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Old July 23rd, 2012, 02:54 PM
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C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Hey all, the C3V Lead Playtesters (LPs) decided to put together this thread as an “official” place for people to chat about the tips & tricks of playtesting. In the OP here, I’ll go all long winded on you (), giving you guys all sorts of suggestions on ways to improve your playtesting, for both your enjoyment and the C3V’s benefit.

If you’ve been playtesting for awhile, you might find some ideas in here just to keep your gaming fresh, or maybe you’ve got suggestions for us that we’ve missed (if you do, please post!).

If you’re just starting out, this should be a great place for you to hear what others experienced at the beginning and give you a place to get started.

And if you have never playtested but are interesting in trying, this should give you a good idea of what it’s like.

So, not to give you guys a long winded opening that bores you to tears, I’ll go ahead and get started:

SIGNING-UP:
There isn’t all too much to say here. You simply keep an eye on the Playtesting Sign-up thread, and if you’ve got the time and/or see a name that sounds interesting, you simply send a PM to the LP of the unit.

One thing I do want to bring up is available time: making sure you will have the time to playtest relatively soon when you sign-up. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t one of those things we really crack down on, and I’m not talking about what you read in the FAQ thread about “3-4 days”, I’m talking more about within a week. The thing is, because units don’t move through Public Playtesting (PPT) very fast around here, signing-up right away and then not being able to get to the playtesting for a week or two hurts your reputation more than anything; it can make you look unreliable. Whereas, if you sign-up and do get the report in within just a couple of days, that speaks volumes about your reliability and so forth.

Though this spans pretty much the entire topic of playtesting, one of the most important things about PPT is keeping in touch and speaking your mind. No matter what it’s about, whether it’s an update on your progress, or a question on the process or the unit, whatever; just keep in touch with the LP, and don’t be afraid to say things.

PRE-GAME ANALYSIS:
This is a pretty big one, and a very large part of playtesting all around. Don’t worry, every playtester does some level of analysis, even the simple fact of deciding your armies is an act of analysis; but this doesn’t mean there isn’t the possibility to improve your analyzing skills.

For one, before you start playtesting, it’s a good idea to take some time (an hour, even a day maybe) to just think about the unit. Consider the way it plays, the armies it will fit in, the armies it will both work well and badly against, the maps it will like, the interactions it has with other units. Just taking some time to think about the unit can really give you a different perspective then if you just started playtesting off the bat, and a lot of the time it could improve your playtesting.

Drawing from personal experience, I have come to the point where I like to take a couple minutes at the start of my playtesting to examine the unit and make sure I memorize all of it, and then let it sit for a day or more, and just let thoughts of the unit jostle around in my head the whole day through. Most of the time, during or after this period, I will also take the time to go ahead and plan out all my games (both armies and sometimes maps) before I start the playtesting. For example, I recently spent a lot of time on a particularly difficult group of units with strong synergies, but I took a thinking period of 2-3 days for them, and during this time planned out 14 games in advance (unfortunately I never got around to all of them as changes to the units were being made).

And then the armies. This one is important. It can be easy to just spend time building an army around the unit, and then throw together a random opponent, or even do so for both sides. But taking time to analyze the unit, and then building specific armies for both sides of the games can really show some things about the unit you wouldn’t otherwise see. An important point to keep in mind is that a unit needs to be balanced to its best case scenario. If you just run all your playtests where the unit is matched up against averagely favorable armies, then there’s a really good chance you are going to end up pricing the unit like that, not realizing that there are some match-ups that they will end up being broken in.

Another consideration is the C3V’s goal: while we do generally design units that play well in a tournament style of play, we spend a lot of time to make sure we aren’t making any undercosted or overpowered units. So any time you’re playing a game against a unit like the 4th Mass or Q9, keep in mind that we are intending for the design to lose against units like that, and if it doesn’t there’s something wrong. Good competitive armies to use in playtesting would be ones that fall in the B-/B/B+ range, or sometimes even A- or C+.

Some things to consider when building an army, though, is to put some of these tough units on the design’s side; namely, Raelin. As everyone knows, she is a very good unit, and there have been many designs that have or could have been broken when paired with her. If you’re playing a ranged design, putting it behind a Rat screen (and backed by Raelin) is often the best way to tell if the design can be broken.

Now, whether you want to keep this thinking to yourself or not is up to you. Giving your thoughts and opinions, even your theory ‘Scaping before the games, can sometimes be almost as valuable as the games themselves. But then again, some people aren’t really good at putting their thoughts into words, and for those people it might just be best to show these things through your well thought-out playtests.

To conclude this train of thought, I want to bring up an example: dalu, who used to be a Public Playtester. And I’ll emphasize the “used to be” part of that sentence. Do you know why dalu got in as our first Private Access Member? And has stayed on as a part of the group since? His analyzing skills. Yup, that’s right. Not to downplay his games, which were amazing too, but dalu was immediately a favorite inside the Inner Sanctum because of his pre-game and post-game analyzing: he gave us strong, solid results and opinions we knew were well thought out, and he even caught quite a few problems we missed. You ever wonder where that odd wording came from on Omegacron’s card? That whole “take one turn, and during this turn they can only attack” wording; you’d think it would just be simpler to say something like “attack with up to 3 Jandar Soulborgs you control”. Well, that’s at least what we thought, and that’s what hit PPT. But dalu saved the day, realizing that with that wording it had some awkward interactions with powers like Smoke Bomb and Scurry, which said things like “for the duration of the attacking figure’s turn”.

