Playtests past

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This was the first ever game of Kotay back in 2013?

Sreeja had suggested the egg designs and Sud had spent days just 3D printing this set. Mehrab, Anagh, Niraj, Janani, Anand and Nitesh were the first ever play testers one Sunday evening

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This is from Christmas Day 2015 

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LBIG 2017

Playtest 2 of two in a row

We played two games of Kotay on July 15th, 2017

Game 1 – Vignesh, Sai, Pushkar and I

Game 2 – Vignesh, Sai, Shekhar and I

The two games had completely different flavours. Game 2 was remarkable.

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Game 1 – A calculated pursuit of gold

Pushkar won on gold – he built 4 villages – and we realized we have set a limit of 4 for villages per person, and that may actually be good given the new win by gold accumulation rule.

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Pushkar allied with Vignesh who really believes in alliances. Lot’s of forts got built and taken down, but it became pretty clear early on that Pushkar was trying to win on gold.

Game 2 – Greed for Gold

Kotay has always been a game about personalities. As Jeoffrey once warned me

> “Kotay is an evil game”.

Sekhar joined us for this game and actually created an axis of evil.

He built an economy purely on gold (presumably enslaving his own people) and attacked innocent explorers who dared to come into the range of his cavalry. In fact, this was his only strategy – gold and more gold.

Meanwhile, Vignesh who had initially set out on a quest for gold (by building a village in turn 1) backed out of that strategy to build more and consolidate. However, the change in strategy set him back.

The game was won on gold. Sekhar had cannons at his gate, from Sai and Vignesh. Said convinced him to leave his cannon to fight one last battle in exchange for his gold if he failed.

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2 cannons positioned to destroy the enslaving dictator. Who will he take out?

Sekhar spent his moves fending off Vignesh . In his turn, Sai (orange) deafeated Sekhar’s capital with a D4 on his very first attempt. Sai claimed all of Sekhar’s gold as bounty and won the game. The game took quite an unpredicatble turn because of Sai’s unusual offer.

These playtests made me feel that Kotay is ready.

Some of the points that were raised were –

#Adjacent players seem to be allying too often. Should there be a cost for forming an alliance?

For example should it be a one time fee? Or should there be a resource pool between them? Should the allies have some resources deducted from them every turn?  We will keep this in mind, probably play out a few variations, but I do personally like the freedom in formation and breaking of alliances.

An evening of 2 back-to-back playtests

We played two back to back games of Kotay last Monday (July 10, 2017) . Yes, Monday (thanks to Karthik’s work cycles)

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Players – Game 1 – Filippo (replaced by Karthik in the 2nd half), Pavan, Pushkar and I

Game 2 – Kshiraja, Karthik, Vignesh and Pavan

We implemented the new victory condition as follows

When 4 players are playing – 20 gold to win, when only 3 players remain – 25 gold to win

Game 1

In the 1st game which lasted about 2 hours (after accounting for our food break!), I didn’t get to build a lumber camp till round 3. This set me back but I did make a productive two gold producing economy. As usual, I was the first to be taken out (by Pushkar!).

Filippo built a very balanced kingdom which was stable and resource rich. Karthik took over for him post dinner.

Karthik and Pavan had drawn up battle lines and were having a few skirmishes of their own before realizing the threat that was expanding towards them.

They combined forces (perhaps a little too late) against Pushkar. Their attack however suffered from lack of co-ordination and places to spawn forces.

They also choose to fight rather than plunder (destroying buildings). This meant that at one point in the game Pushkar was getting 6 golds per turn.

Vignesh suggested we move the mark up to 25 gold when the game came down to 3 players. Pushkar won with 25 gold. His capital had 2 forts outside and survived 6 attacks with a D4. It was a close game.

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Overall, this was a more satisfying end point, but it seemed (n=1) to make the first attacker quite powerful. We will have to test that out over time.

Game 2

In the 2nd game, within the 3rd round, every one had a gold producing economy. Pavan and Vignesh teamed up forcing an alliance on K and K.

Karthik took out Vignesh’s explorer and about 35 min into the game he built a Kotay on the central tiles. This unfortunately did not last very long.

eWe drank a lot of Lapsang souchong from the special banaras cups

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About 2 hours into the game, many Kotays had been destroyed and the impetus to build more was waning.

Pavan mobilized his army units which had some difficulty advancing.

We had to resolve a rule ambiguity – Character Pieces (explorer, cannon and cavalry) can move over tiles occupied by their own pieces. The rule is that at the end of the turn, only one character piece and one building can occupy a tile.

The fogginess of this rule created some problems. Pavan wonders whether building Kotays is actually strategic given this rule. As it makes Kotays accessible to cannons ((which move only one step per move) within 2 turns.

Karthik seemed to have a good strategy but some really bad luck with the dice. Here is the thing with the dice throws though – they were routinely bad and unexpectedly good – and a lot, though not everything, hinges on them!

Pavan won by aggregating 20 gold.

I am afraid the game is tending to become a quest for gold and prompt annihilation of gold hoarders. We will have to play more to see if this alters the balance. So far it seems to be enhancing the battle phase of the game.

