Mutant Sheep Balanced on a Razor’s Edge

Well as promised, here’s a recap of the weekend’s playtesting. It’s gona be a long one.

The good:

It was amazingly fun.  A bit unlike other games, the going strategy seems to be hording your cards in your hand until you can twist the game in your favor, which seems a bit of a hard concept for Parker to grasp.   Really, even the two player game was a lot of fun and not totally skewed which was one of my big concerns.  It was fun for all of us and the base mechanics and strategy work exactly as I imagined they would.

There was a slight issue with the print of my cards, but the super responsive guys (JT) at TheGameCrafter.com explained the issue and how they were going to have the issue rectified well before I finish up for launch.   So no worries on that front.

The colors looked great and the quality of the cardstock is very nice and they shuffle well.

beta1-gameplay

The ok:

Lots of typos and little phrases that need to be tweaked and made into english.  I got some great feedback on the rules on the little bits and pieces that I assumed the player would know.  During the games we played over the weekend I got a dozen or so cards whos’ verbiage either needs to change or simply be clarified as the ability didn’t make as much sense as I hoped.

The instructions need to mention a couple things about adding Event location points to the size of the current area, but that’s minor.

The eh:

This is probably the biggest list of issues that came up, and the good thing is that they are all fairly easily correctible.

The timing of when you can use side effects and sheep special abilities is not clear and some cards contradict each other.  The usage of Blue (sheep is stunned/busy/incapacitated) tokens was not consistent.  These are essentially just going through and making all the cards agree and putting it in the rules.

Keeping track of mutation abilites  and side effects can become a bit of a slog.  Cleaning up the timing and usage of abilites will make it easier.  Additionally I’ve decided to add a card case which will leave me with a board with some spare space where I can print out some tokens for things like keeping track of the Hairless sheep (yes, its a serious issue when the blizzard shows up)

The massive number of tokens for large events (we easily had some places in the mid forties ) makes it hard to see exactly how much landmass is remaining in the location to be eaten (which is how you get victory points).  This makes planning things 2 or 3 turns ahead extremely difficult.   This will be remedied by cardboard tokens with numbers on em.

There need to be more side effects with a variable range so you can tweak the total amount eaten by your (and other player’s) sheep a bit more easily.

The Uggh:

Late game balance is a bit out of whack.  Not in the sense that it’s once sided or anything, just that once each player gets 5 or 6 sheep out and a couple mutations on them there’s not much you can do to stop them from devouring a whole location per turn.  So the amount of luck to winning goes up as the game goes up.   The good part is that this is easily fixable by a combination of minor tweaks to the game.  We’ve got three major tweaks that we’re going to be testing indiviually and in combination.  1. Make Side-Effects permanent.  This would let you permanently alter yours and other player’s sheeps appetites.  2. Increase the size of the smaller locations so they last longer.  This would potentially slow the point acquisition of the early game but make the endgame less luck driven.  3. Increase the bonus/penalty that Side effects give.

The Yay!

That’s it.  The game was fun, and with a bit more testing I’m sure we can get the balance of endgame to luck worked out and then it’ll be awesome!

Ok that’s it for now.  Further updates to follow but for now I’m just painting sheep like mad!

Sheep with a side order of stuff

Time for a quick update!

All the text on the cards were wrapped up by Sunday night as hoped!  This included the 30 something painted cards and a blank placeholder for the ones that have not been painted yet.

It turns out that there will be 8 blank cards in the set so I’m thinking of making them a couple of rule summary cards instead of leaving em blank.

With the basic decks assembled, I ordered a copy of the game from thegamecrafter.com (as the designer I only have to  pay manufacturing and shipping which makes it more affordable in case I need to do multiple iterations of some core mechanic (which I don’t think so .. but you never know))

So I just got the shipping confirmation email and the UPS guys say it should be here by Friday.  So that gives me a couple days to catch up on some pet projects and freelance stuff.

Continue reading Sheep with a side order of stuff

Mutatant Sheep and other exciting things.

Whoa, I’ve been a bad blogger.  It’s been over two months since I updated this thing.  Time to get back in the swing of things then.

So after finishing the monster of all paintings, creativly, I was a bit drained.  So I spent about a month not really doing anything.. just recharging the old batteries.  Then via Raph Koster’sblog I heard of something super exciting!

A couple guys had gotten together and done a Print On Demand website.. where you can print Games!

Consequently my brain went into hyperdrive and threatened to explode.  I glanced at  one of my little doodles at work ( a gigantic 3 eyed sheep stomping around a landscape) and my next pet project was born.

So here I am, a little over a month later, over 50% of the way there with the final art (drawing and painting in photoshop 125 sheep is a lot of work, it turns out.)  And the cards are 90% of the way defined.  The immediate goal is to have all the cards put in their final state by next Monday, and then order a playtest set, for tweaking the numbers and mechanics while I wrap up the art.

Heres some of the cards
Here's some of the cards

Current statistics:

  • Total Cards: 125
  • Cards Drawn: 64
  • Cards Painted: 44
  • Cards Text Written:  75