We had a great time this past Sunday afternoon playtesting games at the Unpub 9 event in Baltimore. We’ve done something like this before at the Break My Game Meetups in our area – a local group of game developers – so we had some idea of what to expect. Even so, I was a little nervous going in – I wanted to be open to trying all different types of games, but there are some that I’m definitely less interested in, and may not be the best playtester for.
Turns out I needn’t have worried! When we walked in there were loads of tables with a huge assortment of games. As we walked around, there were many games underway, but a lot of free spots at tables as well.
The first game that we tried out was Road Trip by Curt Collins II. In this game you are in a car, driving around playing the license plate game – trying to spot license plates from as many states/provinces/territories as possible from different regions in and around the U.S. You also play cards at the beginning and end of each round that will affect scoring for everyone.
We played through one round as a sample, but I would have loved to try the full game! The game and rules themselves were fairly simple – however, there were a lot of great decisions that you need to make throughout the round – do I go faster to grab the one plate I know everyone else will go for? Or do I take my time and grab more plates than others along my leisurely trip?
Next we stumbled upon Symposium by Dan Cassar – I was drawn in by the theme. It’s a card game with drafting and hand management where each player is a patron of the sciences trying to manipulate the state of science so that the scientists you support are on the right side of various theories at an upcoming symposium.
I didn’t do very well on my play through, but wanted to play again to see if I couldn’t do better – which is the sign of an engaging game. The theme…well, it probably could have been anything, but I wouldn’t have stopped for just any theme.
Next we were drawn into dinosaurs and deck-building – Dino Run by Jesse Catron. Each player is a different dinosaur trying to navigate a treacherous landscape to reach the green finish line first. Each player’s deck has a couple of special cards tailored to that dinosaur.
I loved the theme and the streamlined way to add cards to your deck (simply pass over a spot with a symbol and pick up that type of card for your deck). I needed a couple more turns to get to the finish – I don’t think I played aggressively enough – but we were all pretty close. There might be a bit too much “take that” in this one for my taste, but I would actually play it again.
Finally we got pulled into a game of Survival of the Chillest by Cardboard Cultivar. In this game, Arctic animals have been transplanted to the Antarctic due to ice losses and climate change. Players take on the roles of those animals trying to survive. Overall the game play for each animal is similar, with some asymmetric ways they interact with various tiles (snow, ice or water).
I played the polar bear – the top of the food chain, but very slow moving. I liked the puzzle of the game to try and figure out how to either trap the other animals while not getting myself blown off the board.
Overall, we had a fun time. I was able to avoid games that just aren’t my jam – though, I would have given them a try with an open mind if other things were filled up – and felt like we contributed, even just a little, to the development of some of these games. I’m looking forward to seeing these games come to market!