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Game Design Notes (and other random thoughts)

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Just in Time Playtest and Games with Friends

David Gregg
United States
Franklinville
North Carolina
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Just in Time:

Got to playtest the latest version of the prototype a couple of days ago and found that most of the changes played very well. There are a couple more things that I still want to tweak though.

The Good:
● Components all worked very well.
● New location effects are good and allow for some creativity during your turn.
● Using action points as planned is working well.
● Using clues for time traveling is good.
● Placing 1 of each players' action points on the timeline cards during setup so that they trickle in over the first 7 turns works very well.
● Having the first day per player be free of tasks (each player has 1 safe turn) also works well.

The Bad:
● While having a hidden goal works, there are 7 colors and so it's possible that the players won't really be competing over the tasks or that only 2 of the players will be competing while the others aren't. I don't like this balance.
● Each player had 10 action points; I think this was too many. Too much down time for players and it allows players to complete too many things at once.
● Completing tasks was too easy. Even after ramping up the difficulty mid-game we still only saw 2 tasks go incomplete, 1 of which went toward a point for the game.
● I don't like letting players spend multiple clues to choose their time/place when time traveling.
● Rewarding clues for finishing a building along with using clues as points made for an abusable combination.
● Handing out task clues at the end of the turn when the timeline shifts lacks buildup.

The Ugly:
● Completely failed to note that the public goal of protecting a building would be impossible to fulfill given that only 4 tasks out of 76 even have that building on it...

So, some changes are in order:

First: I'm thinking of reducing the number of action points that the players have. I think I'll start with shrinking them down to 7 actions and instead of placing 1 on each timeline card, I'll only place 1 on the safe days. This way the first player in a 4 player game will still have 3 actions to start as they do now. This change should also make upgrading buildings and completing tasks harder as you'll have less to work with in getting them done.

Second: Instead of using goal cards toward the win condition, I'm thinking of an entirely different system. Each player will be handed 1 task face-down at the start of the game. They will want to complete tasks with matching danger types (there is fire, tornado, crime, health). When a player would receive a clue for completing a task, they will also receive the task chit itself (there's plenty in the bag to allow for this). Players will receive points both for collecting multiple of the same type as well as collecting sets of all 4 (think science set collection ala 7 Wonders). The game will end when either a player has a certain number of points in front of them (not counting their bonus points for matching the hidden task) or when all the players have lost from the city taking too much damage from incomplete tasks. The bonus task will likely just be added to your chits at the end and then score as: # of each type squared + 5 for each set.

Third: When a player completes a task in the earliest possible time allowed (and thus not possible to be stolen by someone) the player receives the task chit and clue reward immediately. This way you won't be absolutely sure when a player will score points and thus end the game.

Fourth: I still plan to let players spend multiple clues when time traveling, but with a twist. When you time travel you must spend all clues of a single color. The number of clues of that color will determine how random your time travel is. I still plan to award clues from upgrading buildings as it won't be as dangerous of a combo with the score change.

I think these changes will do a good job of fixing each of the issues we had. Hopefully I'll be able to try it out today or tomorrow.

Game Day:

Went over to my BFF's place yesterday and got in some games with his wife as well as another mutual friend. They were finishing up a game of Catan when I arrived, so just sat around chatting while they finished up. It's been a long time since I've played Settlers, really need to fix that.



First up was a couple 3 player games of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. Daniel and I both played dual sphere while our friend Mitch played a dual sphere hero / triple sphere deck combo. I don't really remember the first quest that we ran (it was one from an expansion), but it was very location heavy and the treacheries kept returning the locations back to the staging area... very annoying quest and we ultimately lost to too much threat. We then tried out the 3rd quest from the core game and bashed our way through it pretty easily. Mitch looked like he wanted to play a 3rd time, but I was a bit burnt out and asked to move onto something else.

Mitch was the only 1 of the 4 of us who hadn't played Arkham Horror and each of us that had had disliked the long length of the game. So when I showed up with Elder Sign it became a "must play" for the evening and so we set it up. Everyone noted that it was indeed lighter game play compared to Arkham, but enjoyed it none-the-less. We faced the ancient one that adds a terror die requirement to all monsters and defeated him with only 4 doom tokens on the track (though Mitch did die twice). I'm still really enjoying Elder Sign and it has taken Yggdrasil's spot as my favorite cooperative game in my collection.

Mitch needed to leave after Elder Sign and Sam headed off to do something around the house as well, so Daniel and I spent my last 30 min or so playing JAB: Realtime Boxing. It took a game or 2 for the gameplay to really sink in for Daniel, but once it did he was playing pretty well, though I remain undefeated. This is easily my favorite filler and I doubt that title will be lost any time soon.

cool

Daniel and Sam were wanting to try out Ticket to Ride, but with my time being cut short after Elder Sign we just didn't have enough time to play it. TtR has been a huge hit with the family so far, so I'm sure they'll get the chance to try it out soon enough.
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Subscribe sub options Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:51 pm
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