Rage-design: A Less Shitty Version of Impulse


#1

Splitting off from this comment in the Board Gaming thread, I figured I’d start a topic cataloging my efforts to make Carl Chudyk’s Impulse a less shitty game. Feel free to follow along at home, try out the various ideas and give feedback, or stand on the sidelines wondering when I’m going to give up and just play something that’s actually good.

I suspect that this will be a thread of mostly me talking about things nobody else cares about, but I wanted to see if there was anyone else out there interested in drilling down and tinkering with a game on this level.


So What’s the Problem?

I have several gripes about the game; some of these are matters of personal preference, and some are things I contend are mechanical flaws that need to be remedied.

  1. Excessive Chaos: While all Chudyk games have some element of chaos, Impulse has much more than most, to the point that you really appear unable to control your own victory. Chance is such a strong element that it actively impedes your ability to enact any strategy.

  2. Too Many Choices: Chudyk loves to give you multiple options and paths to victory, but Impulse contains so many options and gives you so few chances to see any through entirely (owing largely to chaos) that you have to fight the game just to get a clear path forward - if you can ever get one, that is.

  3. Redundant Choices: Continuing from “too many options” and “too much chaos” is that some of those choices are just redundant variants of other choices. Chudyk does this sometimes, but almost always puts a spin that makes the choices situationally distinct. In the case of Impulse, these additional choices serve to literally get in the way of making other choices (by adding cards to the deck, you reduce the likelihood that a person encounters a useful card), and generally only add chaos or parallelism to the game.

  4. Poor Scaling: The game literally breaks down above 4 players despite advertising that it’s 2 - 6. That indicates a fundamental design flaw to me. It’s easy enough to correct, but tells me that there’s something probably not right under the hood.

  5. More 2X than 4X: And because of these myriad issues, on top of not being very fun to play, it also fails to evoke a meaningful 4X feel - so the theme and that experience are completely lost to the mechanics.


What Does It Do Right?

If this were simply a bad game with nothing of merit, I could let it go easily. But here’s the thing - underneath that crap, I think there’s promise for a really interesting game that puts a unique spin on the usual Chudyk business.

  1. It’s In Space: Everything is better when it’s in space. That’s just science.

  2. Political Chudyk: Most Chudyks are pretty parallel and don’t give you much opportunity to directly affect your opponent’s game. Impulse is unique in that the engine you build can be directly exploited and/or conquered by other players. This is usually a rare aspect of most Chudyk games, but here, it’s the norm.

  3. Player Elimination: While not a mechanic I really love, I find it noteworthy that this flavor of Chudyk has a mechanism to completely remove a player from the game. That creates interesting possibilities which have consequences for decision-making.

  4. A Promise of Streamlined 4X: The 4X is there, I can see it. It’s right there. There’s stuff in the way, but I think that clearing the weeds will allow it to shine. And if it does, I think there’s a lot to be said for getting a 4X experience in a 45 minute game.


So Now What?

I’ve been analyzing the cards and looking at some meta numbers, as well as brainstorming possible changes and consequences. I’ve got a spate of ideas, most of which I don’t intend to implement unless they become needed fixes - but I’d like to vet those ideas, and start playtesting some combinations.

I’m going to drop some thoughts and facts about the current card spread, and then collect and organize my various thoughts for modifications.


#2

I think I’d have to learn the rules to Impulse before I can offer any help. My gut instinct though, is to just make a streamlined 4X game from scratch.


#3

You can find the rulebook on BGG. Fair warning: it’s a giant piece of shit too. It’s not intuitively laid out, and it has important rules on the side margins, like they’re notes or something.

@jabrams007 and I chitchatted a bit, and he laid similar wisdom on me. “At some point, you’re just designing a new game.” Which is fair, but I’m far better at modifying an existing thing than I am at starting from scratch - so maybe Impulse is just a set of gamepieces that have sufficiently aimed my creativity at making a game.


#4

If you want I am very good at starting things and not finishing them. I could make the foundation of a streamlined 4X game in like 10 minutes. I actually already have 90% of it done. I know fiddly bits are your favorite, so you could concentrate on that entirely.


#5

This is in my head currently, so I think I need to get it out first before I can move onto something else. I learned long ago to obey the Muse when she speaks to me.

However, start your thing, and perhaps I will find a way to merge the ideas.


#6

Ok, I just need to know what is more fun:

A hand of cards that is frustratingly limiting OR a rondel that is also frustratingly limiting?


#7

I’m a cardflopper at heart, and Chudyk has only cemented that love with his elegant multipath card-based games. The rondel reinforces choices and consequences, but cards let you hope for a different outcome.

I like the inherent bit of chance generated by drawing from a deck.


#8

OK, if you want to go full Chudyk and have cards that can be used multiple different ways, I can do that.


#9

Mottainai is the most tight and elegant of his games.
Glory to Rome is the most fun.


#10

Some Stats and Observations/Thoughts

Card Count: 108
Color Balance: 4 colors (RBGY) @ 27 cards each
Size Distribution:
Per color:
14 @ 1 gem (~52%)
8 @ 2 gems (~30%)
5 @ 3 gems (~18%)

Observation/Thoughts: I find it noteworthy that the color and power distribution is exactly even. Given that some cards are color-restricted and others rely on the power level of a card for its function, I tentatively conclude that this distribution is probably an important component of game balance, such as it is.

Action Distribution: There are 10 actions in Impulse (see note about too many fucking options), and they have a wildly uneven frequency distribution. This is something of a deviation from the usual Chudyk experience, where the distribution of actions is more-or-less even. There is generally no way to take an action unless you have its corresponding card somewhere - there’s no Jack or equivalent of a wild card.

Each of these actions cards does roughly the same sort of thing, but each has a different specific implementation based on its power level (1, 2, or 3), and many are variations on a theme (like one Refine card might say “Refine one Red card” and another says “Refine one Blue card”).

Command: 27 (25%)
Build: 12 (11%)
Mine: 12 (11%)
Trade: 11 (10%)
Research: 11 (10%)
Draw: 9 (8%)
Plan: 8 (7.5%)
Refine: 6 (5.5%)
Execute: 6 (5.5%)
Sabotage: 6 (5.5%)

Observation/Thoughts: Some of these actions occur very rarely in a game; I almost never see a Refine engine, or meaningful use of Execute. Plan is a particularly ironically-named action, because getting a Plan card is very luck-based, and the results of that card tend to be out of your control. In other words, no actually planning happens based on the Plan card - instead, it creates a burst of chaos.

Command as the most frequent action makes sense, since this is after all a 4X space game and you make an engine by putting cards on the board. However, I question the utility of actions that occur with single-digit percentages, particularly when your max hand size is 10.

My Initial Thoughts on the Problem

As I said in the other thread, Execute, Trade, and Sabotage all seem extremely redundant to me. Plan is bothersome, but maybe not an outright problem as much as it is a misnamed action.

  • Execute gives you a way to use an action card exclusively - but you can already do that 3 other ways (protected on the board, Research it to become a tech, or Plan it), and all of those other ways have actual consequences to consider. Given that shared action as a consequence of acting is a core tenet of Chudyk, I’m not sure it makes sense to have yet another way to bypass that, at least not as easily as Execute allows.

  • Sabotage is straight-up random dicking of another player. They will spend multiple turns Buidling and Commanding a fleet into position, only for you to use literally one Sabotage and completely ruin their work with no hope of reprisal and no control on your part. It adds a level of chaos to combat, which is already a chance-dependent mechanic (as it should be). Aside from this, you already have a way to destroy ships (combat), and it carries plenty of risk, making it an interesting choice. Sabotage carries no risk and is consequently an uninteresting decision.

