Battle for Gallion's ReachEditing the manual is proceeding well. We began creating two videos on playing the game and some still -shots for examples of set-up and game-play for the manual.
Inherit the StarsDevelopment is going well, even though the thrust of our efforts is now on finishing the Gallion's Reach manual. Inherit the Stars is definitely a moderately complex game of sci-fi empire Building. The interrelationships between various racial/empire traits is turning out to be one of the more enjoyable aspects.
Actual game play is dictated by cards representing specific "Operations" which have economic costs associated with them. The more "Wisdom" a race has, the more cards they can draw and play in a turn.
There are Operations such as WAR, RAID, MILITARY (building ships & troops), SABOTAGE, INTELLIGENCE, DIPLOMACY, TRADE, INTERNAL, COLONIZE allow players to take specific action sin support of the goals of the type of Operation played. For example, Playing the TRADE Operation allows a player to establish a Trade Hub. Playing a RAID operation allows a player to raid nearby enemy sectors for $$$ (RPs). Playing a SABOTAGE Operation gives a player the opportunity to blow stuff up. Playing an INTERNAL Operation allows the player to make adjustments to the civilizations levels such as reducing Xenophobia, reducing or increasing Domination, quelling Unrest and Revolts, etc. Playing a DIPLOMACY Operation allows players deal with neighbor civilizations, make deals, demands, establish treaties, etc. And of course playing the WAR Operation means going to war. Each operation has cost in RPs (Resource Points - the game's 'money').
Traits like "Domination", "Influence", and "Xenophobia" as well as "Tech Level" of a race play a big part in dealing with other races and economics and even managing your own colonies. Players can select to tax colonies but, based upon your "Domination" level, these colonies can go into Unrest or even outright Revolt. While revolts on most colonies is a serious annoyance and can prevent a colony from contributing it's production or research to an empire, a revolt on your Home world is most serious and can even spread causing all Operations to stop until the revolt can be quelled with the use of StarLegions and BattleFleets. If revolts aren't quelled they can become Independent Rebel worlds. The only way to get these back is to invade with a BattleFleet or a StarLegion. Rebel planets are also good pickings for enemy empires who can make them a part of their empire instead - especially those with low Domination, high Influence and low Xenophobia levels. Nothing can irk you more than an enemy planet deep inside your territory!
Another interesting aspect of play is the way races win the game. Each race acquires Victory Points by doing certain things in the game.
The Human player, for example, gains more victory points for establishing peaceful Trade by building Trade Hubs within his empire and with other empires. Trade hubs help both races by supplying regular $$$ deposits into the races coffers each turn. But only the Humans get Victory Points for them. Humans also have a nasty mean streak as well, so they also can get some moderate victory points from military conquest too.
But some races, such as the Leshlact and Vargr gain large numbers of victory points from military conquest alone.
The Leshlact are the true dangerous enemy of the galaxy. They can exist on green, ocean and desert planets alike without the technology needed to Terraform them and they can establish colonies quickly and fast because they breed quickly. These large and powerful insect-like carnivorous beings build specialized Swarm ships that can overwhelm anything less than the higher tech-level BattleFleets. But they are handicapped by having maximum Domination, maxed-out Xenophobia and low Wisdom and zero Influence (neither of which can be reduced or raised) and they actually lose victory points every turn they are at peace.
The Vargr are also warriors but far less Xenophobic against all races and irrational in their aggression than the Leshlact. They prefer humanoid-like races, like the Human, Drac, Androz and Ursa, and can even become allies with them. But they will almost always prefer war to anything else when it comes to dissimilar races like the Hurc, Kllor, etc, so whoever becomes allied with them will find themselves at war more often than not.
SPYS LIKE US
Others like the Androz gain more Victory Points for establishing spy networks and stealing technology and RPs ( the game's "money). They can be formidable warriors but prefer to win by sabotage, spying, and stealing. This makes them uneasy allies but they have very low Xenophobia and so they can work with any race - except perhaps the Leshlact.
The Kllor prefer peace and gain more victory points for establishing Alliances and having Peaceful relations but with such a high level of Xenophobia, this can be difficult to achieve.
The Hurc like to spread their Religion, so they will establish Missions in neighboring empires and try to turn your planets into followers of their Faith. They get significant Victory Points for this. Because the Hurc are only one of the two water-enjoying species in the game, they can share sectors with species that prefer green or desert worlds. While this reduces chances for conflict it can also help them spread their religion easier and get those Victory Points to win the game.
The Drac prefer to spread their culture in any way they can. They gain big time victory points for establishing Cultural Centers in neighboring sectors. What starts out as a means to peaceful relations ends up becoming a way to turn your planets into their planets as your people gravitate to their dominant culture. They're cultural dominance can become a plague if not kept in check. Insidious.
The Ursa are a mixed bag. They are good at war and also enjoy trade, so they will gain points for both - sort of like Humans but they are just better at it.
Each race has it's unique strong and weak traits and players must learn to find the best means to take advantage of these traits to win the game while navigating the galaxy filled with dangerous enemies, random events that can cause havoc and the ever-menacing Machines!
THE MACHINES OF DESTRUCTION
The Machines are a largely autonomous race in the game left over from the "Old Ones" who once tried to destroy them (but obviously failed). Bad things (and some good) can be found by races who go exploring the stars looking for places to colonize and one of these things are the Machines. They are nano-sized robots that turn planets into grey goo and, if left unchecked, can wipe out an entire civilization quickly. So players need to be upgrading their technology as they explore since stumbling upon a Machine world can unleash this plague and can be difficult to stop without a decent technological knowledge.
SNOOPING AROUND THE GALAXY
Another "discovery" that can create trouble is Plague which is "discovered' as fleets go snooping about the galaxy and when unleashed, can spread from fleet to fleet and from sector to sector very quickly thus rendering a civilization extinct. So it behooves a player to develop a technology capable of curing this alien disease quickly!
Also, from time to time there will be exploding stars like Nova and Supernova that can sterilize most planets instantly. Only the higher tech levels can protect your planets from this natural disaster.
Exploring the galaxy can bring you benefits as well, such as Treasure worlds that will give you $$$ and Ancient Knowledge that will increase your Tech Level. And there are Old Ones "Hyperstellar Ziplines" or Star Gates they left lying around, that your Fleets can use to zip around the galaxy from one end to the other in one turn. The downside is that so can your enemies!
STARSHIPS & STARLEGIONS
Fleets come in three main flavors (with a few races having specialized Fleets like the Leshlact, Hurc and Kllor) and can be built depending on the Tech Level attained. These are StarFleets - the basic ship type you start the sandbox game with and send out to explore the stars; BattleFleets, which are the mainline combat ships of the game and OmegaStars which are moon-sized battleships. Other ships include Fighter squadrons, BattleStations, the Vargr have Fortress Planets which prevent enemies from taking control of a sector without a StarLegion available to do the dirty work. The Hurc have Disruptors which help them escape destruction quickly. The Leshlact have Swarmships which can overwhelm many opponents and the Kllor have Chameleon Fields which prevent an enemy from identifying what sort of ship they are facing down until it's too late.
Finally all races can build StarLegions which represent automated space-faring robotic ground combat units capable of storming planets.
It's clear that some adjustments need to be made to the game map so that starting sectors are closer to other players. The reason being that in testing, it takes too many turns before players engage one another.
Inherit the Stars seems to have a great deal to offer players who enjoy strategy games that involve exploration, conflict and non-conflict, empire management, etc. Once Gallions' Reach is out the door, this game will come together quickly!
Here is some preliminary art: