During my own recent play-test to decide if I wanted to expand or restrict the availability of Repairs when landed on a Planet, I began having thoughts on some more… fundamental… aspects of the gameplay. I found myself going through the motions of the play, taking each of my four Racers’s turns, drawing cards, playing cards, discarding. Each player facing roughly the same challenges and obstacles, struggling to get through, and it all just began to feel really tedious.

To clarify, I was getting bored playing my own game.

The one part of the game I’ve always enjoyed is the endgame, when all the racers are in the final leg, passing that last Planet, and speeding on to the finish line (or at least trying to). When fixing repairs is the least of your concerns, and you just want to lay on as much speed as you can, even if it means blowing out your engine. When all the other players suddenly gang up on one or two of the leaders, in the hope that they can pull ahead on their next turn. I wished there was a way to make the rest of the game that exciting and action-packed.

In that recent playtest I’d been toying with the idea of Maneuver cards, which give a temporary, one-time boost to the player in specific circumstances. One card gives the Racer a couple extra spaces during the Drift phase, the other gives the player a +5 speed boost when Breaking Orbit. I started to wonder what the game would be like if players could play Status and Remedy cards at any time. What if there were other special Instant cards that had to be played immediately, and had more dramatic effects either just on one player or on the entire board?

Let’s say a Racer wants to play an 11 Speed card. They would lay the card down, making it clear that’s their intention. All the other players, starting with the player to their left, have the opportunity to play a Status card that would reduce the speed they played by 2, 4, or 8. The original player could then play a Remedy card to resolve that status immediately, or take the speed hit. If the next player to the left had a Status they wanted to play, they could as well, continuing around the table until someone chooses not to, or can’t play a card to affect the player.

These new status cards would be only temporary, affecting the player only for the current turn. It is immediately resolved when the turn is complete, and all the cards go into the discard pile. No players will keep Status cards on their ship unless the Card explicitly says so. Also, with so many potential Status hits in play, I’m planning on increasing the lowest-level Speed card from 2 to 5, and adding some cards with 13 Speed as well.

There could also be new cards that affect players only during specific phases – cards that temporarily increase or decrease the amount of Drift a player can take, cards that cause a Racer to lose their homeworld, or to choose a new one; Cards that allow a racer to jump into the lead, or which force a racer into last place; Cards that allow a Racer to take an extra turn (even when not in last place), or which cause another player to lose a turn; A piece of Equipment that allows a player to steal 1 card from another player on their turn, and cards that have temporary effects on players with specific pieces of equipment.

I’d also like to play with the Racer’s Drift speed, giving them a maximum Drift of 4, and allowing for certain cards that will increase or decrease their Drift throughout the game, not as a temporary effect, but long-term. A ‘Friction-Free Hull’ piece of equipment that gives them automatic Drift of 4, and an ‘Inertial Enhancement’ card that knocks them back down to 1.

I realize that even opening the game up in this way will cause the size of the deck to grow tremendously, as there will be a lot of new kinds of cards. But it also allows for more flexible gameplay, I think, and leaves a lot of possibility for future expansion. My hope (and it still requires testing) is that all of these new, different kinds of cards will ultimately make the game more engaging for all of the players, not just the one in the lead.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve downloaded the existing components and played the game already.