January 26, 2018
Playtesting continues and it’s already proving fruitful. After only 7 tests, some with my family, and some with folks at Snakes & Lattes, I’ve gathered enough perspective and feedback to make some fairly major changes to the game. Here’s a list of the changes I’m currently mulling over and the reasons why.
Overall the game is still way too slow. For the last week’s designer night I successfully fixed the turns taking too long by having players take only a few actions per turn until each player passes (like Terraforming Mars) but each round still took close to 30 minutes. I’m still playing with just how many actions each player will take. I know there is a market for games that take many hours to play but that isn’t my goal with Primal Ordnance. So I have to streamline the gameplay by removing aspects that slow it down.
The deck building still doesn’t feel important enough and it feels a bit disconnected from moving and attacking with the dinosaurs which playtesters have really enjoyed. I don’t want to eliminate the deck building so I plan to make it more important. In an endeavor to do that I’m going to include cards in the deck that players will have to play to make each type of attack; melee, light, heavy, and ultra. Melee cards will be in the start deck and the rest can be purchased or come with the ordnance when bought.
Support unit abilities will be card based as well. Players spend too much time checking and rechecking their stats and the costs for abilities so I want to eliminate that time by keeping them on cards. So collecting ore, attacking the herd, and support unit attacks will be in the start deck and can be purchased. They will also no cost anything. If the card is in your hand, you can play it.
Since attacking will be card based and no longer requires a cost, I’m going to eliminate energy as a resource and energy production as a stat. It’s one less thing to worry about and that way all the attacking comes from the card deck instead of just special attacks and abilities. Now the only dinosaur stats players will have to keep track of are health points, defense, and movement. Who knows, I might even make movement card based? We’ll see.
I’m also going to give players more ways to collect meat so they can add cards to their deck faster. I’m thinking every time a ground support dino collects meat from the herd, the herd immediately moves (instead of just between rounds) and leaves behind a carrion tile that another player can scavenge a bit of meat from. I might think of other ways as well if this isn’t enough
I need to edit all the ranges for weapons. At the moment, if an weapon’s range is 3 and there there are 3 spaces between you and an enemy unit, then they would be in range. But the consensus so far is that the number should include the space the enemy unit is on. So taking that into consideration, in that example, the enemy unit was actually at a range of 4 so would have been out of range. I think this makes more sense so I’m going to change all the ranges to reflect that.
I’m removing the Ore deck. It just adds another step and it’s simple enough just to have a specific number of Ore to collect from each mine space. The problem this introduces is that it eliminates the end game since the Ore deck running out determined the end of the game. This is actually a good thing though because…
Playing for victory points has felt too abstract to me. I want a more thematic reason for players to try and win than collecting arbitrary points. To do this I’m going to use an idea I had for an expansion to the game. So now in the fiction behind the game, an asteroid has been detected heading to earth, so each player will be battling for resources in order to build and prepare their Headquarters for their clan to survive this extinction level event. And instead of simply upgrading the HQ by 2 levels to unlock more cards and ordnance, there will be specific buildings to construct that will do the same as well as grant the player new abilities. I feel this adds a great thematic reason for battling for the resources and gives the players a specific goal to end the game. Either the first player to build up their HQ and collect enough resources to survive wins or whoever does the most in a specific number of rounds.
Lastly I’m going to make the board tiles a bit smaller so the game takes up less space on the table. It fits well on my table at home but at Snakes & Lattes it barely fits.
So that’s it for now. I’m going to make these changes in the next week or two and start testing it at home. We’ll see how it goes. Next update should be in February after the next designer night.