Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

East India Company: Turn sequence re-work pays off

After work today, I got a fourth playtest of "East India Company" with my friends Brian G. and Frank H.  Earlier this week, I'd completely reworked the turn sequence to improve the flow of decision-making and order of events, plus I added a couple of commodity tiles to the initial set-up to open up the early game.

What resulted was a drastically improved game pace.  The action started early, and the challenging decisions came quickly without paralyzing the game.  There was no sign of the early-game dragging that I had experienced in all the previous playtests.  This game moved rapidly and excitingly toward a finish that saw Frank pull ahead with a major spice trade near the end of the game.  We finished the whole session in under two hours, which is right in my desired game duration window.  This run-through was nowhere near the four- and five-hour marathons that the previous playtests had been.  In fact, Brian was all ready to set it up and play it again; if I hadn't had a copy of The End of the Triumvirate with me, Frank and I might have obliged him.

Perhaps the one concern that came up was that the threat of pirates can dominate the actions as the game develops.  In the previous game on Sunday, my 19-year-old was knocked out of contention when his big tea ship got waylaid by marauders in Chinese waters.  So I've become increasingly aware that luck might be too strong a factor - or that the avoidance of pirates might be skewing the decision-making more than I like.  I think I'll add an insurance rule in the next edition of the rules - a means for players to mitigate the risk of piracy by paying an insurance premium just before the tile draw so that they can recover something close to the value of their cargo if pirates do indeed make off with their vessel.  Brian and Frank seemed to think that would be a good idea.

I'm a lot more excited about how "EIC" is coming together.  Perhaps I won't be as shy as I thought I'd be about showing it to a few people at World Boardgaming Championships this week.
(c) Z-man Games
Used by permission
We did in fact play The End of the Triumvirate after the "EIC" playtest.  I was Pompei, and for the first time playing this game attempted an all-military strategy.  I never really made much ground.  Frank as Crassus counter-attacked me very effectively and took my civil servant, which degraded my supply rate in subsequent turns.  Brian as Caesar, meanwhile, focused completely on the Elegium and handily won both the first and second elections to Consul to win the game rather decisively.

I think I should read up on the gameplay and strategy of TEotT to see what the thinking is regarding a military strategy.  I was able to amass a pretty substantial army as well as an arsenal of weapons in the weapon bag, but I couldn't make and hold ground fast enough to counteract Brian's swift election strategy.
First thing Thursday morning, I am off to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for WBC.  I have a plan for games to play, but I'm sure it will all amount to nothing once I get there.  What I'm really looking forward to is catching up with some of the game designers I've got to know over the last year or so and see what they've been up to.


  1. You know, I don't remember being aware at the time that you guys were playtesting EIC at GP.

    What is the elegium, I've forgotten?

  2. If I remember right, I only playtested "EIC" at GP once or twice.

    In TEotT, the Elegium is the election that occurs when the calendar stone reaches the end of the turn record track.