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Nova

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SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008

I had my first semi-playtest this last weekend, and it didn't get finish because of the craziness of the weekend. However, between that and the little last minute touch up of the rules, there are a few changes that I have put in since the end of the GDW.

I will put up the updated rules up as soon as my web page allows the rules to be seen (hopefully by tomorrow.)

First the changes:

The number of planets in a solar system are not set. Now, each solar system has a number of planets between 4 to 9. This is done by rolling one six sided dice and adding 3 to it. This does not really add to the set up time, plus the number of solar systems starting in the game has been reduced to 4.

Players can start from the 2nd solar system and get a red, yellow, and blue minerals, the 3rd solar system and get a red and yellow minerals, or from the 4th solar system and just get a red. The wave doesn't move on the first turn which gives the players a little time to prepare to outlast it.

When the wave destroys a solar system the 2 dice are rolled. If those dice equal together or are under the reducer level, the speed level (or the speed of the wave, usually starts between 3 to 5) is reduced. If the speed level is reduced to zero the game ends. The reducer level starts at 2 and every time the number rolled is higher than the reducer level, the reducer level is moved up by one. The reducer level starts higher by one for each number the start level is over 3. Ex: If the start level is 5, then the reducer level starts at 4.

The game has been separated in rounds. Trading for all players occurs at the same time, like a marketplace setting. Pretty much all of the rounds are simultaneous. The only thing that isn't at the same time, is the moving, which each player takes turns at.

Another change is the 2nd tier of materials, or orange, purple, & green. Originally, these materials were traded for by trading specific combos, red and yellow for orange, etc. However I found this to be too tough after a quick solo playtest, after seeing that 3 mines would only provide one resource with this rule. So I decided that to make one of the higher resources, you need only to have the lower tier resources in your storage, which after the other playtest, still made you sacrafice for them,
but it didn't make it as tough as it was.

What I saw from the short playtest:

After teaching the rules, and not having players get distracted by other things, the rounds seemed to move along pretty quickly. We barely got to the 5th solar system, and played with the wave at the lowest level after realizing the wave was pretty mighty at level 4, and that we needed to start the players off on the 2nd solar system instead of the first.

At the beginning, you have to really figure out a plan for yourself. Do you leave yourself bare with materials to start out farther than the others? Or get the full max of 3 starting materials and start out close to the wave? I think that is the part of the game I enjoy the most.

Not getting very far hurt my overall perspective of the game. But I saw that it was tough for us to get moving right at the beginning. The jump to another solar system was something you had to think about, and wonder if the 2 turns to get there was worth it. Once the wave took out the first solar system, we all jumped from our solar systems and there seemed to be a feeling of needing to make every action count. I don't think one action will doom a player, but I know several will.

The thing I noticed before the game ended was that there seemed to be a stockpile of the lower tier materials, we all had multiples of one or two of the smaller materials. I had a couple yellows and blues, but no reds to my name. I'm going to watch that carefully, players need to stockpile materials to make colonies I know, but I don't want the ride to be too easy right away.

I can't see when it will happen, but I want to playtest it again this week. I'll post the results of that as soon it happens.

-Steve

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Nova

Cool that you got a chance to play your game.

What did you ever decide about for the Engines? I believe there was some discussion near the end of the GDW thread about whether the engines consumed all their fuel, just specific ones, one at a time, not at all.

I like the idea of letting players decide the amount of starting resources against the distance from wave. I think this sounds better than the original Auction idea.

What were the 2nd Tier material used for mostly? Movement, colonies? How many colonies did you get built? How fast did the wave end up traveling? IE How many turns between distructions.
You mention it takes two turns to get from Solar System to SolarSystem. I thought if you loaded up your engine you could move 6, are the SS's still 3 apart.

Good to hear about your playtest, interested in hearing more from it.

Andy

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

Quote:
What did you ever decide about for the Engines? I believe there was some discussion near the end of the GDW thread about whether the engines consumed all their fuel, just specific ones, one at a time, not at all.

I'm using the speedtrack idea that I came up with towards the end, basically it has all 6 colors on it, and during one of the rounds (and at the beginning of the game) you can place materials on it, up to one of each color. When the wave takes out a solar system the dice are rolled and each player loses fuel of that color (the dice have different colors on them, one has 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 blue & the other has 2 orange, 2 purple and 2 green.) That is a change from before, where materials were taken off every time a player moved, which was way too much.

Quote:
What were the 2nd Tier material used for mostly? Movement, colonies? How many colonies did you get built? How fast did the wave end up traveling? IE How many turns between distructions.
You mention it takes two turns to get from Solar System to SolarSystem. I thought if you loaded up your engine you could move 6, are the SS's still 3 apart.

We didn't get to finish the game, so I can't answer all of your questions until my next playtest. However, in the early part of the game, the moving was slow going. Most of us had 2 materials on our speed track, and eventually a couple of us got up to 5 materials, but lost 2 of them after the dice were rolled. The wave took out 2 solar systems by the 4th turn at the starting level (speed level of 3)

Tomorrow I should be able to get my updated rules on here, so you can see it more clearer. I also plan to get pics of the planets etc.

-Steve

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

On the next playtest the things I am going to look for are:

1. Runaway leader syndrome (which i think is a possibility)

2. Not enough time to make Colonies, making low scoring games a reality (not what I want)

3. With less players trading won't be a big deal

4. Upgrades may make the game a little easier for a person, and cause a run away leader. (May half to tone some down or make harder to upgrade)

5. Greens and Purples are tough to get, although they're suppose to be. I want to see if that makes a big difference in making colonies.

