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A game I'm making: Need more blind playtesting! (please help)


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EDIT- game has changed massively, just go straight to this post http://www.rllmukforum.com/index.php?/topic/262382-a-game-im-making-realpolitikalthough-im-not-100-happy-with-that-name-either/?p=10210188

I went on holiday a couple of days ago to wet Wales, and designed a short 2-player game whilst I was there. I think it should work, haven't playtested it yet, just wanted to post it to see whhat people here think.

One person plays two spies, and the other person plays a sniper. They have to kill each other. The board is this:

post-482-0-11811400-1339254705_thumb.png

a loop of 12 spaces and space for two decks of cards. The decks of cards are just 12 cards, each with a picture of a piece on eg:
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post-482-0-53448800-1339255129_thumb.jpg
post-482-0-03422100-1339255153_thumb.jpg
etc

At the start of the game 12 pieces are placed on the 12 spaces (I used meeples from various games, had to use animals to make sure they were all different). From the identity deck two cards are dealt to the spy player, one to the sniper. This is who they are. These go face down in front of the player.

How the game plays:

Spies turn.

The player draws two cards from the movement deck, discarding and redrawing if he draws anyone not alive. He then searches through the movement deck for one extra card of his choice. He then plays these three cards in any order. When a card is played the character on the card must move one square in either direction. He can reveal the identity of a spy at this point by turning the relevant Identity Card in front of him face up. He can choose to move a revealed spy 2 places instead of one.

Note: A spy cannot move a revealed sniper and a sniper cannot move a revealed spy. If they draw one of these they must draw again if possible.

After movement all movement cards are shuffled back into the deck.

He now has three further options, or can choose to simply end his turn.

Backstab. The player removes from the board one other piece sharing a space with a spy. If this is the sniper he wins the game.

Gather information. The player can draw from the Identity Deck a number of cards up to the largest number of pieces sharing a single space with a spy. So if a spy is on a square with two other pieces he can draw 2 cards (even if one of those other pieces is also a spy). If he draws any removed pieces he discards that card and draws another. These cards are then shuffled back into the Identity Deck.

Disguise Attempt. This is only with a revealed spy on a square with another piece. The player can draw a single card from the Identity Deck (again, if he draws a removed players card that gets discarded and he draws again) and pick up his revealed spy Identity Card. He then shuffles one of them into the Identity Deck without revealing anything to the Sniper. If he did not draw the card for a piece on the same square he must shuffle that card back in, other wise it is the choice of the player. Whichever Identity Card he keeps is now the Spy piece and is placed face-down. The spy is no longer revealed.

The spy does not have to do any of these three things, and he can only do one of these things per turn, even if he has two spies still alive.

It is now the Snipers turn.

The Sniper draws one card from the deck and searches the deck for another card of his choice. These are played in any order, again by moving the piece shown on the card one square in any direction. The sniper can choose to reveal himself during this phase if he doesn't want the Spy Player to be able to move him, but he can still only move one space even if revealed.

Note: A spy cannot move a revealed sniper and a sniper cannot move a revealed spy. If they draw one of these they must draw again if possible.

After movement the movement cards are shuffled into the deck and the Sniper must shoot another character if possible. The only rule is he cannot shoot a piece on the same side as himself. So if he is on one of the squares near the cards, he cannot shoot any other piece on the rown nearest the cards. If he is on a corner he cannot shoot anyone on the row or column joining at that corner. In order to shoot someone the sniper simply removes that piece from the board. If he gets both Spies this way he wins the game.

Immediately after the sniper shoots someone the Spy player can, if they choose to, point to a single space containing a spy and ask if anything suspicious could be heard from that square. If the Sniper shot from either that space or the spaces either side then the Sniper answers "yes" otherwise "no".

Play then moves back to the Spies. Repeat until either the Sniper shoots both spies or a Spy backstabs the Sniper.

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These were taken with the 3DS so excuse the quality, but they should give some idea as to what I'm talking about:

Towards the end (a lot of deaths)

post-482-0-97034200-1339257535.jpg

Initial set up (placement doesn't matter because Identities are completely random and given out after pieces are placed)

post-482-0-64734600-1339257559.jpg

The cards only say Magic and Flux because that's what I use with protector sleeves to make the cards

post-482-0-05807000-1339257583.jpg

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I'm going to do some playtesting where possible, but I've got some thoughts on balancing the game.

To make it easier for spies:

More spies at the start.

Keep the Identity Cards you draw (and use them to Disguise Yourself).

Move more pieces/ choose more pieces to move.

Power cards, either shuffled into the Identity Deck, Movement Deck, or a random selection given to the player at the start. These would be-

Extra Move Move an extra piece of your choice this turn.

Run During movement phase, move a single piece up to 3 spaces.

Crowd Control Choose all three people to move this movement phase

Alarm Instead of normal movement phase move every character away from a space of players choice. If a player cannot move away because it is directly opposite it stays still.

