Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A proper test

I got to test out Camp Nightmare on the weekend and learned a lot of useful things.  In theory the game would play well with up to six people but I hadn't had the ability to test it with more than four people up until then.  It turns out that my intuitive guesses about how well it would play with six were close but missed a few key things.  There were two cards in the game that really didn't work at all in the six player version and they looked roughly like this:


You can take an Action to go swimming, which gains you 1 Fun and 1 Energy.

In a game with a few players this works fine but in the six player version you often wouldn't even get back around to your turn to be able to actually go swimming.  Getting to swim twice was pretty nearly impossible and that meant that this card was a pure trap.  While I don't mind cards having different values in different circumstances I don't want players to draw a card and realize that it will never under any circumstances be right to play.  Originally my solution to this was to let people pay 1 Energy to borrow a card for a turn but borrowing swimsuits just seems like a mistake somehow.  If you are into doing that, why aren't you all just skinny dipping?  My solution is to rebrand the card and change it up a little.

Fluffy Towel

Any player can take an Action to go Swimming, which gains them 1 Fun.  No one can Swim on two consecutive turns.

I added in the extra line at the end to restrict the card somewhat because most cards that boost Actions aren't spammable to the same extent - you only need so much Wood or Food but Fun is useful in any amount.  Plus it makes a lot of sense that you need to let the towel dry out again before somebody else can use it to dry themselves off from a dip in the lake.  Go making sense!

The other thing that needed tweaking was the two major ways in which people could boost their resource production.  Gathering Wood is an Action that produces 2 wood normally, but is boosted by the following cards:


Each time any player Gathers Wood they gain +3 Wood.  


Each time any player Gathers Wood you can spend 1 Energy to increase the Wood gain by +5.

A typical circumstance is a player playing one of these cards and then people Gathering Wood 3 times.  With the Saw there is a total of 15 Wood generated over 4 turns, while the Axe provides 21 Wood at the cost of 3 Energy.  The Axe looks better because it generates 18 total resources instead of 15 but it has a major problem in that the person playing it needs a large store of Energy to make it work.  In the six player game getting enough Energy together to do that was a major issue and was completely infeasible at the start of the game.  Right at the beginning a player dropping the Axe would only have enough Energy to power it once and that leaves it as a very unreliable and situational way to gain Wood.

The main reason this was an issue is that in all games the Food and Wood are communal resources.  If the group needs more anybody can fix that on their turn.  Energy on the other hand is a personal resource so if you need Energy to power a card you might well have to spend a turn Napping to get Energy and by the time your next turn comes around the card you wanted to play probably isn't legal, never mind being a good idea.  Anything requiring specific people to spend Energy is extremely difficult to use profitably in six player games.  My new design isn't a complete overhaul but hopefully fixes the issues to a large extent.


Each time any player Gathers Wood they gain +2 Wood.  When this happens any one player can spend 1 Energy to increase the Wood gain by +3.

The idea here is that if you are constantly pouring Energy into the Axe it is quite a good card and produces a lot of Wood.  If you don't have extra Energy though it is still a reasonable investment compared to the Saw.  The breakpoint is that if you are simply Napping as your Action to gain 2 Energy and then pouring that Energy into the Axe it is not as efficient as the Saw.

Axe - Nap, Gather Wood for 7, Gather Wood for 7, total 14.
Saw - Gather Wood for 5, Gather Wood for 5, Gather Wood for 5, total 15.

However, if you are able to generate Energy efficiently through some other means such as a Sleeping Bag then you could get the efficiency of the Axe higher than the Saw.  This is pretty much exactly what I was aiming for - depending on your situation either of the two tools might be desirable but until you get into the game it is not at all clear.  The Saw has the advantage of being simpler and more reliable but the Axe has the advantage of offering choices and choices are powerful, particularly once you know the game very well.

I chose another direction with a card that had very similar problems to Axe called Survival Guide.  Here is the old version followed by the new version.

Survival Guide

When any player Forages you may pay 1 Energy to increase the Food gain by +5.

Survival Guide

When any player Forages increase the Food gain by +7 and trash Survival Guide.

The second version has a huge benefit in a short timespan and isn't especially reliant on game state.  This makes it very appealing and also means that it works just fine in games both large and small.  However, it is not able to generate really enormous benefits if used very efficiently by clever players as its contribution is set.  Now it is a card that I expect new players to always use and be very happy about but which experts will generally avoid in favour of trying to find a way to get a really high score.  You can't beat the record score by playing predictable cards - you need to play high risk, high reward if you want to set new records.  For that style of play you really want the Berry Basket and to find a way to keep it around long enough to use it a ton of times.

Berry Basket

When any player Forages increase the Food gain by +3.

I have also had new ideas for cards just flowing out of my brain.  Here are two of my favourites:

Air Horn

When any player Naps you can gain 1 Fun but that player gains no Energy.

Can of Icing

When any player cooks food you gain +2 Energy and then the cook gains +2 Energy.

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