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Ra: The Dice Game» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Best Playtest Session Ever rss

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Christopher Dearlove
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A while ago now (long before anyone on Boardgamegeek had heard the phrase "Ra the Dice Game") Jon Blackwell, Lee Edwards and I were the players in what was, I am sure, the best playtest session, of any game, ever.

Picture this. The sun is shining in a mid-afternoon cloudless sky. If you think it's too hot then there's a canopy to sit (or rather, lounge) in the shade under. Drinks (which are inexpensive) are available by waiter service. We don't have anything we need to do, so we can relax and play the game.

So where are we? On a boat, going upriver (thus a little bit of pleasant breeze) to our next place of interest.

On the Nile.

Yes, that's right, the one in Egypt, the longest river in the world, the one that has the tiles representing it in the original board game, and one of the six faces of each die in this game.

Now before anyone thinks this playtesting is something they want in on, well, yes, it's interesting and often fun. But neither Reiner Knizia, nor Jay Tummelson (who also hadn't heard the phrase "Ra the Dice Game" yet) were funding this. Of course Reiner knew this was the plan when he posted the prototype (only a few days old) to us. And while I don't think Jay is planning to use the tagline "Playtested on the Nile" the timing of this posting (which as I type this even I don't yet know how it's going to finish off) was agreed with him.

Anyway, as this is a Session Report, perhaps it ought to say a bit about what we actually did. Now that's a little tricky, as the usual protocol with playtesting Reiner Knizia games (which usually is actually with Reiner) is that we don't discuss the details. There are a number of reasons for that. One of those is that it's a little too easy for a playtester to exagerate his or her role in the creation of the game. The way Reiner playtests, we all make suggestions and some end up in the game. So I could say we suggested this, and that, and the other. (And we did.) But that overlooks that we might also have suggested other things that aren't in the game (for which you may be thankful) and Reiner does the filtering, modifying, and so on. In addition we started with a game you'd recognise, and were at the refining stage. That's not to say we didn't do anything, I'm just not going to tell you in too much detail what. I will however mention that this wasn't the first we'd seen of the game - Jon and I actually were there when that process started a week earlier (the key point, of five dice coloured as the civilizations, was almost immediate and the rest flowed from that).

So, what did we do? Well, Reiner game us some options to test - how many dice to do this, and that. More for the first, or fewer for the first? What were the exact ankh (wildcard) rules? A few other things. Any other problems? The key things we looked for were (a) when you roll the dice is the choice what to re-roll obvious (bad) or not (good)? and (b) do people "give up" on competing in one of the four main areas (bad) or not (good)? We never got one of those four right (Reiner had to fix that at Baycon - though we also played there) but we helped on the other three, and in some other points.

Of course we got some interest from other passengers, and our local guide (just finishing his PhD in archaeology, including work in the Valley of the Kings, to put that in perspective) was agreeably surprised to know that we enjoy games about Egypt, about whose treasures the Egyptians are very proud. So while you may not be able to playtest on the Nile, if you go (highly recommended, we went Luxor to Aswan and back - with a side-trip at the end to Abu Simbel, as well as the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Karnak, Philae and several other good places along the river) take along an Egyptian themed game (maybe even Ra the Dice Game). There's nothing like playing one in the right place and the right time (the spring by the way - don't go in the summer).
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Rick Kimmel
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I'm really looking forward to this game. I hope it gets released soon.
 
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Mark Slater
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You didnt say who won.
 
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Christopher Dearlove
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Liggur wrote:
You didnt say who won.


We played a significant number of games, over a number of days, so everyone won games. As for who won most, I'd have to ask Jon who kept the records - but these were about more important things like division of points scored in the various categories, mean score per turn and so on. This is playtesting - it's less important who won than how they won. (But if I had to guess, I'd guess Jon did best overall.)
 
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Maaike Fest
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Dearlove wrote:

Anyway, as this is a Session Report, perhaps it ought to say a bit about what we actually did. Now that's a little tricky, as the usual protocol with playtesting Reiner Knizia games (which usually is actually with Reiner) is that we don't discuss the details.

That's not to say we didn't do anything, I'm just not going to tell you in too much detail what. I will however mention that this wasn't the first we'd seen of the game - Jon and I actually were there when that process started a week earlier (the key point, of five dice coloured as the civilizations, was almost immediate and the rest flowed from that).

So, what did we do? Well, Reiner game us some options to test - how many dice to do this, and that. More for the first, or fewer for the first? What were the exact ankh (wildcard) rules? A few other things. Any other problems? The key things we looked for were (a) when you roll the dice is the choice what to re-roll obvious (bad) or not (good)? and (b) do people "give up" on competing in one of the four main areas (bad) or not (good)?


We sure did get no info from you, Reiner will be proud
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Richard Dewsbery
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Reiner keeps a set of birch twigs behind his front door, to soundly thrash any loose-tongued playtesters with
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Christopher Dearlove
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maaikefest wrote:
We sure did get no info from you, Reiner will be proud


I am prepared to admit (boast?) that we made "significant contributions to the development of this game". But as those are Reiner's words (see the end of the rules) I think he'd be OK with that. But I'm still not going to say which.
 
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