|East India Company|
First, simply from the perspective of reading the rules, it makes more sense progressively to understand ship movement as a context for the rest of the turn sequence. Since I'd constructed the rules more or less in turn sequence order, there's a logical appeal to this restructuring.
Second, I'd had the comment at the WBC playtest as well as the most recent one that the "Start Player Determination" phase took a little getting used to, being positioned in the middle of the turn sequence. Moving all the ship operations from the end of the turn to the beginning now leaves "Start Player Determination" as the last step in the turn, which feels much more intuitive.
Third, the end-game sequence felt a little off-kilter, having the game run through the turn sequence and then jump back to execute a "Final Dividend Declaration Phase." With the new turn structure, since the game end is triggered in the "New Colony Phase" just prior to dividend declaration, I'm thinking I'll just have game end triggered immediately, execute final dividend declaration, and determine a winner. That is much more abrupt, but also more intuitive, as well as conducive to shortening the game (another goal in my changes).
Another major change is to increase by two the total number of tiles on the board at the beginning of the game. Since I'm not changing game end conditions, I'm effectively shortening total game length by three turns (two at the beginning from initial set-up and one at the end from not having "one last turn" after game-end trigger). So, if my playtest empirical data are any indication, I'll be shortening the average game by 3.7 x 3 = 11 minutes per player. That's 22 minutes shorter for a two-player game and 55 minutes shorter for a five-player game. I think that will come out just about right for where I want the game to be - in the 120-150 minute range.
The last major change to be made is not in the rules but the tiles themselves. In my previous post I discussed increasing the probability of developing trade triangles. I have figured out how to contrive the tiles to do that, so I just have to make the changes to the tiles themselves.
These changes are a little more significant than the last couple sets of tweaks that I've made, so we'll see in the next playtest (whenever that may be - before UnPub 3, I hope) if I've actually made things worse.