6. Colonies may not get completed. Maybe players should score for colonies even if they aren't finished, but get more points for finished colonies (and on top of that, for having a colonist on the planet.)

Those are my thoughts right now. I may get a chance to break it out tonight. I'll keep everyone posted if I do.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Nova

SVan wrote:
Finally... 8O Got my rules to post in a .pdf, so without delay here's the address:

http://home.cfl.rr.com/invisiongames/Nova.pdf

I had a chance to skim through your new rules, and while I haven't digested them fully, I just wanted to say that I think you've made a huge step in the right direction. The game feels much more coherent and well-conceptualized. I still don't think you'll hit 30 minutes with this one, but 60-75 minutes is looking more realistic, though maybe a few more things still need to go to achieve that. Either way, congrats on what I think will be a big improvement!

Quote:

2. Not enough time to make Colonies, making low scoring games a reality (not what I want)

6. Colonies may not get completed. Maybe players should score for colonies even if they aren't finished, but get more points for finished colonies (and on top of that, for having a colonist on the planet.)

Is it possible that the requirement of 4 components for each colony is just too much of an investment of time/resources? Why not just make colonies easier to complete? Make them a one-shot deal (but somewhat expensive, so that losing them to the wave hurts), or only a couple of components...

Quote:

3. With less players trading won't be a big deal

I haven't understood the rules enough to know what role trading is meant to play in the game, but I don't know how much you really need it in this game. For one, trade and negotiation always adds game length, and kiss 30-45 minutes goodbye if you have a lot of trading. But more importantly, I think there might be better and more thematic ways of creating interaction here. The concern is that if trade is too important, your game will be simply "Settlers in space" which, unfortunately, has already been done. I think the interaction should come more from competition for limited resource planets, which should be balanced by the factors of ship speed ("race for the good planets") and the wave ("danger associated with choosing some planets").

Quote:

4. Upgrades may make the game a little easier for a person, and cause a run away leader. (May half to tone some down or make harder to upgrade)

Or throw them out altogether. For early playtests, this might be a good bet. Upgrades will require more rules balancing, will present a higher learning curve, and will add complexity. It may very well be worth it -- consider Puerto Rico as a case-in-point of a great game where an upgrade system is central to the game. But if it's just "something else for players to do", you may not need it. On the other hand, it may add a lot of flavor and fun, so I could see why it's worth trying to incorporate.

Quote:

5. Greens and Purples are tough to get, although they're suppose to be. I want to see if that makes a big difference in making colonies.

It's ok if they're tough to get; the bigger concern is whether they are worth getting. My sense is still that Green and Purple are just numerically worth more than the other colors. But, I haven't seen the colony components; maybe there are some that simply require Green and Purple only? Also, my guess is that the Green and Purple give you more mobility while taking up less space in your ship, so it's worth having them around. But again, I think if you have 6 resources, they have to be differentiated by more than simply being different "denominations" -- they have to really feel like they serve legitimately different purposes. You (and your playtesters) can say better than I whether this is the case.

Thanks for sharing your playtest results with us, and good luck as you continue work on your project!

-Jeff

Torrent
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Nova

Firstly, I agree that this is certainly a more streamlined version of what you had in GDW. There are a few glaring mistakes and confusions even in this version though. The biggest I saw was in the color combo section. Green - Yellow and GREEN, probably should be Green - Yellow and Blue.

In no particular order, my questions..

Are the Planets one ResourceColor each? I get the feeling they are. What kind of distribution is there of the colors?

Why bother filling the first Solarsystem with Planets? Is there some enticement for players in that 2nd system to 'run-back' for something? I wouldn't think they would have enough resources to do that and still survive. Maybe on the back of of the solar system cards you have a nicely done illustration of a 'home' system, so the players still get to watch something go boom.

I can find no mention of how to place a Mine. I remember it was an action allowed when you landed on a planet, but I can't find mention of it in this version.

Do all MP's come from the Fuel/Speed Track? So that if I have no fuel, I have no actions, and thus really no way to regain fuel.

The Wave stuff just begs for both a chart and an example (maybe several). The Chart linking the Starting Speed to the difficulty to the Reducer level. This might save you some redundant and complex wording in places.

Didn't there used to be VP's awarded for other things than Colony Building? Did these not pan out well in playtest?

I wonder also about the Trading mechanic. First it seems a bit odd to be able to trade across the void, but SciFi fixes that. I also kind of agree with Jeff, what point does it serve? I can see the point in settlers, as the resources are randomly assigned. In Nova if you are out of Red, isn't it your own fault for not getting enough Red?

I like the way the wave moves. But I am curious about the Fuel reduction linked to the wave. Shouldn't the Fuel get reduced every turn. Maybe the lpayer at the end of his Move actions, rolls one color dice for Fuel Reduction. I don't know, it just seems wierd to only do reduction every time a Wave hits a system. At slower speeds, this could be several turns without burning fuel.

Overall, I think it certainly is an improvment. I reserve any judgement on the Upgrade due to as of yet not seeing any of the upgrades/costs.

Andy

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

Quote:
I had a chance to skim through your new rules, and while I haven't digested them fully, I just wanted to say that I think you've made a huge step in the right direction. The game feels much more coherent and well-conceptualized. I still don't think you'll hit 30 minutes with this one, but 60-75 minutes is looking more realistic, though maybe a few more things still need to go to achieve that. Either way, congrats on what I think will be a big improvement!

