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Wessex Guild of Game Designers Play Test Day

This past Friday I was invited to the inaugural Wessex Guild of Game Designers Play Test day.

The event started at 9:30am, but in true Baalham fashion, I rocked up nearer to 10am. There was already a game tin progress. Me and the two remaining guys played a game called Scurvy Crew by Rob Harper.

Scurvy Crew

by Rob Harper


The pirates ready to take to the sea and plunder unsuspecting ships

Play testers: Me, Rob Harper, David Mortimer

In Scurvy Crew you are in charge of a pirate ship and you have to recruit crew from the tavern in port before heading out to the sea to raid the various ships. The crew are either in your hand or laid on the table face up. The ships you are raiding require different symbols which your face up crew provide. Once you have used a crew member to raid the ship, they get flipped over and then return to your hand at the end of your go. As well as the symbols, the crew all have abilities, which you can only use when they are face up on the table. Once used they get flipped over and return to your hand at the end of your turn. Normally you can only deploy from your hand to face up in port. The balance between using the awesome abilities of the crew and wanting to keep them for the symbols they provide was a great little tension in your decision making process.

The first game took 45 minutes (and I won!) but I had never played it before and we had some long conversations during the game. David Mortimer (Cousins’ War, Pixit, Flock) suggested a minor tweak to enhance the game, so we made the necessary modification to the rules and played again. This time it was  bang on 30 minutes.

I really enjoyed this game. It is a light game, but still has some strong decision making and trade-offs in those decisions. There is a tactical element to trying to work out where to raid ships and whether you should give up cards to get further out and thus away from your rivals etc.

I would definitely buy this when it gets published.

Test of Time

by David Mortimer


Rob’s player board (far) is filling up with buildings while the central board (near) holds our potential buildings but also the disasters that lie in wait

Play testers: Me, Rob Harper, David Mortimer

In Test of Time, you are acquiring resources and building them, but as time marches on, the buildings get hit by disasters and gradually start falling down. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it will clear spaces for new, better buildings and give you resources from the ruins of the old buildings.

I had played an earlier version of this game, which I did enjoy, but this latest version is quite a big step up from that. The game flows really nicely, and the bespoke track which tracks both the amount of resource storage you have and the income you have is really neat.

There are 5 different building materials and you use your income to buy these. There aren’t any coins – you have an income value and use that to purchase resources. If you don’t use all of your income, tough, you don’t get more to spend next turn. The buildings require a minimum amount of certain materials, but you can choose to build the buildings to a higher standard by using more building materials. This pushes the cube on the building further up its track. When disasters hit, you need to reduce one of the material tracks on a building by 1 and when any of the material tracks for a building gets reduced to 0 it collapses, – hence the reason you may want to build to a higher standard.

You have a general idea of what the disasters coming up are, but don’t know exactly what that will entail, which is nice as it isn’t too random, but keeps you on your toes.

It was very close at the end with scores of 64 (me), 70 and 70. There were already rules for a tie breaker in place. I couldn’t give any feedback on this one as it seemed to be ready for pitching to a publisher.


I had been rushing to get the second map of the first missions ready for the play test day, but I needed 10 minutes to draw lines on the map. While I did this, Rob and Dave played a 2-player game which I am not sure if I can talk about, so won’t.

Spaceship 47

By Paul Baalham

Play testers: Me, David Mortimer and Kevin Shaw

After the two support acts, it was time for the headliner (this is how I perceived it – the others will almost certainly disagree 😄). This is my very early in development co-op sci-fi dungeon crawler, which you can read about on this very website.

I will publish a full write-up on Wednesday as it will be quite long and the focus of this post is the day itself. Suffice to say, I was happy with how the play test went as the game was a bit more rugged than I thought it would be and exposed all of the small mistakes I had made in rushing the game to the table.

Other Games Played That I Was Not Involved In

  1. An (as yet unnamed) anti-gravity racing game by Kevin Shaw

  2. Tik Tok Temple by Robin Elliot (Halfling Feast, Leagues of Adventure: Rocket Race) of Triple Ace Games

  3. Progression of Humanity by Michael Kent

  4. Tinkerbots by Bevan Clatworthy (Ghostel)

It was a great day to meet up with some friends, make new like-minded friends and see the sheer breadth of talent and ideas that is local to me. I can’t wait for the next event!

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