Extra Information Draw a card from the Identity Deck

Jammed Gun The sniper misses his shooting phase

Surveillance Cameras After the Sniper has shot player can ask if anything suspicious was seen on a square (but not the adjacent ones) without being on it.

Security Guard- This would be a piece which cannot be killed, beginning on the top left corner, moving 5 spaces clockwise each turn. If he is on the same space, or adjacent to the Sniper then the Sniper cannot shoot.

To make it easier for the Sniper

Reduce the Spies' powers (no checking for suspicious sounds, no Gathering Information, no disguising, no moving 2 spaces).

Making the Spy reveal to use any power.

Sniper can move more pieces/ choose more pieces to move.

Spy is removed if he kills an innocent.

Sniper can shoot anyone 3 squares away, instead of not on same side of square.

2 Snipers?

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Just played a game, somehow forgot about asking about suspicious sounds. It felt like it was meant to- honing in on who you think is the killer whilst attempting to bluff who you are, but I'm concerned about the spy being able to draw everyone into a corner too easily. A revealed spy in the same corner as a sniper ought to be a won game, but maybe if the sniper does get into that position they ought to lose.

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Another game tonight. Spies won (just) towards the end I thought she was Mr Red, but after backstabbing him I was wrong, and it was acutally Mr Policeman who she never even moved. But then she shot the wrong person on the square (have no idea why, it was clear from an earlier action who I was), allowing me to reveal and move 2 spaces for the kill.

Anyway, even if it's not perfect yet there's something in this, so I've ordered a bunch of pieces which I can make prototypes of the game with and send to anybody who could do me the favour of playtesting. If anyone's interested in helping me out let me know. Cheers.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, my wooden pieces have arrived, the moose,man with hat and mafia guy are bigger than I thought, and the green army dude smaller, but everything else is bang on:

post-482-0-58499700-1340468046.jpg

I also bought some old top trumps from a charity shop to fill out the cards, but they're oversized. Who knew.

post-482-0-34710100-1340468065.jpg

Anyway, I need some playtesters. I'll send you everything you need- the cards, protectors, paper board and the good quality wooden pieces, along with a copy of the rules. All I ask you to do is play it, tell me what you think and try out some rule changes where appropriate. I'll even pay the postage and let you keep it all.

Could you turn down this:

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Don't let the 3DS' camera put you off. Post here or drop me a pm and I'll send you a copy of the game. Cheers.

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I would like to help, I think I can convince the wife to play a few games with me. How many testers do you need?

The more the merrier (until I run out of playing pieces). I might have to try cutting card to fit the sleeves though, so you won't all get top trumps in the sleeves. I'll send everyone a pm later and hopefully get the stuff sent out by saturday. Cheers all.

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All gone, I've changed the rules from the ones above. Now if you gather information you keep the cards, and use these kept cards to switch disguise. This was to encourage the spy to gather information more. Don't know if thhat will make them too powerful though.

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I had a play on my own last night, and enjoyed it! Which is odd as - like chess - it's not really a game you can play against yourself as you can't bluff yourself. Well, I can because I constantly forget things.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, feedback. I scribbled some illegible notes onto your printed manual TAR, but could you post a copy up here (or PM them to me) so I can add notes electronically? The ideas will make a lot more sense if they're in-line. Cheers :)

One thing I did think immediately is that, because each card is a duplicate of itself essentially and it may get confusing which card is operating as either your spy identity or a 'fake' identity at any given time, could you include a mat for each player with spaces for the cards laid-out, as a playaid? Something like this:

svs_spy_mat.jpg

Obviously you'd need to think hard about the text on the cards. On the Spies section, it would probably be better to say, "Do not shuffle together with collected Identity cards' or something like that?

I have to admit, keeping track of which were my spies and which were collected identities wasn't straightforward (although of course this is only a prototype, so I don't expect professional sheen :) )

I've now read and re-read the word 'spies' so many times that it's starting to look wrong, so I'll take a break for now!

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Cheers!

I've attached the rules to this post. As for player mats- it's a nice idea, but I think it's balancing amount of stuff to produce and fit into a box, with amount of times it's required. I'll see how you feel after playing it two player- it might be much easier when you stay in one place with one set of cards.

spiesvssnipers.docx

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Thanks, I'm reading it. I'll definately rewrite quite a bit of that myself to make it clearer, but I'll post a few notes here:

When you draw you just take the top card from a deck. When you search you look through all the deck to find the card you want.

The spy can choose to reveal himself even if he thinks he may be shot by the sniper (he may still have one left), but usually it would be a move to quickly get out of danger and end the game.

Any cards discarded because the piece has been removed from the board are completely discarded- they're placed out the game in a seperate discard pile.

The movement cards could be shuffled back in at the end of the turn, as long as they didn't get confused with the ID cards it doesn't matter.

