I've had another period of fairly intensive testing of Invaded. This little wave kicked off with a trip to the monthly Sunday afternoon Playtest UK meetup in London on a baking hot day.
As always this was a great get-together, and I played three really interesting games, all very different, created by other players (a dice allocation thingy, a timed co-op, and an abstract tessellation game), but also had a 3-player play of Invaded.
Now, this test went a similar way to the second game at UK Games Expo: one player attacked the colonial power a bit too early and was smacked down for it, only this time the retaliation was not quite as overwhelming, so the player in question was left dangling in the wind, feeling helpless, while the rest of the game completed around him.
|The end of a 3-player game where red got themselves into a world of pain.|
Another thing that came out of this was a thought that, perhaps, under certain circumstances, players should be able to escape from attacks or have options other than trading in favour cards (gained from supplying the colonials with their resource demands), which is currently the only defense. I labelled this approach the "Run to the hills" strategy in my head, then went home to sleep on it.
Sleep is an essential ingredient in game design.
What this feedback, thinking and sleeping resulted in was a few cards that I labelled "finale cards" (I hate the name, but I'll think of something better later), which effectively provide special bonuses, either in victory points or in capabilities, which can be claimed and used in specific circumstances, and each player may only claim one of these cards during a game. One of these, for instance, allows you to abandon your villages and be more mobile for the rest of the game, while another protects you from colonial attack as long as you keep them sweet.
Over the following few days I had a couple of two-player games and then went to another Playtest UK meetup, this time in Oxford, where we had a three-player game. Distilling the key points from player feedback and my observations, I think the key things are:
- The "finale" cards look like they could well be the making of the game.
- BUT they absolutely are not right at the moment, neither in their form, how they are gained, or how I handle the opportunities for players to collect them.
- For a first game, there really needs to be a "standard" start, a bit like used in Catan, as new players rarely have a clue about where to set up.
- Villages are a bit boring: they need something else to do. In fact there probably need to be one or two more things to do, though these could easily link to whatever the finale cards evolve into.
- Remembering to flip colonial movement cards can be a problem with some play groups.
I'm churning over ideas at the moment about how to address these. I'm looking at a fairly big change now which mostly has a go at the last of those bullets: flip a colonial move card on every player's turn. This would require a lot of rethinking, but I think I know how to do this, and along with some reworking of the finale cards it could yield interesting results. I'll be working on this over the next few days, and then see where this takes us...