Designing Microgames–Duel, Part 2

A new microgame is in development.  Duel supports two players, each with a deck of about 20 cards.  It updates elements of classic battle games. The game ends when a deck runs out and the player controlling the majority of a 3×3 grid wins.


The First Test

Equipped with a fresh prototype, I needed playtest data.  What would the best hand size be? Should there be an even number of turns?  Is there a start player advantage/disadvantage? Should players play every card?  Several open questions were on the table.

Len Stemberger was hosting our club on this particular Saturday.  When I arrived, it happened that he was also the only player free.  We settled in for a few plays with the cardset presented in the last column.  Here were the big bullet points:

* Hand size 4 seems correct.  Play 1, Draw 1.

*  Attack and Defense can be a single number.  Splitting them has no particular payout.

*  Mines are not intuitive.  I need to work with the language text.

*  The minesweeper needs adjustment.

*  Many of the numbers need adjustment. Since Strength and Defense are being combined anyway, it will likely be possible to shrink the numbers as well.

*  Keep an eye on the momentum of the game.  In particular, what happens to the momentum when a card eliminates another card? When two cards eliminate one another? When a card holds its ground against another card?

* Begin thinking about asymmetry.  The current playtest set is entirely symmetrical but its final form will definitely be asymmetrical.  Each team should have its own areas of strength and weakness.  Each could have a unique unit, for instance.


Post-Test Adjustments

Back to the workbench I went!  Armed with this playtest data, a new draft was created.  Again, feel free to print everything and take it out for a spin yourself. What would you change next?



Next time, version 2 gets tested and APE Games gets introduced to the game.


What’s your favorite Microgame?  What do you like best about it?  Have you written one? How did your players respond to it?  Share with your fellow readers in the comments below.  And if you’re enjoying what you’re reading, create an account with WordPress and follow this blog.  You keep reading. I’ll keep writing.


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