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Subject: Custom expansion (55 cards): Knowledge and Power rss

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Brendon Russell
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INTRO



I've been designing my own RftG cards for a while now, and I had accumulated a catalogue of maybe a couple of dozen cards, but I could never manage to bring together a coherent set, which is what I eventually realised I really wanted to do. Every time I tried, I would end up with a bunch of cards that were pure filler. Then one day last year, in a burst of inspiration fueled by recent news of the upcoming Alien Artifacts expansion and Voxen's excellent ongoing blog about his own custom expansion, I sat down and somehow managed to flesh out an entire set that I was very happy with.

I kept refining it over the next couple of months, and somewhere along the way Borgemik released a patch for Keldon's AI app which enabled (or made it far easier for) custom cards and sets to be implemented. Since I had no easy way to playtest my expansion in any depth except for solitaire, I decided to try developing my set for the app. Even if the AI didn't know what to do with the new cards, I figured at least a dumb opponent was better than none! It took up a fair bit of time and some of the more complex powers didn't get completed (or even started), but I still found it a rewarding exercise.

My plans for the expansion were:

- It would be an expansion for the base game only, i.e. an alternative "arc", like Alien Artifacts and Voxen's expansion.

- It would not introduce any major new mechanics to the overall game system (i.e. nothing akin to goals, takeovers, prestige). I had a few ideas for such mechanics, and still do, but they're off the list for now. (The name "Knowledge and Power" is derived from two such mechanics that were originally going to be part of the expansion. I'm not overly excited about the name, but I haven't come up with a better one, so there it is for now.)

- The design of the overall set would be the focus - it should have a distinct feel from other expansions, and shift the balance of strategies around (and maybe create one or two new ones).

- Following on from the above, it would not focus on having lots of crazy new powers, but instead use variations of existing ones or recombine existing ones in different ways. There are a few new powers that I think are pretty interesting and play with areas of the RftG design space that haven't been explored yet, but nothing I would consider particularly off-the-wall. Along with my own ideas, I borrowed liberally from the official RftG sets and probably picked up a few ideas from other people's custom cards on BGG as well. If you see your own ideas here, feel free to chime in and claim some credit!

The influence of Tom Lehmann's aims for Alien Artifacts are probably pretty clear. Given that, I always wondered how many similarities would arise between my expansion and AA - and now we know some information about AA, it seems the answer is quite a few! I designed my expansion about a year ago and have been meaning to post it to BGG ever since, so I figure it's now or never... I'm constantly thinking of ways to tweak and improve it, but I'll just present it in its current state.

Thematically, this expansion takes place sometime after Brink of War, when the two main factions (Rebel and Imperium) have had some major battles and the balance of power is evenly split between them. The Imperium are licking their wounds, but are starting to rebuild and plan their resurgence. The Rebels have gained a lot of power and influence, but there's some internal tension between those who want to forge ahead with building a grand New Republic and the more militant, even extremist factions who are willing to use any means necessary to further the anti-Imperium cause. Meanwhile, knowledge of the vanished Alien race and their technology, plus their part in creating the Uplift races, is still of great interest and the insights are starting to be put to practical use.

Right, on to the actual cards now. I'll split this into multiple posts to make it easier to post, and to read!
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Brendon Russell
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START WORLDS

Alien Weapons Specialists
Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
I: combine drawn cards with your hand
III: military +1, Alien military +2 (additional)

I think this one was originally inspired by a start world in Voxen's expansion, which had an Alien military bonus. I'm still sure what the right amount of Alien military should be - +1 seems a little low since Alien military worlds generally have high defense, but +2 could be a little too generous (read: dangerous).

I was determined to have a mix-and-match explore power on one of my start worlds, as I've always loved the concept of it - you can effectively "mulligan" your starting hand (i.e. replace it with entirely different cards) by calling Explore +5 on turn 1. I gave it to Alien Weapons Specialists since they want to find a fairly sparse commodity (Alien military worlds), and there's no Search mechanic to help them.

Imperium Loyalist Colony
Non-Military World, Rare production
Cost: 3 VPs: 1
III: Rebel military +2
V: produce a Rare good

I recall having some interesting discussions with Voxen and others on his blog about how to design and balance a Rare production start world. We both opted for Imperium worlds (reinforcing the existing Imperium/Rare good linkages), and came up with slightly different variations. His Imperium Garrison has +1 military and a weak Consume power to offset it; I went for specialised military power instead. Again I wasn't sure whether to go with +1 or +2, but I wanted to avoid making it so low and so specialised that it would rarely get used. I like the thematic implication that this is mostly a non-military world, but they'll happily commit some military resources to fight the Rebels.

Pioneer Colony
Non-Military World, Novelty windfall
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
II: draw 1 after developing

I think this is my earliest start world design, predating Rebel vs Imperium, as the idea of a start world (or any world for that matter) with a Develop power was uncharted territory in the official expansions at the time. More recently I've been wary of its potential for explosive starts similar to Galactic Developers, and considered giving it the same drawback as Ancient Race (starting hand size of 3).

This card also contributes to a subtheme of the expansion, which is to have several draw after developing powers (like Public Works), distinct from the draw before developing powers that were prevalent in the first official expansion arc.

Psionic Conclave
Non-Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: cost -1
Genes cost -1 (additional)
military -1

The concept behind this card is very clear in my head: these unusual characters can use their mind powers to influence others to join them. The specifics of the Settle powers have changed many many times as I tried to find a combination that worked both thematically and balance-wise. I wanted one of my start worlds to have negative military, as it's an interesting handicap that hasn't been used in the official expansions. Originally this one had -2, to really hammer home the point that they would not be going the pure military route. (Contact Specialist, on the other hand...) I also wanted the additional Genes discount both for thematic reasons and also to provide some support for a Genes-based strategy.

