Belle of the Ball Prototype M Sent to Playtesters

The truth is that I'm completely making this up as I go along. Case in point: I don't know what the proper protocol is for sending out prototypes to blind playtesters, so I just assume I gotta make it as neat and tidy as I can.

Above, you can see the packet I sent out to Prototype M playtesters yesterday. It includes a half-letter staple-bound rule booklet, prototype cards in penny sleeves, a pre-sorted deck for easy first-play. I also included the following letter.

Dear Playtesters,

Thanks very much for playtesting Belle of the Ball! It’s taken a long while to get the game in its current state, but I feel more confident about the core mechanics. Please play the game aggressively, casually, logically and randomly. Give it a real testing to find any peculiar bugs or game-breaking problems.

If you have opportunity or inclination to do some A/B testing, try these variants:

  • Basic charms cannot be affected by STEAL or LURE.
  • You may only use one charm on your turn.
  • There is no limit on the size of the group.
  • You may only have three groups in your party.
  • EXCUSE has different ability: “The caller may discard a group from her party and score its points. The other players may do the same with one of their own groups in their party.”

Do you prefer any of these variants to the basic game? Are there any other issues or improvements that you’d like to discuss? Please email me at

Thank you!

Again, I don't know if that's an appropriate letter. Have you sent out prototypes for playtesting? How have you packaged them?


  1. Hiya Daniel,

    That looks fine to me, I mailed thirty or so prototypes out while running Reiver Games and that was exactly the sort of thing I did (in fact your prototype is much prettier than anything I sent!). I used to package them in a plain chipboard box and then inside a padded mailer (like a Jiffy bag) - seemed to work fine.



  2. As far as I know the only right way to play test is to know what you want from it and listen to (but not all ways act on) what comes out of it. what did you want from this playtest? did you get it? if not adapt, if you did get it than great work.

    blind playtesting is often used to test how well the game stands on it's own before you release the product. so a very late stage test of the presentation. At that point you should probably be done changing the game and be refining the rules presentation. Also large play testing bases are helpful for games like TCGs and minitures games because it's too hard to play test all the combinations.

    boxes are incredibly important to how games work and stay together. it can be difficult for someone to keep your game organised if it's not in a box. i love these boxes
    i have a book shelf full of them and they do a fantastic job of keeping my projects together. They are also handy when shipping those same projects..

  3. Hey Daniel. I think this is pretty much the only way to do stuff, and honestly, you seem to do it better than most. I had the chance to play with Rob Daviau's playtest set this weekend, and really dig what your working with here. My comments came back through him I'm guessing (mostly about scaling and the power of lure). But keep it up!!

  4. Good to know. Thanks!

  5. Oooh. Those are nice boxes. I'll remember that next time I send out a prototype.

  6. It did indeed! And actually, I'm taking that feedback to heart. Hopefully some of the testing groups will try the A/B variants.

  7. WANT! ...please?

  8. Is there a public download of Prototype M as there was for J K and L?

  9. Email gobi81 at gmail dot com if you'd like a print-and-play version. Thanks!

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