Wednesday, 13 March 2013

MM: Standard Game - New Fate Card Ideas

Building on the proposed changes from feedback responses, here are some suggested Fate Card revisions for the Weather Cards, plus 'The Drowned Land' Card.

What ideas do you have? Please let me know - I've started below.

Here is a PDF list of the current Fate cards.

The Fate Card images are here.

The weather cards were originally hand fillers of limited use. They could be used for their colour to activate an area or allowed the playing of a rainbow card on a discarded rain card for a mana point boost.

The Drowned Land doesn't really work - it is unlikely that anyone would want to build a city in the Maelstrom.

This gives the opportunity for the creation of new cards to replace the following;

3 x Sea (Pale Blue)

  • Sea Hag - same stats / effects as a witch, if rebels, than buggers off (lose two health) as difficult to control, can move two areas with stack if one of them is sea, immune to Maelstrom effects.
  • ?
  • ?

3 x Highlands (Red)

  • Sell-sword. STR 5, once per combat can be bribed to swap sides at cost of 2 mana or stopped from doing so for 3 mana .
  • ?
  • ?

5 x Lowlands (Yellow)

  • Treachery?
  • Confusion?
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

4 x Moorlands (Green)

  • Double-cross?
  • Buried treasure hoard?
  • ?
  • ?

4 x Bogs (Purple)

  • Will-o-the-Wisp - draw one unit away from combat
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

1 x Maelstrom/Islands (Black)

  • Sea Troll - STR 6, if rebels, than buggers off (lose two health) as difficult to control, can move two areas with stack if one of them is sea, immune to Maelstrom effects.

MM: Standard Game - Proposed revisions

These are based on the most recent feedback.

The main issue remains the amount of time per player turn / game round.

My plan has always been to make Magic Maelstrom  a game easily playable in an evening session. I think it is still possible to make some changes to achieve this, then have optional rules and expansions that will allow a longer version to be played by those that prefer it.

Main Changes

1. Reduce the Fate Card draw from 8 to 3.
Fewer cards and options, less thinking required, quicker play.
2. Remove the weather Fate Cards from current playtest games (see post on making new Fate Cards). All remaining fate cards will have a potential use beyond just their colour for area activation.

3. Reduce the stacking limit to 3 including cities, so there are fewer units per area and therefore fewer units to remember the location for.
This means your home area can only support 30 units and you will need to expand sooner as you start with 25 units.
[Optional Rule] - Play without the faction markers except where required for identifying characters or Fate beasties. Everyone can see what you've got, but so can you.
4. Defenders - deploy two, not one defender token face down at start and when replenishing.
Feedback on the defenders was positive, so increase their role. This is also to make a slight change to tie in with the revised limits for stacking and the expected need to expand beyond home regions sooner.

Possible Changes

1. Revise the Resources?
a) Reduce the number of resources types?
There was feedback about more resources being needed - I assume this was number of cards available per turn, not the number of types of resource. 
If there were fewer resource types, there would be less decision making on unit purchase etc. 
Remove Pale Blue (Sea) and merge Purple (Bogs) with Black (Maelstrom/Islands) - fewer cards, less choice, quicker turns?
Moving into Sea would then be by any card colour.
b)  Change the dice rolls / resource type relationships?
This would change the probability of the generation of cards. 
This is it currently:
I'm not sure what would be gained, unless reducing the resource types as described in 1(a) above?
This is what you can buy currently with the resource cards:

c) Remove cities from the game?
This would reduce the types of unit to either buy or remember the location of when deployed.
Needs thought. Perhaps this would be something for the MM: Scotland version?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

MM: Standard Game - Blind-testing Results (Feb 2013)

An Overview of feedback from blind-testing questionnaires submitted after playing the MM Standard Game (February 2013). Really useful - thanks to all the playtesters.

I've now created an online form on Google for playtest feedback.

My comments are in orange below.

Game Length
4 rounds, 6 hours, so 1h 15m per round

Rules, setup and starting
Rules were seen as average to very difficult to read (at first) and understand. Setup and starting play was seen as the same. Examples of game play were requested (several times!).

What was liked best?
  • Mechanics seem well thought out and work well, as does Attack / Defence.
  • Liked the system of turning over units with more than one health.
  • Characters, fate cards, the map/board, playing pieces, strategy, resources, mysterious defenders were all good.
  • Map was well balanced and each region did feel different.
  • City/Mage reserve chart mana calculator worked well.
  • Spy/Thief/Assassin worked well - were underused by some.
It seems easy to forget to use the special abilities, so I'll highlight them in the player turn reference bit of the two-page rules.
  • Good variety of fate cards and characters.
  • Content is good, rules + processes need refining.
  • Once we had worked out / agreed on rules, they worked well.
  • Maelstrom adds nice risk to game.
Similar to other feedback and encouraging!

What was liked least?

