Playtesting Notes from GenCon, Elemental Buffs, and Multi-Level Tracker


Thank you to all my play testers at Gencon 2018 and more recently in Seattle!! We've been trying out a number of different ideas based on feedback. The most recent round of play testing in Seattle has shown the spells and game to be well balanced for both 2 and 3 player games. We still need to do more 4 player testing.

Elementals

Playing Testing - Air ElementalHowever the Elementals are now too weak, or to quote a player, like the spell balance, but bummed when I get an Elemental spell. Another piece of feedback was that the duplicate Summon Elemental spells are a kill joy, because they just kind of sit in your hand.

Air Spell - Summon Air ElementalThis was super helpful feedback, because the Elementals are suppose to be the bomb. To address this feedback, we are trying out Elementals that have a bigger combat bonus +4 on their element and +2 on other elements vs. the current +3/+1. We're also trying out an Elemental overview cards for each Elemental to further emphasize the Elementals. Additionally we are trying out buffs that can be added onto the Elementals. The Summon Elemental spells can be used to either summon an Elemental or buff your existing Elemental.

Elemental Tracking Chart

3 Tier Tracking ChartPeople were complaining that the Elemental Tracking chart wasn't big enough to hold all of the tracking tokens. People also suggested the tracking chart should be very well defined with a path for element. As a result I created bigger charts that have a clear progression for each Element type. You start as a Zot, which is a synonym for nothing, and progress to Apprentice and then to Master. Additionally some players had suggested that each new hex should give you some kind of bonus. As a result I also created a 5 level tracking chart to try out. Each level after Zot provides an additional benefit. If players find this new 5 level chart intuitive, I may go back and tweak the spells to have up to 4 levels of benefit. E.g. Tidal Wave Apprentice (Level 1) +1,  Conjurer (Level 2) +2, Warlock (Level 3) +3, and Master (Level 4) +5.




 

 

 

Illustrations

Progressing on the spell illustrations. The base game has 72 spell cards and we are about 70% done. However if we end up liking the Elemental Buffs mechanic, then we'll have some more illustrations to complete. Here are some of the proposed final spell illustrations:

Air Spell - Add Mana Earth Spell - Summon Fort  Water Spell - Coughlin's Counter

Card and Hex Templates

We've been concerned that the Water and Air background images didn't have enough contrast. Sure enough, we've heard over and over again that people are having a hard time distinguishing between the two with the hexes on the board (less so) and the spell cards (more so). As a result we are going to take another pass at the background images to kick them up a notch and provide better contrast. We are also going to tweak the card template format. The bottom left has an icon of the hex background, however it's where most people put their thumbs, so not so helpful in the current location.

On Your Turn Actions

On Your Turn Overview CardWe've been doing a number of minor tweaks to the actions you can take on your turn. This is a balance between keeping the actions simply and intuitive, but providing robust play options. In the latest iteration we are trying out these changes:

 

  • Discard 2 spells to draw 1 spell for 0 action points. This allows players to cycle through spells.
  • Split the buy and draw spells into 2 distinct actions. Buy Spell(s) for 4 mana for 1 action point. Draw 1 spell for 2 action points. My primary goal was to  simplify these actions without impacting game play.

Since Gencon these Action Point change have worked out well:

  • Place 1 Mana on any empty hex for 3 actions point. At gencon it was 4 action points to place 2 mana on any empty hex. This just splits up the action, so that players now can also do a different 1 cost action on their turn.
  • Mana Grow = Add 1 mana to each of your hexes (max 4) for 3 action points. Similar to Mana Multiply, but gives you trade offs and flexibility.

What's Next?

More playing testing and finishing the spell card illustrations. Next we'll be revisiting the printed templates. In conjunction we'll also be looking to hire someone to create Miniatures for the Elementals.

-Chesley "Akiva" @613 Games

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