Tuesday, January 20

Playtesting Three: Blind

The third stage of playtesting is 'blind playtesting'. By this point you've an almost finished game and an almost finished rulebook. You provide this to people (ideally not friends and family - but people who can be honest with you) and let them learn the game from the rules - rather than being taught the game by you. You can either watch them, taking notes but not teaching them how to play, or for more un-biased feedback you can just send them a copy of the game and let them send you the feedback.

As usual, there are pros and cons. To get good feedback on the rulebook, the rule book needs to be nearly finished - it doesn't need final art, but it should have the diagrams and almost final layout. The playtesters are likely to provide feedback about the game rules too: They like it; they don't; what about changing this rule or that rule or the components. You'll have to be able to judge the feedback according to your goals. A lighter gamer might suggest something that makes the game simpler, and which makes the game much better in their eyes. A heavier gamer might suggest a change that makes the game deeper. Which do you use? Or neither? You'll need a pretty good idea of where in the market you want to position the game, and judge the feedback according to those criteria. Since this is something you'll likely do near the end of the game's development it's hard both to accept changes (you're happy with the game as it is) and conversely it's hard to stop fiddling with things. You need to be able to judge the suggested changes objectively against your criteria for the game (harder said than done) and draw a line under the game when you're happy with it.

Hopefully, at this stage you've got a great game that everyone loves. Be prepared for some people to hate it though. If you get negative feedback, you'll need to judge whether it's due to a flaw in the game, or just not the playtester's kind of game. Again, this can be difficult.

Want to find out what blind playtesing feels like? Help me playtest Sumeria. I'm looking for four volunteers, two in the US, one in the UK and one in Germany/Europe. It's a family euro-game so: simple rules, fairly deep gameplay, plenty of choices, wafer-thin theme. If that's not your kind of thing please don't apply, I don't need hardcore American gamers telling me it's rubbish because of a lack of plastic miniatures and dice-based combat!

What's in it for you?

  • You get a prototype copy of Sumeria months before it's released
  • You get your name in the rules as a playtester
  • You're entitled to a 50% discount on the finished product

What do you have to do?

  • Play the game a lot with your game groups
  • Make a note of: who played, whether they've played before, who won, play time
  • Provide feedback on the game (including suggested rule changes)
  • Provide feedback on the rules - how can I improve the clarity and completeness

How do you sign up? Leave a note in the comments to this post stating which country you live in and why you'd make an excellent playtester. I'll pick the lucky recipients at the end of this week.


Anonymous said...

I'd absolutely love to help as one of your U.S. playtesters. I play all types of games, including heavy Euros, war games, and component and theme heavy American style games. But my favorite games are always those that I can play with my family, are easy to learn, and yet present interesting strategic decisions. Also, over the last year I've started working on a blog, posting a few game reviews on the internet, and helping out with a couple of other playtests. Thus I'm prepared to commit to the work required, write up my findings/opinions, and will not be offended should you end up ignoring any of my recommendations.


Maximus said...

I would love to playstest your game for you. I am a huge fan of Euros and have playtested before so I know how to offer constructive feedback. I play games with many groups as well, so I can offer a lot of variety in gameplayers - from hardcore gamers to my extended family who aren't quite hardcore, but are avid.

sigtaulefty on BGG

Anonymous said...

I can't think of a better game company to playtest for. I love "It's Alive" (a game I won in Jack's contest). The quality of components are great and the artwork highly suited to theme. If this game hits the same spots as "It's Alive" (fast, tense, easy rules) and as much fun (laughter filled), then I hope my U.S. buddies and I can help you out. We game twice a week: Wednesdays and Fridays.

Seth Jaffee said...

I would be happy to be one of your American playtesters. I enjoy the playtesting process and love to give feedback on prototypes and rules, and have played many prototypes before (my own and those of others). I get many opportunities to play games every week, and should be able to offer quality feedback in a timely manner.

- Seth

Anonymous said...

If you are still looking for a European (Belgian) play tester, I'd like to sign up. We have a gaming group of about 16 people that gathers on Fridays. We play all kinds of games, since the choice of game is always determined by a different person. Needless to say interests vary from person to person. Other then that I live and play games with my wife and 3 kids. For this audience we usually play 'lighter' games, although the Mrs. tends to enjoy our Friday sessions more and more.

