After reworking the rules, board and game pieces I expected my second playtest would go a lot smoother than the first, with less game-problems and critiques.
I am so naive...
Design wise, my game could use some fixes:
1) I expected the game to be a little slower paced, but when the game was beaten and over in less than 15 minutes I was a little embarrassed. The board is too small, it would really benefit with a longer road to the finish.
2) The Star card spots on the board were a little small- they did not allow much room for one player token, let alone two.
3) If I were to fix this game up to pitch it to an existing game company, I would have to use a far more sturdy material for the player spaceship pieces. Even though their standing-paper-doll technology is neat, it does not work well with thin paper.
The Game play could be fixed in the following ways:
1) For a player to win a battle against the population of a planet a roll of 4 or higher, may be too much to expect. It made for very painful scenario where a player, who chose to continue battling the planet, lost 7/10 of their population tokens. A suggestion was made that a roll of 3 or higher wins the battle against the alien planet, where as a roll of 1 or 2 loses the battle.
2) Another issue that was brought up, regarding battling a planet's population, was that the population on some planets were too high. A population of 9 (billion) on one planet means a player must win a battle against the population 9 times in order to obtain their resources. This game mechanic would drag on a bore the other players while the one player battling would get frustrated as they lost their population tokens when they lost a battle. To fix this I would lower the population on a number of planets, likely not exceeding 5 (billion).
3) Another suggestion that was given, was that a player battling a planet should have to stop fighting the planet if they lose (roll 3 or less) more than 4 times in a row. Originally a player had the choice to stop battling a planet if they were losing, however some players don't like to quit and wind up losing the game because they lost all of their population tokens. So perhaps creating a rule that they must retreat from battle after 4 losses will prevent this.
4) One last critique I received was to perhaps change the value/point system of the resources a player can obtain once defeating a planet. A player commented on how they "Lost 5 billion people, but got 2 seeds" did sound a little ridiculous. To change that I would likely emphasize that 1 seed token equals 1 billion seeds (much like the population tokens), or something along those lines.
All in all it was a very enlightening experience to playtest my game again.
I'm sure if I were to playtest it a third or even a fourth time I would learn more each time.