After 5 long years, the expansion for Chaosmos is nearly upon us. I’ll be showing it a bit at Gen Con (although my booth – Vigour Games #566 – is mostly about GROWL).
Some of you seem to play the game as a thematic exploration/combat Ameritrash game. So you play the game and have fun but to some degree miss the point of the simplicity of the system. This is, at its core, a complex version of Rock/Paper/Scissors. From a design perspective, Chaosmos was conceived as a deduction and deception game. (“Did Andy drop off the Spores once I defeated Paul because Andy scryed Paul’s hand and knows I might have taken the Spore Immunity? Or did Andy KEEP the Spores in his hand, knowing that I know that he knows?”) So take that as a baseline for where I am coming from when making decisions about where I am taking the expansion.
Your General Requests for Improvement:
1. Reduce combat. Combat sometimes overwhelms the game in the final turns, and everyone attacks the guy who does in fact have the Ovoid. (This happens in my own game group about 33% of the time.) Players are afraid the Temporal Displacer will get used, so they prematurely launch their big turns, and then have no more aces up their sleeve for the final round. I view this feedback as requesting a larger diversity of defensive or weapon-negating strategies, or that players want a more tangible reward for exploration and deduction and concealment.
2. Speed the ending. The final turns drag with experienced players. This is likely an issue with the Temporal Displacer, which can be difficult to use effectively when maximizing your hand in the last turns.
3. Add gambits. Some high-risk/high-reward opportunities could be very valuable for players whose strategies have failed, and thus would be given renewed hope in the final turns. And it’s better to launch a crazy and dangerous final turn than simply say “there’s nothing I can do.”
MY DESIGN GOALS
• Up to 6 players (with alliance powers and opportunities for betrayal) – “shared win” as an optional variant
• 5 minutes to set up or less – regardless of player count – in other words:
• Tighten and codify cardset for 2-4 players, with added “5+” cards when playing 5 or 6 players
• Under 3.5 hours to play, even with all modules (when playing to max of 45 or 48 turns)
• Reduce emphasis on combat and more exploring and hiding
• Tight integration between planet effect tokens and cards so there’s ALWAYS some cool interaction or other way to have an epic final turn even if you made grave errors
• 4 unique aliens of varying complexity, each exploiting an untapped key game mechanism
• New cards that push the boundaries
• Dozens of bonus powers that boost new lanes-of-play and opportunities for players in weak positions
* For years I playtested versions of the game using an Agenda deck of rules-breaking political goals. The concept was lifted from Warrior Knights and especially Twilight Imperium. Players got votes based on Influence and the number of landing flags they had on the board. This increased the game time by nearly an hour, and added little. So I folded those powers into the new “Klik-tek” upgrade powers. You can earn hyper-ore a few different ways and spend it on universal rules alterations and personal upgrades that trigger at various times. It’s cleaner and faster this way, and lets the conversation be natural (“I’ll trade you hyper-ore to upgrade your tech”) rather than artificial (“I’ll bribe you to help me pass an agenda!”).
• The “BIG IDEA” of the expansion – I am going to not announce this quite yet…. Sorry.
First of all I wanted to explain that I’ve tried numerous new types of Bases and Vaults. They just didn’t work in playtesting as well as the original versions did. I won’t bore you with all the rejected ideas, but about 4 ideas made it to the last phase of playtesting before getting abandoned. The originals are just better, and interact with the cardsets in beautiful and subtle ways. I likely won’t be adding any new Bases and Vaults, but I will likley have cards and planet effect tokens that make Bases and Vaults work differently.
I finally realized that TRAPS are the interesting mystery surprise flip cards – so most of the cool ideas I had for new Vaults and Bases actually became new Traps.
There’s a LOT of new traps and I’m not sure what to do about it since I only wanted about 3 in each game, and I don’t want to slow up the game setup. There’s Hyperspace Trap, Secret-Base Trap, Toxoplasmic Trap, Ovoid Trap (formerly Squeeze Trap), and Scry Trap, in addition to a slightly buffed Telethwarter Trap. Playtesting on these is not complete at high player counts – I am trying to get the number of Traps down to 4 unique ones and just let players shuffle them all into every game. So all games will have 4 traps instead of 3. I don’t want a lot of extra traps because despite all your pleas for more more more stuff, I actually think what you want is a tight, robust experience that is very different from what you are used to.
Ok, that’s it for now…. Make sure you are on the mailing list for the game.