Had a really good playtesting session with my friend Jenn, who’d never played any of my games before.

First we did a quick session of Yiora, so I could try out a few changes to the rules I’ve been contemplating, including a new opening position, limited range on the Pawns and Mages, and the ability to promote pieces through landing on the Overlord’s opening space. I also added a second condition for ending the game, which was to maneuver your Overlord to your opponent’s opening space.

It was a thrill to play my own game against someone again for the first time in probably 18 years or more, and I felt the new rules and conditions were a great addition. Jenn commented that being able to promote her pieces was a great incentive to move them to the other side of the board, which is exactly the reason for including that rule.

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Then we moved on to a few games of Project:Orbits, which is a game that even I haven’t had the opportunity to play yet. There’s still a lot of small mechanics that need to be worked out and codified, and the prototype pieces we were using were still not complete. The planets, for example, lacked Escape Velocity values, and the track cards had no hazards placed on them. The first game we played without planets at all, which made for a very quick game, but difficult to win if you fall behind too far. Perhaps if we’d been playing more than three laps.

After the first couple games we expanded the track for a bit more variety, and I found the game to still be really playable. Adding escape velocities to the planets on the track definitely slowed our racers down periodically, and I feel it helps to even the playing field a bit. It was still a bit imbalanced, though, as one or the other of us were able to amass numerous Equipment cards which protected us from each other’s attacks. I’m looking forward to trying this one with four players and seeing if spreading the Equipment out among a larger group helps to even things out more.

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I was briefly ahead of Jenn in the first lap of this game, but she passed me pretty quickly and then dominated the rest of the race. I almost caught up with her at one point when she was stuck on a planet, but she broke free before I got there and sped handily to the finish line.

The only comments and concerns we both noted were that our hands often filled with clutter cards – cards we couldn’t use for one reason or another. I would almost consider this a problem, but the same thing happens in 2-player games of Mille Bornes, the game I used as inspiration for the card-handling mechanism of this game. Perhaps adding the option to discard more cards in a 2- or 3- player game would help prevent this from happening.

After the Comics Fest this weekend, I’m going to put together a larger playtesting group to go through Orbits and really pound it out for a few games. Find the rough spots and see what works.