Season’s Greetings everyone! On the first days of the year, we bring you a glimpse what’s to come in 2021. Let’s hope that this year will bring a lot more joy, and room for social activities, than the one we leave behind.
We’ve had this beautiful beast in our office for a few days already to play around with, and we are really looking forward to getting it to the table for real now. So, without further ado, here is the Pre-Production Copy of Europa Universalis: The Price of Power, in pictures (and video).
Warning! All these pictures show a Pre-Production Copy – printed components have been printed digitally and cut with a plotter, which means some colours may be a bit off, and cut edges may seem a bit rough. The finished product will have offset printed and die cut components, with much cleaner edges and better alignment.
And now a video of Eivind doing a sort of unboxing – please excuse the low tone of voice while the plastic is crunching, it is a Norwegian thing.
Shiny Gold Foil!
Just eye candy this one, but still shining like a billion suns. My inner magpie is happy.
Double-layered Player Mats: A Perfect Fit
We have made sure that all tokens on the Player Mat fit perfectly; easy to put in, easy to take out, but staying in place – Small Towns, Large Towns, Vassal tokens, Manpower meeples, Monarch Power, Stability marker, Religion token.
Here you can see the size compared to my hairy hand, the indents, and the bot mats on the back. We expect better alignment in the definitive die-cut version, and the offset-printed ink should be significantly more resistant to wear and tear than the digital print.
The Map Board: Adaptable to Your Gaming Needs
Here you can see what the mounted boards that come in the box look like. Sturdy, good quality cardboard, in three pieces – allowing for different set-up configurations according to the number of players, or your table space. Now your family doesn’t have to eat somewhere else! The map boards stay in place because of the weight of the cardboard.
Cards: Worth a History Book
This game has so many cards! Both cards that are tailor made for the featured Realms, and Generic ones that enable variability – you can make so many combinations, your grandkids will still be making combinations you didn’t make before. The linen finish makes them easy to shuffle and the thick card stock makes them durable.
We tested new shapes for different tokens and we love them! Now it is even easier to differentiate between them on top of the board!
Here you can see how the Player Tray hold all the Player tokens tight with the lid:
Fresh Baked Missions
All the Missions are now available for final testing in Tabletop Simulator. Missions for the Major Powers (Austria, Castile, France, England, Muscovy, Poland, and Ottomans) have had a complete makeover. And brand new Missions for Denmark/Sweden, Mamluks, Portugal, Venice, Netherlands, Brandenburg, and Papal States, as well as Generic Missions, are also out.
The Generic Missions allow you to compose Mission decks for unfeatured Realms with lots of variability, tailored to their individual “needs”. The community is already in full swing, testing them all in TSS, but we would love for even more of you to give them a spin! Join the Discord to get access to the updated TTS assets. We will also put them out as a PDF for you to read, and comment on, shortly.
We will come back to you just after New Year’s, with more details, fresh PDFs, and an updated timeline.
The most recent milestone, and biggest one so far, is the submission of files for the PPC (pre-production copy), as we’ll get back to just below. But to get there, there were a few other things that had to fall into place first. It feels good being able to say that the designs for all the physical components, aside from the print files, have now been finalized. Perhaps more exciting for most, is that Age IV Events, as well as all Milestones (the in-game ones), are now finally available for you to inspect, provide feedback on, and immediately try out on Tabletop Simulator (TTS) if you like.
Next week we will make most of the revised Missions public, and available on TTS. Following that we will publish updated, near final, versions of both the main rules and the solo rules for all backers to review and comment on. With this we are nearing the end of the development process for the game. The PPC should arrive at our office around mid December, and so we are closing in fast on the moment where mass production can commence. The Covid-19 situation has however resulted in our manufacturer (and board game manufacturers in general) being busier than ever, with orders queuing up, so there is sadly no way of fast-tracking production. Due to this, it is clear that bulk-shipment the games to the regional fulfilment partners will happen a few weeks after Chinese New Year.
