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Subject: Corruption, Politics, War..and a Review! rss

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Tristan Brightman
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In Summary:
Galactic Destiny is a space empire building game. I hesitate to call it epic, because to some people that seems to mean at least 24 hours to play, but it's certainly detailed and involved. I reckon perhaps 4-5 hours for a game once you know the rules, but I could be wrong either way.

The game involves rival factions in a galactic senate competing for positions on the senate, and sectors of the galaxy. Planets can be taken by military or political means, and the game ends when one player has 10 sectors, all 5 senate positions, or when the demons take over 10 planets, when everyone loses.

The game involves lots of politics, deal making, and influencing people. It also drips flavour.

In the playtest I was in at Essen, I didn't see any obvious flaws, and although it is possible the game is broken in some way, this doesn't seem likely given what I've seen so far.

My friends and I reckoned this to be the find of the Fair for us, and I'll be buying a copy when it comes out.

-----------------------

In More Detail:

The first thing that struck me was the game board. It didn't appeal to me. Glass beads for ships and the spiral formation of sectors gave me the impression it was fairly abstract. I was wrong. The glass beads are placeholders for miniatures that will be included in the finished game, apparently. I think the copy at Essen was a playtest copy, but it certainly wasn't as well produced as a typical days of wonder or fantasy flight effort.

When I arrived for our playtest game, we sat down, and chose factions. The factions are quite characterful, I played the permanantly high on drugs faction, which gives a discount on recruiting new senators. We started to play.

At the start of each turn, three event cards are revealed. Some factions are natural enemies, and certain event cards play off this. If one of the mentioned nations isn't in play, you discard that event and draw another. The events cover a range of effects, from Purges, allowing more prosecutions to occur to shipbuilding drives, where all players get a discount on fleets.

Each turn you collect influence and resources from all the sectors you control. These two currencies help drive various actions, and give bonuses to others. If you can build a stockpile without the other players realising, you can wield significant, and even game winning power.

Every three turns, an election is held for senate positions. On the first turn the positions are randomly allocated to the factions. In our test game I received the defense portfolio, allowing me to order the senate fleet about to do my bidding.

The military game is simple, but involving. Factions have initiative (based on senate position) and ships are moved in initiative order, moving to any sector. Bonuses are given for attacking sectors next to your existing sectors, and certain sectors are more sympathetic to certain factions.

The political game is fantastic. Aside from sending senators to influence planets to your side, you have various powers that cards and positions can give you, and you are allowed to make almost any proposition which, if voted through by the senate, becomes binding. You can make any agreement with another player, which again is binding. However, in this game, binding only goes so far. If you need to break a deal, your senator can do so. Of course, this is evil, and draws him towards the dark side. As he takes more evil actions, corruption starts to make him more powerful in his actions, but less influential in the senate (apparently having horns and tentacles doesn't help with the hearts and minds battle). As the total amount of corruption in the galaxy grows, it is more likely that demons will take over sectors, and if you can't fight them off in time, the galaxy can fall to darkness.

This scratches the surface of what you can do. Prosecutions can endanger senators, especially corrupt ones. Assassins can strike and destroy your senators. Some sectors given you special powers or concessions, such as the military workshops I captured, which gave me money every time someone else built a ship. Even when down and hurting, there are ways out - my friend made good use of the rebellion option, to leave the senate, and begin a campaign of terror, that would see our senate unite against him, and the fate of the galaxy hang in the balance.

This is the best space conquest game I've seen. It's long, but very tasty.

Pros:

More flavour than Grandma's cooking
Involving and dramatic political action
Personal stories emerge from play almost every turn

Cons:

Plays long - I prefer 2 hour games to 4-6 hour games
Plays "fiddly" - The amount of theme requires a fair few gubbins

I would recommend this to gamers who have an evening or afternoon free to play one big game. Fans of space opera and science fiction should grab it. I imagine when I was a ten year old boy, I would have thought this was the most awesome thing ever.

I wouldn't recommend this to people who only have few hours for games now and then, for people who prefer abstract games, or fairly deterministic games (as there is a good dollop of chance in the game). I also wouldn't recommend this for playing with non-gamers. I think it would likely overwhelm them - find a gateway list, and spend a year training them up :-D

For me, this is a 5 star game.
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Dave Bullions
England
Hayes
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I also had the good forture to try this out at Essen. I think your report of it is fair and accurate. This is a great game. I just can't wait for January when this goes on sale.
Unforturnatly the people on BGG that bother to rate games don't seem to be the type of people that would play this sort of game (its not "German" enough for them). I fear that the game will not, therefore, get the rating it truely deserves.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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This sounds an awful lot like a reimagining of The Republic of Rome, although perhaps without the external threat to bind the players in common cause.
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Tristan Brightman
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From what I've read of Republic of Rome, it is somewhat similar - and the demons that threaten to take over the galaxy are certainly an external threat.

