Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Odysseus: Winds of Fate - revived once again (Nov 2014)

About this time last year I dusted off an old favorite... Odysseus: Winds of Fate. I had gotten some good feedback at BGGcon 2013, and I had some ideas I'd been meaning to implement. After two promising playtests at BGgcon 2013, I was saddened to have a crash and burn test after making some updates. :(

After that last post, I made those further updates, but haven't gotten the game out again since... until this year's BGGcon! I'm happy to say that I managed to get a test of Winds of Fate in at BGGcon 2014, and 2 of the players were Steve Behnke and Chris Johnson who played last year! A friend of theirs, and Tucsonans Dan Keltner and Jon Poeble joined in for a 5 player game. Having not seen the game in a year, I was woefully unprepared to teach it, and while I did, I was scrambling through handwritten notes on the rules to determine what I'd changed. That was embarrassing, and I kept apologizing for it, but eventually we got through the rules and were underway.

One thing I didn't remember until far too late was that I'd made 2 versions of the Reward Tiles which you keep as God Tiles - one with an icon indicating that it triggers, and one without. Seeing both come up, I scrambled to remember what they did, realizing 1/2 way through that in fact only one of those sets should have been used.

That hiccup aside, I thought the game went well! We did not run out of cards (which I think came up last year), but Dan did sort of hoard cards at the beginning, reminding me that I should probably institute a simple hand limit. Probably 10 cards total at the end of the round would do the trick, and allow players to balance their hands however they'd like.

I noticed during the game that I had no extra benefit for passing without playing any cards, something I thought I might have had before (though I don't recall anything), and something that the games I've modeled the card play mechanism after do have. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to allow an extra card draw if you pass without having played a card.

In my updated prototype, the Special cards, when played face up, said they were -1 to your personal contribution (and did not affect the Help/Hinder total). I had forgotten about the idea to simply disqualify you from the bonus tile, and -1 seemed inconsequential, so when I got home I upped that back to -2 (where it used to be), but now I'm considering that maybe it should just disqualify you from winning the bonus tile after all. Maybe I'll try that next time.

One of the problems that came up in the crash and burn test was that without any cubes on the Destiny cards to start with, if the prize pool is the cubes on the cards, then there's little to no reason to make Destiny bets. I had considered going back to the 30vp prize pool which seemed to work before, and indeed that's what I did in the playtest, but I could give John's suggestion one more try - I just need to add some cubes to the prize pool. In the latest rules update I indicated that the prize pool is all the cubes on the cards PLUS N cubes from the supply. That way there's some points to go for from the outset, and there's a reason to place Destiny bets with earned bets.

I suppose the Destiny action lets you put out a Destiny bet without costing you anything, but I'm not sure there are enough of those, and I want the Earned Bet to really be a choice between a Destiny bet and a Timeline bet - and I want both to be viable and attractive.

Players were unimpressed with the God tile scoring, specifically that you got nothing for having just 1 tile of a type. It occurs to me since they're being scored in the end game, there's no reason I have to award bet cubes for them - I can just say that they're worth 1/3/6/10 points or whatever for 1/2/3/4+ tiles. That might make players feel better about it. Also, I could allow a set of 1-of-each different God tiles to count, so you can score well by getting several of the same god, or by getting 1 of each god. There are 6 instances of each god (3 of Zeus), but there are only 3 gods (4 including Zeus)... does it make sense that a diverse set should be worth the same as a collected set?

Anyway, I'm very excited to see this game working again, and I think this might be the best version I've had to date (and to date I've had at least 5 different versions)! I'm looking forward to playing Winds of Fate again, hopefully very soon.

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