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Terra Prime revisited, some questions

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sedjtroll
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I played TP last night, and it went well. Current files for the game can be found here. There are a few issues I'd like to iron out though. Let me know your thoughts on the following:

1. Game End Trigger. Currently I have it like Ticket to Ride, where the game end is triggered, then each player gets 1 final turn. The player triggering the ednd gets the final turn. I think this might have been to incentivize actually ending the game. It was pointed out that if you're winning, you might WANT to end the game, and incentivizing it only rewards the winner more. I'm considering a switch to Hansa style game end, where once triggered you simply finish out the round (Railroad Tycoon is sorta like this too, though it gives one more full round)

2. Asteroid fields occur in some sectors. They act as a hindrence, when you fly by you have to roll to see if you get hurt (crash into asteroids I guess). Originally, once a player put a Mine (colony) on an Asteroid field, that player could roll fewer dice. Later I clarified by saying that once a player had a colony in the same sector as the Asteroid field (even if not on the Asteroid field itself) they get the benefit. And now I'm thinking that once ANYBODY colonizes a sector, all Asteroid fields in it are 'tamed' - completely, not just by 1 level (i.e. no roll vs roll fewer dice). This was mostly because once there are markers on the space, it was easy to forget to roll for asteroids or notice they're there.

3. Scoring Mines. Currently a colony scores as follows: 2 VP per planet plus 1 VP per sector back to Terra Prime. Asteroids don't count. Currently, if you put a mine on a lone asteroid (no planets in the sector), it's worth 0 points. I'm thinking it should be worth 0 + distance back to TP, for uniformity of rules as well as to help incentivize (or at least not dis-incentivize) putting up a Mine.

4. The main scoring in the game comes in 3 ways - Colonizing planets (which takes exploration and trips back and forth to TP), Killing Aliens, which requires exploration, and hoarding money, which required delivering lots of goods and not spending too much on ship upgrades. Currently the game has a good feeling that money is tight at the beginning, but as soon as people start delivering goods, they have a handful of money and can afford pretty much whatever they want. However, overspending will hurt them because money translates directly to VP at the end of the game. The intention was that players should want to stop spending and start saving at a certain point, so as not to penalize their score. However I think it might be better to find a way to keep money tight the whole game...

... The way you currently get money is by delivering goods, and the amount you get is dependant on the Supply/Demand tracks. Would it be good to seperate money from VPs? Maybe award VPs the way I currently award money, and award a static money reward for delivering (like $1 for Green or Blue goods, $2 for Yellow,and $3 for Red)? This way someone not worried about 'shipping' a lot of goods can just get whatever for income, and someone who's persuing a 'shipping strategy' could be more careful WHAT they deliver - either way everyone gets the same cash reward..?

... Another idea would be to do like Princes of Florence, allow the purchase of VPs at the time of the cash reward, and then cash leftover is worthless at the end. Maybe easiest, let the players decide ow tight their money will be. This might make it too easy to be money rich though :/

5. Regarding production - the rule is that at the beginning of your turn, all your colonies produce a good. So you refill all the colonies who's good has been taken. In practice, it's a little bit annoying to do that, and it gets missed a lot - though it's easy to fix. Would it be worth it to simply not put the goods on the baord, and just say 1 good is always available at each Colony, once per visit? Or does this make it too easy to get goods, or lots of goods? It's not a whole lot different really, except the way it is now I can stop you from picking up a good by picking it up myself (in some instances), which is sorta cool, but maybe not necessary.

Oh, and one thing in general, I like to encouage using other player's planets (picking up their goods, buying upgrades from them), not discourage it. So keep that in mind while commenting, especially on point number 4, if you can deliever whatever you want for cash, then why go to anyone else's colony? Also, does that diminish the cool economic supply/demand model I have going?

Discord
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Re: Terra Prime revisited, some questions

sedjtroll wrote:

2. Asteroid fields occur in some sectors. They act as a hindrence, when you fly by you have to roll to see if you get hurt (crash into asteroids I guess). Originally, once a player put a Mine (colony) on an Asteroid field, that player could roll fewer dice. Later I clarified by saying that once a player had a colony in the same sector as the Asteroid field (even if not on the Asteroid field itself) they get the benefit. And now I'm thinking that once ANYBODY colonizes a sector, all Asteroid fields in it are 'tamed' - completely, not just by 1 level (i.e. no roll vs roll fewer dice). This was mostly because once there are markers on the space, it was easy to forget to roll for asteroids or notice they're there.

