Home > board game design, playtesting > Protospiel post mortem: Lemuria, Coloronimoes, and RumRunners

Protospiel post mortem: Lemuria, Coloronimoes, and RumRunners

It’s been a while since I posted last, but we took a bit of a family vacation en route to Protospiel, then Protospiel itself (3 days of playtesting, 16 hours per day), then the trip home through Chicago, and finally getting back into the swing of things here at home.

The conference was amazing. I met a lot of very nice (and very talented) people, played a lot of fascinating games, got a lot of insightful feedback on the games I took, and generally had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back next year.

RumRunners hit the table once, and folks had some great ideas for both getting the game off to a fast start and ending it before it became tedious. I haven’t had a chance to implement their suggestions yet, but the changes will definitely make it a tighter, better, and more enjoyable game.

Coloronimoes hit the table three times, and playtesters helped me both streamline the money and straighten out the endgame scoring. The game is both leaner and meaner as a result of their suggestions, though I have yet to type up the new rules. I’m looking forward to trying out the new version with my game group.

Lemuria went over better than the other two. In general people liked the game and thought it was “solid,” though of course even good games can be improved. Suggestions included shortening the game by taking out three of the trading posts, opening up the trading, replacing or removing some of the cards, giving players a sure-fire way to make money (either by burning two cards or skipping their turn), including a playing mat, and tweaking the end-game scoring to award points for money.

I’ve incorporated all these changes into the game and have been playtesting it every chance I get. In general, the game seems tighter, shorter, and more focused; there’s more emphasis on trading; and the cards all seem to work better together. All in all, a much-improved experience! S and I have been playing it every chance we get, and our games tend to be both tense and enjoyable affairs.

My friend C had a great idea for a better and more streamlined way to pre-populate the board with bank-owned trading posts: put 2 dots on some of the boundaries, 3 dots on others, and 4 dots on yet others. Then, when setting the game up, players need only put trading posts on the boundaries indicated — if 4 are playing, put trading posts on all the boundaries with 4 dots; if 3 are playing, put trading posts on all the boundaries with 3 and 4 dots; and if 2 are playing, put trading posts on all the boundaries with 2, 3, and 4 dots. This way the two-player game will have 30 bank-owned trading posts, the three-player game will have 20, and the four-player game will have 10. This helps keep the board tight and competitive no matter how many players there are (and allows for the possibility of a future 5-6 player expansion). Initial tests of the new system have gone very well.

The game reminds me a bit of Ticket to Ride in some ways, as the board is fairly tight and players are always getting in each other’s way. You want to try to grab key connections early, but you don’t want to build so fast that you run yourself out of money. I beat S once yesterday because she got greedy in this way — she paid a lot to beat me to my intended route, overextended, and ran herself too low on cash. I managed to keep her poor (by failing to trade when she wanted to and failing to discard anything that would give her money), and I ended up beating her by just one point. She got back at me later in the evening, though, flashing out unexpectedly and catching me, so to speak, with my pants down. I think the score was 56 to 48.

Her last laugh was bright and cheerful, with just a hint of gloating. :-)

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