Monday night I turned the kids in my library program lose on my Halloween Dark scenario, Joyland. As I suspected, the game was light on actual terror and BIG on MAYHEM. Maybe a bit too much mayhem. It’s clear to me that while the general concept is fun as hell and works (for the most part), a few things need some reigning in and tweaking.
Here’s my list of things that need some work:
- Card play got unwieldy, especially with eight players. Some of the kids would just play cards to cycle through the deck as quickly as possible. It’s clear to me the game needs a better refresh mechanic than “play a card, draw a card.”
- Players had trouble identifying when it was appropriate to play certain cards. Free wheeling as it is, a lot of the T/T cards are pretty specific when they should be played. It would be helpful to add either an icon or something that identified when a card could/should be played.
- Combat was a mess. This part really needs some tightening up. Monsters need to be much more threatening, and the choice of fight or flight needs to be much more definite. Especially since combat is entirely player facing. The *W kludge did not work as well as I had hoped. So yeah, combat and escape need an overhaul.
- No one investigated anything. They were too busy throwing monsters and handicaps at each other. Which is fun, but it feels like the game is lacking one of the core tent poles of Scooby Dog horror. To remedy this, I’m thinking of adding some Investigation-specific cards. I may also make play a bit more regimented. Maybe add an “Investigation” round.
- Panic and doing something Rash need some fine tuning. There was some confusion about this. I think I’m going to change the Panic from six to five ranks, mirroring Exhaustion. With the last two ranks as “Panicked” with a similar effect (lose one die). Once you are Panicked, you can “do something rash” to relieve the effect. But instead of the roll under/over, I think I’ll just simplify it to Roll a die, relieve 1 rank on a 5, 2 ranks on a 6.
- Listen up, educators! Kids need to learn what a metaphor is BEFORE they get to college.
But other than that, the game worked VERY well. It was insane at times. Definitely good one-shot material.