Thirsty Playtests

After a bit of a playtesting drought over the last couple of months, things have started to improve.  I have managed to persuade a few people to try my "Secret Satan" game, which is now known as "Giftmas with the Grimms", and is my most popular prototype with my daughter, Miss B.  And better still, I was able to get to a Playtest UK meetup in Oxford.

Oxford is a load closer to me than the London meetups I have been attending, but it is an evening meet, which has disadvantages, and the dates haven't fallen right for me previously, so it was nice to finally get along to meet a different group.  This meetup takes place at the Thirsty Meeples boardgame cafe, which unfortunately means paying a cover charge to sit at a table, and it's a little cramped, but it is also a totally awesome place with brilliant staff who bring you good coffee.

There were seven of us there last night and we were given two tables between us, and had games running on both tables for much of the evening.  I was lucky enough to get a five-player play of Boogie Knights in, getting half way through before the last couple of people turned up.
I don't have a photo to share from the meetup, so here's a picture of some modified Boogie Knight cards.

This was a big deal, as I have made a fundamental change to Boogie Knights, which had been working consistently well in playtests, but I had been bugged by a steadily flow of comments asking if it would be possible to remove the dice.  I know some people love the tension of using dice to resolve contests, but that also a good number of people feel that using dice in this way is a terrible mistake that removes both fun and challenge.  Recognising that whatever I do I won't please all the people, and also taking onboard some games industry insider advice that in general it is good to reduce the number of types of component (so cards plus score markers is more attractive to some publishers than cards plus score markers plus dice), I resolved to at least experiment.  I pencilled a number (from 1 to 6) onto each card, decided that in challenges players choose a card from hand to act as in lieu of a die roll, and made a few other rule tweaks to support the change.  This was quite a while ago and I just never quite managed to get the new version of the game into a playtest.

Until last night.  The headline news is that basically it works, and the players were enthusiastic about the change (I explained the previous form of the game).  There are a few rough edges to deal with, but this looks like I could be heading in the right direction.

Following that I got to play one of someone else's games, this one being a cooperative puzzle solving game which I had actually played an earlier incarnation of at UK Games Expo.  There have been a few tweaks since I last saw the game, which I think have been for the better, and I really enjoyed this play.  It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Finally, and actually rather surprisingly to me, I got to test Giftmas with the Grimms with four players, and got some more useful insights.  It's nice to get a few playtests of a game close together as you start getting a real feel for the characteristics of the game.  And, of course, now I really need to finish writing a rulebook...

So, overall a really useful evening out and I'm sure I'll be back again if the dates fall right.  Apart from anything else, it's great to have more opportunities to chat with like-minded people.  I find it's great for morale.

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