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Playtest Observations

January 20, 2011

I had a chance to really playtest the game on Monday, but with 2 players rather than solo. My son, Xander, and I played the Champion for almost 6 hours straight. We had some key observations that I think we’ll need to incorporate into the rules…

  • Combat takes a while…particularly at the beginning of the game. When the characters had only a few points in categories, waiting for the right cards to come up took a long time (as you could probably tell from the Laird Strongblood Turn 3 entry). That’s ok…it sort of mimics the new character progression…things are tough at the beginning, but much easier later.
  • One problem that we had was that when we started the game, a new evil location came up almost immediately. It was HARD to deal with that and it eventually wound up beating us outright.
  • We realized that the Evil Presence turn was a little unbalanced. As my son put it, “Nothing ever happens good for us in this game”…meaning that the evil just keeps growing, but our good locations stagnate. I thought that the Champion represented what was happening for the good side, but that didn’t seem to be enough. After my second character died using the same map, we tried changing the table for the Evil Presence turn so that nothing happens on a draw of hearts or diamonds. That seemed to give the characters a breather and I think was more satisfying for us as players.
  • The 10×10 grid may be too big. It took quite a while before we made it to the Evil Presence location. It seems like a smaller grid will allow a quicker confrontation with the Evil Presence…though that might not be in the best interests of the Champion if s/he doesn’t have a lot of resources.
  • A great suggestion from my son was to wait a bit before the Evil Presence starts taking action. He liked the set up in a board game we got for Christmas (Betrayal at the House on the Hill). In that game the players explore a haunted house until a condition is met (rolling dice)…which triggers the possession of one of the player characters. So his idea was to let the characters explore the land a bit…fill in the terrain on the grid…then “wake up” the Evil Presence. I have to put some thought into it, but it might be that the Evil Presence goes on the move once a certain number of squares are explored. I initially thought 25 squares or an attack on the Evil Presence would do it. Right now I’m thinking that the Evil Presence wakes (starts drawing cards) with one of the following conditions: (a) a direct attack on the Evil Presence; (b) an Evil location other than the Evil Presence is revealed; or (c) 10 turns…whichever comes first.
  • We played the game cooperatively and wound up losing. I’d imagine this could also be played with one person playing as the Evil Presence…controlling the Big Bad (or perhaps and evil Champion) just the way the regular player does. Combat wouldn’t be any different. That might be an interesting variation.
  • A last thought I had as I was playing with my son was that it might be cool to use the hex tiles from Settlers of Catan to set up a map…with farmland tiles counting as desert. You’d shuffle them and put them face down…then flip them as they’re explored. When a tile is flipped a card is drawn to see if there’s a good or evil location on that terrain (if a face card shows). I might try testing that out next time we play…which I hope will be soon.
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