Unpub Game Improvement, Part 2: Planet Chasers | Casual Game Revolution

Unpub Game Improvement, Part 2: Planet Chasers

Planet Chasers

(Above: playtesters try Planet Chasers at an Unpub Mini at Games & Stuff, Glen Burnie MD, October 2014)

Planet Chasers will be one of two game prototypes I will bring to the Baltimore Convention Center at Unpub5 on February 7-8. In this game of solar system exploration, all players share the same dice roll to move their rockets, but must decide when to spend fuel to use the full roll. While its first official Unpub debut was not until September 2014, there were designer playtests during the summer of 2014 that would have never happened were it not for contacts made through the Unpub network. The Planet Chasers I will have on the table in Baltimore is a different and better game because of what designers and playtesters were willing to tell me after taking the time to play it. So once again, some of the people who together helped to build a better Planet Chasers

Corey Young – His interest in a tweet with a picture of the game board led to a playtest date at Origins in June 2014. As busy as Corey was with convention demos of his Mensa Select game Gravwell, he juggled his schedule to keep the date. His positive feedback on the shared dice roll movement system was encouraging. He then offered suggestions that led to the introduction of mission cards and a shift from a race game to a game with a pick-up-and-deliver feel.

Matthew O’Malley – A few weeks after Origins, I put Planet Chasers in front of a few game designers. Matthew pointed out that although the dice roll was shared, the lowest rolls were too limiting. There were no meaningful decisions to make on a 2 or 3, the only sensible choice was to not move and refuel.  That feedback led to the modification of the six-sided dice from the traditional 1-6 values to one die marked 2-7 and the other 3-8.

Kevin Kulp – Kevin suggested there should be another way to refuel other than orbiting a planet and doing nothing that turn.  Priority missions that earned extra fuel were born.

Jeff Watson – His game group loved the game during a blind playtest session, yet they sometimes lost track of which planets had moved and which hadn’t. His suggestion of tiles to track worked beautifully.

Ben Begeal – Another playtester that keeps popping up whenever there is a new game to try. Ben loved how the first three players in a turn had the opportunity to move planets. "But what about any other players" asked Ben. Now all players have a chance to affect planet movement in a 4-6 player game — thanks to Ben, champion of players who move last.

Can you make my game better? How about the games of over 50 of my designer friends? Please come play with us at Unpub5 in the Baltimore Convention Center February 7-8, 2015. Admission for playtesters is FREE. We think our games are already fun, yet we are always looking for ways to make them even better. We’d love for you to come and help us "Build Better Board Games Together."