Where did Space Lords come from?

So I’m working, among other things, on a space-based semi-abstract 4x game. Where did it come from?

I might expand on this in a BGG post, but essentially:

I wanted to make a space-themed game about “jumping around in space” using very simple ships (the only thing I was tracking was shields and bombs), where the ships pre-plotted hidden movement using numbered hexes, fired off bombs, and then revealed to players if they flew into the bombs. One playtester suggested it was a form of Battleship. I guess that’s somewhat true. In any event, while the game was simple enough, it didn’t seem to have any zing, so I put it aside.

The next incarnation used the mechanics of the game (the warping) as a race instead of just jumping and fighting, to see if the race would give it some zing. Alas, no – the jumping proved to be too wierd to deal with.

I then changed the game to use a form of pre-plotted movement instead of warping, sort of like Robo-Rally, which makes sense (in space). Cards would indicate speed and have actions for accelerating/decelerating. It kept the pre-programmed “I might run into your bombs” feel I liked, but the game was unfun, too fiddly, and my group didn’t get zung by it.

I really liked the idea of the racing aspect, and some of the pre-plotted moving, so I cannibalized those mechanics into a different game in my growing design queue.

Going back to the drawing board, I liked one or two ideas and decided to abandon racing and go back to just space combat. I’ve been enjoying some simpler tile games like Hive and realized that as far as I know, there are no tile-based abstracty fast to play 4x type of games, and some of my ideas might work for that. I re-designed those ideas into version .1 of Space Lords (working title).

The first playtest revealed a number of issues, but the spark in a few player’s eyes were there, so I’m thinking maybe this it.

I went back and took care of a few design problems, playtested, re-designed some rules, playtested, and now here we are. It’s starting to shape up into a fun, fast little 4x brain bender with a suprising amount of strategy.

Let’s see what my fellow geeks on Boardgamegeek.com say.

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