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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

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Xaqery
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Hello –

I have been given the green light to put up our game: Space Pirates Tycoon in an effort to solicit help from you nice folk.

Here is the short history of this game.

For a long while I was trying to design a PC or platform game. My colleague Mark Galvez and I would discuss it over meals. Sometimes he would tell me that what we were designing should be a board game. Eventually he talked me into it.

We laid out the board and the general mechanics. Then we started mocking it up. The rules changed faster than I could keep an up to date doc file.

Recently we started play testing the game. We have only played with the buying, selling, moving, and combat mechanics.

I am requesting general critiquing and help with the current area of perplexing. This area is combat resolution. I like the combat squares. They seem to work well. The problem is what happens once you know who won the round. I wish I had a slick way to get to the next round and or out of combat. It is in part modeled after Risk where the aggressor can continue his attacks as long as he wants.

I have always liked train games and space themed games. In a lot of ways this is just a train game where the trains have guns, although combat doesn’t come into play much. It is more of a cold war. If your neighbor has built up then you should too.

Oh and it is our first serious attempt at designing a board game.

Thanks for your time.

- Dwight

[Edit - Bryk: Changed title to include designer's name]

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Re: GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon

Xaqery wrote:
I like the combat squares. They seem to work well. The problem is what happens once you know who won the round. I wish I had a slick way to get to the next round and or out of combat. It is in part modeled after Risk where the aggressor can continue his attacks as long as he wants.

Hi, Xaqery! Your game looks very interesting, and it's clear you've put a lot of time, effort and thought into it. I've read the rules briefly, paying the most attention to "Phase Three" where movement and combat happen. But I'm unsure about a couple of things.

When you say "the next round" in your post above, what do you mean? Is it one "round" when all the players have completed all four phases? If so, why is there a problem about moving on to the next round? When all players have completed Phase 4, go back to Phase 1 (or Phase 2 if there's no Duke, I guess) and just keep going. This seems so obvious that I'm sure I've misunderstood your question. :)

Perhaps by "round" you mean a "round of combat", where each combatant chooses one of their combat squares and they total up their combat values and compare them. If I've understood your rules correctly, the player with the lower total must accept a penalty: loss of one ship, or surrending one cargo to his opponent, or surrendering three cargos to his opponent. Then (I think) the active player can choose to keep attacking (another round of combat occurs) or decide to stop (his turn is over for phase 3).

Your rules don't seem to say who gets to choose the penalty. But (if I've understood correctly) the active player can end combat just by deciding that his turn is over, while the defending player can end combat any time he loses a round, by paying the attacker three cargo instead of just one (if he has that many available to pay, anyway). Is that right?

If I have all that right, it seems as though combat will continue until one of the contending fleets is destroyed, or until the active player calls it off by choosing not to renew the attack, or until the defender buys off the attacker with three cargo. Completely destroying a fleet might take a while, since in each exchange the loser loses only 1 cargo or 1 ship. But in each round, somebody loses something; there are no combat rounds that are standoffs where nobody gets damaged.

So every battle will eventually end, even if it takes a while; and there's no confusion about exactly when and how it ends. So I guess I don't understand exactly what question you're asking. What's worrying you about your current combat rules?

Cool game, I'll be interested to watch it develop!

Xaqery
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Re: GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon

Thanks for your kind words Rick.

Rick-Holzgrafe wrote:

Perhaps by "round" you mean a "round of combat", where each combatant chooses one of their combat squares and they total up their combat values and compare them. If I've understood your rules correctly, the player with the lower total must accept a penalty: loss of one ship, or surrending one cargo to his opponent, or surrendering three cargos to his opponent. Then (I think) the active player can choose to keep attacking (another round of combat occurs) or decide to stop (his turn is over for phase 3).

Your rules don't seem to say who gets to choose the penalty. But (if I've understood correctly) the active player can end combat just by deciding that his turn is over, while the defending player can end combat any time he loses a round, by paying the attacker three cargo instead of just one (if he has that many available to pay, anyway). Is that right?

If I have all that right, it seems as though combat will continue until one of the contending fleets is destroyed, or until the active player calls it off by choosing not to renew the attack, or until the defender buys off the attacker with three cargo. Completely destroying a fleet might take a while, since in each exchange the loser loses only 1 cargo or 1 ship. But in each round, somebody loses something; there are no combat rounds that are standoffs where nobody gets damaged.

