A conversation last week with some former Magic folks gave me some inspiration for my game FMB. (See sidebar.) They were talking about losing a big game of Magic on the back of asking an opponent "Any effects?" and then being forced to end the turn because they had ceded priority. Magic isn't the only game where order of operations and waiting to see what the opponent will do is a problem but it is certainly the stand out example in my mind. The very worst of this was permission decks loaded with counterspells that relied on the ability to prevent the opponent from ever doing anything of note... of course those were only played by sociopaths with anger management issues. *Tugs collar nervously*
The thing is that those decks and the reliance on timing and waiting for opponents to react just aren't much fun. First off people really like making plans and knowing that those plans won't work is frustrating. Secondly there is an issue of pure time - constantly checking to see if an opponent is going to do something is really slow and keeps the pace down to a crawl. A long game isn't necessarily a bad game mind you but the game length should be about doing more interesting things rather than about being bogged down in constantly checking to see if your opponent is going to do something.
This all affects FMB pretty substantially. The initial version of the game even had a counterspell in it but that was fairly quickly removed as it just wasn't any fun. However, right now it still has the issue that opponents can regularly interrupt your turn and this is not a good thing. It makes the game slower and prevents people from making a big plan and executing it. It also makes some card wordings really strange as I need to account for the possibility of being interrupted for each effect that a player can generate. If I could be sure that an opponent could never interfere with a plan in motion then there would be a lot more room to design effects. Right now if there is a spell that makes a creature super powerful for a turn that creature is incredibly vulnerable to having Sleep cast on it immediately afterwards and wasting the entire effect.
My plan is to get rid of or modify all of the interrupt type effects so that the game can play faster and with less checking back and forth. Hopefully I can reduce the effects that take place on the opponent's turn enough that players have lots of fun playing out their dastardly plans successfully and then can get wrecked in return on the next turn. Stopping an opponent by setting up difficult situations for them is fun; it is much less so when they are on a roll in the middle of a big thing and suddenly the bottom falls out of the plan.
Strange that I keep thinking the game is done and then I end up finding ways to improve it. Small iterations for the most part, polishing a pretty solid core, but still there are nearly always ways to tweak it just a bit towards perfection. I wonder what it will look like ten years hence.