This makes sense thematically also...any colony in the sector quite likely provides something akin to an Air Traffic Controller, though likely in the form of guidance systems, docking autopilots, etc.

sedjtroll
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Re: Terra Prime revisited, some questions

Discord wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
I'm thinking that once ANYBODY colonizes a sector, all Asteroid fields in it are 'tamed' - completely, not just by 1 level (i.e. no roll vs roll fewer dice). This was mostly because once there are markers on the space, it was easy to forget to roll for asteroids or notice they're there.

This makes sense thematically also...any colony in the sector quite likely provides something akin to an Air Traffic Controller, though likely in the form of guidance systems, docking autopilots, etc.
Yeah, I kinda had that thought as well, which made it easier to make that change. I believe that one is quickly becoming a firm rule, rather than just a thought.

Discord
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Re: Terra Prime revisited, some questions

sedjtroll wrote:
Oh, and one thing in general, I like to encouage using other player's planets (picking up their goods, buying upgrades from them), not discourage it. So keep that in mind while commenting, especially on point number 4, if you can deliever whatever you want for cash, then why go to anyone else's colony? Also, does that diminish the cool economic supply/demand model I have going?

Just one thought...What if players have their own distinct goods? So each player has their own color "goods" tokens. You then trade these to other players in return for money, the amount possibly determined by how many they already have. $3 for none, $2 for one, $1 for more, etc.

This money comes FROM the player...so someone who spends all their money on tech/whatever can't buy others goods. End of game, you might get a VP for each goods you possess EXCEPT for your own...so it pays to both supply($) AND demand(VP).

sedjtroll
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Re: Terra Prime revisited, some questions

Discord wrote:
Just one thought...What if players have their own distinct goods? So each player has their own color "goods" tokens. You then trade these to other players in return for money, the amount possibly determined by how many they already have. $3 for none, $2 for one, $1 for more, etc.

This money comes FROM the player...so someone who spends all their money on tech/whatever can't buy others goods. End of game, you might get a VP for each goods you possess EXCEPT for your own...so it pays to both supply($) AND demand(VP).
That is a really neat sounding mechanic, but in this case I've already got a really great econom,ic model (which I've not described here) which I really like. It's sorta like the Resources in POwer Grid, if you've played that, but the other way. As you send back goods to Earth, they become worth less and less. Then overt ime Earth uses them up and they become worth more and more.

sedjtroll
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Terra Prime Playtesting at KublaCon and beyond...

Big breakthroughs for Terra Prime! I got to play it 3 times at KublaCon this weekend, and once more when I got off the plane in Phoenix.

Test game #1, with Peter Drayton and Marcus [somebody], and myself.
This three player game went pretty well. I'm afraid I don't recall any details, but the main problem I was hoping to address was the lack of tension due to abundant cash. At the beginning, cash is tight, and the tension is high. Soon though you can deliver a couple cubes, and suddenly your cash flow is no problem at all and you can afford anything you want.

Test game #2, With Rick Holzgrafe, Chris Holzgrafe, James Earnest (who was replaced by Nat's friend Daniel), and myself.
This 4 player game took a lot longer than it should have, but then again we had to do the rules twice. We used 2 variant rules I'd been meaning to try:
1. Princes of Florence style VP/Income. When you deliver goods you get
money, and at that time you can choose to trade some of that money
for VPs. At the end of the game, leftover money is worthless.
2. Sabotage as an action. In order to accomplish a few things (Player
interaction, the possibility to slow down a player making a delivery), I
added a rule that you could shoot at each other's ship, and if you hit,
they lose resources (not Modules). If they have no resources, they lose
1 VP per hit. Actually, this game I might not have had the VP thing in
there, just resources.
This game was a little interesting in that the new rules were added, but at no time did anyone use the Sabotage option. Most of the time people opted for money over VPs when delivering goods as well, so the tension of having tight cash still evaporated fairly quickly. I have since made another change (which I will talk about later) which might help that even more. On the up side, it is a little interesting when you start to think "gee, I think I can start banking some of this money now... so how much do I need?"

In that game I ended up arming myself with weapons and shields and upgrading the weapons a couple times so I could roll an extra die. I believe I polayed the entire game with only 2 thrusters, never upgrading to go beyond that, to see if I could stay competetive - because most players go for maximum thrusters on account of more thrusters = more actions. If I remember correctly, Daniel won a very close game, in large part because a single Alien in the Yellow zone wrecked me turn after turn, dodging all my shots and knocking off module after module on my ship. Eventually I had to limp away with no guns and no shields left. I think we computed that the chance of all that happening was under 2% :/

Test game #2, With Rick Holzgrafe, Nat Holzgrafe, Chris Holzgrafe, and myself.
This game we had a better idea of what to do, and there are several pictures of it on BGG now thanks to Rick and his digital camera. Rick continued in his tradition of getting a bad start, but eventually upgraded and bought some thrusters for more actions and started formulating a plan. I may be misremembering, but I think it was Chris who seemed to be executing a plan from the start, exploring, colonizing, and delivering goods as if on purpose. I think I won that game, which was close until a last minute delivery of 2 red resources netted me 14 points for those alone.