Another, equally important but solely positive, lesson learnt, is that you simply cannot overestimate the value of a vibrant and supportive community. Bringing you guys onboard the development process for this game, has easily been the best decision we have made during this whole project. The contributions from members of the community has improved the game many times over. We have said it a few times already, but please come join us on our Discord server, where we try to respond to feedback every day, and where community members routinely organize games on Tabletop Simulator. This is also where you will find the most up to date TTS module at the moment, with all the newest components. But we read all comments, and have made so many significant adjustments based on the feedback we’ve received so far
Checking Proofs for the Pre-production Copy
This week I’ve been going through the digital proofs from Panda’s printing team, after we delivered a total of no less than 90(!) preliminary print files earlier this month. Monday I pointed out some things that needed to be fixed, Tuesday I got updated proofs, and was able to approve the last of them! Overall it is looking very good! All the numbers add up as intended, all the different card backs have been correctly matched with the fronts they belong to, and no unforeseen problems have come up.
This may sound like we sent off the final print files without letting you look at them first, but this not the case. The PPC is first and foremost made to give us an impression of the whole product, and let us check if all components have come out as intended, in terms of numbers, dimensions, colors, aesthetics, legibility of text and iconography, etc. When the PPC arrives on our doorstep, we will spend some time to review all these things, and make the necessary adjustments. But before that, while we are waiting for the PPC to arrive, we will work on finalizing all text and art. Then there is a new round of file submissions, and checking digital proofs again, before giving the green light to start the press.
The Age of Revolutions
Age IV, the closing Age of the game, is undoubtedly an age of upheavals and grandiose clashes. No one will come unscathed from the ravages of war and revolution, but those who manage to harness the chaos may come out more potent than ever on the other side. Check out the Age IV Events for yourself in this overview document (there are still a few missing, but we’ll update it again soon).
The final Age will offer something quite different from the earlier Ages, with gameplay more focused on high interaction levels and conflict between player realms. It can be used as a grand finale to an epic campaign of four Ages, or it can be set up with scenarios starting just as the Ancien régime is starting to crumble.
Your Realm can either be left behind in the shadows of the past, or choose to embrace the new currents emerging across Europe. But everything comes at a price. Most virulent Revolutions will spread, rooting deep in your provinces, rattling your stability, spawning unrest and rebels, creating the primordial soup for progress, war, liberalism, and … modern emperors!
Quest for the Perfect Coins & Dice
The quest for the perfect coin set has not been an easy task, but one which have finally come to a happy conclusion. Above you can see most of the coin iterations we have gone through, with a plethora of washes and effects. We wanted to find a balance between the vibrant shininess of the metal material, and that feeling that they have been used and touched by many hands. We’d like to think that when humans 2000 years from now find them (while excavating our pyram… mausole… graves), they will look at them and think that these are real. Below, with the rebel dice, are the last coins that came through our door last week, the final version of the 10 ducat gold coins.
Speaking of dice, here’s a picture of the rest of them. We think they have turned out really good.
Scenario Competition Winner
Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a competition entry! We got more scenario submissions than we could have hoped for, of which many were really well written – and that’s one of the reasons that finding a winner took longer than expected. There are some patterns that stood out; you really like the Italian Wars and the Thirty Years’ War, and the downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was also a hot topic – there were many variants and takes on those, some of them really interesting. We also had several scenarios that broke free from the history books to a lesser og larger degree. Honorable mentions must go to Manuel Lenhardt, for the original “The Last Crusade”, to Roberto Mendez Torres, for several great entries, to Sören Roman, for a great beginner scenario, to Aaron Isley, and to Menszu.
Many of these entries had innovative twists, mechanics, or victory conditions. The winning scenario checked all of these boxes, and showcases some of the cool things you can do with this game, by adding a dash of imagination and preparation. That is why we are thrilled to announce the winner as:
For those who are curious, this scenario is a tribute to the GMT Games title Here I Stand, a great card-driven game focusing on the time period of the Reformation.
