Monday, 22 July 2013

More Giant Stone Head!

Giant Stone Head
So despite actually making some new hexes – I never got round to cutting them out – so this version is the same as the version that went to Stabcon. 
This play test was pretty important since it was with “the breaker of games” who managed to break things really rather a lot when the last played.  And he gave it a good try – by making sure he went last in one turn and first in another – but as he was unable to force the end of the game he found himself over extended and not holding onto sufficient space for the last turn. 
One player messed up his penultimate turn – played his cards wrongly – but in a way that’s a good thing.  The existence of bad play means there is good play - which means the decisions you make matter.   Certainly the 3 card limit in a combat has made combat both more frequent and more common – which is good.
This build is feeling very stable - the game elements are now all in place – but what remains to be decided is what the correct proportions are
Now the breaker of games tried to avoid violence - the rewards were not sufficient he felt for random violence - just very focused violence at the right time.  At the moment you get most of your VP’s from actually building stone heads – which in turn comes mainly from holding territory that gives you resources and has space to build.  But is that proportion currently right – at the moment it feels a little bit like building a stone head gives you a smidge to much and violence gives you a smidge to little.  Building is 2VP’s a head, violence  1VP per a head – and it has to be that way round to reward the act of building.  But maybe values of 1.8 and 1.2 would be better?  Of course there is no way of getting that – but I could make building 2VP’s and violence 1.5vp’s – except I don’t want half points so I’d have to make it 4vp’s and 3vp’s which closes the gap but have things then swung to far the other way?  Not sure I have an answer to this but my instinct is to keep the numbers low.
One small change – the 4 empty spaces hex is just not being used until the last turn of the game – so it’s a bit of a pointless hex.  However the 3 empty spaces and a heart is being used – that heart makes it that little bit more attractive – so I think I’ll replace that one.
One of my readers (hello John!) said if there are ten steps of game design I’m on 9 and not moving forward.  Actually I think I’ve been on 6 and now I’m moving to 7 – all game elements are in place it’s now it's about proportion…….  And honestly I’ve no idea how to go about doing this stage – how do you work out the fine tuning – how do you decide if you want one more attack boost then defence boost?  How do you work out if the game would be better or worse with one more tree then empty space?  Trial and error have got me this far - and I'm not sure of the way forwards.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Stabcon play test

So Stabcon play test....

Only managed to get one play test in over the weekend and I'm trying to work out the feedback.

So it seemed to take a long time – about 3 hours – however we were very distracted due to the environment but that felt to long. What is odd is I don't know what caused that – previously the game has felt like a two hour game but now suddenly it's running longer again. There don't seem to be a sticking points – things bang back round to you pretty quickly.

The new rules about only being able to play 3 cards per a combat worked – there were more combats rather then a single big one, and there were times when cards would not save you. The attacker gets a bit of a choice – do they use a card which might not be needed or waste there opportunity to play it. And the combat tracker was generally well received – needs work as it was rough but it's good to have.

Managed to get some feedback from somebody who's opinion I wanted as he not only plays a lot of games but has been involved in game creation before – his response - “it's a good game – you'd never sell thousands but you'd sell a hundred.” He had no real rules comments – slight worry that the rich get richer but he felt it was very slight and balanced by the fact going later in the turn is an advantage. So I've got about the right level there. Also felt that once you were out of cards then you were a target – and while the card you got was helpful maybe it was not enough......

Some suggestions...

If you are below a certain level draw back to that level.
Draw two and pick one.
Change to discard unhelpful cards and draw new ones.
Some combination of those.

Concerns with this one are – getting more cards mid game would devalue getting a handful of cards. Would also encourage people at the start of the turn order to just burn everything out. The current rule is very simple and does not slow things down – inserting a choice (pick one or discarding one) would slow things down.

More feedback about design – which is not something I've spent a lot of time thinking about to be honest. Useful stuff like “make the bonus defensive on a hex not be in the middle but around the edge of the hex as a pattern”.

Also came up with a new card this morning +2 attack but only where there is not a heart indicator. Which is powerful but makes hearts slightly more useful.

So this time round what I want to do is......

Improve the combat tracker
Add in that one card – and remove something from the deck to make it happen.
Do some maths that looks at the number of spaces on the board vs the number of heads on cards and trys to estimate how many terms the game should run for.
And time a version of the game to see how long it takes – both in number of turns and also in time.


This year stabcon was boiling - scorching.  But that was an excuse for ice cream - so it all worked out well. :-)

New games I played this time round......

The village -

A very lovely worker placement game based around a medieval village and how your family builds up it's own reputation in the village – with the rather unique mechanic that as time goes on the older members of your family die and get immortalised in the village chronicles. Specifically worth noting for the excellent board design – once you've got an idea of the rules and started playing – everything you need is there. Has an expansion that adds a pub. :-)

If you want a good game without a violet theme then well worth picking up. I would say that the only downside is that there is not much player interaction – you mainly do your own thing with a little bit of racing to get your Meeples into the good places in the graveyard. However for some people that's a positive feature.

Lancaster -

One off the unplayed shelves – Hurrah! Almost the opposite of the village since it's a worker placement game themed around war where you spend a lot of time kicking each other out of jobs. Very good – lots of interaction and even has a mechanisum where you vote to set the laws which affect what gives your victory points. For example in a lot of game spare resources get turned into VP's – here you vote if you want that.

Infinity Dungeon -

Another off the unplayed shelves – Hurrah! And one I'd brought especially to take to stabcon for late night gaming. So it's a story telling game – which means it's more a way to get people to be inventive then a game. Indeed this game takes that to a new level with the fabulous rule that once you have escaped a certain number of rooms then the game is over and you've won but the person who had the most fun won the most..... It worked very well – without any of the confusion that Aye! Dark Overlord has been known to cause and we all laughed. Like most story telling games you need a certain sort of person to play them - and if you get the wrong person it all falls apart. We had the right sort of people - so our mad cap group of 'heroes' slaughtered and looted and drove there train around a dungeon with a great deal of aplomb. :-)

Did get a play test of giant stone head - but that will be for another day.......

Thursday, 4 July 2013

1/12 of a year

So it’s been over a month since I last posted anything about giant stone head and that’s because nothing has happened in that last month.  
Not for want of trying – I had a very clear plan a month ago – couple more playtests – get a locked down improved version to take to Stabcon this coming weekend and play test the same version  few times.  Maybe gather some numbers about where people score there points, and how turn order affects the eventual score rather than just my memory
The card deck needed tweaking that much was certain but I decided to avoid doing that until I’d seen the introduction of a maximum number of cards per play per a battle….
And then – every week for about a month I’ve tried to get people together to play and failed.  I’ve tried Wednesday, Thursday; I’ve tried Monday nights when RPG does not happen, I’ve tried sitting in the pub on a Sunday afternoon and luring people to me with pints.  Nothing, nada, zip, vilch. 
I seem to get one person who says yes – and then a bunch of maybes that fall through.  Just tonight I tried to get people together to play – sneak a test of it in and make the changes tomorrow before I zoom off to Stabcon……
And it’s not just Giant Stone Head either – I’ve failed to get people together to play anything at all.  All in all It’s been a bit depressing.  If time is money and the the goal is to publish by the end of the year – I’ve just lost 1/12 of my budget for no return.