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It's 1.32am and I'm knackered so here's the blog link to some of my initial ramblings:

http://ratdorg.blogspot.com/2011/07/fantasy-quest-initial-pl...

EDIT - full post below.

ninja
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Sam Lawton
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A very good summary of our game. I think when we test it again we will spend more time playing than learning and assessing and this in itself will show up areas of developmenmt/excellence.
I can't believe my vampire forgot how to suck blood and even though she trained as a wizard forgot how to cast spells....
Well at least she managed to escape from that gargoyle before it devoured her!!

Ratings:
Theme
Rules - the stuff is there but needs tweaking to perfect.
Current artwork
Time - I can't give a true reflection of this yet as it was the first game with play testing
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Dicky P
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Interesting reports from you both - thanks.

Hopefully you are not discouraged. The important thing is that you have made a start with playtesting.

"If you build it, they will come"
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And the full post for those who don't want to click away from the 'Geek (dunno why I didn't do this last night, too tired probably):





Fantasy Quest Play-testing

Okay, some of this is pretty stream of consciousness, but I need to get it down asap! Any questions, please ask…


Tuesday 12th July – 3 players

Note to self – create a cheat sheet for Fantasy Quest! Played a 3 player game and it was tough going explaining all the rules and various options available each turn – moreso than any other game I’ve taught my friends. I think the pressure was on because this time it was my own game.

We settled on the “quick-start” game variant with no Sagas, no Ancients, and with a simple competitive race theme – the first to 30 Victory Points wins. VPs = all the Gold you have plus the Gold value of all the cards you have in play (not in your hand).

One or two rather ambitious options I’d made available to players quickly emerged as overly complex: Reconnoitring (Studying a Place before you enter it) and Rallying the Locals (Influencing the outcome of a Quest by getting help from the locals). I think options like these need to be shelved or put aside for an ‘Advanced Fantasy Quest’ maybe.

Consolidated numerous ‘Questing’ Actions (Exploring a Place, Influencing a Stranger and Studying a Quest) down into one universal “Quest” Action for ease of reference.
The argument between Consecutive successes adding up on an ongoing Action over the course of your turn - versus having to succeed at a Questing Action all in one go – ended in ‘Consecutive successes’ winning the day. So you now get multiple attempts at the same Questing Action in one turn (by spending your Actions on it) and add up all your successes over the turn to try and beat that encounter (Quest/Stranger/Place). Makes things a lot easier for the players, but these guys are supposed to be heroes after all. Also, it seems fair that if you keep throwing resources at something you should succeed eventually, rather than possibly spending your entire heroic life searching for that Giant Statue which is stood right in front of you!

Lots of stopping and starting and questioning and explaining rules meant things moved slowly. I openly invited feedback on everything, although a bit of fluff-related banter slowed things even further.

‘Gloom’ mechanic seems not prevalent enough. Gloom spreads through the land in Fantasy Quest and will eventually engulf the world the heroes are exploring, thus ending the game. This is represented by an ever-depleting Night card deck. But the slow going made it seem like the Night card deck would never end. Furthermore, Gloom locations need to be more obvious and impacting.

Great suggestion: quick routes between connected locations so heroes can ‘jump’ across the Map at certain points.

Minor spelling mistakes, card layout issues, and clarity of mechanics here and there.
Game resulted in a tie after a couple of hours as time ran out. Concerns about game length and rules complexity.

Worrying suggestion: Sagas (which we didn’t use, but we discussed at length) might need to be much simpler if Heroes are ever to achieve them.

Wanted to avoid Magic Realm levels of madness and deliver easy, quick-playing pseudo RPG Fantasy fix.

After all this time, have I failed?



Wednesday 13th July – solo play

No one to teach the rules to, so things just clipped along nicely and at a pace tonight.

Human Male Warrior enters the Kingdom looking for the Sceptre of Power. Decided to include all the rules I’d intended, so needed to complete my Saga, find the Sceptre and face down the Ancient all within one month (25 Night cards).

Started off okay with a nice Martial skill that doubles my hits if I throw sixes. (Too powerful?)

Gloom began to descend as I explored, meeting some interesting strangers and some places that were far too complex for my fairly simple warrior to overcome. In the mountains I found a number of enemies to test my mettle and metal against. A Beastman was the first to fall. His demise brought with it tales of the Necklace of Wealth, which I chased down in due course.