Right now, I would say you're right, 45-60 mins is looking more realistic than 30-45 mins. It also depends on the amount of players. With 2 or 3 players the game is very quick and shouldn't take more than 30 mins. 6 players? Well it could be up to 90 mins at the most. But I don't think so. I can't say a good time right now, because I feel playtests are going to last a little longer than normal.

Quote:
Is it possible that the requirement of 4 components for each colony is just too much of an investment of time/resources? Why not just make colonies easier to complete? Make them a one-shot deal (but somewhat expensive, so that losing them to the wave hurts), or only a couple of components...

The 4 components aren't that tough. Here they are as follows (Not in any order):

1. Red + Green
2. Yellow + Purple
3. Blue + Orange
4. Red, Yellow, and Blue.

It may be too much, but I hope that it will be similar to Carcassonne in a way that other players will try to get a piece of the colony to get points. There's a bonus to finishing colonies, which i believe will give players a reason to finish them. But I think I will probably change the scoring that rewards finished colonies more points than unfinished colonies, but at least players will get points for the unfinished ones.

Another thing that may need to happen, is to give players a few more turns after the wave runs out. That way players will have more time to work on colonies. I'm going to wait and see if this is needed before i try to implement it.

Quote:
I haven't understood the rules enough to know what role trading is meant to play in the game, but I don't know how much you really need it in this game. For one, trade and negotiation always adds game length, and kiss 30-45 minutes goodbye if you have a lot of trading. But more importantly, I think there might be better and more thematic ways of creating interaction here. The concern is that if trade is too important, your game will be simply "Settlers in space" which, unfortunately, has already been done. I think the interaction should come more from competition for limited resource planets, which should be balanced by the factors of ship speed ("race for the good planets") and the wave ("danger associated with choosing some planets").

Trust me, a settlers in space is been the ani-goal of my game. I believe there are similarities, as in the trading and the racing for victory points (except this game ends at a certain time, not when a player reaches a certain point.) Other than that I feel that there isn't anything really similar to Settlers.

Trading shouldn't take the amount of time it does in settlers I believe, but it could be more towards the end when you're trying to build colonies. Players can only get mines on 5 planets at a time, meaning they are always going to be needing one of the types of materials.

I may try a game without trading or add something different to the game. At this time, it works with the current rules, and hasn't slowed down the game too much.

Quote:
Or throw them out altogether. For early playtests, this might be a good bet. Upgrades will require more rules balancing, will present a higher learning curve, and will add complexity. It may very well be worth it -- consider Puerto Rico as a case-in-point of a great game where an upgrade system is central to the game. But if it's just "something else for players to do", you may not need it. On the other hand, it may add a lot of flavor and fun, so I could see why it's worth trying to incorporate.

I think the upgrades will make the game more interesting. I don't mind the extra work of balancing them right now, but my focus is not really too much on them. If they cause serious problems to the game, I'll rework them or throw them out until i can work them out later.

Quote:
It's ok if they're tough to get; the bigger concern is whether they are worth getting. My sense is still that Green and Purple are just numerically worth more than the other colors. But, I haven't seen the colony components; maybe there are some that simply require Green and Purple only? Also, my guess is that the Green and Purple give you more mobility while taking up less space in your ship, so it's worth having them around. But again, I think if you have 6 resources, they have to be differentiated by more than simply being different "denominations" -- they have to really feel like they serve legitimately different purposes. You (and your playtesters) can say better than I whether this is the case.

You need Green and Purple for a couple of the upgrades and the colony parts, plus to move faster, so they are important. I think the choice for a player is this: Do I put the green and purple on my ship and run the risk of it being burned up as fuel, or do i hold on to it for that upgrade or colony part? So maybe it's not as bad as I thought.

Quote:
Thanks for sharing your playtest results with us, and good luck as you continue work on your project!

Thank you for your comments and help, it has made me think even more (which could be a dangerous thing, but I'll deal with it... :roll:

SVan
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Nova

Quote:
Firstly, I agree that this is certainly a more streamlined version of what you had in GDW. There are a few glaring mistakes and confusions even in this version though. The biggest I saw was in the color combo section. Green - Yellow and GREEN, probably should be Green - Yellow and Blue.

Well I could make a good excuse for that, but the lack of rereading it probably caused this (although I heard today on the radio about a very horrible mistake in someone's book. Sometimes we need to reread these things many times, and then let someone else read it almost just as many.) I'm fixing it as we speak and plan to reread and fix it (if needed) to make it clearer as soon as I can.

Quote:
Are the Planets one ResourceColor each? I get the feeling they are. What kind of distribution is there of the colors?

Yes the planets are one color each. This is the current distubution:

Green-3
Purple-5
Orange-7
Blue-9
Yellow-11
Red-13

Surprising, green isn't that rare, at least in the games I've seen it. Getting a mine on green is a great thing though.

Quote:
Why bother filling the first Solarsystem with Planets? Is there some enticement for players in that 2nd system to 'run-back' for something? I wouldn't think they would have enough resources to do that and still survive. Maybe on the back of of the solar system cards you have a nicely done illustration of a 'home' system, so the players still get to watch something go boom.

I wanted the first solar system to be able to be chosen as a starting area, but it doesn't seem like that's enough space for a player to survive, even at the lowest level. You're right, though, there doesn't need to be more than a single planet there (at least no more than 4) to show that there is a solar system there. I will fix that in the next set of rules.

