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Second prototype run

1. Changes

Humanoid Wang Xiongmao (Armillary Games)

At this very moment I am completing a 2nd print run quote/list for Panda to make the next upgraded version of AstroNavigators. A list was made after cancelling the previous campaign run, based on feedback from play testers, backers and followers. In the previous blog some of the lunar and stellar observation cards were showcased. Let us take a look at some other changes... Apart from practical and design upgrade requests, the clash between fans of the game concerning anthropomorphic animal use has pushed my intentions to make the human story theme with the sphinx more tangible. Although, some people really want the animals in the game, others love the game, but dislike the animal character. Yet another division exists between miniature enthusiasts and those caring less about sculpted characters. During all the public demonstrations, I also realized that omitting the orrery from the base game would help simplifying the visual impression and learning curve requirements.


Therefore, the funding goal will be based on the base game version without the planetary system board. The selection of a deluxe version however, will be a stretch goal to be unlocked. "The Philosopher's Orrery" expansion with the planets will be an add-on expansion. This will make the starting price more appealing for a wider audience.

2. Sphynx module

The box cover selling point and the issues animal versus human characters have made me rethink how to convey the setting of some of the game mechanics. The new game version and the sphynx mechanics will make the game more adventurous and should make the character variant issue less of a problem.


The new base game version will have two playable versions: the astronomer's game and one with the astronaut extension. The astronomer's game will not be a half baked learning process module, but a full game with a pointing system without the astronaut part to the Moon, omitting the trajectory board and hidden agendas. Nevertheless, the game will still have quests and even a new Sphinx module where you can start as animal and end up with the humanoid upgraded variant, once you are able to track down the sphinx, Sol Ange, with the right combination of emerald stones. Spread out through the map tokens with a unique number from 1 to 12 will be added on areas containing a maximum of two icons from witch one needs to be at least a car or a train.

Sol Age character card and sphynx emerald tokens (Armillary Games)

All numbers except one will be revealed. Every new turn a D12 will be rolled and the corresponding numbered emerald will be flipped to the sphinx wing side, while the previously revealed wing is turned back to the numbered side. Players can collect the emerald tokens, diminishing the pool of emerald numbers on the map. This will limit Sol Ange's mobility. Once at least 2 emerald tokens are collected, a meeting with Sol Ange is possible to remove the animal version and unlock the humanoid upgrade. However, among the collected emeralds of the player, the sum or subtraction of two emerald values need to match the number of the current sphinx location token. Catching the sphinx will not only require emerald collections but also timing and vehicle chain travel preparations to get to Sol Ange when the occasion occurs.


A character card for Sol Ange exists for an experienced player. You can choose a hidden agenda among the left over characters (in the astronaut extended version) to aim for. During the astronomer part however, the other players need to catch you for a meeting matching the current rolled sphynx location value. That current value token will be put on the Sol Ange character card until a new value is rolled. The old value is dropped at the sphynx player's current location, and the new value is put on the card. To increase the aversion of meeting the other characters, Sol Ange will lose knowledge points to the other players depending on the matching location value of the emerald token. If the sphynx player manages to stay away from any meeting, the chosen hidden agenda will automatically be fulfilled! The corresponding character of the chosen hidden agenda will be the new astronaut character while playing with the astronaut extended variant. For the astronomer variant an alternative reputation point system will be implemented.


The upgraded character abilities are much stronger, but the time sacrifice devoted on collecting tokens and catching the right sphinx location for your revelation meeting, is an effort that needs to be well strategized. Sometimes, making good use of your extra instrument is better to win the game, than endlessly chasing Sol Ange. So having your instrument power from the start is already a new experience in the game offering more possibilities for the experienced player.


The solo variant will be the entire basegame variant with sphynx and astronaut module. Aiming for winning and surviving the space race to the game's AI system, while fulfilling a quest, successfully meeting the sphynx and reaching the requirements for your hidden agenda. The latter three depend on the difficulty settings.


