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Subject: Playtesting rules 4.1 rss

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JT Call
United States
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Had another playtest tonight and tried out the new rules. The imbalance with the characters seems to have been resolved: while some players felt one or more characters was less valuable than others, other players disagreed and had good examples from the game in which the "weak" character was actually very valuable. Lots of good discussion afterwards, and it basically all boiled down to the characters feeling well-balanced.

Still having difficulty reaching the illusive 45 minute mark. soblue Right now, games tend to last a little over an hour. That said, we are often teaching new players (this was the case tonight, and none of the poisoned fruit cards came out).

We collectively decided that the points state is also too low (there aren't enough opportunities for people to gain points, so losing one or two strawberries is a setback most can't recover from). It was suggested (again) that more strawberries be added to the board. The worry there, though, is that would likely increase the length of the game (the game ends when all the strawberries have been more strawberries means more things to collect before end-game).

One of the players suggested that, instead of spending movement to pick up items beneath your character, the character should only have to be standing in the same square as an item or strawberry. That seems like a small change, but I expect it would have a fairly drastic effect on game length, player abilities, and overall strategy (which means it will need significant playtesting to see if that breaks the game). On the plus side, the combination of those two changes would theoretically cut down the overall length of the game, and adding more strawberries would provide more opportunities for people to use their extra actions to collect points (which means losing on or two strawberries shouldn't cost you the game.

My next game we will try picking up items for free and will also add 4-8 new strawberries. We'll then see if that fixes the score problem without creating new headaches. My gut feeling is that more strawberries need to be added to the board...but picking up itmes for free is not the right tweak. Hopefully we can extensively test both tweaks before Monday when I hand in the prototype and updated rules to the Boston Festival Of Indie Games. If not, I'll be handing in version 4.1 (which, by its own rights, is a fun, well-balanced game). If we make any further changes, they'll need to significantly improve on the good mojo we already got going.
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