Some changes for Hel’s BELLEs

Had another playtest last night. Once again forgot to snap a photo (I swear I’ll remember one of these days!). Had a new player out, which was fantastic, as it lead to a pretty productive discussion afterwards. He liked it very much (yes!) and had some thoughts regarding streamlining some aspects of the timing. Good stuff, and they look to work really well in conjunction with some ideas I was already messing around with.
At this point I think most of the changes are going to be related to streamlining the gameplay. The game works well, but takes a while. Which isn’t a problem in itself. What I don’t want is for it to take longer than it *needs* to. If 2 hours is what it takes to get the best experience possible then I’m fine with 2 hours. But if 1 hour can accomplish the same experience, then that’s how long it should be.
Right now, simultaneous turn resolution can combine with highly individualised mechs to create a syncopated turn effect that slows gameplay, especially over the available number of phases in a given turn. I had already been looking at methods to eliminate most of the syncopation, but hadn’t wanted to decrease the phases because it would limit customisation options, and I think that the on the fly customisation is a huge strength of the game. Last night’s discussion resulted in a method of decreasing phases that would work with my de-syncopation ideas while maintaining high customisability.
The other thought that my new playtester really liked was the idea of using maps and miniatures/tokens in addition to the cards. Not a new idea – I have it in the ruleset as a potential variant – but his intensity really demonstrated how nice it would be to do that, and I don’t disagree with him. Early iterations of hel’s BELLEs used all of those ideas. I made them an optional variant (or future deluxe version) because they aren’t totally necessary, and they drive the potential cost way up. Right now, hel’s BELLEs fits in a small box (think onirim or chronicle) and requires you to use some dice or scratch paper to keep track of some details. Adding tokens, counters, miniatures, dice, maps, playmats and so on would look fantastic, but would also mean a game that cost much more and took up a lot more space. I really like the idea, I’ve even thought about what those parts would look like and how they’d enhance gameplay, but when it comes down to it I just don’t think it’s feasible at this point. I’d certainly be up for the enhancements if I was in discussions with a publisher, but as I’m more likely to be self-releasing the first edition through gamecrafter, keeping costs down is pretty important to me.
Plus, I love the essential portability of the game in it’s current form.

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