Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

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Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Thu 07 Jan 2016, 18:50

So after a few people mentioned they had ideas for games, we've decided to have a little extra meet-up for people to try and get some playtesting of prototypes. It's going to be on Sunday 21st February in the Red Deer pub. Probably we'll just meet around a pub table rather than booking the upstairs room.

If you've got a prototype you want to try out, or a game idea you want to chat about to get other people's input, or if you're interested in trying out other people's games, then come along. Or, of course, if you just fancy sitting around in a pub with friendly people. It's not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, is it?

At the moment this is just a one-off but maybe it could be a regular thing. We'll see how it goes.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  Andy S on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 06:03

I'll definitely be there. If people specifically want me to bring The Path to Panic, I'd be delighted to do that, but otherwise, I'm just keen to see what other people are working on and would love to help other budding designers out by testing their games. I'd love to think this could become a regular thing!
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  paulyg on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 08:57

Sounds great. I'll be at sea for this one, so can't make it, and I don't have any prototypes of my own but I'd be interested in playing what others are working on if there's a future session...
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  Jen_K on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 15:39

I've started working on something recently, so it would be good to have this date to aim at (lets ignore the fact it's two days after my viva and I should probably prioritise that). Looking forward to it.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  JohnH on Fri 08 Jan 2016, 17:52

I'll be coming to this.

If my dice arrive in time I'll have a game. If they don't I may have another.

Either way, I'm excited to play whatever other people bring.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  SamVS on Sun 10 Jan 2016, 10:42

I'll be there for sure.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Sun 10 Jan 2016, 16:10

I'm going to commit myself to bringing a couple of fairly short two-player games. I know I said I was going to design a Jeckyll-and-Hyde WWI super-soldier co-operative deckbuilding game but it turns out I'm making one on collecting books instead.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  Andy S on Mon 11 Jan 2016, 10:44

BeardyTom wrote:I know I said I was going to design a Jeckyll-and-Hyde WWI super-soldier co-operative deckbuilding game but it turns out I'm making one on collecting books instead.

WANT
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Fri 19 Feb 2016, 20:16

I'll be heading to the Red Deer for about noonish with a prototype or two in my bag.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  SamVS on Sat 20 Feb 2016, 12:26

I'll be later than that, probably 1:30 to 2. If I can get to a printer today I'll have one token proto-prototype. If not, still looking forward to seeing and hearing about what you guys have been working on. Everyone else still coming?
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  JohnH on Sat 20 Feb 2016, 16:40

I'm pumped for this. I'll be there at around noon too, so Tom won't be our sole representative.

I've been a bit strapped for time but I've cobbled together a roughshod card game with a few ideas brazenly stolen from other games and shoehorned into one design. Hopefully my game stands up and doesn't buckle with the first playtest, but really I'm just looking for a platform to build on as I'm aware it's definitely nowhere near the polished version just yet.

It has nothing to do with shoes (it's about gardening).
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  SamVS on Sat 20 Feb 2016, 21:37

Laughing
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 17:33

Well I'd say our first Sheffield Board Games Club playtesting meetup went pretty well. Jen tried out a hidden role game about wizards, John had us all planting vegetables, I brought a 2-player game about buying books and Sam had a game which I only saw from the other end of the table so I don't know much about. It was about superheroes I think.

Lots of interesting stuff there and I think everyone who brought games got some useful insights into how they take their designs forward. I know I did.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  JohnH on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 21:06

Does anybody else think it was really odd that we all brought different kinds of games?
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 21:57

JohnH wrote:Does anybody else think it was really odd that we all brought different kinds of games?

There was a good variety. And from what people were saying about other game ideas there's even more completely different games to come.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 22:00

Oh, and apologies to the club's social-media people. None of us thought to take any photos. Maybe next time.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  Andy S on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 22:10

I really enjoyed the gathering today.  I liked all three games I played - all three were definitely games, not one of them was a broken mess, nor boring, nor a chore to play.  I wanted to put down in writing some of my impressions of each of them, in case anyone who was unable to attend was curious about the games that were on display, or for any of the designers who care what I think.  I apologize to the designers if I misremember anything and don’t explain things accurately.  I can’t remember the names of two of the games, so I have just given them daft names for the sake of this post.

Compared to most members of SBGC, I haven’t played many games, so I am probably not the best person to comment on or recommend changes to games.  My critiques and comments are heavily influenced on what I personally find fun, as opposed to what I think makes for good game design (after all, what do I know?).  My suggestions should always be taken with a pinch of salt and possibly are just best ignored outright, but here they are if you want ‘em.  I’m not going to comment on any of the aesthetic aspects of the games, as I feel cosmetic features are irrelevant at these earliest stages of design.

"A (vege)Table Top Game" by John

Despite apparently being put together in a short period of time, using leftover cards cannibalized from someone else's prototype, I feel like John's game has potential to be a fun, neat card game.  It seems to encourage careful thought and strategy (not that I personally exercised much of either).  We played with five players and I thought it worked well, although I think it might be even better with four.

