Keith Majewski
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I had a play testing party yesterday and in one of the groups the game did not go so well. They played the game but they barley read the rules so it was basically board game chaos. I had another group that got through the play test just fine. I ended up intervening a fair amount which blew the whole idea of the play testing. Has anyone had this happen before? Should I ignore their data because they could not learn the game?
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Paul DeStefano
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Clonefreak1 wrote:
Should I ignore their data because they could not learn the game?


The fact that they could not learn the game is a tremendous amount of wonderful data.

Find out WHY they barely read the rules.
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John duBois
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Clonefreak1 wrote:

I had a play testing party yesterday and in one of the groups the game did not go so well. They played the game but they barley read the rules so it was basically board game chaos. I had another group that got through the play test just fine. I ended up intervening a fair amount which blew the whole idea of the play testing. Has anyone had this happen before? Should I ignore their data because they could not learn the game?

How well do you know this group of players? If they're known to you, how often do they screw up other games because they misread the rules? If they get more rules wrong from your rulebook than they do from a published game's book, it's probably your rules, not the group. This goes double if they learn from the rules for any Fantasy Flight game.
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Gary Boyd
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Two groups of blind playtesters is not anywhere near enough to be able to determine whether the rules document is sufficient, in my opinion. You need much more data before you can determine whether this was a problem with the group or a problem with the rules set. It is entirely possible that they there was something wrong with that group, but there's no way of knowing that with just two groups.

I think there is a tendency to want to believe that it isn't a problem with your rules. The group that followed the rules seems to support that, but some groups are much better at intuiting rules. Some groups need much more clear rules or rules that are broken up in a more systematic way. There is also the distinct possibility that your rules document is flawed. I'm not saying that this is the case, but given two playtest groups, it is a possibility.

Paul, above, has a point as well. If the rules are poorly written or laid out, certain groups may be unwilling to trudge through them, preferring to forego playing correctly for playing intuitively.

At this point, I would revisit the rules document, ask several people to have a look, and see if there are ways to clarify and simplify things so that people find it more enjoyable to read.

You could post the rules here. Often people are generous enough to have a once over.
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The Chaz
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debiant wrote:
...
You could post the rules here. Often people are generous enough to have a once over.


Do this! Let us have a crack at the rules and, in theory, your next "blind" test should go much better!!
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Keith Majewski
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Alright here is the Print and Play files, the instructions are in there. The name of the file is EXCAVATEmanualb4r4.pdf.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B872PnrInGmfQzNqaDNP...

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Gary Boyd
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From a quick read the rules seem very simple to parse. It does appear that you may have been dealing with a particularly obtuse player group, or a group that didn't enjoy particular mechanics and decided to play the way they wanted.

I like some of your treasures a lot, the Necronomicon especially.

Things to consider:

Eliminate roll and move - For the love of all that is sacred...

Variable player stats - There seem to be three relevant stats in the game: move, dig, and steal. If each character had different stats and a passive ability (maybe even a once per game action) it would make the game much more interesting to me. Games of this kind without variable player powers don't hold my interest.

This would enable you remove the action cards which are kind of shoddy anyways.

More than one die - I hate rolling a single die in any situation which shouldn't be based completely on luck. My ability to steal from an opponent shouldn't be based completely on luck. There should be a distribution, a curve. That is why most games use multiple dice.

Maybe my character is good at stealing and moving, and really bad at digging. Rolling 3 dice against a stat, while retaining some elements of luck, at least gives me a sense that my character and my roll matter and that the distribution favors my good stats. Rolling and just hoping that the 33.33% odds are with me on that single roll is meaningless to me.

One of the problems I see, from looking at the Action cards, is that there is already so much luck in the game from the cards that basing every roll on a single die just makes it nuts.

Consider Removing the Action CardsThey just make the game way too luck driven. Instead, you could have equipment cards which can give players a boost on that critical dig roll, or a torch to keep from being stolen from.

Otherwise, I think the bones are there for a decent game.

Regards,
Gary


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Keith Majewski
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Thanks for reading the instructions!

I have a feeling my play testers were just not big board gamers as I thought they were!

As far as your suggestions, I'm going to take them into consideration and discuss them with my think tank... and by think tank I mean the guy who helps me make the game playable.
 
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Jeff Sullivan
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My rule of thumb is to never intervene on the first playtest. Things can go wrong for a number of reasons and letting them follow through until the very end will give you lots of individual interpretations of the rules that you'll miss if you stop them only part way through. Often times, I find myself gaining clarity about rules for other games only when I've gotten part way through the first play. If they figure things out for themselves, this will give you some insight into how you might better structure the rules to bring those moments of clarity earlier in the gameplay.

Also, if you intervene too much, you may come across as too invested and accidentally discourage your testers from giving you rule-based feedback. They'll start thinking more and more about what you WANT rather than what you WROTE.
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Benj Davis
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I prefer rolling multiple dice because of the way rolling multiple dice feels. Little chums, clacking away against one another.
A single die just bumps around in the meat of my fist, sad and alone.

Plus, you know, the curve thing, that's good too.
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Hi there, also had a quick look through the materials.

Apart from any game design considerations (multiple dice etc.), I must say that your action cards could use some templating. I don't see any problems in the rules, but in my opinion it would benefit the game greatly if your cards were written in a more consistent way. For instance:

Most trap cards address the player that has drawn them. Then, the Tomb Guardian mentions that same player in the third person.

In a few cases (Pile of Discarded Game Cartridges), the standard "MtG" template is used - [cost]:[effect]. If you don't want to use this throughout your whole game, it would probably help if the cards at least adhered to a common structure, i.e. first paragraph - when exactly can I use this card; second paragraph - what does it cost me; third paragraph - what's the actual effect.

Unexpected Fissure - Discard a treasure or lose a turn. What is "lose a turn"? My next turn? The rest of my turn?

Holy Relic - "Can discard as an interrupt to any action card played on a player." Pardon me?

I think you can see where I'm going... Good luck with your game!
 
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