Design Me: Route Building

Ah… it’s an exciting day on Boards & Barley. Today is the first Design Me article of the year! What is a “Design Me” article? It is a design exercise. Like soccer players who run for practice to exercise their muscles, I think it is important for designers to exercise their brains. So every once in a while I choose a random theme/mechanic/victory condition and see if I can come up with a decent game design on a whim.

Today’s random stuff, via, is this:

Route Building + Space Colonization? I can do this!

Route Building + Space Colonization? I can do this!

Note: for this design me I am changing the victory condition. Instead of solving a puzzle or mystery, the player who builds the best route will win.

Armada Galactica

In Armada Galactica you are a galactic superpower trying to create a new trade route through whichever galaxy you are currently in.

As a galactic superpower it is your job to make sure you are providing enough vacation spots for your population. The way to do that is to spread your empire throughout the galaxy.  You can colonize a new location if it is within a certain location of your currently existing locations. But there are a few steps you must take. These include SCOUT, TERRAFORM, and then COLONIZE.

On your turn you can also perform some research upgrades. Each planet or moon you colonize will begin with basic capabilities based on its characteristics. As you bring technology along your colonization route, those planets/moons will get better at allowing you to reach further and explore/colonize more distant locations.

So the concept is to build a route from planet to planet by utilizing the characteristics of those planets to allow you to further colonize. The winner will be the person who has built the best route by the end of the game.


  • Game Board
  • Planet tokens
  • 12 Rocket meeples (3 each in four different player colors)
  • 40 Colony tokens (10 each in four different player colors)
  • Research tokens
  • Population cubes

How to Play

A game of Armada Galactica is played until someone has placed their tenth colony token. To place a colony token, the desired planet/moon must be able to support enough population. A planet/moon can support enough population if it has been terraformed correctly for the type of body it is.

Players will each have a home planet (not dissimlar to Ascending Empires – I’m trying hard not to simply duplicate that game here – I feel I’m failing at that). The board is composed of a grid of planets/moons. Each location will have randomly received a planet token, so the grid is never the same from game to game.

There will be four main types of celestial bodies that you can try to colonize. These are:

  • Earth-like
  • Mars-like
  • Europa-like
  • Water worlds


These planets are the rarest in the game. But they are the easiest to colonize. Without the need for terraforming these are the hot spots that you’ll want to go after!


These planets were once Earth-like, so it will take some work to get them back to that state. That means you’ll have to devote some effort to terraforming. But these are still relatively easy to colonize.


These are planets that possess water under layers of ice or rock. Terraforming won’t be enough on planets like these. You’ll need specialized research that can warm the planet from the inside to sustain life on it’s surface.

Water Worlds

These planets are basically covered in water. So terraforming isn’t exactly possible. Instead you’ll have to haul a serious amount of infrastructure to the planet to essentially create boats/structures large enough to sustain a large population while floating on the water. If your terraforming research isn’t very good you may want to build a network out of these bad boys.

Those are the four main types of celestial bodies you will encounter while attempting to grasp galactic supremacy. Yet the goal is not simply to build all ten of your colonies. Scoring is also based on the populations you can sustain.

On your turn you can choose either EXPLORE, RESEARCH, or POPULATE as your main action.

The EXPLORE action allows you to use your three rockets to scout the nearby planets. All of you network must be in a continuous line, so it’s important to look ahead and see what’s coming. Also during the EXPLORE action you can transport equipment to the newly selected planet. This could be infrastructure, terraforming equipment, or research scientists.

The RESEARCH action allows you to utilize scientists that you have placed on your planets to increase that planet’s capabilities. For example, if a planet has a high exploratory research level, then if the rockets are launched from that planet they can travel twice as far, which would allow you to spread your network over a wider area. If your planet has great earth-like resources, and if you increase its terraforming capabilities, then it can become a hub for your terraforming infrastructure to expand to new locations. Research will play a key role in the game and you will want to maximize the capabilities of your planets.

The POPULATE action allows you to colonize a new location. This can only be done if that location has met the colonizability standards. Players will place a colony token on the new location. This action can also be used to increase the population in your existing colonies. This is a key to victory since population is the main scoring category.

On your turn, in addition to the main action you can also perform a secondary action. These are like dumbed down versions of EXPLORE, RESEARCH, and POPULATE. But they can allow you to take advantage of certain planetary characteristics if you really wanted to accomplish something awesome on your turn.

The Endgame

Once a player has placed their tenth colony, all players will have one final turn, including that player. At the end of the game players will total their population cubes and their colony tokens. Each colony token counts as three population cubes. So players could earn a maximum of 30 points from their colonies alone. Research levels and infrastructure will also be scored on a low-level basis. The idea behind awarding points for those is because they are what set the population limit for a player.

I expect final scores to be in the 70-90 range. I had a lot of fun coming up with this design despite not creating any graphics or images for it. That’s a rare thing. I really like this idea and I think I might move forward with it. I am still on the lookout for the other game that I’d like to put on The Game Crafter this year. If this comes together nicely maybe it will be that game.

Your Opinions…

Do you have any thoughts about this design? Are there any obvious problems? Are there areas where I really fell short?

Don’t forget to exercise your brains!


Posted on January 10, 2014, in Design Me, My Games, The Boards and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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