There are always little design decisions that have to be made to make the game playable, but that don't seem crucial, at least at the stage where you're trying to see if an idea is going to work. There are a few of those for the present state of the game. For example:
What happens when a player fails a challenge?
Possible consequences include:
- Add a black chip to the cup
- Lose a white chip
- Immediately relocated to an enemy stronghold
My assumption had been that we'd go with the first option, and that provides a nice way to get the number of black chips in the cup up, but it doesn't feel as punitive as the other two options. On the other hand, if the penalty is too punitive, then players will become risk-averse, and simply won't face encounters until they're heavily up-armored with cards. The third option, despite its thematic appeal, may fall into this "too punitive" category. Perhaps the second option strikes the best balance -- you lose one turn action. Not too bad, but not insignificant, either.
How many enemy can go into a city before it "pegs", and what happens when it does?
"Pegging" a city means that the enemy cubes are removed from the city and a large cube is placed in the city, and henceforth, no additional cubes can be added to or removed from the city.
I now think that the threshold for a city to "peg" should be n+1, where n is the number of players. Since cities have historically started with 1, 2, or 3 enemy cubes at the game's beginning, this would mean that some cities would begin the game "pegged" in the 1 or 2 player game. Probably, that's ok, but might require a simple tweak to the rule, from "when a city pegs, do X", to "when a player is in a city that has pegged, do X". It makes no difference in the 3 and 4 player games, since a city will only peg by definition because a player in the city has caused it to peg. But it would avert the weirdness of having to execute a bunch of consequences before the game even starts in the smaller games!
Originally the rule was that when a city pegs, the enemy digs for the temple there, which works well thematically. I'm inclined to change it to "an enemy operative is activated", to create a strong connection between the operatives and the board play. We could have an intermediate threshold -- "operative activates when a city goes to n cubes, city pegs and temple is dug for when a city goes to n+1 cubes", but that feels like too much to remember. Instead, maybe we can simply move the "enemy digs for the city" function onto an operative card. Not as pretty thematically, but perhaps a net win overall in reduced complexity.
What is the consequence if you dig for the temple in the wrong city?
This is a challenging question; we need a system that discourages random digging but that encourages digging based on partial information. One way to achieve this is to set a higher opportunity cost to dig -- it effectively costs you three actions instead of one to dig. But there also may need to be a small penalty for failing a dig. Maybe it's that the enemy progress track should go down a couple of clicks, or that you should have to add a few black chips to the cup.
What happens if you fail a challenge in the temple?
Historically it has been that your turn ends. Since the challenges are all faced at the end of the turn in the new scheme, that doesn't work. Maybe it should be that you're sent back to the entrance of the temple, and must drop the artifact, if you're carrying it.
What happens if, during an Encounter, a player calls out a feature that isn't actionable?
E.g., he sees a phobia but it isn't the active player's phobia, or he sees an operative but it isn't an activated operative.
I think probably nothing happens, and the other players still have a chance to identify an actionable feature.