In a previous Sea Of Mutiny play testing blog I noted some things that went well and some things that didn’t go so well. But to quickly recap:
Went Well: A set (one piece) board layout, card stockpiling, some of the card changes and the new dice rolling functionality.
Didn’t Go Well: The rule book, accidentally making all of the blue cards – yellow cards and the game is still too long.
What we changed:
This play testing session we were able to have some of the pretty elements of the game printed and ready for use.
We changed the rule book from being a 5 page long novel crammed full of text to a few cutouts that players are able to read – and a smaller condensed 5 page rule book.
- 1 x Contents
- 1 x Game Start
- 1 x Victory Conditions
- 3 x Turn Phase – One for each player.
Because the novel of a rule book was the worst part of the game – and we knew it needed improving.
Printed All of the Cards Correctly:
Each of the cards were printed on correctly – The right actions on the right coloured cards. Have 9 cards per sheet – 9 outsides of cards – 9 inside (with right actions), print as two-sided so they all line up.
So the game actually has all of the correct mechanics in place and can result in the correct player experience and game play we are trying to achieve.
Removed Blue Switch Card:
Completely removed the blue switch card – Even though it wasn’t in the previous play testing sessions. It was still going to be a cheat card and it would have been too difficult to set times that the card can and can’t be used.
Because it was a significant game changer. It was easier to remove than adapt and set times than it can and can’t be used. It wouldn’t change the game throughout the game play because players only wanted to save this card until the end of the game to use it as a cheat card.
How Did All Of These Changes Impact The Game?
Having the visual elements made it easier to interpret what things were. It also added quite a bit of flavour and juiciness to the game.
The rule book was a significant improvement because players were able to decipher what the game was about and what to do faster. They also didn’t want to burn the rule book, so that’s a big upside.
Having all of the cards printed correctly resulted in a lot of interesting combinations and elements of game play. Every card had an appropriate use and interesting results. Players were fighting and yelling at each other but also partly using team cooperation to achieve the goal. It’s exactly what we wanted.
Removing the blue switch card had no impact but such a large impact at the same time – A) there was no way to cheat. B) no-one needed a way to cheat. It evened out the game dynamic to rely on the rest of the cards and how the players interact with those cards.
What Went Right:
The Pretty Elements.
The card use and the impact and usefulness they have throughout the game.
Removing Blue Switch Card:
No cheating or easy way of winning.
Rule Book & Cutout Cards.
It’s still not perfect – but it’s a significant improvement on the novel of instructions.
What Went Wrong:
The Game is still too long.
So in the previous play testing session I suggested that we print the cards correctly which would help reduce player confusion and reduce playing time. This was definitely a good starting point. I also suggested that we change the board layout to reduce playing time. This wasn’t done because we wanted to see the results of how having all of the correct cards this time would impact the play time. The game was faster because of the correct cards – but still too long because of the board length and the 3 ‘Skull – Walk the Plank Tiles’.
People Just Want To Watch The World Burn.
I ended up having to take over a player (that had to leave) and I was a pirate. We kept playing and got to the point where I was waiting for my pirate counterpart to reach the last tile. My pirate counterpart who is my team-mate and supposed to be aiming to win the game with me, had completely separate motives. They only wanted to cause as much havoc as possible. They even moved me from being on the last tile onto a “Skull – Walk the Plank Tile”. Who does that?!
Rule Book Could Be Condensed More.
Even though the rule book was a significant improvement it could be improved further. Along with the little cutouts. The Turn Phase cutout allowed players to understand what they were able to do in a turn – but even though numbered – confused players. Someone suggested that people automatically group things together. Maybe to make the rule book more clear, we should try some of Gestalt’s principles, grouping objects together.
Players were reading 1 – 3 – 2 -4. Even though the intended was 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. Part of this is because of the gigantic empty gap in the middle.
Card Text & Board Symbols.
This didn’t exactly go wrong, it could just be made slightly better and help improve player understanding and game flow.
When printed – The border was extremely dark. And in the case of having multiple cards
Only a very border would be visible. In order to decipher what cards were in your hand, you’d have to separate and look at each card as a whole to understand which card it is.
Even though the action of the card is bolded and buried within the card story, there must be a better way to help separate the two.
The ‘Walk The Plank’ tiles on the board had black skulls. What if they were yellow to better represent what the actual card that relates to that tile?
Change the Rule Book to make it – again – easier to interpret. Condense and only put in critical information.
Make specific changes to the length and size of the Board Layout to reduce playing times.
Work with the graphic designers about the minute problems relating to the Card layout and the Board ‘Walk the Plank’ coloured tiles. Change the board layout to not have specifically three walk the play tiles so close together.
Utilize the fact that majority of players love to cause chaos.
Until next time –