Monday, February 10, 2014

V. Broken Contract - Play Testing Round 3.

Rule Book, Hand Outs, Equipment Cards, and Initiative Cards. They aren't the prettiest but they get the job done for now.
Yesterday I traveled into Next Dimension Games to do some play testing with some new people. I'm trying to get the rules ready for Beta Testing by the public so I want to work out as many kinks in advance as I can. Like the other two play testing sessions I walked away with some valuable information and I'm incredibly thankful to Josh R and Josh from NDG/ChicagoWargamers community for taking the time to play a game with me.

Game 1 was with Josh R and he was in control of the Security Officers and I was the Breakers. He managed to really rough up my Breakers. I attempted several risky actions that all blew up in my face and helped maintain his upper hand. You can't win the game if your Breakers are all tripping over each other and lying Prone all over the board, and that's exactly what I did. By the end of the game only one of my Breakers escaped out the hydraulic door to what would be the next scenario, and my other 4 Breakers were all Shocked and Restrained giving a very complete feeling victory to Josh R. In the end he felt like the Security Officers might be too good in hand-to-hand and not good enough at shooting. I decided to weigh this further and proceed to the next game with no changes to the rules.

Game 2 was against Josh (Next Dimension actually has 3 regulars named Josh. There is also another Nick, two Daniels and two Matts. It gets confusing with all the repeated names.) Josh requested the Breakers and I took the Security Officers. It was very amusing the very different turn this game took. Josh threw caution to the wind and just started swarming my Security Officers and beating them with shovels and pick axes. One of his Characters broke their weapon so he picked up a Shock Baton one of my Characters dropped and used it against me. The game ended with a dramatic closing when he Seriously Injured two of my Security Officers and picked up his own injured Breakers and carried them off the board. No Breaker was left behind and two of my three SO's would be left for dead. Additionally, he stole my Overseer's key card  and some weapons. It was the most effective Break attempt I've seen in play testing.

What does this tell me? The scenario is fairly balanced. The Breakers and Security Officers have an equal chance to win the mission. However, the next question is, does it play like I want it to? My initial answer would be yes, but am I looking at the big picture of the narrative when I say that? The truth of the matter is that for the purposes of the narrative, the Breakers escaping is a good thing. The goal is for the game to maintain a narrative throughout the scenarios so it is to my advantage to pace how effective the Security Officers are or else the Breakers (currently 8 of them) will certainly all get captured or killed long before the final scenario, and that's no fun. Of course, playing the Security Officers and always having the Breakers get away would feel like being a Scooby Do villain - they're always going to outsmart you by the end of the show. I think my best plan of attack is to tone down the Security Officers some, but weight the victory conditions of each scenario so that little victories are big wins so that you can still "win" even if you don't capture all of the Breakers.

I don't want to get into too much detail about the tweaks I intend to make since very few people reading this might have seen the rules, but I'm going to add some weapons and equipment today that will reduce the effectiveness of Security Officers on the attack and improve their defense. I think this is a prudent change that I will be happy with long term.

As with the other play testing experiences I learned a lot yesterday and it has my brain spinning with ideas. I do have to chastise myself for not taking notes or photos yesterday. There were definitely some rules questions that came up that I didn't have answers for in the rules and I need to add them into the text for clarity. Whoops. I'll work my way all the way through the document this week and I'm sure a bunch of them will come to mind.

Thanks again to Josh R. and Josh, and to the Next Dimension Games community.
-Nick

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