Quote:
I can find no mention of how to place a Mine. I remember it was an action allowed when you landed on a planet, but I can't find mention of it in this version.

Hmmm...I thought I wrote that, and I swear I did, but you're right, there's no mention at all about mines in there. It's in there now. Basically, it costs a move point (MP) to do it. I'm probably going to put a glossary in the new version of the rules.

Quote:
Do all MP's come from the Fuel/Speed Track? So that if I have no fuel, I have no actions, and thus really no way to regain fuel.

Yes they do come from the speed track. So far there's been plenty of materials for the players, and no chance of any of them running out of fuel. I think if you do run out of fuel, then, just like driving, you're punished for not managing your fuel very well. These days, unless you're in the country, you should have no reason to run out of gas, unless you're lazy like me and hate to do it. The game is very similar, the chances of running out of materials is extremely slim, and if you are holding onto one of the more valuable materials, then you can probably trade that for more than one material.

Quote:
The Wave stuff just begs for both a chart and an example (maybe several). The Chart linking the Starting Speed to the difficulty to the Reducer level. This might save you some redundant and complex wording in places.

It's not in the rules, but there is a wave tracker that keeps track of both of these things. When I take pics of the game, I'll show you how it looks (it's not pretty, but it's easy to understand.) Actually the pics will help a lot in answering questions of how the game is played. I may add a chart to the rules still to help players.

Quote:
I wonder also about the Trading mechanic. First it seems a bit odd to be able to trade across the void, but SciFi fixes that. I also kind of agree with Jeff, what point does it serve? I can see the point in settlers, as the resources are randomly assigned. In Nova if you are out of Red, isn't it your own fault for not getting enough Red?

It could be your fault, or the random set-up has made red a little rare, and all the other players have already put mines on all of the red planets. So therefore, you need to trade with them. And they are probably very happy to trade a few reds for a orange or purple.

Quote:
I like the way the wave moves. But I am curious about the Fuel reduction linked to the wave. Shouldn't the Fuel get reduced every turn. Maybe the lpayer at the end of his Move actions, rolls one color dice for Fuel Reduction. I don't know, it just seems wierd to only do reduction every time a Wave hits a system. At slower speeds, this could be several turns without burning fuel

Actually as i stated in one of my earlier posts, on level 3 (the slowest level) the wave destroyed 2 solar systems in the first 4 turns. After the first turn, it actually destroys 2 every 3 turns, until the speed gets reduced.

when players loss materials off their speed track every turn, they didn't gain anything, unless they had 3 or more mines. Since that will take at least 2 or 3 turns at the beginning to do that, I thought it was too much. So far the fuel reduction has worked out like I wanted it to. It's random, so the players can't pick which one they lose, and it keeps them on their feet. I'm going to watch this closely though. I don't want the players to get too compfortable too early.

Quote:
Overall, I think it certainly is an improvment. I reserve any judgement on the Upgrade due to as of yet not seeing any of the upgrades/costs.

I'm preparing a computer made player reference and as soon as that is done I'll post it here. Right now I have a homemade one that just got made obsolete from the new victory point conditions.

Thank you for your comments, they have given me much more to think about...Although I wonder if my brain will accept all of this thinking...

SVan
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Nova

Edit: I removed the link, with the rules being fixed. I probably won't put the full rules on the site after this point.

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Playtested a full game, finally!!!

This weekend I finally got to pull out the game and playtest it to the end. Here's the results of that playtest...

1. The racing part and gathering materials part of the game shined. I am very happy with it and see no major changes happening to that part of it.

2. The Colony Building part was dull, and the endgame dragged on and on. Plus all of the players tied for the most points.

3. The wave speed started out at 4, and as I expected, it provided tension the whole game. There were quite a few turns, where all you could do was move from one solar system to the next in trying to get away from the wave. The wave lasted to about until the speed reducer was at level 8 (which means it desroyed 10 solar systems in all, about the place I want the game to end.)

4. Upgrades were too powerful and now have been tamed. The booster especially was way too much, basically giving double movement for the rest of the game too early was not very balanced.

4. The game took about an hour total, with 2 players, for the first time learning the rules. I figure with 4 players, which will be my next playtest, it should take that same amount of time, maybe with an additional 15 to 30 mins of teaching the rules and discussing any problems the testers have with the game. I probably will put a sample game in the rules and anything else to make it quicker to learn.

So to the changes...

1. The fuel and wave parts of the round will be switched. The way I had it, you would put materials on the speedtrack, just to watch them get wiped out the next part. That didn't seem right, and has been switched, so now the materials on the speed track are removed first, then you may add the new ones.

2. Instead of upgrades being part of your move, they are now part of the fuel part of the round, meaning you place materials on them when you place materials on your spee track. You need all of the materials on the upgrade for it to work, but do not have to put them on all at one time.

3. Also, when you lose materials off of your speed track, you lose them off of your upgrades at the same time. That means, you could have just a single material on an upgrade and will need to get the other material on there, for the upgrade to work.

4. The biggest change is the colony parts. They are no longer placed on the planets. Instead of building them at the end of the game, you build them throughout the game, and store them on the ship. Each one is worth just one point. The four colony parts are still there, but now, there is a colony part tracker, which tells which part needs to be built at that time. When a player builds that part, the tracker moves to the next part, which can be built by that player or the next player to build that part. Only that part can be built at that time, so the players will have to fight over the materials needed for that part at that time.

