Galactic Battlecruisers – Part 9: Second playtest
by Diego Beltrami
Changes ahoy! A new testing run. Will the new mechanics fit into place and create a better game? The answer to that question is… maybe.
There were some issues regarding how we set up the game that affected negatively the playtest. Despite that we got to check some of the new mechanics. Some worked, some didn’t.
The biggest problem was asteroid setting. We put one of the big ones in the middle. This slowed down the game from the beginning. Evidently asteroids are fun but the game shouldn’t be about them. Now we’re thinking about restricting them to certain sectors of the board to avoid running into this issue. Asteroids on the sides might help tactics, asteroids in the middle are just bothersome to the flow of the game.
Then the new damage system works fine but it’s lacking soul. You choose a weapon and system and that’s that. There is no flair to attacking. It feels like paperwork, it needs some interaction to make it more exciting and involving. Despite not hitting anything I think that the previous game felt more fun because of that. In the same vein evasive manoeuvres had the same issue. If player A attacks and player B has movement orders for evasion is just both of them reducing one order without any excitement. Might have to get back to dice rolls just with a much higher hit probability.
Drones keep being useless. The whole systems ends up in a stunlock. They’re worthless as the fighter game ends up becoming who makes a mistake first. We were thinking about making fighters more dependant on the flagship, not allowing them to get very far from it in order to allow bombers to move freely on the board without having to move with an escort. But I’ve been thinking and those seem to be just patches on a fundamentally broken system. I’m thinking about scraping them altogether and replacing it for a missile / point defence system mechanic. The game is about battlecruisers, fighter combat should have a whole other game on top of that to work in a way that’s interesting. Also it’s too much work and orders to cause minimum damage. That should also be balanced, one attack order = one drone move is too expensive.
On the other hand, the shield system worked fairly well. Having to chose which systems to protect and which ones to leave vulnerable made the game more interesting tactically, and makes movement phase more interesting as the player now has to see if he can exploit any weakness the opponent might have.
Repair is getting there. It’s still too powerful but it’s becoming more interesting. Maybe increasing order cost, making it a limited resource, allowing to repair only the second damage point or just a combination of these might do the trick.
Now, the changes in Electronics made it more interesting, but without a complete weapon rebalance the most likely target every turn is the ion cannon because of its range and attack angle. This might prompt me to go back to shield penetration mechanics. Also in need of balance is the plasma cannon, forward facing fighting is too powerful, there has to be an incentive for broadside combat.
Penalizations for sector damage aren’t working well either, with some sectors more useful than others it requires a great deal of balance that I haven’t been able to achieve.
I think the problem here is trying to test everything at the same time. Next playtest session will be about only a few features, probably testing how combat works without fighters, electronics, repair and damage penalizations just to observe the flow of the game and if basic combat keeps being fun. Then I’ll see of adding features and then balance the interactions between those.
Besides that I’ve been working a bit on the design side being that the game assets are quite ugly. I’ve looked at system cards first and I’m quite pleased with how those ended up.
A little peak on what I’ve been working on:
Next test session might take a while so updates will certainly get scarcer.