Playtesting for Guild ball has been an absolute joy. Having playtested for a few companies now, I can say that my involvement in the community project has been pretty great. Contact between rules and testers has been consistent, regular, and (crucially) more transparent than many companies are able to be. This has helped the approach to playtesting greatly as we are able to quickly establish intent and the rules committee have been able to get quick feedback on potential places to clarify wording, giving us more energy to devote to testing of rules themselves.
For example, Lens Flare went through a few rewrites to make it clear that you could use Bonus Time! to return your dice pool to equal base stat but not to go above.
The testing of those rules has also been interesting and thanks to the playbook more involved than many previous systems I have tested. To give folks an idea of how we would test this before a game we would decide on a couple of things:
If you have a 70% expectation to roll 2 successes and get none will the testsers allow a reroll to see the "likely" result rather than a dud result? There is value in allowing rerolls and running a normal game, a normal game can usually be completed quicker and will match the rhythm of Guild ball more closely however allowing the rerolls in theory allows you to see what the majority of games should shape up to be. Individual testers would use a % they felt most comfortable with if they tried this.
How much work can Nightlight (the Lamplighters captain) do if she is supplied with a full 6 influence every turn or even how do the Lamplighters work on the receive, agreeing pre game that no kick roll would be made to test this. This can allow you to push the limits of individual pieces and make a hard push on seeing if the guild has problems in certain areas, either being too good or not good enough in areas, in ways that a normal game may not try as it is risky. This lead to a few things coming forward needing to be addressed that I think Rules did a great job improving.
Part of the changes this process lead to was the removal of a guild rule which initially changed a model's stats based on whether it was suffering the burning condition or not. This was replaced by something more similar to the Ratcatchers' dilemma where there's a theme across the team of traits that models gain when suffering burning. Prior to this change, many models had an "on/off" feel which was thematic and cool but resulted in confusing board states for players. Playbooks can also be made more consistent since TAC values aren't constantly changing due to the guild rule any more. Many other changes occurred along the way which have helped streamline the team's overall design.
While some of you may know me for my use of Union (lets face it, mostly vGreede) my favourite ball team is alchemists and I am excited to see the Lamplighters hit the table as I think they feel very Alchemist. I'm looking forward to seeing how the play ups change things for alchs and how the wider community enjoy Lamplighters. I think it will have been worth the wait.
Playtesting the Lamplighters
Alun Barfoot (2021-09-13)
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