  • Trade is the weaker version of Refine. The cards happen twice as often, but are less than half as useful. In addition, Refine targets cards that have been added to your mat, which means it’s an action that interacts with the engine you’re building. Trade just lets you ditch cards in your hands for points, which isn’t something that really hinges on your engine or anything anyone else is doing. It’s an egregiously parallel action not tied to the action of the game. I could see a use for it in a 6-player game with a larger board and a chance of someone being ignored - but that’s a topic for later.

  • In addition, Plan irks me because it’s not actually planning. All the Plan cards literally just add cards more-or-less randomly to your plan, except for the most powerful versions of the action. Plan is part of your mat, so you’d think in a high-chaos game it’d be your opportunity to exercise more control over the game - but no, it’s just more chaos. It’s really more of a surge than a plan, and I think if it were actually called Surge or Blitz, it’d make sense.


#11

Rondels forever! I love rondels. Probably why Mac Gerdts is my favorite boardgame designer.


#12

A Quick Rules Synopsis of the Base Game

Since @Apreche mentioned not knowing the rules, I figured I’d give a quick rundown so people get the gist of what the game is about. True understanding will involve knowing the content of the cards, but that’s less important.

You can, if you’d like, read the rulebook yourself. It sucks giant gaping ass. There is also a fan revamp of the graphic design in that files section, so you can hypothetically print and play the entire game. I dig the fan revamp a bunch, so I may actually use that pnp if I can make this less shitty.

Object:

Be the first player to reach 20 points. There is no way to tie and there is no other end or victory condition in the game.

Getting Points

Points come from the following sources:

  • Combat: Winning combat gets you 1 point, +1 point for each ship you destroyed. Losing combat gets you nothing. Don’t lose.

  • Sabotage: The Sabotage action gives you a chance to destroy ships without risking combat. You get 1 point per ship destroyed in this way.

  • The Galactic Center: Activating the Galactic Center with a fleet of Transports generates 1+ points (see Boosting later on). Patrolling a gate on the Galactic Center with a Cruiser fleet gets you 1 point per patrolled gate per turn you patrol it.

  • Trade: The Trade action allows you to discard cards from various sources (often your hand, sometimes the deck) for points equal to its size in gems (1, 2, or 3 points).

  • Refine: The Refine action allows you to get rid of minerals you have Mined and placed in your Command Center for points based on their size in gems. Most Refine cards give you a variable number of points per gem (i.e. “Refine 1 R card for 3 points per gem” or some such).

Setup:

The game is played on a board comprised of 18 face-down deck cards plus the Galactic Center card. The cards are arranged in 5 staggered rows of 3-4-5-4-3 cards, with the Galactic Center placed in the center of the 5-card row. This forms a bigass hex on the table. Cards are connected at specific gate points on their perimeter, forming travel routes between the cards.

Note that board size does not change for the number of players. This is why the game breaks at 5 and 6 players, full stop.

Each player is dealt a hand of 5 deck cards and has a prescribed starting card on the hex.

Each player takes 13 ships of a single color. One is placed on the score track, and the other 12 go in front of them to form a supply

Each player places 2 Transports and 1 Cruiser on their start card. Transports stand on their end, Cruisers lay on their side.

To finalize their starting place, players draw their start card from the hex into their hand, and then place any card from their hand face-up in its place.

The maximum hand size is 10 cards. If you go to draw cards (except when revealing a face-down board card as explained in Transports below) and hit 10 before you’ve finished drawing them all, you do not draw the rest.

There will be a discard pile next to the draw deck. When the deck runs out, reshuffle the discards to form a new deck.

The Command Center

You have a player mat into which you tuck stuff.

Your Minerals enhance actions; you get these with the Mine action, and turn them into points with Refine.

Your Plan is a personal stash of cards that can be deployed to take a burst of actions; you add cards to your Plan with the Plan action.

Your Techs are cards that you place with the Research action; you get to use one of your Techs each turn.

Taking a Turn

On a turn, you do 6 things:

  1. Place a card from your hand at the end of the Impulse (if you have cards in your hand, anyhow)

  2. Use one of your two Techs.

  3. Perform each action in the Impulse, starting at the top and your working your way to the end (the card you just placed).

