Hi guys !
Yes, I am still working on the game :) I just did not get a chance to update you lately, at least not this media.
Following my previous update, I came to the realization that the "asymetry" (aka the fixed starting locations/resources) had to be removed. It was working fine, but not well enough, and most importantly it did not give the game the feeling I was looking for. I wanted something less "meta", with more random setup and thus potentially more replayability.
Here is a summary of the modifications :
X REMOVED THE ASYMETRY : I desociated the Player colors of the District colors.
+ TURN ORDER : Instead of having a first-player marker and then just play turns clockwise, I added a variable player turn order, which is updated every round when the players pass their turn. This new player order also determines the order in which the players choose their starting location (one player per district). In Luthiers, just like in most games, the more actions you take usually results in a better score. So, if a player plays less actions than the other players (due to insufficient Upgrades, poor money or Contract management, etc), it might help them to choose their starting location first. This is certainly a strong previlege that helps reducing the gap that having more actions can create. In a game where every player has good management, this will reward the player that moves the most efficiently (remember that Moving counts as a turn).
+ STARTING RESOURCES DRAFT : Instead of having pre-determined starting resources, each player receives at the beginning of the game 4 cards with resources printed on them. They choose two, and receive the resources. Each card also has a number (the better the card, the higher the number is) - this will determine the initial player order.
This change is a huge one, and gosh it really made the game better !!! We have played over 20 plays with this setup and this works great.
I also brought new experienced playtesters to the team and their input has been really valuable so far.
Here is a list of other improvements that were made over the past months :
UPGRADES / STUDIES : Upgrades are now in the Financial district, while Studies are in the Industrial. This thematically makes less sense, but the Industrial district was way too strong (Upgrades are kinda OP, not gonna lie).
UPGRADES : We are testing different "buffs", but it will most likely be that each upgrade you make becomes more and more expensive.
STUDIES : They all received a huge buff because most of them felt underwhelming. They now create asymetry over the game and help you achieve certain strategies.
END GAME SCORING : The Contracts are now "sets" (Collector, Celebrity, Professional, Student), giving 1-3-7-15 for each set.
CONTRACTS : Professional now give more money than the Celebrities for the same instrument value, but less reputation. Celebrities still give huge rewards, but the reward decreases faster than the Professionals. I also added some contracts with a longer duration. Students are still weak, but they are necessary for the set collection.
REPAIRS : They now give more money, but they also have polyomino shapes, which makes them more tricky to add to the production slot. There are also Prestige requirements to access the best repairs. Some of them now require resources (wood) to be paid as well. There is a 1x, 2x and 3x action location. You can also, instead of taking a repair tile (that only gives money during Production), take an instant $2. I might add a card that is given to the player with the most repairs during the game and that acts as a wild contract for the end-game scoring.
PRODUCTION SLOT : Tiles can now be rotated. An area has also been blocked by a Signature token, which is unlocked when reaching 4 on the Prestige track.
COLLECTORS : Three Collectors are now available for the whole game.
Overall, a lot of good changes and balancing! I am very happy with how the game is turning out.
I have played a lot of Age of Steam solo over the past few months. What I like is that the setup is super quick, there is no automa to manage, and you play a puzzle against yourself. This of course inspired me a similar mode for Luthiers.
In summary :
You start with 12 tokens + 3 on your Upgrades + 3 for Contracts.
You take actions as you would normally do (disregard the token colors). You take as many actions as you want during the round and decide when the round ends, BUT, you do not take your tokens back at the end of the round - they stay on the board.
One all your 12+ tokens have been used, end the current round and play the next one(s) but this time you take actions by REMOVING previously placed tokens to take actions; meaning that everything you did during the first "half" helped you setting up your endgame actions.
I tested it a few times and it is really fun! More testing to come.
Even though the game could continue being playtested for months/years, I decided it is time to start approaching game publishers. Here is a sneak peak of my first sell sheet. Please let me know what you think !