Refining the Secret Message

I am currently testing a revision for the Secret Message action card for A Taste for the King. Currently, more experienced tabletop game players and playtesters familiar with the game find the card too easy to diffuse, finding pain only when played late game. This ends up with only really 2 strategies to “solve” the card, either discard 2-3 cards from the first two hands of the turn or go full pelt on the first hand and hope that the card you want to discard is either the first or last card.

So to balance this and make the card work better at all stages of the game, the card is being tweaked. Before I go into the modifications I feel I should address how the game plays. Each player takes turns drawing 3 cards face down. They then choose up to two cards to discard, using their advanced taste testing experience to sniff out potential harmful elements before they’ve even seen the dish. Any remaining cards are revealed and tasted.

There are three types of card: dish cards, which the player wants to keep, scoring them at the end of their turn;

Poisons that the player wants to avoid as encountering one poison makes you lose a dish and encountering two poisons in a turn will end the players turn, sending all the dishes back to the kitchen;

Action cards which help the player survive.

The goal of the game is to finish the feast first by getting through the deck as fast as possible. Scoring happens at the end of a player’s turn, provided they survive. Secret Message is one of the three action cards in the deck. Where the other action cards help the player in their turn, Secret Message has the added benefit of hindering opponents in their turn. The player playing Secret Message can choose to show or hide the upcoming dishes before placing a poison in the top four cards of the deck.

Knowing these details we can now look at the changes to the card. The number of hands affected is changing from one hand and a card to two hands and a card. This should make the card feel more devastating to encounter at all stages of the game, without adding complexity or slowing down the game. Now you have to decide just which 2 cards to discard from each of the first 2 hands and potentially a final discard from the third hand of your turn, a total of 5 potential discards across 7 cards. This is approximately 18% of the deck discarded right at the start of your turn instead of just 10%. Late game this REALLY hurts, especially if you know the last card you need is in the first 2 hands, but even early game it’s enough to potentially push you into the next round if you want to survive the feast and win the coveted title of one true king, bringer of peace to the lands.
Still, the new revision needs more testing for fun, balance and play feel. Perhaps it will need further revisions before it becomes its final form. 🤔
If you’d like to find out more and even playtest the game with me why not join the official Drentsoft Games Discord server

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