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Tradewars - Homeworld: Playtesting (2x)

So as we speak, I am playtesting the one player scenario (The Derelict). So far the dice rolls have been good and by accident I used a 1:1 ratio for buying cards... It's cool and it works. Deck building is quicker and makes for what seems a more *rapid* game.

Not much has been happening (in the single player game), except me launching starships only to have them destroyed by "The Derelict" starship. That's how the game goes... But I already have bought a high enough crew card (5 points) which is enough to STOP The Derelict's attack. I have two (2) of these cards, so soon enough I will be able to defend against The Derelict's 3 Firepower... It will have to rely on it's *Special Ability* which is a +2 Firepower bonus!

I will playtest the 1:1 ratio in a dual setting in the coming weeks. If it works well, I may abandon the other ratios (simply because game play is *smooth* with a 1:1 ratio). Faster pace is what I was looking for and the 1:1 ratio seems to do that. It came naturally when I was buying cards... If it came naturally, it must be because it feels *normal* to do so!

This also means that on some turns, I can buy like two (2) or three (3) cards in ONE turn. This is very FAST...

So far my Homeworld has not been attacked and I have lost zero (0) Life points (out of 18).

I will update this thread when the game is done (win or lose).


So I won!

I lost 3 Life Points (out of 18) which is nothing really (My Homeworld was hit once during the game).

And I resolved another distinction that needs to be made in the game:

  • There should ONLY be two (2) Black dice counters.

Why? Well it is too confusing having multiple abilities being used at the SAME time. Once you use an ability, ALL other starships must wait until that ability depletes.

So in reality that would mean ONE (1) Black dice (counter). But you need one also for "The Derelict"... So two (2) in total. Cutting three (3) Black dice from a game set, should lower the cost to manufacture.

This *minor* change only has an impact in the component's used by the game... It also affects the rulebook and must be correctly documented. I will put those changes in tomorrow.

I like the faster pace of the game using the 1:1 ratio. I almost bought out ALL the cards and had enough cards in my deck to seriously put a dent in "The Derelict". I used three (3) starships to defeat the enemy starship...!

The other point, is that *special abilities* MAY need revising. It's not like they're not cool... It's just that I'm not certain how relevant they really are. I will have to wait until the next DUAL playtest occurs to better determine if *special abilities* should remain part of the game!

The game maybe took about 30 minutes to play (which is okay by most standards). Obviously the longer you play and have MORE cards, the more likely it is you will defeat "The Derelict". Early on, what matters is the *initiative* dice rolls. Success with those can give you more breathing room further in the game. Had I been hit like three (3) times (9 Health points damage)... it would have been a closer game (since I would have lost 12 out of 18 Health points)...

So the game is not too bad... I wouldn't say it's the MOST impressive one-player game. But there could be more tension if the rolls are in the favour of "The Derelict" early on.

The solitaire scenario is a BONUS to dual or vesus gameplay... It's not the selling point of the game. But it does make sense if you BUY a game set, you should be able to do SOMETHING with it...

Note: The game did *frustrate* me a few times: I had enough Firepower to defeat "The Derelict" but the initiative rolls were not in my favour. Maybe something like four or five tries before I could defeat "The Derelict" on its *counter* to an attack.

Trade starships

Another point about the solo game was that there seemed no point in using Trade starships. Trade starships cannot defend a Homeworld, nor can they initiate an attack...

BUT the can *counter* an attack that is initiated by "The Derelict" starship, if the *initiative* dice is in the player's favour! *Interesting*...

So what I am thinking is this:

  • Put out only Trade starships with a Firepower of 3.
  • Two (2) should be sufficient...

What this does is give you 6 Firepower on a *counter* attack. PRETTY GOOD! All you need is a Fighter starship with a Firepower of 3 or higher and you can defeat "The Derelict" starship more rapidly! Maybe less if you have a starship that has a special ability to raise Firepower by +1 or +2, alternatively lower the opponent's Resistance by -1 or -2!

This key difference is that by putting out Fighter starships, it is HARDER to amass an offensive because "The Derelict" will try to gun down the Fighter starships you put in the space lane. BUT Trade starships are not seen as a threat to "The Derelict"... Another way to win the game, that has better odds of success than just sending out multiple Fighter starships!

Obviously there would need to be RULE in the rulebook for "The Derelict" scenario. Something like: "The Derelict starship will not attack Trade starships since they are not seen as being a threat..." Players can use this information to their advantage if they figure out that the Trade starships can offer extra Firepower when defending!!!

This is very cool... Something original.

Note: If a player doesn't use the Fleet Admiral role, the Trade starships will never complete their missions! This is FANTASTIC... All you need is two (2) Trade starships and a Fighter to defeat "The Derelict"... Already I am searching for other ways to play/win! Haha.

Note 2: I checked to see the *default* mission cards that are part of the deck. It turns out to be a 1 Firepower and 2 Firepower, no 3. But this is a way to encourage buying mission cards in this solo scenario. This alternative way of playing the scenario is innovative and shows the game has interesting strategy... Even in a single-player game!