Besides scoring points from colony parts, you also get points for each solar system away from the wave when it stops and for being the furthest away from the wave when it stops (If only one player, he or she gets 2 VP. If more than one player is tied for the furthest, then they all get one 1 VP.

5. With this, colonists are being kicked out of the game. The number of colony parts per player may be increased as well. The game will end again as I wanted, when the wave ends.

6. Some minor changes. My wife suggested that the wave could surge if a 12 is rolled. I like it and will test it out to see how it effects the game. I also came up with the opposite effect if a 2 is rolled. Basically, when a 12 is rolled, the wave is increased by one instead of reduced. A 2 reduces the wave by 2 instead of 1.

7. The person closest to the wave goes first when moving. If there is a tie, then the player with the least amount of colony parts goes next. Finally, if still tied the player with the least amount of materials on their speed track goes first. Any other ties are resolved randomly. The next player to move is the player closest to the wave, next lowest amount of colony parts, or materials on their speed track, and continues until all players have moved using this.

I think that's it for the time being. I plan to have my next playtest on Friday but I want to break it out before then.

-Steve

SVan
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Nova

Had another playtest tonight, and things went really well. There was only concern that I had and it came towards the end.

It was 2 players again, just me and my wife, to get ready for the 4 player test I have tonight with the newer rules. I think I will see more of the game with 4 players.

The game started with only one green planet out, and I got to go first so I grabbed it. I put a mine on it, and knew that I had to get a yellow and blue material in my storage area to get that green the next turn.

My wife put up 3 mines in the first 3 turns, gathering an early material lead. She started on the 2nd solar system, which gave her a red, yellow and blue to start with, but I started on the 3rd solar system and got a red and yellow at the start. She got to go first when moving for the first few turns because she was closer to the wave, which can make a lot of difference sometimes.

She built the first colony part, but then I built the next 5. I thought I had a good lead, until she built enough to tie me.

By then, though the reducer level had gotten to 6, and the wave was still at 4. But 4 solar systems later, the wave had died. Incredibly, the reducer level never got above 6. That means only 7 solar systems were destroyed, when the average should be 9.

My wife didn't think it would end so soon, and she got stuck with a lot of materials. I told her that it could and she decided to stock up on materials instead of making colony parts or get in front of me.

So the game ended, with me having 13 points, and her 6. I got 2 points for being the furthest from the wave, and 2 points for being 2 solar systems away from the wave when the game ended (almost 3.)

She was only 1 solar system away from the wave, so she only got 1 VP for that.

Now the problem that didn't happen in this game, but could, with the reducer level so low, and the speed at 1, the game could take forever to end. It took probably 10 mins for the wave to destroy the last solar system. If it destroyed 3 in this way, that could be an extra 30 mins.

I've thought of 2 ideas, and trying the first one tonight. When the wave destroys the solar system and is only at 1 speed, and the wave is not reduced, then the reducer level goes up by 2, instead of 1. That means in our game, if it wasn't reduced at the end, it would have went from a 6 to a 8, and then a 8 to a 10, and then to a 12, which would have ended the game. Still 3 solar systems would be destroyed in that rare case, but at least it wouldn't be 6.

The other, much quicker, but not the way I really like, way to do it is to roll for the wave every turn after it moves, and let it die in the middle. I will try this as well, even if I don't like it.

Right now the rules feel almost done. I feel that it still needs a lot of testing, and I definately want to try a 6 player game, and a game where i won't be playing. 2 player works and is fun, but I think 4 players may be the best number to play with. I'll find out tonight.

-Steve

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

I had the four player playtest and a couple other playtests since I posted last. There were only a few things that needed to be changed, and those changes were very minor except for one.

The game was fun and it provided a good deal of strategy, but the victory points was always the weakest link. I couldn't think of anything to make it stronger. It took me a few weeks, but I finally thought of something at the beginning of this week.

Before, VP were given to you by the number of colony parts you built, and then a bonus for the distance you were from the wave at the end of the game. Another bonus was given to you if you were the farthest or tied for the farthest away from the wave.

The last 2 ways to make VP are still there, in their current forms. They work well, and give enough points to make travelling farther from the wave worthwhile.

Testing has shown that making colonies was a little tougher than I thought. The most any player has made was 7 or 8. I think for 1 VP, the players weren't focusing enough on them. So I made the stakes a lot higher for building them.

Each player now has a Colony Part tracker on their player reference/ board. On that tracker, there are 4 squares with numbers 1-4, matching the colony part numbers on the player reference.

The player who builds all four colony parts first, receives 16 VP. Then all other players recieve VP equal to the number of colony parts on their colony part tracker in this manner, 9 VP for 3 colony parts, 4 VP for 2 colony parts, and 1 VP for 1 part.

I believe this will encourage players to make colony parts, so at least they can score 9 points at the least.

The bonus for finishing a colony may seem a little high, but I did the math in my head, and it works out good to me. For example, Jon builds all 4 colony parts and gets 16 points. Becky had 3 parts, so she gets 9, and Caleb had 2, and gets 4 points. However on the next one, Caleb works real hard and gets the next one in a hurry. He gets 16 points (20 total.)
Becky had 3 again, so she scores 9 VP (18 total) and Jon couldn't build fast enough and only has one part for 1 VP (17 total.)

I'll have to test it more I know, but it feels and looks good. I now feel that the VP will reward those who build and penalize those that do not.

