I posted about a recent 5p test with my newfound playtest group, and since then I've gotten Winds of Fate to the table twice: with 4 players at Unpub Mini Az, and with 5 again last night.
Outcomes and the Death SpiralFor some reason - and I'm not 100% sure why - in both of those games the death spiral didn't occur, and in fact the Unpub game ended with a Safe Return, and in 2 different rounds last night Odysseus almost made it home as well. I changed the rule to be that after encountering a face down tile, the gods decide which direction Odysseus will go, but in neither case did that really come up. Perhaps players weren't driving him towards a death spiral - that could have contributed to the difference.
God TilesThe god tiles seemed to have more of an impact in these last games as well, which is good. I think doubling up on their number was a good choice. In the next test I might reverse the scoring such that you get 2/6/12/20vp for having 1/2/3/4 DIFFERENT god tiles (rather than matching tiles). That way you get better score for diversifying, but you get stronger effects by specializing (like if you have 3 Hades tiles, you can kill off a lot of crew).
I'm also considering making Zeus "wild" and therefore trigger for EACH event (kill crew with Hades, revive crew with Dionysus, draw cards with Hermes) - but I'm not sure about that. I guess it would only matter for the players who get the Zeus tiles at Troy (first round), which might reward luck of the draw a bit.
Game LengthBoth of these two playtests went very well, and the players all liked the game. The 4 player game took about an hour and a half, and the 5 player game took about 2 hours. Any longer and I think it would have been too long, but neither game seemed to overstay its welcome.
Reward + Consolation Reverse Turn OrderIn both of those games I awarded both a Reward Tile and the Consolation when players passed, and that worked very well. I forgot at Unpub, but last night I awarded 1 additional card if you passed without having played any cards, and that worked, but I think I'll skip it from now on I don't think it's really necessary, it's an extra rule, and I don't like the idea of encouraging people to NOT play cards.
As for the number of rounds, last night they played through 7 rounds. At Unpub I think it was 6. In most cases it seems like maybe it's too easy to push the game toward round 12 with all the ways to advance the round marker. This may mean that Stranded is an easy outcome to bet on, or to make happen. I don't like that. I'm going to try changing the "advance round marker" action provided by one Reward tile and one card in each deck changed to "move the round marker up to 1 space in either direction."
Timeline and Destiny RewardsI've been using the "add 1 cube per player, and then divide all cubes between qualifying shares" format, and it has worked alright, but it's complicated to explain and it involves more math than it should to resolve. For the Timeline bet I think I'll go back to a static pool of VPs. I used to use 30vp, which seemed to work, but maybe scaling it for player count would be better. So I might try 5vp/player, or 15/20/25vp for 3/4/5 players.
For the Destiny reward I might do the same thing, but for the next test I'll try something a little different... I am thinking that players could take a Destiny action each round when they place their Path bet (so you place 2 cubes, not just 1), and then at the end of the game the player with the most cubes on the correct outcome gets a bonus (a Zeus tile), and then players simply gather up their cubes from the correct outcome. I figure games will last about 6-8 rounds, so if you pick an outcome and stick with it every turn, and it turns out to be correct, then you'll score 12-16 points, plus maybe a bonus worth 2, 4, 6, or 8 points.