Happy Thanksgiving, Roadtrippers!
I hope that all of you had a tasty and warm Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends and feasting. Moreover, I want you to know how thankful I am that you’ve helped me make Roadtrip! and VickieGames better. So, thank you, playtesters! Thank you, readers! For those of you who haven’t yet seen, I posted a D&D creature I crafted for your RPG pleasure – The Azlanti Turkey. I added it to my weekly Runelords’ game this week and it was a big hit. My 14th level adventurers ended up capturing it in hopes that they could later locate a mate and breed them out of Sandpoint. (What else could possible go wrong with that plan? Could that be the start of a new Occult campaign?) Of course, with this campaign’s sin system, the gluttonous faerie dragon familiar might roast it up first.
During the busy holiday week, however, I did get a chance to playtest Roadtrip! two more times. The first was for International Game Day. The Rockridge branch of the Oakland Library had a great event inviting local designers and putting out published favorites for folks to come by for a few hours and play. The second was on Thanksgiving itself. Yes, I still had some family who had not played it yet. I know lots of designers subject their families to their projects early on and often. I have tried to keep that to a minimum. I’m closing in on 50 playtests! By the end of the week I’ll have the official count for you. In the meantime, here’s what I tested and learned over the holiday.
A robust Play-To-Learn version tested. The tricky part with an introductory Roadtrip! is that you need to get people playing fast – a task not so easily accomplished because of the decisions intentionally left to the players during setup/planning phase. To streamline setup, I decided to structure the trip around picking up a Passenger in Los Angeles. Everyone starts with a teardrop trailer too. On the way to L.A., each player has to visit one random National Park; on the way home, each player has to visit one random National Monument. In other words, for the first half of the game, there is no added complication of dealing with family. The Itinerary is small and the vehicle provided is robust enough for the small vacation. Though this Learn-To-Play version definitely needs more testing and a few more tweaks, the results were enough for me to know I’m close.
Ways to make Highway Cards more interactive compiled. Well, at least some ways. I’ve three main contenders at the moment:
- Blocking Cards – Blocking cards could potentially serve three purposes: encouraging players not to just dish out a negative card; allowing a more defensive play; giving players something else to do with their hazards. To implement this idea, however, a few questions would have to be addressed. First, what type of cards can be used to block? On the one hand generic or typed blocking cards could be added (e.g. Spare Tire or a First Aide Kit). On the other hand, rater than having ubiquitous blocking cards, a player would have to match the hazard type to negate an incoming hazard (e.g. an Auto Hazard blocks an Auto Hazard). Second, how do you play them – instantly, in response to another player’s hazard, or pre-played, in anticipation of a future block?
- Conditional Boons – A secondary condition could be added to some or all of the boons cards, which would incentivize interaction. For instance, the Tacky Souvenir boon (spend $1 to buy a souvenir), could have the White Elephant Gift added condition (give your souvenir to another player for +2 Mood). Or, the Raid the Piggy Bank (gain $3), could have the Money Wire condition (give $2 to another player to gain +1 Mood).
- Change Highway Card Play – Instead of any card can be played on any player, require that hazards only be played on yourself and boons on other players. Admittedly, this would necessitate a change in the boon cards a bit, otherwise they’re benefits might not actually come into play.
As I evaluate these ideas, the tricky part is in keeping any changes simple. Adding complication to Roadtrip! does not help the game, if only because I maintain the game should be approachable for novice gamers. Extra conditions or added ways to use the cards, don’t fulfill that requirement necessarily. Yet, requiring certain cards to be played only in certain ways, while less complicated, may also change the game too much. Regardless, this is just my introductory list. Please let me know if you have other ideas as to how to encourage more interactivity.
- Family & Friends – Thank you all for the encouragement and support – I hope everyone had a great holiday.
- Oakland Public Library – I’ve heard other libraries held similar International Game Day gaming; be sure to check your local libraries for fun events!
- A.E. Marling – Thanks for playtesting Roadtrip! and providing feedback!
- Syrinscape – I’m so very excited to use your sound system in my Rise of the Runelord’s Runeforge encounters starting this week!
Coming soon on VickieGames…
- More Tips & Tricks from a Female GM – have a few more ideas to share and an update of my last post
- The First Fifty Playtests – thoughts about what I’ve learned after 50 playtests of Roadtrip!
- A Point Does Not a Trend Make – lessons learned from my first time seriously playtesting
- Demographics?! What should a designer know about that marketing stuff?
- For the love of D&D randomness, I decided to start Project Random Dungeon…. The dungeon introduction is nearly done!
- More information on a possible Tabletopia version of Roadtrip!