Games I Playtested
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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Nothing much to say beyond the title. I've playtested a number of games over the years, some more than others.
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1. Board Game: Birds of Prey: Air Combat in the Jet Age [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:4681]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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Long, long ago, on a hexmap far, far away ...

I was more or less present at the creation for Birds of Prey, back when it was "Air Superiority 2000." See, the idea was that it would be an update of Air Superiority and it would come out in 2000. That didn't happen. The game quickly lost all connection to the Air Superiority system. The game engine was ripped apart and rebuilt many times at varying levels of complexity. (One version was known as "BoP Lite," while another required a computer to run a spreadsheet for each aircraft.)

Up until the final iteration of the game (more or less the version that got published), I had played Birds of Prey more times than anyone else, including the designer.

Incredible game, but the development process was torture.
 
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2. Board Game: Whistling Death [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:2842]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I playtested an early version of the Flight Attitude Transition Table and some of the other rules revisions when J.D. Webster dropped into town. Helped work out a few kinks where lower-G transitions were more desirable than higher-G transitions.

I've never been enamored of the FATT. The Fighting Wings (Whistling Death) system converts surprisingly well to using the PHAD from Birds of Prey. Fighting Wings plays faster and with less mental effort using the PHAD, even if it's a Frankenstein conversion.
 
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3. Board Game: Sicily: Triumph and Folly [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:3455]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I played the first turn or so of the invasion against Perry Andrus way, way back, earning myself a spot in the list of playtesters. While I didn't contribute much time, we did discover some problems in the naval rules, so there was an actual contribution.
 
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4. Board Game: Attack Vector: Tactical [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:4342]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I got involved with Attack Vector: Tactical after Ken Burnside discovered the PHAD that Tony Valle was using in Birds of Prey and realized that a playable 3-D space combat game was within reach. My early work was helping Ken and company really understand the PHAD (and Ken's adaptation of it as the AVID--Attitude and Vector Information Display). This was so early on that the game was still called "Delta V," with a Greek delta sign instead of the word. Ships used nuclear salt water rockets for tactical maneuver and lightsails for operational maneuver. Short range weapons were still particle beams and there was only one type of laser. The "prediction" system for coilguns and other seeking weapons was messy, indeed.

My first big contribution was convincing Ken that the rather clever (and quick) damage allocation system that he'd come up with simply wouldn't work in 3-D, because there was no way to resolve directions below the 30 degree angles of the AVID. (This is a good thing, by the way.) My second big contribution was realizing that the pivot rate information on the ship sheets was essentially laid out backwards. Changing it made it easier for players to learn and quicker for them to use. Finally, I came up with a way to greatly reduce the number of "fuel dots" on most of the ship sheets and eliminate a multiplication step that the player had to perform at the end of each burn to figure fuel expenditure.

Love this game. It constantly confronts you with hard choices. Few of those choices can win the game for you, but almost all of them could lose it. The 3-D system has little effect on playing time and the resource management aspects are fascinating (and contribute to all of those hard decisions).
 
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5. Board Game: Operation Cartwheel [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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Due to my interest in Chennault's First Fight, I did some early playtesting of Operation Cartwheel. I did a lot of rules markup and soloed one of the early scenarios. That brought up some serious problems with the naval rules and with the rules development. I haven't seen the final product and I hope that it saw improvement. Neat situation and well deserving of a game.
 
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6. Board Game: GD '42 [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:4308]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I didn't playtest GD '42, but I did an immense amount of testing of the 4th edition TCS rules. Scott and I played a complete campaign game of A Frozen Hell: nearly 300 game turns. I've spilled enough red ink on various versions of the rules to finish off the banking system in the U.S.

Great game system. 4th edition both improves realism and makes the game play faster and simpler.
 
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7. Board Game: Squadron Strike [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:7338]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I didn't do nearly as much playtesting of Squadron Strike as I did of Attack Vector. (Squadron Strike is a simpler descendant of Attack Vector.) Did play a game or two, which generated some questions, and did a lot of rules markup, which even generated some suggestions for improvement. I still haven't had a chance to play this much, but I suspect that I'll prefer Attack Vector, even though Squadron Strike plays vastly faster (more ships in less time). I just like the detail and resource management in Attack Vector.
 
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8. Board Game: Eagles of the Empire: Spanish Eagles [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:5999]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I did a lot (lot!) of work on the rules for Spanish Eagles. I never got the playtest kit and never played the battles from Spanish Eagles. However, I did a partial playthrough of Eylau with the new edition rules as a sanity check, to make sure that older games would (probably) work with the new edition rules.

My biggest contribution was asking whether terrain modifiers affected leaders. The rules and charts said, "Infantry affected this way, cavalry affected this way, and artillery affected this way." So, what are leaders? Anyhow, it's fixed now.
 
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9. Board Game: Nova Glory [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Ethan McKinney
United States
El Segundo
California
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I've been friends with the designers since junior high school! That said, this is a fast, fun shoot-em-up game where maneuver is surprisingly important. The cubes that you rotate to take damage or show special states are incredibly neat! I also like the special ship powers. This game needs distribution by a major manufacturer.
 
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