Going through changes

For as long as the game isn’t being printed by the manufacturer, it’s in development and I’ll continue to be changing and improving where needed. This continuous cycle of modifications is a challenging process as so many of the elements are connected together and while some things seem to be very much in flux – such as the Action cards, others, like the dice results, have been consistent for a very long time.

One thing that has been in visual design flux for a long time is the board; however it’s been some time since I made any non-cosmetic changes to the board. I have a huge array of balancing formulas and calculations that I use to determine the impact of some changes on key aspects of gameplay, and the consistency of the board has been really useful in keeping this workload manageable.

Based on recent feedback though, I’ve been through a long process to look at the impact of reducing the overall size of the board and I am overjoyed with the result of this investigation and resulting design process. I present to you, the new Gay Sauna the Board Game playing board:

The latest game board is quite a bit smaller than previous incarnations, measuring in at 72x52cm.

This latest version has some dramatic changes applied. With the removal of the Bar area, and the reduction in the size of the Dark Room, not only has the board shrunken from a massive 90x60cm to still a large 72x52cm, but also now has dedicated space for the placement of the 3 card decks in the game and their respective discard piles.

The rules have been shuffled around a little as well as the removal of the barriers to entry for each of the rooms that goes hand-in-hand with a complete rewrite of the game rules as a whole that returns gameplay on a single player round and focuses attention on improving the action and pace of the game.

All of this will be wrapped up in the launch of the 9th full version of the game that I’m hoping will be finalised in the coming week or two, when the next playtesting sessions will be planned in and I’ll get to try this all out with a real audience of players.

It’s nerve wracking making such big changes to the game, but I really hope that this all is worth it. I guess I’ll find out real soon.

Printing and Playing

In this past month I’ve seen lots of changes, with a brand new updated logo I’ve started the busy work of getting offline materials printed, starting with these awesome new business cards!

Coming next week are the first promotional flyers, simple A5 pages with a page of text briefly explaining some of the things to expect in the game. I’ve even been able to add some of the fantastic new artwork to these, so I can’t wait till they arrive.

Next up I’m looking at Keyrings and Towels – and there’s a possibility I’ll be able to put up some of this merchandise for sale on this site, so keep your eyes peeled!

With the next Playtesting sessions already planned, I’m also pulling together an update for the game materials including a new set of visitor cards. Unfortunately they’ll not yet have new updated artwork, but with a revised set of balanced metadata and a slightly new and improved visual design they should make all the difference for new and existing players.

I’ve still got some really interesting new mechanics to try out, so if you want to get in on the action, check out the Events Page and sign up!

Happy New Year!

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Festive Season. I’m back in the New Year and I’m so excited to be able to tell you all about version 4 of Gay Sauna the Board Game.

In a recent playtest, we had a serious discussion about the playability, namely the matching process and the player cards. Combined with the results I’ve seen about the manner in which to introduce the game to new players, I’ve taken a long look at the game and decided it was time for a full visual remake.

The new card design has taken a slightly more modern game look, without the strong borders, the colours now flow to the edges (I just hope I can get the print job done right). The most important thing about the new designs is that the cards line up next to each other to be able to see whether you can match with the visitor, and what you have in common.

I’m showing you here sample player cards, please note that I do not own the rights to the images used here, this is just used as an example. Please contact me if you would like to have your images removed.

I’ve also done a little bit of modelling for the game pieces, as I’m seeing the current set of tokens and boards are a little tatty from being just paper. I’d like to do a lot more of this and I will certainly update all the tokens for this version.

The rules have had also had the biggest change since the very first version with the long narrative being removed. While it always remained a popular part of the game process for playtesting, it always took a huge amount of time to get through and may not add enough to justify this. This kind of content will remain in the game though, with some being delivered in the box as background fluff and additional reading info and some will be presented in a video that I think needs to be a part of the final delivered product. The rules themselves are now in a very short setup and winning section, with a “Hookup Guide” attached that players should go through together if playing for the first time. This is then supported by each player getting a “Gay Sauna the Board Game Sauna Guidebook” that provides details about all the sauna specifics including rooms, attributes, cards and of course the types, kinks and roles.

