Monday, July 16, 2012

Of Feast & Famine - post play test

I play-tested Of Feast and Famine this weekend.  The game went ok...  it didn't fundamentally break.  But the game did seem to take too long and it was too easy.  So, I've decided to make some changes.  And since I just sent en email to one of my play-testers about those changes, I thought I would be lazy and cut and paste the email here too.  :)

Here it is:
I've been thinking about a few changes. 

  • I think the Planning specialty is too powerful...  being able to discard a plague card (which I'm starting to feel is the worst card) every round is just too much.  I don't have a way to tone it down just yet, so I might just end up tossing it.
  • I'm considering staring the game with hostilities from the other kings not at zero... the might help fast forward a bit to the exciting part (and make the game harder)
  • I've adjusted the costs on many cards (small increases to costs everywhere).  In particular, the Tributes for other kings has gone up and is variable.  That will hopefully lead to more battles.  As an interesting side note.  Earlier in the design, I had an "Ah ha!" moment when I decided to embrace death.  I didn't originally have the ability to add workers...  you started with 12 and you just tried to hold on as many as possible. But that made many aspects of the game design really difficult....  losing a worker was a big deal and it was tough to know what kind of event was worthy of that fate.  So when I decided to embrace death and make it less of a deal, the design became easier.  But the game play this weekend, felt like the team hadn't yet embraced death.  Not that you should if you can avoid it of course, but the game didn't force it enough.
  • I've updated the board (and attached an image).  This is mostly a usability change, the "calendar" has been taken out of the middle of the board and placed around the edges.  There are little icons that let you know what you do next.  There is, however, one rule change embedded here as well.  The number of workers that you can add is now variable by season and generally lower. In autumn for example, you can't add any extra works (the icon also applies to workers in poverty, but I'm talking about new workers here)  Actually there's one other small rule change shown here.  There's a gold Celtic star icon which means pass the Chancellor token.  But there's an extra one between winter and spring with a 4 near it.  This means that in a 4 player game, you pass here as well.  This prevents players from being Chancellor on the same season every time.
  • I've also tweaked some of the specialty cards... as mentioned above, I still haven't decided what to do with planning yet.
  • I also decided I needed a mechanism to control the game difficulty. My working mechanic for this is to start the game with some of the castle already built for easier games.  I'm a little bugged that this also makes the game shorter, but perhaps that's not such a big deal.
  • As for getting workers to be more generalized (which leads to much more interesting decisions).  I've considered attacking that problem directly.  Charge 1 gold to add a second ring of a particular color.  Charging again (and perhaps more than 1 gold) to add the third ring.  Though I may hold off on this for now...  it would be better if the other changes accomplish this without an explicate rule.

I think that's it. 

Thanks for your help!

And here's the image I referred to :

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