Sunday, May 15, 2011

Playtest Day!

I had a very successful playtest day yesterday!

Bios Megafauna

First off, Mandy, Jason, and Megan played a game of Bios Megafauna with Phil Eklund. I sat in on the rules and generated comments for Phil. His request for me to play and comment on that game was the catalyst which spurred my planning the playtest day.

Bios Megafauna was a much simpler game that I would have guessed, but in true Eklund fashion I believe it was presented as much more complicated than it needed to be. It also looked to be very well researched, and highly thematic. You have species of animals, and over the course of the game you obtain Adaptations to make them stronger and more versatile so they can spread to more places. At it's heart, the game is a majority scoring game, with Auctions as it's main mechanism - you bid for an Adaptation card each turn (which also triggers a random event when drawn, of course), which may allow you to spread to more spaces on the board. When a scoring card comes up (random event on card = scoring), whoever has the most units on the board scores 1/2 the available VP, and the rest of the players score the rest. After the auction phase, everyone gets a chance to grow or shrink 1 size level, flip from Herbivore to Carnivore or back, and reproduce and/or move on the board. After that, any space with more than 1 herbivore in it must be culled - only 1 herbivore and 1 carnivore per space is allowed. There are specific tiebreaker rules for this, and the adaptations help you win these fights. The idea is that the better adapted species eats the food, and the other one starves out. Carnivores have a similar hierarchy. Perhaps counter-intuitively, when you have a carnivore and an herbivore in the same location, the latter is not removed from the board, rather they co-exist in equilibrium (imagine a handful of lions and thousands of deer).

So the game is about getting the right adaptations and choosing to be a carnivore or herbivore based on whether you'll be able to survive and keep guys on the board. It seemed pretty solid in concept, but I did give Phil a handful of comments for some specific things that I thought would make the game better. Which he liked or whether he takes any of them I don't know, but I'd be interested to see.

Chrono Gallery: Museum of Lost History

After Bios Megafauna, Phil, Mandy, Nick, and I played my bluff auction game. I made up a variant to the scoring system I'd used on Thursday's playtest at Brian's house - pretty much on the spot. It worked out pretty well, and I got a lot of good information from the test. Later that night, David came by and I discussed the game with him, and we brainstormed several other scoring systems, and when Ted showed up we tried a 3 player game and tried the most promising sounding system... and it worked really well! And it eliminates the need for Trophy bits.

Chrono Gallery is "in the fire" at this month's Gamesmiths meeting on Monday.

Eminent Domain - Exotic Expansion

Doug, Mandy, Sam, and Nick played a game of Eminent Domain with the Exotic expansion. Sam had maybe played once a long time ago, Nick had never played, Mandy had played EmDo a couple of times before, never with the expansion, and Doug has played a couple of times even with the Exotic stuff. We decided to dive right in with the full game (not the learning game), including the expansion (which is what I wanted to test, really). It went over pretty well - they weren't making expert plays, but both Sam and Nick picked the game up with no problem.

I liked the expansion stuff well enough that I've decided to finally upload it to DropBox (as I've been threatening to do) for interested people to print and play if they like.

All in all I believe yesterday was a highly successful, and a very fun day. I hope to do that more often, at least 1x/month.

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