The game’s cards came in 15 different suits representing various vegetables/fruits and were numbered 1 to 8 (iirc).  Players tried to plant veggies in four personal plots, with a restriction of one veggie type per plot.  At the end of the game, players scored the numbers on each of the cards, but only the player with the lowest total of any one kind of veggie could score cards from that suit (though they had to have planted at least two cards of a suit to have any chance of scoring it).  Having three or more of the same kind of veggie granted access to a specific bonus power ability.

I felt there were possibly a few too many different suits.   Reducing the number of suits slightly might make for more tactical play and also make it easier to acquire the powers.  I never gained any power, because I don’t think I ever had a total of three cards of the same suit in my hand/plots at any one time.  Despite this, however, I still managed to get 3rd place and was just one point behind John, so it is clearly possible to do okay without ever getting any powers.

I liked the potential of the powers; I think they add an essential tactical tier to the game.  I’d like to see a greater variety of powers, perhaps one for every suit (in the version I played, a few of the veggies had identical powers), but it might be difficult to balance so that no single suit would be dominant.  I also liked Nicki’s idea about locusts or some similar crop-destruction mechanism – rabbits, parasitic fungus, caterpillars, weeds, etc.  Possibly even some weather or seasonal mechanic could be fun, however the more such features which were added to the game, the more it bloats and takes it further away from the tidy base game.

All in all, I personally felt like the game was a really solid foundation on which a deeper game could be built.

“You’re a Wizard, Harry” by Jen

I have even less a right to comment on this than most games, as my experience of hidden role deduction games is virtually nil.

In this game, each player was secretly assigned to one of two teams and had one of three roles – Druid, Alchemist, or Wizard – within that team.  Players had hands of cards including spellcasting ingredients (Potions or Runes), Useless Information, and Valuable Information.  At the end of five rounds, the team who had managed to get the most Valuable Information cards into their Wizard’s hand won.

This game got everyone talking and it really seemed like everyone enjoyed it.  There was a lot of fun player interaction and banter during and immediately after the game.
I like both of the attack spells – they are powerful, but it is difficult to get the ingredients for them, which is perfect.  I thought there could perhaps be a 3rd, lower tier of attack spell.

The 3 tiers of attack spells would then go:
Low tier: target player gives you a spell ingredient card of their choice
Mid tier: target player gives you a random card
High tier: target player gives you a card of your choice

I was less certain of the value of the other spells.  I also didn’t really understand the purpose of the Useless Information cards, but this is probably down to my own inexperience with this type of game.  I’m sure it has a tactical use which I just didn’t grasp.

I thought this game was like your favorite t-shirt, which you’ll wear (i.e. play) again and again, but which has just come in off the washing line on a sunny day – it’s fresh and comfortable, but it just needs a bit of ironing at the moment.  I’d definitely play it again after Jen has had the chance to tweak some things, and I’d really like to see how it goes with more players, which would introduce the Apprentice mechanic.  It seemed to me to be really well conceived already considering Jen hadn’t even playtested it once yet.

Tsundoku by Tom

Maybe it’s because I work for Sheffield Libraries, or because I’m a writer, but I really, really liked Tom’s game and its original theme of book collecting.  It is for two players and I thought this was perfect.

In this game, players spend money and time collecting and sometimes even reading books.  Each player starts with a bedside table which can hold 2 books and they can purchase additional furniture to allow them to acquire even more books.  You don’t have to read the books you collect, because they have the potential to score points at the end of the game even if they’re unread, but reading them does free up space on your furniture to buy additional books, as well as increasing your knowledge, which allows you to get a better job and thereby earn more money.  To spend on more books, of course.

I found Tsundoku to be a really efficient little game with intuitive rules and a simple set of mechanics which belies its strategic depth.  It is quick, both in its overall playtime as well as during each player’s turn; there was next to no downtime.  There also isn’t a lot of player interaction, but that was not really a fault, I think it’s just that kind of game.
I agree with Jen that it could stand to be a little longer.  Not much, just a few more turns.  I really like the time track which determines when players take their turns and when the game ends.  It did make me think, “Do I really want to spend 5 time reading this book, knowing that it will give my opponent lots of time to do multiple things?”  There seemed to be a lot of these little tactical decisions.

As I said today, I think it could be cool to add a set collection mechanic to the final scoring, such as bonus points for collecting multiple books by the same author or in the same series.  And I like the idea of certain books giving you specific bonuses when you read them – for instance, perhaps there could be a book on carpentry which, upon reading it, would allow you to instantly unlock the next-lowest-level item of furniture without having to pay its cost.  I would also like the ability to buy blindly from the draw deck for a flat rate if I didn’t want any of the books currently on display.

The proposed mechanic I most liked was John’s idea of selling books to make more money.  It seemed quite difficult to make much money; neither I nor my opponent ever had much, and I was completely broke two or three times during the game, which made me feel a bit impotent.  It might seem overly powerful to be able to make money so easily just by selling books, but it would be tempered by the time cost and the fact that you’re essentially lowering your final score by removing books from your collection.

Once the necessary little tweaks were made and the game was refined, tested, and polished, this is the kind of game I could definitely imagine buying to play with Mrs Colonial.  I thought it was a lot of fun.

