Testing One Person’s Trash

A little while ago, we had the pleasure of play-testing OPT with fellow Portland game designer Evan.

Introduction from the first version of the rulebook

One of the first things Evan spotted was a silly mistake – on classic playing cards, the number and the suit symbol are in the same corner. I designed my cards with the numbers and suits in different corners, and while it didn’t bother me, I realised Evan was right – I can’t see the suit!

That was an easy fix!

Another easy fix was getting rid of the “Treasure” card concept. I came up with it theoretically, but in testing, it doesn’t feel right. It was hard to achieve, but also hard to explain, and when someone achieves it, it’s incredibly powerful. The aim was to increase the appeal of a particular hoard, but it actually just felt like an insurmountable obstacle.

Explanation of the Treasure from the first version of the rulebook

The next thing to address is the background. It was something I just threw in there from another game to see how it looked, but it ended up looking really cool – if too dark – so I used it in my first print of the game at The Game Crafter. It definitely came out too dark, though, and sort of blue. Here are some photos comparing the print-outs on my home printer compared to TGC.

I see a lot of comments about how TGC printing looks much darker than expected, and I think the UV coating is certainly part of that. Otherwise, the colours are very similar. Printing on different paper , with different inks, on different machines, already changes colours a lot. The gloss of a finish also changes how we perceive a colour, as does any clear coating. The same applies with paints and varnishes.

The other thing might be that some creators are using RGB instead of CMYK, which also causes a difference in the printed colour.

I also just learnt that using true black is not just expensive to print, but can also make everything look darker than it should, so for future projects, I am changing my true black (with all 4 sliders at 100) to K100, with all the other sliders at 0. It’s not as rich a black, but it’s still black. And if it makes a difference to printing costs and the overall look of my printing, it’s worth it.

So my next change is to design a background for my cards that works for both legibility and mood.

The thing I dislike here is that as soon as the design is light enough to be legible, it loses the moody flavour of the original. So it’s back to the drawing board on that one for now!

There were two other things we are re-testing: using the Arrow cards, and how exactly the discard piles would work.

In the original rules, Arrow cards change the direction of play and, whenever someone plays an Arrow card, all players pick up their neighbour’s discard pile in the direction of the Arrow.

Explanation of the Arrow cards from the first version of the rulebook

For the Arrow cards, we are going to continue using them, for now. We tested without them and the direction changes for the discard piles make a big difference, strategically.

The discard piles in the original rules are in your own play area, and you simply pass them in one direction or the other, according the the Arrow card. If the Arrow points “downstream”, players pick up the discard pile “upstream” from them.

Play guide from the first version of the rulebook

We tested having them face-up, face-down, top card face-up, being able to pick up from the discard pile instead of the deck, and the same with shared discard piles. For the shared piles, we tried having them between the players. Players can choose which pile to discard into, but when the Arrow card is played, they pick up the shared discard pile in the same way as they would have done in the original rules.

It’s going to be interesting to see which version of the discard piles we decide to choose, after more testing.

How to add to a Hoard, from the first version of the rulebook

Two other changes we are considering are whether there will still be a limit to the number of Hoards you can build, and exactly how to Add to, and Assimilate, a Hoard.

Originally, we had a limit of three Hoards per player.

Setup, from the first version of the rulebook

In testing, the need for additional Hoards hasn’t been great so far, but different players may have different playing styles. The jury is still out on this one, but I am leaning towards keeping the limit.

The process for Adding to a Hoard won’t change, but the process for changing Hoard formats will. We have simplified the rules about changing Hoard formats, so that it’s easier to understand. The original rules only allowed one change of format per turn. The change of formats allows

How to change Hoard formats from set to run and back, from the first version of the rulebook

Once we were actually playing, we found that it was actually too hard to get cards on the table if we set those rules.

The last change we are testing is how to table a run. Currently, it’s really hard to get a run out in a matching suit, so we are testing allowing the “seed” to be a run of any 3 cards in numerical order, regardless of the suit. Any additions to the run need to be in the same suit as the exposed card on that end, though.

How to create, or seed, a Hoard, from the first version of the rulebook

While this change makes it easier to table your first Hoard, it definitely makes the game harder to explain. So we plan to test it plenty more times, and see what turns out to be the best solution!

I hope this was an interesting peek into the world of game development chez Drayer.

We’ll keep you posted!

Published by Drayer Ink

Artist, designer, ideas person

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