The content of Crimson Seas is very near finalized, but there are still some tweaks we’ve been making here and there until everything feels perfect. The adjustments at this stage are relatively minor. It’s hard to pass up the opportunity to squeeze in extra playtesting while we still can. We are always trying to push the limits of each system and mechanism to make sure that things can’t be done in a better way, even if the current way is working.
In this report I’m going to focus on the goods that can be bought in Araby and the enchanted tomes found on the island of Nae Aerie. Araby is a location we’ve visited before in our game “Merchants of Araby” and there is also a card called “Port of Araby” in the Flames & Frost expansion. In this land, everyone is looking for a deal. If there is a specific good that you want, someone has it and they’d like to sell it to you. Nae Aerie, however, is a location only previously seen on the Domain card from the original game called “Golden Obelisk of Nae”. This is an island filled to the brim with more wizards per capita than any other place in all of Valeria. Many of these wizards spend their days enchanting tomes with magic to sell off for a profit. Hey, wizards need to make a living too!
In Araby, players are buying goods to collect for escalating victory points at the end of the game. The more of a specific good you collect, the better the points. In each visit here you can buy up to 3 goods available at the market, but each vendor has their own prices and some deals are better than others. This is the location with the largest change we’ve made to the expansion recently. Before, there were a total of 5 good types that players had a chance to buy here. Leather, a goods-type not found in the Merchants of Araby game, was added just for Crimson Seas. However, after several rounds of testing we discovered that the game was overall better without it. The player that focused on this strategy was just having a harder time making their sets than we’d prefer, in lower player counts especially. Once we took Leather out, and then adjusted the points and costs a little bit, we noticed that the game flowed more smoothly for that strategy. Now the scores are even tighter than before. In our most recent playtest the player that went for the goods strategy scored a mere 2 points higher than a player that went for the tomes strategy, allowing them to squeak by with the win.
Speaking of tomes, that’s another thing we’ve tweaked to ensure a more interesting game. At Nae Aerie, players can buy tomes that act as recurring resources that they can use every single round. They reset at the end of a player’s turn, so these tomes can even be used off-turn if the need arises. This mechanism is perfect for players that avoid a skimpy harvest by ensuring that they have access to specific resources exactly when they need them. Though, we noticed that they didn’t seem lucrative enough for players to seek out this strategy. The solution was to make each one worth a victory point at the end of the game. As it turns out, this tiny tweak was exactly what was needed. Now players are much more interested in trying this strategy out and are able to be competitive in doing so. The player that tried this out in our most recent playtest ended up buying 9 (!) of them, 3 of each resource type. This proved to be a very powerful engine and an extra 9 points at the end of the game. They didn’t win, as mentioned before, but it was extremely close. A couple other choices made earlier in the game could have sealed the deal for them.
Overall, the game finally seems to be where we want it to be. It’s fun, engaging, and now even more balanced. We are very happy that the Kickstarter has been so successful and can’t wait to get the game into your hands!