Today, I finally had my first playtest session, which was very useful for improving my game. I printed out my blueprint cards, but simply wrote on extra Magic cards for my resource cards to save printer paper and ink.
One of the first things I noticed was that absorbing and focusing on all of the numbers on the cards was initially pretty difficult. However, as we kept playing, it got easier, so I think it’s just something to players will have to get used to. Overall, there were many things I noticed that I wanted to fix.
- Manipulation actions were not worth it
- 3-cost resource cards were prohibitively expensive
- Tier III blueprints were too expensive overall
- The point threshold mechanic was both nonviable and unnecessary
- Some innovation cards were poorly named, which led to some confusion
- Certain rules were unnecessary and overly restrictive
Manipulation actions were not worth it
The manipulation actions, while powerful, were not worth the risk of potentially losing almost an entire round’s worth of funding. The mechanic was originally designed to promote player competition and sabotage, but it ended up being ignored. Furthermore, there was plenty of competition with the regular shop refresh mechanic as well as the trading system. For this reason, I am removing the manipulation actions from the game.
3-cost resource cards were prohibitively expensive
3-cost resource cards were never bought. They were far too expensive to be feasible, and players would always prefer to refresh the shop than buy a 3-cost card, even when they desperately needed a card of that type. For this reason, I am removing the 3-cost cards.
Tier III blueprints were too expensive overall
Almost all of the Tier III blueprints had a total cost of 8 resources. This was far too much, since player’s rarely even had that many resources at one time, let alone the correct resources. Given the time constraint of 10 rounds, there was not very much opportunity to build the Tier III blueprints. I will be reducing the cost of the Tier III blueprints to about 6 resource cards each.
The point threshold system was both nonviable and unnecessary
The point threshold system was originally created to encourage trade, but the chance that a losing player might throw the game to stop a player who was winning by a large margin was simply too toxic for the game dynamic (“it’s better that no one wins than someone else”). Also, trades did occur without the mechanic (since we played without it), and they did prove to be beneficial for both parties, thus putting the left-out player at a relative disadvantage, and demonstrating how trade is good. Perhaps not on a global economy scale, but certainly on a small scale. In future versions of the game, I will remove the point threshold system.
Some innovation cards were poorly named, which led to some confusion
I originally intended for hull cards to have “hull” in the title, wing cards to have “wings” in the title, engine cards to have “engine” in the title, and innovation cards to be everything else. Unfortunately, I created some innovation cards with names like “Hull Hardener,” which led to some understandable confusion. I will be changing the names of the offending cards.
Certain rules were unnecessary and overly restrictive
For example, I originally had a rule that stated you could only own one part of each tier/type combination at once. I did this to prevent hoarding of parts of a certain tier/type, but I realized that this hoarding didn’t really happen on a very large scale. On the other hand, when people did end up with multiple parts for a given tier/type, it led to interesting trades. I will be removing that rule. Another rule that I will be removing is the one that makes building a part an action. I think trades are more dynamic if people can build whenever they want, especially on the last round.
Other tweaks and changes
One of the players mentioned that they felt the game was a little bit long. I originally intended the game to be no longer than 45 minutes long, but our playtest session was over 1 hour and 15 minutes long (including rules). I think I will try cutting the amount of rounds from 10 to 7. I don’t think the quality of spaceship builds will be heavily affected, since I am also reducing the average resource cost, and reducing the cost of some blueprints.
Overall, this playtest session gave me an invaluable amount of information about how to improve the game, and I’m looking forward to the next playtest!