Finally got round to playtesting Argh! Who am I?! this week, you can read about the making of it here. Although the general feel and mechanics of the game was good there were some issues which need improving on.
1. The playtime was a little long for the type of game it is.
This could be relatively easy to solve on it’s own, the answer would be to simply reduce the number cards in the play session. So instead of removing only 1 card at the beginning of the game, you could remove three. However, I feel there is more to this issue.
2. The fish-man was the least interesting character to talk about.
This is likely because there is less popular culture about the fish-man monster when compared to vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc. The answer is remove it, or find a replacement. Doing this would actually help neatly with issue 1.
3. It is difficult to keep coming up with interestingly differences between the characters.
One issue might be the range of characters, in the first version of the game they are all classic monster tropes. This means all of them are already grouped by one sort of characterisation, removing the opportunity to explore. This could be resolved by increasing the number of groups in the set, i.e. sci-fi characters, fantasy characters, monsters, etc and reducing the number from each set.
4. Giving a true information, is very precise. Giving a false information is vague.
Once someone was found to be giving the true statements, players who had lying cards could abuse the imbalance of power between the two. There’s 8 characters, so the player eliminating the options through negative comments are at a distinct disadvantage. In short, the difference between having a truth card and a liar card are too great. By reconsidering the objects/characters on the card this could be improved. For example if instead of characters there were objects which were a set of binary choices:
- Black / White
- Round / Square
- Edible / Non-edible
- 8 ball – black, round, non-edible
- slice of bread – white, square, edible
If I ask am I round, and I know if you are lying or telling the truth, then I can deduce the truth relatively easily. However, this really reduces the number of questions which are usable, and the game is significantly reduced in terms of creativity and free thinking. This idea is part way to a potential solution but not the full answer. Each character card needs similarity with some of the other cards but not with all the other cards.
Other ideas for variations
Whilst thinking about these issues I came up with a few ideas for the game that I need to consider for a little bit before making the next version. Some of them should be easy to test, just by varying the rules.
- When you ask a question everyone else answers. Removes the need for a statement.
- Players with liar cards, can both lie and tell the truth. Add some chance for deviance, will depend on what the items are on the cards whether or not this is suitable.
- After a player is asked a question, they cannot be asked another question until everyone else has been asked. Removes the need to give a statement. Requires a neat way of keeping track of this.
- Have players create their own cards, i.e. the backs follow truth and lies but the characters / items are decided by the group who play. This adds another element of creativity to the game.
The big question – what or who do I put on the cards?
The main issue I need to consider is what it is that goes on the cards in the first place. Monsters was a quick idea I had and it worked well enough for the playtest, but I feel that this is the thing that needs changing, it’s also the most time consuming thing to do, both in thinking and time spent creating cards that are nice enough to play with.
Thinking about the theme of the game might help, mechanically it’s about truth, lies and deduction, which sounds a little like a murder mystery. Perhaps you’re removing suspects, finding locations and looking for specific objects. Not sure how all this ties in with not being able to see what you’re holding, but their could be an answer somewhere.