I’m back! My sanity has been, at least, partially restored. And I’d like to thank those who braved my first semi-blind playtests of Roadtrip!
Gencon 2015 Roadtrip! Playtest Results
I ran six introductory games, five of which were in Double Exposure’s First Exposure Playtest Hall. My experience with the FEPH was wonderful, primarily because, as a new-to-the-industry designer I was already overwhelmed by doing my first real playtest. There was no way I was about to handle all the other intricacies of a convention by myself! My lessons learned from this experience is detailed in this article. As for the specific results, much to my great happiness, the game held up quite well mechanically. Here is a summary of the results:
- The introductory game involved taking 2 Passengers (dealt 3, discard 1) to 5 Destinations (dealt 6, discard 1). I initially tried to do an open drafting of the Destinations, mistakenly believing that it would be more efficient. It was not, so I switched over to a random deal for the remaining 5 playtests.
- 4 of 6 games were 4-person; 1 was 3-person; 1 was supposed to be 4-person, but shrank mid-game to 3-person.
- The setup (or, as it is called, Planning your Trip) took, on average time of 9.5 minutes. This excluded the one session with the Destination drafting, which took 20 minutes. The game play (or, as it is called, Hitting the Road) took an average of 63 minutes. The longest game, by the way, was long because the players were all joking and laughing about their previous highway adventures.
- 80% described the game as “Fun”.
- Only the players on the Destination drafting game described it as “slow during setup.” It was my mistake to use that technique in the introductory game. It is a much more viable mechanic for a more advanced variant play.
- Graphic design stood out as the single, consistent thing that most wanted tweaked in some way (45% of suggested changes). This included everything from a better color balance on the game board to different-sized lettering on the Highway cards. I completely agree. I’m not a graphic designer by profession, though I’m creative and know a bit about it. Rest assured, the end product will improve over the state of the current design.
- The single other consistent comment on potential changes (25%) involved suggestions on making the game more difficult. I loved this comment! I designed Roadtrip! to be adaptable. Due to this playtest format and variability of playtester experience, I intentionally chose to run an introductory game. It is very easy to make the game more difficult by adding more and trickier Passengers, adding more Destinations, decreasing starting money, and changing the rules for setup. The latter can be quite challenging as, for instance, you can play Passengers on other players, instead of discarding them.
Double Exposure – Thank you guys for making my first real playtest event easier. I say ‘easier’ not because they could do anything more, but rather because as my first playtest event I was already nervous! My nerves did die down after my first couple sessions as I built up my confidence. It was nice to feel like I had a partner in my success, especially as a one-person-show.
Two-Penny Games – What an excellent time I had at the Amberden Affair Live event! The cast played their parts well, as the rest of us tried diligently either to poison them or to reveal the impostor. I’m sad to say that my score was only mediocre – it probably had something to do with the wonderful beverage service or dessert table. Well, then again, maybe it was that my fellow butlers were devious in their movement of various items about the room. You can see my picture with Kelsey on their homepage (as of today, at least!)
Lay Waste Games – The game looks great and their tables were full. I watched for a bit and had a chance to speak with Kevin at length. I also scored a few buttons. I cannot wait for the game to arrive. I can vouch for the upgraded quality of their pieces from the expansion goals on Kickstarter. I think a dragon would be tempted to haul away that loot!
Syrinscape – Excellent RPG Live event! Again, I cannot say enough about how fantastic this sound studio is! Seriously, if you do RPGs, you’ve got to check them out. It is the single best player aid since my hand-drawn, crayon-colored, graph-paper maps. Ok, maybe it’s better than my maps, but they are serious, old-school fun. I cannot wait to hear their Gencon scream/roar tracks!
Exploding Kittens – Ok, so I looked for Tacocat (palindrome!), but could not find him. The last I heard, he was wandering the 700s. Alas, apparently in a sea of gamers a taco-shaped cat is hard to spot. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing? Luckily, my Kickstarter order was awaiting my arrival back home.