Episode 4: Hollow but not empty.

V3 Play Testing:
V3 went through various rounds of blind play testing and even a protospiel, that is, an event where game designers and experienced gamers play your game and give constructive feedback. Watching these creative minds play the game and hearing their ideas helped spark ideas, as I twisted their thoughts with some fresh new ones of my own.

The ability cards moving to the character cards changed the game a lot, in a good way! Now players played the game differently depending on which character they were.
Not only did they add uniqueness to the play through, they also improved pacing as the abilities each player had helped them progress faster through the game. This one change added great replay ability to the game, and became the new heart of the game that the rest revolved around, this was groundbreaking !

It was realised at this stage that the actions deck was the games biggest problem. Most were negative “take that” mechanics that would disrupt and greatly slow down other players. They also created too much of an element of luck, they were quite powerful and were gained on the luck of a draw. The option to buy discarded ingredients (leftovers) added more depth to the game and was a great addition, now players had to pick more carefully when discarding and think twice if taking a leftover is worth an action or not.

The single player variant worked well. While play testing, every game didn’t result in a win, but felt if the right decisions were made of when to play food and when to hold on to cards the player would have a fighting chance, given this the deck could still beat you.

The Team variant I was very fond of, it added a silent team co-operation element where you work together as a team, but would have to try to sync up your thoughts on actions without communicating to them why you are performing your action. (Very much like Ticket to Rides team Asia expansion, if you like ticket to ride and haven’t played Asia … go get it , its probably my favorite expansion to the base game). In the team variant each team also had 2 characters and such 2 abilities to take advantage of, which made for some great combo opportunities and inventive thinking.

One last observation which I agreed with was that having additional ingredient cards depending on players meant not all cards would have the same wear, as the base 2 player set would have the most wear and tear because they are used in every game. This configuration would also lengthen setup and pack-up time (depending on how pedantic you get when packing up a game).

The game was moving in the right direction, it had a lot of holes, but its shell was rock solid !

V4 Changes (The BIG one):
– All building cards were replaced for a single scoring track from food truck to restaurant for each player.
– The games point system changed from earning money to pay for an upgrade from food truck > cafe > restaurant, to points of fame gained by making food, whereby an upgrade of your building was due to your level of fame/popularity.
– Actions per turn increased from 3 to 4.
– Players capped at 4.
– Team variant removed.
– Removed additional sets of ingredient cards.
– The action deck was removed as a deck and given to each player as a set.
– Created more than double the amount of character cards, each with their own thematic and unique ability.
– Ingredients deck card frequencies were optimized to keep the game flowing while carefully being adjusted to balance the fame gained with how easy or hard it was to create each food.
– Renamed the Action cards to Power cards and changed some of their abilities.
– New catch up mechanic.

V4- The BIG one… was it a BIG success or a BIG failure?
Find out in Episode 5!

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