Rebel Guerillas
Military world
Cost: 3 VPs: 1
III: military +1
may discard a military world for military +X (X = that world's defense) and draw a card

I'm not thrilled with this design, but I wanted a Rebel start world. Until very recently it was basically a direct copy of Uplift Mercenary Force, except Rebel and military. I tried to revamp it to make it a bit more unique, and the "kamikaze" power, as I like to think of it, is one I've had floating around for a while but somehow hadn't made it into this expansion. I think it's an interesting and potentially useful one, but I'm not sure it's best suited for a start world. It does allow for the possibility of blowing itself up for the bonus though, which I do like. I raised its defense from 2 to 3 specifically to make it more useful for that purpose. It's never been playtested in this form though, so I have no idea how it will hold up to actual play.

Separatist Revivalists
Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: military +1
$: sell any kind +1

This is a pretty basic start world; I wanted another one with a Trade power, but with a different angle than Old Earth. In practise this probably suffers from the same issue I feel some of the other +1 military start worlds do, namely feeeling like just a slight variation of New Sparta much of the time.

Terraforming Factory
Non-Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: place a good on a production world after settling it
V: produce on a windfall world

This is another fairly early design (pre-Brink of War), and is probably my favourite card in the set - to the extent that it's become a pet card that I find difficult to modify, even if I suspect it needs rebalancing! There's a few things going on here that I like: the near-symmetry of the two powers; the Produce power which is a pretty basic one and appropriate for a start world but not yet used; and most of all, the fact that it operates on a slighly different axis than any other start world. I find the two powers are challenging to evaluate in relation to other start worlds, which can usually be more easily measured in terms of card or VP generation. This card plays with the game tempo in different ways, and throws some curveballs into phase selection choices for its opponents.

In practice, this card has a fair bit of variance - if it doesn't find a non-military world in its starting hand, it's effectively useless and can struggle to get off the ground. On the other hand, if you have a suitable world to kickstart things with, it's a force to be reckoned with - possibly too much of a force. I'd like to playtest it with the V power nerfed to "discard a card to produce on a windfall world", which would still allow the explosive start of settling, trading and producing a windfall on turn 1, but with the Trade income effectively being reduced by 1 if it happens. The Settle power could also be nerfed in a similar way, but Production worlds are costed higher than their windfall counterparts anyway, and also I'd like to avoid making the power more complex since its not as common as the windfall production power.

TO BE CONTINUED!
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Brendon Russell
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6-COST DEVELOPMENTS

I originally had a set of 6 6-cost developments for this expansion, which I was very happy with: it provided the right ratio for the overall size of the expansion, and they covered all the bases I wanted to focus on. Then I came up with Commerce Guild, and I couldn't bear to part with that. One of the 7 may ultimately have to be sacrificed for the sake of overall balance, but I haven't decided which one that would be.

Commerce Guild
VPs: X, where X = total $ bonus (non-specialised)
2 for each card stored under this one
2 for Deficit Spending
$: sell any kind +1
IV: draw 1 card
Round End: when discarding, may place one of your discarded cards under this card

In the base game I enjoyed using Trade League/Merchant World/Deficit Spending as a strategy, and I hoped we'd see that angle developed further in the official expansions, but it never really happened; this is my attempt to expand on that strategy path. I see it as bridging Trade League and New Economy, falling somewhere between them in terms of card powers vs scoring potential. There's also a nod to Galactic Advertisers in there as well, which is one of my favourite card designs: simple yet subtly nuanced.

The round-end power provides some more interest to round-end discards, just like the "first to discard" goal and Retrofit & Salvage, Inc in the official expansions. I went through a couple of different ideas (e.g. put all your discards under it, and score 1 apiece), but it could occassionally lead to some very extreme situations with large numbers of cards stashed away. (I can thank the untrained AI for that.) Restricting it to 1 card but increasing the bonus reduces the variability and also helps ensure the deck doesn't get thinned down too much! Hopefully some will appreciate the fact that the power lets you permanently remove a troublesome card from the game as well.

An example to clarify the "X" scoring bonus: if the $ powers in your tableau were this card, Galactic Engineers and Mining Conglomerate, the first two would count but MC would not since its $ power is for a specific type of good. If you added Merchant World as well, that would be an extra 2. I wanted to come up with something that was similar to the scoring on New Galactic Order, and I liked the $ bonus idea even though it's probably a bit less intuitive to grasp.

Imperium Arms Program
VPs: 2 for each Imperium card
2 for each other development with a +military power
1 for each other world with a +military power
2 for Blaster Gem Mines
III: military +1
May discard a Rare good for military +2 this phase

This card drew a lot of inspiration from the Search category in Brink of War that singled out developments with a +military bonus. Originally I had planned a smaller expansion that would be added on to the first official arc, and this was intended as a pseudo-second copy of New Galactic Order. I also wanted to give another nod to the Imperium/Rare goods crossover, plus I wanted Rare-for-military powers to be another subtheme to give my expansion a little flavour of its own.

There turned out to be a lot of similarities with Imperium War Faction in Alien Artifacts, right down to the scoring for Blaster Gem Mines! I guess that's not too surprising since Tom Lehmann had also said he wanted to boost some of the weaker/less popular cards from the base game.

Institute of Galactic History
VPs: 3 for Alien Rosetta Stone World
2 for each other Alien card
2 for each Uplift card
1 for each other Genes world
III: may pay to settle chromosome military worlds (cost = defense)
IV: consume up to 2 Alien goods for 2 VPs each

Ever since cards like Alien Uplift Centre appeared, I was sure we'd see a combined Alien/Uplift 6-dev in one of the official expansions. That hasn't happened, but I've made many attempts at designing my own. I can't remember specifics, but I wasn't satisfied with any of them - they just seemed too forced and artificial. Then one day it struck me that a large-scale research organisation would be an appropriate concept for a 6-dev (the Smithsonian Institution was what I specifically had in mind). What would they be focusing on? The history of the galaxy, which Alien and Uplift races are a major part of.

