It’s November. We’ve already woken up to snow on the ground once. It’s dark by 5pm due to the shift from daylight savings. You know what all that means? It means we’re entering peak Board Gaming Season!
When it’s too cold and too dark to go outside I recommend snuggling up to your favorite board games and grabbing a brew with your friends!
I was too wiped out from Protospiel two weekends ago to post a Monday Brews last week so this week will have a nice long list for you. I also was able to sample 5 different beers one day at a local grocery store, so the Barley list is slightly inflated. Never the less, it’s been a good two weeks in terms of Boards & Barley. Here’s what I enjoyed over the past two weeks:
Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
With a delicious addition of vanilla, this smooth brew is a delightful friend during the cold winter months. I prefer enjoying this at temperatures slightly above fridge temps so I recommend leaving it out a half hour before enjoying it.
- You’ve Been Wheated (Homebrew – Hefeweizen)
- Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
- MKE Sasquash Pumpkin Porter
- Leinenkugel’s Original
- Sam Adams Boston Lager
- Third Shift Amber Lager
- Victory Golden Monkey Tripel (sample)
- Westmalle Tripel (Sample)
- Karmeliet Tripel (Sample)
- Summit True Brit (Sample)
- Summit Winter Ale (Sample)
- New Belgium 1554 Black Ale
- Smuttynose Robust Porter
If you’d like to know more of my opinions on the beers I enjoy, friend me on UnTappd (username EdPMarriott)!
BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: DragonFlame
I played a nearly full art prototype at Protospiel-Madison and I absolutely loved it! This game is designed by Matt Loomis, has artwork from Rob Lundy, and will be launching on Kickstarter soon by Minion Games. The gameplay was engaging and interesting from the very first turn. The artwork was vibrant, colorful, and it really drew me in.
In DragonFlame you are trying to burn down villages and earn points. The gameplay revolves around a fun way of gaining cards. Each player is dealt a hand of cards and in turn order you will place them either face up or face down into new piles. Then each player will choose a pile and those will be the cards they use for that turn. Cards include treasures for scoring points, DragonFlame cards which let you burn villages, and relics that give you special abilities.
Overall I thought DragonFlame was a great game and I recommend you consider backing it when it launches!
- Puerto Rico
- Camel Up
- Me Booty by Chevee Dodd
- Prototype “Slap It” by Kane Klenko
- Prototype Fuse by Kane Klenko
- Prototype “Trauma Center” by Kane Klenko
- Prototype “Wealthy Lazeabouts” by Jeremy Van Maanen
- Prototype “Super Ego” by Adam Buckingham
- Prototype “First Nations” by Chevee Dodd
- Prototype “High Rise” by Dave Ross
- Prototype “Nuke it from Orbit” by Brett Myers
- Prototype Operation Picnic by Chevee Dodd
- Prototype Jibberish by Kane Klenko
- Go Away Monster
- Uno Moo
- Count a Color (I think this is from the 70’s or 80’s)
- Samurai Spirit – Spoiler: we lost again
Leading up to Protospiel-Madison I was scrambling to get either The Grand Illusion or Armada Galactica playable and ready. While I had tested The Grand Illusion 4 times I realized that it wasn’t the gameplay experience that the theme deserved. So I basically scrapped it. With my focus solely on Armada Galactica I thought I had something that could come together. I ended up making a few prototype components. I ultimately threw in the towel on that one as well since I had no idea how to actually play the game. I’ll revisit it since I think there’s something there. I just didn’t have enough time to put together a fun working prototype in time for Protospiel-Madison.
So Thursday night before Protospiel I was sitting on the floor in my living room with a ton of prototype pieces and blank cards and tiles and scissors and glue and carte blanche. My new goal was to come up with a brand new game design and prototype it so I could test it during Prototspiel.
So I stole a mechanic from The Grand Illusion, made it 3D, and the design came together. The theme is Ziggurats and you are building one. It has a spatial element and some resource management, but it is basically a points race.
