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Monday, September 5, 2011

complexity reduction: simplifying research

I made my third annual trip to Gen Con this year. I didn't get to play as many new games as I prefer, but I did find indented blank dice for sale at Nich Vitek's booth. $40 later, I had 120 blank in my possession. (Tangentially, I also picked up 1955: The War of Espionage, which is a really great 2-player card-driven game.) Unfortunately, I found absolute no 0.5in or 14mm stickers to apply to said dice. I resorted to cutting up a full label sheet into 9/16in (14mm) squares, and then applying and writing on each sticker. 240 stickers and about 5 hours later, I had 40 dice -- 8 dice of each type for my prototype.

I sat down and rolled through a couple of rounds, mostly just to test out the dice. However, I knew I couldn't really continue until I created the player mats for the tech trees and the building cards. I went back to my notes and found that I had 24 of my planned 25 techs, and only 9 builds -- and 5 of those were just for scoring points!

I needed some new effects for the buildings, but I couldn't identify anything that didn't feel redundant alongside the techs. I decided that the diverging tech trees weren't necessary, and were probably unnecessarily complicated. The idea was that each type would have 3 levels of techs with 2 of each of the level 2 and 3 techs, and the players could only research one side of the tree. By creating a linear research path for each type -- something more like an upgrade than a tree -- I can free up 9 more effects to use as building powers instead of techs. I'm also eliminating complexity without sacrificing decision-making!

Unfortunately, I need to figure out which techs to keep, and which ones can be converted into buildings. The main difference between buildings and techs is that techs apply to one type of die whereas buildings tend to affect one action. There are various ways I can go with this; hopefully playtesting will bring some light to it.

With the new tech structure decided on, I was able to mock up some blank player mats to print out. Once I print those out and cut up some index cards for buildings, it will be time to start some solo playtesting!

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