A Taste for the King Updates – July Edition
I recently play tested A Taste for the King at the Board Game Designers Online Discord play testing session. I wanted to trial the use of out of turn actions within the game. Ultimately, I think the game suffered similarly to the version that included Wagers in that it was a little too hard to remember to use your actions. This was partly due to a little lack of clarity around order of operations which is always a risk with first iterations of ideas. I do think it was a step in the right direction but not necessarily in their current state.
I did receive a couple of suggestions that I would like to try and have since been working out how to implement within the constraints of the game. The first was to allow other players to circle a dish that they want at the start of a turn or round. If the current player ends their turn with that dish on the table any player that circled that dish can score it, circling a new dish at the start of the next turn. I have tentatively named this ability “I Want Some of That”. It doesn’t hurt or slow down the dish collection of the current player but it gives people a little more incentive to watch the turn eagerly, knowing that they will potentially gain something for themselves.
The second suggestion was to take the taunting mechanics of discarded cards and potentially make this a core part of the game loop experience. From very early on in the development of the game, when a player discards a card they show it to the other players who can then use the information to play mind games with the current player. This latest suggestion was to have the player show their cards to the other players, Hanabi-style. The current player can still look at the backs of their cards, making decisions based on the course indicators but the other players can try and taunt and fake out the player for a much increased sense of engagement.
This may slow the game down a little too much but it should skyrocket the out of turn engagement so it may be a worthwhile trade. This is similar to how Gluttony worked but it’s less messy and less prone to cards getting left out of the deck at the end of a turn. My biggest concern is it feels a little off-theme as the original idea for drawing 3 cards was that a covered platter was being brought to your table and the taste tester was sniffing out the poisoned dishes and sending them back to the kitchen and other players saw the discard as it was being returned. However, if it makes the game more fun I am more than happy to consider it.
Implementing this in Screentop for online playtesting may prove challenging however, so I may have to move to another platform for this iteration/round of tests. I shall ask on the Screentop Discord to see if there is a way to do this. (I received the answer while I was writing this article but I think it’s a valuable insight so I’ve kept it in).
A third suggestion was to bring back a wager-lite mechanic to the game. The previous Wagers system allowed players to guess on the outcome of other players turns in exchange for extra abilities or extra scored/stolen cards. The problem with this was it slowed the start of the turn too much and didn’t really increase engagement during the turn, only at the end, and it didn’t speed up play time by having players score cards more frequently out of their turn.
This time I’m simplifying it. Players can guess on the outcome of the turn, stating the last dish or course for a player’s turn or whether they think the turn will end in death. This will allow them to score an extra card. While this still doesn’t really add engagement during the turn, it is another way of rubber banding and gives a little extra thematic flavour to the taunting.
In summary, while these changes still need testing, the changes are:
Adding Hanabi-style card display so that other players have a chance to be perpetually engaged outside of their turn, instead of only when cards are discarded.
Adding I Want Some of That which should act as a mini-rubber banding system and work alongside the viewable cards to increase engagement and attentiveness.
Mini-wagers to increase the mind-games aspect of the game. If your choice of wager has triggered you may try to trick the player into stopping their turn short, likewise if you have chosen death then you will try to push them further until they bust with a posion.
While some people do find turns interesting enough to watch without an incentive, I feel like the majority of players have mentioned the downtime outside of their turn (at least in the latter half of playtests), hopefully these changes will all help to address this without adding too much complexity or unwanted time to the game (something previous attempts have both done). I do suspect there will only be room/need in the game for either “I Want Some of That” or the mini wagers so I will have to see which proves the more popular to play.
If you would like to play test the game in its current state, feel free to join the official Drentsoft Games Discord server or hit me up during a Twitch stream and we can test it. In fact bring some friends and we can try to break it with as many people as possible!
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