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Mole Majority - Playtesting May 2015

17 May 2015

NOTE: There have been perhaps half a dozen playtests of this game that haven't been documented, including some at a tremendously useful game designer's retreat in late April this year. I have inconsistent Internet access these days so timely updates are hard to come by at the moment. HUGE thanks goes out to the folks at Table Treasures and Ben & Matthew of "Ben Con 2015" for their assistance with Mole Majority. :D

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This was my first playtest with the publisher-ready components. I have a new set of cards made, and stickers for both sides of the Home Tokens. It looks as close to what it would appear if it was published by a legit studio (though low-budget, of course), and the clearest match of my vision of the game to date.

CARD NOTES
The layout seems much improved on the cards, with the Stackable Bonuses being noted with a lighter-green background so players can see what stackable bonuses they have at a glance. I've also removed the word "OR" and replaced it with "AND" so there's no more confusion about whether or not a particular action is permitted with the cards. There's one card with the use of "THEN" on it, which helps clarify that the bonus is used along with that card instead of only when it's a stackable bonus.

I like the addition of the GROUNDSKEEPER in place of the HAWK ATTACK. It's a lot more thematically applicable. That, and I think I did a nice job with the placeholder artwork. :)

Playtesters keep mentioning Caddyshack. With the inclusion of the GROUNDSKEEPER, the connection is now nigh unavoidable. I doubt a license would be used, but hey I have no problem with that.

PLAYER DECKS
There are currently 18 cards in each player deck, and it felt like too many. I plan on removing some of the cards with 2's on them, since it felt disappointing sometimes to have a load of NUMBER 2 CARDS in my hand. At least one of the dropped cards will be one of the Cave-In/Make A Home cards: it seemed there were too many in the deck. I reckon I will keep the MOVE & BREED 2/+1 BREED BONUS cards, because those can at least be used as stackables.

The change of the CONVERT card to a stackable seemed to increase the number of Moles a player could place on a turn, but at the expense of the powerful CONVERT action. I think this is a fair trade-off at this point.

INSTRUCTIONS
I've updated the instructions, with full-colour representations of each of the hexes and each of the different cards (there are six different types in the player deck). There are also quick diagrams of sample hex layouts for 2-, 3-, and 4-player games. I think the only thing that would need more explanation would be the GROUNDSKEEPER card, but we'll see. I'm about 85% ready for a blind playtest with this title.

THIS PLAYTEST
Generally speaking, it went great. The "dead hands" issues seem to have been solved for the time being. I may need to go back to a lesser hand for the first player (a rule I had abandoned for simplicity's sake), though honestly the Red player victory could be attributed to Blue losing their home hex to a combination GROUNDSKEEPER/CONVERT during two of Red's turns in a row. More playtesting is required, and I'll check this in particular.

Otherwise, things are smooth. I'm feeling confident with this design at the moment. Scores were Red 33, Black 28, Orange 25, Blue 24 (they were robbed early on by Red!). I will need to follow-up with the trend of point values ending up consistent with player order in descending order (that is, first player has the highest score while fourth player has the lowest). Hand management/balancing will likely solve this if it's a persistent problem.

I'm already trying to rack my brain for expansion ideas in the event a publisher is looking for different cards to add into the game and/or expansions. That will take some time. But it's worth checking into...

NEXT STEPS
It's time to put together a list of publishers to contact about seeing this title. I also want to put together a how-to-play video and eventually upload it to YouTube. This can assist anyone who play/tests the game. There are a few photos I snapped of the current iteration of the game with the updated components, so updating this game journal and my website will be worth doing very soon.

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