Stormy Night Games
To ensure that we have enough people to staff each session, we will be ending ticket sales on Thursday night to any sessions that are still completely open. Only tickets to sessions that have been partially sold will remain. So if you're looking to get a group together, make sure you get at least a couple of tickets for your preferred date and time.
In the meantime preparations have been going well. The puzzle room is largely complete and we done a couple of test runs. None of the puzzles were solved immediately, but they were all solved (albeit sometimes with the help of some minor hints), so I think that is basically the sweet spot we were aiming for. The main test group did finish with about 10 minutes left, but they had far fewer distractions to deal with than the real event will have, so again I think that is right about where we want to be. I did change out the materials used to build one puzzle and now it works exactly the way I wanted it to. Now I just have a few cosmetic additions to make and it will be ready to go.
The dining room is starting to shape up as well. It's hard to say what the end effect will be until we do it, but I have the elements of what I feel will be a festive-eerie-gothic dinner party. We're bringing in some trees and special lighting effects. We're working with my florist friend Katie for a special centerpiece and I have some other fun decorations.
Also, if there's anyone that maybe can't afford a ticket, but would like to maybe be a part of it behind the scenes, let me know. We'll be doing another test run of the puzzle room Thursday night.
Oct 9, 2015
Last night I recruited half a dozen members of Braden, my Mason Lodge, to go down to the basement and do the initial run through of the puzzle room and I think it went pretty well. There was a technical difficulty with one item and another that wasn't ready yet so there were a couple of instances of "pretend this works", but it didn't really affect the game play. There were a few unintended red herrings that came up and one puzzle that I think I will rebuild with different materials, but then that's the point of testing.
The result was that i gave three or four minor hints along the way and the group managed to finish with about 10 minutes left. I think if I had not given them any hints it would have been really close as to whether they would have finished before the hour was up. They also had the benefit of fewer distractions going on than there will be during the real event.
Talking with them afterwards they seemed pretty pleased with it and had a good time testing it out. Consequently I don't foresee the need to change anything other than dressing up the room for atmosphere and the few tweaks that came up. Now we'll focus on the atmosphere for the dinner party part.
Sep 24, 2015
I was at the Minneapolis Board Game Marathon this last weekend when one of my gamer friends, Joe, asked if I thought my game would ever be avilable on Gamecrafter because he was interested in getting a copy. I was certainbly happy to hear that someone was that excited about the game, and since I had the prototype with me we decided to play. By that time it was after 10:30pm though so we were only able to get 4 players together. However I would say it ended up being one of the best 4 player games I have played. The downside was I had not yet updated the prototype with all of the most recent changes but I was able to work some of them in.
We played with a Protagonist, one person starting out Influenced, and the other two players with a Resolve between 1 and 6. In this case I had a Resolve of 1 and played Mina. I initially played it as an all out hero even though I knew a change was likely, but I figured it was good to build up some trust. Mina's abillity to look at the face down cards on locations soon revealed however that there was a "The Fear Grows" card on four different locations, plus I acquired two more which I laid on the board. At one point we had it narrowed down to two locations, and though I had not yet officially switched sides, I knew there was a "The Fear Grows" card on both of them which meant one was certain to come up as we'd have to inflitrate one of them eventually. My descent to the dark side was now assured. Given that I started using my turns to flip over cards and of course every card I turned over happened to be "The Fear Grows". Thus we went from having none exposed to having 5 exposed pretty quickly, and all three non-protagonists were now on the dark side (I could have flipped a 6th one, but it was clear enough there was no one left to turn). There was some discussion afterwards about whether Mina's power was perhaps too powerful. I don't like to make such judgments based upon just one play. In this case it was a matter of luck that Mina was easily turned and that there were so many of "The Fear Grows" on the board initially. This hasn't come up in other plays, so I don't think it is consistently overpowered, and I like that a character's power can occasionally be supercharged in the right circumstances.
The player who played the initial Minion made the familiar complaint that he felt like there wasn't enough for him to do. My usual response is that this is by design as Influenced characters need to win by using guile and deciet more than by using direct action. However I've heard this complaint often enough now that I think I need to pay attention to it. Upon reflection I realize it creates a secondary problem. If the Influenced characters don't have any decent direct actions to take, then it becomes really difficult to discover who they are. Consequently maybe there should be a direct action to tempt them with that might have some real benefit but might also raise their risk of discovery. My thought then is to change the penalty for a failed infiltration. In addition to making future infiltrations harder, there will be an additional penalty of taking the top 5 cards off the deck, checking them for "The Fear Grows", and then remove them from the game. This will give both Influenced players and Minions something they can do to hurt the good guys and also makes it a little more costly to purposely fail one just to get rid of bad cards. I'm not sure if that will be enough as it can be hard to play a bad card without being discovered, but there are very few actions in the game one can genuinely do secretly.
We did manage to play with the revised Fear Track meaning the difficulty for infiltrating normal locations was 1,4,7, or 10 rather than 1-6. I think that did work better though I still have to add some iconography to the board to make it clearer which number each location uses as the difficulty for infiltrating. I'm also thinking of maybe just making it a standard number and the only way to make it easier to infiltrate is to use Resolve tokens. In that case, you would also get a resolve token every time you sucessfully infiltrate a location (and lose them all if you fail).
In the end, the original Minion got the Clarity of Purpose card but decided to just discard it. Consequently it became a three on one and the minions were able to easily overwhelm the lone remaining hero by running out the deck. It was interesting because for a long time it looked like the Heroes were going to easily win, but once Mina started flipping cards the tide turned extremely quickly. But that was Mina's plan all along, so it wasn't an unexpected fluke. Consequently I was pretty happy with it.
Sep 13, 2015
After various shopping trips, scouting out the Arcana basement, pouring through back copies of Games Magazine, and hours of pondering, the puzzle design is finished. It was an unexoected challenge to figure out how the puzzles fit together with each other, which ones would lead to which ones and which ones would be going on at the same time, but there is now a funky looking flow chart. I'm pretty happy with all of the puzzles. I know some of them will be a little challenging, but there will be 10 people working on them and a host to throw hints when needed. Though my faith was shaken a bit today watching a TV show that pitted two teams against each other in two identical puzzle rooms. One team spent over 40 minutes failing to realize that finding the letters LAMP meant they should turn on the lamp. They never did get past that first puzzle. But 10 heads is better then 3. Now I just need to procure a few special materials and build a few things I still need. I think it will be pretty cool.
Sep 1, 2015
I went to Axman tonight and picked up some cool items I hope to incorporate into the puzzle room. I also made a trip to Menard's and picked up some locks. One of them is going to let me rethink one of the puzzles entirely so I'm pretty excited about the possibilities. I think the puzzles are going to end up posing some interesting challenges. Can't wait to see it come together!