Friday, June 29, 2012 Spirit Blade Card Game Update
The first round of playtesting for the Spirit Blade adventure card game finished last week, and I want to thank everyone who participated in that, especially since it was probably a pretty rough experience for you.
For those who don't know what I'm talking about, I'm currently developing a non-collectable, self-contained card game based on the characters and world of our Spirit Blade audio drama trilogy. The setting is mostly sci-fi, but with some strong supernatural elements, as the players work together and fight cyborgs, soldiers and demons, while avoiding automated security systems and trying to recover stolen data files.
The card images above give an idea of the game art, even though the layout and info on the cards will be changing as I move forward.
The feedback I got from the first round of playtesting was very helpful. There is a lot to fix in the game, but thankfully, it almost exclusively involves making the game less complicated, which I'm finding easier than I think I would if I needed to add complexity to it.
Even before playtesting ended I began experimenting with some changes and I've really been enjoying the results. The entire experience is being streamlined, and I suspect the rules will be at least 75% shorter, resulting in a game that you can begin playing very quickly without near as much reading beforehand.
Despite this, I've also implemented some changes that increase the tactical options available to each player, and the difference between characters are more clearly defined by their special abilities.
I think the best suggestion I got was to take the various elements of the game that the good guys encounter and put them all in an encounter deck that players draw through as they progress, eliminating the need for an opposing "game master" type of player.
With the game master role removed, I took inspiration from games like Thunderstone that use a victory point system to determine a winner and added something similar to the game. So while players will be working together, they will also individually collect victory points from enemies they defeat and resources they keep until the end of the mission rather than using them. I suspect the end result will have some things in common with a game like Cutthroat Caverns, though far less competitive. And of course with a very different theme.
Once I get the semi-cooperarive rules of the game ironed out, I'm going to also look for alternate co-op rules where the players combine victory points to achieve their goal and have to fight much more intensely for survival than in the normal game.
I'm TERRIBLE with projecting dates and things, and I'm also working on this game mostly outside of my normal work hours so that it doesn't slow progress on the production of Spirit Blade 3 or anything else, which makes seeing the future even more difficult. But my hope right now would be to have another round of playtesting in two or three months and then see what things look like after that.
I must admit, I printed out everything, cut it up and was really psyched to be a play-tester. But then I read through the rules and felt completely bogged down (confused) and I knew that I didn't really have anyone who would be willing to dive into a complex game like this with me.
So I put the set away and resolved to purchase a set just to support Spirit Blade, and enjoy any auxiliary stories included with the game.
But after reading this post, I'm psyched again! I think the simplification of the rules, and getting rid of the "game master" will greatly improve my odds of roping people into the game.
I love it! Thanks for all the hard work you're putting into this project!
Thanks, Nathan! I wouldn't be surprised if your story is a common one. I appreciate you giving me the feedback! Further confirmation that I'm heading in the right direction, which is VERY helpful and encouraging to know!