Holy cow! I keep forgetting I have a blog what needs updating from time to time.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated on StarSpeed 17, but have continued to be busy working on artwork for it. All of the planets for the Alpha set are now complete, and the racer dashboards are about 60% done (the only element needed for these are images of each rocketship, but those will take some time to finish). Haven’t really playtested the game much since PAX last month, so there’s not much to add there.

Except that, before PAX I would have said that the game is pretty much finished, ready to ship once the art is complete. Afterward, however, I realize that quite a few of the rules are just patches to fix problems with the game. I’ve been looking more at some of the underlying basics of the gameplay, and trying to define what the actual problems are. Then, once I’ve got those defined, figure out if the rules in place actually resolve the problems, or if they just overcomplicate things.

For example, the ability for players to buy repairs when in orbit at a planet. This is something that made sense at the time, but in more recent tests, I find that players rarely take advantage of this ability. Originally, the problem this was supposed to solve was that it was difficult to get the repair you needed just from the deck. But this was also back when a single Status card on your racer would completely cripple your ship. Now, however, you can have multiple Status cards, and each one only slows you down some. Even with three Status cards on your dashboard, you can still continue along the course by playing some high speed cards. Plus, the planets offer so few repairs each that it’s unlikely a racer will need the repairs being offered when they’re in a position to buy them.

So, I feel like with this rule, I have two options:

1: Add more repairs to the planets, making it more likely that the repair a player needs will be available (the extreme here would be to simply make ALL repairs available at any planet).

2: Remove the repairs offered at planets altogether, since players tend not to use them anyway.

An option I’ve considered is giving players a ‘Pit Crew’ marker, which can be moved to any Planet (except rival planets, naturally) on a turn, allowing players to buy any repair needed wherever their Pit Crew is. This would be similar in this way to the Home Planet marker, except it wouldn’t affect the escape velocity at the planet. This piece might make the remedy cards completely unnecessary, though, as players can simply limp to the next planet and buy their repairs there. Still needs to be tested.

I’m also looking to add in some special Maneuver cards, which could be played in specific circumstances. Lots of testers have suggested the ability to use the planet’s gravity to Slingshot your racer for bonus speed, so I’m thinking of adding in a card that lets you do that when Breaking Orbit. I’m looking at some other cards that would give you bonuses as well, like a ‘Ride the Comet’ card that would give you a couple extra spaces on your Drift phase. Another card that I’d like to try out would be a ‘Timeslip’ card that you play on an opponent which causes them to lose their next turn.

The last thing that I’ve been playing with has to do with choosing Home and Rival worlds. I’ve come up with what I think are some pretty good rules which prevent too many racers from picking the same worlds. For instance, a player who picks Home world with the lowest Escape velocity must pick the Rival world with the highest Escape velocity; no more than two players can pick the same Home or Rival world – if the one you wanted is full, tough luck; the player who picks their Home world last gets to pick their Rival world first; etc. These rules, along with some additions to the section on building the course to accommodate these requirements, will go a long way toward making this a useful strategic addition to the game.