Are you designing game? You better have Vlaada Chvatil in your testing group!, part 2

I give Merry car keys. 'You drive. I work.’ I say and I sit in the back seat. I have Robinson prototype all in blood and tears after Vlaada’s comments. My beloved game was hurt and wounded. I had it right next to me. I also had sheets of paper and pencil. And I had three hours of car drive to Poland.

I came to Czech to present my great game. I going back with game torn into pieces. Oh, yes, I am pissed off.

So we are going home. Merry is driving. My daughter Lena is singing. I am working.


The problem – if player gets wound and as a consequence he looses skill, he is unable to fight back and get out of troubles. But on the other hand, if player gets wound and there are no consequences, he is not afraid of getting wounds. And this sucks.

I look at the notes from last night, new rules I designed in the hotel room. 'It is step in good direction…’ said Vlaada. 'Good direction’… I’ll show you 'step in good direction’…

I torn it all into pieces. I don’t want good direction. I want: 'Ignacy, this is brillant’.

Did I mention I may be a little bit angry that day? Just a little.

I took clean sheet of paper. I wrote: WOUNDS. CONEQENCES. LOOSING SKILLS.

I crossed out LOOSING SKILLS.

WOUNDS. CONSEQUENCES. I need new approach. I need new point of view. Merry is driving. Lena is singing. I am working. And I am really pissed off.


It always starts from a story. So I am sitting in the car and I am trying to imagine myself on the Island. I am trying to imagine that I got hurt. I am trying to imagine what is happening…

I am unhappy. I am scared. I am complaining. I want rest of team mates know that I got wounded so they know I won’t be able to work as hard as I wish. They are sad, demotivated, morale drops down. I am complaining…

Morale drops down. Hmm… Interesting. When player gets wound morale drops down. That is a new point of view.

There may be track of morale. It would show if players are motivated or not. It is one track for all. If one player gets wound, it affects this track. All group suffers. He is complaining. He is crying. He is hurt and wounded. Morale of team goes down…

Oh, yes! I got it! Merry is driving. Lena is singing. I am pissed off but I am getting close to start being happy.


So what we have here? Solution fits the story – which is always very important for me – if player gets wound and another wound and another one at some point he starts to complain demotivating the whole group. I can imagine it. It works with the theme, with group of people on deserted Island. Spirit of the team. One for all, all for one.

What else we have? If player gets wounded, he doesn’t loose any skills. I disconnected skills and wounds. You have skills till the very end, no matter how wounded you are. So when player is in trouble, if he gets wounded, game is not kicking him down. He is still capable to fight back.

What else? If player gets wounded whole group suffers. It means that he doesn’t want to be hurt because all players will have troubles but on the other hand if he suffers, he can still play and act and don’t feel like being next to the game. He is not having this bad feeling of being excluded from the group. He is in the game till the very end.

The problem solved. Certainly, at that moment in the car I did have no idea how morale of team would work, but it was just small detail, right? The thing – shifting wound penalty from one player to whole group was the most important.


Few hours later I found something more. I can differentiate characters. Explorer will have only one level of complaining. He can gets six wounds in a row and he will say no single complain. He is explorer. He used to be in much worse shit. The cook? My dear, cook is moaning pig, he complains after he gets three wounds, and then he complains after two wounds and then again, two wounds and again he is grumbling. You better have food for cook, if he is hungry, he will get 2 wounds and then will lament like a slaughtered calf.

It is fun. It – in very simple way – help diverse characters. And it help feel the character, feel the theme, feel the story. One characters will decrease morale often, other not. Ones are moaning pigs, other are tough like John McClane. This is simple and this is fun. This is good.


When we arrived home I was relaxed. My game was repaired. Vlaada pointed problems in my game, I managed to solve some of them during way home and now my game was much better than 3 days before. When I reached home I turn my laptop, open BGG and sent geek mail to Vlaada. I was eager to once again thank him for his help. And very eager to tell him that problem is already solved.

Well, what can I say… I may not look like Bruce Willis. But when I am pissed of I am getting better. Just like John McClane…