After each game of Codename: Vacuum I record a bunch of information, about who played, how long it took, who scored what in which category, etc. I've not made much use of the information yet - the game changes too frequently, so I don't have enough information about any one version to draw any useful conclusions.
Last week though, I sent out a couple of playtest copies to some previous gaming buddies who used to be my core Reiver Games playtesters. In the package with their copy of the game were a handful of feedback sheets, so they could record the bits of the game I am most interested in.
So what am I looking for? I'm trying to find the particular biases and unbalanced areas that the game is bound to be full of. The game has 15 decks of cards, 8 possible starting territories and five (or fifteen!) endgame scoring conditions. I've played it nearly forty times and that is nowhere near enough times to sort out all the balance issues between that number of variables, especially as I bring out a new version every month or so and so I effectively have to start again from scratch at that point.
Now that there are multiple copies of the game in circulation, I can get more feedback about each version and hopefully start doing something useful with it. Data analysis! Science!
The areas I'm most interested in to begin with are:
- Is there a first player bias
- Is there a last player bias
- Strong vs. weak endgame scoring conditions
- Strong vs. weak starting territories
- Strong vs. weak decks
Hopefully, getting my playtesters to fill in one of these will help me find those problems, so I can fix them:
P.S. Award yourself 10 points if you recognised the Firefly quote in the title!