A few quick notes from this week’s playtest session:

Played through one game, two new players. Matthew had studied the rules online, but Nick had not seen the game before.

The game lasted quite a bit longer than I was expecting, but it was interesting watching both players learning the shape of the board. It was clear the first several moves were pretty much just testing out the pieces and getting the feel for moving them around. Also, interesting to note that most of their movements were into the same quadrant of the board, toward column 9 (from their starting position). No movement was made into the other side of the board until after several pieces had been lost.

Pawns were lost fairly early on in the game, leaving both players with nothing but Mages for the endgame. It was suggested that the name ‘Pawn’ is somewhat misleading, and lends to a psychological willingness to sacrifice these pieces in favor of the Mages. Both players, while somewhat hesitant in the first two stages of the game, expressed that they enjoyed the challenge of the endgame.

Neither player made use of the ability to promote their pieces, which I take as a good sign. Promoting a pawn doesn’t happen in every game of Chess, either. It’s good to know it’s a possibility, though.

Checkmate! White managed to corner Black using three Mages.

Checkmate! White managed to corner Black using three Mages.

Some notes and suggestions from the players:

  • I need to codify in the rules that White always moves first.
  • Rename the pieces. ‘Pawns’ is just too suggestive of a piece that is there to be sacrificed, when in actuality they are very powerful pieces. Possible names suggested were Swords (with Mages becoming Shields?), Soldiers, Knights
  • Being able to choose from two different objectives was appreciated.
  • Have a third kind of piece with a different move mechanic. It was suggested that the board was quite empty and sparse at the beginning, and this made it difficult to be able to devise much of a strategy at first. By comparison, Chess is a very full board, with pieces taking up half the board at the beginning, and much of the challenge is moving pieces around each other without losing any of them.
  • Institute a ‘Ko’ rule, as in Go, where you cannot make a move that would immediately restore the previous arrangement on the board. This would prevent two pieces from dancing back and forth endlessly.
  • Similarly, in Chess, if both players make the same moves three times in a row the game is considered a Draw.

Feel free to come and discuss these possible changes over at the WIP: Yiora thread!