Gameplay and development

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

  1. PnP examples

  2. Miniature version on Tabletopia

  3. Development schedule and potential partners

  4. Current rulebook

  5. Enhancing continent tiles in new version in Tabletopia

  6. Enhancing instrument combinations

  7. Vehicle die

  8. Solo variant concept

  9. Super inventions

1. PnP examples


The print and play version has been ready and downloadable for a couple of weeks now. But as the rules and components are enhanced from time to time, a newer version of the continent tiles is on its way. The rulebook needs to have some adaptations to some new instrument and quest rules and to its setup accordingly.


In the following video I have given some directions on how to prepare the PnP material, but the list of the additional game pieces required to play the game can be found in the PnP-zip package as the 'PNP-AN v1.0.0 read me first.txt' file. I am showing the list here once again.

  1. meeples (x7 colours of continents)

  2. small d6 max 14mm (x7 colours of continents) >>>1=car, 2=train, 3=boat, 4=helicopter, 5=plane, 6=command module

  3. discs for 8 planets (grey, orange, light blue, red, brown, beige, green, dark blue)

  4. yellow disc (for ecliptic on star map)

  5. yellow D12 (sun of orrery)

  6. yellow cubes or cylinders (orrery invisibility indicators)

A later PnP-version will include the new rulebook version, the enhanced continent tiles and standee prints of the characters to replace the meeples.




I made some quick pictures of the PnP version, but added the 3D-miniatures of the planets and CM-LM to it. It also still uses the old continent tile version. I you can't wait to try out the new tiles, I have added a link beneath to the Tabletopia version 2.0.



2. Miniature version on Tabletopia


The basic miniatures are all done now and imported to Tabletopia as single coloured game pieces. The physical version will be grey with coloured rings. In the following overview the base has been omitted and clay colour used to accentuate the details.


A lot work and care has been put into getting the details right. Ana is a very talented sculpture, so my input was more technological detailing to get the instruments and the spacesuits right. Sometimes Diego would also reflect on the concept of his drawings and the physical aspects of the animals, like for the eyes a.o. This was the case for the panda for instance.


To have some an example close to mind, is the creation of Yuri Newton. The addition of CCCP (SSSR) was something I explicitly asked to add to both the illustrator as the sculptor. Some detailing of the sheep's eyes , head and legs and especially to the telescope, in fact all instruments in the game, have been guided throughout the process. The cool thing is that all remarks where executed splendidly. The first detailing in the miniature process was the fact that I wanted some real features of the actual Moon for João, and not just an orb that looked like a ball of cheese. This way, experts in the matter, like me, would really appreciate the game.



The next step for Diego, is to finish the extra characters and then focus on the constellations, in order to replace the Stellarium-images in the test version. Afterwards finishing touches of all the graphics, icons and story backgrounds need to be finalized.


For Ana, while waiting for the extra characters and instruments, her next task will be to design the Navigation Knowledge and Difficulty Value dials (NK-DV dials). And besides that, a preproduction process for the casting and printing of the actual physical 3D-miniatures up until now. This way, we can demonstrate and explain the game with physical pieces and not just via Tabletopia.

The following pictures give you an idea of some of the details we went through from illustration to Tabletopia.






3. Development schedule and potential partners

QuillSilver might be a partner in the publication and PR process in a later stage.

Our production partner will be Eastar. Later this month I will negotiate some quotes with Eastar, since we will have most of our miniatures as well. Although graphic design will get another facelift, the components themselves are pretty well outlined by now. For the manual review I will attempt to get Paul Grogan from Gaming Rules! I heard Paul has an academic background of physics and astronomy, so this would be really helpful. He has successfully delivered support to a lot of Vital Lacerda's and Mindclash Games' publications, which I regard as two of my top favourite household names in the board game environment.


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The following are only estimates:

I also hope to grow into a team for Armillary Games by 2021

PRECAMPAIGNING: Start of 2021

For precampaigning I suggest BGG banner announcements and online previewers. The amount of previewers depend on their quotes and our personal upfront budget.

Preview candidates for us so for are:

  • Gaming Rules!

  • Rahdo Runs Through

  • ManVsMeeple

  • Tantrum House

  • ...

I am still looking at whether Hexy Studio or QuillSilver is doing the video commercial.

Hopefully by then conventions are restarting. These are the places where I can shine with the game.

KICKSTARTER: Spring/Summer of 2021 (unless there is a physical SPIEL-convention, then Fall 2021)

PRODUCTION: Late 2021

We have established connections in the past with Eastar, but they connected with us back and so far it clicks. As a factory, they have delivered one of my top 3 games "Lords of Hellas", so hell yeah, I thrust their production quality.

Manual and background book – review and translations (EN, NL, DE, FR, ES, PT, CN)

The background book will be a very important addition to support the story and the scientific background. This book will also be an artbook to portray Diego's and Ana's talents.

DISTRIBUTION: 2021/2022

Distribution and logistics will be done by Ship Naked if both our schedules permit it.

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4. Current rulebook

  • Playtesting rules

  • Outlined concepts

Most of the rules in the current rulebook are final, but some components, triggers and values might need some tweaking as test plays progress. Also the last two modules (4 and 5) are not ready yet and will be part of my tasks for development during the coming months, while its components are also under development. Everything for the first 3 modules is 90% ready rules wise.


The outlined concepts I used to approach the rulebook are science, culture, technology, details and story.


The First and Fast module is a step in module for absolute beginners or young players. It covers the basic mechanics of the game, which is especially related to the astronomical mechanics, hence the science of the game.


