Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 7

Design Workbench

Design Objective

In the last round, I proposed some rules changes to address a couple issues that had come up in testing that, though rare in occurrence, were frustrating problems when they did occur. In this round I will discuss how I have addressed those issues and what appear to be some final refinements. We are nearing the end of this game’s design phase and are at a level of refinement that can only progress through hundreds of playtests by dozens of people.

Playtest

Refinements through playtesting have been slow to reveal themselves because I am now trying to address issues that happen very infrequently.

Prototype

The prototype hasn’t changed from the last round, but I have posted a new set of stickers to make the cards. Remember, these can be applied to a set of Uno cards. This is easier and faster than printing and cutting a set of cards anyway. I bought an Uno deck at a major chain discount store for under $6.

Playing and New Rules

After the last round we had a few open items that I will close up now.

Stalemate

This problem has not come up again in playtesting and some of the changes made open up more actions such that it may be all but eliminated. At this time I am still not implementing a special stalemate rule, but will consider it again when the game development moves into massive playtests.

Dealing with a Dud Hand

This issue still hasn’t happened in our playtesting, but a better resolution/prevention dawned on me during our first playtest after Round 6 was reported. The change is to incorporate a fairly common bad luck mitigation mechanic that actually works well in this game. The rule looks something like this:

  • Conceal 2 cards with the same point value to use any available action in any player’s grid.

This is the good old mitigation of; if you don’t have something valuable, you can use two things that are not valuable to mimic the valuable thing that you don’t have.

Self-Activating

For the sake of having the simplest rules, I have conceded on allowing a card to perform an action on itself. This is the case of a card being concealed to use its action and then making that same card the object of this action. The reason that I concede now is that it opens up the number of actions allowable on any grid and in particular may help a player who otherwise has limited actions; particularly ones that allow movement.

Ultimately, this rule is one that needs a lot of playtesting to determine if it has an impact, but we will play it this way for a while and see if there is any difference in ease of learning the rules and game play.

Working It Out

These last changes move the game in the right direction in a couple aspects:

  • Few Decisions
    • Simplifying the 1 Point card Action provides another choice for that action.
  • Game Length
    • Mitigating a dud hand keeps the game moving along.
  • Frustration
    • Mitigating a dud hand eliminates some possible frustration.
    • Self-activation eliminates the frustration of being stuck with a card that needs the action that it depicts. This happens fairly frequently – maybe once per game.
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