Back from the Dragon Invasion

Saturday was a very long day, having to leave home early in order to drive to the next town to catch a train to get me to London, then detour on an indirect route around the underground due to line closures, get to Dragonmeet, run a playtest of Invaded, help out at the Playtest UK area, actually play a few games, and then make the return journey.  All pretty much powered by coffee and pasties.
Ready to play. Thanks to the wonderful Mr Dave Wetherall for the pic.

First order of the day was in getting to the venue in time to run a playtest of Invaded at my booked time of 10:00.  This wasn't a problem, but it turned out to be a bit tricky to get a table of players at the start of the day.  Two guys eventually came and volunteered and I decided that I would rather sit out and watch a two-player game than participate in a three-player run.

The game went well, with my volunteers taking very different strategies and having role-played discussions about the relative merits of resisting versus collaboration.  One of them did keep forgetting certain parts of the game (I need to examine whether that is a problem with the game, or not something to worry about), but the other seemed to get comfortable with it all pretty quickly and built a strategy to follow.  As is often the case, an aggressive approach against the colonial forces ended in disaster, but it would have actually not taken too much to go differently for things to have worked out better.  I think that fighting back is a strategy that is difficult to profit from, but it is possible, and those times it works out are great.

My main intent with this playtest was to try out my new way of dealing with strategy cards and controlling access to them: each has a value, and the total value of strategy cards you hold may not exceed the current colonial attitude score.  I'm not 100% happy with the way you have to add things up and compare them with a number on a chart, but it seems to work well overall, preventing one player from having easy access to the best cards, and allowing for some planning ahead, so it may well be worth the small amount of complexity.  The values I have assigned to the cards don't seem too far off the mark at the moment, but I'll need to do a load more playtesting to be sure of this.

The pacing of the game seemed pretty good though, and we took almost exactly an hour to get through the game, which ended half way through the fourth round.

So we're definitely making progress here, but I need to get more playtesting done to check how the pacing is really working out, and to find the imbalances in the costings of the strategy cards.  There's still this issue where a player who attacks the colonial power without sufficient preparation usually ends up getting into huge trouble very quickly.  My inclination here is to just let it go as a feature of the game.  I'm sure that this is going to be a controversial part of the game, so it'll be interesting to see what gets said when I finally start talking to publishers about it.

Apart from running a playtest of Invaded, I spent a little while looking around the rest of the convention, including the now separate trade hall, but didn't get much of a chance to stop and really smell the metaphorical coffee before I got back to spend the bulk of the afternoon helping out at the playtest zone.  It felt a bit harder to attract players to join in tests than it was last year, probably mainly because there was less footfall in the area where we were. But we managed to get plenty of people in, many of whom had come over specifically, which was great.

I got to play a few games myself, mostly after the closing of the trade hall and playtest zone, which was very welcome before heading home for a beer.

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