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Control the distant fringe of the galaxy using might or diplomacy in this 120-minute board game for 2-5 players.
4,022 backers pledged $275,400 to help bring this project to life.

A Few Insights on the Design

Posted by Ryan Laukat (Creator)

Hello all!

I want to talk a bit about some design decisions in this update. After all, I made over twenty unique prototypes with this theme over the past five years. Some of those ended up becoming other games, like Above and Below and Islebound. Most of them approached the theme in very different ways, and most ended up on a shelf collecting dust.

Why only eight planets instead of twenty or more?

One thing that I feel like I miss in most space empire-building games is unique planets with character. In the 4x genre, it's not uncommon for planets to be little more than rocky globes with few features other than a resource or two. In many of my Empires of the Void prototypes in past years the planets lacked enough personality, history, or inhabitants to help me remember them clearly while I was playing.

I settled on a smaller number of planets because it means that we can tell more stories about those places. We can spend some time on them, learning about the people who live there and experiencing the memorable events that take place. Does this mean that there are fewer spaces compared to other games in the genre? Not really. Each tile has 6 spaces, which in another design might have been split into 6 different square or hexagonal tiles. Putting those tiles together means that players can spend more time making interesting choices rather than slowly uncovering the map one tile at a time.

Card Play

My favorite thing about Empires of the Void II are the action and event cards. The action cards were inspired by games like Twilight Struggle and other modern war games, which I admire for their ability to tell a compelling story in an area control game. I love the multiple uses they have, and the challenge of playing them in the most efficient way possible. And you can't just get rid of them. You've got to use each one, and when you find that perfect combo of actions it can be extremely rewarding. Will you use the high power number for battle? Or will you wait and bide your time and use the card for an action at the perfect moment?

Player Interaction

Many of the design choices were based around player interaction. It's common in a 4X game to not have anything to do with your opponent until over half-way through the game, when you finally have that giant battle, which is something I wanted to avoid. That can be fun, but I wanted to explore a new angle in the genre and give players something different. 

Right out of the gate, you'll be competing against your opponents and working on a strategy to get ahead of them. You'll be battling each other before even half of the board is revealed. The tension is fun and immediate, and that's the way we wanted it.

Alien Units Instead of Ships

There aren't many different types of starships in the game. We don't have buckets of generic plastic fighters or carriers or dreadnoughts, or battles that include throwing rounds of dice to see how they fare against one another in a battle of attrition. Instead, I wanted to give the alien inhabitants the spotlight. Each alien that you encounter in the fringe has their own power and special abilities. Some of these let you disable other types of units. Some allow you to move farther. They break the rules in interesting ways, and encourage you to make a unique squad of memorable characters.

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my thought process with you, and thank you for backing! I'm excited to keep working on art for the game and posting it in future updates. 

Have a great day and play lots of games!


Andrew Frick, MAJBrown22, and 67 more people like this update.


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    1. moocifer on

      8 planets are still not enough no matter the design choices / reasons given. I never wanted or asked for 20 but a choice of 8 from 12 (at max player count) would significantly improve long term replayability & variety between games.

    2. Doron Or on

      I can understand the need for fewer planets if you wish to imbue them with more personality.

      However the original had more empty spaces, and different areas that made the universe feel "bigger", while the planets still had a sense of uniqueness and personality...

      I'm kind of concerned that the universe will feel very small, especially with the ability to warp your world-ship.

      So I can only hope that an expansion will be in the works, adding more planets and aliens to the world, giving it more variety :)

      I also miss the hexagonal tiles, the squares feel rather plain, but that's really minor.

    3. Ryan Laukat 15-time creator on

      Glad to hear the positive responses to this update!

      For some reason I can't get the main page to let me add videos. I'll try again soon, but it's been like this for a few days.

      I've certainly worked on other aliens and planets for the game, but we're close to our weight and component limit for a game in this box size and price point, so it is unlikely we'd be able to add many more. We can certainly add more in a future expansion.

    4. Ian Lee on

      +1 adding more info to the main page !
      It's really lack enough resource knowing this game until watching gameplay video.

    5. Daniel Varian on

      +1 to adding more information to the main page. I was on the fence until I saw the gameplay videos - and that made me become a backer. But I had to search for that info - the videos definitely need to be on the main campaign page and this last update can easily be added either to the campaign page or added as an FAQ

    6. Big Tom Casual (Orange Nebula) on

      Also huge +1 for adding more information about the event cards and their impact on each experience to the main campaign page. They seem like the really dynamic exciting part of each play and feel like something that's really going to set the game apart.