I hope to have another playtest on Friday. I will post how this was received and how it worked.

-Steve

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

In the last couple weeks since I've posted last, I've playtested it some more and found a few minor things that needed fixing, but all of the major parts seem to be working. The new way to get victory points works really well, so far the player who has played the best has won the game.

After the shock of what seems to be a lot of stuff to get use to wears off, the players realize that the game is very simple, and the other stuff is only necessary to make sure everything is explained.

I don't see many more changes and I'm feeling very confident in the game. I would like to take the chance to thank all that made any suggestions that help change the game for the better (I plan to give credit to all those who did, if I can) and all those who gave any advice at all.

Without this site, and the GDW, I know that my game would be completely different, and I'm very glad to be a part of this. I truly hope everyone on here can receive the help that I have found. Thanks again everyone!

-Steve

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

It's been a while since I've reported anything on Nova. After I finished Nova's proto I found that they weren't all that hard or time consuming so I made quite a few other games that I have been working on, mostly games that I have not discussed on here (they all have been pretty cut and dry designs and didn't have a lot of problems with them.) In fact, they've made me forget about Nova and it's been collecting dust rather well.

In the last month, however, I've dusted off the rules, look at all of the possible problem areas and started redrafting them. The basics of the game, like the wave, materials, etc. are all the same. My focus was on the things that bothered me the most, which are these:

1. "The Settlers Effect" (Not to be confused with the Butterfly Effect) Basically after a while in Settlers, I can tell you who will have a chance to win and who will not. I don't like that at all. Sometimes half way through the game is already decided. So I put some rule changes in to help curtail this.

2. The Victory Condition. I've went through victory conditions in Nova like nothing else. Nothing has seemed to work, although the 4 different parts with the person building them first getting 16 pts and then it going down from their, was the best I had so far. But it's not exactly what I want.

So this is what I would like:

1. I want a system that does not require players to have to spend movement to gain victory points. Right now, I'm looking to add it into the fuel part of the turn.

2. I want players to compete equally, even if they do not get mines on the right planets early. Right now, I see one bad move coming to haunt a player forever. I don't think the game should forgive every bad move, but it definately needs a little forgiveness.

3. However I want a strategy that rewards the player who has taken the best moves, who has moved ahead when they needed to and stayed behind to collect the right material.

Here's the current version of the rules, and the last victory condition that I had, even if I don't completely like it. If anyone has feedback on any of the rules in here, I'd be happy but at the moment, I think playtesting is the only thing I can do for everything besides the victory condition.

http://home.cfl.rr.com/invisiongames/NovaRules.doc
http://home.cfl.rr.com/invisiongames/NovaRules.pdf

Warning: These haven't been edited enough, so there may be some mistakes and clarity problems in here. I'm going to work on getting edited this week.

Another note, the game is only 3 to 6 players, after finding out that 2 players is not viable.

Thank you for your help in advance,

-Steve

DarkDream
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Nova

Svan,

I went ahead and read over your rules. It would be helpful to have the files on what the Speed Track looks like.

Here are my comments:

I like the ability of choosing the speed level of the wave. I presume, the higher the speed level the faster the game goes. It's a neat touch to allow players to decide if they want a longer or shorter and more frantic game.

I like the idea of rolling a d4 for planets in a solar system. I presume the planets do not all have the same back. I would make the planets all black on one side, and only when a space ship lands on it, do you turn it over to discover what type of planet it is (red, yellow or whatever). I would also like to see some more variablitly in the planets. For example, maybe there is a wildcard planet that can produce material of the player's choosing. Maybe you have a super special red planet that produces twice as much red material.

I am not clear what happends if another player lands on a planet another player put a mine on, does he get the material as well? How do you take care of conflicts like this?

Also do planets have an infinite amount of resources? Maybe you need to roll the dice to see if the planet becomes depleted of its resource. Maybe each planet has a rating on how much material is there.

The problem I see with the game, is that it appears that the players who are not as close to the wave are in a better position. They don't have to worry so much about getting in front of the wave, and will spend less fuel on escaping from the wave. You counteract this by having players in solar systems farther away from the wave starting with fewer resources.

I would perhaps think of another balancing mechanism, by having the solar systems closer to the wave at the beginning of the game have better planets, or at the least on average having more planets.

Maybe, you could have players have the option of building more things. Maybe they could build a worm hole thing to make space travel faster (skip two solar systems in one turn).

I would also consider maybe each player having a special goal, or having them choose a goal card (if they fail to get the goal they loose VP) like collecting the most orange and blue material combined to earn more VP.

Another thing that worries me a bit, is that there maybe early player elimination involved. A player that gets hit early in the game by the wave may be sitting out of the game for a long time. Maybe instead of a player being compeletly destroyed, all of the solar systems are destroyed (along with all mines) and he needs to race to get ahead of the wave to still get stuff.

The ability of moving a mine seems weird to me. Have you thought of the player being able to build another space ship? This way a player can control more than one thing.

Anyway, it's late, and I'm getting tired. I hope this helps.

--DarkDream

SVan
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Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

DarkDream wrote:
Svan,

I went ahead and read over your rules. It would be helpful to have the files on what the Speed Track looks like.

Here you are:

http://home.cfl.rr.com/invisiongames/Nova%20Player%20Reference.pdf
http://home.cfl.rr.com/invisiongames/Nova%20Player%20Reference.doc

Quote:
Here are my comments:

I like the ability of choosing the speed level of the wave. I presume, the higher the speed level the faster the game goes. It's a neat touch to allow players to decide if they want a longer or shorter and more frantic game.

