Edinburgh Playtest Group – February Report

The 19th of Feb saw my local playtest group roll around once more and I was expecting quite a small turnout due to a few folks being away. Happily this was not the case and we managed to get a couple of tables going as well as meeting a new designer and a new playtester, signs of growth!
I didn’t see one of the games being tested, which looked like an amazing cube fest of Euro gamey goodness, but I can report on what I did get to play. This was the first session where my new designer priority list was in place and as such the newest addition to our group Sonny was first up!
That’s a lot of cubes!
Sonny had brought along a game called Look Out Bandits, which had a post apocalyptic feel to it and was ostensibly about meeting the demands of Bandits coming to raid your outpost whilst also storing supplies for your own selfish means. Honestly I didn’t take to this one much at the moment though I could see the potential of the idea. As the game stands there was very little in the way of decision making on my turn and, due to the card distribution, I only really had one of those. 
Getting ready to play.
The whole group played this one so it was a good way to get things kicked off and got everyone chatting about what they liked and didn’t like about it. There was a general feeling that it needed some major tweaking to make sure everyone has two or three goes and some changes to the demands deck did start to make things feel better. I look forward to seeing the game evolve.
Next up was a 4x game from Steve. Steve had playtested last time, but was top of the pile in terms of people who where around this time so he was up next. This was part of a modular system he was designing and it felt pretty neat on it’s own. Placing diamond shape pieces to make up eventually hexes and then claiming those in a variety of ways felt really interesting. 
Really liked the diamonds making hexes mechanic.
We could claim areas of the same resource type giving us more borders, tiles or settlements to claim even more area with. A tile and a settlement meant you could claim a whole he’s at once as long as you had the borders to pay for it and the player with the most area claimed at the end won.
There were plenty of interesting decisions to make and felt very solid apart from the player interaction side of things. It would have been possible for us to all go our separate ways and not really interact with each other at all, something Steve was keen to get round. We had a chat about various ways around the problem and I look forward to giving it another shot when he thinks he has a solution to the problem.
My turn was up next and I cracked out Upstart once more, having taken it completely back to the drawing board. The game already felt more dynamic with cards being used to show stock market fluctuations on the companies, and there being more benefit to shorting to bring it in line with investing. We played a couple of rounds and then I had a good chat with the folks playing to get feedback and see where I could push the idea next. It’s not ready yet by any means but this version was a step in the right direction. Investing vs. shorting still needs a lot of work and there may be an issue with the way I am keeping score as it takes some cards out of the game, and I am working with a limited pool. Something to think on.
All in all it was a great playtest and our newest designer Sonny is already looking at setting up another playtest session during the week. This is great news as I look to grow the group, and hopefully we will see our first playtest track at a larger boardgame meetup in the next couple of months.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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