Archive for April 2012

Fourth Play Test: Turf Wars

We played two more games (#6 & #7) today. We only had four players today which was opportunistic because we could try out the 3-4p version of the game which modifies the game board a bit – decreasing the number of available turfs.

That’ll make more sense when we show pictures of the board. We won’t do that, however, until we’ve worked with artists to get what we would consider the final version of the art work.

Today we played with the 2 people who were involved in games 1&2 and 3&4 and even though it’s been 8 days (and 2 play test dates with 3 games) the game has progressed quite a bit.

We were showcasing the fact that a win-cost was introduced, the teleportation rules addressed and the board configuration adjusted so that the distributions gave no unfair advantages.

We played 2 games and there was no substantive feedback given nor issues uncovered.


Play Test #5: Turf Wars

Only 4 days later, we’re play testing TW again. Tonight it was with a gaming group we know really well.
We’ve all been critical together about other games’ rules, game play, inconsistencies and f’d-up-ness so we were a little nervous…

In the last 4 days Josh and I did some work to address some faction issues, teleportation rules and added a new event or 2. For the teleporters, since there were 4 of them, we made it so that each teleporter only sent you to one place – a turf adjacent to the opposite-diagonal teleporter.

Every round is started with an event of some sort. Some examples of events:

  • Attacks are prohibited that target a certain turf type.
  • You can gain or lose a round on the round counter.
  • You can gain or lose troops in one or all turfs depending on what’s happened.
  • Or, nothing at all may happen on this “nice, quiet day.”

We played one game and one of the players had a bad deal regarding his Combat cards as they were mostly 1s and 2s so he didn’t feel like he’d have any chance at winning.

Combat Cards
Combat cards are played after the number of troops are declared by both the attacking and defending player. The sum of the troops played and the value of the combat card played (0-10 or special) are compared and the one that is higher wins. Ties go to the defender.

The feedback from this game:

  • Figure out how to make game play better for someone who is the victim of a bad shuffle.
  • Adjust the teleporter-adjacent turfs so that they are exactly even and give no one an advantage.
  • A troop loss was suggested for the winners of turf wars so that no player could, through a lucky combat or 2, continue to wipe the board with the blood of the other players. Josh and I had personally liked that feature, and were still willing to think about it. 🙂

Ultimately, they liked it and would play it again. Yay!

Second Play Test of Turf Wars

We played another two games tonight. With 1 player (not including Josh and I) who had seen the first 2 games, we introduced 2 new people to the game.

The Board
I spent a lot of time on making sure that we got the board created this time. The board needed to accommodate 6 different turf types (plains, seas, swamps, mountains, forests, deserts).

Win Conditions

  • A player will win if his faction controls 5 or 6 (we’re still deciding) turfs that match the home turf as listed on the faction card.
  • We introduced faction nemeses as well. If a faction’s nemesis is in play AND they land the killing blow, they win.
  • We also introduced “Secret Win Condition” cards so that people without a nemesis in play could have another possible win condition.
  • At the end of the game (round 10) the player with the most Dominance Points (DP) will win if the no other condition was met.

Secret Win Condition Cards
Some examples:

  • Undefeated: If you’ve won all of your turf wars, you win the game.
  • Double Rainbow: Control 2 of each turf type.
  • Card Carrier: Hold one of each Combat Card from 1 – 10.

I created a simple 6×6 grid for the board. I didn’t like that board so much and had a brainstorm.

I then did some cray mathematical computations and used a Sudoku solver I had written in Excel in 2005 to create a 9×9 grid that introduces dead spaces, additional turfs and teleporters to enable faster navigation of the board to allow the possibility of attaining the appropriate number of home turfs in about 10 rounds.

Josh and I had many discussions over the last 2 weeks about this board and my description of it and why I was bothering with it, etc. We left it as: we can play test it and if it is too cray and doesn’t add anything but complexity, we can always scrap it.

We played the first game with the 6×6 grid and in the process… no names… someone spilled some wine on the 6×6 board.

We then played the next game with the cray-9×9 grid and teleporters and experienced VERY different game play. Because the teleportation rules were not yet finalized there was a teleporting frenzy and the distribution of faction troops on the board were essentially clusters of troops spiraling out from the 4 teleporters.

Despite that, and the uneven distribution of turf types adjacent to the teleporters, everyone liked using the cray board vs. the simple one.

Again, the feedback was essentially: still fun and it’s improving. Woot!

Inital Play Test of Turf Wars

We played the first two games of our creation with the working title, Turf Wars. And the initial verdict is, it doesn’t suck!

Woo hoo!

That may not sound like high praise but Josh and I consider it a win. It’s one thing to have thoughts of what would be a good game when bouncing it off each other and it’s quite another to have things clarified and justified and argued by others who were not involved in its creation.

We’ve uncovered some issues during the play and had some going in that we knew about given time constraints, etc.

  • The Board
    It wasn’t done in time. That was my (Phil) bad. I ran out of time and underestimated the effort involved in dealing with the images, printing them and then pasting them in the proper order on big card board. Ugh. We drew a board on my dry-erase tiles I use for an um… RPG and that served well enough but there were issues of fairness that were uncovered while quickly drawing it.
  • Retreating
    We wanted wars in Turf Wars, oddly. And while we think retreating should be possible, being able to do it at no cost was problematic so we’ve added a cost.
  • Dominance Points (DP)
    These are earned based on controlling turfs and is a win condition but we don’t want this to be primarily a game about accumulating points. We want it to be about war! So we’re going to take a hard look at DP awards and potentially introduce the ability to trade in DP for game-related advantages. TBD.
  • Faction Powers
    In the course of playing, we discovered that some of the powers/abilities we gave to factions were severely under or overpowered so we’ll be making tweaks to get them right. Tonight, we’re thinking of nerfing the Unicorns and Geomancers a bit.

We will continue to publish our progress and major discoveries during the play testing of this game.