The story of a board game #11

It’s been two more weeks and our story continues with a lot of play-testing and developing for Riverbed Hunt. In our previous post we’ve discussed about the feedback we got from the Cardboard Edison competition and how this impacted the evolution of our game. Today I’d like to tell you about a different approach we adopted during the past couple weeks, in order to improve some final details in Riverbed Hunt, the basic game.

Design-wise, the most important negative comment we got from the C.E. competition judges was that the game seemed to be too mathematical and with many “tells” of the opponents and public information. They fear that savvy players will be able to calculate the perfect moves and “solve the puzzle”, as they mentioned. Well, with all the little additions and changes we did to the game lately (after the competition), most of these things seem to have been fairly balanced. Although, the process of struggling and fixing such problems unlocked a new perspective in the designing of Riverbed Hunt. Our thoughts now focused on what’s the most important things for the players, so they are able to do what they have to do, while keeping the fun aspects unharmed. That concludes to: if a game rule is fun for some people and for us, of course, but is not absolutely necessary to the player’s goals, we get rid of it. This way, we managed to simplify the game and make it streamlined as much as possible. Almost all player actions were cut in half, keeping one deed in each one (instead of two) and we also added the limit of three ability cards per player hand, so that the possibilities on each given turn are less but satisfying enough. The strategies became much clearer, the game time shortened a little, and the overall gameplay got easier to follow for the newcomers; all these without losing its core and fun.

In the meantime, as I mentioned in our previous post, we also wanted to dedicate these last few play-testing evenings of the past two weeks to what I call the “stretch tests”. With a company of play-testers familiar to the game, we tried to break the rules using extreme strategies, based on our given roles each time. This was a very early stage of the designing process as well, but in any case, we wanted to be sure that any type of player could play their own way and have fun, while not destroying the overall experience for the others. And guess what, we discovered a little detail that wasn’t balanced, as a mechanism, at all! The patriots’ team leader has a special once-per-game ability called “hunt”. Now, that ability is a very powerful one in the right hands, but no one ever tried to play with it truly aggressively before. Using it from round one, brought new potential to the patriots’ game, even if it failed… So, thanks to these “stretch tests”, we managed to balance it, adding a fair penalty to a failed “hunt” that would give a small boost to the merchants. Another problem solved and Riverbed Hunt took another step closer to perfection!

After all this time, I would say that our game looks pretty ready, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning of what’s coming next! Our play-testing events will continue with the designing and developing of Riverbed Hunt’s expansion!… If you are as excited as we are and you wish to join us, all you have to do is reach us on discord and grabbing the play-tester role. A prototype version of the game is up on tabletopia and we’ll be more than happy to have you with us.

Until next time, stay Oddly Legendary!

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