Monday, April 16, 2018

Notes from Playtest One Hundred and Twenty-two

Two player game, really fun!

What we tried

Moccasins remain at two points cost.


Spring - all players score points for claiming as many spaces next to the village as they can.
Summer - score points for claiming 3 spaces at the edge of the board.
Fall - score points for having your hunt and gather scores close to each other.

Season notes

The Spring public goal might be ignorable. It is probably better to focus on the Summer goal from the beginning.

Rules notes

A clarification that has come up a few times recently: do have to explore? The answer is: no.

Event notes

Rockslide: still need to fix the wording to clarify that other players must come help you if they can. Idea: if there is another player within 3 spaces give them this card and they must help you. That way their plans get messed up, but they get the event.

Tornado: player to left picks if two longest paths tie, otherwise you just move the longest.

To try next

Moccasins costing 3 points. Opening with gatherer might be too clearly the right choice now.

I like the way the Summer goal encourages players to explore away from the village. Between that and the events in the corners, the board is now being fully utilized in ways that it wasn't before. I think I need new public Spring goals, shared if possible, that are not at odds with the Summer goals, because otherwise players have no incentive to make a sub-optimal play so that everyone can get some extra points.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Notes from Playtest One Hundred and Twenty-one

Playtest at GuildHall in Burbank

What we tried

Moccasins still cost two, but now let you move 5 spaces.

Rules notes

Cybil observed that a common new player anxiety is about characters being on the same space, whether others players are your own.

Fall 3A: clarify that it counts all scores up to this point, not just this season. Everyone got a goal.

Idea: roll the dice where to place the village at the start of the game.

Goal notes

Homebodies - Need to explain what kind of tie it is referring to.

Territorial - complaint of not enough points. This might be valid

Paranoid (none of your spaces touching more than one of your other claimed spaces) - this easier with moccasins.

Haggler - clarify that you must have at least one tile that you collected but did not score.

Speaker for the Dead - pull out if Fall gives a goal.

Event notes

Tall tree - clarify don't flip events.

Tornado worked, didn't move far but swept someone up.

Wise woman: change it so player draws and looks at them, other player mixes them up and placed them within 2 spaces.

Event idea: there is a traitor in the village. Die.

Graphic design notes

Weapons should have a + to indicate that you want to roll that number or higher.

Flip event resources? Poll players where they want to put them, under goal?

Player aid should have the number of each animal and plant that there are.

If at all possible, I need to make the Season text larger, and increase the space between lines. That might mean moving the tile stacks to next to the cards. They're just really hard to read upside down now, and you need to leave them on the board.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Notes from Playtest One Hundred and Twenty

End of the 2 player game, pushing the limits of movement to get more events. 

A two player game with Lester and myself.

What we tried

Taped the knife and default seasons to the board where they will be built in to the art. That will save on components (at 18 cards per sheet, it's critical to not add a 19th card), and also speed up setup time for first play and demos, not having to set out season cards.

Events can be combined in any order to manipulate the market. When you return to the village you may present any number of events that you will be using, and proceed to use their resources in any order.

"A" Seasons, taped directly to the board.

  • Spring: avoid leaving face down tiles on the board. We left 1, so scored 2 points each, a helpful boost, I picked up pouch + torch + mocassins.
  • Summer: 3 points for having claimed a corner space. We went in separate directions and did not have a problem, but did start working towards this in the Spring, barely claimed any spaces near the village.
  • Fall: 2 points for having scored the same number of plants as animals. We both missed this by a turn or two. 

New Equipment: Moccasins!


Standing stones claimed claimed 3 spaces, including the corner space needed for the season goal. It's too powerful to get to explore again.

Rockslide: I need to clarify when others must help you (not immediately, on their turn).

Village on Fire: it burned down! It moved two spaces, stranding both my characters two turns away. Epic! Totally shaped the end game, I was catching up, so Lester raced out the clock, ending the game before I could get both my characters home to score.

