Game Design Thoughts #6 - Many Unintended Consequences

It’s time for another entry of “Game Design Thoughts”!

This time, we’ll focus on the Animals faction, which we just revealed last week officially. As many have seen, we’ve started playtesting them again, after putting them away for a few months. Before we stopped testing them last time (September 2018 time frame), they were balanced against both the Peacekeepers and Survivalists. Since then, we’ve definitely made some changes to the game, namely to the CyMS, and we made the Peacemakers’ range attack strength a lot higher over the last few months. So we thought, “Animals should be balanced, if not too weak now, against the PK.”. Boy were we wrong!

First game back, me playing Animals, Brendan playing PK. It was the most lopsided game we’ve played in a while, with me winning 9-4. We tried 2 more times in a row, tweaking the Animals down every time, and the results were still similar.

What the heck happened? Did the changes in CyMS rules affect Animals that much? Did our tweaks in LOS/Cover rules wreck the balance? Ultimately, after thinking on it and testing more for a week, we definitely think it was the CyMS changes that affected the balance. It was a series of subtle boosts that added up to a big advantage for the Animals, due to how they interact with CyMS (more on that in a later blog), and they just became a lot more efficient at all the ways they can score points and move across the board.

After this past Wednesday’s test, we think we finally toned them down to a reasonable level. So we’re ready to test them against the Survivalists next! Talk about unintended consequences with our CyMS change. It’s definitely something that keeps coming back to surprise us every time we evolve the game.

Anyone out there ever house rule something or change the rules of a game you’re designing and realize that it threw parts of your game completely out of whack? If so, let us know in the comments!