I've now gone back to 3 phases. However, I've juggled events a bit so that the order of actions is better defined.
- Move: (Simultaneous) Each ship will generate energy that is diverted to its engines. Ships may spend this energy to move. Contracted workers can be placed before leaving. Ships that have passed all checkpoints (in any order) will have completed a lap. Ships that don't move at all must give half of their energy to their sector as rent.
- Survive: (Simultaneous) All remaining energy will be diverted to weapons and shields. Ships can spend energy to attack each other. At the end of this phase, ships with negative energy are eliminated from the game. A surviving ship with enough laps will win the race.
- Trade: (Asynchronous) All remaining energy will be sold for credits. Credits can be spent to purchase any contracts available in a ship's current sector. Likewise, stored contracts can be sold.
Here are some of the major changes:
- Previously, players would have to decide how much energy to distribute to their engines, weapons and shields all at once. The idea was that it would force players to make plans and stick to them.
However, the energy reset every round. The real decisions should be based on ship positions and placed workers. Energy now starts at engines, gets sent to shields after movement finishes, gets used for weapons when attacking and then gets sold for credits. (As can be seen in the picture, this also made the scoreboard less complicated.)
- Workers can now be placed while ships are moving, assassinated while ships are fighting and transferred while ships are trading. The order of actions is set so it's clear how assassins can be placed and dodged.
- Rather than waiting for ships to stop, turret gunners will automatically shoot opponents as they pass over. This makes ship routes more important. In order to let players group up against the leader, turret gunners can also be toggled to avoid shooting at individual opponents. It will be a side option available at any time.
- Ships that choose not to move at all now lose half of their energy to "pay rent". This will make it harder for ships to just camp in a sector and shoot others down.
- The Trade phase is now completely asynchronous. Adding special rules for handling scarcity seems too complicated for players to keep track of. Players will now take turns and if they buy something out then so be it. I'm thinking the order will be random. I could let players bid credits, but it sounds like too much work on their part. I might set it as an alternate rule for the version offered at The Game Crafter.