Jan 22, 2006

Dreamation 2006 - Sunday

At 11 I'm gonna play in the B-Movie championship round. Later on I'm gonna try out Shadows Over Camelot. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to play Louis XIV because I was busy for more of yesterday than I thought, but otherwise it has been a good convention.

I met up with Matt and Joy Hull and talked to them a bit about Decipher (they're also former LotR TCG players). I saw them yesterday but was busy and we didn't really get to talk. I invited them to join one of my playtests since they live near me. It's time for the B-Movie finals. We're playing the Bell-Bottomed Badassses version. The title of the movie is "Cool Mack Dawg Hittin' Mama with a Rock".

I got screwed by my opening hand. Two characters, one of which will discard the other at the end of my turn. 5ux0r.

Final Scores:
Michael Keller 7
Nicholas Stember 16
Benjamin Kaplan -5

Game ended on the third round. Annoying. Now I have nothing to do for three-and-a-half hours. Turns out the winner also got a seat at Nationals and a free con badge for DexCon. That badge would have been nice, saved myself $50. Frankly, I might not even go to it at this point just because the expenses at that time of year pile up.

Matt and I played a couple games of Programmer. Then he and Joy had to head out. No one else has signed up for Shadows Over Camelot yet, so I might just play in some other earlier game.

I'm just gonna wait for Shadows and if it doesn't get run, oh well. When Matt and I played Programmer, I tried incorporating a couple of suggestions from yesterday. The first game your code cards only affected you and all players on the same track, while logic gates affected everyone. However, in a two-player game, after the initial couple of turns, I managed to stay off his track on his turn so that I sat on a +2 and just got free points. I don't want the free-for-all that was yesterday with 5 players making it impossible to track the effects of moving everyone, but I don't want interaction to dissappear with 2-3 players either. For the second game I just decided the code cards should affect the active player and any one player of his choice. I think this will ensure interaction while preventing some of the analysis paralysis seen yesterday. Especially when it was Andy's turn I could see the other players start to fidget and lose concentration, because he actually plotted out all the possibilities. I also shrunk the size of the program and made it so that you have to play code cards in sequence, with the order returning to the beginning when the last empty spot is reached.

I still need to decide on the specifics of the changes to Black Market. Even though Zev wasn't interested in it, Andy and Norm both said they preferred Black Market and all I should really do is tweak the mathematics and it will come together. I am tempted to add additional complexity, something like you can use two body parts and one drugs to create a zombie or some other silliness like that, but I'll wait for the math changes to be tested before ramping the game up.

This week I'm gonna be busy with school-related stuff. Next weekend I've been invited to a gaming night. I have to find a weekend before PrezCon to set aside for implementing and testing these changes. Not to mention trying to write rulebooks for these new versions.

I approached the guys at Slugfest earlier, but they told me they already had several in-house projects waiting in line. I went to watch a game of Pirate's Cove while waiting for Shadows to begin or not. I like the interations in Pirate's Cove. It has a nice mix of building (collecting treasure and upgrading your ship) and conflict (battles). I don't like the actual battle mechanic, it appears to allow wild swings in game position based on luck alone. However, it does inspire a good conflict of different strategies for upgrading your ship. I also like that battles occur not just as the result of a choice to screw a particular opponent, but as a result of natural competition for resources (the plunder cards). I like to think of this as the "hallway effect". When two people are walking down a hall towards the same room, they both want to avoid contact as it will surely slow them down, but it is unavoidable as long as one does not allow the other person to reach the room first and gain the spoils.

This type of interaction avoids "early-leader syndrome", as it is not always possible to target the person who is in front. Of course, that might itself be a problem, "runaway leader / slippery slope". I like the destination wheels as a physical component. They look sort of fun to play with. I wonder how much the Pirate Ship really affects the game. It seems kind of trivial to wait a turn when you know for a fact that the Pirate will be off to the next island in the sequence by then. Maybe if the Pirate had a random location it would make your choice of island order less pre-determined. You wouldn't want to let him always occupy a single island just because it came up, but there could be a mechanism for changing probabilities. Perhap if there was a bag with tiles depicting each of the islands, with like 5 of each island in the bag. When a tile is removed randomly to select the Pirate Ship's destination, it stays out of the bag, making it that less likely to return. This would tend to balance out the Pirate Ship's destinations without it being completely predictable. It would add a bit of "player vs. the board" to a competitive game, which can add some fun.

No one else showed up for Shadows, but some of the GMs were nice enough to teach me the game and play a couple of rounds. It is not as complex as it seems at first. However, I can see how particularly bad shuffles of the evil deck could make the game unwinnable, even with no traitor.


  1. Anonymous10:44 PM

    I'm an amateur designer as well. You're a lot further along than I am, my games are only in my head and on scraps of paper at the moment. It's fascinating reading your journey. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I glad someone out there is reading it.