Anyway, hope you’ll find some good people for this and good luck with the game.

Neonblue on BGG

Maximus said...

Updated to include country -- USA,
I would love to playstest your game for you. I am a huge fan of Euros and have playtested before so I know how to offer constructive feedback. I play games with many groups here in the USA as well, so I can offer a lot of variety in gameplayers - from hardcore gamers to my extended family who aren't quite hardcore, but are avid.

sigtaulefty on BGG

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack.
You needing an ex-pat Brit in Japan as a playtester?
If you do I'm probably one of only a couple of folk who can cover that base for you!
Laters, Luke


Mr Bond said...

Hey Jackson. I'd love to playtest your latest release. I'm happy to play most games, though I spend most of my time moving betweens euros and wargames. I'm the co-founder of the Norwich Board Gamers. We meet every Tuesday evening and mostly play euros. We have about 40 members, though if they ever all turned up on the same night we'd swamp the pub. I can get Sumeria played regularly at the club and also arrange extra sessions so it can be tested by the majority of the Norwich group (we cover a wide variety of gaming tastes). Of course my partner, family and other more casual gaming friends can be roped in as well. My BGG profile will give you a hint about my "gaming credentials" and can be used to contact me - username: Otterdance.

Good luck with Sumeria.


Anonymous said...

I'm game! I can run Sumeria with my two regular game groups and get you all the feedback you want!

Anonymous said...

I suppose I shoulda left some contact info...duh.



Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm from Singapore, can I still apply? What are the reasons for picking me? Well, I can't really offer you anything special. Just that I am not a very gamer-y gamer, meaning that I'll be playing with groups that have limited gaming experience (TtR, PR, Agricola, Citadels, Catan, etc). If you need someone to touch that demographic (casual gamers) here in Sunny Singapore, then I'm your guy.

Name: Prince Mousey
Email: princemousey AT hotmail DOT com
BGG: princemousey

Anonymous said...

I help run a high school gaming club in the US and we've been doing some playtesting when our schedule allows. We have about 10-12 kids age 14-17 that have done some good work playtesting different games. We do have a couple games to test right now that we haven't had time to so due to holidays and weather closings on days we meet during the week, but we should be back on track this week.

Our kids play card games, euros, miniatures, and anything else the other admin and myself bring in. I've even gotten them started on games like Agricola. They really will play anything I put on the table.

If you'd like to include us, GeekMail me (FunkyBlue on BGG) and I'd be glad to give you any details or answer any questions you may have.

Outside the gaming club, I do have a regular gathering of 12-14 people who meet every month to play games that I could try this out with and I'm also going to start attending a local gaming club that meets every 2 weeks.

Thanks for the opportunity!

BrainStorm said...

Hi Jack,
My group and I (you can find us at (spielportugal.blogspot.com) would like to help you playtesting Sumeria.

As the name of our blog shows, we are from Portugal. We play at Fridays and Saturdays and I usually play with other group at Lisbon on Wednesdays.

We were also the testers of Machu Picchu from Mac Gerdts, so we have experience in playtesting ;)

If you need any info please mail me to brainstormpt@gmail.com

Best Wishes,

Barba Ruiva said...


I see you have candidates from Portugal already.
In any case, My nick at BGG is Mallgur. I also have regular gaming sessions with a group in Oporto every Thursday and also on the last Saturday of each month. We have around 20 people present at these meetings, most of them already experienced players and one is also credited as a game designer at BGG (Johnnybegood). We play pretty much anything from party-games to Wargames passing through every other genre (don't like the AT/Euro division thing).

Anyway, if you wish I am sure we could playtest it for you and give you some feedback. I could arrange for specific meetings of group members to do this or use our regular meetings.

Geekmail me if interested and best of luck with the game!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to help playtest Sumeria especially because it's always good to see new publishers coming through & helping them where possible has to be one of the best things you can do for the hobby.

