Saturday, 20 February 2010

airships and prototypes

I played Airships again, at Carcasean, and still quite enjoy it. It's a dice game that doesn't drag and doesn't feel repetitive. The game progresses quickly - your capability keeps improving and you keep having new targets to shoot for. In fact it feels like a race game. You always need to balance between improving your dice-rolling capability and earning victory points. There are quite many small but interesting decisions throughout the game.

Airships feels more like an engine-building game than a dice game. I think that's why it doesn't feel repetitive. Your engine is always improving. You always have a sense of progress. The pace is fast so if you don't grab the victory point cards quickly they'd be gone in no time.

I also played a prototype designed by Wan. When I read blogs and boardgame news, one of the things that I most dislike is people writing about prototypes, because these articles can only tell you very little. I'd rather the writers do not write anything at all about these prototypes which they aren't allowed to talk much about in the first place. So I won't write much about Wan's prototype. Instead I'll just mention it was interesting to put on the playtester's hat.

When I learned and played the game, I automatically tried to analyse it for problems and possible improvements. It was interesting to see a game from this perspective, and fun to imagine that your feedback could bring about some design changes in a game. I quite enjoyed the game, just like when playing any published game, even though I knew it wasn't final. The game was thematic and fun, and Wan had put in quite a lot of effort. He definitely knew the subject material.

I probably won't be able to play with Wan again until my next trip back to Kota Kinabalu, which is half a year away. I look forward to trying the game again.


wankongyew said...

Thanks for the kind words about my game! Actually, I'm not really that big of a Star Wars fan, but I got the idea for this because I liked Han's copy of Star Wars: Epic Duels and thought I'd love a more involved version of it. Also, it is very easy to get information and images on the Star Wars universe from Wookiepedia so you can lots of ideas for card effects from there.

I'm not sure that I can actually do much more with it, other than junking the silly idea of playing Force point cards out on the table as a reusable resource. In early versions that I playtested with Shan, you couldn't do this but then I found that this caused players to have very little incentive to buy Force Point cards at all.

We actually playtested it with many different rule variations before bringing it to CarcaSean. For example, buying a card brings it directly to your hand, increasing the incentive to buy a card that might make the overall deck less efficient but can be useful immediately, and allowing players to keep some cards in their hand at the end of a turn and draw back up to five, etc.

I'm going to spend more time looking at the rules of other card-based games before I do any more stuff with this. I just bought Warhammer: Invasion game during CNY and was surprised that it has very involved rules for drafting cards before an actual match. There are twenty cards included that serve no purpose except in the drafting meta-game.

Such a system would nicely solve my game's problem of the randomly availability of cards available to buy and the clunkiness and physical inconvenience of cycling through the cards whenever anyone bought something, but at the cost of making the whole playing session much longer.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed your CNY holidays and I look forward to seeing you again.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

I think you may not need to remove the concept of force point cards on the table as reusable resources. One idea I have is for some (powerful) cards, the cost to play (or buy) it includes DISCARDING some on-the-table force cards. That may prevent players from accumulating too many on-the-table force cards.

When I played the prototype I felt you have spent quite a lot of effort on it, not just in content research, but also in balancing and tweaking the game. I quite enjoyed it. And playing foul-mouthed Samuel L Jackson helped too... ha ha...