Today I had a great playtesting day! Russell, Talia, and Dave came over for about 7 hours and we played 3 prototypes. Each playtest went well, and I got good commentary and thoughts on each game:
Kilauea is an old design of mine from 2006 that I haven't touched in years. It uses a Mancala mechanism, so I thought I'd revisit it now that Mancala games are popular. Apparently I'm a hipster designer, because I used the Mancala mechanism before it was cool :P
This game went OK in that it seemed like it was worth pursuing, but it was clear that I have some work to do on it. The players had some ideas that could make for a more varied experience (board that's not radially symmetric, spaces which act like satellite villages where you can get more tribesmen onto the board, etc), and I've made some notes on that. I will likely update the game/prototype and try again soon.
Small box civ game
Not to be confused with MicroCiv, the next game we played was a TMG submission that Andy and I found at one of the Designer Speed Dating events. It's a light civ game with a small footprint, maybe about the "size" of Harbour. The game is still rough, and still needs some work, but I think it's very promising!
Steam Works is an upcoming TMG worker placement game by Alex Churchill, a designer from London. It's a steampunky game where your workers are Mechanics (and one Automaton). I realize "Steampunk" as a theme has been done, and it's even been done by TMG... but the thing about Steampunk is that it's just a setting. I mean, Fantasy has been done, but it's not like people are finished playing games in a fantasy setting! Steam Works actually feels like it should be Steampunk themed because you literally build the worker placement spots out of components, and supply them with Clockwork, Steam, or Electrick power.
I really enjoy this game. The core game is awesome, and while a couple of the component tiles need tweaks, it's mostly just the characters/player powers that need balancing at this point. We just got art quotes, and this one will be coming in 2015 for all you TMG big box game fans!