Hare Today, Invaded Tomorrow

I had been planning to stop taking Invaded to playtesting meetups in London as I thought the game was stabilising and would be better off getting focussed testing for a while from a group who could play the game repeatedly and look for problems.  Well, while the rate of change has slowed a lot, as this month's third-Sunday meetup approached, I felt that I could do with some more input from other designers, so off I went...

Getting to London was a bit more problematic than usual as the rail line I usually travel on was closed, so I had to take a detour via Oxford and end up at a different London terminal.  On the plus side, on the train from Oxford there were a couple of young women handing out free promotional chocolate, which went nicely with the coffee I had just bought myself.

Anyway, when the playtesting started up I was allocated a table in the first 90 minute slot, and had three other designers joining me, including two who had played an earlier incarnation of the game.

See? Actual people playing with me! Thanks to Rob Harris for the photo.
Overall the game went pretty well and I got a good combination of supportive and critical feedback.  The game ran for 50 minutes, which was great as I am hoping to keep it at about an hour, but there was a general feeling that the ending was a bit abrupt and came too early to allow strategies to really come into play.  This feeling was exacerbated by the "strategy" cards we had in play, which give an in-game benefit and an end-game scoring bonus, as these are definitely too hard to take advantage of.

Another issue was the balance of the cards in the colonial activity deck, and some aspects of how they work.  The approach I use works pretty well, I think, but there are points where things can be overlooked (like when the colonial aggression level changes), and the way things played out there just wasn't enough colonial presence on the board by the end of the game.

All of this is very fixable, and our discussion after the game came up with some good ideas, so I'll be trying some of them out in the coming weeks.  Unfortunately, though, this means that I won't be doing something that I was hoping to do.

Each year there is a contest run by a German games club called Hippodice, where the club members and a group of publishers combine to judge a variety of unpublished games. A couple of my friends at Playtest UK have actually won this contest.  It's quite a prestigious contest as these things go, but one of the big benefits is getting blind playtesting and written feedback from the club members if your game is selected for the "main round" of the contest.  The deadline for submission of rulebooks and supporting blurb is only a couple of weeks away, and with the amount of work I still want to do (and test) on Invaded, I feel that I'm just not going to get there in time.  It's a shame, but no big deal. Maybe next time.

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