The demons in Galactic Destiny are helped by players taking corruption, so there is a trade off between power and...everyone losing. At one point I was advocating the prosectution of my own senator, to save the galaxy from a dark fate.
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Andrew Prizzi
United States
West Newton
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Is the comment that you took the faction "high on drugs" a jest or is there actually a faction that is high on drugs?
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Tristan Brightman
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The factions are sort of single issue, and humourous. So there is a "Pragmatic Party of the Future" which pokes fun at so called psychics, "Black Iron Party" which parodies right wing war mongers, and so on. The characters of the parties aren't thrust in your face, but they are there, and part of the game.

So I was the "Party of the People", an ultra-liberal party who have decided the best way to protect people from the corrupting demons is to make sure they are all super-content by doping them to the eyeballs.

Of course, this doesn't protect people from the demons, but it keeps them happy.

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Andrew Prizzi
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West Newton
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The games sounds very interesting. Since it's still in the pre-release stage (I don't know if it's still pre-printing) I'd make the suggestion that the publisher might reach a broader range of customers if the "druggie faction" was changed to something else. Based on my own knowledge and speculation- I'd say there are quite a few boardgamers who really enjoy a battle royale for control of the universe but would pass on a game with drug abuse as a theme element. Of course there are probably some gamers who would buy the game because of the drug reference and quite a lot of people who simply wouldn't care one way or the other, but I think it would turn off more sales than it would turn on- based again on my speculation that a lot of gamers primarily play with their families and don't want their son or daughter doping up the masses.

Sounds like a fun game, I'll keep an eye on it and look for more feedback from people once it's released. Thanks for the nice review.
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Nathan Baumbach
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Actually, from a few other reviews I read about GD at Essen, it's not exactly a druggie faction as much as it's a Brave New World type of faction. Using drugs to control the people sort of thing. Which has been a real world consideration for some group who want to create a utopia.

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Elegwen O\\\'Maoileoin
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Hi there, the Parties were partly my fault. Originally our each Party was rather bland. We decided to make them a little more extreme. The PoP, the Party of the People, are simply a political party largely backed by pharmaceutical companies. We wanted the political parties, like Tristan said, to be humourous, but also raise issues and questions.

So, like in real life parties, there are multiple facets to each party. Take this so called "druggy party". The party is funded by pharmaceuticals. Sure, some of the drugs haven't passed Republic Control boards, some are awaiting legalisation, and most likely the pharmaceutical multicorps have scientists making dangerous drugs on the sly. SO, the Party would have Senators that do not like these goings on, but tolerate it in the name of creating a better society, some sincerely think drugs that are legalized can truly lead to a better society, and others propably enjoy the drug sub culture, are corrupted and evil and should be Prosecuted (as can happen) and perhaps executed.

Anyway, we hoped the parties would intrigue people. We have a novel and rpg coming out based in this setting. Explore it as we create it and send in your comments and ideas. Everything can be reached through our website. I look forward to meeting you all next year when Galactic Destiny is released on shelves. Cheers.

Elegwen O'Maoileoin
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Mike Daneman
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I'm curious how different this game compares to Twilight Imperium. The general theme and description sound somewhat similar (i.e. space exploration, politics, etc.). Is it sufficiently different to warrant a purchase if I aleady have TI?
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Ray Smith
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From all the info so far, this looks very similar in play to The Hell Game, which is one of my favorites.
Unfortuately, for some reason, this one doesn't thrill me. Maybe the final version with more posted details will upgrade my opinion.
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Elegwen O\\\'Maoileoin
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Re: Corruption, Politics, War..and a Review!
Hi there everyone,

As Galactic Destiny is still en route from manufacturing, we have some good news. Our ONLINE STORE is available through our website, www.goldenlaurel.com

You can now pre-order and order different Golden Laurel Products direct. Shipping costs may cause you to want to wait and get it in stores, but if you want to order now, you can.

Being one of the designers and a player of Twilight Imperium, I can certainly share my thoughts on this. We MADE GALACTIC DESTINY to specifically alter what we thought should be different.

MAIN POINT: In TI, the actions of ships and quadrant take-overs has NO bearing on how you win. You win by victory points accumulated independantly from game board action. You win by 1) choosing the IMPERIAL card each round, and/or 2) Meeting the objective cards.

