Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A first games convention demo this Saturday and major progress

Edinburgh Games Convention

Firstly, I'll be at the Edinburgh CLAYMORE Show this Saturday, 3rd August, 2013, at the Granton Campus of Edinburgh College, 350 West Granton Road, Edinburgh EH5 1QE. Doors will open to the public at 10.00am.

Cost: Adult £2.50, Child £1.50, Family £5.00 (2 Adult 2 children)

CLAYMORE Features  
Demonstration and Participation Games:  As per usual at Claymore there will be a good selection of demonstration and participation games.
Traders: Over 30 traders have been invited and some have confirmed they will be attending.
Bring & Buy: Sell your second hand wargames stuff at our Bring and Buy stand.

I'll have the latest version of Magic Maelstrom for you to look at and will be running demo games for you to try. The plan is to do brief demo sessions from 10-14:00, then run a four-player game from 14:00 to about 16:00. Let me know if you want to try the afternoon session.

Here's the draft flyer for the day;

Latest version of the game

So now we've got meeples for the standard units! This is a fundamental change from the original design idea - no more hidden stacks of counters, but, instead, players can see all units clearly. The reason for this change was negative feedback on the hidden stacks. These were seen as fine for a longer, more wargamey game, but not for a game that is to be played easily in an evening and be for a more general audience.

Open stacks led to changes in the special units such as the spy, assassin and others. In particular, the spy examine stack ability now only becomes useful for defender stacks. I removed these units and made them actions instead, powered by red resource cards. I have also now added specific abilities for each of the four sides (Ice, Light, Dark, Fire). Here is the current player reference sheet, showing some of what I have described.

And this is the most recent end game board showing the meeples in action.

Next work will be on creating new character and fate card beastie units suitable for use in stands , plus a full set of rules built from the current two-page rules which people find too cryptic!

Shown here are test army and mage units I did before settling on meeples for the current version).

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Playtesting, Mysterious Groupless Gamers, More Playtesting, Progress

Meeples and Maelstrom?
All of the good advice on board game design states that any game must not only be playtested thoroughly, but that a designer must listen to all feedback, especially on anything about the game that is not enjoyed or is found confusing.

If you want to read more on game design, in particular I'd recommend Lewis Pulsipher’s excellent ‘How to Design Epic Games' and accompanying website at  as an excellent resource for anyone designing games. There's also the Board Game Designers Forum and a Facebook group called The Card & Board Game Designers Guild.

Following this advice means I find myself always asking people what they didn't like or found difficult about Magic Maelstrom. I'm now a glutton for negative the hope of fine tuning the game.

So to recent stuff to do with Magic Maelstrom  Having already done a demo at Black Lion Games here in Edinburgh, I have signed up to do the same at Claymore in August and also recently met up a couple of times with the mysterious 'Groupless Gamers' who meet regularly in the Edinburgh Games Hub.

If you are looking for a friendly gaming bunch in Edinburgh, have a look at the Boardgame Geek Edinburgh pages to see what's happening each week. There's also the strangeprawn website for more chat on local gaming experiences - go on, try it out.

I explained a bit about Magic Maelstrom to the Groupless guys and got some first impression feedback including the suggestion of making the game more Euro by using meeples for units. As there were more players than Magic Maelstrom could cope with, we played City of Horror, at which I proceeded to die horribly whilst having fun.

The following week, we playtested Magic Maelstrom, playing with open stacks of units and the new red resource card powered special skills (steal, assassinate, rebellion, spy) instead of these being units, plus a Maelstrom value of 6 mana (up from 4). I think it was enjoyed (mostly) and it became clear that there is still new player confusion over what the cards can do and when to use them. Nothing major, but something I can improve in the card designs. Thanks to those who playtested for your time and patience!

So on to this week and a try out with the following changes with the usual crew:

  • Meeples scrounged from Carcassone and other games used to represent Armies, Mages, Cities and the Giant. Any units losing a life are placed on their side.
  • Purple cards removed from play and revised resource generation and build tables. Purple areas (bogs) are now black areas and black cards build characters.
  • Red resource card powered special skills.

In conclusion on this playtest - quicker and easier to play, as you can see your own and opponent forces easily. Removal of the purple cards giving one less resource card choice was also seen as good.

Next up, card revisions - re-design and new ideas, plus new character / beastie units that can either be played as standard counters or upright in stands, the latter to go with the meeples.