So on Friday afternoon when I arrived at Protospiel I took out my tiles and my sharpies and my blank cards and threw together the prototype. Over the course of the weekend it was tested 4 times to generally positive feedback. I was super pumped by how well the game worked and I’m eager to continue working on it.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of playing a bunch of game design prototypes as I was attending Protospiel-Milwaukee. Since they were unpublished prototypes I’m not going to share my opinions about them. If you want my opinion, ask me privately.
For those who do not know, Protospiels are game designer conventions. The idea behind them is that you can get feedback on your game designs from other designers, who are likely to see the game differently than gamers in general. It is a fantastic event for aspiring and successful designers alike if for nothing else than networking. I met a bunch of new people, hung out with some old friends, and got my newest design, Brooklyn Bridge, to the table for it’s 4th playtest ever.
Overall it was a great weekend and I can now make both Brooklyn Bridge and Quantum Orcas even better.
But today is Monday, so let’s cover the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week…
BARLEY SPOTLIGHT: Lakefront Brewery Big Easy Imperial Maibock
Sometimes it is worthwhile to put the spotlight on things because they are not good. This beer was very interesting. First, if you are going to make a seasonal beer that is light for Spring, why make it Imperial? Second, why make a Maibock that doesn’t taste like a Maibock?
I typically enjoy drinking a Maibock because it makes me think of Spring and melting snow and blossoming flowers. This beer didn’t have the Maibock characteristics that made me think of those things.
- Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale
- Bud Light (a travesty for sure – not even worth linking to the brewery)
- Tommy Knocker Cocoa Porter
- New Glarus Spotted Cow
BOARDS SPOTLIGHT: Mad City
I got the chance to play Kane Klenko’s Mad City by Mayfair Games last Saturday and I forgot to add it to last Week’s Monday Brews. Fortunately I was able to play it again at Protospiel so I am placing it in the Boards Spotlight this week.
In Mad City you are building a city of residential, industrial, and urban areas. To score the most points you will want to put those areas near each other. So you should build larges groups of residences or large groups of industry. No one wants their house next to an industry. So the larger the groups you can make, the more you can score.
I won’t get into the game any more than that for now, but you can look forward to a review of Mad City on Friday.
Quantum Orcas – this was requested by several different people who wanted to play it. So I think it was played 4 or 5 times at Protospiel.
- LXIX: Year of Four Emperors designed by Brett Myers
- Pull! designed by Chevee Dodd
- Sunset Showdown – designed by Jason Kotarski
- Lexicards – designed by Wade Johnston
- Prohibition – designed by Neil Roberts
Scoville – I got to play this with the honorable Ryan Metzler of The Dice Tower and a very nice respresentative from AEG. It was fun to play with the farmer meeples that TMG sent me. I lost, but so did Metzler.
- Copper Country – designed by Scott Diehl and David Lankton of CMX Games
- Sequoia Grove – my failure of an entry for Dice Hate Me Games’ 54 Card Challenge. But I think I have an interesting mechanic in the game though Metzler would disagree.
- Backyard Astronaut – designed by Adam Buckingham. I’ve mentioned this one before. He got a bunch of playtests and people enjoyed the game!
Brooklyn Bridge x2 – After a playtest with my Level 1s I made some changes and it worked much better at Protospiel. I got some good feedback and I am now equipped to make this game great.
Those are the games I played last week. It is fun to play a bunch of prototypes and see what other people are working on. It was also fun to do some networking and meet other great people in the game design industry. It’s worth going to things like Protospiel for that alone!
With my attendance at Protospiel I had prepared Version 4 of Brooklyn Bridge in the hopes of playtesting it with other designers. After Playtest #3 last week with my Level 1s I knew I had to adjust things before putting it in front of other designers. So I made a new version (seen in the picture of Brooklyn Bridge above) and tweaked a bunch of stuff. The result was a much quicker gameplay that finished with scores much more aligned with what I would want final scores to be.
