UnPub Feedback for Monsoon Market

Monsoon Market at UnPub Mini at Atomic Empire was great! Matt and Marcy Wolfe organized it way better than I did last year. (They had a raffle!) There were at least double the designers and double the playtesters.

I had about a dozen individual playtesters across ten playtests. It really helps to have a short game at UnPub. Players get a tantalizing taste of gameplay and sometimes want to play a second or third time. That was really good data. Some changes I made based on feedback, which I still need to finalize and clean up with further testing tonight.

  • Make points lower and rounder: In the first few tests, winning scores were in the high 70s. No one wants to do an arithmetic test after a light strategy game, so I'm cutting those down to the high 20s.
  • No Bonuses...: Bonuses work best in slightly longer engine-building games. Because this game can end in as few as five rounds, there wasn't much time to actually score anything for bonuses.
  • ...Only Actions: Half of my Order cards had bonuses, the other half had actions. It quickly became apparent that chaining actions was the fun, tactical part of the game.
  • Tighten point spreads: At one test, there was a 20 point spread between high score and low score. The straggler kept getting picked on by the other players and couldn't get a foothold on the scoreboard.
  • Clarify how the Order and Market tableaus refresh: The most common confusion was players thinking the tableaus refreshed either like Ticket to Ride or like Alhambra. I had to nail that down.
  • Reduce or Replace Wood and Leather: I cut down the number of wood and leather cards in the deck by half, as they were eventually clogging up the central market. I'm inclined to lower their quantity but raise their value.
  • Discard spent cards: Originally, I had players add their spent cards to the central market from which they were shopping, thus making a high value card available in the market for the next player. This unfortunately caused a lot of order-of-operations questions, too many to be worth the trouble. Besides, the goods deck is pretty small anyway so the economy will cycle fast.

But over all I think the tests went well. This was a big confidence booster after testing River Ancient  at UnPub4. Monsoon Market finally feels like it's coming to the home stretch.

(Photo: Graham and I contemplate our moves. Photo by Eric Martin, who ended up winning handily.)

Daniel Solis
Art Director by Day. Game Designer by Night.