Today, I playtested my game again with some revised rules and cards.
The game was modified to have 7 rounds, cheaper resource cards, and rules that facilitated easier trade. Some of the blueprint cards were also rebalanced.
This time around, the game was much shorter (about 30 minutes, which was the close to the target time), but the players still felt that they didn’t have enough control over their builds. To alleviate this, I plan on adding two new mechanics: free resource cards, and free blueprint cards. I plan on giving each player one random resource card per turn (from the top of the resource deck). This should allow players to spend less of their funding on chasing resource cards. It also might give players cards that they don’t need. I think this is a good thing, because it encourages either A) trade between players, or B) adaptation of their build. This should also increase the quality of ships overall. I also plan on giving players one free blueprint card on every odd-numbered turn. The effect of this mechanic should be similar to the effect of the free resource cards, but weighed more heavily towards encouraging player adaptation. Overall, I want players to not feel confined by luck when they make their builds, so I want to give them free cards as a way to allow them to make decisions throughout the game.
Some other changes I might make involve the power level of specific blueprint cards. Certain cards felt a little too strong, and other felt too weak, so I will make some minute adjustments. This is a fairly expected outcome of the playtest.
Finally, I am considering scrapping the idea of the infrastructure mechanic entirely in favor of making the resource deck more interesting. The playtesters brought up potential mechanics such as multi-colored resource cards, double resource cards, and free rerolls, all of which I will consider in future iterations of the game.