Game Makeover: Nines – Round 4

Design Workbench

Catching Up

In this round I am going to catch up on a few things that have happened over the previous rounds, but I have been building information over time.

Player Order

At first I was concerned that the player order would have some impact on which player went out first or the score (First Player Preference). Playtesting statistics so far don’t show a bias, even though in my testing statistics Player 1 is always the player to the left of the dealer, their average score is in line with other players at 2, 3, and 4 player counts.

In any case, I had some ideas to mitigate any problem that may exist which at this point are not implemented. On the shelf for future reference if needed are:

  • Players draw from the market in reverse order during the Start Phase.
  • The deal passes to the person who was the first to complete their Cabinet in the previous hand.

Round Dynamics

One of the issues that I wanted to work on in this game was the lack of variability in how each round, hand, and game played out. To be fair, each round has a slight arc, but the game is really just a series of rounds. There is not much difference in play one round to the next. Did the introduction of the Action Cards have any impact? With the introduction of some “Take That” opportunities there could be a pile on the leader in later rounds, but not so much if the “Take That” is limited or light as we have seen so far. So this is what a round looks like and how the use of Action Cards varies within them:

Round Dynamics Observed:

  • Early Round:
    • Establish Sets
  • Middle Round:
    • Collect Sets
    • Adjust Sets (based on card count/availability and potential risk, etc.)
  • Late Round:
    • Finish Sets
    • Limit Losses

Round Dynamics and Actions:

The Action Cards definitely have an impact on the decisions available and options taken, but the general round dynamics stay pretty much the same. Here is how the Action Cards seem to be used based on type:

  • Reveal Actions seem to have little importance in the Early Round and pick up slightly in the Middle Round.  They are very situational and pick up in the Late Round.
  • Draw Actions seem to keep the same relative importance in the Early and Middle Round – they are mostly situational – but pick up in the Late Round.
  • Interactive Actions have little use in the Early Round but seem to increase in importance in the Middle and Late Round.

Playtest

Prototype

There were no updates to the prototype for these changes.

Playing

I continued to collect stats on the use of the Action Cards and noted (not hard stats) these uses by Action Card type and point in the round:

  • How many Action Cards are “burned” in the initial market?
    • Since at this point there is no way to add an Action Card to the grid, they are immediately “burned” and a replacement card added to the market.
    • The number of Action Cards burned this way was frustratingly high, but I must have patience for now.
  • If an Action Card is drawn from the draw pile is it likely to be used?
    • A high percentage of Action Cards were used.
      • Sometimes the rationale was purely to prevent the next player from having the action available to them.
  • If an unused Action Card is in the discard pile is it preferred over drawing an unknown card from the draw pile?
    • This was highly situational as described in the Round Dynamics and Actions section above.
  • If an Action Card is drawn from the discard pile is it likely to be used?
    • At this point there is no other reason to draw an Action Card from the discards.

We’ll look at these questions again as we continue to incorporate the Action Cards into the game.

Working It Out

This round did not introduce any changes, so there isn’t much to report here.

  • Unmitigated Randomness
    • The potential changes to player order were intended to address any problems here that may turn up, but as yet, I don’t have the data to indicate a problem.
  • Few Decisions and Redundancy
    • Not only did the Action Cards provide new decisions, but these decisions and when an Action Card is seen as a good option vary throughout the round.
  • Hand Setup
    • Having the Action Cards implemented as separate cards in the deck, makes managing the deck a little more fiddly. So this is something to monitor as they are fully implemented.
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