Last week w camped out at One-Eyed Jacques' in Carytown for two days and played the game a few times. It seemed to go well, and strangers and passers-by seemed a little interested. It was not super effective, but it also wasn't unpleasant. Clark behaved like a dream, as usual.
Tonight, I took the game to the RVA Game Jams people and tried to teach it to them. This was a room full of strangers -- but gamers. Video-gamers, mostly, but I'm pretty sure they all'd played D&D at some point. An at least passing interest in D&D is what I'd imagined would be the main draw of this game. Their names were D, T, B, W, and G.
It did not go smoothly.
We only got about 4 rounds in -- not long enough for the game to really get off the ground. I learned a few things about the game:
- Some of the basic mechanics are confusing, counter-intuitive, or seem "backward."
- The action of "wasting" cards in your hand and drawing a new hand at the end of your turn robbed these players of some agency -- it's a mechanic that my friends are used to at this point, and I'd underestimated just how much of the game my boys take for granted.
- D said, "When I have cards in my hand, I want to play them in a strategic way... but it doesn't matter what I do with my hand." He wasn't wrong. It doesn't mater how you play your cards, but rather what you draw -- it's an important distinction, and it was confusingly counter-intuitive not only to D, but for T and B as well.
- T said, "Well, why wouldn't I just play my whole hand every time?" and the best answer I could give him was, "Because why would you?" The idea that he would just waste a Dodge card when he wasn't being attacked was really disappointing for him, and I don't blame him. He was also very concerned that he could pay money for a special card out of the Shop Deck, and never get to use it.
- The game is too damn big.
- I'm tired of never having enough room for everything. Even the big tables at One-Eyed Jacques' and the auditorium at the Library didn't have quite enough room for the Dungeon, Beast Board, and each player's deck and discard piles.
- Several people were overwhelmed by the sheer number of cards involved -- and this is nothing new, even for the veteran players. Even with Dan, James, Morgan, and Jack, everyone has to be careful to keep track up which pile is which, so the cards don't get all mixed up. For this pack of entirely new players, the bajillion cards coming in fve different colors did not fill them with confidence. And again, I can't blame them: the cards are in fact a big pain in the ass and actually more than a bit unwieldy.
I have some ideas how to fix this. Tomorrow will be a day spent over at James' house. It shall be a day of design.
Here's the pencil-and-pen version of Le'Franc, as a thank you for those who read this far.