February 24, 2019

So, writing a blog seems like a good idea. If you found this page, you are most likely familiar with the theme of Moonshot: The Next Giant Leap.

As far as we know, no board game has tried to show the true complexity of the Space Race. We know it might be a moonshot for us, especially for a first game, but our team at Game Shuttle Labs thought that one of the greatest technological achievements of the 20th century deserves more love and acknowledgement. Also, as you hopefully know, on 20th July, 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of a living human being stepping on another stellar body. How cool is that?

So, a development blog. I am getting to that!

I plan on revisiting and writing our prior ideas about the design and mechanisms of Moonshot, but let's start with the most recent one.  In Moonshot, we have two player roles: the Politician and the Engineer. Prior to version 0.9.0- the current one - Politicians were placing 3-4 cards, with one hidden and then bid on them and the ones the enemy placed. After the bids, based on the values of the bid, each player receives the bonuses based on the cards.

With this, there was a grave problem: each card was asymmetric, giving a different bonus to a different nation, and they were 8 ones total. It was very hard to grasp their meaning and their synergies right away. Also, there were only 2 cards that got hidden by the players during the tests, so it wasn't really an unknown. The mechanism didn't really reflect what we wanted the players to feel too, that the Politician promises things, fights for them or at least looks like he is doing them diligently, and in the end some things happen. So,  I changed Politics.

Politicians were meant to be more of a bluffing type, granting resources and opportunities to their own engineers, while blocking and bothering the other Politician. To simplify, I wanted each card to be pretty basic, just displaying values of what was to be gained. If a Politician blocks an enemy activity, the rewards he reap are not really affected by the project the enemy was undertaking, but by his own choices. The bidding tokens from before were promoted and differentiated to two token: Influence and Bluff. Their top sides look the same, but Influence tokens count, while Bluff tokens do not count during the Evaluation phase (the end of the Politicians turn).

After discussing what it means to be bluffing, we found another problem with the old version: every round, the cards were reset. To create meaningful bluffs, the Politicans Manouver cards were given three levels, each giving larger and larger bonuses. If chosen not to be Evaluated at the end of a turn, the cards level rises and all the tokens on it stay. This way, there are actual investments for 2-3 turn, with way greater rewards. Also, players got the chance to bluff with "hey, I am so going for this 3rd level card" while putting bluffs in that for turns and turns. Interesting options, that I really hope can make Politics awesome.