Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Alter Ego: playtests and progress

This weekend I got in several good playtests of Alter Ego! All 3p games, but importantly, one group played the game twice back to back, something that seldom happens in playtests. Many times at least one playtester is new to the game, and you don't get very deep into a game if you're always playing a learning game!

Game 1 ended in a loss in the 5th round. The players agreed to play again to see if they would play differently or perform better the 2nd time. Game 2 ended with a win in the 6th round, though there was a chance they would have lost right up until the end (though at the very end that chance got pretty low). I am not sure 5 or 6 rounds is enough to really let your deck change - I feel like the game ought to last a little longer than that. In the first game I had seeded the Arch Villains with 1 token each, but to increase the game length I didn't do that in the second game (as expected, the game took about 1 round longer).

In another 3 player game today (different players) I didn't seed the Arch Villains, and we played about 8 rounds (and then lost). We didn't play very well, and we strung out the Arch Villain triggers - which lengthens the game - until we eventually had only 1 token left for each AV - which is not a great position to be in.

It's possible I need to up the trigger threshold by 1 or 2 on each card, but I think I need to do some concentrated testing on that with various player counts. Currently I'm removing tokens rather than adding them, which makes it more clear how close each AV is to arriving, and I'm playing with the printed values for 3p, removing 2 for 2 players, and adding 2 for 4 players. So currently the average trigger value looks like this:
4p: 10
3P: 8
2P: 6

This should lead to a game that lasts 7-9 rounds, allowing players to add 7-9 cards to their deck (nearly doubling it).

In an effort to streamline the game, I think it might be best to move all the card drawing to the Support phase... currently you draw cards at the end of the Recoup phase, then you draw more cards during the support phase, and nothing happens in between. I have seen players have trouble keeping straight which pile of cards is their deck, which is their hand, and which is their discard pile. Since there's no real reason to look at your cars until after your fight phase anyway, it seems reasonable to simply put all the card drawing in the Support phase, so you just draw cards once.

Players have asked why the phases are in the order they're in... that's something I've actually gone back and forth on a bit. Currently it's Income, Support, Patrol, Fight because there are zero decisions involved in the Income phase and the Support phase (you just collect money and draw cards, maybe collect a teamwork token). There's 1 or 2 decisions to make in the Patrol phase (1. Which of these henchmen should I put into play, and possibly 2. which henchmen do I call the cops on). Maybe the Family phase should go AFTER the Fight phase, so you don't draw cards until you're about to ply them? Though then you can't really use Events that come up very well...

I updated the rules last night (see them here: http://sedjtroll.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_21.html). Time to go through and update the prototype...
* remove "draw cards" from Recoup phase.
* add 4 AE icons to the board in the support phase.
* change henchmen to eliminate "+1 hand size (that's the same as just drawing 1 more card).
* Add Badge icons to Community cards - link Calling Cops to badge icons, not community icons..
* adjust henchmen to have Badges as trophies (maybe just replacing the Hand Size icons with badges).
* Maybe update the Arch Villain cards to indicate number of tokens to use for each player count.
* Go through Equipment cards (especially Events) and update to work better under current rules.

1 comment:

MaxiPriest said...

Suggested update: Change game name to Altar Ego. Art revisions to show superheroes disguised as priests.