After months of testing we discovered that players like to hold their diamonds...
So other than some minor wording tweaks, the game play and feedback has gone well; except for one thing, the starter diamonds. In 60+% of the games played, one or more players held onto their starting "free" diamond. The usual explanation was that they [the starter diamonds] become points and would grant an edge at game's end. This problem got me thinking and lead to the creation of "Starter Cash" .
Now in the rules we are testing, each player is given TWO of these cards which count as gems BUT are worthless at the end of the game.
So far the reaction was great and the affect on gameplay was immediate! Players started using the optional powers on the PREP cards in the game. We also saw an overall increase in gems-after-StarterCash being used as well, which made gameplay much more dynamic.
While this resets the schedule for play-testing, it does seems to fix the design issue we were encountering. Only time (and copious amounts of game-testing) will tell.