Version 4 still has a lot more to be done for it, including the player boards, rooms and event and action card designs. All of that for this week, it’s going to be tough, but I’ll make it in time for the next Playtesting session this coming Sunday 13th. It’ll be a really fun day, and the first chance to get to play the version that I expect to be the final one I make myself without an artist!

Play-testing v3.1

The first somewhat formal play-testing session was a huge success and a big thanks to those that participated!

There are still many elements of the game that need tweaking, but from the feedback I’ve received I believe that the most important areas of the game mechanics to continue to work on are:

  • Action Cards
  • Event Cards
  • Energy/Horniness Levels

Action Cards

The Action Card Deck being used for this play-testing session was created last week. The breakdown of the cards was just over 40% usable on the player themselves and around 45% of cards being used on another player. The remainder of the cards directly affected visitors on the table or the towel.

The biggest change being made to Action Cards in this version though is that there is now a new category of when the Action Card can be used. With many cards being restricted to be used within a specific part of a player’s turn the aim of this was to encourage players to follow more closely the activities of other players and create tactics based on the cards they have in their hands. This worked to some degree, with many of the cards appearing to be playable at a large portion of the time. The challenge is, players are not playing them. I put this down to a few reasons:

  1. Players want to know that the cards they play will have a real impact on the game. It’s not always obvious if this is the case, and many cards being played did actually turn out to have no effect at all. Improving this to ensure that cards have a real impact, even if this is a very small effect, I think is the best option.
  2. Players aren’t always paying attention to the rounds of the game, meaning some cards with a very short time-window can be tough to get right. I don’t want to make it too easy, but there’s improvement to be made for sure.
  3. Still 

With a beginning hand of 3 cards and a maximum of 5 cards in any hand there is also a little innate motivation to ensure that players are not hoarding their cards for too long.

As with most of the previous games, there’s still lots of room for improvement, with players still finding it difficult to determine when best to use their cards. Additionally, there are still many unclear cards (due mainly to the way in which they are written), but I have also discovered some rule specifics (such as re-rolling) that break the mould I had in mind for the way they should be used.

Event Cards

I also created an updated Event Card deck for this play-test. The Event Cards are the first part of the game to start to receive “storytelling fluff” with snippets of narrative being added to each of the cards to give a better impression of what is happening and to add some more humour to the play-run.

Overall this worked great (I learned a good lesson around the card design and the order of the text, so the next version will certainly read better) and I felt there was enough diversity in the events themselves as well as the shuffle element to moving visitors around.

I’m still not happy with a couple of things though. Firstly the Event Cards are pretty generic, with all of them resulting in a +1/+2/-1/-2 horniness result for a set of players. While this provides me with a guarantee of balance in the game, I feel this could do with spicing up a little with more odd-ball results. Balance could be tough to maintain, but I think the effort will be worth it. The main thing I have in mind here is to give some reaction, so not just move a dial improving a score, but requiring players to make some sort of decision and choice. It’s going to take some work and a lot of feedback so I hope you all have some thoughts and ideas to give me.

The other are of Event Cards that needs work is very much tied in with the 3rd point above, Energy and Horniness levels.

Energy/Horniness

Version 1 of Gay Sauna the Board Game had 4 attributes: Courage, Horniness, Energy and Soberness. I loved this concept, and should the game develop into some dungeon wandering RPG, then for sure these will all come back. But for now, it seems to be very much evolving into a hilarious and fun casual party game, so simplicity is hugely important.

Since then I’ve reduced down to only 2 attributes: Energy and Horniness. I very much like this as it gives the game an extra dimension of control and randomness. In version 3 of the game, impact on Energy and Horniness has been separated. Energy is almost exclusively modified by the rooms that visitors go into. This gives players the option to develop an Energy strategy. Playing with the specifics of how much energy is gained and lost per room, as well as the starting values, I have a good command over how energy can be used.

