May 3, 2010

NYC BGD Meeting - May 2010

This weekend the New York City Board Game Designers had their monthly meeting. There were five of us in attendance, including a visitor from the U.K., who managed to avoid being tarred and feathered by roving bands of Tea Partiers during his stay.

First up on the block was Municipality. This was the third test of Municipality since the major changes I had finally relented on making.

The test went very well. Although the players still found the permit relationship chart to be difficult to translate onto the board, the fact that the chart was used far less often made this pain not noticeable until after the game was over. Other than that, the players had positive impressions of the game.

Personally, I liked how players who seemed out of it in the middle of the game were able to come back and make it a nail-biter at the end. My only problem was that the game took a little bit longer than I would have liked. I can fix that by tweaking one of the end game conditions. When there are multiple end game conditions and only one needs to be met to trigger the end of the game, speeding up one will force players to also act more quickly on the others.

Estimate time to completion: 1 month

After Municipality, we tested a game by Brett Gilbert, our British visitor. The major mistake with the game was that it gave players lots of information about the future, but the mechanics of the game made predicting future turns a pointless exercise. This meant that the board was cluttered with things players couldn't care less about.

The lesson to draw from this is to not give players information that they cannot meaningfully use. That extra information just overwhelms them.

Next to hit the table was an auction game, MacGuffin Market by Gil Hova. This game actually uses the unique auction mechanic that Gil had taken out of his other game, Pax Robotica (which I tested two months ago).

This game just didn't have its math lined up correctly and I broke out into an early, insurmountable lead by going all out on the first turn and then continuing that strategy. Also, although the game had two resources, only one could be used at the auction for the other and the other was far more efficient in the action round. This dictated my strategy (which proved to be correct).

The lesson from this test was that you cannot have two resources which are both interchangeable yet strong in different areas. That only ensures that one will always be spent in one place and the other will be spent in the other areas. You must make sure that
  • one cannot always be used in place of the other; and
  • the opportunities to exchange them are limited
The day's last game was a tile-laying game by Dan Cassar.
Incidentally, Dan was the one who came up with the current, better layout for Titans of Industry. Later, he won Rio Grande's 2009 game design competition.
This game seems pretty simple, rules-wise, while having some room for mid-level strategy. This is a good, highly-marketable combination. The only problem was calculating scoring was a tad onerous. Luckily, a player might only have to do this once or twice each game. Dan is in a good position with this one.

That was it for this month's meeting. Hopefully by next month I will be "finished" with Municipality.

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