Running around the Map, resting to heal at safe locations when I could, I steadily amassed wealth and a number of items including a certain awesome Sword and a nice and friendly ally, the Illusionist. Checking off my list of keywords on my Saga I realised that my goal was achievable. An ‘Item’, a ‘Place’, a ‘Stranger’, etc. All stuff that was readily available on the board, when Night card events weren’t chewing them up (e.g. storms sending Strangers running indoors or freezing hail causing Places to become uninhabitable).

Each Saga has two specific Keywords that are harder to chase than the rest. These are subcategories of other Keywords. Mine were ‘Shadow’ and ‘Demon’. For Shadow I could just amass enough wealth to train up in a Shadow skill - I’d need 10 Gold instead of the usual 5 Gold to train up in a Skill that didn’t match my own Martial class. Luckily the Necklace of Wealth provided me with this much needed coin and shortly I developed some Shadowy skills to call upon.

Then there was the ‘Demon’ (keyword) to catch. I explored the Mountains, which are more likely to contain enemies, searching for potential demon enemies as the clock ticked on and days turned into nights turned into days. By the time I’d collected all my other keywords I was starting to despair about the evasive Demonic encounter. Are Sagas too tricky/complex to beat?

But then the current weather card (a Fierce Storm) abated and the Strangers came back out of their hiding holes. One of them was a Lycanthrope.

Lycanthrope Keywords: “Stranger, Badlands, Demon”.

I raced over to the Misty Fens where this poor creature was rumoured to dwell, and sought him out. When my Influence failed and he revealed himself to be no other than my very own Ally, the Illusionist, battle ensued.

Through Skills, Items and a little luck I brought the were-creature down and claimed the card into my hand. Travelling to the Verdant Fields I played a Reward action and declared my Saga complete, revealing my eight cards with keywords matching my epic Saga. Flipping my Saga over I claimed its Totem – the Sceptre of Power (which doubles your hit points, like all Totems) and the Ancient revealed itself to be:

The Black Orc Legion.

The Legion swarmed out of the Wretch Bog and I set out to meet them head on. The battle was swift and bloody, and I quickly lost 4 Hit Points (the maximum that Heroes start out with), which would have felled any mortal man. But the Sceptre (with its extra Hit Points) allowed me to fight on and with my skills, allies and trusty sword I was able to overcome the Ancient Orcish Legion and free the land from its tyranny.

Checking the remaining Night card deck, I had three turns to go before certain defeat - so it was a pretty darned close run affair as you can see in this photo, taken after the final turn:




So was my Warrior lucky? Would a Wizard, for example, fair much worse? Are the classes unbalanced? Is the game only fit for solo play? Do my rules-explaining skills just suck?? Only more play-testing will tell. Hopefully up for a two/three player game tomorrow…
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Boom04 wrote:
Interesting reports from you both - thanks.

Hopefully you are not discouraged. The important thing is that you have made a start with playtesting.

"If you build it, they will come"


Cheers Dicky!

Thought it would be better to be honest about the process rather than just blow my own trumpet and pretend everything is perfectly brilliant.

Definitely not discouraged*, got another session penned in for tonight and already I think it's a smoother running machine. More info to follow soon hopefully. And of course, this all means that the game is only going to improve by the time it reaches the rest of you.






* okay, maybe a teensy bit - wanted it to be instantly excellent, turns out that's not entirely realistic.
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Sam Lawton
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One of the aspects about this game which I do love is that you don't have to have a set class for a particular race. Each of the races has it's own advantages and discovering combo's with the classes works really well. It also expands the characters you can play exponentially.

There are a few ideas throughout the game which are automatically familiar to regular gamers and these make them easier to remember - speeds up learning time.

But thematically this is a great game, it writes stories for you and I think this will make for some great session reports. Hopefully we can write one up after tonight...
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Mmzomba wrote:
One of the aspects about this game which I do love is that you don't have to have a set class for a particular race. Each of the races has it's own advantages and discovering combo's with the classes works really well. It also expands the characters you can play exponentially.



Thanks for pointing this out, it's definitely worth a mention at this stage!

Originally I started off with 4 Heroes: Elf, Dwarf, Human, and Halfling, each with varying stats. Then I thought it would be cool if you could have separate Classes which give you further stat boosts: Warrior, Wizard, Cleric, Thief.

