As I'd had a bad end to the week (more difficulties with the Post Office, which have swallowed up a week's profit) I decided at short notice to attend an evening of games testing at The Games Table hosted by ASH Games, who were bringing along two of their concepts that should be hitting Kickstarter sometime next year.
The ASH team (it's a family set-up of long-time gamers headed by Ash) were delayed by traffic, so those of who had turned up at 6.00pm had some time to fill. Luckily, The games library at the shop has built up nicely since it opened in July.
Five of us took the chance to play Battle Sheep. Despite the fact that three of us hadn't played it before and that the rules were being explained by a seven year-old, it only took a couple of moves to understand it. It's a fast game that only takes 10-15 minutes to play. We got three games in, and it became clear that some fun tactical punches can be pulled. I am tempted to buy it for Sarah and myself.
'Burn the Witch'
When ASH turned up they had two games to test, a card game about witch burning and a minis game based on Star Wars pod racing. Ash, who has a background in franchising, seems to think that he should be able to acquire a licence for the latter.
I went off into the group that played 'Burn the Witch'. We did swap over later, but as it was almost 9.00pm I left at that point and thus didn't get to try the racing.
Put simply (there are various rules I'm omitting here), in 'Burn the Witch' the players take the role of an inhabitant of a medieval village caught up in a witch-hunt. In each hand they are dealt a secret card giving the identity of another player or designating them the witch. An accusation card is then drawn from a deck of 72 real-life examples ("X has a hairy lip"... "X has too many children"). After a period when we all accuse our favoured candidate a vote is taken. The people who successfully nominate someone who is convicted score (regardless as to whether they were the witch or not - this is not a game about justice!). The convicted witch can score by then identifying the true witch. Each game consisted of 3-4 hands and took about 30 mins.
One of the things that the designers were wanting to determine was whether it was best as a murder-mystery type game of up to 16 people (though at one stage up to 30 people wandering around a room wearing their identities on lapel-badges were mentioned), or for 4-8 mates sitting around a table or on the sofa. There were six of us playing (four of whom knew each other), and I think that worked better than a larger group would. A some point the strap-line "A Shouty Game of Finger-Pointing" came up, and that's how I see it. Throw in a couple of bottles of wine and you might even get fisticuffs!
There were various points discussed:- artwork; bespoke cards; ways of keeping score; whether there was too much/too little historical info; whether that info would be better on the cards or in a booklet; the kind of ancillary 'stuff' (token, etc) that would add value to the game; and Kickstarter stretch goals.
It was an enjoyable game and would be a good ice-breaker. The process of game-testing was new to me and interesting. All in all, a couple of hours well-spent.