3. Humanoid versions

To satisfy a divided fanbase concerning the animals, the base ability with the humanoid art will be available on the back of the sphynx module cards.

Sphynx module card (back and front) of Yuri Newton and the base game card on top (Armillary Games)

Apart from a new ability for the Mirror Telescope, the iconography portraying the instrument actions are now simplified and more clear. Some of the icons have new or real abilities. The compass icon gives you more chance to travel. After each movement, the vehicle die can be rolled for a matching icon on the current space to make chain movements. While being first player, the star map scroll gives that player the possibility to rearrange the newly drawn observation cards. Finally, the telescope icon has the added ability of shifting the revealed top deck card to the bottom. Imagine Yuri's upgraded power!

Sphynx module cards (front) of all the base game characters with the instrument ability on top (Armillary Games)

4.Tile upgrades

Mixed punch board sample image (Armillary Games)

Than we have the issues with the continent tiles in the previous prototype, with the vague labelling of the continent tile type instead of reward value, bringing new players a world of confusion. The absence of a simpler continent reference also took away some of the strategy decisions. Now the reward value is clearly visible on both sides, and the continent colour and shape are imprinted between the icons in the background.


Following a very interesting remark of a Gamefound follower concerning the visibility of the difficulty probability on the trajectory tiles, I have added the difficulty values from big to small fonts. The label 4-3-2-1 indicates the frequency in a particular stage deck of 10 tiles.

Don't mind the coloured lines in the images, the are indicators of bleed, cut and information zones. They will not be part of the art.

To illustrate the difficulty probability scale indication: as an example in stage 3, you can derive that you have 40% (4/10) chance to encounter a difficulty value of 40, but a 20% (2/10) chance for a value of 5.

Front of outbound stage 3 trajectory tile (Armillary Games)

5. Box cover

Finally, I will show you the new box dimensions. The new version will be a square shaped box of 30x30x8cm. This bigger version has more room for less components with a fitting basic insert. The art is another change that was partly forced by the animal/humanoid issue. The characters are gone. However, to accentuate the astronomy theme, we added a telescope in front of the huge logo. This way, the weight of the game will be less deceptive, and the most important message is less on cute anthropomorphic animals, but more on astronomy and the space race. The back art of the box will portray some of the art and game setup overview. Maybe next blog the back art will be disclosed.

New box cover candidate 2024 (Armillary Games)

6. Relaunch Q1 2025

Maybe less good news for the less patient ones. This game has already been a long time project over at least 5 years. The campaign however will probably be relaunched only in March next year. Although everything will normally be set for launch by September, I really want to avoid the period between October and February; lessons learned last year. The main reason why the date is set so late, is because of production for the new prototype (up to 2 months), the time for Rhado to make the video (up to 1 month) and the pre-relaunch visibility (1-2 months). Another issue is the personal financial marketing investment with self earned money that can be spread more comfortable this way. I do plan to have the relaunch page on Gamefound visible by July and build the new set of followers. Unfortunately, I am not able to build upon the previous campaign page.


I am looking forward to the new prototype version and the sphynx module cards. Starting from next week, I will be working on the new rulebook, aiming at a deadline for the new version by the start of July. If all goes well with the 2nd print run, I hope to do an unboxing video of it in August. If the time allows me to work on the upgraded version on Tabletop Simulator (TTS), I will notify you as soon as it is done.


Let me know what you think and don't hesitate to shoot questions or suggestions.


Ad Astra!

Vincent

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Hello Vincent, I really liked both covers from the original GF campaign, but this new one with the winged creature looks good too ! Much better than the one of the 16th June's newsletter, at least in my humble opinion. This creature spurs the imagination far more than the simple telescope in the previous artwork proposal.

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Hi, I find the new box cover artwork far less appealing than the original one, maybe too old fashioned with a 2000s-looking. As I know the box's content and the main game mechanics, that won't prevent me from buying it, but it could prove repellant for potential future backers of the next crowdfunding campaign... Alexandre

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As an example: would it be more appealing with a smaller logo and maybe by giving the animal versus human issue a face on the cover?



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