A Makeover for Empire Reborn
I was smugly satisfied with the quality of the prototype I brought to GenCon (shown above). Perhaps it was the actual design, but for some reason I looked upon the hideous prototype much like a 4 year old proudly gazes upon his heap of mud. The praise was undeserved, even if it emanated exclusively from my mind.
As noted in this post, one of the biggest pieces of feedback I received with the prototype was that it was poorly presented. Information was not easily obtained nor retained. Things were not presented in a way that reinforced the actual gameplay. It was merely a smattering of information and the player had to both find what he needed to find, then re-learn how and when to use it.
The two biggest changes were made to the game board and the player Reference boards. Let's take a look!
Game Board Updates
This new board features:
- A score tracker for players to easily reference and track their scores.
- A place to set the Strategic Victory cards (previously they were off the board).
- A larger board to accommodate 4 players and many pieces.
- A more balanced map: more territories more evenly distributed, equal distribution of valuable territories for all players, and modified placement to eliminate edge rules.
- The Score indicators on the round markers now tell you WHEN a scoring phase occurs, but also WHAT is scored (using icons).
- An actual map with some decent art! A friend, Chevee Dodd, quickly whipped this up for me. You can quickly see the difference between cities, HQ, normal territories, and Seaports. Plus, you can do so when setting up.
Here is the map from the rules with the call outs for all the components (click on image for a larger version).
Player Reference Board Updates
These saw about 4 or 5 significant revisions. Before I go too deeply, here is a quick snap of the boards I tested at GenCon:
Here is a new card with the explanations on it (this is from the rules):
- Instead of merely listing the round phases, I now present them from left to right in Black boxes with numbers. These are at the same level. The intent is that everything you can do in THAT phase is listed accordingly.
- There is space (at the top) to store all of your tokens and markers. This is for easy upkeep, but also, I can glance at your board to see what you have.
- Tactics, previously very confusing, are shown as you can use them. Defensive Tactics pointed to. Then offensive Tactics.
- Lots of color coding. I will reinforce things subtly and then with a sledgehammer.
- Little rule and scoring reminders sprinkled throughout.
Cards were given some tweaks as well. I've upped the sizing from mini-cards to standard poker cards. I also created a very simple box in the top left of the card to hold the functional information. I was inspired by Morels here.
The other big change is that two of the cards no longer have their functionality listed on the Reference boards. This was stupid of me and the information is now on the cards. Here are two cards so you can see the difference. The top is a simple one used for Tactics or Reinforcement. The bottom is one from the same faction for the Field Marshal card. For now, I'm using the same art for each card, with every faction having different art.
Overall, the protoype will look and feel much better. Presentation and satisfying tactile elements are so fundamental for a good board game experience. The new prototype now features:
- Full poker cards for the player decks.
- Mini-cards for the Strategic Victory cards.
- Quad fold board. This will be far higher quality than the mat used previously.
- 10mm cubes (up from 8mm cubes).
- More tokens for Control and white disks for the Battle flags.
And for my own personal prototype, I obtained these...
If this prototype tests well, I hope a few things will happen immediately. One, I hope to send one to the publisher. Two, I intend to post a Print-And-Play version for enthusiastic people to download and try. Finally, if there's interest, I'll allow folks to buy this beta version IF they want, with the understanding it's still in development.