Monday, January 12, 2009

My kingdom for a playtest!

I was able to play a game of Winds of Fate today with Rif and Mike! Huzzah! I implemented a lot of the things I've been talking about, and here's how they went:

* I need to make Player Aids listing the turn sequence and reminding players that they are Fates and NOT Odysseus.

I still need to make player aids, and write down the rules!

* I think I might like to separate the 2 colors of cards into 2 decks, and when you draw cards you choose which deck to draw them from (any combination). I feel like there needs to be more control over which color cards you get, because those cards are used to make your bets good.

This seemed to work just fine. I wonder though if it doesn't make it too easy to tell who's trying to kill Odysseus off and who's trying to get him home.

* When passing without playing any cards in an Adventure, you are allowed to change your Destiny bet. I'm going to add that you can instead add a bet chip to your Destiny bet if you like. Of course you'll have to have a bet chip to do this.

This seemed fine. Mike had some ideas about a different way to handle Destiny bets, which I will consider - the best thing about them was that they could make early Destiny bets pay out better than late ones - which seems only fair.

* I'm going to use the endgame bonus of 1vp per pair of Help/Hinder cards in hand and see how that goes.

It seemed OK to me, and I like the idea of rewarding a balanced hand... but Rif suggested simply 1vp per card in hand might be good enough. The number of points were talking about here is small compared to the final score, so I'm inclined to go with whatever is easiest. Maybe 1vp per card is the best idea. I still think that having cards leftover should be worth something.

* I was considering relating the number of crew lost to the result of the card play for the adventure. As yet I've preferred the random number dictated by reward tiles drawn, which is set before cards are played and can therefore factor into your decision as to which cards to play. It does make sense to scale the number of crew lost based on the outcome, but I think the game is better served with the info up front. This factors heavily into a decision I'm making for the endgame as well, so it'll have to stay. I do think that perhaps some crew should be lost even if the Adventure is won, but I'm not sure the best way to go about that. Maybe a simple 1 crew? Maybe additional crew is lost if the Hinder-minus-Help result is more than a certain number? I'm not sure.

What I tried today was that a number of crew is lost each round equal to the numbers indicated on reward tiles, and if Odysseus loses the Adventure, that number is lost again. I kinda like that, and for the final showdown with the Suitors (the Ithaca double-adventure) could have the potential of losing that number 3 times (once for sure, and again for each of the adventures that Odysseus loses).

On the down side, I was planning on turning up 2n reward tiles for the Ithaca adventure, which is twice as many as usual, and if they all count three times, well, that's a lot of crew lost. I suppose I could say that the 'automatic' crew loss occurs during the Journey phase at the end of the turn, and at Ithaca there is no Journey phase (so the only crew loss at Ithaca comes from Odysseus losing the adventure). I like the sound of that.

* I am considering making the board bigger - 4 columns instead of 3 (still 3 rows per column). I probably won't do that this week though, as I expect it'll be a lot of work to redo the board and make more encounter tiles... but I do need to consider it because I fear the game isn't really lasting long enough for the Stranded option to really come into play. I'm also considering Stages... the first column would be Stage I, the 2nd and 3rd columns would be Stage II, and the 4th column would be Stage III. Then the bigger effects of Encounter tiles could be placed in the later stages, making for more of a story arc. Also, it's a sneaky way to keep 2 tiles I like, one teleports to the other, and the 2nd teleports to Ithaca, short circuiting the board... I'd like to keep that latter tile out of Stage I, and this method makes that easy to do. For this idea I'll have to make 5 more Encounter tiles that are thematic and interesting.

I do think the board needs to be bigger. I might try to do that this week after all, but if I do I'll likely only make 2 more tiles so there's enough for the board (no extras). Alternatively I could change the round in which Odysseus is considered Stranded... make it round 9 for example (as there are 9 spaces). Our game today ended on round 9, but the round track was advanced twice through cards played (I kind of like that a card can adjust the time track). Last update I added things that advance the time track to make sure a 12 round game was even possible. I think I'll leave it as is for the time being.

Other thoughts after the game today:

* The VP rewards on tiles are +2vp or +4vp, and other rewards are +1 Bet Chip or +2 Bet Chip. Bet chips are worth 2vp each at a minimum, and potentially more if you successfully bet with them. Therefore I think I'll increase the VP rewards to +3vp and +5vp. That way the VPs are worth more than the Bet Chips, which are more flexible. Moving a bet can be very valuable, saving 3 bet chips (6vp worth). I might need to consider that and see if those reward tiles are 'too good'. It's also the case that moving the bet isn't certain to get you those points, so maybe it's fine if it's worth more. Also, if it's worth more, then players might fight for 1st choice.

* I am thinking about the value of the Destiny bet. One idea I've had is to put some VP value on the card itself, which means if a Stranded result is harder to orchestrate, then it could be worth more VPs than a Dead result. Then bet chips placed on the Destiny bet could simply be worth some static 3, maybe 4 VPs.

Mike suggested basically making a Destiny bet every round, one way to do this is instead of choosing a result and then adding bet chips to it, players would add a bet chip (from the general supply, not their own) onto one of their 3 cards each round. So if you have been betting on Safe, and it starts to look like he's not going to make it back to Ithaca, then you can start betting on Dead instead. And if the game swings such that you think the Safe return is likely, you can go back without losing the progress you'd already made on that bet. Players would score for the chips that end up on the Destiny card that matches the actual game end condition.

This idea allows for early commitment to pay off better than late commitment, which I like... but I'm not sure if I want betting to happen every turn, and I kinda liked the idea of having one bet being different from the other. The more I think about it, the more I like Mike's suggestion though. I'm not sure if I want to make that change without trying it out.

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