The Playtesting Convention (held at Lincoln Square Mall on November 16th, thanks to Dr. G’s Brainworks) was a huge hit! We had a fantastic turnout of teams and players, and a lot of wonderful feedback from each group.
I hadn’t been able to check out any of the games in depth until this point. I knew there were a few I really wanted to try, but I did try to make a point to visit every team and learn more about them and their game. I know I missed a few, so I promise to remedy that at the next event.
First on my “MUST TRY” list was Sabotile.
Above, you see some of the creators testing out the game.
Here is a closer view of the board. The team very kindly shared how they fabricated the board in a Facebook post. For those that missed it, the board was CNC routed using Masonite. While chatting (and playing) with the designers, I learned that they drew their plans in their program, but didn’t do a test piece to see if their tile inserts would fit- they didn’t know if it would work until AFTER they finished fabrication.
I could tell from their comments that the moment of “it worked!!!” was both relief and satisfaction at having done the design correctly.
The game itself is very tactile- it forces you to pick up and move the tiles on the board as part of the turn. I truly enjoyed the “QBert”-esque mechanics to the game. It lead to a different style of thinking and strategic planning. I did mention to the teams that I felt a tile for movement or an adaptation to movement might be helpful, but that certainly didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the game.
I was also very excited to play WAR TRAINS.
This game hit all my “that’s just too funny” buttons. When collaborating about their ideas and possible themes, the team stumbled on the idea that there are a LOT of board games about war, and a lot of games about trains, so why not combine them. (Pictures of their in-team pitch session below. Love the “boot”.)
The game itself played on a small abstract map, with most of the action being dealt with via cards or scoring, and the movement was somewhat secondary. I’m a slow concept learner, so it took me a few rounds to discover that avoiding combat in a game called WAR TRAINS was a bad idea. Once I picked up on the idea that maybe I should fight, I got into it and really enjoyed the game.
It’s a very over-the-top, tongue in cheek game, with plenty of opportunity for silliness and massacres of friends and family. Direction markers or some other way to determine where players intended to go would have been helpful (and is on their design list), but the actual play of the game had broad appeal. The session I played benefited greatly from a very enthusiastic instructor with clear and simple explanations, which made the learning much more fun and accessible.
The next game I played was Horde Hoarding.
It’s “subtitle” is : “The Dragon is Ded, we wants his stuff” – Perfect for the game.
The game is a quick and easy game, where you try to steal the most money from the dead dragon’s hoard. Your opponents want to do the same, and will even resort to trying to steal your stuff too. By having equipment cards, you can block your opponent’s thieving abilities.
This game plays very quickly-maybe 20 minutes tops. It’s simple to learn and the object is relatively easy to figure out- have the most money. I enjoyed playing this family friendly game. I mentioned a blind bid or draft might help the game development, but the open drafting didn’t diminish the game’s play ability.
Lastly, I played Five Star Frenzy.
The premise of this game is that you own a restaurant, and you want to attract customers to it by having STAFF, MENU, and ATTRACTIONS. You buy these with money throughout the game in an effort to have the most customers at the end of the day. Your opponents can sabotage you with action cards that detract from your number of customers in the door. There are defense cards that can help you recover from the action cards played against you, as well.
This game had some incredibly fun moments, and I enjoyed the resource management aspect of the game. I found that there was a “breaking point” where opponents couldn’t be beaten without serious effort (usually right about 4 points ahead of anyone else), and another option for generating money (other than the amount given at the beginning of your turn) to buy things would have been helpful. However, I see this game having fabulous potential for long term development and excellent replay value once the minor bugs are worked out. I’m also very excited to see their art, which is still in the works.
The games I didn’t play included Elimination Island, Operation Spiderhole, The Neighborhoods, Zucchini and Card Toony.
I wasn’t able to play Pirates and Skeletons, either, which made an appearance with it’s large scale board and several people gave it a walk through.
I’m looking forward to Fashion Monster, which I hope will be at the next playtesting event. (To be held at Titan Games on December 2nd.) If there are other games I am missing, please let me know! I want to check them out and tell you all about them.