The Heist – Playtesting and Changes

My project has gone through a number of drastic changes over the semester, with a lot of ideas being discarded for one reason of another. I finally settled on a direction for this project with my fourth idea, which was pitched in week 7. Since then my game has been growing and changing, taking on new features and losing some old ones. I’ve been looking at similar games for inspiration, and there are a few features that have been inspired by games like Mafia, The Resistance, The Resistance: Avalon, and Mafia de Cuba in particular.

The Heist is still a work in progress, and needs some work before it will be considered close to finished. However, I’ve made several changes after playtesting that I hope have improved the game. This post will quickly run through a few of the more important changes.

To begin, I removed one role, the Defector. There wasn’t enough motivating this role to take one side or the other, and it was too easy for them to win since they could win with either side. While in Bang! there is a clear role for the Renegade (a character similar to the Defector), in my game they had very little motivation. So, in an effort to simplify my game, I removed the Defector character.

Another big change is the way characters are assigned to players. After being exposed to Mafia de Cuba‘s interesting way of assigning roles, I thought I’d like to put something similar in The Heist. This would mean players aren’t explicitly told which team they’re on and have to figure it out based on what was left in the box and what everyone else says was in the box. This also means that players have a chance to avoid getting given a role they don’t want to play. I haven’t had time to test this yet, but hopefully it will help add some balance to the game. Before, the Undercover Police had a distinct advantage in that they knew each other’s identities, this gave them an edge over the Bank Robbers.

Related to this is a small addition that will hopefully help add some much-needed balance. A walkie-talkie token, similar to the Inquisitor from The Resistance or the Lady of the Lake from Avalon. This can be passed to another player who will secretly show you their character card. I’m hoping that this token, combined with the method of choosing players mentioned above will alter the game-play in a positive way. When testing out this token, players didn’t use it as often as I had hoped though, which could have been a strategy or they could have just forgotten they had it.

I’ve also made changes to the voting and map. To speed up the game, If a 50/50 vote occurs it’s considered a pass. The map has been shortened from 7 spaces to 5 for the same reason.

Finally, drawing straws to choose who moves next was a fun idea (in my opinion) that fit thematically, but was too clunky and took too long during playtests. At the moment I’m using an app called “Chwazi” while looking for a new way to select a player, but will need to find another way to do this (unless Chwazi would like to become an official partner). I may even end up getting rid of the random player selection all-together.

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