The game at this point works and has interesting decisions. It still needs to be streamlined slightly. I have a path forward in that regard.
Also, I now have a good idea of how I want to separate in-game scoring from end-game scoring so that even if you are behind you still have hope that you can finish with the victory. So there are a lot of good things going on with Brooklyn Bridge.
I also got Quantum Orcas to the table four or five times. I don’t think the game is very good, but several people wanted to play it. Fortunately it plays in 10-15 minutes, so the players didn’t suffer for too long.
I got a bunch of feedback that was all over the map for Quantum Orcas. But perhaps the best thing to come out of Protospiel for the game is that I now have a good way to break ties. I’ll keep testing this one and see if I can make it as awesome as its title.
Thanks to everyone who played my games over the weekend. I had a lot of fun teaching them and watching you play them.
So those are the Boards & Barley I enjoyed last week. Did you try anything new that you thought was special?
Welcome to 2014! Today I wanted to look back on my experiences in 2013, point out some highlights and mention some stats from the blog. (Unfortunately WordPress won’t send me one of those fancy Year In Review stats thingies since this blog is not quite 1 year old).
January 11th: Scoville Playtest #1
It was nearly one year ago that I playtested Scoville for the first time. I had been working on it a lot and had just had a breakthrough that made it ready for testing. At the time I had no idea that Scoville would make 2013 what it did.
The playtest went really well. Of course there were tweaks to be made. But the overall feeling coming out of that playtest was, “Holy cow… there’s a lot more game here than I thought!” I playtested Scoville 6 more times in January.
I took Scoville to Protospiel-Milwaukee and it was well received. I even got Ryan Metzler to play it! I also got to meet Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, and Chevee Dodd. If you like game design at all you should be following those three awesome gentlemen on Twitter.
If you want to learn more about my Protospiel experience check out my article: Protospiel Recap
Shortly after Protospiel Tasty Minstrel Games requested a copy of Scoville for evaluation. I obliged, of course, and sent them a copy ASAP. Overall it seems it was definitely worth it to attend Protospiel! Special thanks to Chevee Dodd for his kind words in his recap article: Weekly[ish] Update – 3-15-13
Bellwether Games Interview
One of the highlights of 2013 was being interviewed by Bellwether Games. They interview a designer a month and it was a privilege to join those ranks! You can read the article here: Ed Marriott Interview
TMG Announces Scoville
By July I had signed a contract with Tasty Minstrel Games for Scoville. They announced the deal on July 21st and I was so happy to be able to tell the world! I wrote this article, which includes an awesome logo revision for TMG, about the contract.
Boards & Barley Stats & Stuff
I started Boards & Barley last January with the intent of writing about home brewing and game design. It ended up being heavily tilted toward game design, but I don’t think that’s a problem. Here are the monthly viewership stats:
Overall the site was visited by 90 different countries (that still boggles my mind!). Here’s a look at the map:
The top five most viewed articles were these:
- Prototype Art: Cubes in Inkscape
- Prototyping Techniques Applied to Scoville
- Monte Carlo Simulations for Game Design – By Adam Buckingham
- The Benefits of Pretty Prototypes
- Prototype Art: Icons in Inkscape
Apparently people really like reading about prototyping. I’ll definitely write more about that.
The most clicked items were these:
- Scoville PnP Files on BGG
- Spotlight On Games Components List
- Inkscape Cube Art via the Prototype Art: Cubes in Inkscape article
- Tiles from Print & Play Games
And the top referrers (other than Twitter and Facebook) were:
But 2013 Was All About the People
While it was great that I signed my first game contract and wrote a bunch of stuff and got some people to read it, the real highlight of 2013 was getting to meet so many awesome people in the game design community.
At Protospiel-Milwaukee I met a bunch of awesome designers. I owe them all at least two PBRs each!
At GenCon 2013 I met about 30 designer/publisher people I had not already known. Thanks to everyone who was willing to sit down and spend their precious time playing my Scoville prototype. Also thanks to Matt Worden for inviting me to speak on the Protospiel panel.
At BGG.con I met another 15 people I had not already known. Thanks to all those who were part of the 22 Scoville demos that I ran during the con. Thanks for taking the time to play my prototype when all the hot Essen games were only a few tables away.
Here is a big list of awesome people I met throughout the year (or that I had previously met and got to hang out with again during 2013) (I likely missed a few of you. For that I am terribly sorry!):
Chevee Dodd, Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, James Mathe, Scott Metzger, Matt Loomis, Carl Klutzke, Eric Jome, JT (The Game Crafter), Brett Myers, Kane Klenko, Espen Klausen, Ryan Metzler, Steve Dast, Peter Dast, Francois Jolie, Neil Roberts, Scott Starkey, Michael Mindes, Seth Jaffee,Ken Grazier, Jason Tagmire, Nolan Lichti, Kevin Kulp, Tom Vasel, Eric Summerer, Chris & Suzanne Zinsli, Jay Treat, Cole Medeiros, Robert Couch, AJ Porfirio, Eric Leath, Mike Mullins, Jeff Large, Kevin Nunn, Don Beyer, Patrick Nickell, Adam MacIver, David Chott, Darrell Louder, Ted Alspach, Ben Rosset, J. Alex Kevern, Benny Sperling, Jax Sperling, Matthew O’Malley, David Miller, Rob Lundy, Michael Coe, Corey Young, TC Petty III, Andrew Tullsen, Chris Kirkman, Jamey Stegmaier, Ben Pinchback, Matt Riddle, Alan R. Moon, Gil Hova, Andy Van Zandt, Dan Manfredini, Rael Dornfest, Scott King, Matt Leacock, Matt Wolfe, Randy Hoyt, Scott Morris, Quinns (SUSD), Colby from Plaid Hat, Norman from Big Game Reviews, Mike Eskue, The I’m Board With Life crew, Brian Frahm, Chris Darden. And there are some many more of you on Twitter that I am looking forward to meeting in person!
Special thanks to Chris Kirkman of Dice Hate Me games for being willing to evaluate a game from an unknown designer.
Special thanks to Michael Mindes and Seth Jaffee of Tasty Minstrel Games for being willing to accept a game from me and for the contract.
Special thanks to Grant Rodiek, Matt Worden, Chevee Dodd, and Brett Myers for your awesomeness at Protospiel-Milwaukee and your willingness to share so much info on the game design community.
Special thanks to my level 1 friends Jeremy Van Maanen, Adam Buckingham, and Ben McQuiston for being willing to playtest my games, whether good or bad, and for telling me the truth about how good or bad they are.
Most special thanks to my wife Erin for putting up with my piles of chits and cubes and cards and paper scraps all over, and for submitting to the earliest and worst playtests of all my game ideas. Love you babe!
2013 was an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring! Tomorrow I will post an article about my designing and brewing goals for 2014. Thanks for reading!
Today is the last day in September. Where did this month go??? Well, at least it is ending nicely by attending Protospiel-Milwaukee this past weekend! So I had the opportunity to play some unpublished games, including some that I really really enjoyed.
I have an opinion about writing about unpublished games. Here it is:
If you loved the game, write about it. If you did not love the game, don’t write about it. Negative press for any game that potentially could be published as anything other than the form you played it is just bad business.
So while there were other games I played that I enjoyed but the designer will be changing, I will not be writing about them. I don’t want to be unfair to any designers whose games may change for the better. But I want the games I played that I thought were awesome to be noted as such.
Alright, here’s the list of the Boards & Barley that I enjoyed this past week:
O’Fallon Pumpkin Beer: This beer has a lot of pumpkin attitude in it. There’s nothing subtle about the amount of pumpkin in this one. It was enjoyable, but be warned that it is heavy on pumpkin.
New Glarus Totally Naked: I used to dislike this beer for some reason that I cannot remember. But when I had a bottle of it that was leftover after the latest game night I found that it was quite enjoyable. It’s just an enjoyable brew.
