I met Martin Wallace the owner/designer of Treefrog Games through Wargames Developments. Over the years I have played a lot of his prototype designs at CoW. A year or so ago he moved to New Zealand so he doesn't do CoW these days, so imagine my delight when he e-mailed me last week and asked to come and visit as he was in the country.
"I have the third Discworld game with me" he added, enticingly. What could I say? So this Sunday we got together to share some time over some games.
Firstly I subjected him to Rapid Raphia. "RR" is more of a board game than a figure game and I thought that the card management aspects of it would appeal to Martin.
This is the first time I've actually played through a full game of the system myself. I've tidied up some more loose ends and produced a simple playsheet summarising the use of the cards to make things easier. I played Ptolemy, with Martin as Antiochus. I decided to refuse my left and try to break Martin on my right. To this end I transferred Ptolemy as quickly as possible from one wing to the other.You can see him with a single card on my base line. I don't think Martin had an overall strategy, and became reactive to my moves. To be fair he was developing a strategy based on the mechanisms, and he therefore needed to learn those first. This vindicates Phil's strategy in the last game, - just act like a Macedonian General and see what happens.
What I was trying to do was pin the opposing phalanx and hit the flank with my elephant. I was looking to offset the advantage the heavy cavalry have against my lights by using the extra card you get from having a general present. This proved to be successful, but it does burn through the cards quickly.
I also managed to store up some high value cards so I defeated the opposing elephant on this flank as well
It was clear this flank was going to be critical so we had a blizzard of cards.
When they were all turned over I had got it right, I think and Martin had worried prematurely about the elephant. Turning the rear phalanx to the flank reduced the strength of the front line, and the presence of Ptolemy was critical as well.
This blew most of Martin's phalanx away, but I was struggling to find a sixth unit to kill before I ran out of cards. In the end I managed to push a unit off the baseline and as he had also run out of cards his army broke.
Martin enjoyed the game and thought the mechanisms worked well. A few changes/clarifications were identified. His main recommendation was to switch from standard playing cards to a bespoke deck. The cards would have all the information about what can move etc rather than have it on a playsheet.
It also then becomes saleable.
Whilst Mrs T was preparing dinner we squeezed in a game of the Field of Glory card game, where I fluked a win.
After lunch we sat down to playtest the new Discworld Game. The working title is "The Gods", and you get to play a major god (Offler, Om, etc) spreading your followers across the disc.
Compared to the previous two games (Ankh-Morpork and The Witches) this is much more involved. It's a card deck building, resource management game. It's deep and will require several plays to get a grip of the strategies.
We set up on the deck in the sunshine and got stuck in. A lot of the ideas in it take a bit of getting used to. Mrs T & I were struggling for what we should be doing, and the game was starting to emerge from the mists when the wind picked up and blew it off the table.
Martin has done another fine job of embedding Discworld mythology in the game. The dice goes up to 7, as you can see, in a reference to Cohen the Barbarian being required by the Gods to roll as such on one die. The cards reference well known characters and what they do is relevant to what the characters do in the books. This is the trick he pulled off so cleverly in the first game as well.
We then retired to Shedquarters for an hour's worth of AMW (Greeks v Persians). Martin took the Greeks and won by a single unit.
We set up "The Gods" again after tea and gave it another go, indoors this time. Some of it was still baffling and I reckoned I'd got it sussed, more or less, when the game ended and strangely enough the game designer had the most victory points.
There's still design work to be done, but this will be a challenging and fascinating game when its finally produced.
I then got beat in a rematch of Field of Glory.
All in all a most satisfactory day.