A Pax Robotica auction-ectomy

by Gil Hova

My most recent playtest of Pax Robotica was also my most radical.  I’ve removed the auction, and made it a turn-based game.  So on your turn, you have a choice between taking tech or government cards, or building bots, or selling one bot.

Building bots is interesting, because you can build as many as you can afford.  Also, you get a discount if you build multiple bots (-1 for your second bot, -2 for your third bot, and so on).  However, another change I’ve made is that your bots get more expensive as you build more of them, so buying in bulk is key to keeping your overhead low.

However, when you sell a bot, you only get to sell one at a time.  So one of the issues of building many bots is that you may not be able to sell all of them.  You can sell them directly to the scrapyard if you’re in a pinch for money, but you won’t get as much money as you would selling to a nation.

The playtest didn’t go badly.  Sure, there are balance problems, but that’s because the new turn-based system has put everything out of whack.  The game is now harder and more strategic.  Sadly, that means that playtesters who like more casual games are less likely to enjoy the new version of the game.  But I think folks who like heavy economic engine/snowball games will really dig it.

The next enormous change I’m making in the game will be to eliminate VP.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but was afraid to do because I was worried about excessive positive feedback and snowballing within the game.  But there’s already snowballing VP, so why keep it?  Making collecting money the object of the game is also much more thematic, and I think players will find it more intuitive.

It’s strange, because I got the game to 80% done, and now I’m taking it back down to 50% done.  But I’m hoping that once I finalize these changes, I can bust past the 80% barrier that I was stuck on for so long.  There’s so much to do, even though I have a month before the game’s next playtest.  I hope these changes will take this from a good game to a great game!