So I've been able to do some more thinking about my new game, and design some of the cards, and while its going slowly, I should hopefully have a prototype ready for the next meeting of the Sydney Board Game Designers. I've solidified the actions available to players, but more importantly I've decided that instead of players placing worlds themselves in the tableau, the worlds will be arranged at the start of the game face down in a 5 x 5 arrangement. The inner 3 x 3 square will be known as the 'Phase 1' worlds, with the outer ring of 16 worlds known as 'Phase 2'. This mainly has implications for movement, as it will take one movement point to move between worlds, but 2 movement points to fly between Phase 1 and Phase 2 space. Players will only start with spaceships that have 1 movement point, so they'll have to upgrade if they want to explore further.
The only planet that will be revealed at the start is the central planet, where all the players start. This planet will have the planetary actions 'Black Market' and 'Gain Contact'. The Black Market is where players can sell dice they've acquired for either more cards or VP, and the Contact action allows you to look at the top three cards of the contact deck, selecting one and discarding the others. Contacts give you VP if you meet certain conditions during the game, and represent supporters of your scavenging trade. For example, one contact might award you a certain number of VP at the end of the game if you have at least one dice of every colour on your ship of value 3 or higher.
So with the planets now pre-dealt, the deck will only consist of spaceship wrecks that you can add to your ship. I'm not sure if this is enough for this deck, but time will tell.
The real issue that I'm spending my time thinking about is the mechanism to select which roles players will select each turn. Initially, I was thinking that players could each select two actions secretly (perhaps by placing markers on a card with 6 boxes, one for each of the available actions): one that they wish to take that turn, and one which they think an opponent will choose. When everything is revealed, players take the action they selected (activating all cards and planets that they control or have settled/conquered for that action as well). If they have correctly guessed, and at least one opponent has selected the action that they bet on, that player would get to take that action as well. But I'm thinking that this might be too swingy, as a player who guesses correctly a lot will get ahead very quickly on actions.
The other idea I was tossing around in my head was a sort of rondel mechanism combined with a turn order mechanism much like in Glen More, where the player last on the rondel selects which action they would go to (say, within 3 spaces), and then each other player may take that action as well, perhaps moving forward 1 space. So there would be some sort of balance between choosing not to follow, and therefore getting to choose your own action more, or following a lot? Mmm...I'm not sure how that would work out.
Anyway, I'll be thinking about this for some time yet - anyone got any ideas for a good role selection mechanism?