Hedron Designer Diary 3

While Ragnarol’s being going through constant development and upheaval, Hedron’s been slowly evolving. I’ve been playtesting and iterating on it, but I just haven’t made any big, dramatic changes until now. Over the last few tests and subsequent changes, I’ve been able to get Hedron to run smoother and smoother but I haven’t been 100% happy with the direction it’s been heading. So, back to the design goals, which I had been sticking to. Continue reading

Ragnarol Designer Diary 4

Straight out of the gate, variable player abilities in Heroes and Clans just didn’t work. The conditions on both were too specific to add any real strategy to the game, and there really ended up either adding the occasional wild swing or not working at all, at least in a 2-player game. I’m going to save the concept of both of these and try to work some things through but I’m removing it from the playtest options for now.

Two things came out of iterating through with Heroes. The first change was pretty simple, and came from Odin’s Son ability, which was to reroll all the dice that he chose when he got an eye, which was the default eye ability at that stage. I rolled back the basic eye rule to just rerolling 2 dice with a single eye result, and only eyes with 2 or more. This actually seemed to work better and quicker, and worked so well with the next big change that it become the new mechanic.

The other thing I got out of Heroes was the hero dice. This no longer has variable abilities attached to it, but functions as a central character that adds more tactical options in battle. At the start of the battle (before Eyes come into effect), the hero can do one of two things
1. Be a hero – they can change their result to anything they please
2. Rally forces – they can choose to reroll any dice that they choose.
This does increase complexity slightly but opens up tactical choices and make players feel like they’re more in control of their warriors. It works quite well with the new eye rule as players can rally their forces around an eye, or even use eyes to essentially block other eyes. This also creates a central character for player’s to build both their strategy and their story around. (Also made it that it takes 2 axes to kill a hero because otherwise he just gets taken out too early and too easily)

Fortify really can slow down the middle game as players huddle behind their fortifications. Players can ignore warriors on the Fortify track for 3 glory but it became obvious pretty quickly that players weren’t going to get that much and have enough warriors to remain a real threat. I think there needs to be (a) a way to bypass the fortifications to get stores* or (b) more overall glory in the economy or (c) both.

Now, let’s go back to what we said last time. Game speculators on the internet and in real life were giving me the following impressions

  • We’d like more asymmetry
  • We’d like to have cooler guys (a hero), and less genericism
  • We’d like experience points
  • We’d like more gotcha! moments

The asymmetry pretty much failed and I had already decided that experience points wasn’t something that I’d be including (although glory does somewhat function as a reward point), but I did end up with a viable hero character and some fun gotcha moments. In a 15 store game, I managed to keep a strong force of warriors throughout the game but my warriors starved during an all out raiding round as there was no food left when it became my turn to raid.

There are a few other changes that I’ll be bringing through, some of them clarifications and some of them tweaks, based on the more varied scenarios that have started to pop up through more playtesting. I’m going to try to start brainstorming some more ideas for tracks (including possibly adjustments to the currents tracks and variable tracks) so if you have any ideas let me know.

Ragnarol Designer Diary 3

I’ve had a few nights of playtesting with a few different people and some comments from the internet. Though most enjoy the game, there’s still definitely something missing. Some of the feedback, I’ve been getting is:

  • We’d like more asymmetry
  • We’d like to have cooler guys (a hero), and less genericism
  • We’d like experience points
  • We’d like more gotcha! moments

On my latest playtest night, I was playing with a couple of friends and was pretty exhausted from a long day at work and didn’t have my usual enthusiasm or eloquence when running the demo. They said they liked the game and came up with some helpful feedback but I didn’t see the same spark that I have had with most other players. This gave me a bit of a wake-up call that the game is far from done yet. Continue reading

Ragnarol Designer Diary 2

Played a couple of quick basic games with 5 new players. The only hiccup was assigning raiding party order. There seemed to be 3 at a time quite often. We quickly house-ruled that on a tie, you roll your dice and player with least axes goes first. It was a quick and easy decision that I’ll bring into the canonical rules.

There have been a few mentions on BGG of the awkward wording and play of the Eye reroll mechanic. This was something I’ve had in mind, but hasn’t really come up as I’ve been running most games. I now know it’s an issue, and I also know that maybe I need to step back a little while doing balance testing, to let players try to work things out for themselves. Continue reading

Hedron Designer Diary 2

I’m going to start out with a special shout out to Yaoban who’s given me 2 solid nights of playtesting in one week., and is also a fountain of game knowledge. We iterated a few different ideas. What I wanted to get out of the playtest session was

  • An acceptable bad roll solution
  • No clear dominant strategies
  • Possibly getting the d20 back to starting on a 10
  • An idea of whether venting was good or bad

Continue reading

Ragnarol Designer Diary 1

Ragnarol and Hedron are very different games. Ragnarol is a game that’s more about the interaction between players and the narrative that develops. It’s designed to be a fun game that gives you permission to ruthlessly pillage your friends. As opposed to Hedron, it’s not a game where winning means everything. The narrative aspect of the game helps to make the games enjoyable, win or lose, and it is very much game that mixes skill with luck, meaning it’s not 100% your fault if you lose. But one thing that’s come up a few times in testing is that occasionally a players will have a bad battle early on and lose a bunch of stores or a few men, and it’s hard to catch an early lead. With Ragnarol, I want players always to feel that their choices matter and that they can raid and pillage their way to victory. So the latest iteration of Ragnarol includes a few more options for your warriors apart from raiding (which some of you may have already seen) and a new path to battle success through gaining glory.

Continue reading

Hedron Designer Diary 1

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. Continue reading

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