This week I made it along to Newcastle Playtest for the second month on the trot (pretty good effort - since my new job started there's been a lot more travel and hence fewer nights out). Of course, it wasn't straightforward, as I was in Manchester for work that day, so rather than heading over from work at 6:30, I turned up at 7:45 from the station. Several of our regulars were even more inconvenienced by travel, so it was going to be a fairly quiet night until a couple of new people (Hello Michelle! Hello Bart!) turned up - in the end there were five of us with Paul and Alex. Alex had brought his two player game: Swag, Blag and Goons, Paul had brought his two player game: Kick, Punch, Stomp! and I'd brought two two-player games: a new version of Dragon Dance and Border Reivers Second Edition. We ended up splitting up and playing a couple of side-by-side two player games, but not before playing three games of the copy of Zombology I'd delivered to Paul at the start of the night. Both the new people seemed to like it, which was encouraging.
I'd spent a couple of hours on the train that afternoon designing and constructing a new version of Dragon Dance, using the idea I'd had a few weeks ago. For once I'd followed my own advice and not over done the prototype, as this was effectively a new game, so likely to be hideously broken:
We played a couple of games that night, one with Paul and one with Bart and they flushed out some problems, and also some weaknesses, Bart had not played the previously version, and it had been a couple of years since Paul had last played so neither of them could compare it to the previous version (which I'd foolishly left in my desk and then failed to collect in time for the session due to delayed trains).
Initial feedback was that it was interesting and worth pursuing if clearly in early development.
On Friday lunchtime I also got to try it out with Gav, immediately after a game of the previous version so he had a useful comparison. Gav preferred it to the previous version, which means I'm probably heading in the right direction (at least for Gav!).
The new version is still a Good Little Game, i.e 18 cards and things you can expect to find around the house, but each card now does one to six things depending on the tokens available to you. The bluffing still works (Gav caught me a few times on the hop) and he really liked that each card is now named with a tell that you're reading and trying to interpret.
I need to make another version now (this one has some inevitable flaws) and then start gathering more data. I want it to be slightly easier for the dragon, but at the moment it's very easy for the dragon - I'll need to tweak things to try to balance that out too.