Me personally, I love a lot of Euros with plenty of strategies/choices. The fact that I would be able to take the game with me to at least three groups (one of which you may be a part of soon) means I'd be able to playtest with a large number of gamers & thus get more feedback can only be good.

You know who I am & how to get in touch; Tonksey!

Reedo said...

I'd love to playtest.

I'm Colorado, USA.

I have a very active, twice weekly gaming group.



Reedo said...

Oh, yeah...
Contact info

Jeremy Reed
3907 Alemeda Circle
Colorado Springs, CO

Anonymous said...

Hi CaptainJax, if you're looking for a Euro to test your euro, I'd love to be on playtest team. Austrian, gaming seriously for the last 30 years, experience in playtesting, currently playing games with three active groups as well as family, and family-style eurogames are definitely up our alley.

If I can help you with your endevor, just geekmail me at E Decker.


Anonymous said...

I can be one of your US playtesters. I am part of two active game groups that play several times a month, and I have two children that I am grooming to become gamers. I'm always interested in family style games, and I'm starting to hone my reviewing skills so I will be able to give you excellent feedback on the game, the bits, the rules, and the experience. I hope I am one of the chosen playtesters!

J Wilhm
Norman, OK, USA
BGG ID: jwilhm

Mike said...

Hey Jackson, we'd love to playtest for you. We have an established game group (www.greencountrygamers.com) that now meets twice monthly, plus Brian and I meet weekly for design/playtest sessions (www.royalsteamworksociety.com).


Mike said...

Woops! USA, also in Oklahoma.


Cath said...

I'd love to play test your game and am based in Cambridge, UK. I am involved in many different gaming groups so can test with many different types of people. My boardgamegeek ID is cj1582 if you want to see what games I usually play etc.


Anonymous said...

Hi, i'm from ITALY...
I did some playtest of games and i have a group of my friends that use to playtest new games...
If you want, I'M HERE!!!!

that's my email:



Anonymous said...

Hey Jackson,

I would love to playtest your new game. Mal Ross has introduced me to both Border Reivers and Its Alive. You probably already guessed I am in the UK


Anonymous said...

I'd be happy to be a US playtester. My game design group meets weekly, and we generally spend half the time playing games. Besides, if we playtest for you, then we'll probably try to submit a game to you as well...


Anonymous said...

I would be willing to be a US playtester. If the prototype is available before the end of February, I could take it to a weekend retreat with a bunch of other gamers (some casual, some more obsessed) to play. If the game is under an hour, I play daily with co-workers who enjoy games like Mü, Carcassonne, and Citadels. I also play with reasonably intelligent children frequently - they're six and ten and have memorized every card in Dominion. Our other favorite games include Galaxy Trucker, Settlers, T&E, Race for the Galaxy, Circus Flohcati, No Thanks, and many others. chris.sjoholm@gmail.com.

richardtempura said...


I would love to playtest your game.

I'm a designer myself and I have an outstanding crew of playtesters to help me out.

I'm in Canada.


Anonymous said...

I would love to be of help as a U.S. playtester. I recently got back into gaming and am having loads of fun learning new games. I enjoy all types of games ranging from light to heavy. I am involved with two different gaming groups, one of which has successfully playtested a game before. I also play games with family members so would have access to a variety of gamers from novices to hardcore gamers.

Tim said...

If you are looking for a U.S. playtester with credited experience, I'd really appreciate the opportunity to serve you. After reading the summary on BoardgameNews.com, the game really sounds like something I'd enjoy. I love Michael Schacht designs; both China and Patrician are among my most played games. I see the similarities in Liekens' design.

Please feel free to PM me on BGG: my username is GamesOnTheBrain.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, linked wrong url.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to volunteer for U.S. playtester. You would choose me if you want to know how well your eurogame will rate on average with BGG users. There is a correlation of 0.850665 between my ratings and the BGG average ratings for the 216 games I've played and rated. I was the very highest of everyone who posted here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/372896 (I'm at the very bottom of page 1).
jarredscott78 on BGG

Unknown said...

I'm a US Playtester.

I have playtested a number of games so far. About 5-10 to date. A few of them have been PnP games - and so I printed the games out and played them, with no thought of any reward. I love to playtest. I have a game group that is eager to try new stuff.

