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Tradewars - Homeworld: Trade starships

I have been *thinking* (obviously consciously and subconsciously) about *Trade starships*. As I post responses to various topics, in the back of my mind, I am thinking about *Trade starships* and how they are not being used much...

So now that we have *forced* players to Trade to obtain enough quickSilver to unlock starships, it is probably time to also look at *Trade starships*. Why? Well it seems players are not very motivated to create them knowing that they can be destroyed by an opponent. Specifically you could trade cards for points (up to a maximum of 15 points per turn) and there is nothing your opponent can do - but try to keep up!

Trade starships are another matter. Firstly I have made it that the opponent CAN attack and destroy them. So if it takes 5 turns to complete a mission worth 35 quickSilver, you better believe that the opponent will attack that starship every chance he gets to deny his opponent that reward.

And so I find those mechanics a little bit *stupid*. Sure it makes sense on paper that if it takes longer you could earn more points, but in practice that is rarely going to happen...!

My latest idea about Trade starships is that they should have a *reward* and that the number of turns is RANDOM. Turns would be decided by a roll of a white dice... Although this removes a bit of the PURE strategy, purist may find the injection of luck less strategic, I think it ADDS a *new* dimension to the game.

Let's look at a example.

Say you have a Trade starship with a Capacity of 5, Resistance of 3 and Firepower 2. The reward for the mission is 10 quickSilver. Now the player rolls the white dice and gets a 1. So it will take 1 turn to earn 10 credits... Pretty GOOD!!!

It could get even better, if the new reward levels are 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25.

So another example would be a Trade starship with a Capacity of 8, Resistance of 5 and Firepower 1. The reward could be 25 quickSilver. Now the player rolls the white dice and gets a 3. Therefore it will take 3 turns to earn 25 credits... That's about 9 credits per turn... Again pretty GOOD!!!

I also believe that Trade starships should also "do their mission" independently of the role chosen. So instead of forcing a player to use the Fleet Admiral or Captain roles, Trade starships accomplish their mission each turn without the need of player intervention.

Most probably a player will NOT attack a Trade starship that produces 5 or 10 points in 5 turns... But there may be the exceptional case where a player stands to earn 25 points for 1 or 2 turns! In such instances the opponent will be COMPELLED to attack the opponent's Trade starship!!!

These are just *early* ideas about Trade starships... I will of course ponder some more on them to see if there is still balance in the game. Luck of the roll can HEAVILY influence an opponent's actions! :P

Comments

Fine tuning

I'm still not 100% certain about the various reward levels.

A revision may required:

10, 20, 30, 40 and 50.

Fifty (50) seems HIGH - but if you roll a six (6), that's about 8.3 points per turn which is *not* excessive! Trade starships with the higher value will most probably be targeted first.

Here is the thing: if you accomplish a high scoring mission, your opponent will want to do the same! This may encourage players to take their chances on configuring Trade starships...

Another aspect

The other point that I have been thinking, is that player's DON'T KNOW how long it will take to *earn* a reward. What they know is the value of the reward... The time taken is determined by a roll of the dice. Again this could lead to some gambling with players take some risks on configuring Trade starships because they want to take a chance they could get a leg up on their opponents.

This type of Risk/Reward mechanic seems to be more interesting than what I originally had (Reward/Turns)...

Note: This change would be *pretty dramatic* and would cause fifteen (15) cards to be *re-designed*. But I need to give Trade starships a more appealing mechanic than Reward/Turns... The risk aspect is cool because it injects a bit of *suspense* as to what will happen. But it would probably require its own version (#10)... So I need to wait for the changes of version #9 and then make the card changes and buy enough to cover four (4) prototypes (so 60 cards!)

Still not sure

The idea/mechanic seems very COOL (Risk/Reward) and it's definitely more interesting than my current mechanic.

I'm just a little bit worried that a 50 qS reward is pretty high to earn like in 2 turns (25 qs/turn). I may tweak the original idea and make it:

10, 15, 20, 25 and 30.

This means that 30 / 6 (highest roll) = 5 qS / turn. It seems LOW but 30 / 2 = 15 qS / turn... is pretty decent.

Also *automatic completion* is another thing that needs to be carefully considered. I want the game to be more compelling yet still balanced.

I feel as though I need to ponder about these changes further... I think the Risk/Reward mechanic is VERY interesting... but I think what will matter most is HOW I use this mechanic in the game!

Note: I think 30 in the top end is more appropriate. Not having playtested it yet - I am not 100% certain... BUT it makes good sense with the *unlocking* in the Tradewars scenario. Specifically what I wanted to avoid is a value higher than 40.

I think 30 is more appropriate because that leaves 10 qS towards victory if a player have 160 qS (Win = 200 qS). So it would not *guarantee* a victory, however it would be CLOSE.

Note 2: I also know that *some* people ENJOY *dice rolling*. The luck involved is not a "turn off". It still would be possible to stop a player from scoring 30 points in 1 turn... But there is the luck factor and if that is what you need to *beat*... You better believe the opponent will try to make 30 points in a turn.

Let's compare the two (2) mechanics:

1. Original Reward/Turns

Basically on the low end, a player scores 3 qS for 1 turn, 8 qS for 2 turns, 15 qS for 3 turns, 24 qS for 4 turns and 35 qS for 5 turns. What this boils down to is that, progressively each next level earns you MORE quickSilver on a *per turn* basis.