So every battle will eventually end, even if it takes a while; and there's no confusion about exactly when and how it ends. So I guess I don't understand exactly what question you're asking. What's worrying you about your current combat rules?

You have everything correct. I did mean a "round" of combat. What I like is the player that is currently moving can choose whether or not to attack and can bounce around his attacks as he sees fit or end them. Then I also like the actual round of combat. It is fairly straight forward. You draw a random square and add in your fleets combat #s and the lowest total looses.

From here it is just ok. I wish it was cleaner. For example: the looser can give 3 cargo to end it but if the looser is the aggressor he only has to give one and then just end it. Also like you said if the fleets combat bonuses are close combat can go on and on with the players just trading the same one cargo back and forth.

I am leaning toward, right this second, making the rule that there is only one round of combat. And maybe the how much you lost by factor in to how much cargo you loose.

Thanks for your help Rick I look forward to more spring boarding and critiquing

- Dwight

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Re: GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon

Xaqery wrote:
the looser can give 3 cargo to end it but if the looser is the aggressor he only has to give one and then just end it.

That doesn't bother me. It seems reasonable: the defender can buy off the aggressor, like bribing a bully to leave you alone.

Xaqery wrote:
Also like you said if the fleets combat bonuses are close combat can go on and on with the players just trading the same one cargo back and forth.

Argh, I missed that - of course, combat might go on endlessly if players keep trading cargo! You're right, that's a flaw; stubborn players could hold the rest of the game up for a long time by trading cargo.

Here's a suggestion: Each player now has a set of five combat squares, from which one is selected at random in each combat round. I presume you get to choose from your full set of five combat squares in every round. What if you had to discard the selected combat square after each round of battle, so that your set keeps getting smaller? Then add a rule that you can no longer continue combat when either side has only one combat square left: that is, after four rounds. That puts a limit on the total length of a battle, and preserves the characteristic that each round of battle has a random component. Once the active player's turn is over, everybody gets all their combat squares back for use the next time.

This scheme would change the comparative combat strengths of the players. For example, if Drake battled IPS and in the first round Drake drew a 4 while IPS drew a 3, Drake would win that round. But then the players would discard those two squares, and have identical sets of remaining combat squares, and therefore have equal chances for the remainder of the battle. But with the current rules, Drake will always have a better chance than IPS in any round of combat. So if you adopt this suggestion, you might want to change everybody's combat cards to preserve their current relative combat strengths.

jwarrend
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Dwight,

For a first game, I think you've done a very nice job. The game has some fun ideas and has some good things going for it.

The rulebook itself is well organized and well written, but I still hate the script font. I think the backstory is ok, but it doesn't appear to influence the game too much; I think there's much more opportunity to create some mechanics based on the story you've created, but it would also involve more rules so perhaps better to wait on that for now. As it stands now, I think even the advanced version, which just adds some bad guys that you must avoid, isn't terribly inspired. Perhaps if conquering those ships gave you some VP, a la Pirate's Cove, it might be more interesting (but it would also be more derivative).

I like the way that the cards at the space ports show the buy/sell prices, I think that trying to discover optimal trade routes would be a fun aspect of the game. I do worry, though, that once you've found an optimized route, you can just follow it and avoid 90% of the board, AND that all players will be working on the same routes. It's possible that there may be enough variety in the resource types that this won't happen, though.

I think the combat mechanic sounds fine; a nice blend between trying to assemble a strong fleet but also adding a bit of uncertainty to the mix.

The one concern I did have was with the profit points. If I read the rules right, these are obtained simply by trading goods in and receiving no cash. If this is the case, can one not simply trade them in at the same port they were bought at? Even if you forbid this, it will just mean that players will ship to the nearest port. My feeling is that this aspect of the game isn't terribly well thought out yet.

Overall, good job. You might look at the old game "Merchant of Venus" which has some similarities. Good luck with the development of the game!

-Jeff

Stainer
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

I'm not sure where to find the rules for your game. Are they on the website here, somewhere? Or do you e-mail them to people?

Thanks!

Rob

Nestalawe
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Re: GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon

Xaqery wrote:
I have been given the green light to put up our game: Space Pirates Tycoon in an effort to solicit help from you nice folk.