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Kotay – the game emerges from the embers

After what seems like forever, Karthik, Pushkar and I played a balanced game of Kotay that also ended! Sud joined in to watch towards the middle of the game.

The game took about 2.5 hours to complete, this is long for a 3 player game. Lots of Kotays (forts!)were built and the battle dynamics worked ( n =1).

These are the rule changes for the game on July 3rd:

Forts can be built on desert tiles.

Each player starts with one cavalry and 2 explorers.

Cavalry and cannon placed on water tiles can’t attack or defend.

They can attack through a water tile.

When attacking the capital, a cannon is mandatory, but cavalry can also add to the attack.

Rules of attack and defense:

1attacking or defending piece – 4 sides dice (D4)

2 attacking or defending piece – 6 sided dice (D6)

3 attacking or defending piece – 8 sided dice (D8)

A default of 6 sided dice for the defense of a capital or a fort.

We continued using a range of 1 for fort and capital. The range is 2 over explored tiles for cavalry and the range is 2 even over non-explored tiles for cannon.

Highlights of the game:

A lot of building happened. People amassed armies and waited to concentrate pieces before attacks. So just the knowledge of the dice dynamics did change approach

My capital was destroyed by Pushkar’s rogue cannon, quite early in the game. He rolled a 2 in attack with a D4 and I rolled 1 in defense with a D8.

Karthik and Pushkar built massive armies, multiple forts and after many skirmishes and proper battles. Both Capitals were under siege. I thought this might lead to oscillations (moves being repeated) or frustrating battle formations. Both players assured me that this was not the case. They felt engaged and were not repeating moves, even though the battle was drawn out.
Karthik (in Purple) took a chance – he had to destroy Pushkar’s fort or be destroyed subsequently. He employed clever Kotay building tactics to launch a final blow.

For the first time, the players shook hands and greeted each other with the very chess-like “good game”!

The attack rules seem settled. An alternate victory condition of 20 gold may help end some games. This rule will change how players approach resources, so we will have to test this out.

PlayTesting with friends – an unfinished game

We played an unfinished (maybe even unfinishable!) game of Kotay from the evening of June 27th to the early hours of June 28th.

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Players: Karthik, Kshiraja, Pavan and I.

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The game progressed well until Pavan built a fort in one of the middle squares (with borrowed gold) which was taken down by Karthik. This particular attack made it clear that there was something very wrong with the attack dynamics.

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Here is the modification I made which proved lethal to the attack dynamics.

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All attacks were with D8 , multiple attacking units got an entire D8 i.e. If there were 3 attacking pieces, the person rolled 3x D8s

And

All defenses were D6 – three defenders got 3x D6.

This was terrible.

It disproportionately increased the strength of the attack.

Taking out both “tension” as Kshiraja put it and playability (as I astutely 🙂 observed) out of the game.

Another modification I introduced – was two lives for a capital – we did not really test this out.

In any case, Pavan then withdrew from the game. Assisted with pen and paper he started working out the different probabilities of attack. He has come up with a set of combat rules which should resolve the attack dynamics. We plan to test this out really soon.

We also spoke a bit about the steps in evolution of the game – how much should it be driven by feedback, and trying to appease? Things that came up were – Why are long games bad? Why can’t there be some complex rules?

We came up with quite a few alternatives – such as replacing dice with wheels or cards, merging cannon and cavalry into a single attack unit etc.

Karthik suggested character transformations – for example, an explorer enters a fort and becomes a military unit.

Kshiraja came up with the idea of catastrophe cards and Pavan had ideas about setting up treasure hunts as an extension of exploration.

All of which we agreed could become other games.

Some of the comments apart from the breakdown of the attacks –

1. Having two attack units from the beginning took away from the building element of the game

Kshiraja and Karthik noted that exploration, terrains, resources and the act of building were less significant in the present version of the game, since a Cannon and Cavalry are provided right in the beginning of the game.

2. Extending the board to allow more time for military expansion

3. How much defence should a capital get?

4. Range expansion – particularly the attack radius of the fort came up multiple times

In summary, I think with the new dice combinations delineated by Pavan and decreasing the “plentifulness” at the start of the game may help take the game to completion.

Playtesting at Sugar&Dice – what’s not to like

Chris, Simon, Jodie (who replaced Koen early in the game) and I played a super intense game of Kotay today at Sugar&Dice

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Game time: 2.5 hours

I got rid of of an unsuspecting Chris very early into the game (first 20 or so min) with a super aggressive strategy of going after his village early on.

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After this, Simon and Jodie sort of formed a permanent alliance against me. They played fairly defensive strategies and missed many opportunities to take on each other.

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The game ended with oscillations and stand-offs, and the final capital destruction was purely luck based.

And while Simon was able to destroy me and amass a fortune (which he then was unable to split with his ally for “loss during transport” type reasons),  he was defeated by Jodie after several misses.

We also tried different dice and types of rolls today – eight sided dice and six sided dice etc). Simon rolled a 8,8, 6 on 3 dice

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Thanks for playing guys!

