Aug 29, 2011

GenCon 2011 - Saturday, Part 2

If you haven't, read Part 1 first.

Once in, I set up Titans of Industry and raised the red flag to indicate I was looking for players. Over the next half-hour I had two people ask me about the game. I did my two-minute elevator pitch for them (it's a slow elevator). Both of them gave me their emails and asked me to let them know when the game would come out.

Eventually, Chris Parks, brother of Andrew Parks, came by and decided to play. One of the people who had asked about it (Andy) was not yet in a game, so he joined as well. Lastly, Paul Girardi of Z-Man, whom I've known for years, became our third player. None of them had ever played before, so this would be a good test with fresh players. Normally I prefer to watch my playtests, but there was a specific strategy I wanted to test out (and the game is more fun with more players), so I took the fourth spot.

I'll post scans of my test notes at the end of this post, but these were the key takeaways:

  1. People who like economic games will like this one. Andy said that if he were to review this in fifteen words or less, "This is the game that Wealth of Nations wishes it was." That brought a smile to my face, especially considering my previous worries about Wealth of Nations.
    He also let my potential publisher Seth Jaffee know that, while it wasn't 100% ready yet, he would buy it when it came out. The other person who had asked about it also seemed sincere in being kept alert of this game. This might be me just putting more weight on things I want to hear, but I was very happy in how these two strangers reacted to my game.

  2. Chris Parks is very good at finding exploits. At one point, he decided to ignore the markets on the board and just start drawing Titan cards almost every turn to try to rack up bonus points. He ended up scoring six(!) of them at the end of the game and actually tied me for the win at 169 points.
    This wasn't just a strategy that I thought wasn't good. It was a strategy that I didn't even know could exist as a strategy at all. It never occurred to me that a player would ever be able to score more than two or (at most) three Titan cards. No other player had yet tried such a thing.
    Thanks to Chris' brilliantly original discovery, I decided to forgo giving the current version to Seth and completely rework the Titan cards based on Seth's suggestion of replacing multiple related cards of different difficulties with a single card that gives different points based on what "level" of that card you accomplish. This could have sunk the game if it had ever gotten out and I am extremely grateful he found it.

  3. The game's length hangs on a knife's edge between slightly too long and unsatisfyingly short. For the second age, I tried slightly tweaking the timing mechanism in a way that would shorten the age by one round. Of course, the age then ended crazy fast.
    Paul was the one to suggest shortening it, because he felt that Titans of Industry "feels very Euro and could do well in Europe, but it has to be shortened to under two hours". I think what I'll do is have the first age be shortened but keep the other two at their current length. This way players get to see the meat of the game (ages ending) for the first time slightly sooner without losing time during the more complicated second and third sections of the game.

  4. The third age advancements stand out in a bad way. Instead of letting you do cooler things, most only score you points (and in ways that overlap with the Titan cards). The players were unanimous in not liking this.
    At first I disagreed with them, but in the time since the convention, I have realized they are correct and I was wrong. This is why I follow my personal rule that Chris pointed out towards the start of the game:
    "The reason a Keller playtest is great is that he writes down everything you say, even if he thinks it's ."
    While I would never characterize playtester feedback with the term that Chris used, he is correct that I force myself to write down everything because, as in this instance, I might later realize I was being foolish. Anything I don't write down is just because I missed it in the course of running/playing in a playtest.

After the test, Seth, Paul, and I talked shop for an hour or so. Sometime around 3am I finally crashed into bed, tired but pleased I was able to get a test together.

Below are my notes from the test.

Playtest Notes for Titans of IndustryPlaytest Notes for Titans of Industry

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