Milwaukee Brewing Sasquash Pumpkin Porter: Wow. Now this was an enjoyable beer! I was glad my friend Ben brought it over for us to enjoy. Want to learn more? Check out this article by Chris Drosner of the Wisconsin State Journal.
New Glarus Staghorn Oktoberfest: I enjoyed two of these excellent beers while attending the New Glarus Oktoberfest celebration with fellow game designers: Brett Myers (@Brettspiel), Chevee Dodd (@cheveedodd), and Dave Ross (@ddgdrs). The pretzel bigger than my head and the delicious brat were excellent as well!
Pearl Street El Heffe: This was enjoyed at Protospiel, in a glass, because we bring glasses to Protospiel because beer is better in a glass than the bottle. It was a fine wheat beer, though my attention was more on games than beer.
X-Wing: I played my second game of X-Wing while brewing a Scotch Ale on a chilly Wedndesday night. It was beautiful! However, my experience was enhanced by my ability to roll only hits and critical hits. I think I only had three dice results all night that were misses.
Scoville: While at Protospiel I was able to teach a 4 player game and to partake in a 3 player game. The 4 player game had three first timers, so it took a little longer than I would have liked, but afterwards one of the new player said they’ll be backing it when it goes up on Kickstarter! So that was pretty awesome. And in the 3-player test I got a lot of good feedback which I will be mentioning to the publisher.
Quantum Orcas: Yes, this is the game that I made up last Friday in my Design Me article! I mocked it up and it actually got played 4 times during Protospiel. That was partially due to it being about a 10 minute game. It got comments like, “It didn’t suck,” “It was playable,” and “It was really interesting.” So I’m pleased that a game that was less than a day old was not broken and actually worked pretty well.
The City Beneath: Designed by my friend Adam Buckingham (@adambuckingham) this is a game about a heist crew who has stolen some stuff and now are trying to get away. In the game players begin with limited skills. Throughout the game they can increase their skills and be able to elude the police more efficiently while placing the blame on the other players. There are some really awesome social aspects to this game that make it quite enjoyable. Adam has put in a lot of effort and this game keeps getting better and better!
Hedeby: Chevee Dodd cut my first play of this short when he taught it at Protospiel-Milwaukee back in March. This time around, with the game being an insane overhaul of awesomeness, we were able to play the game without him ending it. This game is really fantastic! You are Vikings who are trying to raid and build a town. The engine building portion of the game is totally awesome and it gives you the means of decreasing the luck of the dice as the game progresses. I will be owning this game when it comes out!
Baron Age: By the designer of Coin Age, Adam McIver (@ad7m), this game has some of the feel of Coin Age, but it is ramped up in a most amazing way. In Baron Age players try to control areas to earn points. On it’s own that doesn’t sound that different or unique, but the way it is utilized in the game is awesome. Players each have their own scoring condition that is secret. Throughout the game you are rolling and placing dice onto a map with distinct regions, each with a different number of sections. Three dice can be placed in each region. But depending on what the die results were the player gets to do different things. I won’t give more details here, but like Hedeby, I will be owning this game when it comes out!
So that’s the Boards and Barley that I enjoyed this week. What did you enjoy this past week?
I had the privilege of attending my first Protospiel this past weekend in Milwaukee. Protospiel is a convention for game designers to bring prototypes and get feedback from other designers. So I took my game Scoville along and got some awesome feedback! I think that I’ll focus this recap on my game rather than provide opinions of the games I played that are unpublished. That would not be fair to the designers even if I really enjoyed their games since all the games I played are still in progress. So rather than posting a drawn out chronological recap of the weekend I will just post the drawn out highlights for the play tests of Scoville.
I was fortunate to have Scoville played five times and was pleased to play 8 other games by other designers. Protospiel is an awesome thing for a designer to attend!