It works ok, except that 3 doesn't provide much challenge, but it's good for players to learn on.

Quote:
I like the idea of rolling a d4 for planets in a solar system. I presume the planets do not all have the same back. I would make the planets all black on one side, and only when a space ship lands on it, do you turn it over to discover what type of planet it is (red, yellow or whatever). I would also like to see some more variablitly in the planets. For example, maybe there is a wildcard planet that can produce material of the player's choosing. Maybe you have a super special red planet that produces twice as much red material.

Right now they're the same color on both sides. There's a bag that they are stored from, and they are brought out randomly, like carcassonne.
I like the hidden planet idea, but don't know if it would work the way I want it to. It may even get more complicated than I had envisioned or make the game more luck filled than it should be as well. Those are my initial thoughts.

The special planets are interesting as well, I may think about including them. I'm not too sure, since it will add more luck to the game, and the luck level is about where I want it.

Quote:
I am not clear what happends if another player lands on a planet another player put a mine on, does he get the material as well? How do you take care of conflicts like this?

Both players would get a material of that color. This rule was made to give mines more usefulness, so that they would be used more. The moving of mines will help this even more (at least on paper, I'll see in the next test)

Quote:
Also do planets have an infinite amount of resources? Maybe you need to roll the dice to see if the planet becomes depleted of its resource. Maybe each planet has a rating on how much material is there.

Planets don't last long enough to really give too much material. This will be something I could implement easily enough without making it complicated. I will look into this.

Quote:
The problem I see with the game, is that it appears that the players who are not as close to the wave are in a better position. They don't have to worry so much about getting in front of the wave, and will spend less fuel on escaping from the wave. You counteract this by having players in solar systems farther away from the wave starting with fewer resources.

I would perhaps think of another balancing mechanism, by having the solar systems closer to the wave at the beginning of the game have better planets, or at the least on average having more planets.

The starting positions can make a player have a slight advantage over another, but I've never seen it be enough of an advantage. I do like the idea of having better solar systems nearer the wave. I will look into this as well.

Quote:
Maybe, you could have players have the option of building more things. Maybe they could build a worm hole thing to make space travel faster (skip two solar systems in one turn).

I think with the upgrades, there is enough building in the game. (You will see with the player reference.)

Quote:
I would also consider maybe each player having a special goal, or having them choose a goal card (if they fail to get the goal they loose VP) like collecting the most orange and blue material combined to earn more VP.

Goal cards would be interesting, although they are hard to balance (as we have seen from the Disciples game.) I also had an idea where players would draw colony part cards, which would be worth a certain amount of points if they built them using certain materials. I like the idea, but not having all of the cards. I will think about the goal cards (or a good alternative for them.) Maybe I can have variable powers, with a goal attached to those powers.

Quote:
Another thing that worries me a bit, is that there maybe early player elimination involved. A player that gets hit early in the game by the wave may be sitting out of the game for a long time. Maybe instead of a player being compeletly destroyed, all of the solar systems are destroyed (along with all mines) and he needs to race to get ahead of the wave to still get stuff.

In all of the games I have played, I've only seen one player (which was myself) get eliminated by the wave. The only way that you can eliminated if is you forget how far the wave is moving and don't move far enough. I usually remind players how far the wave is and let them know that they need to move farther to survive.

Quote:
The ability of moving a mine seems weird to me. Have you thought of the player being able to build another space ship? This way a player can control more than one thing.

My playtesters will probably think the same. However I first designed the mines as being able to send materials out at speeds faster than the ship you are flying. So in that way it works. This gives a little more resource management with the added bonus of not having a mine get stuck on a planet you don't need materials for anymore. I haven't tested it yet, so who knows.

Quote:
Anyway, it's late, and I'm getting tired. I hope this helps.

--DarkDream

It's been great! I appreciate all of your comments. I'm off to work, so I'll have the drive to think about some of things. Thanks again!

-Steve

SVan
Offline
Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

I've begun working on possible variable player powers which will include goals which will give bonus points, where the bread and butter points will be earned from the standard VP set-up which I am working on now.

I have an idea, which is a basic rewrite of an old VP set-up that I had before, but probably with less points involved.

Players will be able to choose the power they want, well slightly, in this manner:

During the starting positions part of the game, the player who goes first can choose to play his ship on a planet or draw 3 or 5 of the player powers and choose one of them. The player powers will vary, with some with heavy powers with little or no VP gaining, others balanced between the two, and even others with little or no power and lots of VP gaining. I guess it's something for me to balance, but in the end, it should make the game more interesting.

Tell me what you think.

-Steve

DarkDream
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Nova

Svan,

I would like to comment on the idea, but I'm not all clear what the variable powers are. Could you provide maybe some examples?

I can only assume that the players can only get the opportunity to gain these powers at the beginning of the game? Is this correct?

Why would players choose between different powers? What in the powers would differentiate them so that one player would choose one power over the other?

It appears the powers also has a VP component to them.

Some examples would really help.

--DarkDream

SVan
Offline
Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

DarkDream wrote:
Svan,

I would like to comment on the idea, but I'm not all clear what the variable powers are. Could you provide maybe some examples?

I can only assume that the players can only get the opportunity to gain these powers at the beginning of the game? Is this correct?

Why would players choose between different powers? What in the powers would differentiate them so that one player would choose one power over the other?

