Category Archives: play test

play test

So near but so far

Last night saw Jonathan and I patrol once more the Streets of Commonville.

It was going to be a weird play session, there had been some “requests” made to Jonathan from some of the small but elite folks that had viewed the previous play through.

Once more we were filming the play through, but we had a wishlist of things to cover.

The first twenty minutes or so of filming was spent explaining various elements of the game. We then started a two player game.

I thought for the sake of this recording we would be taking a couple of turns and then “fast forwarding” the game state to show various in game situations.

However we were opening the board up fairly fast. A lot faster than our other two player game together.

I was soon able to level up to Captain, giving me five dice and an intuition (alter a dice to a value I need), plus my starting donut. It wasn't long before we were also able to get Jonathan up to the same rank, with similar additional powers.

But the clock was ticking. We hadn't revealed all the evidence, but we had done enough to get down to one suspect (shockingly not Dr Kinky this time), give that suspect a weapon and a set of handcuffs.

With the clock dangerously low, we had one turn to get myself to join Jonathan (who arrived the previous turn) and the suspect and defeat the suspect.

I needed three dice to get me to the suspects tile. Then we needed to score between us forty five points with our remaining dice. We totalled up our points, we had forty four points. Short by one! One lousy point!

The game had beat us. But that was the closest game we'd played. Amazingly close. Great fun.

So some editing for me, then the “directors commentary” to record and then edit back into the video, before putting up for viewing. How I ended up doing more work I don't know. All I know at the moment with the size font that will be needed in the rules book for my name in the thanks, the page will have to be a gatefold!

Cats out of the bag

You know from the posts that the last couple of weeks have seen some playtesting of a game that Jonathan and Rebecca have been working on called Streets of Commonville.

I've been recording the play sessions for Jonathan and Rebecca to review and placing them on YouTube for them. It's the easiest way to share the video considering Rebecca is in the US of A. Unless you have the link you can't see the video. Well apart from the South Park style humour from me, and my low opinion of law enforcement, these videos weren't meant for public consumption.

Anyhow this has changed with the latest one.

Today Common Man Games (home of Police Precinct game) have shared that link for the last game play with their fans on Facebook. Here is how they spilled the beans…

APB (episode 209): Today's headline reads…

“BACK TO THE STREETS!”

Talkin' About “The Streets Of Commonville” which is a game we have mentioned previously here (see APB #193 and others). It's being designed by a UK/USA team. We (CMG) have not yet entered the process, except to say that we are ecited to see what they come up with and to publish it if we love it and think YOU will too. We want to try to feed you-all the occasional update on this game's development. Within the past 24 hours Jonathan (one of the designers) provided me with a video of a full play-through of the game as it stands now (by all reports, it's quite developed but still being tweaked). I watched some of it and it looks fun and easy to play! I would watch the whole thing right now except that I have to prepare to ship a ton of games out the door (4 pallets headed this way). YOU can watch a bit too, enjoy!…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtYQqv9v5pQ

Please remember this video is unedited, it's loooong… Nearly two hours in duration and shows the whole game being played.

If you do watch it please leave feedback in the comments below on this post. Jonathan is able read them and respond to them here.

Maybe this filmed playtesting is something I could offer as a service to publishers and designers for a small financial consideration. Wouldn't that be something? I can dream.

 

The Dark Knight Patrols The Streets of Commonville

Last night saw a three player play test of The Streets of Commonville. Jo, Jonathan and myself donned our suits of blue and shields and once more pounded the pavement, uncovered evidence and “questioned” suspects to capture the wrong doer.
There had been some tweaks to the game for tonight's playtest. Some graphical like the addition of the cctv camera on the arrow counters to make them a bit more thematic. The player boards now had you controlling the upgrade from a choice of three, donuts (ability to pass a dice to another player, or reroll), another dice, or the ability to alter the value of a dice known as intuition.
Before play Jonathan made a quick adjustment to a dice that swapped the ability to get two minutes of time back to the ability of swapping an ability on your player board with one in the precinct. I did disagree with Jonathan on this, it meant the dice would give you that ability 50% of the time, and no way to get time back.
Below photo property of Jonathan
This was Jo's first time playing the game, and after a brief intro to the basics of the game, we were off fighting crime, fitting up innocent people, and eating our way through a tonne of donuts.
Early on in the game the Jonathan suspect token hit the board. It wasn't long before we were fitting him up with handcuffs and transferring him into his alter ego Dr Kinky.
Below Batman captures Dr Kinky.