  4. Delay or execute your Plan (you must execute your Plan if it has 4 or more cards)

  5. Score points for patrolling the Galactic Center

  6. Draw two cards, and place the top card of the Impulse into the discard pile.

Play then passes to the left.

Terminology:

Action: There are 10 actions in the game (see post above). In brief:

  • Command: move ships to activate sectors, patrol gates, or start combat
  • Build: build more ships
  • Mine: place cards as Minerals into your Command Center
  • Trade:: discard cards to get points
  • Research: place a card as a Tech, discarding the old Tech it replaces (if applicable)
  • Draw: draw cards into your hand
  • Plan: place cards into your Plan in your Command Center
  • Refine: turn minerals into victory points
  • Execute: use an action card in your hand or one of your Techs
  • Sabotage : blow up enemy ships without combat

Actions are always optional.

Action Cards: Cards in your hand. There are 108 action cards, with an even distribution of color and size and an uneven distribution of action frequency. Action cards tell you exactly how the action manifests. Some action cards specify limitations based on size or color. All numbers on action cards, whether words or numerals, inherently include “up to.”

Size: Cards have a size of 1, 2, or 3 depending on the number of gems on the card.

Gems: the icons that tell you the size of the card

From the Deck: Many actions specify that they happen “from the deck.” To use such an action, you draw the indicated number of cards (boosted as appropriate), and then use the ones that match the rest of the conditions on the card.

For example, “Research 1^R from the deck” means you draw 1^ cards, and turn any R ones into Techs. “Draw 1^B/G from the deck” means you draw 1^ cards, and add any B/G to your hand. “Draw three size 1^” means you draw three cards and keep any that are size 1^.

Sectors: The 18 cards that formed the board. When a Transport fleet ends its move on a sector, they activate and possibly boost the action on that card.

Ships: There are two types: Cruisers and Transports

  • Cruisers live on the gates that connect two cards (each card has 6 gate locations - 2 on each long side and 1 on each short side - and cards are staggered such that gate points are connected on cards) and move through a sector onto another gate. Cruisers are used to destroy other Cruisers and Transports in combat. A Cruiser that is sitting on a gate patrols both of the sectors connected by that gate.

  • Transports live in sectors (each card used to form the board is a sector) and move through gates to another sector. Transports may not move onto sectors that are patrolled by enemy Cruisers. When a fleet of Transports end their movement on a sector that is face-up, they activate that card immediately (and you get to take that action). If a Transport fleet ends its move on a face-down sector, you draw that card into your hand, then pick one card from your hand and place it face-up where the sector card was. The Transports then activate this new card.

  • A fleet of ships is any number of ships of the same type that can be moved as a unit with some cards; the cards will specifically refer to a fleet if it allows this. One ship can be a fleet, or 10 ships can be a fleet. The point is that a fleet moves together as a single unit to the same space.

Boosting Actions

Every action card including the Galactic Center has a numeral in a white box. This number can be boosted through the use of minerals or Transports.

  • For every 2 Transports in a fleet that lands on and activates a sector card (including the Galactic Center), you increase the boost value by 1.

  • For every 2 gems on your minerals that match the color of the action being activated (be it an action card or a sector), you increase the boost value by 1.

Transports and gems can both enhance the same sector for mad boost action.

In addition, when activating the Galactic Center, you may count one of your gem colors as “matching” for the purposes of boosting.

Combat

Combat occurs whenever ships attempt to move through space occupied by another player’s ships.

Transports cannot move into sectors patrolled by enemy Cruisers. Cruisers that move through a sector destroy all Transports in that sector, scoring points appropriately (1 for combat, +1 for each transport).

If an enemy is patrolling a sector, your Cruiser fleet must first engage in combat with the enemy Cruiser fleet. Move your fleet onto the gate with the enemy fleet (if there’s more than one enemy patrolling that sector, you pick which one to start with), and then engage in combat.