This card is quite generous in its scoring bonuses, but it's offset by the fact that the types of card it rewards tend to be expensive (or require some investment in military), and the card itself provides no additional discounts or card flow to help with that. I also wanted to have a subtheme in this expansion of consuming Alien goods for high value, so you wouldn't always just trade them - why would they only be valuable to other civilisations? That turns out to be another aspect of my expansion that shows up in Alien Artifacts as well.

The additional bonus for Alien Rosetta Stone World is another idea that turned up independently in Alien Artifacts. Originally my card scored extra for Research Labs instead, but I happily replaced it with ARSW when I realised I'd already inadvertently given RL a decent boost in my expansion thanks to New Information Revolution and Worker's Guild.

New Information Revolution
VPs: 2 for each development with a Phase I power (including this one)
1 for each other development
I: gain 1 VP
combine drawn cards with your hand
II: may discard 1 card to draw 1 card

This card is a sort of mirror image of Galactic Survey: SETI, which I like. I wanted to give the Explore phase some love in this expansion as it can be a bit underpowered (or at least unappreciated) in the base game. I also wanted a 6-dev with secondary scoring for developments, to help that strategy.

I struggled to find interesting powers to put on this card. I like the free VP in the Explore phase since it gives a little extra nudge to its synergy with Galactic Renaissance.

New Republic
VPs: 2 for each Rebel card
1 for each 6-cost development
II: draw 2 after developing a 6-cost development
V: draw 1 for each Rebel world

This card represents the faction of the Rebel Alliance who want to get on with building their own civilisation to replace the oppressive Imperium. Originally it scored 2 for each 6-cost development as well; my theory was that the Rebel and 6-dev scoring and powers would be fairly incompatible. As it turned out, it could be very powerful indeed, especially if the game went a turn or 2 longer than average - it was similar to the big Rebel/Imperium tableaus with overlapping 6-devs that were capable of some extremely high scores in the Rebel vs Imperium expansion. I haven't playtested the scoring nerf yet to see how much it helps with this problem.

The Develop power is another instance where I wanted to focus on phase II benefits that make you play the developments first, as opposed to free card draw or discounts. I like how it turned out, as it still allows for strong Dev strategies to work, which I wanted, but it makes them play out a bit differently.

Pan-Galactic Syndicate
VPs: 2 for each windfall world
2 for Outlaw World
2 for Black Market Trading World
2 for Gambling World
IV: may consume up to 2 VP chips for 2 cards each

I wanted to provide a boost for some of the ugly stepchildren of the base game, and at some point I realised there was a thematic "shady underworld" connection between several of them. I then conceived of this card as representing a large organised crime syndicate like the Mafia (or the Hutts, I guess!). I loved the idea, except why would a galactic civilisation want to actively promote an association with this lot? After hitting up Wikipedia I found that it's not unheard of for organisations like this (e.g. the Yakuza) to operate quite openly, and even provide some help for the society they operate in. Problem solved!

The Consume power, or other variations of spending VP chips for benefits, is one that's cropped up in various people's custom cards, including some of my own earliest attempts. I think it found a perfect home here as it represents the downside of accepting the Syndicate into your society; some people are going to get rich at the cost of other's happiness.

The other thing I added was of course the scoring for windfall worlds, which I wanted to use somewhere in this expansion. The thematic link is a bit more tenuous, but I think of it as tying into the civilisation's greed and willingness to grab the "quick fix" despite a potential long-term detriment.

Terraforming League
VPs: 2 for each Terraforming card (including this one)
3 for Terraformed World
2 for each other non-military world with cost 4 or higher
1 for each other non-military world
III: cost -2
may upgrade a world of the same kind [same power as Terraforming Engineers, but without the Prestige bonus]

I wanted a Terraforming 6-dev, and I love the Terraforming Engineers special power, so I happily stole it (minus the prestige of course). I also felt there was a gap for a 6-dev that scored for non-military worlds specifically, as there were none in in the first official arc despite there being several which counted military worlds. I also liked the idea of a Terraforming 6-dev scoring for Terraformed World, plus I felt that card needed a bit of extra love anyway. I then added the scoring distinction based on the cost, as it was another area that hadn't been explored much (except for 6/non-6 cost developments).

I then realised I'd unintentionally created a nice synergy between the two settle powers, both of which helped bring out the higher cost non-military worlds, and the scoring system for this card. At that point I felt like I was on to a winner.

Workers' Guild
VPs: 2 for each development with a phase V power (including this one)
1 for each world with a phase V power
V: draw 1 for each good you produced this phase

The scoring for this card was a fairly straightforward design based on cards like Trade League and New Economy in the base game. After playtesting I was very pleased with the way it worked out: nothing in the first official arc rewards Produce powers specifically, and for such a simple and fairly obvious design it really provides a fresh perspective on certain cards and your overall tableau when you have it in your hand or in play. That's exactly the sort of thing I was trying to achieve with this expansion.

The problem is that the card is pretty overpowered as it tends to both score well and can draw a lot of cards (plus it also rewards having other cards that can draw you even more during phase V). I like the Produce power though, but I couldn't find another suitable home for it. I really should just bite the bullet though and reduce it to a straight "draw 1" or something like that. In Tom Lehmann's "Secret History of the Brink of War" forum article, it sounds like he went down a very similar path with Alien Cornucopia, but in his case he dropped the Phase V power scoring as well. He was concerned that it worked too well with Terraforming Guild - fortunately for me I didn't have to worry about interactions with cards from the first 3 expansions! Perhaps we'll end up seeing something similar in Alien Artifacts as well, for the same reason.
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Serge Levert
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I admire people who can come up with thematic cards, powers and cardnames. Well done! I'd love to play any of these custom expansions, somehow, somewhere. The only "easy" way i could imagine would be through a patch to Keldon's AI.

