the feedback! Hopefully there will be an even better version up soon.
 
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Samantha RD
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!
NewLifeForm wrote:

2) Erk, typo! The 'to' shouldn't be there, thanks for finding that!


Yay, another victory point for my pedantry - Perhaps that sentence should be changed to make it clearer overall.


NewLifeForm wrote:

Quick question relating to the last question, when you see "By default, it doesn’t cost anything to leave a Location" do you read it as stating that the cost to leave a location will always be zero, or that it will be zero as long as nothing has modified it? I've had another question about this same situation, and I'm wondering if I just read it differently than others.


I read it as: 'the cost is zero unless something has modified it', but for the sake of clarity you could change it to: 'The cost to leave a location is always zero, unless modified by other cards in play.'
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Andy Day

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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!
I'll take a gander at the game, if... you email me the rules. I cannot hack into them from my computer (work computer, filters, etc). PM me if that'd work for you.
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Readers/Players wanted!
It's been a while since I've posted an update, but I'm still working on the game in what free time I can find. The playtests are going well, and I think it's just about ready to go.

Some of the newer changes are: iconography for the Anomalies, improved wording on the cards, more polished graphics, and newly revised instructions.



The core mechanics haven't changed, but the new instructions should be more concise; plus the examples show the full actual instead of vague rectangles. They also currently fit on only one sheet of paper, front and back.

As always, if you're interested in taking a look, please do and let me know what you think - you can download the instructions here or up in the original post.
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Samantha RD
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!

Well, I love the graphics! I'll try to give the instructions another read through later
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Sam Mercer
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!
Heya life,

Still waiting for my copy by the front door, I notice that your finance carrier hasn't yet taken payment? Would you like me to resend the credit card details?

sam
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Samantha RD
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!

Hi there, have read through, a few comments:

In the intro: "....are clamoring to be the first to know. New, highly
experimental ships are.." Spacing is off

in Exploration: "..If you
chose (should be choose) not to use it now.."

in Movement: " Playing an Exploration, Anomaly, Drive, or Engine must be
done when stopped."
Is the taking of an action actually obligatory? (Doesn't seem like this is the case from the rules) Or can the player choose? If they can choose, change to: "may only be done when stopped" or somesuch
(you can apply this elsewhere too - ie: under instructions for drives: "Drives can only be played when stopped."

Beyond that, looks good - I felt like I got a very clear idea of how to play the game from reading through

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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!
Thanks for the great suggestions Samantha! I went ahead and made the changes you mentioned to the version currently available to download.

Sam, check your GM.
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Sam Mercer
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!
Heya there Life, just a note to say that I have just bought a copy of your game from tgc!

Delivery to the UK is expected in 12 to 15 days



very excited!
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!
I've also ordered a copy from gamecrater, they just sent me shipping details today, should have my copy in next day or two. Wonder how well this one will go down with the kids.

edit: woot, made it to the front page
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Andrew Wright
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Re: WIP: The Expanse - Light Space Exploration - Updated!
I just wanted to thank everyone who has helped out with the development of The Expanse, and specifically helping me iron out the wrinkles in the instructions.

After the most recent blind playtest went exceptionally well, I had my final version, and the public launch of the game went smoothly. The game is now officially published on The Game Crafter, and I'm confident that people will be able to pick it up and play it without much trouble at all.

The Expanse for sale at the Game Crafter
The Expanse's official page at New Life Form Games

I really appreciate all the help I've received here, and I wanted to thank everyone again for taking the time to read and playtest the game!

--
NewLifeForm
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