How I finally came to understand workplacement or how I finally learned to play Forbidden Stars

Very easy to play and miss the elegance

There are amazing games out there.  You want to design games, Play someone else and GROK (read stranger in a strange land) why they built it the way they did.  So I have played Forbidden Stars several times, solo and with others.  Its a fun game where you place action tokens,  but the order of play can be interrupted by other players.   The placement of these tokens and when they activate changes the game and your options as the game moves forward.  One play by another player can make your next move worthless, depending on what happens in a sector.  This means each player has to have a plan.  Its an interesting and amazing design that drives player choices and interactions.  It also means that when players interact or their plans go awry they have to try to adjust and interact with the other players.  These things and the high level of player interaction is what the last play through of flashpoint was missing.  

What went wrong.....

The placement of the agents in theaters, AFTER a rigid flow of income, tech research, and other steps means the players rarely interact.   The control tokens slow down the acquiring of allies, while the game moves on. 

Player interaction is not driven by the conflicts cause they take so long to resolve.  Players also don't need to invest in much tech,  because they have so many options.  Let him take Switzerland, I will take Chile.  What I saw was a fun game with 3 different speeds of game progression.
The first is the game end conditions, players don't have a clear picture when its going to end.  They can however drive other players out of the game, and really end the game when they want.  
The second is the drive to acquire allies using control markers takes forever for major theater crads, they will never get taken.  Minor theaters can get taken quicker, but players have so many options they rarely interact and when they do its quick and really have little intensity.
Third is the speed of research, income and the use of economy powers.  They happen only once, players have little flexibility and really cannot change up their plans as the turn progresses, even when they do interact with another player.
The game is slow and fast and that makes it hard for players to come up with a plan, execute said plan and mess with other players.  So another flow change was needed. 

A look at other ideas

As I looked at the flow of the game worker placement like Forbidden Stars, Anachrony, Heros of Midguard, and even Catan.  You place a worker (action) and you gain something or do something.  It acts as an action control ( actions=workers) and since you have limited spaces you can enter, either you cannot use a location or other players can do things at the location before you can.  This is the type of flow I want, players placing agents, making choices based on other players actions to implement a plan.

A new Flow/Design

So the new flow changes the Econ Boards to have 3 spaces : Economy, Cyber, Research.  Place an agent on these spaces and they can do specific thing, based on the agent type.  Agents on a theater for  options like taking an ally, gain trade income, or add global control.  
Players place agents one at a time on their Econ Board or a Board Theater.  Players activate agents; taking one of the actions at location.   Players can activate out of turn as well to slow another player down.  Now the whole game revolves around you picking your actions, based on your limited agents and locations.  This means all the players are at the same speed and have the same options; not the same plan.   Creating influence to take allies is now highest wins, as long as you beat the targets resistance. Allies can be taken quickly, or actions can be taken from the econ board to stop it.  
The end game triggers are specific, you an push a player into bankruptcy but they can stay in the game.  Your game ends when there is no more influence deck, there are 8 wastelands on the board, and 2 gauges hit black.
So the beauty of this came from the way these other games play and flow.  No surprise to those who lover worker placement frameworks.  With multiple options at each location players can change strategy as the game goes on.  

Whats next

So that's what this design does in short.  I need to make new cards, before the next playtest.  The main theme is changing we are using an extension of the original rules  as well to match the new name. (Yes we have a new name!).  That however is another post.