When we first started developing the idea that Milan had for the expansions, we knew that the game can grow into something way beyond we had originally intended. Since the basic rule, which lets a player move only one of his ships (and collect some points) is what makes the game so fun and fast, we knew this is the one element we don’t want to change. So, the first design objective was: On their turn, the players will play the same game, with an extra layer of choices given by the different actions (technologies and civilization abilities).
After the release of the first edition, we decided to change some scoring methods (the addition of the Score track and Нebula Мarkers). Since this was decided before the development of the expansions, we had the added freedom to give points during the game.
This in turn, led to the look of the Civilizations. The early prototypesgave more movement and tactical advantages, but as we moved in to the Score Track territory, many of the abilities were transformed to scoring ones. This added a more long-term strategy to the game, and for the first time in Small Star Empires, something the players can thematically connect to.
The other big thing was that we needed a way to make the 1-point planets more attractive to the players. Milan’s idea of resource gathering fitted great. Now, on setup, all 1-point planets get 1 mineral (randomly chosen) for the players to collect when colonizing the system. From here on, it was easy, we had a bunch of abilities that we slapped a cost to (in minerals), and started testing the balance of the Technologies. This gave the game a more euro feel, while the management and race for the minerals gave another new layer of strategy.
So, what started as an idea for a single expansion for a “small” game, turned into a full fledged 4X game, that is always played under an hour. And since our team is really fond of 4Xs, we’re really excited about the coming of this project and what it brought to our table. Now we want every fan of the genre to explore the Small Star Empires and first handedly experience the modularity of the game.
Boris Momic, Lead Developer at Archona Games