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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Play Test Report - Oh, the agony, the agony...

Okay, so I have a little time today to let loose on how the play test went.

In a word: chaotic.  But controlled chaos that did exactly what it was supposed to do.  And that was to let us discover what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong in both the rules and the scenario.  Both are being revamped to improve how the game will play and how the objectives will 'guide' the players.  Also, got a better insight as to what the players of the game will want.  More blood!  More sunken ships!  Imagine that?

Lest I forget, I want to express my gratitude to all those who chose to participate in the play test and, especially, to just about everyone sticking around for the discussion session afterwards.  All of the ideas were heard and many of them are being used to guide us forward.  The only idea that didn't work, and only because of the scale of the game, was to have each player go in turn.  Non-starter, that, because if we get the full 32 players then 31 people wait while one person acts.  While not every idea brought forward, at the post play test meeting or since, will be used, I'm happy to hear them all.  If we did use them all that wouldn't work very well since some of them are opposite of others.  But, again, appreciate all the input.  It shows me the level of interest in making this event a success.  THANKS!

Some of the best elements of the play test were the passers by who showed considerable interest in the game and a few even joined in the game - including a 10 and 11 year old pair of girls who seemed to have a really good time and their mom got a kick out of us letting them join in.  And, as one member noted, many of those passers by expressed interest in our local club.  Since that is one of the main reasons for all this effort - to entice people into our hobby and our club - that was very rewarding to hear.

There are pictures below and, for those wondering about the environment, we are fortunate to meet in a public library meeting room with plenty of tables (we used 16 for the game space and a couple more for setting things on - and there were still tables left for one group to play another game in the small side room that we get to use most of the time), central heat and air, decent lighting, a wonderfully supportive staff, and fast food not far away.  Oh, and electronic key access for both before and after patron hours room availability - we had the room from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM if needed.  Some of the staff even came in and enjoyed looking over our 'very unfinished' setup.

A couple more things before we get to the photos.  I've decided we need to use magnetic stands placed next to the ships to hold the figures on so we have a visual record of where the ship's crew is - our ships are a bit cluttered for placing figures on the actual decks (though some clever players did put their captives on the decks ).  It was also pointed out that the town occupant's objectives needed to be adjusted to ensure a more active role, similar feedback on the merchant vessels as well.  One suggestion I am going with is to have the town folk going out into their fields to harvest and/or plant in order to keep the colony fed.  And maybe they just might be planting their wealth to protect it from dastardly pirates - or the tax collector!  Still rummaging around the back corners of my brain on what to do with the merchants but one word keeps cropping up over and over again: smugglers.

As you will see in the photos, lots of work still to go despite the immense amount of effort already put in.  Oh, and a special thanks to Aaron for the 'illuminated smoke puffs.'  I'm counting his pair of hands as the twelfth set working on the project.  More puffs, Aaron!  Lighting optional, of course.