I suspect you haven't bothered, but if you made images for all the cards, i'd recommend posting them alongside. You'll get way more eyeballs, as a wall of text is very intimidating, and a lot of us are more visual anyway. That's the beauty of RftG, you can tell what a card does at a brief glance. Especially with a custom expansion that doesn't use [m]any new powers.

Love most of the start worlds, they feel very refined and diverse! I also like that there are 12 total with your setup, as opposed to AA's 10. The more start worlds, the more long-term replayability. If i had the skills to make my own custom set, i might even go 16 in an AA-sized arc.

scwont wrote:
Separatist Revivalists
Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: military +1
$: sell any kind +1

This is a pretty basic start world; I wanted another one with a Trade power, but with a different angle than Old Earth. In practise this probably suffers from the same issue I feel some of the other +1 military start worlds do, namely feeeling like just a slight variation of New Sparta much of the time.

Silly idea: make it a 1/0 blue production mil world. Sure-fire way to make it feel nothing like New Sparta. :P

scwont wrote:
Terraforming Factory
Non-Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: may discard a card to place a good on a production world after settling it
V: produce on a windfall world

Oh, from the image this isn't what i thought. Your power is the same as these actual icons: hand discard symbol, red arrow, Golden Age of Terraforming symbol.

I'm a little iffy on the timing with your wording. Sounds like you could get settle bonuses and invoke settle powers before discarding? That could cause some weird issues/confusion. Might be easier as "when settling a production world, may discard a card to place a good on it". So you'd have to have the card in hand already, and no timing issues.

scwont wrote:
Commerce Guild

Lurrrve this card. Was gonna say i'm sad it doesn't specifically give 2 for Merchant World, until i realized it does in a roundabout way. :P Nicely done.

scwont wrote:
Pan-Galactic Syndicate
[...]
I wanted to provide a boost for some of the ugly stepchildren of the base game

Nice, i've always wanted a reason to play Outlaw World and BMTW more often!

scwont wrote:
The Consume power, or other variations of spending VP chips for benefits, is one that's cropped up in various people's custom cards, including some of my own earliest attempts. I think it found a perfect home here as it represents the downside of accepting the Syndicate into your society; some people are going to get rich at the cost of other's happiness.

Oh. I absolutely loved this card until i realized the IV power isn't optional. That's a brutal handicap. It wouldn't really even work in a Trade strat. But then again maybe the card would turn out to be its own strategy-in-a-card. A bastardized, interesting non-vp chip, non-military, quasi-trade strat/card draw strategy...

scwont wrote:
Workers' Guild
[...]
nothing in the first official arc rewards Produce powers specifically, and for such a simple and fairly obvious design it really provides a fresh perspective on certain cards and your overall tableau when you have it in your hand or in play. That's exactly the sort of thing I was trying to achieve with this expansion.

Which reminds me, the other specific phase that doesn't have a 6dev for it is III. That might make for an interesting basis for a 6dev for someone to create some day.

scwont wrote:
The problem is that the card is pretty overpowered as it tends to both score well and can draw a lot of cards (plus it also rewards having other cards that can draw you even more during phase V). I like the Produce power though, but I couldn't find another suitable home for it. I really should just bite the bullet though and reduce it to a straight "draw 1" or something like that.

Just thinking out loud here, but another way to nerf it would be to draw 1 for each brown/green/yellow good produced.
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Brendon Russell
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entranced wrote:
I admire people who can come up with thematic cards, powers and cardnames. Well done! I'd love to play any of these custom expansions, somehow, somewhere. The only "easy" way i could imagine would be through a patch to Keldon's AI.
Thanks for the compliments, and for the feedback! It's nice to finally have it out there for others to critique. As far as theme goes, it's a funny thing: when I'm actually playing RftG (or pretty much any game), I'm completely oblivious to theme; it's all about the mechanics. When I'm designing cards, I need the card name, powers etc to have a thematic connection, otherwise it frustrates me and I generally won't consider it a finished card.

I was hoping (still do) that one day I'd finish implementing everything in Keldon's AI, at which point I could look at possibly distributing it, as well as working on other expansions like Voxen's. It takes a long time though (at least for me), and some powers proved tricky to implement - and not always the ones I predicted.

Case in point: I have a windfall world with the phase V power "may not produce a good on this world", i.e. the V equivalent of Alien Oort Cloud [/Fuel] Refinery's $ restriction. I thought it would be pretty simple to develop, but it turns out there's so much existing code devoted to making windfall production work properly that I couldn't get the darn thing to make an exception when I wanted it to!

entranced wrote:
I suspect you haven't bothered, but if you made images for all the cards, i'd recommend posting them alongside. You'll get way more eyeballs, as a wall of text is very intimidating, and a lot of us are more visual anyway.
Yeah, that's one of the reasons it's taken me so long to get around to posting this: I didn't have images for all the cards, the ones I do have are pretty rudimentary, it's time-consuming to do it, and I didn't want it to just be a wall of text. Obviously I gave up on that and so it has the tl;dr factor. Perhaps anyone who's willing to plow through regardless is the target audience I'll try to add images (at least the ones I already have) as soon as I can.

entranced wrote:
Love most of the start worlds, they feel very refined and diverse! I also like that there are 12 total with your setup, as opposed to AA's 10. The more start worlds, the more long-term replayability.
I agree completely, and I wanted plenty of new start worlds for that reason.

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
Separatist Revivalists
Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: military +1
$: sell any kind +1

This is a pretty basic start world; I wanted another one with a Trade power, but with a different angle than Old Earth. In practise this probably suffers from the same issue I feel some of the other +1 military start worlds do, namely feeeling like just a slight variation of New Sparta much of the time.

