I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…

Or rather, I’ve been through a play-test of a game with no name. Here’s the set we played with:

As always, Legos have been used in place of counters and resources. I also only cut out half of the mechanisms, partially out of laziness, but also because it was really helpful to have a reference sheet to explain what they all did without having to rifle through the pile. Honestly, the best part was the Lego Cores. I’m hoping to do some tricky token stuff in order to achieve a raised effect. Spoilers: Four tokens stacked up with dice stickers along the side. I don’t think anyone has actually done that on TGC. Luckily nobody reads this who might steal the idea.

So the actual playtest. Above is the starting position with both dice. Yellow was for production (it matched the color of the energy) and red was the “event” die. We changed the events for the two playtests, and we had some mixed results. I’ll go into that later. After a few turns, we were at this state:

I realize that it’s a very unexciting picture, but it shows that the two major strategies you can start with. Red chose to spend their initial energy on a mechanism, and one that turned out to be game-breakingly good. Green ended up trying to have more gears. The way the game is balanced right now, that doesn’t really work.

This was closer to the end of the game, and our strategies had converged. We had about equal standing, but the awesome mechanism that Red purchased made the result inevitable. Also, we discovered that many of the mechanisms, while fun to read, were basically useless. Green bought the “Uncertainty Engine,” which allows you to roll the production die for a significant cost and likely failure. This turned out to be largely useless, and was purchased entirely for the three victory points, which is sort of the opposite of good design.

That being said, the game had something in it that makes me feel hopeful. We found ourselves wanting to be strategic, and gear placement was not arbitrary even in this broken version of the game. The core rules are basically great, it’s just the mechanisms that don’t work. In the next few days I’m going to concentrate on making new mechanisms and balancing the event die and victory condition. I’m also planning on watching Steam Boy, since I have been told that it’s probably the best steampunk piece of media you can get your hands on. I’m hoping to have a moment of inspiration mid-movie. We’ll see…

Other than that, I’m going on vacation next week, which means I will finally get around to fully updating and publishing The Estate, Punch, and even Manic Mechanics 1.1. Should be a good time.


One Comment on “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…”

  1. Ned Stark says:

    Looks like you played this game in a dungeon. Sounds hopeful–looking forward to what happens next! Where are you going on vacation?

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