For my third test, I was fortunate enough to have two players who I hadn’t explained the game to, so I handed them the first draft of the rules and told them, “Figure it out.” I promptly discovered some missing rules, and made sure the game could continue correctly. Having a small rule book makes it much easier to figure out what rules need to be clarified, since there are fewer ways for players to miss rules. I also found some confusion caused by inconsistent terms in the rules. This will be fixed when I finalize the rules, but the assumed interpretation was correct. Otherwise, the players learned most of the rules between them. The game ended reasonably close and reactions were positive, so I guess it’s about time to pick a theme for the game.
The stones idea is not particularly compelling, and the patterns and abilities don’t make much sense. I also considered that the grid arrangements could be neighborhoods or city blocks that include commercial and residential properties. This still seems a bit bland and unoriginal, but there is some potential for a larger game including more colors, abilities and patterns. I can keep it abstract–my wife wryly suggested the name 54 Shades of Gray. And the testers so far like it as an abstract game. But games from Dice Hate Me usually have a strong and fun theme, so I’d like to find something a bit more compelling for the judges.
I also like the concept of office cubicles. Colors become different office workers, and patterns become projects that need certain configurations of employees, special abilities become managers, and the special condition points become production quotas that need to be met. I even began thinking about how neat it would be for each card back to show a different cubicle. Perhaps Don Draper’s from Mad Men shows brandy and cigarettes. One with a red stapler for Office Space. Or Michael Scott’s office from The Office. While this has a lot of potential for fun artwork, it would take away from the game if you could identify the cards based on the backs.
I think this theme could work well with the game, but I need to keep it from becoming bland by making sure it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This theme also has potential for later expansion, and I have some great ideas if some Kickstarter bonuses are needed. For now, check out some of the title concept art, too.