Posted by Colin Hanna on Feb 17, 2014

It's been a while since the last update, and SO MUCH STUFF has happened!  

To begin, the new pieces came!

(From left to right, A Brig, a Sloop, and another Brig prepare to sail from the Crimson Port!)

The new pieces work wonderfully, and there have been many play tests with them so far.  Thanks to Angelo Posteraro for his superb craftmanship on the 3D printer!  

Here are some pics from a game early on with the new pieces.

Here's the setup for the four player game.  Typically it can fit on a smaller table than this, but we definitely spread out for comfort's sake.  This is the second turn, and the pieces have just started moving across the board.  Nobody has really commited to any particular strategy yet, though the Crimson player (myself) was pretty happy with the Brig he rolled on the first turn.  It's a mid-weight warship that allowed me to put some serious pressure on the Great Sea early on.

As the game went on, we found ourselves staring down an early Fleet Admiral.  The Argent player promoted his officer earlier than anticipated, and earned himself an entire empire point for it (it only takes 10 to win).  The Verdant player decided that he wasn't going to have any of that, so he bought a Frigate and launched a desperate hit and run assault on the Fleet Admiral.

 

(On the left are the Argent Ships, with the Fleet Admiral perched a bit too far forward on the bow of that Galleon.  He's the silver guy with the big hat and the wheel.  On the right are the Verdant ships, minimally crewed and ready for their risky gambit, though they were an undisputably formidable force.)

The Verdant player focused all of his fire on the Galleon with the Fleet Admiral, and though he lost two ships in the process, his own Galleon and Frigate were able to take out the silvery Officer and deprive Argent of a hard-won Empire Point.

In the meantime, I was building up a fleet of Brigs.  

They were durable, fast, and cheap.  I felt like everything was going swimmingly.  I was staying on top of the Empire Points and two of my opponents were engaging in vicious and costly combat.  Things were looking up.

The thing is, at the end of every round, players nominate and elect a Magistrate.  And nobody likes to elect the person in the lead, since the elected player gets an Empire Point.  This means that often the person with the least amount of points gets elected, helping them to catch up while other players try to make deals with the Magistrate to get them to make a decree in their favor.  The Magistrate can break or create Trade Agreements, as well as protect a single player on the following round.

Saffron (played by my dad) ended up being the Magistrate four times in a row. And all this time, he was building the infrastructure necessary to overwhelm all of us with a massive fleet of Frigates.  And Crimson, being too timid to start a war when the Saffron threat was small, was completely overshadowed.  

To give you an idea of how one-sided that is, a Frigate costs nearly twice as much as a Brig, and Saffron had as many Frigates as Crimson had Brigs.  I would show you another picture of the battle as it progressed... but the whole Crimson Fleet was gone in one round.

Tears were shed.  Memorial services were held at the Red Port, and 135 floating lamps were released into the night sky -- one for each life lost.  They will never be forgotten -- Crimson remembers!

Saffron went on to assault the Verdant Port, and more blood was spilled on the high sea.  Verdant, however, offered up a substantial resistance.

The Verdant fleet was outnumbered and surrounded (more for dramatic effect than tactical advantage), but gave battle anyway.  There were many losses on both sides. 

The fighting was brutal, and after several rounds of enduring strife, Saffron was victorious, moving in to sack the Verdant Port and claim the spoils, as well as the final Empire Point.

(Look at him, so happy.  He seems nice enough, until he levels your Fort in a withering salvo of cannonfire.)

The final score!  It was a really close game, despite the flair with which Saffron delivered the final blow.  All in all, it was a great night and a great test, and a great deal of fun was had by all.

Through the recent tests, it has been discovered that several particular tactics were definitely overbalanced, just as others were grossly underbalanced.  However, encouragingly, most of the different strategies were found to be well balanced.  Players won by building super fleets; players won by building powerful, wealth-generating infrastructures; players won by smuggling; players won in all sorts of ways.  It just so happened that players tended to supplement those strategies with a lot of the same tools.  

For instance, the Trained Smugglers upgrade was so efficient that many players would purchase it just to have a cheap, powerful fleet with good Officers, even though they didn't plan on actually smuggling.  The upgrade was intended to give Smugglers a fighting chance against a military powerhouse or to offer them a very potent early game offensive strategy, but it ended up being used by all sorts of players, whether they were actually smuggling or not.

The end result?  A rebalance overhaul that targeted the least popular upgrades.  I asked myself: "Why doesn't anybody buy this?  What can I do to make it more useful/interesting?  Is there something better I could replace it with?"  I found a lot of great answers, and though inevitably some of them may need tweaks in the future, I am very happy with the new version.  Waves is A LOT more interesting to play.

Look out for more information on Waves of Wealth and War!  Updates on game design, art, and business will be coming on a weekly basis now, so there will be a lot more to pay attention to!