Diary #18 – Back to Cube One

creatureevolution

At my UKGE stand this year (1-M5), I was hoping to demo a review-ready copy of Master of Olympus. In this photo I’ve shown the evolution of the game’s Creature piece, from Lego piece to custom cube and back again. Today, I realised that journey may be far from complete: some playtesters suggested stickered poker chips, an idea I abandoned long ago. But perhaps my concerns were unfounded? There’s only one way to find out.

The overall reception of the playtest was negative, and I had forgotten how important such playtests are. It’s only when we scour our games’ darkest depths that we make real progress. The issue today was simultaneous play – “As soon as you said ‘simultaneous’ and ‘strategy’, I was thinking those things didn’t go together” – and, while I’m sure it’s possible, Olympus needs to go further to make it a reality. The heart of the problem may lie with a design feature I have not questioned in fourteen months.

Last year, in Bristol, someone asked for more control over the cards they drew. I duly turned “draw a card” into “look at two cards and choose one”, but this, I know see, was a mere sticking plaster. I should instead have made the cards more useful in their own right; besides, the choice is now much less important. So the Knowledge and Power decks are both going to change, but in ways that will hardly effect the players’ strategies.

These changes meet my usual criteria: they will make the game simpler and more accessible. In addition, they will improve combat (“But I’ve got the right type of card, why can’t I play it?”) and the game’s pace. Of course agonising over two cards would interrupt the flow of a simultaneous game, why didn’t I see this before? So I must say a thanks to you: the players who sat for two hours today at a game you didn’t enjoy. Your contribution to the game is greater than those who were fans from the beginning, yet it is they who will benefit from it.

I’ve got the Bug again: thoughts to think, cards to cut and stick. If there’s someone I can emulate in this task I suppose it should be today’s spoiler: Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom.

athena

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