Last weekend I had a playtest slot at UK Games Expo, the biggest board game convention in Britain. Playtest UK has a dedicated section of one of the halls, where designers (who have games in development) book 3 hour slots to get new players to test their games. To make the most of the event and attract as many players to the table as possible, I decided to make a giant set of Doughnut Dash (now in version 7).
I returned from a trip to Hobbycraft with my nieces with armfuls of sparkly foam and several doughnut themed accessories and proceeded to spend two days up to my eyes in spraymount and laminating pouches. I was pleased with the doughnuts, but the policemen sadly look more like gnomes. The night before the convention my family helped me with a test run at home. There was some frustration that nobody really got sent to The Hole (doughnut thief prison), so I decided to add some ‘bugged’ doughnuts. These doughnuts look like any other, but when you steal them, you reveal a black dot on the underside, indicating a police bug. Taking a bugged doughnut immediately lands you in The Hole.
Having reached the playtest table at the expo, it was immediately obvious that my giant game was possibly a bit too giant as it wouldn’t fit on the table. But, thankfully, the board is modular, so I changed the shape from a 4 x 4 board to a 3 x 5 board. In fact, I changed the board size for each game we played according to how many players there were and how long a game we were aiming for.
Thanks to the feedback from my constant stream of playtesters – who were drawn in by the theme and the sparkly doughnuts – I was able to make a few other small changes during the afternoon, which helped the flow of the game. I binned the action that allows you to “RUN AWAY” from a policeman, as the conditions upon when you can do this were too complicated and I was keen to cut the rule explanation time down.
After two playtests we binned the D4 (tetrahedron) dice, which is thrown to indicate the direction you can move. Instead I cut up one of the board tiles and made each person a set of 4 direction cards (North, South, East and West), which they could play to indicate the direction they wanted to move. They could choose from any card in their hand, but once played couldn’t take them up again until every other direction had been played. This enabled players to plan their moves ahead of time, sped up the game and gave the players more control.
Overall, a great experience with very positive feedback from a lovely bunch of playtesters. Now I’m toying with the idea of introducing simultaneous play. If all Doughnut Thieves move a the same time, it might be chaotic, or it might be speedy bonkers fun. I’ll have to try that out in version 8.