Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Notes from Fifty-third Playtest

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Rules Tried
When a character dies, you re-spawn with one new goal in addition to the one(s) you already had.

Largest Territory scores 2 points.

Secret Goals
Friendly Neighbor: Definitely altered player behavior leading them to make an unexpected move. I think that's what I like most about these secret goals, you don't know what everyone is up to, but once you're familiar with them you can guess. And then once people start guessing and blocking, players can start bluffing too.

Productive: As I'd hoped this goal encouraged the player to adjust his strategy in order to accomplish the goal and hunt instead of sell on the last turn.

Homebody: This goal also encouraged a shift in strategy, getting a the player to hunt a squirrel he wouldn't have otherwise.

Hoarder: This one is tricky if you pick it up later on, but is usually good for a couple points.

Master Scout: Now this one was impressive. With 3 tiles on the board, two of them were wolves that had been recently revealed, but the third he deduced based on what I didn't pick up, and when I didn't sell. Very impressive, a good challenging goal, and I think it's appropriately pointed.

Explorer: I could easily have accomplished this if I was paying more attention. I'd already started down the route of building a path away from the others (so they couldn't poach the bear I was trying to find). Maybe 5 points is too much to reward what is already a good strategy?

Brave: I accidentally accomplished the second half of this goal for 3 points by killing 2 bear. Since the primary reward is so high, it probably shouldn't have a secondary goal anymore, now that you can get multiple goals.

Bear Wrestler: I need to do the math on this one, it's hard! But I like that it encourages risky behavior. Especially since dying now rewards an extra goal. What I don't like about this goal is that you have to reveal it. It's not fair to set the precedent of requiring players to remember how one particular animal was killed.

New Ideas
4 points worth of equipment plus a new goal may be too much reward for dying. The point cost of equipment is down to where you can get 2-3 items for 4 points. We should try just 3.

As we develop goals, now that it is possible to get several of them, and you get to pick one from 2 options at the beginning, the high risk high reward goals shouldn't have secondary goals anymore.

I want to try moving the Largest Territory bonus into the secret goals system as just another goal. I don't like the way it rewards the player who is probably winning already. There's already ease of movement advantage to be had by grouping your claimed spaces, especially in a path. But we'll have to test it, there is a legitimate concern that players will just start poaching all the time, opportunistically grabbing spaces without strategy.

But I also think poaching is a good strategy that people don't use enough. Knowing what it is you're up against greatly improves your odds, and it adds a nice level of conflict to the game.

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