Jorge Zhang

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Playtest- Essays too powerful?

Hi everyone! Recently I had a play test with four second-time players. It’s very helpful to get people to play the game multiple times to see if they enjoy the changes- I really appreciate it!

There were a couple main take-aways from this playtest. Firstly, I finally started keeping track of time. Freshman year took about 40 minutes. Sophomore year took 26 minutes, Junior 37, and Senior 55. I think that this is an indication that as the players got more comfortable with the mechanics, they sped up their turns. However, there were more decisions Senior and Junior year as resources (especially teacher influence) built up, resulting in more thinking time. In total, this four player game took 2 hours 38 minutes, which is a bit long in my opinion. I’m looking for ways to cut down on this time.

Another major take-away is that the players felt that the Essays were too powerful. They also did not enjoy the negative valued essays as much since a single -4 could wipe out an entire years worth of resume points from classes. Clubs were rarely purchased, but this could be because no one really applied a strategy involving gaining friends.

There were a couple of balance changes involving individual cards too. However, there were a lot less of these complaints than normal, which hopefully indicates that the adjustments with event cards I have been doing has been paying off.

I got some cool suggestions too. One of which was to use stickers to adjust the values of cards instead of writing over them when making balance adjustments. While I do edit the digital designs as I go for the blog, most of the time I end up using a pen on the physical version since it is easier and less expensive for me than printing a new card. However, writing over other values makes it difficult to read, which is why stickers could help make things more clear. Another suggestion was to change “wounds” (as I had been calling them), or the penalty when you discard a card that you cannot discard into a token that could be removed by discarding a card. This way, players could get rid of the RP penalty from wounds.

Overall, a very useful play test. I will probably end up revising several essay and event cards that you can look forward to in the next couple days. What are your thoughts on the essay mechanic, especially on negative essays being too powerful? Let me know what you think in the comments below!


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