Friday, August 14, 2015

Odysseus: Winds of Fate - 5p playtest with recent changes

Last night I had some players over to playtest - and I think these players are down to become a regular playtest group! I'm really excited about that. They're great, enthusiastic players who are willing and eager to play prototypes.

Playtest Night!

Last night we began with a game of Now Boarding while we waited for everyone to arrive. That game went alright, but it will need some ore testing to determine whether it's "just ok" or if it can be a great co-op game worthy of publication.

Odysseus: Winds of Fate

Once everyone arrived, I got out Odysseus: Winds of Fate because I really wanted to try it out with the recent changes I made to the prototype. I was a little unhappy with how fiddly the game is to explain, and I worry that that's a symptom of a bigger problem (that the game is too fiddly)... some of the players didn't fully grasp what was going on at first, though by about 1/2 way through I think everyone knew what was happening.

New cards - Adventure vs God tile
The new cards with an inverse relationship between Adventure value and God icons worked very well. I'm not sure why I didn't try that sooner - hopefully the answer isn't some dumb reason like I was too lazy to update the prototype!

Claim Rewards In Reverse Turn Order

I tried claiming rewards upon passing, so in reverse turn order, and that seemed to work well too. I liked the sound of removing the consolation to make the game less fiddly, but worried that card flow would be too low. In a moment of weakness I decided to try this: when passing, you claim a reward token, then EITHER take the reward OR you get your consolation based on passing order. I regretted this almost immediately. At first I felt like there was not enough card recharge... in the end that turned out to be not necessarily true, players were able to get cards if they wanted them most of the time, at the expense of the reward on the tile sometimes. The problem was more that players were OFTEN  choosing the consolation over the reward! This could mean a couple of things... maybe the consolation is too high,  maybe the rewards are too small. Either way, it was not fun to have to ignore all the interesting reward effects! I absolutely want to go back to getting BOTH the reward and the consolation - though it's possible that the strength of each of those may be off.

Extra Consolation If Passing Off The Bat

I forgot to include something that might be good... If you pass without having played any cards at all, I might like to award 1 additional card. This is a small thing, and may not be strictly necessary, but I like it for players who have spent all their cards to be able to recharge better. Then again, now that you get first pick of the rewards, maybe that's not necessary after all.

More God Tiles

I doubled up on the god tiles at each location. Actually, I didn't make more Zeus tiles, but I probably should have... The idea was to get more god tiles into the game, because I felt like players weren't getting enough of them. So at each location I had 2 tiles, and I awarded 1st choice to the player who played the most god icons, and 2nd choice to th player with 2nd most icons.

Of course, almost immediately I ran into the question of what happens on a tie. I had said "whoever played fewer cards wins the tie," but realistically that will often just leads to another tie. To solve that, I had the bright idea to add a unique index number to each card, and say that "the tied player who played the card with the highest index wins the tie," and then I painstakingly added a number from 1 to 72 on each card - numbering from high value to low (so the cards that fight for the god tile are better for tiebreaks on the god tile), swapping back and forth from Hinder to Help cards, trying to keep it fairly even. About 4 cards in I started saying to myself "you know, I should just break the ties based on turn order instead." I wrote all the damn indexes, so I'll try that next time, but I highly suspect I'll switch to simply breaking the tie in favor of the player earlier in turn order (the player who stuck in longer for this particular fight).

Destiny and Timeline Payoffs

I've been consternated about the payoffs for the Destiny and Timeline bets for some time. This time I tried using all of the cubes on the respective tracks, PLUS 1 cube per player, as the total prize pool for the bet, divided evenly between qualifying shares (you still get 2 shares for being exactly right on the Timeline bet, and 1 share for being off by 1). That seemed to work out, and I'll try it again next time.

I've been noticing that Safe Return seems to be less common, while most games end with a Dead or Stranded result. Most times Odysseus ends up in the "death spiral" - which may account for this discrepancy in destiny results. After the last few tests I've been thinking that when Odysseus encounters a face down tile, rather than a calculable outcome, I should just draw an Olympus card and let the gods choose which direction to send him. This would also allow for another of effect trigger, getting more god action in the game, and maybe this would remove the tendency toward the death spiral (though it could potentially still happen). I'll try that next time.

Next Test

I look forward to playing the game again. I've signed up to run it at the upcoming UnPub Mini AZ on August 29th, though I'd love to play it again before that.

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