Thursday, 25 October 2012

Distant Colonies Update

My copy of Distant Colonies arrived Friday, and I have been vigilantly playtesting it since then.

The quality of the cards is pretty good; the colour didn't come out exactly like I'd wanted, but I am still pretty impressed with them.
A sample colony.  The pink cards are for reference for cards that changed enough that I couldn't write their text on the cards.


Close up pictures of the cards.

There were a number of changes that I still wanted to make regarding the balance of the cards, in addition to overall gameplay shifts (which I will discuss first).

The first thing I noticed about gameplay is that there were not nearly enough terminals. It rarely felt necessary to have any sort of engine, which kind of ruined gameplay. As a result, every Uncommon except one is now a terminal. I also felt that 5 cost Stock-equivalent cards were too boring, and so I have changed a few of them.

The second thing I noticed was that end game kind of sucked. The rares were too cheap and action oriented, giving you nothing to strive for late game; and it also ruined the game length - games either felt too short (to get value from your rare actions) or too long (as noone wanted to empty piles and flooded their decks with cheaper Influence, resulting in not enough buying power to actually end the game). As a result, every rare costs at least 8, and more 10 cost rares were introduced. Rares are also more oriented around Influence. This should keep the game at an appropriate length.
  • Highbrow - He was either too weak or too powerful, depending on the colony. He was either a broken combination with Lobbyist, or generally worthless without it. I scrapped it entirely, replacing it with a modified Professional:
This created a more interesting way to have an Influence heavy deck. It was originally 3 cost, but seemed a tiny bit weak, so I reduced the cost to help it combo with +hire cards (as you generally want a lot of them if you are going for businessmen).
  • Franchisee - This seemed a bit too powerful, especially with a 5/2 opening split. In many cases, it is a better buy than Stocks with your starting 3 credits, as it fills your deck with Stocks and +2 credit terminals, which greatly help your buying power. I increased the cost just to make it slightly less powerful, although I think the more subtle nerf to it was the increase in the number of terminals in the uncommons, which reduces your ability to mindlessly flood your deck with Franchisees.
  • Henchman - He was originally pretty stupid, a village attack; so I decided to make him into a plain terminal attack.
It forces the opponent to make a tough decision: discard a Credit to give you $1, or discard an Influence (or unusable terminal) card and give you more money. It is especially effective late game in a colony with good trashing, where each card in a player's entire hand may cost $5 or more.

I am still not settled if this is the final version of the card; it seems harsh to get nothing if the opponent defends the attack, and does not stack well, as opponents can only usually be hit once by it. I originally also had it give +2 cards, but quickly removed it, as it was overpowered.
  • Warrant Officer - A minor tweak, it now reads as:
This is mainly to make it a little more powerful, and to serve as an alternate big draw card in colonies without Director. The mandatory discard also helps to ensure it is being used for its intended purpose (as a hybrid draw card), rather than part of a pure engine deck.
  • Event Planner has been tweaked into Outsourcer.
The change is mainly to make it different from Stocks. This way, you have to choose between the terminal or the extra money, as otherwise it was a plainly superior buy to Stocks at the 5 credit level.
  • Broker has been tweaked, as it was pretty overpowered before. It now reads:
The idea is that it will only give 1 credit extra of buying power per use, and will not give additional Bonds as consistently. It also makes it appealing as a way to get rid of Credits faster, which is a side effect I don't mind.
  • Professional has been replaced with VIP.
 I am not very happy with VIP just yet, it is pretty overpowered, and it doesn't make for very interesting decks or games. I am working on it.
  • Undesirable has also been reworked, as it was pretty stupid before, and rarely bought.
It makes it a more interesting card, it is useful early on, but needs to be trashed before game end. It is still kind of boring when played, as it is just a terminal Bonds, but it is better than the last version; we shall see if this is its final incarnation.
  • I also have tweaks in mind for Contractor and Lawyer, though they have not been implemented yet.
    • Contractor - (non-terminal) +1 draw, trash or discard your entire hand; +1 draw for every card trashed, +1 credit for every card discarded.
    • Lawyer - +2 credits; each opponent may reveal an Influence card; he gains X Credit cards, where X is 2 minus the unconditional influence he revealed. If an attack would cause you to gain cards, you may reveal Lawyer to ignore it
They are minor tweaks, but I intend to test more before implementing them. Contractor is intended to be a way to massively rework your deck in the midgame, which it does well right now, but this way it could also serve as an engine to make a 5 cost card very consistently. 
  • Brigadier - Minor rework, now reads:
The idea being that Majors are now worth buying en masse, as their pile of 16 cards pretty much never runs out.
  • Assistant has been turned into Plutocrat. This is part of the removing action based Rares. It is:
This helps encourage different deck builds. I like it.
  • Doomsayer - Increased to 8 cost. Still a very cool card, and one of my personal favourites in terms of gameplay, though I fear it will not be able to come out early enough to be useful.
  • Recruiter - reworked completely. 
Even the picture has changed, to accomodate the change in connotation from a Business Recruiter to a Military one.
  • Marshal - tweaked

  • Diplomat - tweaked
The squaring mechanism was cool, but gimmicky and stupid, especially in multiplayer games.
  • Corporate Spy - increased to cost 8, and now has 4 draws.
  • Outsourcer has been replaced with Union Rep (as there is now an Uncommon called Outsourcer).
The final clause is to address its interaction with Doomsayer, who puts the entire pile in the trash. It would give way too much influence if the combo ever went off, and now it interacts in that Doomsayer ruins the Union's day, removing any influence they would gain by depleting their piles. 


I am pretty happy with the changes so far, although I want to make more changes, as it now feels like there are not enough cards that give +terminals, probably a result of the increase in uncommon terminals. I will continue feeling this out, and report back when there is enough to talk about to make an article.

But more on that then;

-Colin

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