On Saturday night I plied four friends with awesome homemade pan pizza in hopes of getting them to play test Dungeon of Doom. The pizza worked its magic and the play test was a smashing successes! All four ladies had a great time while playing and it inspired a stream of comments and suggestions in the postmortem I could barely keep up with. Excited, energized play testers are a wonderful thing!
Getting my ducks in a row.
After the previous play test, I made a few changes to the prototype. I simplified the scoring by rounding the gold values on Monsters to even hundreds. To improve the odds of a successful Delve, I reduced the frequency of Canardo symbols in the deck. Additionally, I took the Magic Item cards out of the main deck and added ‘item draw’ symbols; now, when a player takes a card with the symbol, she draws a card from the Magic Items deck. I figured these updates would give me plenty of data to analyze before the final 4P play test. Race and Class cards, which allow players to break the rules in small but meaningful ways, would need to wait until those rules were rock solid.
On the night of the play test.
This play test started out, as mine often do, with me fumbling my way through the explanation, hoping I remembered everything. By the time we got through the first round, though, my players had grokked the system and we were off to a rollicking start.
Dungeon of Doom has some bluffing and press your luck elements and a very silly theme which combine to generate tension, laughter and a lot of groan-inducing puns. We were on fire last night with groaners so epic I had to write some of them down so I could incorporate them into the game later on. I’d share them here, but that would spoil the fun!
After the game, we talked about what worked and what didn’t, what they wanted to see more of and how the game play compared to previous versions of the system. More frequent access to Magic Items was big on everyone’s list, and I agree. The new system functioned, but I hadn’t added nearly enough of the ‘item draw’ symbols for it to actually work as intended and very few Magic Items entered the game.
There was one element that managed to surprise both my players and me.
There are a couple of Epic Monsters in the deck that disrupt the Delve when they appear. The first one they turned up took them completely by surprise; I’d sort of neglected to mention them when I explained the game. I could tell they were annoyed.
In the postmortem, their enthusiasm for them took me by surprise. At first, they explained, they didn’t like the Epic baddies interrupting their carefully planned Delves, but after they had a chance to reflect on it, they demanded more and various Epic Monsters! The wild unpredictability of them shot an extra thrill through the game that they really enjoyed.
I need to increase the frequency of the ‘item draw’ symbols. I’ll double it to start with, maybe triple, and I definitely need more Magic Items. Lots of possibilities here.
I’ll bring in a few more Epic Monsters. My play testers had some great suggestions for new Epic baddies and I’ve got some cool ideas of my own. I’m excited to get a few more in the game, but I will have to make sure they don’t become too disruptive.
Lastly, I need to finish writing and test the Race and Class cards. Simple, easy to understand and easy to use powers are called for here.
I’ve got at least one more, possibly two more play tests coming up this week, which I’ll post about here. And then? Then I’ll have won 4P.