Friday, December 2, 2011

And the Results are in! Play test #2

The second play test of my game went great.  We met at a local cigar shop, smoked stogies and drank 15 year old scotch...I can think of no better way to play.  We played the full 12 rounds in just under 1 1/2 hours and had some great discussion about it after.  I will talk about the play test more but first things first, what did I change in this game from the last?

1.) Cargo remains in the city after selling and at the end of each turn 1 cargo is removed.  The Cargo on a card reduces the sell price making it much harder to have profitable runs that can be run over and over.

2.) I removed the different types of ships.  Ships start with a 2 in every stat (Sails, Cargo, and Cannons) and players can upgrade their ship as they play.

3.) At the end over every Turn, a Pirate Token was placed randomly.  I removed this.  I also changed Movement to stop if you come in contact with a pirate.
The Start of the game, I made a quick run to the North where wood was selling cheep.
Having the Ships only move at a speed of two felt frustratingly slow, especially after the first game where we started with ships that moved at a speed of 5.  But very quickly we upgraded our sails and had a good appreciation for how good the Sail Upgrade was.  So good in fact that by the end of the game, most players had several.  

Based on this, Bryan recommended that I should make each player have a turn that consists of 1 action that starts with an Event Card and can be followed any one of the following:  Move or Port Action.  Bryan felt that every player having an Event, a Move, and a Port Action makes the game take longer. On top of that, it favors players with a faster ship by allowing him to both move and take port actions.  I agree with his logic and will be trying this in my next version of the game.  In doing this, it should speed up that game allowing me to try having the game last the original intended duration of 24 turns.
About halfway thought the game, I am in last place.
Halfway thought the game, some Pirate Tokens have made their way onto the board.  This became a problem because I changed the rule about contact with a pirate token. This was now a very big deal so everyone avoided the space because it effectively caused them to loose a turn, even if there was randomly no pirate encounter.  

I want the pirates to be a threat, but I would also like it if a player could choose Pirate Hunter as a strategy.  Right now, that is just not possible, pirates don't really show up until the end, and when they do, you are crippled by having your movement turn ended.
I have won, but just barely.  Alex would have won if I hadn't got a lucky Event Card.
The random nature of the Event Deck creates a lot of chaos and uncertainty about how the board is going to be laid out.  With more players having each player draw an event card created so much change that cities and information was completely different from one round to the next.  Also, some cards are so drastic that they can effectively knock a player out of the game at the last minute creating what we the in the video game industry call "Mario Kart Effect".  The game is so random that you might as well flip a coin to determine who is going to win, and then go play something else.
A big thank you (from left to right): Ryan, Alex, and the famous Bryan Pope of Mage Wars
Unfortunately, the pictures are a bit dark.  The cigar shop was not the brightest place for taking pictures on an iPhone without a flash.  All in all, it was a great night and everyone had a really good time.  I got a lot of positive feedback and some great suggestions on ways to fix some of the problems we had this time around.  I fully expect to have another version ready to play by the weekend.  I am hoping that a few of my friends will have some free time to come hang out and play.

Until then, happy designing!

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