Okay, now for the photos, the first batch are from work sessions, the play test comes a bit later.
 The above is our very own Davey Jones, but players don't want to encounter him!  He is very bad news and his appearance is entirely of a capricious nature.
 The 'young' man above is Poseidon and he might do you good or he might do you ill.  And he is likely to be run by a player - will be if we get 32.
 Same with Ms. Caplypso here - she gave those young girls a real kick.
  And here is a display of the 'forces of nature, the 'troops' for Poseidon and Calypso.  The younger set should get some joy from this - and the older set will be duly annoyed by the interference.  Hey, the game master has to have fun, too!
 A couple of paired islands laid out to decide how to add a little extra texture.
 Testing out the arrangement for the pirate town.
 Rob, our flag maker, assisting with terrain building.
 A better view of the pirate town, room for figures to combat in.  Rob's insight helped out here.
 And the town area laid out in varied sand texture to define its limits.  Note that the green and brown patches of grass are now cut to shape and glued in place.
 Here are the four main islands set up as a unit (not as for the game) with two town 'squares' set on and a couple of 'green works' stands and some troops.  Do you see them?  By the way, the town squares are from Lemax's Xmas stuff, sheet cut in half, this is the brick, also used the cobblestone.
 Here is a closer shot of the troops and a piece of foam holding up a couple of grass tufts.  Those are British.
 And here are a couple of palm trees, not yet colored to taste.
 A lower angled shot.
 Here you go, the sand textured pieces - the four smaller islands and reefs and the two lagoons.
 This is the color all of the sand will be by the time of the game - that's four colors of brown under four colors of green.  May be some bare sand on the beaches - and they might be in varied colors of sand.
 The beginnings of the volcano, cork squares.  Small island on left, main volcano on right.  The volcano will be built in two pieces - with some special effects planned!
 Another view of a couple of islands, sanded, with a couple of the smaller islands added on top.  Just to give me a sense of the versatility of these pieces beyond the planned game.  Not as they will be used in the main event.
 Several units of figures placed on for a sense of scale.
 A closer look at some of the French, painted by Charlie.  About time his figures made an appearance here!
 And more.
 The palm trees and figures to show how well they match in size.
 Not the final arrangement, but one of the native shrines.  It will be on its own stand by game day.
 And there it is on the two native islands - paired here rather than separate as they will be for the game.

 This is the eastern table looking south, on the right is one of the native islands with its two villages.  And of course a few ships here and there.  All of the palms are just stuck into some raw insulating foam for this day but they will be on nicely textured bases soon enough.
 Here is the west island, that is the British town in the foreground.
 Dutch town in the foreground here and more ships roaming about, looking north.
 And the Spanish town with Mike seated to the left furiously gluing together artillery to paint and assign to the ships in need.  Only 60 pieces to get done.
 And we can't leave out the French, that is the town Chris painted.  He missed out on play test because he was recovering from surgery.  We're pretty sure he wasn't wounded by any fire from any of the ships!
 A closer in shot of some ship to ship action.  Something I am working hard to improve - already have some new charts and order mechanisms in place and working with Joe on the combat side of things.  It will flow much smoother on game day.
 The Dutch town again with a bunch of figures roaming about.
 The native player under severe attack by the pirates - and a good sport who took his beating well and then provided constructive feedback at the end of the day on how to make the natives work better.  Thanks!  And, sadly, I'm drawing a blank on his name right now.
 One of Aaron's puffs after the shrine was bombarded by the Dutch.
 The poor Spanish!  Here they are under attack by the pirates allied to the British.  The town raised a black flag and paid a heavy ransom - and lost some of its female citizenry who 'elected' to spend time with the pirates.  The British beat a retreat when the black flag was hoisted.
 Is that ship closing in for the kill or about to get raked from stem to stern by the ship dead ahead?
 A general view of ships in action, north of the pirate town I believe.  The ship on the right, from George's collection, is a non-player ship to add to the visual appeal of the game.  (Though it might get put into action along with the several others he has.)

Well, if I counted right, that's 38 more photographs for your enjoyment.

Now, what about the 'great disaster'?  The night before the play test, as I was pre-loading my vehicle to save time in the morning, I found that the four main islands were stuck solid together.  I'd allowed many hours for the glue to dry under the green and brown texture that was added (no sand on those pieces yet) but apparently not nearly enough time.  Probably didn't help that they were stored under compression to avoid warping.  After a few choice expressions, I very, very carefully pried them apart one at a time using two nail pry bars.  Except for a bit of damage on one beach that will be easily concealed, the only other result was some of the texture got a bit messed up, one green piece pretty much gone and many patches in need of some careful work to remove the veneer that lifted off.  That was it - unless you count the frazzle to my nerves!

Lots of work to go but getting excited to see it all set up and people roaming about having a good time - and cursing their luck - or would that be gloating over their success?  Yo ho!

1 comment:

  1. *SO* promising!
    I don't want to think about the *work* required to reach this step: cheers!