I’ve been heads-down refining the mechanics for A Colorful Game. Here are some of my discoveries from the 10 playtests that I’ve had so far:
Games were way too long. (1+ hour)
I took care of this by minimizing the card count. Put the game at a smooth 30ish minute playtime. That’s the goal!
The game was also far more complex with decisions than I wanted it to be. You have to place AND move a tile—ugh! Too much brain juice to spend on what to do best. (I watched a player’s life flash before their eyes for more than 10 minutes, hoping to glean some forgotten wisdom to help them make a decision.)
This was advice from another designer: Don’t make players have to add a new primary color tile to the play area AND have to move another tile. That’s a lot to deal with during a turn.
Note that doing this also helped to reduce the playtime to around 30 minutes.
Scoring points is just altogether difficult sometimes.
Wild cards and bonus points! I added some cards to the game that let you fill in any blanks with a color of your choice. For example, if you have a contiguous path — orange, orange, green, purple, purple — you could play a wild with that to treat the green as a part of your path.
Also, if you scored with three or more cards, you get a bonus point; four or more and you get three bonus points!
This new format for the game helped shape it into the quick abstract strategy game that I was looking to make. That’s a huge milestone!
I’ve playtested this new version quite a few times and have found some new challenges to work through:
- Games are a little too short now. It’s difficult for a player that’s behind to see a chance to come back and try to take the win.
Idea to test: I’m going to add cards to the point deck or have the discard shuffle back into the deck.
- With the introduction of wild cards, games feel like they’re not strategic enough (a little too luck of the draw).
Idea to test: I’m going to add more wild cards and make them have a greater negative impact on players who use them.
- Once you score a path, you remove all of the roads that you used to score that path with. That reduces momentum and gives too great an advantage to the first player to score.
Idea to test: I think a “pick a color, remove all roads for that color” method can give the right balance of changing the play area in a fun way and not making players feel like they’ve got to start from scratch.
- I need to work out how the game ends a little more. Right now, the game ends once the point card deck is depleted and neither player can score on their next turns…it just feels like an odd way to end the game.
Idea to test: A “first player to x points” win condition should fix this. I just need to test whether this is fun and try to discover what “x points” value is best.
That’s all for now! Until next time…