  • Complicated on first play, turn length / game length, combat / retreat from combat, forgetting what units were in which stack, some rules need to be clearer.
Agreed, need to reduce turn length / game length further, plus fuller rules with examples of play. See stacks comment later.
  • What do the weather cards do? Rainbow card confusing
Originally, the weather cards were meant to be fillers, i.e.  only useful for their card colour, but with no other effect than allowing a rainbow to be played on them. A rainbow card is playable on a discarded rain card (Fate card with Rain Icon).
SUGGESTED SOLUTION:  Remove the weather / rainbow cards or replace them with alternatives? 
If this is done, then either remove 54 fate cards (a production deck) including other Fate cards or replace weather/rainbow cards with new, active contents. 
  • Lots of waiting around.
See above.
  • Unclear how to move into an area / card colour use.
Needs example of play.
  • Maelstrom hardly ever spins.
I have checked this. For the Maelstrom to spin the red die needs to have a higher total than the other two dice. Thanks to, I've checked the probability and the Maelstrom is likely to spin roughly 1 in 10 dice rolls (9.26% of the time), so nearly once every two rounds or twice per four round game.
Is this not frequent enough? 
If this is changed to be the other way round, i.e. the Maelstrom spins if the two dice are higher than the red die, then the Maelstrom will spin roughly in roughly 8 in 10 rolls, which is a lot (83.8%).
  • Easy to forget where your units are deployed within stacks / in which areas.
This seems to be a common issue. The faction marker is need to mark characters and Fate card beasties controlled by each player and keeps hidden from other players what you may have.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION:  Reduce the stacking limit to 3 including cities, so there are less units per area. This means your home area can only support 30 units and you will need to expand sooner.
[Optional] - Play without the faction markers except where required for characters or Fate beasties. Everyone can see what you've got, but so can you.
  • 8 fate cards are too many.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION:  Draw 3 Fate cards per active player turn.
  • Combat is too simple.
It needs to be simple, or the game will be longer, which is the current main issue that needs sorted. Perhaps have optional advanced combat?
  • Discard rules are unclear.
OK - will add in with other rules improvements and examples.
  • Corner regions (=areas?).
Does this mean that it wasn't clear whether you could move 'diagonaly' at corner meeting points of areas? If it does, needs examples. Longer term, amend board - not feasible just now. 
  • Is losing health per unit or stack?
If in combat, then the stack. The stack is the army in that battle (combat) and if the battle is lost, the whole stack is flipped over (loses one health). Otherwise, it depends on Fate card content.
  • More resource cards needed.
Not sure about this? Was considering fewer, possibly remove Pale Blue (Sea) and merge Purple (Bogs) with Black (Maelstrom/Islands) - fewer cards, less choice, quicker turns...moving into Sea would then be by any card colour.
  • When retreating from combat, the loser should not be able to move into land that isn't already theirs - perhaps disband - in our game, winner and loser swapped places.
This isn't how it should work - needs better described. 
Retreating is only possible to an area owned by the retreating player or to a defender occupied area, i.e retreat to a friendly area or fight defenders. If you can't do either of the latter two, your units are disbanded (removed from the board).
Other observations?

  • Allow optional retreat before combat?
Interesting idea - perhaps have as an optional rule?
  • Unsure about buying resource cards during active turn - is this done only at the start (planning ahead) or throughout your turn?
Only at the start - needs better described.
  • Confusion over resource card availability based on areas occupied, i.e. can you ever have more cards than the number of areas of the card colour?
You can't buy more resource cards than you have appropriate areas of the matching colour in the resource card purchase phase.
You can have more resource cards than you have appropriate areas of the matching colour if you have received them outwith your turn.
  • Some things have weird unpronounceable names.
Perhaps a glossary is required...
  • Explanation of character unit numbers would be useful.
OK - will add this to the quick reference chart.
  • Make the two sides of the Army units more distinguishable to avoid deployment of wrong side up, i.e. starting with 1 and not 2 health.
Good idea.
  • Point 3 of instructions should say 'units AND areas'.
Will fix this.
  • 'Seduce character' fate card needs explaining - is this only from another player or the unused characters.
Only from an opponents deployed character, i.e. one with a unit on the board.
  • Eilidh Jensdottir card has 4 Strength, but the corresponding unit token has 5 Strength.
Will fix this.
  • An example of the first round of a game would help to clarify the rules.
  • I would have liked some lore and then objective of the game at the start of the rules.
Yes, I had some game background / history in the orginal rules, so can resurrect this and add in some lore.
Would you play this game again?  Would you play the long version (8 turns)?
Yes - likely too, but needs to be shorter turns / game length.
Longer version only if turns / rounds shorter.
What do you normally play, what is your gaming session length on average?
Catan, Chess, Risk, Carcassone, Monopoly, Cards, Cleudo, Diplomacy. 1-3 hours