Silly idea: make it a 1/0 blue production mil world. Sure-fire way to make it feel nothing like New Sparta.
Hmm, not a bad idea (although it would probably have to be a 2/0 or 3/1, otherwise it would be too strong relative to Former Penal Colony). I think I'd consciously or subconsciously excluded the idea of having another Novelty production start world (Earth's Lost Colony being the other), but this would be completely different from ELC. It might make it too similar to Imperium Loyalist Colony though.

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
Terraforming Factory
Non-Military World
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: may discard a card to place a good on a production world after settling it
V: produce on a windfall world

Oh, from the image this isn't what i thought. Your power is the same as these actual icons: hand discard symbol, red arrow, Golden Age of Terraforming symbol.

I'm a little iffy on the timing with your wording. Sounds like you could get settle bonuses and invoke settle powers before discarding? That could cause some weird issues/confusion. Might be easier as "when settling a production world, may discard a card to place a good on it". So you'd have to have the card in hand already, and no timing issues.
The original description of the power was wrong: I typed up the card descriptions a couple of weeks before writing up the rest of the initial posts for the thread, and at that point I must've been favouring a nerf to the III power rather than the V. I've edited the original now, so the current "official" version has no discard for either power, and my commentary about the III power will probably make more sense

Another of the sacrifices I made to get this thread finally posted was to be a bit sloppier than I'd normally be on the card wording, to save some time. Your suggested wording/interpretation is what I actually had in mind (when I was going to have it require a discard).

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
Commerce Guild

Lurrrve this card. Was gonna say i'm sad it doesn't specifically give 2 for Merchant World, until i realized it does in a roundabout way. Nicely done.
Thanks, it's one of my favourites in the set too. I almost added scoring for Merchant World until I realised the same thing - in fact I think I've had the same realisation, then forgotten it again, several times since I first designed the card

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
Pan-Galactic Syndicate
[...]The Consume power, or other variations of spending VP chips for benefits, is one that's cropped up in various people's custom cards, including some of my own earliest attempts. I think it found a perfect home here as it represents the downside of accepting the Syndicate into your society; some people are going to get rich at the cost of other's happiness.

Oh. I absolutely loved this card until i realized the IV power isn't optional.
Another case of sloppy wording, sorry! I've edited the post to add the "may" that should've always been there. You may recommence loving it

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
Workers' Guild
[...]
nothing in the first official arc rewards Produce powers specifically, and for such a simple and fairly obvious design it really provides a fresh perspective on certain cards and your overall tableau when you have it in your hand or in play. That's exactly the sort of thing I was trying to achieve with this expansion.

Which reminds me, the other specific phase that doesn't have a 6dev for it is III. That might make for an interesting basis for a 6dev for someone to create some day.
It could be, although you'd have to be careful as III powers are a lot more common than any other phase, IIRC. Thematically it might work for a Terraforming 6-dev, perhaps. I've definitely considered doing one for II powers.

entranced wrote:
scwont wrote:
The problem is that the card is pretty overpowered as it tends to both score well and can draw a lot of cards (plus it also rewards having other cards that can draw you even more during phase V). I like the Produce power though, but I couldn't find another suitable home for it. I really should just bite the bullet though and reduce it to a straight "draw 1" or something like that.

Just thinking out loud here, but another way to nerf it would be to draw 1 for each brown/green/yellow good produced.
I didn't want to tie this card to any particular type of goods, but also I think that probably wouldn't be a big enough nerf. It needs a strong cap on the number of cards it can draw (or to do something else entirely). I considered giving it another phase V power that I'm itching to use somewhere but hasn't found a home yet, but it wouldn't really be much of a nerf, just a different angle: draw 1 card for each different kind of world in your tableau (i.e. blue/brown/green/yellow, so it would max out at 4 cards).
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Quote:
Post #2
Glad I stumbled across this thread before too long! You've got some great stuff so far.

Your start worlds are nicely divergent from others I've seen; nice looking stuff.

The phase III and V powers on Terraforming Factory seem a bit powerful together; I'd rather have the phase III without the discard and no phase V. But it is one of those I'd have to test to get a feel for it.

I like what you've done with AWS; its phase III mirrors an intended change for Alien Artifact Smugglers in my expansion, which is currently the worst of my start worlds, hands down. I don't think +1, +2 more vs yellow is overpowered. And mix-and-match is nice, but reasonable, too.

Pioneer Colony looks totally reasonable. I wouldn't nerf it.

Seperatist Revivalists seems ok but unless I've got a 1-defense windfall in hand I'd likely pick something else--maybe give it more oomph? Trade $+2, but nerf the phase III into "discard a card for +1 Military"?

Quote:
Post #3

Cool stuff. Nothing too scary- or weak-looking.

CG is neat, IAP is cool, scoring seems high and wordy (maybe just 1VP/other card with a military power?) NIR's phase II seems extraneous (was draw-after-dev too much?). New Republic is great! I like the connection between uniting/pacifying the rebel worlds and creating great projects. I am skeptical of PGS except as an endgame windfall VP drop (e.g., T Guild). I like Workers Guild but would cut the world scoring unless it underperformed in testing, and it'd be a really easy nerf.
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Voxen wrote:
Glad I stumbled across this thread before too long!
Very glad you did too! I've thoroughly enjoyed the design discussions from your blog.

Voxen wrote:
The phase III and V powers on Terraforming Factory seem a bit powerful together; I'd rather have the phase III without the discard and no phase V. But it is one of those I'd have to test to get a feel for it.
I'm becoming more and more inclined to just turn this card into a development instead. I don't have a non 6-cost Terraforming development in this expansion at the moment, so it would fill that gap as well. I do like what it brings to the table as a start world though, so I'd like to keep at least some aspect of it in there somehow.