Horniness however is a different animal entirely. With constant modification due to the Event Cards being drawn, as well as large penalties to Horniness that come from the Sex Dice, players have consistently found it challenging to ensure they maintain the required level of horniness in order to continue to prowl the Sauna. Admittedly, the drawbacks of running out of Horniness have been reduced and this has given a little hope to those players lagging behind in the game, there is definitely a missing part of the game: a way to fix yourself if you run out of horniness early in the game.

For this, I don’t think there’s only one thing that can resolve it completely, so I think this will come in the form of quite a few small changes that hopefully will all together give the right level of control to players so they can have fun even if their chips are down.

  1. Event Card changes will have a big impact. By keeping the Deck about the same size, but introducing a good portion of non-attribute related results, I can reduce the consistent horniness bombardment that players face with the current set.
  2. Pick Me Up: The rule to buy something to gain some horniness has been a concept since the beginning, but the specifics still need to be ironed out. Currently it’s possible to skip a turn of energy in the Bar to gain 3 horniness. As the only option for knowingly improving your horniness, the price for this boost is a little high. I can potentially see some option of splitting the rewards between the two attributes (but some arbitrary division is probably more convenient for the game). Whatever it ends up being, this rule is certainly at he cornerstone of horniness management.
  3. Action Cards can also provide some more benefits here – having multiple cards that can boost horniness of a player could be a good way to get players to play the cards in their hands, provide plenty of Hell No! options as well as give players that chance to fix a losing situation. This however is of course no guarantee, players may simply not draw one of these cards and while I’ve toyed with the idea of giving players specific cards to start the game, I like the much more variable aspect of a random deck.
  4. Sex Rolls are the biggest offender in the current version for ruining the player experience. With 2 results that give players either a null-turn next time by preventing match rolls for a turn, or by throwing all of their horniness out of the door when shooting their loads, players have a good chance things will end badly. Now I don’t want to ease up too much here, I think there should be some penalties for players that are Matching; after all if you’re matching, you’re winning. The first change will be Shooting your Load will only incur a penalty of 4 horniness. The second change is the Love Affair result, which will change from no matching on your next turn, to you can only match with visitors of the same type as your last conquest in your next turn. The flavour is kinda nice here too: You’ve kind of gotten a crush from this guy, so you get blinkers for only guys that look the same.
  5. Room options are a final item I think can be useful here and have also given me something in the game mechanics that I was missing: a way for players who are falling behind to not get left behind. Room impact at the moment is entirely focused on Energy modification. I don’t want to change this much, but I will be introducing an additional rule to each room that comes into effect when a player does not successfully match with a visitor in their turn. For Energy Sapping rooms like the Dry Sauna and Steam Room, there will be a small horniness bonus for players that fail their match rolls. Whilst in the Bar, there will be a horniness loss should players fail a match roll. A little added complexity, so I’ll be sure to keep an eye on this as well as ensure players are provided with clear turn-order instructions.

There are of course other areas of the game that I know need a lot of work. The game instructions and other published materials are still a big pain both create as well as produce (my printer hates me about 75% of the time). The instructions I provided for v3.1 were certainly an improvement with a visual example of the matching process included; however the order of how information is provided as well as determining the right way for this to be portrayed to a group is still very much a work in progress. Short of recording a video, there doesn’t appear to be any golden egg (and I will produce a video asap, but the written rules need to also exist). For this, I think the next step is to try several iterations of the rules and then publish them here to get feedback from you all on how to refine.

So, thanks again to the play-testers! None of this would be possible without them. If you’re interested in joining the fun and becoming a play-tester, sign up to the newsletter at http://gaysaunatheboardgame.com and I’ll be posting January Play-testing dates before the New Year.

Adrian

Scheduled Play Testing Event in December

I’ve scheduled in a play testing event to take place on Sunday the 16th. See the Event Page for more info.

I’ve opened up 6 places for the session – this is to ensure that everyone will get to play themselves and I’m hoping to get a good conversation out of you all after the game about how it went and to collect some ideas and thoughts you might have.

If you can’t make this date, or if it fills up, don’t worry, I’ll be planning plenty more of these in the weeks to come.