Conventions Change the Rules

It’s been a while since the last post here on Mutation Wars. EPOC was over a month ago and a lot has changed since then.

EPOC was a lot of fun. It is a board-game convention but the majority of the games are prototypes and new games. I got to meet a bunch of other local designers and test some of their games. I also learned about marketing, shipping, play-testing, social media and other important stuff about trying to get a game to market. Mutation Wars also won a prize for our sell sheet!

Mutation Wars wins at EPOC Ross accepts a prize from Nick Fong for the Mutation Wars sell sheet.

Battalion at EPOC Playing Battalion at EPOC. Very interesting battle mechanics!

Mutation Wars had a lot of good play-testing and feedback over the three days we were there. People especially liked the art/design and the relaxed, light-hearted game play. Most people also found that it was too long.

Mutation Wars at EPOC Playing Mutation Wars at EPOC. Many people liked the MW banner.

With the current rules everyone starts with one body, three Body Part cards and one of each Mutate and Battle cards. A 2 player game takes about one hour whereas a 3-4 player game is closer to two hours (and can be longer). A 5 player game could easily take three hours. I knew the game played long but could I cut back the play time from 30-45 minutes per player to only 15 minutes per player?

When working on the rules I usually play a 3 or 4 player game as all of the players. It allows me to better see if there are strengths or weaknesses inherent in any of the changes I make. So I shuffled the cards and began…

  • I tried some ways to give the player with the turn token more cards and more abilities — maybe only they could attack or mutate? This made the rules more confusing and actually slowed the game time down.
  • I also thought about combining the Mutate and Battle phases. I had to reduce the card count by a lot (two decks into one) and then a lot of the game just seemed to be missing. It was also much harder to get the Mutate card you needed.
  • What if players were on teams and there were only two creatures? This was very confusing and might be worth working on later as an expansion but not for the main rules.
  • Finally I tried just jumping ahead in the game. I gave the players more bodies and cards at the beginning. It mostly worked but the creatures were almost all very powerful and there were hardly any battles — but the game took just over an hour with four players.

I continued to tweak the rules; I allowed for more and less cards at the beginning of the game, changed the number of bodies, randomized body selection and placement and allowed limited exchanges of cards. Some of the changes I liked, most I didn’t.

With these new rules I prepared myself for GOBFest. It is a another board-game convention here in Edmonton and our first day there we had a play-test with three players. It went well and took just under one hour to finish. Feedback was very good and I was quite happy with the rule changes. The next day it was not as busy and I couldn’t find anyone to try the game.

I think the new rules need some more play-testing but so far it looks promising!