GMT is known for their great wargames, but over the past few years have been branching out from that tried and true medium to entertain other types of games. To date, these other games have done very well and a really big hit for them in 2018 was SpaceCorp 2025-2300AD designed by John Butterfield. Yes that same John Butterfield who has designed some of the best wargames out there including D-Day at Omaha Beach, D-Day at Tarawa, RAF: The Battle of Britain 1940 and Enemy Action: Ardennes. We interviewed John for SpaceCorp 2025-2300AD in 2017 and you can read that interview at the following link to get more information about the base game: https://theplayersaid.com/2017/07/27/interview-with-john-butterfield-designer-of-spacecorp-2025-2300-ad-from-gmt-games/
In the October 2019 Monthly Update, GMT announced an expansion to SpaceCorp called Ventures and with that game nearing the printer we decided it was best to get some information from John about what is new.
Grant: Congratulations on the success of SpaceCorp. Were you surprised by the reception and how well it has done?
John: Yes, I was pleasantly surprised. It has been so popular that it is reaching a broader audience than most of my games, including many gamers in Europe. In fact, a French language version was just released by Nuts! Publishing and has done very well.
Grant: What was the impetus for designing this new upcoming expansion for the game in SpaceCorp: Ventures?
John: In basic SpaceCorp, each player controls a generic corporation. We had wanted to offer the option to play corporations with specialized advantages and disadvantages, but couldn’t give this idea the treatment it deserves in the constraints of the original package. So we held onto the idea for Ventures, and I’m glad we did.
Grant: What is the focus of the new expansion and what new toys does it add to the game?
John: The package features fourteen different player HQ’s for use in the multiplayer game. Ten of those HQ’s can be flipped over for use in the solo game. The other four multi-player HQ’s flip over to become a specialized competition HQ opposing the solo player. Each new HQ tells the story of a corporation or institution with different set ups, different powers in each era and different goals that drive different styles of play. The game now adds a lot of additional variety and creates more opportunities for different strategies and play styles.
We are also including a new solo player aid card with procedures that make the competition a tougher opponent. But more on that later.
Grant: Please give us a quick orientation to these new corporations? What are the different Corporations?
John: I don’t want to give away the whole show; but here is a list of a few of the HQ’s available to the players:
- Allied Transit: Specializes in spaceports and transportation networks.
- Polaris GCI: Enhanced multi-use base-building capabilities.
- Next Generation: Rapidly adapting humanity for living in the stars.
- Humanistics: Movement opposed to genetic adaptation, populating space with “pure” humans.
- InfraMaxx: More deep space infrastructure for all, if you need it, we have it.
- Nova Capital: Investing and speculating on others’ space ventures.
- Stellar Security: Keeping you safe in the stars, for a price.
Grant: How do these new advantages and limitations evolve in Planeteers and Starfarers?
John: Every HQ has special advantages and limitations unique to the character and mission of its corporation or institution. Some apply to the game in all eras while others apply only in the Planeteers or Starfarers era. For example, this HQ for Stellar Security …
- specifies initial cards and number of teams per era;
- does not get a revelation cube at all;
- can build and benefit from secure bases in all three eras, even during the Mariners era;
- can gain profit through “protection”;
- gains the Force Field breakthrough card as the start of the Planeteers era and another breakthrough card at the start of the Starfarers era.
Grant: I also see that each Corporation has a set of unique cards. What are these unique cards and how did you go about choosing their advantages?
John: There are three types of new cards in Ventures:
- Every HQ has a corresponding Final Profit card, used in the Starfarers era to select an alternative method for earning bonus profit at the end of the Starfarers era.
- There are nine new contract cards, used to add an eighth randomly drawn contract to each era.
- There is also one new action card for each deck.
Grant: Can you please show us a few examples of the cards and explain how they change the game?
John: Sure I can show you several examples of these new cards. Here is the alternate final profit card available to the player controlling the Polaris GCI HQ. Early in the Starfarers era the player chooses one of two final profit options: The standard option based on the number of colonies owned, or this alternate based on the types of bases owned.
And here also is a sample new contract card that becomes available during the Mariners era. The player going last in turn order chooses one or the other contract on this card and slides the card under the business display with the selected contract visible.
Grant: How difficult was the balancing process for the new HQ’s introduced in the expansion?
John: That took a LOT of playtesting. With up to four players selecting from among 14 different HQ’s, we had to test many many combinations to make sure certain HQ combos did not generate unexpected advantages for one side over another and create a runaway leader.
Grant: How have you tweaked the solo mode in the game to create an even more competitive game?
John: We made adjustments to the way the competition conducts site actions in all three eras of the solo game. Now when the competition is directed to conduct a site action at a site that already has a base, instead of drawing a new card, the competition conducts a site action where they already have a team, often resulting in base placement.
These adjustment can also be applied to the original SpaceCorp solo game. We’ve made the adjustments available ahead of the release of SpaceCorp: Ventures, on a new solo play aid, which you can download at http://www.insidegmt.com/2020/09/enhanced-competition-in-solo-spacecorp/
Here is a look at the play aid:
Grant: What was your most difficult problem to overcome with the changes to the solo mode? How did you overcome the problem?
John: The competition in the solo game tended to play a strategy of spreading out to many sites instead of developing its existing sites, a strategy some players found they could take advantage of. These adjustments simply tweak that focus to make the competition more balanced in its approach and more likely to strike where it has the advantage.
Grant: What are you most pleased with the new experience that this expansion creates?
John: I like a strong narrative in the play experience and Ventures definitely provides that, with HQ’s that support different styles of play. And the narrative evolves with new developments in each era. This really opens things up and creates a new experience without changing mechanics.
Grant: What has been the experience of your playtesters?
John: We were fortunate to have a great group dedicated to playing the multi-player and solo versions of the expansion. Jason Carr, who has taken on the development of all things SpaceCorp, coordinated a lively collaborative process. We started with about twenty different HQ’s and through the playtesters’ reports on testing various combinations, we were able to eliminate those HQ ideas that proved to be underpowered or that blew up game balance in certain HQ combinations.
Grant: What other expansions are you mulling around in the future?
John: We are mulling over more expansions. Nothing to announce yet though!
Thanks for your time in answering our questions about SpaceCorp: Ventures John. I really loved the base game and enjoyed the solitaire system as well, although this new solo play aid seems to improve upon that quite a bit and I need to get my game back out.
If you want to get our thoughts on the SpaceCorp experience you can watch our video review:
If you are interested in SpaceCorp: Ventures you can pre-order a copy for $30.00 from the GMT Games website at the following link: https://www.gmtgames.com/p-842-spacecorp-ventures.aspx