Voxen wrote:
IAP is cool, scoring seems high and wordy (maybe just 1VP/other card with a military power?)
That's a good suggestion. Now that you mention it, I think the extra scoring for +military devs did feel a little too strong/unnecessary when I playtested it. Consider it changed!

Voxen wrote:
NIR's phase II seems extraneous (was draw-after-dev too much?).
I think NIR is on the chopping block. Its scoring is where I want it to be as far as which strategies get help in my expansion, but I've never been happy with it as an overall card.

Voxen wrote:
I am skeptical of PGS except as an endgame windfall VP drop (e.g., T Guild).
Yeah that's probably true, but I think it's fine to have a few 6-devs like that. Its IV power is probably quite situational (intentionally so - contrast with Galactic Power Brokers which has a similar power but also a built-in way of fueling it), but my aim is that it'll be cool when you occasionally find the right situation to let loose with it.

Voxen wrote:
I like Workers Guild but would cut the world scoring unless it underperformed in testing, and it'd be a really easy nerf.
I like the world scoring as a secondary boost for production worlds (and a few other worlds). That's made me realise there's another very simple option I could try though, which is to just make it 1 point for any card with a V power.
 
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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Applied Alien Technology
Cost: 2 VPs: 1
III: Alien [yellow] cost -2
may pay to settle Alien [yellow] military worlds (cost = defense)
IV: may convert 1 good to a different kind

I wanted a non 6-cost Alien development in the set, so here it is. I've gone back and forth on the size of the settle discount, but I think it's fair for the price compared to Contact Specialist, which has a lot more potential targets.

The IV power has little to do with the III powers, but in this case I like it that way, and you're pretty much getting it for free. Alien Oort Cloud Refinery is the precedent for having this sort of ability on an Alien card. My feeling is you'll usually want the card for either the III or IV powers, but sometimes you'll manage to find a use for both. I realised the IV power has quite a few potential uses (e.g. with Diversified Economy, Mining League, even my own Galactic Trade Expos - see below).

Currency Markets
Cost: 3 VPs: 2
IV: may discard a card to gain 1 VP and draw 1 card (VP may not be doubled)

I think I came up with this card shortly after seeing R&D Crash Program for the first time, and I loved the simple effectiveness of combining the Deficit Spending and card filtering powers. Like many of my cards I've thought a lot about the appropriate cost for it, but I think it's about right: it's a free VP in the Consume phase the vast majority of the time, but it can't be doubled (unlike Galactic Salon) and you can only use it once (unlike Deficit Spending).

Errata: feedback from other players indicated the card was undercosted at 2. Cost has been raised to 3 (and VPs to 2).

Deep Space Probe
Cost: 1 VPs: 1
I: combine drawn cards with your hand
may discard this card from your tableau for see +5, keep +1

I thought a discard-to-use card for the Explore phase would add an interesting bit of variety, plus I like that you're sending the probe hurtling off, never to return.

Federation Process Engineers
Cost: 3 VPs: 2
II: may discard a card at the start of the phase to reveal cards from the deck until you reveal a development card; take this card
cost -1
V: draw 1 for each 6-cost development

Originally this just had one phase II power, namely the discount. I found it a bit underwhelming, and I very recently added the search-ish ability (it was inspired by Wormhole Prospectors, although it works a bit differently).

The V power has always been development-related, but the specifics have changed a few times. This is another card that turned out to be similar to something from Alien Artifacts (Galactic Investors).

Galactic Trade Expos
Cost: 4 VPs: 2
IV: consume 2 goods of the same kind to gain 2 VPs and draw X cards (X = trade value of 1 good of this kind)

I like the Black Market Trading World power, but the card itself rarely gets used; I thought that it would be a very different story if it were a development. This is an attempt to do something similar, but with a little twist.

I think the IV power is one of those things that's fairly simple to understand, but a little wordy/convoluted to explain. In case it's not clear, it lets you consume either: 2 Novelty for 2 VP + 2 cards, 2 Rare for 2 VP + 3 cards, 2 Genes for 2 VP + 4 cards, or 2 Alien for 2 VP + 5 cards.

Imperium Battle Cruiser
Cost: 5 VPs: 3
III: military +3
may use military power to settle non-military worlds (defense = cost)

This originally had just +2 military, but I felt it was a little weak in that form. Both the cards in the official expansions which have the "conquer" power are one-offs, but I haven't found it overpowered as a repeatable one. It provides you with some flexibility, but generally there are better high-VP military targets in the late game anyway.

Rebel Spy Network
Cost: 3 VPs: 2
I: draw 1 for each Rebel world
III: may pay to settle Rebel military worlds (cost = defense-2)
draw 1 after settling a Rebel world

The Explore power is one I've had floating around for a long time, and the bonus can grow fairly big. It's pretty straightforward, but still unique.

I like the combination of a discount and a rebate on the same card (I think Matt Kearse's custom expansion has a similar card). It's pretty strong but also fairly specialised. I'm still not sure if -2 is too much or whether it would be more fairly costed with a -1 discount.

Uplift Treaty
Cost: 2, VPs: 1
III: Genes cost -2, Genes military +2

A very straightforward card, but I wanted a Genes strategy helper that was (a) pretty cheap and (b) not itself a world.
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scwont wrote:
Voxen wrote:
I am skeptical of PGS except as an endgame windfall VP drop (e.g., T Guild).
Yeah that's probably true, but I think it's fine to have a few 6-devs like that. Its IV power is probably quite situational (intentionally so - contrast with Galactic Power Brokers which has a similar power but also a built-in way of fueling it), but my aim is that it'll be cool when you occasionally find the right situation to let loose with it.

Two cards in my first expansion have the same power, and I can tell you that it is occasionally very fun to have. As long as you have a VP pool to work with you're set. Effectively you can sell one good for 4 cards when you Consume x2.