In TI there is a long building up process of your resources and military (usually consumes an hour or two of our game time) and then you can fight...if you want. However, it makes little difference to who wins.

In Galactic Destiny, the emphasis is on political actions and deals. How and when you make and break these deals is crucial. And you win the game directly by taking 10 Sectors politically OR militarily. OR the riskier but more direct win: Sweep the Senate with your Senators in an Election year.

That's it. Include the demon/karma factor as Tristan Brightman and Lajos have discussed in their reviews and that's the game. If you like it, cool.
If Twilight already meets ALL your sci-fi strategy needs...respect -- and no worries.
But I encourage everyone who likes or dislikes TI to try what we've made. At a local game store, hobby club or a convention with us makers.

I would love to meet you all.

cheers
Elegwen
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Er heisst
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Tehuti wrote:
MAIN POINT: In TI, the actions of ships and quadrant take-overs has NO bearing on how you win. You win by victory points accumulated independantly from game board action. You win by 1) choosing the IMPERIAL card each round, and/or 2) Meeting the objective cards.


Hey, that's your critique on TI3? I mean, this could, word for word, be my own critique on TI3! And now, seriously: I just hoped that someday there would be an endeavour to create a space/empire-game to solve this point for me (and, obviously, my group...). Since we also tend to dislike emphasis on battles and open warmongering in such games, I am looking forward to "Galactic Destiny" very excitedly!

Only problem: There seems to be no distributor for Germany yet, and even by shipping a copy over it might become spring until it arrives over here... Or is there still a silver line on the horizon?
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Andrew Prizzi
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West Newton
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I don't understand how people can say that:

1. The actions of ships and taking over territory has NO relation to winning the game.

and

2. TI emphasizes warmongering.

AT THE SAME TIME!!

If fighting did absolutely nothing to help you win, then smart players wouldn't fight- hardly emphasizing warmongering.

Of course I wouldn't agree with the first statment. If it was true, one should be able to not move their ships at all the entire game and have as good a chance at winning as anybody else. I don't think that would work.
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Er heisst
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I hope we don't differ too much on this subject. To the point of warmongering: The first thing everybody notices when opening the TI3-box is the incredibly overproduced amount of shiny, plastic spaceships. There are sooo many of them that, if you play the game, your attention will be drawn to your battleships inescapably. And it's a fact that you have a wide range of options concerning the application of your miltary potential.

Yet, since there is so much emphasis on moving your ships, positioning your fleet in the right sectors and striking the right deals with your neighbours, you should suppose that the core tasks of anybody trying to hold an empire together would also matter in detail - intern political stability, domestic opposition and (we speak of distances of lightyears!) certain tendencies of separation. Might as well call in "administration". But that's not the case. TI3 is very focused on those shiny (and very cool) space-ships. Now, that is, at least, insinuating a war-centered gameplay. And it worked that way with everybody I played with!

And, sadly, we all found out that if you use this option of warfare in the latter part of the game, the effect on the VP is, umm, indirect at best. Yes, there are cases when taking a sector or some important planet benefits your scoring possibilities or hampers an opponent. But sometimes they have been clever enough to leave some objectives unclaimed, such as "I have x technology advances". Your only way to affect their performance is by military means, because the political implication in TI3 is inchoate at best. It simply just doesn't work in such cases.

That is why my whole group has had the feeling that TI3 centers too much on external warfare instead of internal political debates - you don't get the feeling that players represent fractions of a crumbled empire - they seem like representing each an empire of their own. And at the same time we thought that the system of scoring VPs in TI3 is too much alienated from this core center of the game. Hope this helps to clarify my enigmatic statement from above!
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Elegwen O\\\'Maoileoin
Canada
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Hi all

Thanks for the animated discussion about Galactic Destiny.
The main thing we at Golden Laurel tried to do with GD (Galactic Destiny) was integrate functionally the space battle and Senatorial politics intrinsically into the game win mechanism.

In response to our German friend's post, we have had a German distributor since July, Ulisses-Spiele (www.ulisses-spiele.de) our main contact there is Patric (if you need to speak to someone). They have promotional materials of ours and PLEASE DO contact Ulisses Spiele to get the game (or get your store to contact them). Currently they are handling all of Continental Europe for us, (is this good??) while we have separate people in the UK and Ireland.

We welcome at this time volunteers to act as foreign reps for our distribution and game play demonstration team. We will of course lavish such folks with whatever promotional stuff we can.

Also, you can order direct from us at www.goldenlaurel.com

Vielen dank,
Elegwen O'Maoileoin
GLE Design Team
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