The game still took an hour and half to play, and like previous play throughs didn't seem that long. That's the surprise of the game. There is virtually no down time, everyone is involved through out the game. I've pointed this out before in previous posts on the game, this fact alone I think is a big big positive of the game.

Another great play through.

 

Fitting Up Dr Kinky

Once more wannabe police officers Jonathan, Les and myself decided to patrol The Streets of Commonville to fit up another ne'er-do-well for crimes they didn't do (this time, but they are wrong 'uns and guilty, and need getting off the streets. The ends justify the means as the motto of the American justice system goes.)

For this play session Jonathan had pimped out the the tiles and tokens from laminated paper to “chunky” cardboard. As you can see from the photo above I used Bad Cop from The Lego Movie to track my character level.

These thicker components gave a nice feel to playing the game.

Once more cams were fitted to our patrolling officers so the whole game was recorded for prosperity and to be used against us by the game designers.

Even though the game still took an hour and a half to play, it didn't seem that long. There is no down time, no analysis paralyse, everyone was involved.

With three players the game board was opened up far more quickly than the two player game.

In an earlier patrol officer Jonathan testified that one tactic he saw being an option was having one player do the majority of the levelling up by getting the hoodlums. After this session I can't see that as a viable fun tactic to persue. I got stuck going after some hoodlums that turned out to be under control, with low time rolls, I wasn't able to do much, and needed dice passed to me to allow me to do things like reveal evidence. I ended up sacrificing my rolls to get dice needed by the others. It's not much fun.

I still think that there still needs to be another way to level up other than the hoodlums. And that the hoodlums need to be in less predictable positions.

It was interesting to hear that Jonathan's partner in design plays the game differently to us. Where we discuss tactics/options, who needs what dice, and we roll our dice together to achieve our aims that turn. While the opposite is true for the other designers testing. They roll and act independently. Curious, this doesn't strike me as playing it co-operatively. Interesting none the less though.

In the end we won by fitting up the suspect who got named Dr Kinky for his penchant for handcuffs.

Did we roll too many gain two minute faces? Possibly this time that was the way the dice landed. But on other occasions we didn't get nearly the same amount.

I look forward to seeing the next rules tweak after the designers have reviewed the video and discussed things over.

Patrolling the Streets of Commonville

At the end of my post on a playtest of the in development game Streets of Commonville was I'd like to try the game with less players. Last night that wish came true after our planned attempt at the month of March in Pandemic Legacy had to be rescheduled due to illness of a team member.

So last night Jonathan and myself patrolled the mean streets of Commonville, bringing justice and fitting up an innocent suspect for crimes they never did.

At Jonathan's request I filmed the game so that the play through could be later analysed by himself and his co-designer.

Since the play through last week there had been some “minor” changes to the rules and pieces.

I will say during our play through the dice really did hate Jonathan and me.

One of the most obvious changes is that Jonathan now had these fun little donut tokens to replace the printed cardboard ones.

The character boards were changed so that at the higher rankings you had a choice to make between having an extra dice or donut. The action tracking was now controlled by the roll of the “time” dice. I did like these two changes.

Technically the game won last night because we failed to arrest a suspect within the allowed time limit of the game. However we kept playing to see how much longer it would take us to complete the game (bottom left of the photo above, we used dice to track the extra game time).

I did feel that the game board was too large to explore for two players, and that maybe there needs to be a mid point board configuration between the full setup and the solo setup for two players.

