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K2 Review - Digital Eyes

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Sprawlopolis Review

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Describe the Best Unpublished Prototype That You Have Playtested

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20 Nov 2019 10:49 - 20 Nov 2019 10:50 #304384 by Shellhead
Based on past posts, I know that at least some of you have playtested game designs, and some of those games never got published. What was the best game that you playtested that never got published? Describe the game and analyze why it remains unpublished. I know some of you are game designers, but try to pick someone else's game instead of one of your own.

For me, it was a boardgame about serving wenches at a medieval inn. Working title was maybe The Wench Game or Wicked Wenches or something like that. Each player controlled a serving wench. Each turn represented an hour at the inn. At the start of each turn, a random number of guest cards would be revealed, with each guest having certain preferences. Players could opt to either wait on tables for tips, take a customer upstairs for um a bigger tip, or even try to steal from a customer or another wench. A stealing wench would get sent to help in the kitchen for an hour for zero tips. All of the artwork was based on old paintings that are in the public domain. That's all that I remember about the game except that it was easy to learn, moderately fun to play, and the map of the inn helped evoke the setting. The designer is a friend of mine who has vast experience as a D&D dungeon master and played in my D&D campaign for four years. The game was good enough to get published, but the subject matter might have been a bigger obstacle. The other issue is that my friend has already gotten a game published for very little profit, and he has no interest in Kickstarting any of his game designs. Like me, he only designs games now for himself and his friends.
Last edit: 20 Nov 2019 10:50 by Shellhead.

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20 Nov 2019 11:11 #304385 by WadeMonnig
Whores and Bores: a game of wicked wenches. Now with Buxom Wench minis. I'd play it.

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20 Nov 2019 11:16 #304386 by hotseatgames
Years ago I played a game designed by some guys at a board game club I would occasionally visit. I think they called it Airlock or something. Each player was a different crew member on a large space ship, and each had different roles. They had to fix the ship and repel alien invaders. It was cooperative. I think the hook of the game was that different parts of the ship would have air or not, get de-pressurized, etc.

It was fun but overly long, and this was a while ago. Other games have since eaten their lunch, as the expression goes.

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20 Nov 2019 13:06 #304387 by ChristopherMD
Many moons ago I playtested a prototype for a game called Milch und Gurken and it was phenomenal. Its sort of a deck-building, tableau-building, engine-building game with role selection, tile-laying, and area majorities. Somehow all the mechanics coalesced into what would have been an instant classic game had it ever been published. Unfortunately the designer hates anything that people under 30 like, which includes Kickstarter so will remain a dream unfulfilled.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, NeonPeon, jeb, birdman37

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20 Nov 2019 13:18 #304388 by Shellhead

ChristopherMD wrote: Many moons ago I playtested a prototype for a game called Milch und Gurken and it was phenomenal. Its sort of a deck-building, tableau-building, engine-building game with role selection, tile-laying, and area majorities. Somehow all the mechanics coalesced into what would have been an instant classic game had it ever been published. Unfortunately the designer hates anything that people under 30 like, which includes Kickstarter so will remain a dream unfulfilled.


I heard that it featured an elegant rondel.
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20 Nov 2019 13:58 #304393 by Nodens
Speaking of prototypes reminded me of this very special story:

CranBerries wrote: I often read game night reports on this site that leave me sick with envy. Well, I finally had a night of gaming that more than met my expectations.

It started as I finished teaching my course on "The Rhetoric of Ethnographic Discourse" where we basically just talk about amazing research and feel smugly self-righteous about our insights into hidden reality. My graduate students love me, and want to be me. I often have to restrain them from carrying me out of the room on their shoulders when the lecture is over. I headed back to my office, took a short nap in my zero gravity chair after ingesting 1.5 grams of sweet red vein kratom, then awoke refreshed and relaxed. I picked up a heavy, one-foot stack of student papers that needed to be graded and handed them to my two graduate assistants Monique and Adèle with instructions to have them returned by Monday. They're both in love with me, so it can be a little awkward, but I've gotten used to it, I guess.

I headed downstairs to my car (a Tesla prototype) and drove home for a bit of dinner with the family. As I walked in I overheard my oldest daughter talking to a friend, "I guess I got lucky. It's not my fault your dad's a jerk." That kid! My wife greeted me immediately; I've told her not to wear that when the kids are home. "Honey! I got that job I was hoping for! I hope you don't mind me making twice as much as you!" She then gave me a kiss which, if I were to describe it as merely passionate, would have been a legally-prosecutable lie. "I know you have game night tonight, so we can 'celebrate' when you get back. You deserve some time with your friends!" That woman is amazing.