Another aspect

I have been thinking about attacks on a player's Homeworld. Specifically, I am wondering about the *Initiative* dice roll that I am currently doing.

*Initiative* is a concept used in space battles. It basically says that whomever rolls the higher value has a tactical advantage over the opponent such that they are the ones on the offensive.

But the question is, does this make sense for a Homeworld (base) to be able to *out manoeuvre* a Fighter starship? This question is debatable because one could argue both ways, or can you?!

You could say that an attack by a Fighter Starship *missed it's mark* on the planet's Homeworld such that the attack cause NO DAMAGE. However you could argue that this is not possible if the planet has no defenses (the reason Fighter starships exist in the first place).

So it's a very difficult issue to resolve. BOTH are valid arguments...! Maybe I should take a *small* poll about this and see what other designers think!

Another playtest: I won again!

This time around I tested playing the game with Trade starships. I put out three (3) Trade starships with a total attack of 8 Firepower! That's just ONE (1) shy of The Derelict's Resistance (9). All I needed was a cheap starship with a cheap configuration... basically ANY starship configuration would make do!

I played and finally got the chance to *counter attack* The Derelict and then she was destroyed! Easy as pie!!!

So far most people tend to be leaning on keeping the *Initiative* roll for the Homeworld. Personally I'm going the other direction => No Fighter starships = No Defences. And obviously no *Initiative* roll...

Why? Because *Initiative* rolls ALWAYS favour the defender (odd-wise: 21 to 15). Rolls that are equal are simply ignored (but still in the Defender's favour).

So "The Derelict" doesn't get much opportunity to target a player's Homeworld. Meaning that when it DOES, it should be an automatic hit (IMHO). This would put more tension into the game... Because sometimes cards-wise you do not have the right cards to configure a starship. Not always but on occasion. During those lapses, The Derelict should PUNISH you and cause damage! Haha.

But I'll wait for more comments to see what other designers think...

Note: With no *Initiative* rolls, "The Derelict" gets three (3) shots for a total of 15 Damage points. This would leave a player 3 Life points (out of 18). So you would get only four (4) chances to make sure you have a Fighter starship in the space lane... That's pretty TENSE. And I believe more of a challenge... Sometimes you may actually lose...!

The *Initiative* roll odds go as follows:

  • 15 in favour of the Attacker
  • 15 in favour of the Defender
  • 6 Neutral (identical rolls), which are in favour of the Defender

Engineer role

One role, which seems to be less understood by casual gamers, is the *Engineer* role. This role, as stated on the "Game Reference Card" is: "Recycle up to three (3) cards from your hand." So the concept seems simple, when you want to remove cards from your deck, you use this role.

So it seems that casual gamers are not very concerned that they have many low scoring cards. However more hard core gamers will figure out that by optimizing their decks and removing the lower scoring cards, they can get stronger cards in their hand each and every turn they play.

Where this could have a *serious* impact is when using a hand with the *Trader* role. This role, as stated on the "Game Reference Card" is: "Bank up to three (3) cards from your hand." If you draw stronger cards from your deck, you will obviously be able to bank more points than an opponent who does not recycle his cards.

As the game's designer, during The Derelict scenario, I used the *Engineer* role once in each of the two games I played the solitaire scenario. Why? Because I wanted to rid myself of mission cards that had only 1 Firepower. What this did was ensure that when I drew card from my Draw pile, they would be either Starships, Crews or Weapons. In the event that I drew a Mission card, it would have been an average 3 Firepower. This was part of the strategy in using Trade starships.

And so, I believe that the *Engineer* role could have a serious impact in duals or versus games when players are racing to win the game and best each other. Sub-optimal decks will yield lower results than decks with average to high scoring cards.

Another playtest this weekend

I will be holding another playtest session for two (2) players (Dual) with the revised rules of the game (version 8 prototype).

I might consider testing the "Days of Glory" scenario... I have not yet playtested this scenario. It might be worthwhile to have a go-around with that scenario and see what the casual gamers think about it.

Playtest concluded

So the players liked the *new* prototype (version 8) and thought that the colour made things clearer. Being casual gamers they did not use starship *Special Abilities* during the game (and that's okay). You can play a simpler game (for the casual gamer) or a more complex game (for the hardcore gamer).

The question still up for debate is if a Homeworld should roll the *initiative* dice. Players had mixed and opposing sentiments. The problem with no initiative dice is that it becomes much easier to destroy an opponent Homeworld. This makes the TRADE option, less likely since you need to accumulate 200 points and that is quite a bit.

Perhaps had one of the players been more defensive the game would have taken longer... But she was not. She continued to try to earn more quickSilver via TRADE MISSIONS rather than defending her Homeworld sufficiently. Casual gamers, what can you say?!

I think I will leave it AS IS. And see what the Publisher thinks about this rule. If the Publisher accepts to see the prototypes of the game, well I can discuss matters with them.

For now I am leaving the rule unchanged: Homeworlds CANNOT roll for *Initiative*...

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