More Playtest Findings from PAX

Tabletop Gaming at PAX East

While I was at PAX East, I playtested three other prototypes currently in various stages of development.

Princess Bride Drafting Game has been long in development, but finally hitting a breakthrough now that it has departed from strictly simulating the Battle of Wits. It's now a drafting game in which players bid for milestones and landmarks to complete their personal quests while also trying to bluff their opponents into drinking poison. It's a drafting game where you're not just bidding for resources, but also turn order on the next draft and how many resources you'll get to draw. Most feedback was positive and I hope to formalize this prototype into something more pitchable soon.
  • Retheme the cards slightly so that there are more main character options, including the villains of the story.
  • Make the secondary characters in the deck landmark locations.
  • Give the main characters unique abilities, like The Man in Black's immunity to poison, or Fizzik's great strength.

Belle of the Ball was a hit again. I got many play requests from people who had heard of the game from this blog. I also got a few thanks for non-violent/non-colonial theme. I tried out several new cards that generally followed the model of the "bad cheese" card, negating scores for certain interests in a scoring group. I also added several new Belle cards that scored you points based on other players' behavior, such as when they paid bribes, accepted bribes, invited lords or ladies or played Belle cards. On top of all this, I also tested the new two-lane format. It went swimmingly, offering far more substantial choice on each turn, preventing bribe-hoarding, and making a more satisfying experience overall.
  • Come up with evocative names for the new Belle cards along with new diagrams that can more easily be recognized from a distance.
  • Make the heraldry more subtle so it doesn't distract as much.
  • Remove underlapping border around the interest icons so they have less interference with their silhouettes.

Suspense: The Card Game probably got the most play overall, simply because of its small footprint. The pitch really drew in the core gamer demographic: "Deduce the victory condition while also trying to meet it." I'm exploring ways to expand the game to four or five players, which might be difficult. I'm thinking about another set of six cards with red numbers, each victory condition based on highest/lowest black/white sum in play/hand. The problem of course is that 13 cards elegantly creates one possible outlier in an even deal, adding anymore makes things a little more messy. I'll figure it out though.
  • Explore expanding the game to four or five players.
  • Instead of waiting until the end of the round to introduce the "Fold" option, state it up front so players always have it available.
  • Explore a gambling variant based on Wits & Wagers' wagering chips. (Score points equal to your wager chips x stars on the winning card.)
Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.