      Right now there seems to be a lot of 'meh too few planets.' Especially on BGG and Reddit. Emphasizing the things in this update and the event cards even more so is a great counter to that perception!!

    7. Big Tom Casual (Orange Nebula) on

      Red Raven team -- you absolutely need to integrate this stuff into the main campaign page. This post sells the game really well in ways the main campaign page currently doesn't.

      Great write up Ryan. Loved this. Anytime you are randomly in the mood for more glimpses inside your thinking on this game -- they definitely help sell it!

    8. Hannes Rosner

      When i saw Empires of the Void for the first time all those years ago i fell instantly in love with Ryans artstyle and the variety of charismatic races. This seems like a great evolution from the original (which i still love!) Focusing on the inhabitants, their environment and their storys is exactly what i have wished for! (and it makes for lots of potential expansions) I really, really hope the bigger cards with artwork will become a reality! (btw. will the buildings have race-specific illustrations?) But enough of my babbling - congratulations on yet another fantastic Ryan Laukat project!

    9. Richard Boreham on

      Great insight into game design, and appreciate that you've added variability through event cards that link to the particular planets rather than making loads more planets, which I think will make it a more interesting game. I think everyone is just so excited by the existing 8 planets that they want more! Having had a taster from this explanation I'm really looking forward to meeting the designer diary stretch goal. The whole game, artwork and design looks amazing.

    10. Missing avatar

      Dave Haslam on

      I know this is a little early to be asking this, but given that the kickstarter appears to be a hit, have you considered an expansion that adds more planets and alien races?

      If you'd rather not comment, I totally understand, just very excited to play this game. Keep up the fantastic work!

    11. Joe H. on

      Multi-use cards like Twilight Struggle?! That sounds amazing and will likely produce some tough desicions in the game. Can't wait to see more!

    12. Milki Kaplanski on

      While I agree that less with more detail is absolutely better than more with less detail, I still think it would be nice to have a little variation in the game set-up to create a deeper sense of exploration. As I see it right now, the only question is WHEN a certain planet/system will be revealed, if there were 12 planets and you'd still only use 8 you wouldn't know if a certain system is in the game until you explore the whole universe - which would make exploration more of a mystery with each game you play.

      But I do understand that with that level of detail adding 4 more systems and everything that comes with them is unlikely to happen for the base game at this point, but maybe it's something to consider for an expansion? :3

    13. Thomas Beaudry on

      Thanks for this update - really good. I still would increase the planet count by 1 or 2 :) I have enough room in my imagination for more stories

    14. Ben King on

      I logged in specifically to post a comment asking about the small number of planets, and this update appeared... Get out of my brain!! Are you secretly a Tanlokian?
      Seriously though; question answered, nice update, excellent looking game.

    15. Ralph Vroomen on

      Hey Ryan,

      Apologies if this has been answered somewhere already by either yourself, Brenna or Andrew;
      As much as I love the kickstarter and the game it represents, I (and probably some others) wonder what the reason was that you moved away from the principles of the first game and coming with a completely new game & principles?

      EotV (after expansion) seemed like such a strong foundation to grab back to with gained wisdom/experience and make it the end all/be all 4x Space game (apart from TI3 ofc). Some people were expecting you to reveal this, but you went a different (interesting and cool) road and I was just curious if you could give some reasoning behind it? Or will it be something we can read about in the Designer's Diary? ;)

    16. Nathan Norton on

      All of these decisions are unique and welcome as far as I'm concerned. This will really differentiate EoV2 from the rest of the 4X pack. It's going to feel very specifically Laukat, which is a good thing. If folks are complaining about these things...ignore. :)

    17. Manu

      Ryan - I was a little unsure about backing. But now that I have read this update, I am more than sure it was the right decision. This is THE 4x game made for me :)

    18. MAJBrown22

      I think the multi-use cards are my favorite part of the game. I also like the follow mechanic and how it keeps everyone engaged, but the cards have the edge for the give and take decision making they create.

    19. Brad Scaggs

      I think a lot of people are really looking forward to seeing more about the impact of the event cards. It's hard to understand their importance without seeing some of the possible effects that trigger.