On Saturday, I went to York for six and a half hours of gaming :): my friend Paul had hired a church hall for the day to celebrate his birthday. Attendance was good with about forty-odd people, a mixture of friends from his games night (that I used to attend twice weekly for four years so know well but see very infrequently), people from Beyond Monopoly the local games club (which I used to attend once a month or so for four years, so I know pretty well but in most cases haven't seen for years) and friends of his daughter and their parents, of which a recognised a surprising number.
I'd taken Codename: Vacuum and Zombology, plus a few rarely played sci-fi games from my collection. In the end the only game I'd brought that we played was Zombology: a seven player game with a bunch of old friends (plus a couple of new ones!). The game lasted slightly longer than I had expected, probably about 20 minutes. There were lots of rules queries, plus a few people were taking it quite seriously (it's a game about zombie science featuring the healing powers of crystals - it's clearly not a serious game!). Afterwards we discussed it briefly and the feedback was generally positive, though again the scoring proved a bit tedious and people struggled during the game to identify the strongest suits, which made their choices slower as they tried to determine what was their strongest move.
Two interesting bits of feedback were:
- Robert's suggestion to put a time limit on the individual rounds to avoid people over thinking their turns and to keep it moving quickly.
- John's disapproval of the way the mechanics didn't fit the theme, since people played the best cards in the second or third round and then after that your spend the last five or six rounds playing the dross cards that are left - why if someone has already run a successful human trial would you bother trying to prove it in a Petri dish again?
All this got me thinking, along with the feedback I'd had during my lunchtime playtest, and gave me an idea.
On the weekends I tend to take The Daughter on a couple of walks to get her to have decent naps (and hence be chipper for the rest of the day). During the morning walk on Sunday I spent the hour working out in my head a new version to address those points. I've got a new version now to try out that makes use of the existing cards (pretty much!).
I'll try to play this version at work again, and also take it to the Newcastle Playtest session on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if it's any better...
The other games I played at Paul's party were Oregon, Dominant Species The Card Game and Homesteaders (all new to me) and Ave Caesar. Of the three new ones, Homesteaders was my favourite and seeing as I think it was one of Tasty Minstrel Games' first games I can see why they got off to a flying start. It's a great game with worker placement, city building and auctions set in the Wild West. I thoroughly enjoyed it.