09 December 2010 @ 12:09 am
Soho! (or why games need playtesters)  
Tonight I was at the launch thing for Soho!, a board game about being editors at a small London literary magazine. I'm not entirely sure if I managed to piss some people off slighty, but it was pretty much that or shut up entirely and I'll pick honest criticism over that any day.

The core mechanic was not bad. You're wandering around London, trying to track down a bunch of writers in pubs, while navigating via various means of transport - walking, boris bikes, taxis - and that basic idea of switching between different methods was pretty good. There's a trade-off in that there's a continuum between slow methods that can go anywhere (walking) through to fast methods which will run into the one-way system and more obstructions (taxis) with bikes as a middle option.

The problem was that there was all this other crap: lots and lots of extra rules tagged onto this mechanic; overly complicated methods that take many turns to switch between transport modalities; an awful lot of board changes without sufficient player moves inbetween; etc.

I had a bit of a chat with the author, and he admitted that it's entire playtesting was him and his girlfriend repeatedly going over it again and again. It's possibly quite funny to readers of Smoke (the literary magazine this is being done off the back of), but it's not worth it for the rest of us. Given the cool shit going on with boardgames in London, this was somewhat disappointing...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Diaries of a dolphinluckykaa on December 9th, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
Doesn't seem a very interesting game. Looks like it uses the basic roll/move mechanic and seems very much designed my people who've only played mainstream games.

How did you get invited to a board game launch?
Palfreypalfrey on December 9th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
The move mechanic was slightly more interesting than that, in that there's a notion of "overshoot" in the sense that you have to use your complete roll (well, there's exceptions to that). It's about the one bit I wouldn't strip down! It was in desperate need of input from people who'd played a variety of games though.

Open invite to the public, especially if you'd read the Londonist article which advertised it.
pogodragonpogodragon on December 9th, 2010 10:39 am (UTC)
Second attempt at commenting...

I like the idea of the game, it sounds a fun concept. But holy hell that's one complicated set of rules there, I think I lost the will to live while reading it.

Cut the rules down to something sensible and intuitive and it could be a fun after-pub type game.
Palfreypalfrey on December 9th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I gave up the first time I read them. Luckily I read them through a second time, so I could guide the bunch of rather confused writer/editor/literary types through the basic playing of it, otherwise it probably would have been even more of a waste of time.

Given it was possibly doing not so bad as a work of sarcasm, they possibly could have trimmed it down to a much smaller board and some notion of herding writers into a particular pub-of-choice or something.

pogodragonpogodragon on December 9th, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
It has the feel of a first draft set of rules, a few playtests through and I would expect it to be cut down to something tighter and less fussy.

It doesn't have the look of a game that justifies that level of twiddlyness in the rules. Less is more.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )