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 #40: New Terrain Counters
In this article I will discuss the new terrain counters that are added to the game in Replicators.
We started this part of the expansion when GMT offered Jim 8 counters in an upcoming C3i issue. Note that this did not take place so do not worry that you need to track down a back issue of C3i to get any of this. Jim then asked Bob Seifert and me if we had any ideas as to what to put on these counters. At the time we came up with the following. One Asteroid Counter to represent planets that had been destroyed by Titans, this would join the 4 such counters that were in Close Encounters. A dedicated Galactic Capital Counter for use in the Co-Op games from Close Encounters. Two Regional Maps. Two Warp Point 3 Counters. Two Gravitational Anomaly Counters. A review of the counter art that has been released will show that some of these counters ended up not making it and others were added in their place. So let us go over what was added and why some things did not make the cut.
The extra Asteroid Counter was dropped once this project got turned into a full expansion as almost all of the Planet Tiles are back printed with Asteroids. So if a Titan destroys the planet you just need to flip the tile over.
The Galactic Capital was retained and now grants players in a non-Co-Op game 5 CPs per Econ Phase if they can link it to their Home World with MS Pipeline Counters. In these games there can be no combat between players in the Galactic Capital hex so multiple players can gain this benefit.
The Regional Map ended up getting three counters. If a player explores the hex it is in with one of their ships they can then peek at any unrevealed terrain counter that is beside the Regional Map. After peaking they may flip over the other counter if they wish to. Think of the Regional Map as representing a long dead civilization that explored its surrounding space. If you stop in the hex and examine its ruins you will find out what they had learned about the surrounding space.
The Warp Point 3 counters ended up not making the cut. The idea here was to allow the players an extra option in how they wanted to use the Warp Points. Either the three Warp Point 1 and 2 counters or two Warp Point 1, 2 & 3 counters. In the end the need for two extra Tiles to support the counters proved the deciding factor in dropping this idea. Though two Design Your Own Deep Space Counters are included in the final layout which would allow players to use those counters as Warp Point 3s if they wish.
The Gravitational Anomaly counters would represent a region of space that ships could not stay in once they moved into it, but that unless they entered the hex in the company of a unit that mounted Exploration 2 they could not choose their exit hex. The fact that this would end up causing units to end their moves in hexes that they could not normally move into caused us to scrap this idea.
The Space Pirates started out as 3 counters. Each one would represent a different hull size, with different stats. All players would bid to control the Space Pirate once one was revealed. The bidding mechanism was removed once the playtesters pointed out that if larger Space Pirates were revealed early in the game right beside one player’s Home Space they could not afford to lose the bid to control the Pirate while the other players could afford to lose the bid. This led to some very high bids for Pirates that were then not worth that much to the winning player. So this got changed to a simple 10 CP cost to be paid for the Space Pirates services. If you do not wish to pay the cost you must fight the Pirate. The combat is over once the Pirate is destroyed or you retreat. If you retreat the Pirate is then removed from the board. Once the Gravitational Anomaly bit the dust we bumped the Space Pirates up to 4 counters. Two would be fast one hull ships and two would be slower 2 hull space ships. The 2 hull space ships would also have an extra ability determined by a die roll. Examples of this would be the Pirate being equipped with a Refit Bay to allow you to refit your ships without having to move back to one of your Ship Yards. Or a Jump Drive Movement that allowed the Pirate to move two hexes and ignore anything in the hex between where it started and where it ended its movement. The abilities of these two types still ended up being a little overpowering in some cases. So in the end we toned down the one hull Pirates a bit, made all of the Pirates one hull and limited the players to only being able to hire one Pirate at a time.
The Fold in Space is quite similar to the Gravitational Anomaly in that you cannot end your movement in its hex. However you get to choose which hex that is adjacent to it that you move to. This meant that it would not lead to units moving in ways that were against the rules so the Fold in Space was retained and its counters were increased to four when the Gravitational Anomaly was deleted.
As most of the new terrain counters do not permanently effect movement we added one more Super Nova to the counter mix. The second Super Nova counter that is on the counter sheet is one of the Replicator Home Space counters.
We added seven counters that are marked DYO. These are to allow players to Design Your Own terrain or to replace damaged/lost counters. The DYO counters are colored so that two are for use in Deep Space and the rest are for use in the five player colors of their Home Space.
The last counter that I want to go over at this time is Doomsday Machine #4. This counter is for use with a Resource Card that allows you to place a Doomsday Machine on the board. Due to die cutting issues with putting counters of different colors beside each other it ended up with a Purple Replicator Border. But as this counter does not represent hidden information counter that was deemed more preferable than losing a counter to provide a color buffer.