Friday, May 25, 2007

Adventures In Playtesting

By Hayden-William Courtland

Countless hours are devoted to fine-tuning the choice of cards and the powers/abilities on the cards that get printed in each expansion of a trading card game. I’ve contributed to this process as a playtester for several games and numerous expansions and it has always been a treat. However, nothing compares to working with new cards for a brand new game. With no other cards previously in print and no preconceived notions of how gameplay and deckbuilding should be, playtesting for a new game is a blast.

When I jumped into testing for the 24 TCG I was immediately drawn in by all the new cards. There were so many to choose from, that it was hard to decide where to begin. I settled on an Agent deck since I could easily focus my deck around everyone’s favorite modern-day hero, Jack Bauer. Thirty minutes later I had assembled a pile of cards to build my deck. I was happy that there was a restriction of two copies of any one card per deck, because it meant I would be forced to have more different cards in my deck. However, when I started building I realized that I had collected far too many cards for my deck. You’re only allowed to play with 24!

I had to cut cards from the first run and made a deck that aimed to make Jack really beefy. My opponent took a different approach with a deck that had many smaller Terrorists. These characters played early and in numbers, often without weapons at all; them simply ran on over and slapped me around. As such the attacking was strong from the get-go, well before Jack even saw the table. I sat there thumbing through my hand, scratching my head, and then realized that when you reach the point where players have 5 time in their game, their game will be more than half-finished. So, the balance of card costs in my first deck build wasn’t optimal – the game can be fast. As a fan of the TV show I should have expected that!

So I rebuilt and rebuilt and eventually things settled in. Anyone who watches the 24 series knows that Jack can get big and beefy carrying items and firepower. Well, he certainly can in the game as well. I just had to be selective in the number of items and weapons I placed in my deck. In addition, I added a few cards to help get Jack out quickly and to buy me some time in case he’s running late. In the end it worked and my fellow testers had similar success with nearly every deck archetype they championed. There are lots of great cards to look forward to in the 24 TCG. But don’t take my word for it! Try it out – there’s nothing quite as rewarding as figuring out how a new game is played and feeling like it is your own.

1 comment:

TheGirard said...

definitely sounds exciting