Wow, what a crazy couple of weeks for DGBG. It started with an awesome playtest at Penny Arcade, moved onto ETXWA convention with a few great tests, and then a follow-up with our licensor Hidden Path Entertainment.
All along the way, we have been making a ton of refinements to our combat system. Since we switched to the no-miss system about a month ago, it has opened so many new doors to how to improve the game that it is almost impossible to describe!
At first, it was a bit painful. The initial repercussions of the change to no-miss was a sizable increase in alien HP. This made a slightly figity system even more so, but after we leaped that hurdle, the doors blasted open.
Since then, we have made multiple other major tweaks. To start, we moved from using 1HP and 3HP tokens to 1HP and 4HP. This may seem minor, but it actually helped us to reduce the amount of token swapping required. Once we completed this change, we suddenly noticed that other parts of our mechanics were even more pronounced. As an example, it was extremely difficult to keep track of kill count during a game with very little motivation to do so. As a result, we decided to cut that entirely out of the game. It provided little benefit for a lot of work that was error prone.
Next, we started to dive deep into our tower construction system. This is really the core of any good Tower Defense game. Being a co-op game, we started to question why we were requiring the players to construct the towers independently. This lead to us taking the current "bonus resource" pool and converting it into a "Construction Resource" pool.
Now things started to get a bit crazy. We needed a better method to fill that pool so players could construct towers better. We fought both with the game and with each other over the best way to solve this problem. It took a while, but eventually we realized that we really had 2 problems we needed to tackle at once. One of which was, yet again, one of our original core mechanics that defined the game all the way back when we first made our pitch to Hidden Path Entertainment. This is our player resource system where players ditched cards to boost their AIs resources to spend on other cards in their hands.
We ripped this almost 100% out of the game. This was an extremely painful decision to make, but ultimately, it is for the better.
So, what do we have now?
Well, players can still discard cards for resources, but they always only give one resouces and that resources always goes into the group "Construction Resouce" pool. No one individual resources.
In addition, players no longer have to spend resources to play cards. They can play everything in their hand every round. Unfortunately, to keep balance without another dramatic increase in alien HP, we had to reduce player hand size from 5 to 4, but it has worked out quite well.
Next, we decided to make the board game reflect the digitial game even more. Now, when you kill aliens, you earn resources for each and every kill. Once again, these resources propogate into the group "Construction Resource" pool.
Finally, our "Activate Any Tower" cards ended up being way too powerful in this new variant. At first, we tried to limit the number of these cards you could have in a deck, but that proved to be too annoying and also error prone. We almost cut them from the game, but Rico had an amazing idea last minute today. We are moving them to being the more limited "Special" type of card. What that ultimately means is that players can take as many "Activate Any" cards as they want, but now those cards are competing with many other extremely powerful cards for the rare slots in most AIs decks.
So much fun and hard work these last few weeks. Can't wait to get some more playtesting on this before we head to GenCon in just about 6 weeks. Hope to see you there!