I like Applied Alien Technology! Sounds like a nice benefit to have in occasion. Hopefully your expansion adds a few more alien military worlds to make sure the phase III gets used.

Currency Markets is interesting. A simple way to get a few VPs over the course of a game. Could be many.

Deep Space Probe: Nice little bonus, I like cheap mix-and-match too.

Federation Process Engineers: seems really nice, and the search every time could bog down play, but regardless I'd love to try it out.

Galactic Trade Expos seems kind of sick. Like, Second turn produce/consume engine starter. But also cool.

Imperium Battle Cruiser has the same power as Imperium Rule in my first expansion. I was planning on using it again someday on a cheaper development. Coupled with +3 military, the cost seems reasonable.

Rebel Spy Network works for me.

Uplift Treaty: have you tried this costed at 1? The dual benefit is nice enough to warrant 2, but this is definitely an early game placement.
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Voxen wrote:
Galactic Trade Expos seems kind of sick. Like, Second turn produce/consume engine starter. But also cool.

Ingenious idea for a card! At first it looks incredibly strong, but i guess i'd have to see it in action. It would mostly be used on blue goods, and it doesn't seem overly strong there, just a mini-Consumer Markets. The colors balance themselves. Also easy to compare to Mining Conglomerate, which makes it look quite balanced heh. It would be sick with Applied ALIEN Technology, as intimated.

IMPERIUM Battle Cruiser
My gut feeling is that the conversion power would be too strong. The key to military is finding those high cost free worlds. If every world in the deck can be played, it would change the dynamics of military and tempo quite a bit. Mainly that all the big yellow civilians are now just as good as any big military world. Basically it might make military too easy/powerful.


Man, these cards are making me drool. Makes me want to play people's custom expansions on AI so bad! *Turns on the borgemik signal*. I may just start doing it myself some day, i am a former programmer and could muddle through it. Would be nice to have a "custom" RFTG server somewhere. The time from idea to implementation is massively cut, compared to making and releasing real card sets. And you can get much more playtesting data, more quickly.

Seeing these ideas at least makes me realize that the longevity of the RftG system is infinite. :D What's also nice is that cards don't need to be perfectly balanced and playtested anyway. As long as it's a good idea it will add interestingness. If it's overpowered, it's not that big a deal, there are OP and underpowered cards in the actual game.
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RFTG Infinity
For a while I have been considering the culmination of electronic play in RFTG: deck randomization. Imagine a version with 10,000 different cards (procedurally generated, Diablo loot-style), but before every game the computer picks a roughly balanced set of 100 or so to play with!

One of the big complaints about RFTG (also, to fans, one of its biggest strengths) involves learning the deck to better inform your strategy. Using a randomized card set EVERY TIME means every play would be all about exploring new cards and power combos. Every player ould be on equal ground, and the deck could cycle faster.

It could be really, really cool. You might come across a must-play card (the randomized equivalent of PGA, perhaps), but will you realize it and get it into play? Or will you just discard it, (maybe to never see it again, ever)?

I have been meaning to start a thread or blog post about it someday, or really, try to bring it up with Tom Lehmann if I ever run into him at a con. But I really like the idea of it. Maybe for RFTG: The sequel.

---

Just repeating myself earlier that there's a lot of great stuff here so far; inventive, but non-over-specialized in a way I can get behind.

entranced wrote:
IMPERIUM Battle Cruiser
My gut feeling is that the conversion power would be too strong. The key to military is finding those high cost free worlds. If every world in the deck can be played, it would change the dynamics of military and tempo quite a bit. Mainly that all the big yellow civilians are now just as good as any big military world. Basically it might make military too easy/powerful.

In my experience, with this power on a 6-cost, it wasn't. Coupled with +3 Military it might be a little stronger, but like I said above, it's not as ridiculous as it sounds.
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Voxen wrote:
For a while I have been considering the culmination of electronic play in RFTG: deck randomization. Imagine a version with 10,000 different cards (procedurally generated, Diablo loot-style), but before every game the computer picks a roughly balanced set of 100 or so to play with!

Wow, fascinating idea! Adapting to what you draw is a cornerstone of race, and this would take it to the maximum level.

It wouldn't even be that hard to do. As a first try just give every power that currently exists a point value depending on if it's on a dev or world. Then randomize all existing powers and create random cards.
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Examine the start worlds and they kind of fit a pattern: +1 military or +1 explore is one point, +2 explore is 2 points, +2 military is three. Imperium warlord gets a 1 VP bonus because its powers don't quite cost 3 points, etc. Of course, that's pretty rough and play testing went into all of their final designs. But it'd be somewhere to start.

Also it opens up lots of ideas based on current cards. For example there could be a novelty windfall with +2 military that gets -2 military of you have an uplift card in your tableau, weird stuff like that.

Edit to add: but any discussion about such a system belongs in a different thread.
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I've thought for a while that Race should be organized into clusters of 8 or 16 cards and then a selection of these should be shuffled together before each game, in a similar way to how a game of Dominion is set up. The differences here are that the selected groups are all shuffled together to make the deck for that game, and that each cluster will be made up of different cards.

One of the things we noticed from draft games of Race was that the proportion of 6-devs in your deck was vitally important. Balance is important in other respects too: for example, if you only put military worlds in one cluster, it could overpower that one strategy. However, I think some focus in each cluster is appropriate.