  1. The defender picks any number of cards from their hands as reinforcements and places them facedown. The attacker then does the same.

  2. Reveal reinforcements. In order to count, the card must match both the size and color of a card in the Impulse, your Plan, or your Techs. Count up all gems on natching reinforcement cards, and return all non-matching reinforcement cards to your hand.

  3. Then, each player collects one card from the deck for each Cruiser in the fight. Add all gems on these cards to the reinforcement total.

  4. Highest total wins. Ties go to defender. The loser is completely destroyed. If there were Transports in the sector where you initiated combat, and you win, those Transports are destroyed too.

Don’t lose combat.

Elimination

If at any point a player has no ships on the board, they are eliminated from the game.

Don’t lose combat.


#13

All this because I beat you by strategically letting the deck play? (;

I think to understand this game, you have to understand (and play) innovation, which packs a lot of chaos, but with more structure. Having played a lot of it, the game can be understood as
Age 1-3: Several base strategies to choose. What style does your hand complement? How can you improve your odds of success in your chosen strategy. Short-term strategy will probably be ahead by the end of this phase but will suffer next round if they don’t adapt or get lucky. This phase has the most control.
Age 4-6: Powerful cards. Chaos increasing but still manageable. Good for foundation builders.
Age 7-9: If you haven’t won yet, you don’t deserve to win via strategy, phase. Increasingly OP cards. Winner highly luck based, although quick tech up strategies take most advantage of this.

I also think the ways you consider impulse to be flawed say something about your style of gameplay. None of the Chudyks reward long term strategy, but hinge on adaptability. How well do you wrangle chaos, especially with limited time?

One thing I would do is divide the deck into tiers (by gem) and establish two milestones that signal the beginning of the next tier.

I also agree that sabotage is a bit much. I would decrease the percentage in the deck, and restrict its usage.

I like execute because there is beauty in an action that isn’t shared in an otherwise shared action game. I also think it works well strategically to allow yourself future knowledge before making a decision. It also occupies a space in your hand. It might be interesting to modify it so it can activate a sector, maybe the distance increased by boosting.

I think the hand is a big issue. There’s a lot of information to process, and a lot of the cards are too specific to work well in combination. Remove specific colors from the actions. Have one of three basic boostable actions you can always take in a turn (draw, build, move), and a smaller hand size. Modify plan so that it functions as part of the hand Actions have to be loaded into the plan (as a regular phase of the turn), and the impulse is filled from the plan. The plan will auto-load the impulse if it hits a threshold.

That’s probably where I’d start & work from there.


#14

So here’s my current thinking for a variant:

  1. Remove all Execute, Sabotage, and Trade cards.

This allows you to still manipulate everything on the board, everything on your mat, and directly engage other players. It also changes the frequency with which you encounter other cards.

Problem: This radically alters color and power distribution. You’re left with 87 cards:

Yellow: 25 (all but two are Command)
Green: 22
Red: 21
Blue: 17

  1. I could leave it at that (and will likely test that version), but since many cards are restricted by both color and size, fucking with that balance will inherently fuck with the use of those cards. That’s just math.

I stared at the remaining cards and realized some things.

-I’m close to 20 of each color, for an 80-card deck

-with little effort, I could get each color close to a power balance equivalent to the base game: 10/6/4 cards of 1/2/3 gems apiece (50%/30%/20% each)

So in addition, I eliminated these cards:

This brought me to 20 each of Yellow, Green, and Red, and 17 Blue.

In addition, it left 20 Command cards in the deck - so that also maintains the original ratio of 25% Command.

  1. I could leave it at that, but that 17 Blue is pissing me off. In order to balance with everything else, I need to add 2 Blue cards at 1 gem each, and 1 Blue card at 3 gems.

But all I have are actions I eliminated. Hmm.

Looking at numbers, after the massacre, Refine is the least-frequent action (6 cards - 4 @ 1g, 2 @ 3g). If I use 2 Blue 1g cards as Refine cards, I bring that up to 8 cards, for a nice even 10% of an 80-card deck.

