Early on, a player could win by reaching a threshold of total military of all planets. This was a precursor to the UR card.

2/16 Dear Diary,

Latest military values required to win:

18 cards = average of 3 military per planet = 54.

Also early on, the game would end after a certain number of rounds. If no one reached the military threshold before that number of rounds was completed, whoever had the most credits won. (Just like real life)

How many rounds? That depended on R and N:

5 rounds with 4 players = 20 active-player turns + (up to) 60 (20*3) follow-turns = 80.

4 rounds with 4 players = … let’s see the pattern here.

Let R be the number of rounds, and N the number of players. We’ve got

R*N active turns + R*N*(N-1) follow turns = R*N*N turns.

8/3 (not implemented) Give a start of the round bonus (1 credit) to the player with the least VP. This would force the players to pay attention to who’s winning. But maybe we want that attention to be a skill-testing part of the game.

7/26 Changes from publisher’s playtest session last night:

  1. Endgame - if you have 15 VP (or more) at the end of your turn, you win. Game over.

7/25 At this point, you play a certain number of rounds, unless someone is running away with the game.

Victory Threshold

I’m sorry that the victory threshold triggered in this game. Most of the players were close to victory, and I think I would have preferred to see how the (remaining?) 1.5 rounds played out.

I think the purpose of the victory threshold is to end the suffering if there is one runaway leader. We could solve this differently, by changing the condition to “If you have more VP than all your opponents combined”, or maybe we don’t need it at all. Playing any game is optional, and, while it’s not a satisfying experience, players can always decide to stop a game early if one player has a dominating lead.


Out of cards (round 4)

We exhausted the deck of cards during round four, just when things were starting to get interesting,  so I don’t think this should be an endgame trigger.

Fleet Bonus

I think the Fleet bonus is too swingy, as it’s completely hidden from other players. If it awarded points based on the number of cards in hand (2), I think it would be more in line with coins. Or, maybe the military value on some of our basic planets is too high. Compare it to the UR (the other type of victory points only scored by a single player), whose value is public throughout the entire game. I think the number of hidden VP should be about half that as from any other source.

Divided fleet bonus in half.


End Game

The end game is triggered by a player getting 15 visible points (stars on planets + coins/5 + the UR card) or by reaching the end of the 7th round.  All actions can contribute to visible points. You finish the round.

Sources of points:

  • 1 per star on planets (+1 to printed value, so basic planets are 1 each, and upgraded ranges from 2-4)
  • 1 point per 5 coins in hand (rounded down, max 5 points)
  • Largest fleet gets 1 point per ship. That is, everyone total the basic military power of cards in their hand. Whoever has the most will score that number of points. If there’s a tie no one gets it. (TBD)
  • Universal Rule card, which belongs to the person who contributed the most to the last successful attack. It’s value is equal to the number of rounds. Max 7.

Note: this doubles as a round counter. 7/19

Single Victory Condition (destroying planets)

Instead of upgrading to victory, you win by destroying the most planets (over a certain number of rounds). Upgraded planets could have “shields”, which reduce the effectiveness of each player attacking you. A shield of 1 means you ignore the first coin spent by each player, a shield of two, you ignore each player’s first two coins, etc.

This fixes: Games where there is little to no attacking. Games where only one of the two victory conditions really matters.

Reservations: Some players (euro-players) prefer building over destroying. If a player is behind, they might not want to build a planet, as it’ll just be destroyed by someone else.

Single Victory Condition (developing planets)

As an alternative, upgrading your planets might be the only path to victory. Then attack is used purely to keep the leader from winning. Attacking could also give an additional benefit (more credits, extra actions, downgrade opponent’s planets, etc.)

7/15 Dear Diary (At this point, a player could win by either destroying 3 planets or upgrading 3 planets).

Post playtesting (2 games): 5 players each (3 upgrades to win, 3 destroy to win)

1st: 6 rounds, 32 minutes, 3 attacks (one of which was defended)

(Introduction of Victory Stars)

How many upgraded planets should you need to win?

I jokingly said that the right number is probably 3 and a half. Three cards is too few (as evidenced in the second game), and can lead to a surprise victory that players didn’t have time to prepare for (or prevent). Four cards is too many - with 5 players and 18 cards, no everyone can get 4 cards (let alone get them into play and upgraded).

One possible solution is to not support a player count of 5. But, as I saw today, the 5 player experience is really quite good.

One possible solution (which I don’t like) is to require everyone to play planets in their basic form, and then upgrade them later. I think it’s frustrating if you have a good planet (and the money to play it) not to be able to put it into play immediately.

So, the solution I do like (for now) is Victory Stars.

Victory Stars

With the last PnP update, I added yellow stars to the upgraded side of cards to make them easier to see from across the table. Basic planets have no stars, upgraded planets have 1 star. What if this were a knob we could turn?

More expensive (upgraded) planets get 1-3 stars (basic planets still have none). You win as soon as you have at least 8 stars in play. It’s possible to do it with 3 cards, but more likely it’ll be 4. A player with 5 stars in play could be on the verge of victory (playing an expensive 3-star upgraded card), but a player with 4 stars is (at least) two steps away.


Develop or destroy?

There are two paths to victory - development (upgrade 3) or destruction (destroy 3). The correct balance is probably specific to a given play group. Some people will prefer to known outcome of the the other actions to the unknown (opponent-dependant) outcome of attacking.

After no one attacked in the first game, I joined in to see if I could stir up some attack action in the second game. There were two successful attacks (both initiated by me, although I didn’t get planet as a bounty in either) over 6 rounds, but that was it.

I didn’t play in the final round, and there were no attacks. The player whose planet I destroyed in the second game felt that he was effectively eliminated from the game, and opted to sit out of the third round :(

As a variant, experienced players could play multiple rounds in a row. If the first game is won via development, it should take 4 upgraded planets to win the next round. If it was won via destruction, it should take 4 destroyed planets to win the next round instead. That is, I’d like to encourage players to adjust the victory conditions to match their collective play style.

7/9 Reduce the winning condition from 5 upgraded planets to 3. You can still also win by claiming 3 destroyed planets as bounty Both victory through destruction and victory through development should be feasible. Five planets seemed to difficult, so players just focused on attacking each other.

10/20 Getting 6 points from Fleet is a lot. Manny had 3 cards with fleet values 5, 5, and 2. If you’ve got those cards in your hand, why would you bother attacking?

After reviewing the military values of all the (basic) planets and recalculating new proposed military fleet values for everything, we went for the more simple solution - Divide Largest Fleet Bonus by 3

10/19 - I think one of my favorite parts of the game is after it’s completed, and each player shows everyone else how they were planning on winning. “See, if I just upgraded this guy, then attacked and got the UR card …” - it leads to everyone wanting to play again.

It’s possible that 13 VP is too few for 4 players. Maybe 14 VP would be better.

10/13 You can declare victory either before or after you action for the turn. You cannot, however, do an action and then declare victory before giving your opponents a chance to follow.

10/11 New victory threshold (3P = 15, 4P = 13, 5P=11). We had 4 players.

10/10 Manny won by having a lot of fleet cards in his hand (mostly from exploring early). Fleet in hand was worth more VP than the UR card, which might be a problem. In the first game, Manny attempted a sneak attack victory, but another player had more fleet, so he discarded and play continued.

It was a great, memorable moment.

10/10 If you have enough points to win at the start of your turn, do you still need to select an action? I believe you do. If nothing else, you can always Produce.

  1. Related: Can you explore when the deck is empty? Do you still have to pay?

10/4 Cards that can score extra VP (e.g. the Banking Victor) should probably have a special icon to draw attention to themselves.