I didn’t get a chance to play Sam’s game, but I hope to be able to do so in the future.

I don’t know what people are planning to do with these designs, whether they are just doing them for fun, for the joy of creation, or if anyone hopes to one day Kickstart their game or pitch it to a publisher or something.  All I can say, for my part, is that I enjoyed them all and would happily play each of them again.  With refinements, they can only get better, and that is impressive considering how good a base they already have to build upon.  Thanks to everyone for coming to this playtesting gathering, for bringing your games, and for letting us play them.


BeardyTom wrote:Oh, and apologies to the club's social-media people. None of us thought to take any photos. Maybe next time.

Didn't Jen take a photo or two?
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  PaulC on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 22:21

I completely forgot this was happening today, but by the sound of it that may be a good thing, as my game is still only a vague idea in my head. Sounds like there are some interesting projects underway, I look forward to playing them!
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  RikTheChief on Sun 21 Feb 2016, 23:39

Sounds like the day went really well, unfortunately I couldn't make it today but thanks to Andy for typing up summaries of the games. It was really interesting reading about them all.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  Aneurin on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 08:27

Colonial Andy wrote: It seemed quite difficult to make much money; neither I nor my opponent ever had much, and I was completely broke two or three times during the game, which made me feel a bit impotent.  It might seem overly powerful to be able to make money so easily just by selling books, but it would be tempered by the time cost and the fact that you’re essentially lowering your final score by removing books from your collection.

BeardyTom wrote:Oh, and apologies to the club's social-media people. None of us thought to take any photos. Maybe next time.


I like the sound of your game Tom and am looking forward to playing it. As I read Andy's review I had in my mind that some kind of 'second hand market' mechanic could help with player interaction, set collection and getting more money? If you included this then perhaps you could increase the number of players? But then I'm a euro man Wink
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  JohnH on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 09:56

Aneurin wrote:
Colonial Andy wrote: It seemed quite difficult to make much money; neither I nor my opponent ever had much, and I was completely broke two or three times during the game, which made me feel a bit impotent.  It might seem overly powerful to be able to make money so easily just by selling books, but it would be tempered by the time cost and the fact that you’re essentially lowering your final score by removing books from your collection.

BeardyTom wrote:Oh, and apologies to the club's social-media people. None of us thought to take any photos. Maybe next time.


I like the sound of your game Tom and am looking forward to playing it. As I read Andy's review I had in my mind that some kind of 'second hand market' mechanic could help with player interaction, set collection and getting more money? If you included this then perhaps you could increase the number of players? But then I'm a euro man Wink


On the face of it, I can't see any reason why expanding to more players would break the game.
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 10:31

Aneurin wrote:I like the sound of your game Tom and am looking forward to playing it. As I read Andy's review I had in my mind that some kind of 'second hand market' mechanic could help with player interaction, set collection and getting more money? If you included this then perhaps you could increase the number of players? But then I'm a euro man Wink

I can bring the current version along to a Tuesday session if you're interested. It's pretty much a playable game at the moment but the hard work will be adding meat to the bones and increasing the depth of the gameplay while trying to keep it as a light 30-minute game.

JohnH wrote:On the face of it, I can't see any reason why expanding to more players would break the game.

It should work as far as I can tell, I'd just have to put more cards in so there'd be enough for the extra players. There's an issue with time, though. As the rules currently stand, with the game end determined by the time track, any extra player should add the same amount of time to the game. So if it's currently 40 mins, with 3 players it would be an hour, with 4 it would be 80 mins.


Last edited by BeardyTom on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 10:36; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  PaulC on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 10:33

BeardyTom wrote:
Aneurin wrote:I like the sound of your game Tom and am looking forward to playing it. As I read Andy's review I had in my mind that some kind of 'second hand market' mechanic could help with player interaction, set collection and getting more money? If you included this then perhaps you could increase the number of players? But then I'm a euro man Wink

I can bring the current version along to a Tuesday session if you're interested. It's pretty much a playable game at the moment but the hard work will be adding meat to the bones and increasing the depth of the gameplay while trying to keep it as a light 30-minute game.

I'd love to play it too!
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  SamVS on Mon 22 Feb 2016, 22:23

I'll remain mysterious and handsome by saying nothing more about the game I brought Cool

Really glad we did this! Great to get to know your creative sides, and also an important exercise for perspective. I'm excitedly thinking about the new game(s) I might be bringing next month. Same time, place, 27th March?
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Re: Sunday 21st February - Playtesting!

Post  BeardyTom on Tue 23 Feb 2016, 11:26

Sam wrote:I'll remain mysterious and handsome by saying nothing more about the game I brought  Cool

Really glad we did this! Great to get to know your creative sides, and also an important exercise for perspective. I'm excitedly thinking about the new game(s) I might be bringing next month. Same time, place, 27th March?

If we're going to make it a regular thing for the third Sunday of the month that would be the 20th of March. I can't remember what people said about availability for next month, though, so if 27th is better for people this time then I'm fine with that too.
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