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Mole Majority at Unpub 5 - Feb 2015

7 Feb 2015

Had an absolute BLAST at Unpub this weekend! Two fellow designers and friends of mine offered to share their table for two hours, and I fit in two games with the updated rules, cards and hexes. These were folks who had never seen the game before, and who played it only with my explanation at the beginning and a bit of coaching from me throughout the game. Things couldn't have gone better, in my opinion. :)

GAME ONE: CASUAL PLAYERS
This was a "family game," with folks in a range of ages. One of the most satisfying things about this session was that I was able to step back after a while, since the players were all coaching one another on the rules...While at the same time lightly trash-talking whenever a particularly devastating HAWK ATTACK swept through.

When I explained the game setup, they placed their tiles in an asymmetrical arrangement:


The game progressed smoothly enough, with Orange and Red seeming to take an early lead.


Those two teams seemed to battle it out conservatively, choosing to shore up their borders with some Cave-Ins. Meanwhile, Blue was slowly-but surely solidifying their position.


Blue ended up blowing their opponents out of the water with a score over 50 points. The Home Tokens were a decisive factor in this, particularly with the rest of the scores being in the low- to mid-30's. Red's peninsula, although a distinct advantage, wasn't enough to help them secure a victory.


This group's feedback left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. General impression was positive and one of the highlights to their day's game schedule, and they had very little negative to say about their experience. Even so, they astutely pointed out the shift in dynamics from the beginning of the game expansiveness, to mid-game tension, and finally the third act when all hell breaks loose and there are HAWK ATTACK and CONVERT cards flying freely across the board.

"Cut-throat" was the way one player explained their impression of the endgame, while at the same time mentioning that it's a game they'd be comfortable playing with their kids, since the theme is accessible and relatively family-friendly.

GAME TWO: STRATEGY BUFFS

From their demeanor and general snappiness and level of attention throughout the game, I could tell these players had seen their fair share of strategy games in their time, and I was excited to see their impression.

The game started out with a run-of-the-mill "hex of hexes" layout, particularly after my clarification of tile-laying. However, Home Base tiles were asymmetrically placed.

Orange and Blue take an early lead.

Black never really seemed to start up any kind of engine, and was kind of left in the dust in terms of territory, but made up for it with Home Tokens. In fact, it came down to Black and Orange at the end in terms of who would take the final hex tile with a claim token.

Orange's offensive had never been successfully countered by far-reaching Blue or sluggish Black, while Red seemed to have meandered around the perimeter. Although scores were closer (and the game shorter) this time around, it was still a decisive victory of 33 points. Other scores were close, being 22, 26, and 27.

Pacing of the game was noted as another highlight from this testing crew, even though there had been a noticeable difference in the play length of the two groups. A "dead hand" was cited as being a +1 Breed Bonus, a HAWK ATTACK card, and a CONVERT CARD, though it had been addressed by discarding and drawing a full hand. I also saw a CONVERT card being used for a HAWK ATTACK so the player could empty their hand. I think this is okay, as it's technically a number card, though being a zero.

I would like to see a game session where someone consciously strives to sow chaos between two rivals with some well-placed HAWK ATTACK cards in the remote rival's borders. It would be nice to see just how devious a player could be against their opponents instead of making overt front-line assaults. Not necessarily a criticism of either group, but just an observation and curiosity.

My ruleset simply needs diagrams, and then I am confident it's ready to be shown to publishers. I was very happy after today's test games. :D

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