Replicator (and Talon) Tuesday Issue #30: Tile Artwork

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Replicator Tuesdays is an article series appearing on InsideGMT. It features insights into the development of the 2nd expansion for the board wargame Space Empires:4x by Jim Krohn.  Here the designer, developer and play testers will share their thoughts and experiences on this upcoming expansion. Since there is much crossover between the Space Empires and Talon development teams, both Space Empires and Talon articles will be featured in this series.

Issue #30 Tile Artwork

Talon Tuesday Issue #13: Empire War

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #13: Empire War

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I loved to play tactical space combat games as a teenager.  One off scenarios were fun, but I almost always ended up designing a campaign game which would allow me to string scenarios together.  So, when I was designing my own game, some kind of campaign game was definitely going to happen.  It works even better with Talon because the individual battles play so quickly.  It is possible to get multiple games in during a session, especially if you are conscious of trying to preserve your flee.  With that mindset you will more often than not avoid fighting to the (bitter) end.  When to jump to FTL to save your ships becomes a very important decision that also tends to make games go even quicker.

Actually, the scenarios we provide are interesting enough that there is plenty to keep you busy without the Empire War – invading planets, base assaults, convoy protection, lots of interesting terrain – but since some of these elements have found a home in the Empire War, it also makes the Empire War even more interesting.

Talon Tuesday Issue #8: Under the Hood (Part 2)

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #8

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A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the Weapon Sheet, which we used to objectively calculate a relative point value for each weapon.  That sheet feeds this sheet, the Ship Point Sheet, which assigns a point value for every ship attribute so that a total point value for each ship can be totaled.  Our goal all along has been NOT to just balance scenarios, but to balance ship classes to make it easier for people to design their own scenarios.  Had the ships between the empires been similar, this would have been an easier task and perhaps this sheet would not be needed.  However, we played with just about every aspect of each of the ships and made each empire and each fleet unique.  Here is a look at the main parts of the sheet and the rationale behind them. (To view the Ship Point sheet, you can use this download link.)

Talon Tuesday Issue #6: Under the Hood

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“Talon Tuesdays” is an article series appearing on InsideGMT periodically on Tuesdays.  It features articles from the Talon development team regarding the game’s design, development and upcoming release.

Issue #6 

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Thus far on Talon Tuesday, we have taken a look at an overview of the game, a detailed example of play, and even some fan fiction and back story of the Talonverse.  Today starts a series where we look “under the hood”.  So much work has been done on this system.  It has been refined, refined, and refined.  Some of this work can be seen in the spreadsheets that we have laid out for point values…..and, frankly, I want to show them off.  🙂

The weapon sheet is a good example of this extra work.  There are six major weapon systems in the game and each is COMPLETELY different.  They have different damage, to-hit probabilities, ranges, charging systems, etc.  Originally, point values for weapons were estimated and plugged into a larger spreadsheet on ship points.  The goal was to balance them through playtesting.  However, to balance such different systems proved very difficult, especially as we made changes.  A major change in some ways would invalidate previous playtesting.  We needed a system to rate weapons, and the power of weapons, so that changes would not upset balance.  Extra credit goes to Patrick Barley, one of our playtesters, who really helped immensely with the development of this sheet.  In fact, whereas I was the driving force for the ship point sheet, he was the driving force on the weapon point sheet.

Adding the Replicators to Space Empires

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Jim Krohn is the creator of our really cool 4X space game, Space Empires. In the expansions to SE, Jim has managed to give us a bunch of cool new additions and options without making the game unwieldy – a considerable design accomplishment. In this, Jim’s first article for InsideGMT, he takes us inside his newest expansion, Space Empires: Replicators, on the P500 list now and slated for release in 2Q or 3Q, 2015. Enjoy the article! – Gene

SE CoverSpace Empires: Replicators is the second expansion to Space Empires:4x.  As the designer, I wanted to share a little bit about the design philosophy for the expansion.  This expansion introduces a number of great things that add to the game play:

  • Large Terrain Tiles that replace the planets, asteroids, nebulae, etc. when they are revealed. This not only makes the board look cool, but reduces counter clutter and saves space in each hex.
  • A Resource Deck that adds another layer of both strategy and tactics to the game.
  • New Ships (like Battlecarriers)
  • New Terrain

The coolest thing, however, and the name sake of the expansion, is the addition of the Replicators.  Replicators are “Von Neumann” machines, a class of machines that can replicate themselves.  It introduces a possible 5th player to the game as well as adding another way to play it with just two players.  While the first expansion had empire advantages, which gave each player a special power, the Replicators are a different animal altogether that play completely differently from all the other players.  It is not just an empire with a special power, it is a new way of playing the game – they don’t have the same ships, they don’t have the same tech tree, and they require less book keeping.