Then, my next-lowest action type is Plan, at 8 cards. If I use a 3g Blue card as a duplicate of a 3g Green plan, I give a little boost to Plan and fill out my 80-card deck.

Where I’m at Right Now

-Remove Trade, Execute, Sabotage
-Remove additional indicated cards
-add 2 Blue 1g cards as Refines and 1 3g Blue card as Plan
-4 players max

Next Thought

The usual 1g Refine cards are pretty straightforward - they’re all restricted to one of the 4 colors, and give a boostable number of points per gem of that color.

Adding in two more Refines biases one of the colors, making it better.

But 6 cards allows me to capture every combination of 2 out of the 4 colors: B/G, B/R, B/Y, G/R, G/Y, R/Y.

Thus, in a trial down the road, I may revamp all 1g Refine cards to offer a choice of one color or another.

The 3g Blue card will remain a duplicate of a 3g Plan card.


#15

All this because the game’s been bothering me for a while. You helped me remember what’s been bugging me.

I agree that studying Innovation may yield a path forward. And perhaps I’m sounding like I want some long-term strategy game - I don’t.

I’m looking for the core experience that it delivers - a game that constantly pushes towards its end and keeps you too close for comfort - but with more control and more clear structure than it currently offers.

Right now, you have to consider whether a card will go: in the Impulse; on the board; saved as part of a Plan, Research, Mine, Trade, or reinforcement; or discarded to use your basic tech to move a fleet somewhere. So hand is definitely an issue. My thought in slimming deck size is to pare down to essential actions and increase the frequency with which you encounter them.

I have also considered turning Plan into a basic player action. That alone would add an actual legitimate strategic element to the game. I’ve thought of a few specific implementations:

-add a card to the Impulse or to your Plan
-modify step 4 to be “Plan/Delay/Execute”

In both cases, I think a cost of some sort is warranted - discard a card to Plan a card of equal size from your hand? Seems on par with current techs.

Seeding the Impulse from the Plan intrigues me.

RE: milestones: I’ve been poking at that. I’m getting some sense of what signals a shift, but it varies a lot depending on the action - and not all actions are represented at all tiers.

I almost get a feeling that they came up with actions first and THEN assigned tiers. Part of me wants to look at making the actions more uniform per tier, but I think that’ll be a bit down the road.


#16

Ok, here is the bare-bones foundation of a 4X game that is modern, streamlined, and fast to play. I hardly edited this, so it will be hella flawed. This is truly the roughest of first drafts, just straight from my gut to the keyboard. I used X wherever there needs to be a number that I don’t want to decide on.

The three goals of the design are as follows.

  1. Lots of short simple turns. No downtime. No long play times. People feel involved. No waiting time to walk away from the game.
  2. High level of abstraction. This isn’t an accurate simulation that sweats the details. Simplify as much as possible. We want complexity, but not unnecessary complexity.
  3. Make decisions difficult and interesting. Force players to have hard choices so the game isn’t just obvious/luck.

And of course, it should be a 4x game.

Ok, so here we go.

Equipment:

Deck of Planet Cards
Pile of Space Ships
Pile of Space bucks
Bunch of Space Citizens (meeples).

Planet cards have the following numbers on them - max population, ship produciton, space bucks production. In card mode (not rondel mode) they also list one of the four actions. Also, they have a pretty picture of a planet on them.

Object: First to get 10 citizens wins.

Setup: Give everyone a hand of X planet cards. Shuffle the rest of the cards. Everyone picks one card to be their initial planet. They place their planet card on the board and put one ship and one citizen on it. Everyone takes X space bucks. The player who has most recently been in outer space goes first.

Turn structure:

Ok, so I’m going to offer a card-mode and also a rondel mode. You’ll get the idea and pick one or combine them somehow.

