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I.S.P. Survivor» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Play testing I.S.P. Survivor rss

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Kerin Schiesser
United States
Vallejo
California
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I printed up the board, laminated the pieces, and we tried it last night(May 1, 2007).

Initial response: The people I play with are all strategy gamers. We expected it to be "light" but it was beyond light - it actually has quite a lot of churn, and could easily go on forever, without ending. I expected it to be somewhat "Munchkin-like," but it actually has even less structure.

The problem is that it is too easy to mess with people. Actually completing a goal becomes well-nigh-impossible (possibly the point of the game?) and as there is no set ending time to the game, such as a number of turns, or number of attacks or something, the game can just go on and on and on.

A game of this type is usually best if it lasts at most 30 - 45 minutes. The basic theme and set up of the game are great, and it's fun to play Illiad's characters. But as an actual game, it needs some work.

Also, there are balance issues - for instance, Sid's objects are needed by none, or one other person, while other player's objects are usually needed by someone else. This makes for an unbalanced starting point for different players. From what we could tell, this is not balanced by other issues, such as where the player's starting position is, or where their items are placed.

Also, there is just lots and lots of luck. It's hard to see how skillful play will make a big difference- it's mostly going to be about who rolls the most action points - and even then you're not guaranteed to end the game, as it is always possible for people to gang up and stop someone near to completing their goals. You sic Stef on someone, and they've lost 2 turns. You can't carry the PRON disk around forever, and actually gather your items, and once you have lost your turns, you have no way to send Stef away - when we played, one person got near to getting their 3 items, and then the other players just took turns hitting him with Stef every 2 turns. He was unable to act for the rest of the game.

For a more satisfying game (at least for us) a number of changes could be made.

We are working on a set of rules that 1) would make it a bit more strategic 2) play in a shorter period of time and 3) still keep the theme of the game and be true to the characters of the comic.

I'll post the results after they've been play-tested a bit, if anyone is interested. For instance - the Stef character is too powerful - losing two turns per "hit" and the ease with which he can be 'sicced' on anyone near completing a goal just got annoying.

Our main proposal was that anyone within 3 squares of Stef doesn't lose a turn, but just loses 1 or 2 action points. Anyone in the same square with Stef would lose 4 action points or something like that. One gets slowed down, but still has something to do. In fact, we want to remove most of the dice element of the game, and just give people a set number of action points per turn, modified by various things which you carry, which make make you move faster or slower.

PS: a request from everyone that I've played with is this - coffee should be something that can be carried around, and by more than one person. We are considering adding new pieces - ie, "cups of coffee" which individuals can pick up, and add to their speed of movement (say, a plus 2 action points). A limit of, say, four cups per pot. (So only four people per pot could get the bonus movement, until a new pot is made, and the coffee would be gone after a certain number of turns). We are also proposing a pre-determined number of rounds.

Changes like this could really make a difference, and eventually I think we might come up with some rules variations that are still basically similar to the feel of the original game, but is more playable. Will post in the "variations" section here when we are done play-testing, or you can email me for current version at kerinbot(at)comcast(dot)net.
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D Jenner
United States
San Jose
California
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Other possibilities:

1. Eliminate the variable AP roll. Players get 4 AP every turn.
2. The "Stef" effect can only be used on a given player once before it must be used on someone else. Nobody will put up with him more frequently than that.
3. While stuck explaining something obvious to Stef, the affected player doesn't lose their turn, they just can't move. This way they may move the NPCs (especially Erwin).

 
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