The Constellation module digs deeper into the cultural cosmological backgrounds in the world and introduces the characters' asymmetric special abilities and hidden agendas related to the continents.


The Solar System module introduces the world of planetary mechanics and introduces the world of Copernicus (heliocentrism), Kepler (planetary revolutions), Newton (gravity) and even Einstein (Mercury orbit anomaly). An orrery explains the separate movements and retrograde behaviours of planets. A new set of skills via astronomical instruments and continent quests puts a focus on the development of technology to better understand the movements in the sky and even to wield that knowledge into navigation power. Alternative launch sites are also introduced as part of the continent backgrounds.


The Seasonal Events module brings a bit of drama into the game due to climate and weather conditions and introduces different kinds of rockets in the game that can form fun combinations with certain hidden agendas. This module might be part of a stretch goal to add more depth and understanding about climate zones, solstices and equinoxes, and of different rockets through history. As recognized by most, the game is also an anachronical account of spaceflight history and futuristic visions.


The Solo Story module is a way to enjoy the game differently than the multiplayer version. As a solo-player myself, I like it when there is a dedicated solo version and not just a watered down version of the multiplayer version. Some of the characters and instruments are especially made for this module, like the antagonist Arman Piñata and the super inventions. The entire game revolves around a special star map and the character story descriptions are intertwined or lead to a certain direction of catharsis and enlightenment, which will get more attention in this module than in the multiplayer version. Because of my personal knowledge and research, I ended up creating interesting backgrounds that shout to be explored into a full story where certain scientific, but also sociological and cultural aspects can be explained, for which in a competitive gameplay, there might not be enough room.


5. Enhancing continent tiles


As mentioned before adding 3 icons to choose from instead of 1, has been a significant change for all modules. We have noticed some quest and travel restrictions made these bonus tiles less of a 'bonus' in some cases when a new quest or a certain vehicle is undesirable, especially during the rush before launch. We found a way to optimize the possibilities, as to not restrict the usage of a tile, but rather the options and circumstances of using the tile. This also takes away the situation of an ability icon that turns to be useless due to your character's ability. It also paves the way for us to simplify the rules by omitting balancing restrictions like quest choice conditions and complex triggers for alternative launch sites.

The rulebook needs a new update on continent tile setup and rule simplification. I am aiming the deadline for this, together with the Constellation how-to-play video, at the first two weeks of October.



The new continent tiles are already added to the Tabletopia 2.0 version. You can try out the link below. When consulting the rulebook, take in account that the rulebook might not be adjusted yet. Nevertheless, the only setup after shuffling the tiles are turning the stacks face up. And like with the Constellation module version, ignore quest and ability icons when only playing with module 1.


6. Enhancing instrument cards and combinations


The current look of the quest/instrument is going to change into a more practical and ecstatically more pleasing way. Instead of an upper quest level and a lower instrument level, we are going with right halves that are upside down when hidden and covered by the hidden agenda. That way you can turn the card when switching between quest and instrument (finished quest). This gives enough space on the right side to add quests or instruments. Different instruments can trigger super inventions. An example in the solo mode (or future multiplayer expert mode) is the combination of a telescope and the Jian Yi forming a telescope with an EQ guiding system, or an armillary sphere and an astrolabe forming a spherical astrolabe, etc. Instruments will get icons signifying, positioning, time, magnification, EQ-mount, star map, etc. while the super inventions will have a combination of these icons, showing what combinations of instruments trigger the super inventions.


7. Vehicle die


Some asked why not change the vehicle die into tokens. I really wanted to keep its roll capability for the future. Whether it is for seasonal events or for later expansion modules, this could add some additional twists. As for the size of the D6 dice, they will be around 1cm.


Each square on the world map should be able to house 4 dice without stacking, if no rocket miniature is present to indicate rocket type and space port.


8. Solo variant concept


An automa or AI of the game, portrayed by tortoise Arman Cherepakha (Russian meaning 'Arman the Tortoise') and nicknamed Piñata, will try to make your life difficult by hiding the star map he found in the old observatory. Meanwhile he and his fellow cosmonaut tortoise Teplovoy Ekran (Russian meaning for 'Heat Shield') are making a flyby return mission called Zond 5. You need to find the star map before they return and splash down on Earth to prepare for a landing mission. Only with the old star map and a certain instrument combination to unlock the required super invention to read it, will you be able to be the first to set foot on the Moon. This solo module will also be ideal for learning to finish quests and combo instruments in a short time frame.


9. Super inventions


A small taste of the first confirmed super instruments of AstroNavigators are listed below with some pictures.

  • EQ guiding system

  • Orrery

  • Harrison's Clock

  • Spherical astrolabe of Sphinx Sol Ange



Final note

This blog was rather extensive, but a lot of development and final planning is going on before we hit 2021. Then, the precampaigning period will bring final illustrations and graphic designs to a close to setup all the info, previews and stretch goals for backers. If everything goes according to plan, around a year later the Kickstarter will be launched within the frame like mentioned before. Some of you might still think it is a relaunch from a previous project, but I definitely don't see it that way anymore. This project has turned into something different. The only ties you will find are the core mechanics, but heavily enhanced and the gameplay has grown so much, that not only aesthetically, but also some of the best aspects of the game, like chain traveling, instrument quests and the end game with the onboard scanner telescope and sextant has outgrown its promising, but rather infantile helpless predecessor in retrospect. In essence, this game will be the best it can be for a real board gamer with a heart for astronomy, cultural heritage and space flight.


So, that's it for now! Write or talk to you later...


Vincent

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