And now there are:

10 Races, each with unique characteristics and/or a special ability.

Each Race can be flipped to male or female - gender has a very minor impact on play.

10 Classes - each with a special ability and stat boosts - to choose from out of 4 Class categories.

The 4 Class Categories each have 10 Skills of varying power - 4 x Level One, 3 x Level Two, 2 x Level Three, 1 x Level Four Skills.

So before you even start questing and looting there’s a fair amount of tailoring available for your Hero. And although the balance might not be 100% effective across all combinations we’re not talking Talisman 2nd edition* levels of randomness!





* my favourite edition incidentally.
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Dicky P
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Quote:
But the slow going made it seem like the Night card deck would never end.


Sorry, I couldn't resist, but should this have read....

"But the slow going made it seem like the Night card deck would never end."



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Haha - I daresay it might've felt like that to the other guys!
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Tom Howard
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Great to hear your initial impressions about the game!
I'm actually very impressed with how things seemed to turn out for your very first run through of the game. It's only natural for things to feel a little clunky here and there -- after all, playtesting is all about streamlining and tweaking gameplay and balance changes. Most importantly, it sounds as if the core mechanics of the game work. Sure, some pieces might start off being either overly complex, or not have enough impact, or whatever. But as long as the foundation is strong (which it seems to be!) then everything above can be modified.

Also, in regards to your 2nd Solo game:
I was incredibly impressed with how close the game turned out to be! I think it's fantastic that it came down to the wire, with your Hero barely managing to win the day. Hell, that's how the best games should be! I be more worried if one side steamrolled over the other, hehe.

Great work!
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Cheers Tom!

I’d have to agree that the core mechanics definitely do work. But at this stage I’m still a bit nervous about the game – watching the maths pay off, seeing how the different elements come together. It’s kind of consuming the theme for me at the moment, until I can settle down and be confident that the pieces run well together. I spent so much time thinking about this stuff in development, I keep worrying about whether or not I miscalculated certain elements.

Tonight’s first two player game (short version – race to 15VPs) went by pretty quickly and smoothly. So we introduced the ‘uncut’ Sagas into the game. My Orc Druid (!) struggled at first, but started slowly gathering the required elements of his story in the later game. Whilst Mmzomba’s Drow Ranger (no, not Drizzt - Drizzt wouldn't murder innocent Strangers laugh) was amassing Keyword cards from the get-go. The last Night card fell when he was just one card away from completing his Saga and claiming victory. So once again it was pretty close, which I’m happy about.

I’ll try and post more thoughts on this session tomorrow – my impression now is that we can reduce the number of required Saga Keywords based on the number of players in the game, and this will hasten the gameplay nicely.

On an entirely separate note, another element which actually works quite sweetly is ‘card bridging’. As heroes explore they meet Strangers, find Places and discover Quests that they maybe aren’t quite ready for yet. Since these encounters are left face-up on the Map it represents nicely the safely explored regions of their world. Heroes can move along these routes securely knowing that they do not have to draw potentially dangerous encounters for landing on these ‘revealed’ spaces. In the later game it’s important to have this flexibility and speed of movement and so it works out neatly.

Once I’ve settled into the routines of the game more I’ll try and post a more flavourful session report.

Anyway. Rambling. Wine. Bedtime. More tomorrow!
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Nick Hughes
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Been away for a couple of weeks but great to come back and read this update.

Rather than adjust the number of keywords per saga based on the no. of players would additional time (i.e adjusting how long/many night cards are played) before the game ends. I imagine with more players the face up cards are fought over and can be targeted by opponents wanting to stop you completing your saga.

Just a thought. Keep up the fantastic work.
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jokeroz wrote:
Been away for a couple of weeks but great to come back and read this update.

Rather than adjust the number of keywords per saga based on the no. of players would additional time (i.e adjusting how long/many night cards are played) before the game ends. I imagine with more players the face up cards are fought over and can be targeted by opponents wanting to stop you completing your saga.

Just a thought. Keep up the fantastic work.


Cheers Nick - that's yet another consideration!

Also toying with the idea of making Sagas secret, so players can bluff their progress on their quest to others in the competitive game. Obviously in the cooperative game you'd be looking to trade cards to help beat each other's Sagas.

Lots to think about anyway, looking forward to my next FQ session...
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Houserule Jay
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LOVED this report, really cemented my interest in the game!
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