Reflections on my first designer night

Last night I drove 2 and a half hours to Cincinnati after work to participate in the monthly designer night at the Rook OTR. It’s a great looking board game parlor, and once a month, game designers fill the upstairs room and play test each others games and give feedback.

I was bringing Astroventure along. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and we ended up with about 11 or so people there. While I set mine up, everyone got started doing other things so when I was done I jumped in on the end of another game and heard the feedback they got for it. When they were done we moved onto mine.

I made a cheat sheet for the order of things to explain so that I don’t miss anything. However, of course I missed things and had to double back. But now I know a bit more about explaining the rules than I did before.

Once we got started, there were some questions, and some unclear elements. Once those worked out, they were off and running. I got feedback during the game on things that were unclear, and on decisions players besides myself were making. This was the first time I was able to sit back and watch the game be played from the outside. Until now I’ve always been there playing the game. It was an unusual feeling, but one that I found enlightening. I got to see what some players were doing, what strategies were evolving, and potential problem points for future tests.

The game went long and I had to leave so we wrapped up about half way through. They gave feedback and a lot of it was good. A lot of it was minimal. That was what surprised me the most. They didn’t have a whole lot to say aside from some logisitcal elements, a bit of math, and some iconography changes. A lot can be fixed with a few tweaks to the rules. There is the balancing which needs to happen. A lot of numbers were thrown on the cards because they felt right, but the more I play the more I realize there are some numbers that don’t make sense and need to be raised or lowered. I think that is the biggest next step at this time.

Overall, I was really glad I got to take part in designer night. It was a long drive to get there, but it was worth it. I hope to go back again in December, but with scheduling, not sure if that’s possible yet. I’ll also plan on getting a hotel room, because driving back to Columbus after that was too much. This morning I saw a tweet from a friend and fellow designer Tony Miller.

So yeah, I think it went well, and I’m feeling pretty good right now.