Got into some more heavy playtesting with Hedron and a friend kindly broke it, revealing that powering up a d20 was too powerful a strategy. I’ve made a few rule revisions to try and get Hedron back to what I wanted it to be, and to do that, I had to think about what I wanted Hedron to be.
- Hedron’s key concept is the chain, creating the right chain to meet a specific outcome feels like puzzle-solving and solving puzzles is rewarding
- Hedron is a brain-burner, you need to think about what you’re going to do
- Hedron has entropy, the game inevitably heads towards an end game state
- Hedron rewards skill and offers enough depth for repeat players but is still accessible for new players
- Hedron is print and play
- Absorbing at the end of a chain is no longer a free action, this means the chain is no longer a closed system and you can’t move single hedrons at no cost (you can still absorb energy, but you can’t move a hedron AND absorb energy)
- Venting has been moved into Basic Hedron, and Advanced and Full Hedron have been removed. I think Basic Hedron is complex enough right now, and I’d like to concentrate on getting the engine running smooth before adding extra parts
- Rolling a 1 on the generate roll, lets your force your opponent to reroll any of their hedrons except the d20
- You can now use a d20 and whatever dice you have around as long as both sides are symmetrical, because why not?
There were a few strategies that emerged throughout play that I hadn’t foreseen or encountered in early playtest sessions, mainly exploiting the closed system to make very powerful plays with fully powered up hedrons. I was content to leave them in as they didn’t appear to break the game, that is, until they did. I played several games with a friend and he was able to identify the dominant strategy and exploit it.
Removing the free Absorb at the end of a chain not only reduces the dominance of this strategy, it simplifies the game and makes it more accessible to new players, as players don’t need to discover the hidden exploits to play a decent game against an experienced player. Another change I was considering was outlawing d20-on-d20 violence, as the powered up d20 could move across most of the board and attack, but with the Absorb revision I don’t think it’s necessary. The d20 is still powerful, but you now need to give it the energy to move.
The other small change I made was to soften the blow of rolling a 1, as it was a bit of a 1-2 sucker punch; you got the worst result possible and lost your turn. The first change I trialled was allowing you to recover a lost hedron, but this both prolonged the game and made hedron elimination (as opposed to d20 assassination) a less viable strategy. The current iteration allows you to force an opponent to reroll a dice whenever you roll a 1, with the limitation that it can’t be the d20.
Playtest Goals and Future Plans
I’ll be running the new version through the gauntlet again, testing to see if it breaks. If it seems solid, I’ll start working on some 3 and 4-player rule variants that don’t include player elimination, as I don’t think Hedron is the type of game where player elimination is acceptable (it’s straight out attack and elimination, and doesn’t have enough of a narrative to make spectating particularly enjoyable).
One additional change that’s up for testing is giving enemy hedron’s an energy sapping aura. Moving through any hex adjacent to an enemy hedron costs an extra energy. This would allow more strategic hedron placement, as well as encourage more attacking rather than just putting everything into a d20 assassination attempt. I don’t know whether this is necessary as yet, and it adds an extra level of complexity, so I’d like to trial the current changes before implementing.