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First Playtest of Rumors of Chaos

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keirion
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Joined: 06/17/2016

I conducted the first playtest of my game last night and I just wanted to share the growing pains with all you fine folks. The rest of the text is all copied and pasted from the actual blog (which you can with a bonus nifty picture of my prototype here: http://www.epicnerd.net/2016/06/first-play-test.html)

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Last night I performed the first playtest of the first draft of Rumors of Chaos! It was fun and exhilarating and all of the rules actually made sense together and it sucked.

Balancing was off in a number of ways, as is to be expected. Some bad things were too easy. Others were way too hard. The Heroes moved way too slowly in locations other than roads. The enemies were progressing way too quickly. The Heroes resigned when in one turn, three villages fell and one of the Heroes was defeated, all of which multiplied to cause the second Lieutenant and the Mastermind to both appear at once as well as increasing the Rumor Track to 4 cards a turn, where they couldn't even handle 2 a turn. The game would have ended quickly after that and the Heroes decided to resign. No, that's not why it sucked. As unbalanced as it was, it was a fun, if somewhat amusingly depressing story that took place. The defeated Hero was actually struck by lightning.

It sucked, because a key mechanic felt clunky. You see, I designed it so that there's this deck of Rumor Cards. As each one is drawn, it's kept face down and starts moving along this track. When it moves onto the track, it's randomly assigned a location. When it gets to the end of the track, if the Heroes haven't already dealt with it, then it's Realized and bad stuff happens. As the game progresses, more cards are drawn and move down the track faster each turn, balancing out the Heroes becoming more powerful from leveling up and gear.

All of this sounds great on paper, but when I actually tried it, it became clunky in several ways. First, there's rolling a die for each new Rumor Card to find out where it is. Then there's checking to make sure that location's not already occupied. After that you have to find the right token for that location. Then, I discovered it really didn't work to have a token on the Rumor Card but not the location, because then I'm constantly having to search the board to figure out which locations are for which cards. Additionally, a number of these cards cause you to fight monsters. I either have to figure out how to have all the content for the monsters on the card, which might be doable, or I have to have an easier way of referencing each monster.

So now here I am after the very first playtest having to figure out how to change this mechanic to deal with all of these different quite clunky aspects to it, while still keeping it an interesting mechanic that allows for different adventure experiences with each play through.

Casamyr
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Joined: 07/28/2008
You could use a similar idea

You could use a similar idea from Eldritch Horror in that you have a number of tokens just off to the side of the board that have all the locations on it (numbered would be better for ease of finding it). So when the rumour enters play, you simply draw a rumour token (for ease of naming conventions), check the number location number then place it there.

You will really need two sets of rumour tokens for each rumour. Possibly jsut the same iconography, just in different colours, so that it is easy to tell at a glance which rumour is where on the board. However, that could cause issues for people who are colour blind.

X3M
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Joined: 10/28/2013
Good that you playtested

Good that you playtested it.
Now to make things better.

And I am sure that everyone will pitch in.

The board looks promising.

For the most pressing problem. I would like to know how you determine where each rumor is located.

A possible suggestion:
Perhaps they don't have to go down a track. Just keep the entire pack of cards ready. And simply place a count down on it. When it reaches 0. The card is activated. And for the next one, add a counter again.
These counters can be random. And perhaps the opposite of the skills of your hero's. For example. It takes a max of 12 turns before the first card is activated. For the second. Your hero's m8ght have gone 2 levels up. Than the max might be 10 turns?

If the game is too difficult. Just adjust one thing at a time and solo test it again. Don't change everything right away. (From personnal painful experience)

keirion
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Joined: 06/17/2016
Thanks for the great

Thanks for the great feedback!

Casamyr wrote:
You could use a similar idea from Eldritch Horror in that you have a number of tokens just off to the side of the board that have all the locations on it (numbered would be better for ease of finding it). So when the rumour enters play, you simply draw a rumour token (for ease of naming conventions), check the number location number then place it there.

You will really need two sets of rumour tokens for each rumour. Possibly jsut the same iconography, just in different colours, so that it is easy to tell at a glance which rumour is where on the board. However, that could cause issues for people who are colour blind.

This would make the visuals more clear but I'm worried it wouldn't necessarily fix the amount of busywork that takes place to keep track of them.

X3M wrote:
Good that you playtested it.
Now to make things better.

And I am sure that everyone will pitch in.

The board looks promising.

For the most pressing problem. I would like to know how you determine where each rumor is located.

A possible suggestion:
Perhaps they don't have to go down a track. Just keep the entire pack of cards ready. And simply place a count down on it. When it reaches 0. The card is activated. And for the next one, add a counter again.
These counters can be random. And perhaps the opposite of the skills of your hero's. For example. It takes a max of 12 turns before the first card is activated. For the second. Your hero's m8ght have gone 2 levels up. Than the max might be 10 turns?

If the game is too difficult. Just adjust one thing at a time and solo test it again. Don't change everything right away. (From personnal painful experience)

In the current iteration the rumors each have a terrain type on their card back and you roll a die for that terrain type (for example, plains have 8 spots so you roll a d8) and the rumor is placed at the number shown. If there's already a rumor at that location, rather than rerolling trying to get a new number, you simply discard that rumor and increase the chaos level. As you can imagine, that can add a lot of busywork.

A big part of the gameplay is supposed to be that players are able to get to the rumors before they get to the end of the track, find out what they are, and possibly stop them. For example, one card puts a band of orcs in that hex, but if you get there first and deal with it, they're weaker and therefore easier to deal with.

One big iteration I'm currently mulling over and trying to create a bit of concept work for that I think would potentially fix this while keeping the same feel of the game is to replace the cards with tiles. At the start of the game you could shuffle and place say 30 tiles on the board, each with a chaos level where they'll be activated if the players don't deal with them first.

That way it's all on the board at the start if the game, which would add a little bit of setup time but would drastically reduce the down time in between game rounds. It would also give that visual feel right away. Based on the current board layout that I have (22"x32"), I could remove the rumor and increase the map size to make hexes 1.75" edge to edge, which isn't Catan size by any means but definitely large enough to get a decent amount of info on each tile.

Any thoughts on that iteration concept?

Squinshee
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Joined: 10/17/2012
Congrats on playtesting! It's

Congrats on playtesting! It's such a vital component to game development as you get to experience first hand what is and isn't working. I wish you luck and improvement with each iteration.

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