Friday, May 04, 2007

Saturday: playtesting

Lee, Larry, Tim, and I went over to a friend's place to playtest a game in Chris' portfolio. The game's called "Spoils of War," and is essentially a realtime, cooperative game that several of his designers have been working on for many years. (I'm going to be deliberately vague here, so as not to spoil everything.)

It was an experience. I was in a grumpy mood, and the game turned out to be a hardcore race against time, with game-driven attrition. I hate attrition games in general- Taj Mahal stands as a perfect example. Nothing wrong with the game, just my preference.

Nevertheless, this game was interesting. All the players were moving around and attempting to achieve goals on a board filled with monsters. We played through one scenario, then broke for lunch, then resumed for a second, tougher scenario. As it happened, we did lose against the game the second time through, most likely due to a terrible starting position.

There are two games of the same cooperative nature I've played before, with similar losses possible: Shadows Over Camelot, and Arkham Horror. Both are prone to inducing analysis-paralysis. Both also take too long - Shadows isn't cool. Spoils of War didn't do that.

My main concerns about the game are as follows:

1. The rate of attrition is too high to be fun for me. If I had a chance to kill more monsters, I would. As it stands, monsters sit around, unless they are charging toward me.
2. The granularity of monster attacks as they scale upward is too large. (e.g. some monsters which use up half your starting resources to kill can suddenly triple in size.)
3. There's not enough distinction between characters.
4. Players don't have anything else to do besides go for the obvious. Maybe introduce other factors?
5. I wanted more, actual, interesting decisions in my hand.
6. The prison rules were iffy, and didn't feel dramatic enough.
7. The captives rule where everyone involved stops moving was not followed well.
8. The location card removal should be moved away from the original phase. If not, I think the endgame's outcome may depend on the random draw of the players' decks.


Post a Comment

<< Home