Developer Blog: EONS Part I

I am very excited to start a new developer blog on a project I am thrilled to be a designer on, called EONS. During GENCON 2012, we launched Edition Wars and began brainstorming more concepts for additional board games our company wanted to pursue. On night, we were sitting around and Krista Witt, the lead designer for this game, started talking about a resource management game that involved strategy, growth and competition. She had just finished up Power Grid, so this was one of the first Inspiration points of the game concept.

Then, a combination of other influences kicked in, around religion, science, Star Trek and chemistry as we started brainstorming and the idea was hatched. What made a better resource farm than the stars that make up our galaxy? Off we went, the premise quickly became that the player takes on the role of a “Cosmic Architect” with the ability to build stars by using her own “essence”, or energy that is generated by the architect and the cosmic bodies and life forms that she has created. A full turn in the game is called an EON, in which the player can buy elements, discard and draw cards to advance their strategy, build planets, and even generate life and civilization with certain advancement abilities and more essence and finally fuse elements and recover some of those fused elements. Each cosmic body the player builds and maintains generates an amount of victory points for the player, as well as a regeneration of essence. Additionally, a star is only able to support a specific number of planets in orbit. A good strategy to deny opponents victory points is to force them to have planets without stars, which still give victory points, but do not generate essence if they are not supported by a star.

The end game condition varies with the number of players, but every time a star or planet is destroyed, an entropy counter is increased by one. When the entropy reaches, say 11 (for a three player game), the game will end at the culmination of the current EON.

This entry, I’d like to talk resource management, as it is the core mechanic of the game. The resources consist of the most abundant element in the universe, Hydrogen, as well as Carbon, Oxygen, Iron and the destructive Uranium. Each star “costs” the player essence to create, as well as a mix of elements, which provide the starting resources for the Star. Planets and life/civilization also require specific mixes of elements and essence, but building planets and life will not add to the resource farm.

Resources can be purchased from the available resource pool using essence, but many of the heavier elements are cost prohibitive and that is where the scientific precept of fusion comes into the game. Fusion allows a star to convert Hydrogen to Carbon, Carbon to Oxygen, Oxygen to Iron and then perform fission to tear apart the iron and start over to generate additional elements to use. Elements can only be removed from the star if they are a product of fusion and is dependent on player decision. Now, we realize that all you science purists are screaming “What about the law of conservation of mass?” Although we fully understand the science, we have to suspend reality a little bit to make the game mechanics work, and frankly, once you get past the fact that it is not 100% scientifically correct, the ideas and precepts of the game draw you in, and you are absorbed in the fantasy of building your own universe. For this reason, we are also performing fusion differently, instead of fusing hydrogen to helium, we move up the periodic table very quickly to preserve the overall theme of the game, creating elements like carbon, the building block of life.

Uranium is a rare element, cannot be purchased, and is used for planet and star destruction, which we will get to in another entry. Uranium is produced as a part of stars dying. If a player removes enough resources that a star can no longer fuse, then the star collapses, goes out of the game, and generates one element of uranium for the player who owned the star. A supernova card is also available, which allows a player to use essence to destroy another players’ star, generating a uranium for the player that owns the star and allowing the destructor to take an element of her choice.

It is very important in end game to have plentiful resources, as the uranium and destruction comes fast and furious, and you must be able to support your planets as the entropy counter rises. Do not get caught at the end of the game without resources.

Next entry, I’ll get into how we came up with the gameplay cycle, some of the stars and planets as well as a look at other cards available in the deck.

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