It appears the powers also has a VP component to them.

Some examples would really help.

--DarkDream

Well, I haven't gotten real heavy on designing them yet. But take these as examples:

Mine Destroyer:

Action: Spend 3 MP to destroy another player's enemy mine. Place that mine in front of you. Edit: You have to be either in the same solar system or on the planet to use this.

Goal: For each player that you have destroyed a mine, you gain 1 VP.

(Basically huge power, not very big goal.)

Superviser: (excuse the names, I'll try to think of better ones)

Bonus: It costs you 1 MP less to move a mine. You still cannot spend more than 3 MP when moving a mine.

Goal: You receive 2 VP for each mine that you have in play at the end of the game.

(A good half and half goal)

Bonus: Whenever you receive a red, yellow, or blue material from a planet or mine, you receive an additional one of the same color. You cannot receive more than one material from this per turn.

Goal: For each red, yellow and blue material that you have at the end of the game, you receive 1 VP.

(This could be potientially worth a lot of points.)

These are only examples and could (and probably will) change. But it shows what I want to do.

The VP condition I am thinking of putting in is this: There are the four different colony parts, which I had before. Instead of it being public, player's hide making their colony parts from the other players (in fact all materials will be private from now on, just need to write it specifically in the rules. Goals will be sercret, unless you use the ability, in which they are revealed only at that time for the rest of the game.)

I'm still working on the big Victory Point Goal for the game. Something that players could gain between 10 to 30 points with, depending upon how hard they try. The secondary goals should supplement the game's true goal.

Tell me what you think,

-Steve

DarkDream
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Nova

Steve,

Here's what I think. I like the idea of differing powers. However, instead of giving them to players at the beginning of the game, why not make them earn them? In other words, why not have players build them using resources. So instead of building just mines, you can build mine destroyers, or resources enhancers. I think it is better as players need to earn them.

I would personally seperate the VP from the special powers.

I do not want to change your theme or anything, but what about the idea of each player having a home planet. The goal is to get as much resources together so each player can land on their home planet and build a super resistent colony to the wave. VP would be handed out based on how far each player built their colony (I presume it is built in parts). Now the race is not just about the space ship getting away from the wave, it's about saving your home planet.

Building the colony's parts takes time, so ships may have to drop off supplies and then get more materials. It would add an interesting decision, of when to stop getting materials and fly back to the home planet or to continue getting materials but reducing the time to build the colony parts.

Just some more ideas to think about.

--DarkDream

SVan
Offline
Joined: 10/02/2008
Nova

DarkDream wrote:
Steve,

Here's what I think. I like the idea of differing powers. However, instead of giving them to players at the beginning of the game, why not make them earn them? In other words, why not have players build them using resources. So instead of building just mines, you can build mine destroyers, or resources enhancers. I think it is better as players need to earn them.

I would personally seperate the VP from the special powers.

I do not want to change your theme or anything, but what about the idea of each player having a home planet. The goal is to get as much resources together so each player can land on their home planet and build a super resistent colony to the wave. VP would be handed out based on how far each player built their colony (I presume it is built in parts). Now the race is not just about the space ship getting away from the wave, it's about saving your home planet.

Building the colony's parts takes time, so ships may have to drop off supplies and then get more materials. It would add an interesting decision, of when to stop getting materials and fly back to the home planet or to continue getting materials but reducing the time to build the colony parts.

Just some more ideas to think about.

--DarkDream

I think the idea about the home planet is a good idea, but I think the escape from the wave would be a lot more interesting. On the player powers, they would add some more fun to the game, but maybe too much to a game that already has a lot. If I do add it to the game, it will probably be part of an expansion.

I've racked my brain out today (and the last few days) trying to come up with a Victory Condition. I've thought of 3 different ways that could work (in order of my preferences)

1. An addition to the player board which basically has 8 different colony parts for the players to build, going from easiest to hard. The parts can be built in any order, but the harder parts give you more points. If a player builds all 8 parts, then the game is over immediately, even if the wave is still moving. If the wave stops and no player has built all of the parts, then the player with the most points win, unless there is a tie, then the player who has built the most parts win. If there's a tie for most parts and points, then those players tied share the victory. (Note: Instead of a board, each player can have 8 cards, and play a part card when they finish that part (by paying for it.) Maybe this way, there can be a limit of one part a turn, if necessary. (I somewhat like the cards a little more.)

2. Cards, but not the same as above. There would be a specific deck of cards which would have many types of colony parts, permanent upgrades, and possibly other things. There would be a mechanic created to allow players to choose which part that they want (I have something already thought of, but not completely thought out.) The colony parts would score VP and the permanent upgrades would give bonuses that are not as good as the upgrades on the speed track, but would never go away.

3. Back to the old system, although more hidden, basically if you build 4 colony parts before the other players, you get 16 pts, 3 parts = 9 pts, 2 parts = 4 pts and 1 part = 1 pt (or another system where each part is worth 4 pts each.) This is my least favorite way to go, although I like the system, it doesn't fit the game very well.

Now if I use the cards, I can give players some special powers through that, like DarkDream was talking about. I'm still thinking that powers will be too much for the basic game, and prefer to include it in an expansion.

Thanks for your help, DarkDream! I would love to hear any comments anyone has about this game. Since I will be moving in the next 2 1/2 weeks across the country, I will be losing my website (which comes with my roadrunner account) so after that these files won't be available to see anymore.

-Steve

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