Join me on my continuing multi-part series as Martin and I attempt to turn our jumble of half-conceived brain sparks into our first fully functioning board game.
Part Seven - Testing Friendships
This was the first sustained amount of Kaijukazi play-testing with people other than me and Martin.
I’d recently formed new friendships with Sam and Callum through board gaming and we had started to meet up sporadically outside of the bi-monthly session in Milton Keynes. Callum, tall, looks a bit like the lead singer of Keane, had the kind of mind that delighted in solving problems. Sam, a young, comparatively sleight Chinese fellow, was new to board games so he still had the optimistic, open minded approach to the hobby; untarnished by years of playing. Our game felt in good hands while we remained aware of the fact that the feedback could be a little skewed to avoid hurting our feelings.
I felt grateful to Sam and Callum agreeing to be our guinea pigs. I considered it a big ask to invite anyone to spend a couple of hours of their day playing an incomplete game. In my head, anyway, I found that to be quite unappealing. However, Martin reminded me that there was often quite a bit of kudos attached to playing a potentially successful game in the early stages.
Apparently, you get bragging rights over your friends giving you license to say things like “Oh that? Yeah. Played it ages ago!” I’ve noticed quite a few Kickstarters include their play-testers in the manuals, as if having your name in print conveys a certain amount of status among your board game pals.
As I laid out all the parts to our ramshackle game, there seemed to be some palpable anticipation and I’m glad to say it wasn’t just coming from me. I went through the rules and off we went.
The three hours passed pretty quickly and the feedback indicated we had an enjoyable, if rather long, game. Sam and Callum had lots of suggestions that formed the basis of another redesign. The mechanics held up well to scrutiny and it particularly appealed to my strategically minded friend, Callum. He said he enjoyed the choices he had during the combat and I appreciated his successful attempt to ‘break’ our income system.
For our next redesign we opened up more worker placement spots (WPS), increased or decreased some of the WPS rewards and moved a couple of WPSs to player boards after deciding we didn’t want communal WPSs on the board. Then we adjusted the Kaiju’s health, introducing greater consequences for defeat and redesigned the robot cards again. We did wonder if using a ‘bump’ system for the workers would be viable but it seemed like certain spots would be exploited ad infinitum.
Later that week I ran a two-player play-test to see how the changes worked then met up with Martin the following week to have a bit of a brain-storming session, rather than our usual play-test. As a result we changed the enemy track, tweaked the player board and messed with the Kaiju health and rewards. We also clarified and cleaned up some of the language on the cards; not least the Tactics cards.
There was a definite feeling of refining, rather than re-designing, which felt good. Things looked like they were taking shape because we weren’t completely redesigning each time. The working title could still use some work though...