Stainer - the rules are up there under the 'Space Pirates Tycoon' link!

Stainer
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

My my my, how silly of me!!

Thanks,

Rob

Xaqery
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Re: GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon

Rick -

Rick-Holzgrafe wrote:

Here's a suggestion: Each player now has a set of five combat squares, from which one is selected at random in each combat round. I presume you get to choose from your full set of five combat squares in every round. What if you had to discard the selected combat square after each round of battle, so that your set keeps getting smaller? Then add a rule that you can no longer continue combat when either side has only one combat square left: that is, after four rounds. That puts a limit on the total length of a battle, and preserves the characteristic that each round of battle has a random component. Once the active player's turn is over, everybody gets all their combat squares back for use the next time.

I think you are the right track here. It needs to be some mechanic that through the course of natural events the combat ends and the result is clear.

I plan on play testing your idea and the idea that combat ends after one round and the amount of loss is determined from the difference of combat totals.

Thanks Rick. Please let me know of any other ideas or critiques you might have.

- Dwight

Xaqery
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Jeff -

Thanks for taking the time to read it over.

sorry about the script font. I thought you had a problem with the Italics that the background was written in so I changed the background before posting it here. I now have changed the whole file. I hope it is easier to read.

jwarrend wrote:

I think the back story is ok, but it doesn't appear to influence the game too much; I think there's much more opportunity to create some mechanics based on the story you've created, but it would also involve more rules so perhaps better to wait on that for now. As it stands now, I think even the advanced version, which just adds some bad guys that you must avoid, isn't terribly inspired. Perhaps if conquering those ships gave you some VP, a la Pirate's Cove, it might be more interesting (but it would also be more derivative).

You are right the back story does need to influence the game. The phrase "Advanced SET-UP" was misleading. I have changed it "Complete SET-UP". Absolutely the game needs to have random monkey wrenches thrown into the best laid plans of the players using the elements from the story.

jwarrend wrote:

I like the way that the cards at the space ports show the buy/sell prices, I think that trying to discover optimal trade routes would be a fun aspect of the game. I do worry, though, that once you've found an optimized route, you can just follow it and avoid 90% of the board, AND that all players will be working on the same routes. It's possible that there may be enough variety in the resource types that this won't happen, though.

You are right this is important and it is the part of the game that I am currently working on. I am designing in multiple things to do on turn one for each player which is turning out to be harder than I thought. I want each player to create a plan, then during the course of the game have trouble from different fronts descend upon them.

jwarrend wrote:

The one concern I did have was with the profit points. If I read the rules right, these are obtained simply by trading goods in and receiving no cash. If this is the case, can one not simply trade them in at the same port they were bought at? Even if you forbid this, it will just mean that players will ship to the nearest port. My feeling is that this aspect of the game isn't terribly well thought out yet.

So far its ok to do that. You are turning your money into Profit points. But you are now out of money and the game is about cash flow. I dont really like this but rules to stop it have so far just cluttered the game.

jwarrend wrote:

Overall, good job. You might look at the old game "Merchant of Venus" which has some similarities. Good luck with the development of the game!

Thanks again Jeff, I absolutely appreciate your time and I will look at that game.

- Dwight

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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Quote:
Absolutely the game needs to have random monkey wrenches thrown into the best laid plans of the players using the elements from the story.

I don't know that I'd advocate throwing these elements in as random forces designed to annoy the players; perhaps make them full-blown elements of the game in some way. See below for an idea...

Xaqery wrote:

So far its ok to do that. You are turning your money into Profit points. But you are now out of money and the game is about cash flow.

Insofar as the game is won by accumulating the most profit points, the game is currently about the profit points. I'm usually a proponent of separating a game's resources from its victory criteria, but in this case I feel that you've not done so in an interesting way. It's funny, because the system you're using is very similar to that of Princes of Florence, where, upon completing a work, you either receive money, VPs, or a combo of the two, and I really like the mechanic there. So I can't exactly put on finger on why I don't like this aspect of your game, I just think that winning the game should entail something more thematic than simply making a shipment for VPs rather than money.