So while the games and the results are the focus of playtesting, analysis is another major factor.

THE GAME AND REPORTING IT:
This is one of the simpler parts: just play a game of ‘Scape. Really, that’s pretty much all there is to it, just play the best you can and like you normally would; the only difference, really, is that you have to write out the report (I’ll get to this in a minute). Now, there are two distinct ways to play here: solo or with someone else. Both have their advantages, and both have their weaknesses, and in the end they probably come out even. So, don’t worry about not playing one or the other, just play with what you have (i.e. if you’ve got people to play with, play with them; if not, do it by yourself). The difference here, though, is that for some people playing solo can be pretty hard. For myself, I originally didn’t want to do solo playtesting; but now, I almost never playtest with someone else, and I almost prefer solo.

There’s also playstyle. Some people play competitively, others play very competitively, while others play relaxed or very relaxed, and some only play scenarios. Don’t worry about this though: because HeroScape can be played such a variety of ways, receiving reports from a variety of playstyles is very useful. The one catch here is relaxed playtstyle. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t play relaxed, for my preference is for relaxed anyways; but because relaxed is generally the same form as competitive with weaker units, and because our units generally tend to fall in the state between relaxed and competitive, it would probably glean better results (plus not be too hard) for relaxed players to play stronger armies (depending on what level of "relaxed" you play). But again, this is just a suggestion, and a very relaxed player who knows how to play relaxed well will be more useful than a relaxed player trying to play competitively and not knowing how to do it.

Okay, now let’s move unto the report. Writing the report (i.e. typing out what happened in the game) is one of the most open aspects of playtesting. You can do it so many ways. Some people (like me) like to type out every single turn they take as they take them, others find this too much and prefer to wait till the end of the game and just type out all the important turns, and even others like to add some glamour to theirs by writing it in a story-like form. All of these are completely acceptable. Build your report format to fit how you play and how it works for you; maybe experiment with a couple of different styles to figure out what you like the most (I started with story-like).

Drawing another example from my experience, I like to add another part to my report, what I call the “Unit Sum-Up”. This is a small little area I put above the armies and below the “does it pass” part of the army test, that consists of how much damage the unit inflicted (separating Normal Attacks, Special Attacks, and Special Abilities if they have them), and how useful their powers were and how many times they came into effect. Here’s a couple examples from my tests:

Quote:
UNIT SUM-UP:
Damage: 5 Mohicans.
Power Usage/Effectiveness:
Flanking: Came into affect 2 out of 8 attacks.
Skeletal Form: Defended against 17 ranged attacks.
Quote:
UNIT SUM-UP
Damage: Normal: 7 Axegrinders, 4 wounds to Ulfrid, 4 M-43s. SA: 5 Axegrinders, 4 M-43s.
Power Usage/Effectiveness:
Heavy Weapon SA: Used 13 times out of 14 turns.
Hard Targets: Came into play for 2 attacks.
Snow & Ice Movement: Very useful.
SENDING IT IN:
Another one with not much to say. Once you’ve already filled in the report, all there’s left is too make sure you’ve got everything put together and send it in.

I do want to take time, though, to talk about the format. When writing up your playtesting sheet, make sure everything you say is easy to read and stands out among the sheet text; if you don’t, it can make it very hard to read through a report, and can make you look sloppy. A solid and easy-to-read playtesting sheet is another one of the small things that can go a long way to improve your image as a playtester.

And finally, your final thoughts. This is a lot like pre-game analysis, except it happens after the games. Giving your thoughts on the unit in-depth can be very informative and shows that you really put thought into your report (not that a report with strong games but minimal writing doesn’t). For example, just talking about how you enjoyed the unit or parts about it you found interesting, certain match-ups/armies that interact differently, different uses for the unit, etc.

As an example, I’ll draw myself again (no, I’m not trying to show off; well… maybe a little ): one of my big things when I was a public playtester was I liked to give my thoughts; an example of this would be my public playtest for Van Nessing, which I copied my thoughts below:
Quote:
I had a lot of fun playing Van Nessing, his decent stats with some cool powers makes him a fun unit. I have always loved the solo heroes, like Sonlen and such, and Van Nessing falls right into that category. I never got a chance to use the special part of Silver Bolts Special Attack, but by its self it’s still nice to have that little bit of range. Divine Mission is awesome, almost every time I took a turn with him I used it. Holy Relic didn’t get a chance to be used either, Van Nessing did get close to Cyprien once, but Cyprien got killed before he could try his weakened Chilling Touch. His points seemed about right for the first game, he killed a hundred points worth, but from the second game he seems very under priced killing over two hundred points worth. I really like that Van Nessing isn’t one of those units who rely on facing the right opponent, of course Van Nessing does much better against undead and lycanthropes, but he is still a decent unit when he’s not facing them.
All and all, I like Van Nessing but think his points need to be kicked up a tad bit.
CONCLUDING:
Well, that’s about it for what my fellow LPs and I have to share with you. We hope that you find at least some of this content helpful. A last couple notes (a couple repeats):