Between the two sessions I had thought that the street tiles could be smaller, which Jonathan had already got in the works. Great minds and all that.

Surprisingly it took Jonathan and I approx 90 mins to finish the game. Although as I explained earlier we played until we completed the game. If we had kept to the rules and the game winning, I the game would have lasted about an hour (naturally that will be confirmed once the designers have reviewed the tape).

Although Jonathan had replaced the character tracking token, I thought to stay thematic the tracking token could be a wooden token in the shape of a cop (similar to the security guard wooden token in Burgle Bros. see photo below)

I think this would work thematically. The cop car riding round the streets of Commonville, and the cop figure for the character tracking.

At the end of the game Jonathan and I had a brief discussion about an ability that could be added for a character. It will be interesting to see if he runs with that one.

There will be another play through later in the week with three or four players, looking forward to that.

 

The Streets of Commonville A Playtest

Thursday night saw Jonathan play testing the game The Streets of Commonville with myself, Debbie and Les.

The Streets of Commonville is a multiplayer co-op update of the single player print and play game Inspector Moss: House Arrest. Which won the 2011 Solitaire Print and Play Contest on bgg, and was a 2012 nominee for the Golden Geek Awards Best Print and Play award.

Inspector Moss and Streets of Commonville are designed by the partnership of Jonathan Warren and Rebekah Bissell.

Which meant this playtest session we were playing with one of the designers. Not quite Eric Lang or Ignacy Trzewiczek but still a local hero and a pretty cool thing to be doing.

Before I go any further with this post two or three of the photos here are property of Jonathan who I “borrowed” them from.

The Streets of Commonville sees you working as a team of cops, uncovering evidence, finding suspects, and working to eliminate them from your enquiries, until you have one guilty suspect left.

At the moment the game uses a fixed board layout as suggested in the rule book. Apart from the centre tile, the rest are turned blank side up until players move around the board to new locations revealing surrounding tiles. A kind of fog of war mechanic. I like this hidden information, exploration element. When you reveal a tile, the players get to decide amongst themselves which way round the tile is placed. Although it helps that the other players show the tiles revealed on their go to the others while deciding the best way to place the tile.

I have been mulling with the thought since playing does this game need all the tiles used in the session layer out at the start. Or could the tiles be added as the game progresses and have a more organic, less predictable map, similar to the Zombie! game.

Jonathan showed us another version of the player board. Which I preferred, same number of upgrades but you have to make decisions on the bonus you get, between more dice or more donuts.

Below are my notes from playing the game that we were asked to make. Jonathan requested that I include them on the blog so they are easy to find and share with his co-designer.

My notes for Jonathan to refer to!

  • The player aid needs to have the turn summary on it.
  • There needs to be some way to record the colour of your character piece on the board. This could be just having the upgrade tracker being the same colour as the main piece.
  • There needs to be more options/ways for players to upgrade their characters. Time based upgrades?
  • The rules do need some work. I'd like to see an annotated diagram explaining the game tile.
  • There needs to be graphics in the rules illustrating game play and certain situations that may arise.
  • You could remove the placing of the street punks tokens at the start, add tiles with a symbol for the street punks on, and shuffle those tiles into the tiles used for the game. The placement would be more random then, allow more adjustment for the number of players in the game to control difficulty and opportunities to upgrade.
  • At the moment I think thematically you shouldn't be able to ignore the street punks. Enter a tile with street punks on, you have to deal with them first before being able to do anything else.
  • Currently you can pass as many dice as you like between players using your donut. If as planned this gets reduced to one or two based on the number of donuts you have, then the ability to upgrade becomes even more important.
  • Make the game real time? This would cure AP, or curtail it. There is potential for an alpha gamer in the current game, a real time clock may help control that too.

 

I enjoyed playing the game, at the moment it did at times seem a puzzle to solve of how best to optimise the use of the dice, who gets passed what to achieve the best possible outcome that turn.

But still there is the basis of a good game here. I'm looking forward to playing it some more, especially with less players to see how it fairs.