Our twice a month playtests continue. The last meet up was held from 6.30pm in Against the Grain on Wexford Street on April 19, 2018. We were delighted to welcome some new faces and see what they had to bring to the table (literally!).
I finally got to play one of Paddy’s games!
As someone who generally isn’t interested in technical terms, I’d describe it as a hidden roles game where you’re placing money on cards and trying to secretly screw each other over.
Overall I liked the idea behind the game. Unfortunately the card abilities led it to there being only one real strategy that people tried for. The endgame needed to be solidified beyond where it was. The current game allows players to negate the end-of-game call out phase if they want by getting their own tribe as an accusation card and then ignoring the hidden roles aspect of the game.
Will was a new attendee at the event and brought along his prototype to test. The Game consisted mainly of a deck of card with actions that can be bought using dice rolls.
The game was interesting, with unique dice being rerolled often allowing for multiple combinations. It needed a lot of work on the balance between cards and dice frequency and generally I felt like it needed a bit more depth. Maybe more actions of a different goal. Though this could be due to the issues we encountered with the balance which slowed down the play and eventually ended the test. For anyone looking at this kind of issue themselves, I’d suggest getting very friendly with spreadsheets. (gSheets being my favourite, cause they’re free and on the cloud.) It’s very difficult to accurately do this by hand so make use of the technologies. There are also a lot of sites online that will give information on dice frequencies and combinations.
This meetup was an unproductive playtest session for my own game unfortunately. I was trying out a cooperative game with dice pools, and our dice pools just never gave us what we needed to succeed, even teaming up on events and using cards to give us advantages and whatever other tricks. I had brought the same game to out last playtest meet up and the difficulty seemed about right, lady luck just had it in for us this week.
Under normal circumstances after a 15 minute unlucky crash and burn like that I would just go for a restart, but we had a bunch of new designers show up with their games this week so I decided to give them the time and tablespace to get their games played instead.
Will also brought in a dice pool based game, this time of the directly competitive nature. While it has some rough similarities on the surface to something like King of Tokyo in that it features pools of custom d6’s, it has an interesting mechanic in that you actually select the dice from a large available pool at the start of the game. Each of the dice has a different mix of the various symbols in the game on it which presents some interesting choices once you know what you are doing. Unfortunately, it was pretty easy to choose a poorly constructed pool in your first game and then feel a bit like you lost before the game had begun.
Still, it was quick to learn and play, so we took the time and lessons learned from the first game to make a few changes on the fly and give it a second playthrough. Some of our changes were definitely for the better, and some just created new problems. Still, I think Will has a lot of ideas for new things to try in the game and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with.
John brought in a more or less complete rebuild of Bern by Post, a game he had been working on last year. The flavour and resources remained the same between the versions, but the action selection mechanic changed entirely to buildable rondels. There are 4 rondels in play that are shared between and modified by all of the players. The game is nearly cooperative in that you are reliant on the other players to help advance the rondels, yet each player is competing to score separate objectives. Most of the challenge of the game therefore is in knowing when to advance along any given rondel to push forward your agenda without helping your opponents along too much.
Unfortunately the teaching time and play length were a bit long for the last game of the evening, so we only got two out of the planned six rounds in before we had to call it a night. I’m looking forward to our next playtest to see how the game develops over more rounds as the rondels continue to expand.
As I mentioned in our last report, I’m working on an “I split you choose” game. Since the last playtested it twice. The first ever playtest of this game was very successful, with lots of laughter and engagement. Every playtest since then hasn’t elicited this kind of response and that’s because almost every playtest has been a different game.
- First playtest: 4 players, focus on discovering hidden identities.
- Second playtest: 6 players, added new cards to the core cards in the first playtest
- Third playtest: 5 players, unsuccessful second playtest cards removed, some tweaks to core cards
- Fourth playtest: 5 players, two core cards plus 4 new, untested cards
Each playtest I’ve learned something about what players want from the game, and what their expectations are. I’ve also been reminded in a few of the playtests that I need to focus on what the core of the game is for me, and how to try facilitate that experience for the players. There’s definitely still work to be done.
Josh was one of the new faces who joined us on Thursday. He had an tile placement, memory game that’s played in a number of phases. First, you draft tiles. Each player starts with a defensive tile, and they can draft attack tiles or some of the 4 different scoring tiles. Do you take tiles that match your secret scoring objective? Or do you take tiles to prevent others getting them? Do you take the attack tiles to defend yourself or attack others? Next, you place those tiles face down on a board. Again, tough choices to be made here. The next step is a bit odd. Each player take the opportunity to turn a single tile face up. If it’s a scoring or attack tile, it’s removed. If it’s a protect tile, all the tiles adjacent to it are picked up and scored by the player. Finally, in the last round, you take it in turns to pull one face down tile at a time. If you flip an attack card, all the adjacent tiles are discarded.
I’m not sure my explanation is very clear, and we had a little trouble keeping the different phases clear in our minds. But the game was so quick to play that we were able to play two games back to back really quickly. I wasn’t really able to process the game well enough to be able to give Josh feedback on the night, though I’ve had some thoughts since. The game is good as is. The memory component plays a major part. Some people will like that, some won’t. There could be a way to mitigate that with tokens, that players can choose to play on certain tiles to help them remember what’s where, which could add in a bluffing layer (is the token there to help remember, or is it actually an attack card). There’s also plenty of space for variation in the tiles, if he chooses. Overall, a very strong showing from Josh.
I wasn’t feeling the best and I don’t think I’ve gave Kieron’s game the attention it deserved as a result. Originally designed as a solo game, Kieron is now working to make this a multi-player game. Each player is trying to make their way across a map, consisting of cards. I don’t want to give away too much of what is quite a simple game, mechanically, but it presents a huge challenge. I was scratching my head, reversing time (and taking penalties) all over the place. I couldn’t really give much feedback, but Kieron has been working on this for a long time, and I think the level of polish shows.