We played a lot of I Shoot Randy at Convergence this Fall. I took full advantage of having the right audience in a place with few distractions. Huge thanks to Wheels and Mark for their time, assistance, insight, and help with breaking/fixing the game. I won’t go into too many details on the attempts to fix the game that ended up in either a worse game, or didn’t address the targeted issue. Suffice to say that we tried a number of things and sometimes went down the wrong path. But in the end I think the game benefited greatly from the testing and is on its way to completion.
So what discoveries resulted from all this play-testing? The first obvious discovery was that the Tag You’re It! card is way too powerful. Every game ended with Randy using the card to snooker an Attacker and leaving said Attacker with no possible protection. If it was only a few games here and there that end this way, I’d be quite happy with it. But when it’s in your best interest to play Randy and just wait to the end to stick someone else with the bill, then that’s the definition of a broken game mechanic. We brainstormed and tried to find a way to make the card work by giving counter cards to the Attackers, changing how the card worked, and generally making the game more complex for a single card.
In the end Tag You’re It! was removed as broken. I’m not really happy about that since the idea behind the card is really fun, but when its presence in the deck means that it’ll be used to avoid death at the end of every game, it’s broken and needs to be eliminated. Sometimes a great idea just doesn’t work and trying to make it work is the wrong path to resolution.
The second discovery was identified by Wheels’ difficulty in identifying why Randy would ever want to play a Bring It! card – his reasoning was that it didn’t make sense to force an Attacker to play all the attack cards in his hand. Looking back I realized that the original intent of the card was to force an Attacker to play only Attack cards and then be forced to discard any counters that couldn’t be used, leaving Randy to counter those attacks without fear of being re-countered. In theory Randy should have been able to burn more counter cards from the Attacker deck if that’s how it played out. But it turns out that Wheels was right in his concerns. In practice, the Attacker almost always had an entire hand that could be played. That really changes the dynamic of the card – and not in Randy’s favor. After some thought, we reworked both decks and changed Bring It! to be a universal Gutshaker! card. When played it forces all Attackers to discard their hands and draw new.
The final game-mechanic issue identified had to do with the inability of 2-3 Attackers to generate enough damage to defeat Randy by overcoming his two I Heal cards. With those in Randy’s deck, the Attackers actually have to do over 60 damage to defeat him – not an easy feat. Resolving this problem was easily handled by doubling the number of Doubler permanents and removing one of those I Heal cards. With these changes made, the player taking on the role of Randy suddenly found himself a lot more vulnerable.
While those changes addressed mechanics, the other discovery was that, with the current set of cards, the monotony of the Attacker’s game play became quite apparent in the middle of the game. Attackers were simple playing attack cards, countering, lather rinse repeat… ad nauseum without any interest in their actions or choices. Mark indicated that perhaps some combo should be allowed since there are a handful of different types of single point attack cards. So, for instance, if all Attackers play the identical I Stab Randy card (since there are currently 2 different types of I Stab Randy cards) he thought there should be an advantage. Eventually the idea led to the creation of a new permanent that doubled the damage of Attack cards if all attack cards were identical. Initial attack phase cards are now played face down to prevent collusion between Attackers. The monotony of being an Attacker with no counter cards was further addressed with the creation of a new permanent that allowed Attackers to play attack phase cards during their counter phase.
Let me warn those of you who might want to take on the role of Randy, if all the permanents come into play on the Attacker’s side of the table, you need to pay close attention to your card plays… you might want to take damage just to prevent the Attackers from gaining another counter phase (where they can play more attack cards.) Trust me, it gets dangerous. - KO
All in all, with the changes we made, the decks look like they’re almost balanced – two Attackers have to play wisely to defeat Randy, while three can overwhelm him if he isn’t paying attention. As it stands, the advantage actually appears to be skewed to the Attackers with it increasing as their numbers increase. I like that bit of balance offset. Again, thanks to Mark and Wheels for their time play-testing the game over and over. Here’s to looking forward to the Spring when Randall can do a little I Shoot Randy too.