Here’s a little background about my Protospiel expectations and goals…
Protospiel: First Contact
Coming to Protospiel I had two goals: 1) validate whether or not Scoville is any good and 2) connect with people who know what they’re talking about. A secondary goal was to leave a copy of the game with Grant Rodiek for inclusion in the Prototype Penpal Program. That was something I could always do later on, but I thought it could be cool to send a copy off with him.
I also had some expectations about the feedback I might receive. I knew that I wanted to adjust the auction phase of the game. So I to see the same feedback about it that I had seen from my prior play tests. I was also a little uncertain about the quality of my prototype (that thought was quickly vanquished!). Thanks to everyone for the kind words about the quality of my prototype. I’ll post an article sometime about how I make prototypes.
So if I received validation and made some connections then I would have considered this weekend a success. Let’s see how it went.
Scoville Play Test #1
Getting to the convention at 8:15am on Saturday allowed me to get my game set up right away since few people were there. I got four people to give it a go and they seemed to really enjoy it. I won’t explain the game much here since I’ll be writing a post all about the game itself. Here are the suggestions that I received after the game:
- Beware of color blindness (Cool apps: Color Blind Vision (Android: FREE) and Colorblind Vision (iOS: $2.99)).
- Stage II orders seem to provide too many points.
- If everyone bids zero in the auction, flop the player order.
- Put endgame trigger scenario onto the guidesheet.
- Tiebreaker should go to the player with the most coins.
- The game was described as a “Euro with luck but no dice.”
- There should be no randomly chosen player order at the start of the game.
- During fulfillment there should be the option to pay for becoming the first player.
That’s a lot of great feedback. The game uses 10 differently colored cubes so I have been aware of the color blindness issue. There are several solutions for this. The biggest takeaway from play test #1 was that I received the auction feedback I was expecting. My plan would be to test a new auction mechanic on Sunday.
One player, who happened to be the winner by a lot, wanted to try a strategy that I am aware of but have not yet seen attempted. Since peppers can be sold for coins based on how many of that color are planted in the fields there is a strategy that you can plant a pepper of a certain color in each round and harvest that same color each round without doing anything else. I have done the math in my head and I do not believe that this would be a winning strategy (at least I hoped not because that would make the game broken). More on this below.
Scoville Play Test #2
After working on Protospiel goal #2 of making connections and meeting some awesome people, they were willing to give Scoville a try. During this second play test there was more bidding and jostling of player order. I think that was the reason that the auction was not mentioned in the post-game discussion. This play also resulted in much closer scores than the first play. Here are the suggestions I received:
- Peppers should be worth something at the end (that are currently worth nothing in the endgame: Use Them or Lose Them!)
- The artwork on the fields should somehow better illustrate where the player pawns can be placed.
- The game was described as a “medium to heavy Euro.”
So I received quite a bit less feedback from play #2. But the fact that I still didn’t receive any feedback about how anything seemed broken meant that perhaps Protospiel goal #1 (validation) was starting to become apparent.
Scoville Play Test #3
Later Saturday night a prominent figure in the board game reviewing business was able to play Scoville. So with three other players I got play test #3 going. In terms of rounds this was the shortest game I have seen. The game lasted 6 rounds. The players again seemed to enjoy the game and nothing seemed broken to them. They did mention the auction as the weak point of the game, so I received good feedback about that that I could implement on Sunday. Here’s the suggestions:
- Possible Trademark issue with the names of peppers used on the recipe tiles.
- Turn order needs adjusting. Option 1: Flop the order. Option 2: Purchase your spot.
- Perhaps just get rid of the reverse order for the harvest action.
- Brown peppers seem too valuable.
I want to point out that the brown peppers are somewhat of an enigma in the game. They don’t breed with anything except the best peppers. They take up space on the map. But they are used quite a bit in the recipes. I had not received feedback that browns were too valuable before this. The normal feedback on the brown peppers is that they seem pointless. So this was interesting feedback from a fresh perspective.