But who cares about 3, 4 or even 5 qS per turn. The interesting ones are still not very compelling: 6 and 7 qS per turn... Plus a player needs to WAIT for 4 or 5 turns before earning those values. It makes earning 24 or 35 qS nearly impossible to attempt...

And this is ANOTHER reason why I want to revisit the mechanic behind "Trade starships".

2. Newest Risk/Reward

Players ONLY know the Reward which is 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 qS. When a player configures a starship, he rolls a White dice to determine the number of turns the mission will take... That is the RISK portion. A fantastic roll can put a player that may be behind in the game - ahead!

I really LIKE this *gambling* aspect... It injects new life into "Trade starships". No longer do you have predictable amounts per turn, you have a random factor which could be up to 30 qS for 1 turn!!! Exciting odds, but it's a gamble. You may have 30 qS and roll a 6 which is effectively 5 qS per turn... Nothing great - but still you took a CHANCE.

And earning 5 qS a turn is still good for game *progression* (towards the end-goal objective)...

All or nothing aspect

Another aspect about *missions* (and Trade starships) is the "all-or-nothing" nature of them. Although I have not made any assumptions (of correctness), the present mechanic dictates that players ONLY earn quickSilver when they complete (or accomplish) the mission.

Organically this is how I designed missions.

I still think I like this approach - because any opponent may decide to attack your Trade starships. It would be a little *weird* that you could earn *partial* quickSilver (like on a per-turn basis)...

It's just something else that made me go: "Hmm..."

I think for now I will keep the "all-or-nothing" nature because it seems like the most plausible and realistic way of conducting missions.

Note: This brings up an interesting possibility when designing *new* scenarios for the game (expansions). One clearly could use a mechanic in which *partial* quickSilver could be earned on a per-turn basis...! Very interesting and it could be quite clever...

In between

Obviously when I stated 30 qS for 6 turns boils down to 5 qS per turn, I did not ignore the UGLY side of things...

If you have a mission that earns 10 qS and you roll a 5, that means it is work 2 qS per turn. That's the ugly part of the newer mechanic. It's LESS than the old mechanic which was 3 qS. However the ugly side is made brighter with the positive side which is 30 qS in a few turns.

What this does is ENCOURAGES players to BUY mission cards!!!

This was ANOTHER aspect that bugged me during the last few playtests! Nobody was spending any credits on buying mission upgrades. It was as if those cards were "Taboo"... It really bothered me because even I did not invest in buying those cards. Sadly this was the truth and something needed to be done about it.

So I'm happy with this new concept of Risk/Reward. I think it will change the way the game plays out and will encourage players to use Trade starships during the game.

I'm already scheduling playtesting time for the newest changes in gameplay! :P

Re-design of missions

I am currently in the process of making the design changes for mission cards. I have also taken the opportunity to make *more obvious* the reward for each mission, so that the opponent can properly see the cards in the opponent's space land. I think this aesthetic change will make it easier to determine if the starship should be attacked or not.

As I stated about the *ugly* side of the mechanic, it's very doubtful that an opponent will care to try to destroy a Trade starship earning only 2 qS per turn.

I need to now make the TGC card (with the bleed) so that I may upload them to TGC and purchase these latest changes...

Update: All the editing/uploading/proofing is done. I also purchased version #10 corrections which cost just under $20.00 (including shipping & handling). Not too bad... The GOOD news is that these latest changes are scheduled to be shipped early in February (like my other order for version #9 corrections)... So it should be smooth sailing in a couple of weeks! :)

Note: I hope to be able to playtest ALL the changes in the middle of February!

Order shipped

Well the good news is that the order for starship *unlocking* has been SHIPPED today! Should take maybe 5 to 10 business days before the order arrives. I'm happy to know those changes will be in-place before the next playtesting session...

Now I'm still waiting for the changes for missions (Prototype #10). Those should roughly come a week or two later... It depends on TGCs processing of orders. Currently I am 321 in the queue.

Order delivered

I finally got the order for starship *unlocking* TODAY! Went through all prototypes and changed the cards to version #9... However I have already playtested version #9 just with the rule changes (not the cards) and so there will be no more playtesting until I get the changes for version #10.

I have already scheduled playtesting on the weekend of February 21.

Prototype #10 (Corrections) is "in production" and should be made in the next couple days. Currently I am 90 in the queue.

Prototype #9 corrections delivered

Well today I received all of the remaining outstanding changes for the 9th prototype (or Version #10).

I currently have four (4) prototypes available for playtesting.

I will be using two (2) of these for playtests on the 23 February and expect to recontact the publisher some time next week. Obviously it means that I will have two (2) copies of the game available to be playtested by the publisher...

I'll post some more about "Starship Abilities" in another blog...

Playtest delayed

Our planned playtest on the 23 February has been pushed to the 2 March... One of our playtesters will be travelling to Toronto on the 23 February so we decided that the next weekend would be more appropriate.

I also plan to get in touch with the Publisher that we have submitted our game to. It's been three (3) months since we initially contacted them... Three (3) months is a very reasonable amount of time to review a game and give us some form of response regarding the game.

Is there interest in publishing the game or not? This is our question to them... We hope they will respond with some level of interest!

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blog | by Dr. Radut