Perhaps Pirate's Cove provides a solution. In that game, there's one specific island that you go to to convert cash into VPs, but there's little else you can do there. Perhaps some planets should be "bank" planets, where you go to store your cash, as keeping it on board takes up space/risks loss to other players or pirates/etc.

I'm not advocating this specific solution so much as a solution in this family; as I said, I like keeping resources and VPs separate, I just think you can find a better way to achieve it.

Actually, brain-storm, here's another idea: the two Empires will pay VPs for shipments of resources that they need, but their demand for those resources fluctuates, and there's some sense in which if they suspect that you're playing both sides of the aisle, they will exact some form of punishment on you. Moreover, the payments to the empires are made on their ships, which move around the galaxy according to some AI. Within these ideas might be sufficient grounds for a more interesting involvement of your theme AND a more interesting VP conversion mechanism. I would look to things like this to incorporate your theme, rather than simply adding some event cards that cause various good or bad things to happen.

Good luck,

Jeff

Infernal
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Rick-Holzgrafe wrote:

Quote:
Argh, I missed that - of course, combat might go on endlessly if players keep trading cargo! You're right, that's a flaw; stubborn players could hold the rest of the game up for a long time by trading cargo.

Another solution is that the cargo only gets transported at the end of the combat. So the player's can keep fighting but they will not swap cargo untill the other players either: Buys out of the combat (cost: 3 cargo - in addition to what has been lost already), all ships on one side or the other are destroyed or the attacker pulls out.

You still can keep the "loose one cargo if you lose the combat" rule, but have them put off to one side and the victor takes them, but not untill the combat is completed. This way there is no repeated swaping of cargo and the combat must end.

Gamebot
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

It sounds like an interesting game! I'm curious to see what some of the cards look like just as a reference when going through the rules. You have a picture of a Drake Battle Cruiser and a nice explanation beside it, but it would be better earlier in the rules so I have a better understanding of the the ships stats.

As a reader of the rules, I try to play through the game in my mind at the same time. I found myself a bit confused in the Phase 2 Section. I pretended I was going to buy a ship, but I wasn't sure how much one costed or what was available to me. All of the actions you can perfrom in a turn are listed there, but I feel that they could be clearer. Something like this:

Here are the actions that can be performed:
- Sell a Ship (Then explain how)
- Buy a Ship (Then explain how)
- Move Ships Between Fleets (Then explain how)

If everyone buys ships at the same time, wouldn't it be advantageous to wait to see what other ship players buy/sell first and then buy/sell your stuff. I see that the cargo is turn based, why can't the ship buying be as well?

I assume that I can only buy ships at my home planet space port, and sell my ships at any space port. Is there any generic ship that can be purchased at any port? It would be interesting if each factional port only sold a certain type of factional ship. Example: Port A only sold Drake Industries Fighters. That might make the player mix up his route a bit.

Do you have a picture of your board anywhere? It was hard to tell the layout of the board in your table view picture.

Overall, it looks promising!

Xaqery
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

jwarrend wrote:

Actually, brain-storm, here's another idea: the two Empires will pay VPs for shipments of resources that they need, but their demand for those resources fluctuates, and there's some sense in which if they suspect that you're playing both sides of the aisle, they will exact some form of punishment on you. Moreover, the payments to the empires are made on their ships, which move around the galaxy according to some AI. Within these ideas might be sufficient grounds for a more interesting involvement of your theme AND a more interesting VP conversion mechanism. I would look to things like this to incorporate your theme, rather than simply adding some event cards that cause various good or bad things to happen.

I really like the Do work for me and Ill make it worth your while but if you help him Ill stab you in the back idea you have there. I am trying to do something like that with the mission cards. If you do a mission for one empire they will give you a bonus in your next fights with the other empire. but I see you want to make it much more and more integral to winning the game. I will defiantly keep this in the back of my head as developing continues. Thanks.

- Dwight

Xaqery
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Thanks Infernal for your time in looking at our game.

Infernal wrote:

Another solution is that the cargo only gets transported at the end of the combat. So the player's can keep fighting but they will not swap cargo until the other players either: Buys out of the combat (cost: 3 cargo - in addition to what has been lost already), all ships on one side or the other are destroyed or the attacker pulls out.

You still can keep the "loose one cargo if you lose the combat" rule, but have them put off to one side and the victor takes them, but not until the combat is completed. This way there is no repeated swapping of cargo and the combat must end.

Hmm let me think about this. At the end of combat I have a pile of cargo that now belongs to you and you have one that belongs to me. I used to have 5 water but now I have 4 passengers. In this scenario there would be no clear winner of the fight. Not sure that there has to be. I will think more about it.

- Dwight

jwarrend
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Xaqery wrote:

I really like the Do work for me and Ill make it worth your while but if you help him Ill stab you in the back idea you have there.

Sure thing; if nothing else, it demonstrates a useful design principle: if you're experiencing multiple problems with a game, try to solve them both with a single solution; this reduces the complexity of the game and integrates the mechanics more tightly, a double win.

-Jeff

Xaqery
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Hi Gamebot -

Glad to hear from you. I have updated the web site with more pictures and rearranged it a bit from your suggestions.

Space Pirates Tycoon

Gamebot wrote:

If everyone buys ships at the same time, wouldn't it be advantageous to wait to see what other ship players buy/sell first and then buy/sell your stuff. I see that the cargo is turn based, why can't the ship buying be as well?

I first had it like that. Buying in turn. The reason I changed it was during initial play testing the players had their plans and just wanted to get on with it. So I changed the rule to remove some down time. I might take this rule back to your way.

Quote:

I assume that I can only buy ships at my home planet space port, and sell my ships at any space port. Is there any generic ship that can be purchased at any port? It would be interesting if each factional port only sold a certain type of factional ship. Example: Port A only sold Drake Industries Fighters. That might make the player mix up his route a bit.

Today in the rules any fleet at any port can buy or sell ships. I think its an interesting idea that some ports are the only places to buy certain ship types.

Quote:

Do you have a picture of your board anywhere? It was hard to tell the layout of the board in your table view picture.

I have just added one. Deciding how big to make the board, where the planets should go, and what markets are favored at each planet has been allot of work but is starting to solidify. I didn’t want to make the board symmetrical and yet I wanted each starting position to have more than one thing to do and all are balanced.

The board pictured is actually still going to change some. I think I want one more row and column of hexes per 10" square to make some of the routes longer.

Quote:

Overall, it looks promising!

Thanks!

- Dwight

Infernal
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Quote:
Hmm let me think about this. At the end of combat I have a pile of cargo that now belongs to you and you have one that belongs to me. I used to have 5 water but now I have 4 passengers. In this scenario there would be no clear winner of the fight. Not sure that there has to be. I will think more about it.

Ok. I'll clear it up a bit:
Waht I ment was that the player's decide when to call off the combat (should I keep fighting and risk loosing cargo or ships, or give the three resources to bribe my way out of combat). Also the player has the choice to destroy either an enemy ship or take the cargo (but only the surviver keeps the cargo).

As either player can end the combat (attacker can end it by just calling it off, or the defender can bribe the attacker off) at any time they like it becomes a risk assesment for the player weather to continue combat or not. The winner is the one that can force the other player to surender/flee (not the one who takes the most cargo or destroys the most ships).

I hope that helps you understand my suggestion.

Xaqery
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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

Infernal wrote:

Ok. I'll clear it up a bit:
Waht I ment was that the player's decide when to call off the combat (should I keep fighting and risk loosing cargo or ships, or give the three resources to bribe my way out of combat). Also the player has the choice to destroy either an enemy ship or take the cargo (but only the surviver keeps the cargo).

As either player can end the combat (attacker can end it by just calling it off, or the defender can bribe the attacker off) at any time they like it becomes a risk assesment for the player weather to continue combat or not. The winner is the one that can force the other player to surender/flee (not the one who takes the most cargo or destroys the most ships).

I hope that helps you understand my suggestion.

I think I do understand better now. As combat goes on the spoils are set aside and at the end whomever didnt end the combat gets the spoils. I really like this idea I just have to figure out how to intigrate it into some new ideas I have or maybe just loose the new ideas.

Thanks Infernal

- Dwight

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GAME #73 - Space Pirates Tycoon by Xaqery

The first thing that came to my mind given the cargo-cargo loop was cut out part of the loop! What if the attacker simply wasn't allowed to sacrifice cargo? I don't know how much that discourages attacking, but it does bound the attack rounds by totalships-1 + defendercargo.

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