This was a very tight game! Lester did very well, and I picked up some bad tiles near the beginning, so I was scrambling to catch up the whole game. Lester also controlled the western edge of the board, picking up all those events to manipulate the resources in the marketplace. Somehow, probably through more experience with the marketplace, and some good luck (my Gambler goal found one I could score), brought the scores to a tie at the end. I won the tie break.

Play length: 80 minutes.

To try next

Moccasins weren't super impressive. I did use them once to reach something I wouldn't have been able to, but shortly after traded them in for a spear. I want to see what happens if they let the gatherer move 5 spaces. It might be broken, but might not.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Notes from Playtest One Hundred and Nineteen

Two player game at the end, scores within one point

What we tried

Moved the Bow costs back up to 5, left the damage down at 1. Arrows moved back down to 0.
As with the last test, Sling costs 2, does 2 damage.

Seasons: Summer and Fall don't give out free extra goals.

One event per season instead of two (mixed into a pile of 6 plants and animals). Three events along the western edge of the board.

  • Spring: not leaving empty space next to the village.
  • Summer: two spaces at the edge.
  • Fall: collected the same number of plants as animals


The board at the end of Spring. We failed at the shared goal.
Dan, playing white, has almost accomplished the Summer goal.

Summer goal of claiming two edge spaces we both accomplished at the end of spring or early summer, it was too easy. I want to try 3 points for 3 edge spaces, and 1 point for two.

Fall - I was off by one so got the alternative prize of two points. Players should only score one for not fully accomplishing the goal (this one is good and hard!). Players should only have reveal their tiles if they are scoring points, that way players who do score points are the only ones that have to show un-scores tiles, which is very undesirable, especially it it's a plant.

Events are fun! Here's Cornucopia breaking hard for the active player.
The other player scored 2 points less, but the marketplace has to be just
like this.

I did something mean as a player. I think it backfired, but I hadn't seen it done before. I used an event to drop a resource (meat) to the bottom after selling my own tiles, because I knew he wanted to score that resource (a boar). This would likely only ever be done in a two player game.

Neither of us got even a single extra goal. We both accomplished our goals, and I won by a single point.

The players took about 90 minutes.

To try next

Paint the base of the miniatures red and green to tell them apart.

Put a compass rose on the board.

The weapons are good like this for a while. See my recent analysis.

Maybe one of the seasons should give out a goal? Two seasons giving them was too many. Only getting a goal by dying in the summer and fall does stop the strategy of trying to die at the start of the game, which is good.

One event per season was enough I think, considering that we blazed trails to the corners and edges to unlock the events on the board. That might be harder with more players, but I do plan to add new Gatherer equipment Moccasins to increase movement.

When spending events in the marketplace, the game should allow you to declare that you are using any number of them, and then mix and match the order you manipulate resources from any cards you play.

Hunting Equipment In Context

Here is the current state of things...

WeaponCostDmg.RollHitx2 Hitsx3x4

Bow & Arrows5 & 02791%82%

Dmg. = Damage

Problems: the Bow is better than the Atlatl in every way. It costs 1 more, but that doesn't include the cost of ammunition (0 for arrows vs. 2 for spears). The Sling is a weapon only good for hunting very small game, which doesn't score much.

(changes in red)
WeaponCostDmg.RollHitx2 Hitsx3x4


Bow & Arrows5 & 11791%82%75%68%

Balancing the equipment is an ongoing challenge, especially when you look at perceived value vs. actual value. The bell curve of three six-sided dice does a lot to conceal the math, which is good because I want people picking equipment based on theme, based on what they intend to hunt.

But looking at the math in isolation leaves out a bunch of variables. This isn't D&D, where you're buying equipment to go up against unknown challenges. We know what we're hunting.

Let's look at this from a different perspective. What weapons are best for hunting what animals? Taking it further, I'll give each weapon letter grades (A: 90-100, B: 80-89, C: 70-79, D: 60-69, E: 50-59, F: <50), against each animal, and highlight the best.

(new) Bird Rabbit Deer Boar Wolf Bear
Club E E E E E E
Sling C C C E E E
Spear D D D D D F
Atlatl B B B B B B
Bow & Arrows A A B C C D

Now let's compare that to before the changes above. With this full context, it's easier to see that the Bow was overpowered and the Sling was weak.

