TGDRT #47: AtG Playtest & More

Episode #47 is live!

Our hosts discuss Dirk’s recent experience playtesting ‘At the Gates’, dive deep into what makes ‘Agricola’ great, and lament the loneliness of the skill curve in ‘Go’. They also touch upon the simple-but-effective worldbuilding in ‘The Last of Us’, and the enjoyable gameplay but still-questionable monetization of ‘World of Tanks’.

Dirk and I met up last weekend and covered a lot of ground. I gave him a demo of Spelunky on the Vita, we did a 2-hour playtest of At the Gates which went really well (some minor UI quirks aside), and then spent the rest of the day with Agricola.

Playtests are always a little scary because you never know what someone is going to think, and usually a player’s first experience with a game is the toughest, especially in the strategy genre. Even so, Dirk really enjoyed the unique aspects AtG brings to the table, and that was highly encouraging. We still have a long way to go, but it’s clear we’re on the right track.

Playing Agricola was also quite a bit of fun, and I’m now convinced that you have to play a tabletop game at least twice when first learning, as your first game is inevitably going to be filled with a few parts confusion and a few more revelation. If you then move onto something else immediately you never get a chance to apply that new mastery, and should you return to it sometime later you’ll likely be right back near the starting line again. Of course, this is probably a topic we’ll dedicate an episode to very soon, so I won’t dig into it too much now!

- Jon

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2 Comments

  1. Hey Jon, great cast as usual. FYI, Caylus, the original worker-placement game, also had spaces opening up throughout the game, although they were player driven, not randomized like in Agricola.

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  2. Also, I’d argue that you and Dirk are wrong about the win condition in Agricola. I don’t actually like the game, but the way the scoring is done is fascinating to me. Games that reward balance over specialization are really interesting, because they encourage players to explore all aspect of the system. Also, it fits rather well with the theme, rather than running against it: sure, now successful farms are those that specialize but in Agricola’s time period, over-specialization could mean devastation if there was a bad crop or disease or drop in demand. Specialization may increase success in the best of times, but balance increases survivability in the worst of times and ultimately a subsistence farmer’s goal is to survive over a long period of time, not get rich in a short period of time.

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