As I mentioned in last week’s post, How to play Codenames over the internet, we are working on several things for you to survive social distancing more enjoyably. Today I have a pleasure to present the second one. Before we get to it, though, let me tell you a story about it.
For several years we have been organizing playtesting events in the former Czechoslovakia. They are usually focused on testing our prototypes. Still, we encourage participants to bring their own creations and get both feedback from other testers and from us. A frequent participant was Tomáš Uhlíř (and you thought that Vlaada Chvatil’s name was hard to pronounce). He brought one prototype, which was later published as Spring on a String. Besides that, he helped us several times with the organization of several events, and his observations from playtesting prototypes were always constructive.
So, when we were looking for a colleague to join our team in Prague, he was our first choice. Fortunately, he agreed to our proposal and started working with us. From the very beginning, he was very involved with the development of Sanctum, and later, he even became a lead developer. Independently to this, he submitted his prototype Under Falling Skies into BGG’s 2019 9 Card Game Print and Play Design Contest.
His game won the contest in several categories: Best Solitaire Game, Most Thematic Game, Most Innovative Mechanic, and even Best Overall Game. But even before this happened, he showed us the game. We were skeptical first, as we never imagined we would publish a solo game, but we were astonished by how much we liked the game. And we enjoyed not only playing the game, but also watching other people play the game. This is always a sign to us that we would enjoy working on the game. So we will be able to spend many hours playtesting it ourselves, but also closely looking at how others are playing the game.
But we wanted to be sure that we will be able to enhance the game, so it will become more than just a nicely produced version with better graphics and components. Together with Tomáš, we found the way, but that is a story for another day. We, obviously, started with that print and play version and playtested it and changing it towards the new version.
Once the coronavirus situation happened and we were thinking about how we can help, we realized that we can improve that print and play version. Since we were playtesting it a lot, we knew that there are a few little details that could make print and play version better and easier to grasp. We started working on it, and besides gameplay changes, we updated the rulebook, to make it more clear.
You can download this new version here:
- Rulebook: English, Czech, French, German, Russian
- All the cards in regular size: English, Czech, French, German, Russian
- All the cards in oversized: English, Czech, French, German, Russian
We hope that you will have fun with the game as much as we do. And here is a small tip: Even though it is a solo game, we found that we enjoy it a lot as a two-player coop game where you are consulting together what to do and how to defeat those pesky aliens.
If you already have the old version, you don’t need to print new cards, only the rules were changed. Here is a summary of all the changes we made to this new version:
Many players tend to play this rule wrong, so we decided to make it much more intuitive.
- Don’t set the energy to the room’s value, but you add it instead.
Robots are probably the most challenging concept in the game, so we decided to make them less unforgiving.
- Place a robot immediately after resolving the blue (robot) room. (But you can still use it only from the next round.)
- Lower its value only when you decide to use it.
- You can choose to remove the robot at any time.
- When you use a robot, you can mark it by rotating the die 45° to make sure you don’t use it more than once per round.
RESPAWNING ENEMY SHIPS
Respawning enemy ships was the least exciting part of the round. And since a player usually had more options where to place them, he needed to go through quite a lot of calculations for a decision that, in most cases, didn’t matter that much. So we decided to automate this part as much as possible, speeding up the game and allowing the player to focus on the more important and more exciting stuff.
- Place all the green (respawning) ships first and only after that, place the red (one-life) ships.
- The ships are placed in empty columns, if possible.
- But if every column has a ship, choose a starting spot with the most empty spaces between it and the column’s top ship.
- Only when there are more possibilities where to place the ship, you can choose.
Some of the above changes make the game slightly easier, and that’s actually great because it allows the players who struggled even with the lowest difficulty to explore more of the game’s variability.