Updated: Jun 18, 2021
With the skills of our talented 3D-sculptor Ana Román, we developed a thematic, ergonomic and elegant way to track navigation knowledge. During the various playtests, it is safe to say that the average knowledge point to make it to the Moon and back while having at least a lunar phase or two is around 100 NK. A typical double dial system, which is rare to come by already, wouldn't be enough to track your progress. While this dial was in my head for a while, I can say I am thrilled that Ana managed to engineer the dial so that there is no friction between the separate dials which can drag the other dial while turning the knobs. The knob designs were inspired by the cockpits of regular airplanes and of the Apollo command modules.
On top of that, Ana added her artistic touch to the dial and used armillary rings as an inspiration to get a sense of gyroscope gimbals and navigation. The knobs themselves have the visual similarities of the gears and cogs of an orrery. This design should blend nicely with the overall theme of astronavigation. The 000 and 100 switch gives the player a tactile indication for a reasonable 'go' for launch.
The knobs are ergonomically different as to have a distinct feel of using them separately while turning each decimal dial (single and double digits). The smaller elongated knob is for finetuning, while the large gear is for milestones such as scoring constellation sets of 10 NK.
I have added some colour touches to the prototype player board. Some token areas, like the one for the lunar phases have been shifted and enhanced to make space for the newly developed dashboard dials for the Navigation Knowledge (NK) and Difficulty Values (DV).
Solo play Antagonists
Arman Cherepakha and Teplovoy Ekran are the two antagonists in the solo story module, describing our whimsical approach to the Zond 5 and Apollo 8 events before the multiplayer modules in our AstroNavigators' universe. Neil Aquila (or another character of your choice) became wary about the Eurasian cosmonauts' progress in space navigation. The tortoises were even confident to escape an earthbound orbit so soon towards the Moon. During the mission Neil went on spying and caught a sniff of Arman's mysterious old secret. Well, not old for a tortoise, but enough for us. Rumour goes around that a 19th century star map has helped the Zond 5 cosmonauts with computing their lunar navigation coordinates. Soon Neil found out that the star map was key to an astronomical super invention.
Your mission is to seek out which super invention Arman and Teplovoy are using before their Zond 5 flyby mission is over. Arman made sure finding the secret would not be easy if anyone would ever discover the star map before they would conquer the lunar surface. But Neil's first mission is to get in lunar orbit after deciphering the secret, to pave the way to future landing missions.
Fun fact: The Zond 5 mission was originally planned to fly human cosmonauts around the Moon, but the failures of Zond 1968A and Zond 1968B led the Soviets to send a tortoises mission instead, from fear of the negative propaganda of an unsuccessful crewed flight. This critical act of cautiousness, was previously more something you would expect from de USA. Nevertheless the successful Zond 5 mission sufficiently freaked out the Americans during the Apollo 8 preparations in order to take a gamble on this window of opportunity to catch up and take away the Soviet's lead.
During the solo game, as explained in the blog "Solo Module and 3D-print Masters", you will need to complete certain quests and uncover the decoy super inventions, while forging the right one before the tortoises return to Earth. Some might have seen the first prototype solo board for initial test purposes, but the intention is to have a location board linked to a place on the map.
This board, here the old observatory where Arman used to work, has several spots to place your astronomer to look for clues. In future expansions, more of such location boards might enter play if proven well-liked by the board game community.
Locations like famous ancient and modern observatories comes to mind, like Tikal, Pyramid sites, Greenwich, Keck, a.o. All this in combination with other ideas I will discuss next time. Apart from a lunar landing expansion, some mini-expansions with small collection cards (star types, nebulae and galaxies) granting temporary actions in combination with a matching constellation, might require the use of several observatories. Although, it is for the future, as a (starting) company you need to draw out some perspective. The next game however won't be an AstroNavigator expansion, but themed around weather forecasting.
The images above are rude sketches of the old observatory (see also following movie), holding tiles with the super inventions, and one of the Zond 5 trajectory. One of the stretch goals when this project does really well, is the 1880 brass EQ-telescope to put in the dome on the hidden super invention token. The back of the Zond 5 trajectory will depict the orbit mission for Apollo 8. This trajectory tile will fit on the multi-player trajectory on the main board.
The space suite of Arman Piñata Cherepakha is real. This Krechet space suit was designed in 1967 for Soviet lunar cosmonauts. Primary life support was good for 10 hours after which a resupply was needed. The shelf life was only 48 hours for space operations.
Because of the tortoise shell, the huge dimensions of the backpack on the real suite is perfect for the game to house supplies and the shell together. Cosmonauts needed to climb into the suite via the backpack, which also functioned as the entrance door!
Situation Armillary Games
The year 2020 has been a strange year affecting nearly everyone in the world in some way. Although we have seized the opportunity to invest in miniatures via Tiny Factory studio, we have had some stagnation in the illustrations due to the COVID-19 situation, making life for some of our team members less convenient. The production for a physical demo game has also been replaced with a TTS-version. Armillary Games will be officially registered as a Belgian company in 2021 and its VAT managed by our accountant. Not only will we be present digitally and fully registered as a company, we are also moving physically at this moment privately and professionally to our own place. Yes, we did it. We took the step to buy real estate. Armillary Games will have its dedicated office room, playtesting room and demo printing room for board game components. Now that the master models of the miniatures are waiting to be copied at the new location, a physical demo print of the game will follow shortly. Now that the vaccination process has started in our country, let us hope physical demonstration opportunities will follow too.
All the moving preparations, combined with another job, with outsourcing limitations concerning caring for your child in lockdown, does slow the AstroNavigators project down. But the behind the scenes investment will be well worth the effort! I guess, the slow progress of Arman has to do with him being a tortoise or thematically misleading us ;-). But rest assured, my brain concerning the project was not resting. Far from it!
Standard edition versus deluxe edition
I am still pondering over how to present the versions in a crowdfunding campaign. There will absolutely be a version that is affordable for anyone to play, and one with all the whistles and bells of miniature gore. I will probably make a poll on whether we should present a separate standard box and a separate deluxe box, or whether we should offer the standard box + deluxe upgrade add-on options. In the latter option, the standard wooden tokens, stickers, punchboard dials and tokens are delivered as well. I really hope by then, we can use Gamefound! You can always leave a comment to elaborate your own option preference and why.
OPTION 1: Standard version
OPTION 2: Deluxe version
OPTION 3: Standard version + add-on pack(s)
Click content lists for drafted details.
I greatly wish 2021 will have changed all of us for the better. That it may bring board game buddies back together. My thoughts goes to the less fortunate and lonely people in 2020.
In light of our project though, let us drink to our new company Armillary Games. That it may grow with a continuous creative team and a strong fan base with gamers such as you, to support us adding some more joy to the board game community!