The Case Study: Testing Shorter Turn Limits

I’ve been testing reduced turn limits as a mechanism for increasing Over the Next Dune’s difficulty, and have been happy with the results. The games have been interesting and fast-paced. Also of note, they’ve been harder. 😉

Tighter turn limits have had the beneficial side-effect of discouraging boring strategies. I didn’t anticipate this, but in retrospect I should have. The end run generally involves at least one turn of slipping to the side without progressing forward, and other slow-boiling approaches to the game tend to rely on waiting while the searchers move to favorable positions. Having fewer turns means players have no choice but to plunge ahead and then figure out how to escape the resulting sticky situations.

I should note that I’m doing this testing without player abilities. Adding those at this point would be putting two independent variables into the same experiment. Solidifying the difficulty levels before adding player powers will help me judge the impact of the powers accurately.

One pattern I’m noticing is that having a searcher move close to the players early makes the six-turn game very difficult; in fact, I haven’t won a game involving that situation yet. That’s a worrisome sign. It’s OK for the game to be more difficult with some setups, but it’s not OK for it to be unbeatable. I’m planning to do some testing akin to what was done for the worst-case scenario to make sure that that isn’t an auto-loss for the players. (Speaking of which, the worst-case scenario will need another look . . . .)

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