Badgerkastan: Something there, needs an overhaul

I finally made it back to my local design-and-playtest group night, BOGA DAP, for the first time in a while. Unfortunately, the only other person to make it was Philip Migas. Fortunately, he was willing to give the still-very-rough Badgerkastan a shot.

It was a very productive session because it confirmed that the core of the game, the bluffing and guessing, is fundamentally fun(good!). It also confirmed at this early point in the process that the game needs a total overhaul (inevitable, and obvious in retrospect) and gave me some good suggestions in the way of new directions to take the game (also good). Here is a summary of my notes:

  • The game needs a negative feedback mechanism. Currently, if your cards are in a good place and you score, they stay in a good place, and then your opponent has to both dislodge you and try to gain ground somewhere else. Apropos of this, the tug-of-war VP tracker doesn’t work well currently and doesn’t make sense at all in a game with a negative feedback mechanism. It needs to be a race, possibly with some kind of alternate sudden-death victory condition.
  • The fun part of the game is playing cards. You should get to play cards every turn and everything should spring out of that. Playing to each district should let you take the other actions right away. The districts can be balanced in that districts that are inherently valuable have less important actions.
  • This does mean that the Despot probably needs to be rebalanced to have a deck large enough to draw from.
  • There are probably too many districts right now. Five should be enough.
  • Tricking your opponent into using their power to fall into a trap, or scare them away with an empty bluff, is awesome. Drawing only bluffs when what you need is power sucks. Careful design is needed. One idea is to make most of the cards that don’t inherently provide power into traps of some kind.
  • The current “menu” of actions is too broad, adding confusion and providing new players with no idea of what to do. Associating actions with certain regions, which I like anyway, also helps mitigate this problem.
  • It would be cool to have cards whose effect is greater/lesser/different depending on where they are deployed.
  • Keeping track of where the game is on the your turn/my turn/whose turn to score is onerous and taxing, given the pace of the game. A tracker of some kind is needed.
  • The current mechanism of escalation, Foreign Influence, doesn’t work at all. One possible idea would be to use the time tracker to also escalate the effects of Foreign Influence over time.

Thanks very much to Phil for putting up with a still-raw game and providing many excellent ideas!

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