I was also pleased, in a bittersweet way, to hear the same feedback on the auction mechanic. I now knew that I could incorporate a revised auction mechanic on Sunday and expect good things.
I was intrigued by the suggestion to remove the reverse player order for the harvest. My first thought was “absolutely not.” What that would lead to is either huge bids during the auction or rounds of the game where one player can make a huge jump in points. I’ll have to examine this further.
Scoville Play Test #4
Sunday morning I was able to play Scoville for the first time during the weekend. I had not played in the previous play tests. And this time it was just a two player game. I have tried to design the game such that it scales well from 2 to 6 players. There are no AI players necessary and the game feels nearly exactly the same with 6 players as it does with 2.
Since it was now Sunday I was going to implement the new auction mechanic: Bid for Player Order. Now during the auction phase players would be bidding for turn order. Whoever bids the most gets to choose their spot in the turn order. The next highest bidder gets to choose the next spot, and so on. This way, if a player wanted to become the first harvester they could bid high and then choose the last spot, which would allow them to harvest first.
The new auction in the two player game seemed to work, but I suppose that this new auction mechanic would work even better with more players. What the new auction mechanic provided was a way to earn the first harvester spot. That is critical to strategy in the game.
Here are the suggestions I received:
- Are points balanced on the Order tiles?
- Change the artwork on the Cross-Breeding table for the cross-breeds that result in two peppers.
The points on the Order tiles may be slightly unbalanced, but not to the point of brokenness. These can be easily revised, which I may do depending on analysis of the scoring for the first 25 play tests. The artwork suggestion is an excellent one that I will definitely change.
Scoville Play Test #5
The final play of Scoville included the big winner from play #1. He wanted to test the coin building theory and see if it could potentially provide a winning strategy. I welcomed him to try it but made sure that the other players were initially unaware of his proposed gameplay. It was a great final play and I was happy to see that the new auction mechanic really worked well with four players. Here are the suggestions:
- Don’t call it “harvesting, call it “breed-vesting.”
- Check out the game Santiago since there is a similar “fields” mechanic (uh oh… worried about this!)
- The different parts of the game were described by one player as Resources (Auction), Tactics (Orders), and Strategy (Recipes).
The first thing to discuss was the auction. Of note is that this game had the highest average bidding per round of all 5 play tests during the weekend. I think this is due to players now having two things to bid for (first player spot or last player spot) rather than for just moving up in player order. The thing of note was the compliment someone gave to the auction saying that the auction was a good mechanic for the game. This brought the game full circle over the weekend. Previously the auction was described as the weak point of the game. Now it was “good.” I’ll take that!
The other thing that was validated from this final play test was that the game was not broken in that attempting to get coins by planting and harvesting the same color did not result in a winning strategy. The player was going full steam ahead from the get-go with that strategy and came in last place (though could have finished in third place). I was pleased that the game wasn’t close to being won by that strategy. Overall it was a great play test.
Overall Scoville Analysis
Perhaps the best part of the analysis is that people really seemed to enjoy the game. While my goal was to validate whether or not it was any good, I came away from Protospiel very humbled by all the kind words people had for the game. Let’s dig in a little bit and check out the scoring breakdown:
Some further analysis revealed that the number of coins bid during the game varied quite a bit. In terms of coins bid per round the numbers were 2, 6.14, 7.66, 1.38 (2-player), and 7.85 per game. The highest average was the 4-player game with the new auction, though this wasn’t unexpected.
Overall it was apparent that people had fun when playing the game. That’s the most important thing to me as a designer. There are some things that I would like to continue to develop leading up to Gen Con that I mentioned to the players. But I want to avoid the situation where I am needlessly adding complexity. That would steal from the simple elegance of the mechanics currently in the game.
Thank you to all 16 players who play tested my game. I really appreciate the feedback. It was an awesome weekend! And special thanks to Grant Rodiek for humbly accepting a copy for the Prototype Penpal Program. I know that I can expect some awesome, honest feedback!