Some comments:

Th overall feeling from the game was that the battle dynamics need to be more balanced.

One possible solution to the oscillations is make an alternate victory condition – like 15 gold.

Have better representations of what can destroy what – range and which dice to use etc.

Simon initially felt that games like Kotay may need a bit more in-depth analysis to arrive at feedback and therefore repeat testing.

He also suggested modeling the dice outcomes, to actually test which pairs work well. We may not be able to do this for the whole game, but it may be critical to do this for the battle dynamics.

Koen pointed out that Chris’s exit for example was pure luck based, hit-or-miss startegy, and it should be more balanced. I think this is somthing that Velocity had mentioned as well when we played in Sweden. Which was the reason why we brought the cannon power down a bit to match cavalry. This needs to be tested more.

Koen suggested damage on the Capital as an alternative to death in one blow. Which is an interesting idea.

Simon suggested having a flag or some other way of physically representing taking over of another player’s buildings.

Queries: Can allies share personnel support? we have said no to this, this may need to be explicitly mentioned. While we are allowing passage through enemy territory.

About Playtesting at Sugar&Dice

Sugar&Dice is an awesome board games cafe here in Liverpool. People were super friendly and I even got to playtest Koen’s lovely dress-making game.

Two player games – across the diagonal

Chris (aka zombieking) and I played a two player Kotay game yesterday and Chris won. The game time was between 35-45 minutes.

In a two player game, you get to explore more end game scenarios. There is a tendency to build up to the maximum number of defenses, and maximum number of attacks. So it is slower and dead-lock type situations do arise.

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In fact, this game brought back some really old (and sort of painful) memories of when Sud and I played Kotay on a paper board with crayons. One particular game in which I just kept attacking his capital unsuccessfully forever! This is why we introduced the crazy lowest 8 for cannon attacks. 🙂

Feedback/Comments/suggestions :

It is a bit hard/annoying to keep track of the number of rolls.

Maybe we should have three sets of dice for offense and three for defense, which can be rolled at once?

It is a bit confusing to keep track of which buildings produce what, and maybe the farm and lumber camp should look different?

Have better handouts – with pictorial representations

Why does the cavalry not move into the square where it attacks? It makes sense for cannons, but the cavalry would ostensibly have to move it? 

Should we just call them archers?

Busting the myth of might – play test

Summary of the game

We played a game of Kotay on 9th May in which there was sequential elimination of the strong players.

The conquerors themselves were soon conquered.

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The victorious player was the one who had abstained from direct attacks till the very end.

This game did involve some strategy and tactics. However, the player with the stronghold, almost unlimited resources and tactical advantage lost the game. Partly, from heeding the poor advice of an impatient co-player. The last two players had a bit of a deadlock with three attacks and three defenses for each roll. This is reflected in the longish game time of 90-100 minutes.

Special Mention: The Incident involving desert and water tiles

Abhishek Mundhra likes to draw tiles randomly from the terrain bag for other people.  What difference does it make? Chance is chance. Is it really?

“Were you looking?” L retorted, when Mundhra drew a desert for her at a spot she had picked for a fort.
“No”
She moved the explorer once more.
“Shall I draw a tile for you?” Mundhra asked, unable to resist.
“No…yes..ok, it better not be water.” L warned.
Alas! it was water.
“I won’t accept it!” L declared. Further suggesting that M was looking at the tile, holding on to it while pretending to draw randomly.

L wanted to draw again. Putting the water back into the bag. M refused. We played on.

So…
Can you really draw a tile randomly for someone else? Is your random the same as their random?

This is very close (a turn and a fort later) to what the board looked like at that point –

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Note the desert and water tiles next to the red fort .

What is the probability, had we let L draw again, that she too would have picked water? Another version – given that M picked water, what is the probability that L would have had the same outcome?

Now that is a puzzle for other minds for other times.

Best leave the drawing of tiles to each player, I guess.

Design notes based on ‘incident’

Maybe we should have a tile redraw option for a price? Or a variation in which a player can change the terrain?

GG ! Thanks guys!

Beating back a super power – Play testing Kotay

After an induction to Go, we started a game of Kotay with Spike, Elof, Mundhra and myself.

Spike (blue) set out with the explicit aim of destroying Elof (yellow). Elof went on an offensive that was checked by Spike.

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We formed and alliance against Elof and Mundhra. With some help from me, Spike destroyed Elof’s capital and became the owner of vast resources (which he kindly split with me.) At this stage, Spike seemed like an invincible super-power.

He antagonized me by building a fort quite close to my capital. Mundhra and myself took Spike’s advice and allied against him. I helped Mundhra build a fort and a cannon and sent my own cannon forth to attack Spike.

My attack against Spike was successful but my Capital was destroyed by the very cannon’s that I helped Mundhra forge.

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Kudos to Spike for some splendid playing on his very first game.

Spike noted that the end game is bit of luck because it is based on dice. Elof suggested using a different version of dice throw – for attack and defense. We will have a think about this.

Apparently, Abhishek Mundhra’s first Kotay victory. Congrats! 🙂