Rondel mode: There is a rondel. It has 5 spaces on it. Explore: Expand, Exploit, Exterminate, and Chill Out. Everyone takes one ship and places it on chill out. On a players turn they can move around the rondel clockwise one space for free and take the action their ship lands on. A player can move more than one space on the rondel by paying one space buck per movement beyond 1. Then take the action indicated by the space they landed on.

Card mode: Every planet card says on it one of the four actions (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate). Players play a card and take the action indicated by their card. They then draw one new card at the end of the turn.

After choosing one of the four actions, the current player executes the action they have selected. Here are the four actions.

Explore

Player may take a card from their hand and place it on an empty space adjacent to a planet card on which they have at least one ship. If they do so, they must move at least one ship onto the new planet card.

Whether or not a new planet is added, all other ships a player controls may move up to one orthogonal space each.

Whenever a ship moves, it may “carry” up to one citizen if possible.

Note: There are no restrictions on movement. There is no friendly or enemy territory. Ships and citizens may intermingle freely. The only limitation is that maximum populations of planets may never be exceeded. A citizen may not be carried to a planet that is at full capacity.

Expand

The current player selects a planet on which they have at least one citizen. They also choose a card from their hand which must have a max population greater than the current population of the selected planet. They replace the planet on the board with the one from their hand. They then add one brand new citizen to the planet.

Exploit

Every citizen controlled by the player may do work. The player may activate 0 or more of their citizens at the cost of 1 space buck each. Each citizen either produces ships, space bucks, or cards. How many get produced are indicated on the planet card on which the citizen is located.

e.g: A player has two citizens on a planet. The planet has production of 2 ships, 3 space bucks and 1 card. If the player exploits and pays two space bucks, they may produce, 4 ships, 6 space bucks, 2 cards, 2 ships and 3 space bucks, 2 ships and one card, 3 space bucks and one card. etc. They may also pay just one space buck to produce 1 card. etc. They may also pay 0 and produce nothing.

Exterminate

The current player selects a planet for WAR! They must have at least one ship there and there must be at least one ship or citizen belonging to another player there.

Every player with at least one ship present at the battle secretly selects a number of space bucks (0 is ok) and places them in a closed fist which are all simultaneously revealed. Every player adds their space bucks spent to their total ships present at the battle. Highest total wins.

All space bucks spent by winners and losers are lost. The winner may destroy 0 or more of their own ships from the combat zone. For each of their own ships that they choose to destroy they may remove up to 2 enemy ships and/or citizens of their choice in the battle location.

Chill out (Rondel mode): Do nothing.

End game:

If a player has 10 citizens on the board at the end of their turn, they immediately win the game. This will always happen after an expand action.

How to fill in the blanks idea:

  1. Fancy up the planets. I mean, there always has to be some kind of funky alien galactic center with precursor tech.

  2. Add some way to research/get new tech. Ships that move 2. Ships that carry more citizens. Citizens that make 2 babies at once. Increasing planet production. Double exploring. Combat bonuses. Drawing extra cards. Moving extra on the rondel. There are tons of ways to upgrade.

  3. Add more politics with official alliances and some shit.

  4. Add trading of some kind.

  5. Have special flavorful events similar to Starfarers of Catan or FTL. Everyone loves that shit. They can be attached to planets, or just have an event deck that has one card come out per round/turn/whatev.

  6. Dynamic turn order?


#17

You could always go the route of Concordia and have a frustratingly limiting hand of cards that’s secretly a rondel.


#18

I will now read the rules of Concordia.


#19

We played Concordia together at PAX South 2016.

Transatlantic is Mac Gerdts’s Essen 2017 game and it also uses a hand of cards for pacing instead of the rondel. Lewis & Clark and Century: Spice Road have a similar mechanism. All of them reward players for playing a large number of cards before scooping (even if it’s just ascribing an opportunity cost to the scoop).

The clever idea in Concordia was taking two of Gerdts’s go-to mechanisms (the rondel and earning specific scoring multipliers) and combining them into a single central mechanism.


#20

Oh, THAT’S Concordia. When I saw a picture of the board my mind said “Isn’t that Navegador?”