I did mean sniper in that bit about close range kills.

A codeword or shorter phhrase would probably be better, but I don't think trust would be an issue. If you really were concerned then you simply remember what pieces were around that square and at theh end of the game make sure the sniper's card wasn't one of them.

About the reveal spy when dead... I'm not sure. I thought no, but my wife thinks yes. If people who are playing could tell me which they think is better then I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again!

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Cool. Even though I just played with myself (story of my life) it seemed like fun. I randomised who attacked whom and, to my surprise, the sniper won. I was fully expecting the spies to run away with it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply, I still mean to play this with another person, so I hope to offer further feedback, but I do have some questions/feedback about the rules. Hope it's useful!

Card placement

To avoid confusion I would recommend that your identity cards are kept face-down in front of the players, as suggested, but that any movement cards and "gathered information" cards are held in the player's hand (out of sight of the other player). Perhaps labelling both sides of every card with an 'I' or an 'M' to indicate their type would help me remember which was which, too. Playing a movement card should have the player place the card face up on the table in front of them, until all their moves are complete, at which point all played movement cards are returned to their deck, and the deck is then shuffled. Perhaps some of this is obvious from the rules, or common sense, but I felt being a little more explicit about where cards should be at all times would be beneficial to new players.

Revealing

It's not explicit in the rules whether a Spy must have drawn the corresponding movement card at the start of their turn in order to move a revealed Spy piece, or whether the movement of a revealed Spy piece is done in addition to any pieces moved by cards drawn. That is, can a Spy player move three pieces, then reveal one of their spy pieces and move it? Can either player choose to reveal at any stage during their movement phase?

Random thoughts

I love games which explore using a limited space, and the board size here is perfect for two players. I have idly wondered whether the game could be expanded to include additional players (perhaps on a larger board), or whether there are other roles you could develop using the same (or similar) mechanics. Feels a bit mafiascum-like! :) Would Spy Vs Spy or Sniper Vs Sniper work? Could the Sniper be given an action alternative to shooting which involved the identity cards?

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Cheers Revlob, I've redone the cards to include movement and identity on the front and back of the cards. Hopefully that'll cut down on any confusion. Good question about the spy revealing then moving- they should draw themself as one of the movement cards if they want to move. As for extending for more players, I was thinking:

3 players one sniper and 2 spies each

4 or more players- one sniper and each spy has one spy.

I want to make sure the two player stuff works first though.

Also working on power cards, just a few for both players, but I think the core needs to work first.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

OK, did a few hours of playtesting in a pub the other night. Spies won the vast majority of cases- changed the rule back so they don't keep the identity card and it evened thhings up much more. Felt the power cards were very good, the only one I think is overpowered was run, should have changed it either to move an extra character, or move one of the pieces three squares instead of one. Probably the second one as the spy gets an extra move over the sniper anyway. The spies never disguised themselves once revealed (usually only revealed to go for the kill), but given some of the power cards I think that might just be underused and don't want to remove it. Game lasted about 20 minutes on average I'd say, and I did find myself properly aganonising over certain decisions and getting my deductive mind working.

Anyway, I hope some of you who I sent my game to have also had time to play it by now. If you want the power cards I'll happily send those to you- they're straightforward to use, just ask. I do think they raise it.

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I was playtester the other night in said pub and it's an excellent little game. I managed to cheat a couple of times by not being clear on the rules but after a few goes I'd got the hang of it, and we had some tense matches. There's plenty of scope for bluffs and double bluffs, and it's well worth playing folks!

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  • 2 years later...
  • 4 months later...

I'm getting this finished now. I've playtested the current version extensively, and it's proven highly enjoyable (with the one exception of someone who didn't quite understand that they shouldn't have enabled the Chancellor's win condition so soon, but even then the next game was a lot of fun), but not blind tested it yet. And everyone at my local playtesting club, and most of the people who I would expect to happily playtest my games with no problems at Beyond Monopoly now know the rules. My current thoughts are posting a copy to those people at playtest UK London, as well as any other playtest groups in the UK, although I'm mindful of this given how much it costs and little I could get back. Whilst travelling around the country is more expensive, I'd be able to get better feedback.

Anyway, like I said, there's been a major change. It's no longer 2-player (it's 3-6) and each of the pieces represent different characters with different powers and win-conditions. The bluffing, hidden roles, and part random part deliberate choosing of who to move is the same though.

Could I ask for some people to please have a read of the rules. I've tried to make them as clear and unambiguous as possible, but am fearful of making them to wordy as a result. I've linked everything needed for a print&play version, not because I expect people to actually playtest it, but because it should clarify anything referred to in the rules.

Oh, and if anybody wants to suggest a better name than RealPolitik please do so.

Link to everything here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B275RF-uUAoBak5vWDZZd1NuSjA&usp=sharing

Rules.docx

Rules.pdf

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