Longest Game Feedback – Phoenix Bound (pt 3)

June 14, 2013

Phoenix Bound does not currently have elements which require extremely protracted playtesting. This could change if the impact of a phoenix in the lives of their charges contributes to a long term goal or become intertwined over the course of play. Even so, there are several parts of Phoenix Bound which could benefit from simpler development tools prior to proper playtesting.

The two most crucial elements of Pheonix Bound that can be tested and refined on their own is the collaborative setting creation and the task resolution mechanic. In the first case, the setting creation system is entirely quantitative so testing it requires multiple players willing to add creative inputs. I suggest testing this for a few round with a willing group before a full playtest to ensure that there is enough guidance and structure and that the procedure produces the desired styles of setting for the game. Otherwise problems in this system could disrupt and taint the results of several full playtest sessions.

The task resolution mechanic, which involves choosing cards from a deck involves too many player decisions to reduce to simple probabilities. However, in systems like this it is often useful to consider a statistical player who simply plays a random card from the remainder of the cards they have available. By simply repeatedly resolving against such a “player” it is possible to estimate the impact of counting or not counting cards, as well as other intermediate strategies. It will also give a reasonable idea how often the deadly – you get twice or more than your opponent – outcomes actually occur among the different ways to play. I suspect this will reveal card counting makes enough of a difference to become necessary for the players, which may be more mental load for a task resolution mechanic than suits this game.

At its root Phoenix Bound is an interesting game about supernatural champions. I suspect that by delving further into what it means to protect and guide your charge an even more compelling game can be created. But, ultimately the proof is in the testing.

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