It's been a great week for my gaming. Monday went exactly to plan with me printing and cutting out all 350 cards for new Codename:Vacuum, and hand-scrawling a quick board too - for the first time in two years I had a Vacuum prototype. Admittedly, Monday ended slightly worse with my dentist extracting a wisdom tooth that's left me eating very gingerly all week!
I got a lunchtime gaming session in at work on Wednesday (Coup) and then at Games Night on Thursday we played Vacuum! The lads had all played Vacuum before many years ago, so it wasn't complete fresh to them, but they'd all forgotten how to play.
It was, as I expected, fairly broken - we hardly got off Earth due to a poorly shuffled deck and a far too slow explore mechanism, so there was no colonisation of the Solar System or vast space battles. There were a couple of other things that clearly didn't work as intended, so the rules were evolving as we played. In a perfect world the game would take around 15-20 mins per player once you know it, so I was reasonably pleased with just under 2.5 hours (including set-up and rules explanation) for a four player game where 3/4 of us were effectively beginners. Hopefully that will significantly shorten with experience (and rules that aren't in flux during the game and cards which accurately describe what they do!).
I was frantically scribbling notes during the game, so that on Friday night I could spend the 3.5 hours of train journeys to Bedford updating the cards and working on an improved board. Of course I now need to print and cut out another version!
Saturday I was in Bedford seeing Terry, Andrew and Graham who I used to game with weekly when I lived there during 2008-11, the latter half of my Reiver Games days. There were eight of us in total, so we started off with a couple of games of Zombology (five of the eight owned a copy), playtesting the new rules with large groups. It went well, with a couple of late wins and I ended up taking a couple more pre-orders from David and Richard, both of whom have bought a Reiver Game in the past I think. That's now five pre-orders from seven possible customers in the last month or so. That kind of conversion rate is filling me with a greater optimism than I previously had, if I can get to thirty-ish I may well push the button and make another hand-made run of a hundred or so. The clock is ticking though, The Wife and I are expecting a little sister for The Daughter at the end of May, so the amount of time I'll have for hand-crafting games in the evening will be severely limited by extra parenting duties and sleep deprivation!
After Zombology, we played another eight games, of which four were new to me, so it was a great day's gaming as well as a great chance to catch up with friends I see far too infrequently.
Saturday evening was also spent on trains (and replacement bus services) so I got a chance to do more work on the Vacuum board. I think the board brings a new element to the game that focuses you more on the exploration and conquest side of the 4X game, so I think that part is working as intended, what I need to do now is print out another version and see if my changes fix the issues we found. Thursday's playtesters are at least interested to play again!