I'll do the best I can, to offer you advice/recommendations/whatever else you require. I would really love to playtest this game for you. I play all types of games - euro, ameritrash, party, card, wargames, etc. i love them all. Well, ok, except for a few.

I'm a BGG User: Howitzer_120mm

Ove said...

I'm surely up to it. We don't have many gamers here but they are all honest :)

You can count on Estonian gamers...

Ove said...

Oh yeah...
My mail is still: hillep@gmail.com

Gary said...

We could test from America for you. We play at least one game virtually every night. Since we got Agricola, that's been the game of choice. Other favorites include El Grande, Hacienda, Attika, Alhambra, Castle, and Mystery of the Abbey.

We have 3 in-house players available - my wife, my son (20-something), and me. We usually have my son's female friend available who also enjoys similar games. We have a game night twice per month which lately has only brought in a couple more people, but that would still give you more input.

We have tested one other game in the past.

My name is Gary. You can find me under glsonn at BGG.

Jackson Pope said...

Wow! Thanks for the awesome response guys. I'll sift through the offers and choose some lucky winners by the end of the week.



Iva said...

Hello! Am I too late? hope not. I'm from Croatia, Europe. I would love to test your game, and I think I would be a good choice because I could test it with different kind of people. One of my regular gaming groups consists of math&computer persons, and other of people oriented on social sciences. You wouldn't believe how differently they play the same game. I used to test computer games for living, so while type of game is different, I still know how to review the game properly and how to be objective. Also, I won't lie to you, I would love to get hands on Sumeria as soon as possible, because it sounds like a game we could enjoy:) my email is crna.ofca(at)gmail.com, and my BGG name is crna_ofca.

Andy Evans said...

Hi, based in the UK here, and would love to help out with playtesting.

I play in two games groups in the West Midlands; Halesowen and Telford on a weekly basis - both groups would be willing to help out.

I also play games regularly with my non-gamer girlfriend and her family, which should help gain the non-gamer/family perspective.

Regarding suggesting rule changes, I write rules and regulations for a living as I work for a regulatory body. I'd be more than happy to put my Plain English hat on and suggest some sensible changes.


Andy Evans


Pinebars said...

I, also, am very interested in helping to play test. I live in the United States and I have a group of college students who are avid, yet not hardcore, gamers who help me play test my own games, and who provide very critical feedback. We mostly play Euro games and are always interested in new ones.
I am also trying to get my own games published, so I am very interested in learning more about what its like to be part of this process.



Brian said...

I would like to help you playtest your games as well (of course). I am a college student in the US, and I play with two usual game groups with some variants to who actually plays each time. One group plays Euro games all the time, has played many games, and we know how to be properly critical. The other group is relatively new to Eurogames, but they love to play and are and would be able to give you real family-style feedback. Lastly, I am a senior with very few classes, so I would have plenty of time to play and write up feedback on your game. Thanks for offering this opportunity!

Brian Herman
BGG user: elrond108

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,

I'd like to help you playtest Sumeria. As you know, I am a game designer too, but I definitely do not design Euro style games. I would give your game to a couple of my groups and take notes.

Most of my regulars are middle age friends that do not normally play Euro games.

At work, I am surrounded by 20-30 somethings that live on Euro games. They would love to jump into an unreleased game.

I would enjoy seeing how all of them react to a prototype not of my own design. Maybe you can prototype one of my games in the UK.

I am in Austin, TX


Jackson Pope said...

Right, closed now - I'll make a decision in the next few hours - thanks everyone for volunteering, much appreciated.



Unknown said...

Hello, my name is Jon and I live in Stockton California in the US. On every Friday night I meet up with a group of buddies to play any and all board games. This group is very familiar with board games in general as well as exploiting different strategies. Everyone in our group plays differently and this allows to fully explore all aspects of a game, including yours. Thanks for considering me and taking the time to read my request on top of many others.

Jackson Pope said...

Hiya Jonathon,

You've missed the boat on playtesting Sumeria by several yars, but if you're still interested, I'm looking for playtesters of a second edition ruleset for Zombology a card game I released last year. Let me know if that interests you.