|Lots of props make for a smoother/faster game|
I can't stop making up rules. It's a sickness. But I think this time I have it figured out...
Last year I put a ton of effort into a game called War In Space and posted it here on the Downloads page of this blog. The problem with that set of rules was that I didn't really playtest it thoroughly enough, and it turned out to be too clunky and not very fun.
Soon afterward I made a new set of rules, Greater Space Battles, which has given me a lot of fun games. I stayed up until 2 or 3AM a few nights finishing a game and I haven't done that since high school. Greater Space Battles finally let me recapture some of that magic of my gaming youth when I had a good group of gaming buddies and everything was fresh. As great a time as I've had with the second rule-set, something has always been nagging at me to revisit War In Space.
War In Space suffered from a lot of problems, but I've always been happy with the core energy allocation rule mechanic of throwing three dice, with the type dependent on the ship size. Looking closer at my first set of rules, I realized that the biggest problem was the screwed up turn sequence. So I ditched that and made a new little game, combining aspects from my first and second rule-sets. I playtested a few turns today and it worked great.
The key to a non-clunky and fun play experience was a lot of pre-production work. Each ship has a detailed base with information on it, as well as a separate washer that has more ship information mounted on both sides. This eliminates the need for any paper, and these washer-tokens can be drawn randomly from a dish to determine initiative, essential for a solitaire game. They're also plastic coated so that changes during the game can be marked in permanent marker (won't rub off with hand-moisture), and cleaned after the game with isopropyl alcohol.
The big improvement over my other systems is how I track energy points. Now, instead of pennies or tokens, I use little cubes which prove a lot faster as I generally just need to flip one side instead of go grab more tokens off the stack. As the picture above shows, these are really little cubes, only 3/16" per side. Actually, that was a good lesson-learned from the playtest: the tiny cubes proved unobtrusive but fiddly; it took a little bit of time manipulating them because they were so hard to grab. I made new ones tonight that are bigger but still tiny compared to normal d6s, which overwhelm and crowd out the ship miniatures.
So the key is props. The little cubes for energy tracking, the Box O' Death dice rolling tool, the information tokens in their initiative dish, and an alcohol pen all make for a smooth game. Today I finished two turns of a 2 v 2 ship battle in under 20 minutes: in my experience pretty fast for a solitaire game where I have to continually move around the table.
Unlike last time, I'm going to playtest at least two or three games before I write up and post the rules. This blog goes into a year-long deep hyperspace sleep in December, so I hope I have it done by then.