A new year saw me sorting out some things in my local playtest group in order to let it grow over the following year. One of these was to pin down a regular day each month for the main meetup, the 3rd Sunday of every month, and so the 15th of Jan was our inaugural 2017 meetup. The other was to write up playtest reports more frequently, so here we go.

There were 5 of us there and the first game to hit the table was Keith’s Robot Factory, a tile laying puzzle game.  I hadn’t gotten along with very well in it’s last iteration, but I’m happy to report that the game feels a lot stronger now. Previously I had felt I wasn’t really in control enough of the board, but now I did, with a lot more options to manipulate things. The addition of  some neat mechanics to encourage people to stay together in the central part rather than branching out made for a much more interactive experience. Some suggestions were made to restrict the size of the board to further emphasise this element but all in all a really solid improvement on the game.

Trying to complete the paths in front of me

Next up was Steve’s game Scandal, which now has nearly all of it’s art done and is looking pretty neat. A quick playing game of the vagaries of fame, the game feels a lot smoother now that it had done in a previous iteration. The core mechanic evolves around set collection with the curve ball of scandal cards disrupting your plans. We talked a bit about the fiddliness of how scandal cards enter the deck but all in all it’s a solid game.

Game end state. 

My illustrious career.

We had a brief break as I floundered putting together Minions before I realised I hadn’t finished the new version! Make sure you take working prototypes along to meetups kids!

Moving swiftly on to Mark’s Wreck and Ruin, I found myself once more in post apocalyptic wasteland. We played a few turns of a slightly tweaked version of this game and I think it’s a really solid and chaotic, in a good way, design. We had previously chatted about making the factions more assymetric but the game feels pretty good at the moment, coming down to the point where it just needs the final bumps ironed out.

Trying for some tactical blocking. Didn’t work!

My Upstart game, about investing in Tech Startups, hit the table after a long time, and I was keen to see how the changes I had made would work. Answer, not well. We played a few rounds before I called a halt to things and we had a good chat about what I wanted from the game and how that might be achieved in the context of a single deck game. Always good to bounce ideas off fellow designers and I am already working on a new version. Totally forgot to take photos of my own game, next time.

Aaron didn’t get to test this time but he is top of the list for next time. This is another change I am making to the group after a call for more structure to the sessions. Every time a designer gets to test a game they go to the bottom of a list. New comers will get priority at the top of the list as I want to keep the group open and welcoming to those who might just turn up on the day. As designers playtest everyone gets pushed up the list again until they are towards the top of the list and get to playtest again. This should be relatively simple to maintain and will give everyone and idea ahead of time as to if they will get a chance to get a game to the table in this particular session.

A good start to the new year and I am working on growing the group over the following year alongside making a logo for the group and possibly hosting a large playtesting event sometime later in the year.