(old) Bird Rabbit Deer Boar Wolf Bear
Club E E E E E E
Sling C C E F F F
Spear D D D D D E
Atlatl B B B B B B
Bow & Arrows A A A B B B

Let's look at the average odds against a random animal (taking the animal distribution into account). But remember, if you're paying attention you won't be hunting blind, so you can improve these odds by taking a more appropriate weapon.


The next thing to think about would be costs and logistics. You can't afford an Atlatl or Bow at the start of the game. The Bow requires slightly more overhead, but the arrows are free. You do run into equipment carrying limits, you can only just carry enough arrows at once to kill a bear. Atlatl is much more efficient, but spears are expensive. There's a nice upgrade path to starting out with a Spear, and picking up an Atlatl to improve it later. The sling is solid all around, but not great, and not the cheapest. The club is still the best option, especially when you're poor, to YOLO a bear.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Notes from Playtest One Hundred and Eighteen

There were only two players, so I joined this playtest myself

What we tried

The cost of arrows was restored to 1 point. Bow & Arrows was overpowered, costing only one more than Atlatl, but being better at shooting everything and with free ammunition. The Bow cost was lowered to 4, but the damage reduced to 1. Sling damage was increased to 2.

Spring: Public Goal of having 0, 1, or 2 face down tiles on board.
Summer: Public Goal of claiming an edge space (too easy).
Fall: balance scores


  • Two arrows and two knife stabs, killed a bear!
  • Death on seasons needs to clarify that this when you revive or die (leaving burial ground vs. dying).
  • Bow has an ammunition cost problem.

Graphic Design & Corrections

  • Number the seasons, and maybe use arrows to reinforce the order.
  • Goal should say ALWAYS draw 2 keep 1.
  • Things that give you retries need to say crystal.
  • Winter is misspelled on winter season, capitalization not consistent "players" and "end".
  • Crack shot still says squirrels.

Goals & Events

  • Gambler: note that happens at end
  • Wise Woman: needs to say what happens at end, explore his space again?
  • Wandering Trader: still sucks. Maybe he creates a new village?
  • Tornado: actually did something, one player couldn't make it home. Wouldn't it be great if it always did something fun? I could make it choose the longest available path.
  • Territorial: does it need "in a group?".
  • Hapless was easily scored, but probably because I also had Temperate, and was unable to score more points the last couple turns.
  • Gambler did not draw a goal that could be scored.
  • Rockslide: (should have the character knocked on it's side as a reminder) One player, with the secret goal Isolationist, was caught in a rockslide and, because nobody else was near enough, had to rescue himself.

The hunter in the lower-right is trapped under a rockslide,
must be rescued by the same player's gatherer.


  • Create new village on the western edge?
  • Season cards should say END under the tiles
  • Could key events off of how many events have been drawn.
  • Death idea: don't discard lost tiles, they go under the deadly animal. Player that kills the deadly scores them immediately at lowest market value.
  • Equipment: single use 2-3 cost item that lets you draw pick a tile. Time to try the moccasins!
  • Special locations (altar) items (artifacts) or animals (mammoth, sabber tooth) at the western edge of board. 

Length of play pushing 120 minutes.

To try next

Only one event per season, less down time. More events on the board? Yes, 3 on the western edge.

Reduce the cost of arrows back to zero.

The Summer goal of claiming edge spaces should require two spaces be claimed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Secret Goals Revisited

I've revised all the secret goals, scaling the points down to 1-3. Remember, these points are scored after the higher score is removed, so 3 points from a goal is like 6 points scored during the game.

Also, based on feedback from the cruise, more of the games are partially achievable, rather than all or nothing.

If seasons do end up giving out secret goals then Speakers for the Dead will have to be removed. I have a couple new candidates to replace it: Gamblers, a new version of an earlier goal, drawing 3 goals brings it closer to Copycats in power, and a new one Hapless, that uses the new "retries" concept.