After dinner I hopped into the new Elon Musk hyperloop train and headed to Chicago (only thirty minutes from Salt Lake City now) to McFlernigan's, a board game store that has been around forever. The shelves are filled with obscure, amazing games that somehow have never been listed on Board Game Geek. Nobody has "solved" any of them, or complained about tragic flaws, or otherwise reductively defined them. I met my friends who I've been playing with for about ten years. We all get along great, and they all have a full complement of adult social skills and are willing to play anything I bring to the table.

Tonight I brought along an unpublished prototype by the designer of Full Metal Planète. It's a refinement and expansion of everything he'd ever worked on. He told me it was too beautiful to publish, but that he wanted me to have it after I saved his life in the war and taught him to fly fish in the Utah wilderness. The system was then refined a bit by Chris Crawford and massaged by Nemo's War designer Chris Taylor. I hired them for the job.

My friend who designs rocket engine parts with a CNC machine and a custom 3D metal-epoxy printer made the pieces for me. Each of them weighs about four ounces. Interestingly, the game has a narrative element as well, similar to Tales of the Arabian Nights or that new kickstarter continent game that I hear is passable. So we played for about three hours, but it felt like 20 minutes. It was so immersive that all of my cares and worries drifted away, like I had been sitting in meditation. The ending to the game's organically evolving story arc left us all smiling, but misty eyed. A small crowd had gathered, and several people were openly weeping at the sheer beauty of the narrative and game play. They then applauded.

"where can we buy this game? " they pleaded.

"I'm sorry, but a game like this can't be purchased," I replied, "You have to wait for it to find you. It's the reward for a life well-lived, a life spent not playing the tendentious point salad spreadsheets that pass for games these days."

They nodded, and wandered off, grateful for even having experienced the game second hand. My friends thanked me for the experience, and we agreed to meet in a week to play something even better that I had been saving for a special occasion. I headed down the street toward the Hyperloop station and stopped off at a new kombucha bar. Sitting on a stool covered with the skin of a whale penis taken from Aristotle Onassis's yacht, I sipped my drink and thought about the evening.

I noticed a very striking African-American woman sitting next to me. Slowly it dawned on me that this was Michelle Obama. She was wearing a wig and sunglasses, and a stunning black sleeveless dress. I couldn't help but stare at her amazing arms. She caught my stare, flashed a blinding smile at me, and said, "Go ahead Cranberries. Barak says he doesn't mind." I placed my hand on her tricep while she flexed it not once, but three times. Each flex sent a bolt of lightning through me, and it felt like grabbing onto a bag of wrestling kittens. Her husband then strolled up, shook my hand and thanked me for a brief I had written for him several years ago, winked, and then left with Michelle, followed by several Secret Service agents.

It was a great night, one I'll never forg...

_______

"Cranberries! Wake up! We're in the final round of Terra Mystica!"

"Uh, ok. What are my options again?"

(exasperatingly) "Well, as I mentioned 45 minutes ago, you can put a priest on the cult track in order to gain a power bonus, and if you have a key which you shoud have acquired two turns ago you can occupy the top space on the track. But be careful because even though you might have the longest train/house bonus, your friend Anton the backstabber appears to be using his indirect adjacency ship bonus to connect a whole string of buildings that appeared to be disconnected, thus assuring that you can't possibly win. Or you can spend those purple power cubes to buy special abilities that you can't use because it's the last round, or you can upgrade an apartment to temple, gain another priest meeple, and enable one of eight different income engines that all tie together in a way that only an AI can fully comprehend. Did you know that the German authors of this game all committed suicide after they played it the first time? Weird huh?"

I looked over at my copies of Zimby Mojo and Kemet then prepared to play my final turn.

Addendum: I went home that night and unfriended every geek buddy who had given that pile of mechanics a "10." (seriously)


Barnes, on Terra Mystica:

Not playing it on the table, but on IOS...Terra Mystica. Speaking of heavy, complicated Eurogames....

You know, I played this a few times for the review 3-4 years ago...but I can not for the life of me figure out how I learned to play this inscrutable game. I remember just about nothing in terms of how to play it. It makes utterly no sense whatsoever, it's like a Macross Valkyrie fired spaghetti missiles with warheads filled with rules at a board. I've gone through the tutorials and I'm left with my classic "do what now" response. There are all of these charts and graphs filled with icons that make no sense. The screen is filled with random numbers that change when you do stuff. There are like four screens worth of faction information. And a cult board that seems to do nothing. Bonus tiles, two currencies (or is it three), shovels, boats...good god. People LIKE this?

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22 Nov 2019 00:03 #304442 by engineer Al
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