Congratulations, Patrick! It is well deserved! We’ll contact you via email to finalize scenario details, and to arrange for the Deluxe Game reward to be credited to your Gamefound account.
What Turczi Says …
To round this off we thought we’d tip you off about this excerpt from a larger LIVE Q&A that prolific game designer virtuoso Dávid Turczi did on November 1st. He goes into detail about the solo modes he has designed, and in the above clip he talked briefly about his experience working on Europa Universalis: The Price of Power.
Thanks to everyone that has chipped in (and continue to do so in the Discord Server) to refine the Solo Rules and helping us getting rid of loopholes. Making the bots into something we can really be proud of.
Last week we had the honour of working with Dávid Turczi, designer of games like Anachrony and Dice Settlers, as well as solo modes for Teotihuacan, Cerebria, Keyper and many more. He came here to work with us on the solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game the whole week. We can safely say that we got more from him than we could ask for.
Solo gaming might not be for everyone, but for a growing number of board gamers it is a deal breaker, and we really wanted to make something good for the solo gamer community too. We now have the framework for what we believe will become a great solo mode for the game. Dávid will work with us in the coming months to get it to perfection. In addition to this, Dávid has also helped us tremendously with other development work. This has sharpened the focus of other aspects of the game, resulting in increased tension and level of competition overall.
Computer gamers might be asking themselves why people would want to play the board game solo when they already have the PC game. The answer will differ depending on who you ask, but one way of seeing it, is that they “scratch different itches“. Many solo board gamers emphasise the tactile experience of moving actual pieces on a board, or that they look for ways to spend time away from the screen. Compared to traditional board gaming, which is a social experience, solo gaming is more like a puzzle that you try to solve.
The solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game is set up like a 3-player game. It will pit you, as a player, against two Major Power Bots that essentially have an AI which determines their behaviour. Additionally there will be a number of Active NPR minors with a much more limited and simple behavioural pattern.
This means you will be playing the solo mode very much in the same way as you would be playing a game against other human players. The obvious difference is that there will be a lot less negotiating, deal making and backstabbing. What you want to do is score more Prestige (Victory Points) than any of your bot opponents. The solo mode should play very fast once you get used to the main bot actions and decision making.
Each of the Major Powers will have its own dedicated Bot, which makes decisions that make sense for that Realm, both historically and in the context of its current position in the game. Of course it will not be as advanced as a human opponent or the AI of the video game, but it will constantly keep you on your toes. And it should be really tough to beat in a head-on confrontation.
Each Bot will be drawing from a deck of cards to determine what type of action it will take on its turn. These actions will unfold in various ways, determined by the current circumstances. There will be an advanced hierarchy of priorities for each of the more complex bot actions, but it will be presented in a manner that makes each action easy to execute.
Above you can see one of the prototype flow charts we are working with while we are creating the “AI” of the bots. This is just a peek “under the hood”, and the final look of the actual charts in the game will be very different. This type of chart provides us with a quick way of testing if a specific Bot Action can be resolved in a satisfying manner in all relevant situations.
Major Power at a Glance: England
England’s starting position in 1444 is a bit tricky. As the Hundred Years’ War draws to a close, the French are likely to be on the war path. At one point you must make a choice: how much are you willing to sacrifice in your bid to defend the English continental possessions? Is it worth being dragged into an all-consuming conflict with France, or should you make peace and look elsewhere for more profitable hunting grounds?
With two Maritime Trade Nodes just off their coast, a third one nearby, easy access to North America and the Caribbean, and lots of ports, England is well positioned to build a trade empire based on naval power. This choice of strategy however, is likely to bring you into conflict with Castile/Spain, who have similar ambitions.
If you can deal with your domestic problems, like the War of the Roses, and build a strong basis of power in the British Isles and Ireland, while maintaining a navy second to none, you can project your power across the world. At the same time you are in a unique position, since a strong navy will also keep your homeland safe from the attacks of hostile armies.
Read the previous Development Diary chapters here: