Justin Schroeder
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If you like 7 Wonders Duel, Hanamikoji, or even (shameless plug alert!) Jekyll & Hyde: The Murder of Sir Danvers Carew, then you may be interested in Da Vinci's Duel: The Battle for the Mona Lisa!

Da Vinci's Duel is a quick (20 minutes) set collection game where you win cards to put in your tableau through secret unit deployment. There are a few special abilities you can earn to spice things up, and each player has different scoring conditions for the same set of symbols.

I am seeking playtesters to help answer the following questions:

1) What, if anything, was confusing about the rules?
2) What was your favorite part of the game?
3) What was your least favorite part of the game?
4) Did you have fun playing?

Files on Google Drive

WIP Page on BGG

Feel free to message me if you have any comments or questions. Thanks everyone!
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Jeremy Toler
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Hey I just played this with my wife Sam, I'll be giving you feedback from both of our perspectives.

Jeremy's Feedback:
1) I appreciated that the rules had sample rounds, I have trouble understanding rules when just reading them and these helped clarify what I was supposed to be doing each round. I couldn't figure out if after using a special ability card the card was out of game forever or if it went back to the center available to be chosen again (if another player got a break card).

2) I enjoyed the main game loop, trying to guess what cards are of more importance for me and what were more important for my wife. I also found that having Da Vincis favor was a VERY favorable position to be in. I like that you have to make a choice to gain that favor or use your best card to get the item you really want. I also felt like the game length was just right for this game.

3) Reading the rules, the samples helped but the rules were too verbose and not clear enough. If possible I'd like to see the rules pushed down to 2 pages while keeping the examples. A third page to explain what is on the cards is fine of course. (I also feel like explaining that the math works our to a fair game for each grading card sounds very defensive, and is not needed in the rules)

4)I did have fun playing this game, I didn't think I was going to while I was reading the rules but guessing what the opponent was going to play so that I can outbid them while ensuring I got what I needed was a lot of fun. I think this game needs some work but the core is strong, I would play it again.

Sam's Feedback:
My main criticism of the game is clarity and language consistency in the rules. The word choice and inconsistencies in wording makes reading the rules unnecessarily complicated First and foremost, there is simply too much text explaining things in too much meticulous detail. This also opens up the text to redundancy issues that will trip up readers and bogs down simple concepts with too much verbosity. I recommend that each individual sentence be edited for conciseness and clarity and to trim away any excess.

Specifically, some issues I ran in to were the terms "tableau" and "playspace" were never clearly defined in the rules, ideally they should be defined as soon as possible but that's usually a preference thing. Also, I found using the word "set" with the scoring icons and on the artifacts cards to be confusing. The text explaining this in the rules wasn't clear enough, but after some deliberation I was able to figure it out thanks to the graphic. I feel like "set" implies that the player should be seeking the icons on the score card, exactly as depicted on single cards in their hand, rather than looking at their icons as a pool across all of their cards.

Additionally, there were some order-of-information discrepancies I think I would be worth fixing. In the special abilities section, the rules describing the effects begin by listing when the action happens, on the last card, when the action takes place isn't listed until the end of the paragraph.

Some more design-geared things I noticed was the the "Study Break" cards had the study break text in the same font and weight as the name of the artifact, which made them quite easy to miss. I played with a print & play copy with no color, to be fair, but a smaller font or an italicized subtitle would be a great visual distinction. Also, having the special ability cards come with their actions printed on them would be a big help.

One last thing is the scoring. I read and understood the paragraph describing why the scoring system was chosen and I understand that each providing different scales to players is fun and throws the goals around a little bit. However I have kind of a personal hatred of having to break out a calculator for multiple scoring rounds. Again, this is kind of a personal preference so feel free to ignore, but maybe consider using something simpler instead.

In all, I like the game. I'm a da Vinci fan myself and coming from a semi-art history background I found the game narrative fun and well-detailed. I think your core game sequence is solid and mostly intuitive. I think paring down the rules text will do wonders for the game's presentation and clarity.
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Justin Schroeder
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Wow, Jeremey and Sam, that's great feedback! Thanks so much for your detailed comments! I will get to work revising the rules and will post an update when available.
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Justin Schroeder
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Updated files available on Google Drive! It's by no means done, but it's a step in the right direction (I think!).
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Red Queen
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We'll be adding this to game night on Friday, but some comments on the rules - some of this might not be an issue in actual play of course:

Determining Da Vinci's Favour:
We'll be using Method B obviously. Surely both players play their five straight away - as there's no benefit to not doing? Meaning a tie, meaning both players play their five, meaning a tie, meaning...eventually you just need to toss a coin or something.

Mona Lisa's Provenance:
It wasn't clear what that means. I'm assuming players write on the card? Where? I did kinda figure it out (I think) but a bit of a rewrite there might be helpful/
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Justin Schroeder
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RedQueenGames wrote:
We'll be adding this to game night on Friday


That's great to hear; thanks!

RedQueenGames wrote:
Determining Da Vinci's Favour:
We'll be using Method B obviously. Surely both players play their five straight away - as there's no benefit to not doing? Meaning a tie, meaning both players play their five, meaning a tie, meaning...eventually you just need to toss a coin or something.


Whatever card you play to determine da Vinci's favor is not available to use for bidding on research cards. So if you think your opponent will play a 5, and you play a 1, then you actually have a big advantage for the rest of the round! I should make this more clear in the rules.

RedQueenGames wrote:
Mona Lisa's Provenance:
It wasn't clear what that means. I'm assuming players write on the card? Where? I did kinda figure it out (I think) but a bit of a rewrite there might be helpful/


Yes, you are supposed to write on the back of the card. I will try to make that more clear!

Thanks for your questions; I look forward to hearing from you after Friday!
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Jeremy Toler
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Hey just checked back in, I like the scoring example, of course since i'm no longer a blind play test I find it easy to understand but I think that it is an improvement that will make it easier to learn.

I'm going to a friends house tomorrow, I'll see if they are willing to play it after they play test my game.
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Justin Schroeder
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damphon wrote:
Hey just checked back in, I like the scoring example, of course since i'm no longer a blind play test I find it easy to understand but I think that it is an improvement that will make it easier to learn.

I'm going to a friends house tomorrow, I'll see if they are willing to play it after they play test my game.


Thanks for the additional feedback!

PS what kind of game are your working on?
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Jeremy Toler
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At the moment a very bad game that has major rule changes every other day. It started out as a game where you hunt witches, turned into a game about a cult schism, and now is a game about competing movie studios. Really its just not ready to show people that are not friends/family. Luckily the friends I am playing with tonight are a couple and always looking for new 2 player games so they seem like a good fit to play test your game.
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Justin Schroeder
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Hey they all start out as pretty terrible games, but sometimes--with lots of hard work and help from people like you--they become somewhat playable

If you get to a point where you're ready to share, I'd be happy to read the rules, playtest, etc. Cheers!
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Jeremy Toler
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OK I had my friends Alicia and Garret play Da Vinci's Duel. First off you should know that they are both new to board games. Their favorite games are Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy, and Dominion (I think I helped them have good taste) but they are casual. They rarely read rules, I usually have to teach them how to play a game. Like I said they are always looking for new 2 player games (They have been playing a lot of Star ship Catan lately) but even then I have been asked to teach them how to play. They may not be your audience so take all of this with a grain of salt.

My Perspective:
I made them read the rules and didn't help them until I saw them make mistakes.

-They had trouble with Method B, they thought they had to randomly shuffle the cards then whoever had the highest number gets the starting favor.. I don't know how they came to that conclusion.

-They thought that only the player that won method B had to keep their card out for a round.

-They struggled a lot with the length of the rules and lost their steam about half way through. They didn't want to finish reading them so they just went to your scoring example and extrapolated how scoring works from there.

-They got confused and thought the sets had to be on the same card. Alicia got confused and thought that if she scored a card it couldn't be used again on Thursday of Friday.

-Good news was they seemed pretty engaged once I jumped in and told them how to play the game. Alicia was constantly looking from her grading card to Garrets grading card then placing her schedule cards in an attempt to out-think Garret. She also seemed to be enjoying the game a lot until the Friday round where Garret had a come from behind victory.

Garrets Feedback:
-The Objective statement is too long
-The rules are too long
-There should be a board that comes with the game showing where to place cards (I feel like that would add way to much to the cost of the game and its not that complex..)
-There should be a yatzi sheet that helps you track how many of each icon you have so you can cross them off while scoring

Alicias Feedback:
-The scoring is to complex. Its hard to keep track of what icons you have used already in a round, why cant sets be on one card.


Also they may have already been a little salty because I made them play test my own game 2 times before they had to try to learn yours. I hope this is helpful. They both had mostly negative things to say about the game but when they were playing they looked like they were having fun.
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Justin Schroeder
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Another huge thank you to you Jeremy! I really appreciate you taking the time to show this game to your friends. And it's great to get feedback from people of varying board game tastes and experience---that's actually one of the things that is hardest for me to get.

It seems like, more than anything, I need to find a way to simplify the scoring without losing its uniqueness. I'm a mathematician, so I'm drawn to complicated scoring systems, but most people aren't!

How did the playtests of your game go with Garret and Alicia?
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Jeremy Toler
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I discovered a new mechanic that I don't think I'll want to use and also my scoring was to complex
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Wayne Koenig
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Decided to read over your rules this morning. I Hope that these comments will help you.

In the setup area I would include a picture of the actual setup. I might be bias, but I feel that a picture of setup is more important than an image of the contents.

I would change the wording of the “Da Vinci’s Favor” section. I thought on first read that Da Vinci’s favor didn’t change the whole game. Also, I feel that determining the first round sounds clunky (at least in wording.) I might suggest a simple “ give it to the player teaching the game for the first round if this is your first time,” or something simple like that. It is a lot of text to read for something that is only set up.

I am sure that you have a reason for doing this, but I found it weird that you scored less points for something that only scored on Friday vs something that scored on Thursday and Friday. Traditionally I would say it is the inverse. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is something to consider.

One last thing that I thought of but is worth considering is that the “tug of war for cards in the middle” is a crowded market. I would have a section (at least in your PnP) where you highlight what makes your game different than all the others. You might get more play testers that way.

Anyways good luck with your design.
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Justin Schroeder
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Thanks Wayne! Those are really helpful comments.

I agree with your point on da Vinci's favor; way too complicated for something so small. I'll also try to squeeze in a picture of setup. The scoring cards are intentionally "weird", mostly to offer a variety of playing styles/strategies. My hope is that for a 15-minute game, people won't mind the inverse nature of some of them.
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Jeremy Toler
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I hope I don't start annoying you by commenting here too much. I was at another friends house and we were playing Deca Slayer. The cards have the icons down the left side. I't made me think of your game and I wanted to suggest that you copy that design decision. It would let you increase the size of the icons a little which could make it easier for players to read. If you haven't seen it check out the cards here: https://boardgamegeek.com/image/3668141/deca-slayer
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Justin Schroeder
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Definitely not annoying! I appreciate any and all feedback you're willing to give.

In my original design, the icons were along the side. That didn't leave much room for an image, however, so I switched it to more of a 7 Wonders vibe. I'll have to revisit it to see if I can make it work, because bigger icons would be nice.
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Justin Schroeder
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Updated Files Available

There are now updated files available at the link above or on the WIP page for Da Vinci's Duel.

I rewrote the Da Vinci's Favor section to make it much simpler, especially for the old Method B. I also added an image for game setup and, perhaps most importantly, lowered the values on the scoring cards so that you no longer need to multiply by things like 17 or 29 to compute your score! Only values from 1-10 are used.
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Justin Schroeder
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Major update

I'm happy to announce a major change that, at least in my and my wife's opinion, breathes a lot of life into this game. The old special ability cards are gone, replaced with a simultaneous action selection at the beginning of each round.

Players now have six schedule cards valued 0-5; at the beginning of the round, you choose one to play as a special action/ability for the round. The higher cards have better abilities, but whatever card you play for its action is unavailable to use in the secret bidding for the round.

I've also updated the rules with better pictures, especially for setup.
 
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