The reason I said 8 or 16 cards is that the ratio of 6-devs to other cards is approximately 1/8, so that way a balanced cluster could contains one or two 6-devs, based on its size. It would also contain a number of devs, civilian words, and military worlds. These could be thematically linked, such as by a keyword or for interesting rules interactions. Of course, developments of cost under 6 would have two copies.
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And here, I thought just learning the base game blew my mind......
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Voxen wrote:
scwont wrote:
Voxen wrote:
I am skeptical of PGS except as an endgame windfall VP drop (e.g., T Guild).
Yeah that's probably true, but I think it's fine to have a few 6-devs like that. Its IV power is probably quite situational (intentionally so - contrast with Galactic Power Brokers which has a similar power but also a built-in way of fueling it), but my aim is that it'll be cool when you occasionally find the right situation to let loose with it.

Two cards in my first expansion have the same power, and I can tell you that it is occasionally very fun to have. As long as you have a VP pool to work with you're set. Effectively you can sell one good for 4 cards when you Consume x2.
Good point, and it also rewards you for playing with Gambling World/Outlaw World/BMTW, all of which can generate even more cards in phase IV. I just realised that ties in well with the general boost to Deficit Spending/Commerce Guild-type strategies that I was hoping for.

Voxen wrote:
Uplift Treaty: have you tried this costed at 1? The dual benefit is nice enough to warrant 2, but this is definitely an early game placement.
1 seems a little too cheap to me, and since it's a development you can easily play it for 1 (or 0). Still, it didn't feel overpowered at 2, so it could be worth testing at 1 to really push Genes.

entranced wrote:
Voxen wrote:
Galactic Trade Expos seems kind of sick. Like, Second turn produce/consume engine starter. But also cool.

Ingenious idea for a card! At first it looks incredibly strong, but i guess i'd have to see it in action. It would mostly be used on blue goods, and it doesn't seem overly strong there, just a mini-Consumer Markets. The colors balance themselves. Also easy to compare to Mining Conglomerate, which makes it look quite balanced heh. It would be sick with Applied ALIEN Technology, as intimated.
Yeah, cost and balance-wise I was comparing it to cards like Diversified Economy, Consumer Markets and Mining Conglomerate. The difference of course is that GTE gives you the VPs and cards in one phase, which is obviously an advantage, even though you're usually alternating IV/V with those other cards anyway.

It should probably just be 1 VP + X cards, and in fact it probably was like that originally. I can't remember the exact history, but I think I may have had a glut of 3-cost devs at one point and I chose this one to bump up to 4, giving it a slight boost.

It was really intended to be more about the card draw than the VPs, and I also wanted it to nudge you towards getting the benefit from Genes and Alien worlds. As you noted though Serge, in practice it'd actually get used for Novelty or Rare more often, as it's much easier to assemble a pair of those cheaply.
 
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Rainstar wrote:
I've thought for a while that Race should be organized into clusters of 8 or 16 cards and then a selection of these should be shuffled together before each game, in a similar way to how a game of Dominion is set up. The differences here are that the selected groups are all shuffled together to make the deck for that game, and that each cluster will be made up of different cards.

One of the things we noticed from draft games of Race was that the proportion of 6-devs in your deck was vitally important. Balance is important in other respects too: for example, if you only put military worlds in one cluster, it could overpower that one strategy. However, I think some focus in each cluster is appropriate.

The reason I said 8 or 16 cards is that the ratio of 6-devs to other cards is approximately 1/8, so that way a balanced cluster could contains one or two 6-devs, based on its size. It would also contain a number of devs, civilian words, and military worlds. These could be thematically linked, such as by a keyword or for interesting rules interactions. Of course, developments of cost under 6 would have two copies.
Very interesting idea - it's a similar concept to the "objective set" deck-building in Star Wars: The Card Game.

It would also let you do things like group Prestige-related/takeover-related/Voxen's "peaceful" cards together in the same cluster, so that you might not always get those mechanics in the deck, but they'd be proportionally well-represented if they were there. (With Prestige you might want extra rules so that if you had any Prestige clusters at all, you'd need a minimum of 2 or 3 - similar to how you usually want more than 1 Potion-related cards in Dominion, if there are any.)
 
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entranced wrote:
Would be nice to have a "custom" RFTG server somewhere. The time from idea to implementation is massively cut, compared to making and releasing real card sets. And you can get much more playtesting data, more quickly.
Those were exactly my thoughts when I started implementing my custom cards in the AI app. I was hoping a better/faster programmer might get enthused and take up something like this when I posted about my attempts, but it never happened...

entranced wrote:
Seeing these ideas at least makes me realize that the longevity of the RftG system is infinite. What's also nice is that cards don't need to be perfectly balanced and playtested anyway. As long as it's a good idea it will add interestingness. If it's overpowered, it's not that big a deal, there are OP and underpowered cards in the actual game.
Again, couldn't agree more.
 
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Any plans to put your set in images at some point?
Would be so nice ;-)

Cheers,
Loic
 
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pompom2309 wrote:
Any plans to put your set in images at some point?
Would be so nice ;-)

Cheers,
Loic

It would be nice to see the rest of cards too.
Or did I miss anything?
 
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I count 23 ;-P
 
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pompom2309 wrote:
I count 23 ;-P

If you count two copies of statndard development it's 31. So probably there is 24 more worlds.
 
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rafal100 wrote:
"pompom2309" wrote:
Any plans to put your set in images at some point?
Would be so nice ;-)

Cheers,
Loic

It would be nice to see the rest of cards too.
Or did I miss anything?
You haven't missed anything...I've had a busy month and haven't had a chance to add the remaining cards (i.e. the worlds). I'm hoping to post them pretty soon since it's now the holidays. The 55 card total includes 2x each non-6 dev (i.e. there are less than 55 unique cards.)

I do intend to put up images at some point, but it's extremely time-consuming.
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So. How's the expansion going?
 
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Suffering from lack of motivation when it comes to RftG at the moment, unfortunately. The Alien Artifacts spoilers from Essen rekindled the spark, but it's died out again since and I've been focusing my time on other games.

Obviously I have the rest of the cards designed, I just need to write up the descriptions etc.
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