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Ok, after accidentally building a long game - I've now made a shortish one (ten minutes per player, tested 3 and 4 player)

Theme and Terms

(First playtest had some difficulty conveying what I wanted; I renamed some stuff)

The board is a number (15) of planets.  In play, you will have a hand full of technologies you wish to invent; and will build a fleet that uses them at one of the planets.  The neighbouring planets, scared, will then charter a researcher to build a fleet that is at least its equal.  And so it goes round until all the planets have fleets.  Then, presumably, they fight.  But that's not your department, Wherner.


Equipment is a trimmed packet of cards (A-10 each suit, plus two jokers) - which will be made all flavourtexty at some point soon.

You also need some coins (about 20), and some player-colour tokens; about 5 each, and some "ChiefAdmiralResearcher?" tiles (currently 6 defined).  A play space 5x3 cards wide/high.

Shuffle deck.  Deal out five cards each.  First player gets 2 coins, second gets 3 etc.  Tiles go in the middle.


  1. Each turn
    1. Invent a new technology.
    2. May sell some cards.
    3. Draw back up to 5.
    4. Take up to one admiral.
  2. End begins once the draw deck runs out.  Everyone gets one final turn.
  3. Final score is the number of cards you played into technologies, plus three bonus points for each admiral you have.

In more detail:

Invent a Tech

Choose a planet, and an enemy

The planet you've chosen to con^W aid first needs to identify an enemy.  Choose a neighbouring planet.  The number of technologies in its fleet is the danger level.  You can convince your planet to build as many technologies as that level; plus if you have at least one control marker bordering this planet (either on the enemy fleet, or off to one side) then you can engage in a judicious bout of scaremongering; and they'll go one more.

(The middle planet, where war-fever breaks out, always counts as a control marker for this purpose - you can always get +1 at a neighbour of that first planet)

Build the Tech

Choose technology cards, and play them; following each other, starting from the topmost tech on the enemy planet.  You can always follow colour; you can also follow named links (every card has 3 named techs it can build to or from).  {Physrep is of course suit and value, right now.}

It is conventional to announce the path of your research, and the final result, in a mad-scientist voice.  ("We will defeat that puny elctronium fleet with our toroid beams.  But wait!  That gives me a great idea for tachyon blasters - just in case the tachyons attack us too, you understand... and from there we can advance into relativistic morality! MuaHaHaHaHa?!")

Special exception: The start marker can be followed by anything at all; but counts as a total danger level of 1 if you don't follow it.  (Not the normal 2).

There are also "Research" cards, which can follow and be followed by anything.  But you can't use a research fleet to scare people; it can't be the final card played to a planet.  {Jokers are wild}

You must play no more than the danger level; you can play fewer if you like.

You can also skip your build entirely - though if you do so, you must sell at least one card.  (Unless your hand is empty, then it's game-over anyway.)

Put one of your control markers on the stack; and this phase is done.

Sell cards

Optional.  Choose some cards from your hand, and show them to the other players.  The player before you may purchase them for 2 coin (given to you); the next player for 3 etc.  If no one does, discard them, they play no further role in the game.  As above, if you did not build a tech then you must either have an empty hand, or offer up at least one card.

Draw back to Five

If you're already at 5 or more cards in hand, you don't draw any.  Otherwise, draw from the deck.  If you can't draw all the way back to five, then the game end is triggered, and everyone else has one final turn.

Note: The game can also end because the last planet has built a fleet.  If that happens, the game ends at the end of that turn.  This game is deliberately short - in a four player game, you will get four turns.  Maybe five if someone doesn't place.


Each admiral has a requirement to be take-able, and a ban.  If you violate the ban, you must immediately give that admiral to either the player to your left or your right; your choice.
One also has a small power.

It's up to the other players to enforce the bans.  If you think that you can get away with cheating; do so.

{ Moneybags is the main incentive to offer to sell stuff - and why would you buy?  Because you see something there worth at least 1VP to you.  He also forces you to slowly lose coin by buying to make him likely to trade; but less likely as the game goes on (trades occur less later on, once people are hoarding)
In the one playtest so far, however, the incentive to sell wasn't obvious; so I may need to make money worth some VP after all (probably 1VP per 3coin) if it happens a second time. }

More Random Tech Names

Gigatechnology (the opposite of nanotechnology), 4D printers, the Death Galaxy ("That's no globular cluster!"), Rocket Surgery (the ultimate brain science), Boson Jumpers (Keeping Bosons Warm), Tachyon Canon (The religion of Time),  Fermion Cannon (For besiging Fermions), Singularity Drives (to get people to donate unused Singularities)

Ok; making coin worth VP was the right incentive to sell; and the incentive to buy is already there.

Being able to follow in long chains (3H->7H->7C->9C->...) made the game end WAY quicker than expected.  There was a bit of fiddle on working out whether people should get a last play or not, but wasn't too insurmountable.

More importantly though - the game lacks sufficient depth to be interesting.  There's a small skill challenge (build a long chain) and "What should I sell?" but nothing vast.
Working out which leader to steal was equally joyless.

So it needs something more complex, somewhere.

Quarter baked idea - tech double up as role cards.  Four roles; with number determining order (current turn-order breaking ties).  So some turns you get to follow number then follow suit, then sell and redraw, then steal an admiral... and some turns people don't co-operate so good and you get to sell+draw, then steal an admiral, then sell AGAIN, and then, um, oh dear, next turn already?

No idea how that would pan out; but it fills the criteria of giving you something to do, and making the game more interactive between the players - and it also makes some cards more desirable for an actual purpose.
I'd still like to make the techs do something as techs - so the topmost card on a planet has some effect on the game - but I don't know what, without ending up with a game of flux.

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Last edited February 2, 2014 8:41 pm (viewing revision 7, which is the newest) (diff)