Sunday, September 24, 2017

Recent testing: Deities & Demigods

It's been about 3 months since anything has happened with Deities & Demigods. The last changes I made were adding Hera cards to determine start player each round (instead of the Olympus track), and on Matthew's suggestion I added 1 Demeter card to the Olympus deck -- when Demeter comes up, each player individually chooses any deity to either show devotion to or to activate. I also created a whole bunch of player powers to try out, but before using those, I really felt I needed people who knew the game.

So a couple of weeks ago I decided to teach my new group of regular playtesters the game (without player powers). The first time we played, we used Demeter, and I'm a little unsure about that card. It does add some interesting dynamics to the game, but it also makes the game a lot longer, and it allows all players to get a LOT more done, to the point where I fear it feels too much like everyone can do everything. One solution could be to make things cost more (quests harder to achieve, etc). Another is to just not have Demeter (I've played dozens of games without him, and the game seemed fine), though that does miss out on the interesting aspects of adding him. He could be a sort of promo card (a single card that makes a significant difference in the game).

The following week, we played again - this time without Demeter. I still feel like he added interesting things, but I'm not sure I really missed him either.

A bigger problem is that I worry buildings are too strong (and therefore Hephaestus is too important), at least relative to the other deities. One reason might be because the Favor of Hephaestus rewards you for building, and buildings are worth points. By contrast, Hermes favor rewards you for having high devotion, which is decidedly NOT worth points, and therefore ought to be worth a lot more (maybe 0/2/4 instead of 0/1/2 for example). Ares rewards you for spreading out, which is worth a little bit of points, but it also encourages you to not fight for majorities, which is a little weird. I was thinking I should amplify the Ares scoring card to something like "double your endgame city points" or else "3/2/1vp for majority/tied/present in each city." That latter would be the same as it is now if you put 1 guy in each city, a little more if that 1 guy earns you majority or ties for it. The former would help whether you spread your guys out, or pile onto a couple of cities. It actually favors piling onto 2 cities and getting 1st, but that leaves points for other players in other cities too, so maybe it's OK.

A couple of new buildings I tried might be a little out of control - for example one that says "double the number of favor tokens you have." Most of the buildings are worth 4 points or so, maybe a little more if you do a good job (collecting 5 Gardens of Babylon for example makes them worth 5 points each). There's not much upper limit on the score for a building that doubles your favor tokens. If you happen to have 13 of them when the building comes up, then you get a HUGE benefit, in some ways due to luck of the draw. I'm also not sure I want to be the player who feels like he has to take that building for little or no benefit to stop another player from getting such a boon.

I had been thinking that game was about done, but maybe it could still use a few tweaks, and that's before even trying the player powers. And I still would like to one day try the Hades module!

TL;DR: Things to try in future plays...
* Double reward for Hermes favor
* Increase reward for Ares favor (double city vp? 3/2/1vp for 1st/tied/present in each city?)
* Don't use Demeter, see if it's really necessry
* Watch out for certain buildings that are potentially worth too much
* Consider reducing the benefit of some of the artifacts - maybe they don't need so much benefit. They should be worth about the same as 3 gold or 2 troop movement, I think. Which probably just means not having the icon in the corner at all.


Glenn said...

You say 'him' when speaking of Demeter, but classically, she's female.

Zedior said...

This game sounds so cool, if you need blind playtesters, I'd love to try it out!