Like THE RIFT, my concept and prototype for ALPHA COLONY has been around for a long time, beginning somewhere in the early 1990's. Actually inspired by fantastic video games such as Intellivision's UTOPIA and EA's M.U.L.E. this simple yet complex boardgame follows in the footsteps of such greats as CIVILIZATION and SETTLERS. It combines the usual 4x themes (exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination) and makes for an enjoyable experience of building a small colony in outer space. As I write this, they are talking about the upcoming trip to Mars where they will deposit a bevy of settlers/colonists who will stay there for the rest of their lives. I may put in an application for myself! What a great and exciting opportunity to be there when this happens and be a part of history that, until recently, was so much science fiction.
But I digress...
The game is easy to learn and plays quickly, but it took a lot of doing to get the money, the resources, the rebellion factors and the victory points balanced just right. And woe to the poor sap who gets nothing but swamp! Sometimes that's just the luck of the draw. Even Columbus had bad luck at certain points. But still, I wanted to make a game where one could have fun building a fledgling society without having to worry about your neighbors crushing you before you could even get started. Trust me, it happens a lot in these games of grand strategy; you sit down looking forward to a good 6 hours of gameplay only to be wiped out in 2-3 turns. Blech!
So with AC you can either cooperate and help out your fellow players or just ignore them and let them fail on their own. You dont have to worry about encroachment unless you use some of the bonus scenarios or opt to tweak the rules. Personally, in games like this, I like to have random events occur and shake things up a bit. It can help out a guy who doesn't have the best luck or throw off the plan of a master strategist. Generally it makes the game unpredictable to a certain extent which is part of what makes it fun to play over and over!
Glad to share yet another oldie but goodie from the days of my youth.