It’s been several play tests since the last revision of Heroes of Ismia, in which classes were completely reworked and character movement was increased amongst other changes, and I’m ready to give another update on the state of the game. I’m in the middle of hurried revisions because next week I’m going to be play testing with a group of professional game designers and I’d rather not embarrass myself. On the one hand, I feel like the game is really beginning to take shape, with fairly well-balanced combats thanks to the tier system, and quicker quest completion from the 2d6 movement, but there’s still a long way to go and the bulk of the game feels largely repetitive. Here are a few changes I’m working on to shake things up:

Wandering Monsters

A long-time problem with the game is that combat didn’t feel incredibly integrated. I tried adding more combat based quests and greater incentives to go monster hunting, but we still found it possible to go most of the game without having a single combat. Enter the wandering monster. I changed one of the wild card sides of each resource die to a wild/monster. During a gather action, if you roll 2 or more wild/monsters, you must immediately have a combat and defeat the monster before you can collect your resources. This rule proved a little problematic early in the last play test when my fiance got trapped in a catch 22. She needed to complete quests to be powerful enough to survive a combat, and she needed to gather to complete quests, resulting in two character deaths; an issue that may need to be addressed.

Non-Combat Powers

After all the changes I made to character powers, when actually play testing, they seemed a bit overwhelming. Players often forgot about powers because of the abundance of options. Also, most powers were combat based, and players rarely used their stamina or magic resources for anything other than drawing an action card. To fix this, I am working on gathering and movement powers for each class; powers that will require stamina or magic and enhance actions other than combat. Hopefully this will force players to more carefully monitor their resources.

Party Quests

This is the most exciting change: quests that require players to work together and coordinate their turns, an idea suggested by my friend Jeff, a partner in many a board game adventure. Party quests represent global events that require the attention of every player. Failure to complete a party quest results in a permanent penalty or alteration to the game board, but success yields incredible rewards for all players.

The hope with the addition of party quests is that player interaction will be stressed even more. A drawback to many board games is that players spend much of their time focussed on their own goals. They are only reminded that there are other players involved when their actions are thwarted or when they are offered another beer. The PvP powers and cards I put into effect in the previous iteration helped, providing some of the highlights of the last few play tests, and this is a chance to add even more.

More to come after the next round of play tests!