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sheppy avatar 12:25 PM on 08.15.2011
Playtesting: Bedlam, Jaffe, and Smashed Puppies


This past weekend, I headed out with a mission. In my possession, I had three card games of my own design so I wanted playtesters, opinions, and generally ways to fix my creations. Using generic excuses like "picking up my copy of Quarriors," I travelled as far as Bloomington with my games in tow, hoping to share the concepts and try to track down the issues that exist.

Of course, anytime I test out a new design, I'm nervous as all fuck. The first aspect is simply placing something you worked very hard on out for display. Whether people love it or hate it, all their opinions, whether good or bad, reflect on you. No game design is perfect and sadly you, as a designer, spill your crudely drawn heart and soul onto a table for many others to come and essentially bash the holy bejeezus out of it. Even though I know the game will turn out bad, there is the confirmation that stings.

The other issue is in the simple concept that you, as the designer, know how to play the game and thus, you've built in strategies and concepts beyond the simple scoring. The challenge you face is if other players can pick up on how the game is supposed to be played. After all, the design is only as strong as people can figure out.

This reminds me of one of the many times I point to in explaining why David Jaffe is a damn good dude. Turning back the time to Calling All Cars many, many playtests. David Jaffe was blogging everything he was feeling during this time and it's 100% true. He was humble, funny, frustrated when people didn't know how to work it, and ultimately showed a bit of the nervousness I face everytime I have people play my games. David Jaffe, having met him, a cool dude. Aside from all that, guess I should get around to talking about results.


The highly controversial smashed puppy card. Some want more, some want less gore...

Haiku: The Card Game
Currently being considered for pickup from a game publisher, this is the one I have least to worry about. As a quick party game, anytime I got this one broken out, people agree it's a good party game. Criticism typically centers around having the syllable count pointed out and, well, not silly enough. In general, the feedback here is positive and no real changes are needed.

Imps Vs Puppies
This is another success. The concept is a trick taking game like Euchre or Hearts. Players have a team of Imps with different strengths and Abilities. Placing them face up let's their ability trigger while face down, their identity is secret. After most of the abilities go off, strongest imp smashes the crate which may or may not be a bomb. When the game is over, whoever smashed the most puppies, killed the most imps, and defused the most bombs, becomes the winner.

If I wanted to slave over this one for the next 6 months, I'm sure I could make it even better. Right now, people love it in the current form and a couple people wanted to buy copies during the test. So I just need to finalize some stuff and this one will be ready to go.

Bedlam Heights
Of the three, this is the one which needs fixing the most. You remember the section where I mentioned a desire to get the game working? Yeah, that's Bedlam all over. First thing is the explosions are too big and the chaining is broken. But more importantly, only I really seemed to know how to play since, of the two playtests, only I ended up with a positive score. You see, the penalty for blowing up the wrong city blocks is steep, but it's designed as such. The explosions are also too big. I'm hoping to fix this issue in a couple days and giving this another shot.


You may see this game in your local game store in late 2012...


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