Metatopia was, as always, a great con. I got to test a few games for others. I played a few truly epic games of FIRED and it's new expansions. I'm glad to say I gave as good as I got! I'd like to hope I gave useful advice to he other games I played. I see good things coming for Cartrigia and Everyone's a Suspect. Nina had wonderful things to say about Kids on Bikes (on Kickstarter now btw: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jgilmour/kids-on-bikes-rpg-strange-adventures-in-small-town?ref=discovery). A pity I missed out on an opportunity to test out another game I backed on Kickstarter: Bigfoot vs Yeti.
I got lots of feedback from some great players. The new change to Orphanage of Fear needs some retooling. I have been rethinking passing cards since at least two of them (which are VERY important: the Teddy Bear and the Marrionette [and theoretically the Mask, but I never got enough players for that card]) do not work well with the new method. It makes the Boogeyman more powerful, but the Bully got really tiring because he kept grabbing the card that could save him turn after turn.
I think a slight reversion, where I still collect all the cards, but instead of handing out the Spirit Board/Sackcloth Doll each turn at random I stick with having the dead children hand out the Spirit Board and the Boogeymen send out the Sackcloth Doll. Next test is to see the order in which these cards should be passed. If the Sackcloth Doll goes first it is significantly weaker since it can actually be replaced. If the Spirit Board goes first it could be replaced, but additionally, if a Boogeyman gets it they can strategically use the Sackcloth Doll. This might be what they need, since they often struggle to win.
I think Gerrymandering is almost done. There’s one change I’m going to be testing at PAX Unplugged: dealing with districts of one. Admittedly it’s been a holdover for quite a while, but I think the best way to deal with it is have the player who splits the districts assign the tile(s) to adjacent districts of their choosing. This may lead to me increasing the size of the Combine action because there will be fewer small districts overall. It may change to combine two districts, if there are 8 or more tiles split them as evenly as possible. It has similar functions, but with fewer restrictions. On the other hand, I worry that it may not be robust enough to give players an actual advantage.
I’ll also be testing out split decks for the second half of the game. Right now you shuffle and make a new deck. Unfortunately that can prevent you from getting something back. It also makes it harder to track how long the game has been going. Some of the playtesters suggested it so we can more easily track scoring rounds and I’m inclined to agree. Another thing that was suggested was changing how cards are marked for ease of setup. Instead of stars on face up cards there may be a number or letter, with a pattern in the book. Just put the card (or tile) in the proper spot.
Glory Hounds got some good tests. I have ideas on how to dramatically improve gameplay by adding charts (when was the last time anyone has said that?). Honestly, just making it easier to let people track how close they are to winning is the most important feature I can include for the game. Canons are much better now; I may need to readjust how many units are placed with them. I’ll have to think about Infantry and Cavalry, as they give more people issues. How and when the skirmishes come into play is another thing I’ll have to figure out, throwing out too many made things a bit too intense. Still, I think the game is stronger than it was before Metatopia.