Playtested a bit more of Train Town and Monsoon Market this week. Many thanks to folks who helped playtest! If you're in town and interested, swing by to Atomic Empire in Durham, NC most monday nights and you can see whatever weird idea I've cooked up that week.
Train Town was more of a polish to check if the condition cards made sense as written. The rules themselves and the scoring mechanics were solid.
There was some procedural clarification necessary, making sure that condition cards were used at the end of a turn, thus after the scoring phase.
Also it seemed the 2x2 formation was better as a starter board since it was easier to track the paths from point A to point B. A 3x3 formation led to bigger point swings as each player could cover exponentially more territory with one clever placement.
I may also make the endgame condition when either the condition deck or the path deck runs out. Keeping it only the path deck made the game run a bit too long for a light filler.
I've also submitted this game to a family game design contest out of Korea. That might have been premature, but the deadline was the deadline so I figured I'd take a shot at it even though the game is still in its infancy.
Monsoon Market is also feeling a bit more polished. As an experiment, I made the changes noted in my previous post and it really helped the too-balanced problem.
Where previous playtests resulted in tie, or scores within two or three points of each other, the most recent test resulted in scores of 33, 35, 40. Close enough to keep the game tight but also clearly set apart enough that we could reverse-engineer the results and see how each decision made in play resulted in those scores.
I revised the cards so that the rarest Goods, earliest Days, and most Ships aggregated into the same cards. I cut the rounds down to five trading turns instead of seven. I also simply dealt five random cards to each player's port and ship instead of letting players decide how to organize them. All these revisions led to some tense decision-making, fast trades, and begrudging sacrifices. Good stuff.
It was also interesting seeing some emergent gameplay. When players set aside cards for their ships face-down, it was a little hard making sure they were not mixed up with discards. We settled on putting ship cards underneath our port card. Yay! Now the port card does something besides just identify each player.
Now that the basic core gameplay seems pretty solid, I'm eager to polish this up for another round of public prototyping.