This emphasized to me that there is a bit of a problem with the way the delivery and/or rewards for it are working. I think my new change addresses that somewhat, though it doesn't fix the lack of tight cash in the game.

New changes and test game #4:
In an effort to limit the delivery of goods for big money/points, I had an interesting idea on the plane. What if the cargo holds were color specific? Then you couldn't sit at a planet and pick-up 2 valuable resources and then go deliver them together. This was one of the things that was making money so abundant, anyone could easily deliver 2 green cubes for $8 and be set for quite some time. Then when Yellow shows up, there's a quick $10 for anyone as well.

As I considered this color-specific Cargo hold idea, I realized it might do some other neat things to the game: you can't hold 2 Blue, so you might go visit someone else's greewn planet to get some early income (or vice versa). Also, if you want to persue a particular upgrade route, you have to be carful which cargo hold you buy. Here are the cargo holds I ended up with:
Start with Green/Blue
Available for purchase:
Yellow/Green x2
Yellow/Blue x2
Red/Green x2
Red/Blue x2
Yellow/Yellow x1

So for example, if you want to persue a strategy where your late game will involve deliveing Red, you have a few options...
1. Find a Yellow planet, buy a Yellow/X hold and bring back a yellow cube to upgrade your holds, then another to buy a cargo shuttle (which can hold 3 of any cube), then find a Red planet and load up on red for 7 VP a pop. It might take a while to get all those upgrades though.
2. Buy a R/X Hold and find a red planet to deliver 1 Red at a time. This might work better if you fill up in thrusters and shields and use the scanner to avoid aliens.
3. Get a Yellow/X hold and use it to bring back enough yellow to upgrade to the new upgrade: Interchangable Cargo Holds (which lets you ignore the color restrictions on holds), then go collect Red for big point deliveries.

Similar routes could be followed for other strategies, such as Hunting Aliens, making big colonies.

We used these new Cargo holds in Playtest #4, which happened after I got off the plane with my frends from Phoenix: Chris and Becky. Becky got off to a slow staret because she had not played befopre, but by the end she was clearly making moves toward a particular (delivery) strategy, and she was doing a very good job of it. I did some colonizing and alien hunting, and Chris, who was very far behind due to reckless exploration, decided to Sabotage me as much as possible (which was a lot). He probably stole about 15 points from me, and I won by a single point over Becky. But I contend that had Becky known what she could do from the outset, she easily could have gotten one more big delivery or 1 more big colony, and the scores would have been very close even without the Sabotage.

I played a game last night with the new rules, and I managed to win by a good 40 points, but there was a double-alien guarding a 12 oint colony which an opponent with 2 guns (rolling 2 dice) spent quite a few actions trying to colonize, and failing. I swept in at the end and offered 3 goods to the aliens (rolling 3 dice) and defeated them so I could colonize. Statistically, I thought the opponent should have been able to beat the Aliens by then, which would have meant he would have gotten those 18 points instead of me, making the game MUCH closer. In this game, defeating aliens is not an easy task!

I'm pretty excited about how this game is turning out, my biggest concern at this point is the money thing I keep mentioning, But maybe the Princes of Florence mechanic will be "good enough" - though I'm not a huge fan of it.

Xaqery
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Terra Prime revisited, some questions

I like these ideas Seth. It does sound like a break through. Well done.

Did Rick have any ideas or critiques? I often find them interesting here.

Are you going to gencon? I could play the game there.

- Dwight

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Terra Prime revisited, some questions

Xaqery wrote:
Did Rick have any ideas or critiques?

sedjtroll wrote:
Rick continued in his tradition of getting a bad start

Seth's comment should clue you in, Dwight, that my comments are not necessarily worth much. :) I did not perform well in these games!

Nevertheless I have a suggestion. I like the recent notion of restricting the colors of the cargo holds, that's good. But if money is still too readily available, and if players are reluctant to turn money into VPs, then perhaps the rarer cargo types (red at least) should simply produce VPs rather than money. Or maybe a combination of VPs and money. But you want red deliveries to count as "big bombs" for scoring, and you want to keep money tight. The way to do that is to hand out lots of VPs rather than lots of cash.

Thematically you could say that the red cargo is more prestigious than the other kinds, because it is harder to get, and so is more impressive to your Corporation bosses.

You might also split the difference by awarding a larger monetary bonus (as a "company incentive award") to the first player to deliver red, independently of the market mechanism. That should create some tension among players to get out there and take chances.

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