Be confident. This can be tough for some people; I really struggled with this in the beginning. I did lots of games to make sure I was doing enough, and when I did a playtest for Zaeus, and because I got sick during that time and could only run two games, I apologized multiple times for not doing more than the minimum (my thinking was that “a minimum of 2 tests” meant “a minimum of 2 tests, but we expect more”). So I’m here to assure those of you who had reactions like me that there’s no need to worry, and that being confident in yourself and what you say is important (though it’s also important to not be overbearing or stubborn; one of the main aspects of the C3V is to be able to back down when the majority overrules you).

Keep an open channel, talk with the LP.

Be yourself, don’t try to playtest to a different playstyle than your own if you don’t feel comfortable doing it.

And most importantly, have fun.

Viegon, C3V Lead Playtester

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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Last edited by Viegon; July 30th, 2012 at 11:03 AM.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 06:33 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Hey V, those sum-up examples are from unreleased units, you know.

This has been a really informative post. I know I have much to improve with my playtesting and you have helped me notice what it is. Future reports from me will be different, for sure.
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Old July 23rd, 2012, 06:41 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch-vile View Post
Hey V, those sum-up examples are from unreleased units, you know.
Sssshhhh...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch-vile View Post
This has been a really informative post. I know I have much to improve with my playtesting and you have helped me notice what it is. Future reports from me will be different, for sure.
Ditto.

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Old July 23rd, 2012, 07:49 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch-vile View Post
Hey V, those sum-up examples are from unreleased units, you know.


I'm really glad you guys found it helpful. I had just noticed that there really hadn't been a place where people talked about their playtesting experiences and for people to figure out how others do it. Really, we've pretty much been telling you guys "here's the unit, go figure it out yourself"; and while you guys have done a great job with that, I figured you might like it if we gave you a little more.

Also, feel free to use this thread to talk about your own public playtesting experiences, even copying your reports straight in to here (as long as the unit is released, of course).

I like forward (as always) to your guys' future reports.

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Old July 24th, 2012, 05:52 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

This is a great resource Viegon, lots of great information, I've never tried planing out my games before hand I think I'll have to give it a try. Nice tease with the unit sum up.

Another big thing is to make sure you fully understand all the powers before you start playtesting, if your not 100% sure ask the LP. Once when I was playtesting I got 2 or 3 games in with the figure before I played with a friend, half way though the game my friend had a question about how the power worked that I had taken for granted, I asked the LP and it turned out I had played it wrong, I had to scrap all my playtests and start over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viegon View Post
Another consideration is the C3V’s goal: while we do generally design units that play well in a tournament style of play, we spend a lot of time to make sure we aren’t making any undercosted or overpowered units. So any time you’re playing a game against a unit like the 4th Mass or Q9, keep in mind that we are intending for the design to lose against units like that, and if it doesn’t there’s something wrong. Good competitive armies to use in playtesting would be ones that fall in the B-/B/B+ range, or sometimes even A- or C+.

Jexik's Cookie Cutter Army Discussion
is a great tool that I used to use if your not sure what to play against, tier 2 and 3 armies all make for good match ups, although it's not up to date with all the D&D armies and some existing armies probably need to be moved into different tiers it's still a great resource. I also try to play against some C3V builds because you know that the figure you currently are playtesting should be more or less even against the other army, and if you destroy the army or get destroyed it's easier to tell you have a problem.

How should you handle if the player you could be playing with is significantly less of a player than you are skill wise? can you still play games against that player if you supplement it with games against people around your skill level or against yourself? If you can play against someone like that should you counter balance your skill disparity by giving him a stronger army or maybe more points? as long as you make note of that to the LP and take it into account when writhing your report. I don't intend to play the many of the games like this, but maybe the odd game here or there.

Lastly I've been curios if any of my other fellow playtesters keep a running total of there record with each unit, there overall record with all units, winning percentages etc. My overall record is 37-50, and my winning percentage 42.5%. I'm not going to go into individual units. Looking at my records with each unit helps me get a sense of how it did overall or if I'm playing against to strong or weak of an army.
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Old July 24th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Wow, sloth, those are some good points too. I'm glad you shared.

Making sure you play the unit right is a good one, and it's easy to make sure by just asking the LP if you have any doubts at all. Don't worry, even if you're question is super simple, we understand and it's good to know that you're at least making sure instead of taking things for granted.

Great link, too.

I agree with your thoughts about playing against someone of a different skill level. If you're worried about it, just adjust the armies to fit. One option is, like I mentioned in the OP, Solo-Scaping; one of its advantages is knowing that the skill level is even.

Interesting idea with keeping a record, I've never thought of that. If you've got the time, that would be a useful thing to do in addition to your testing.

Again, great post, I'm going to link it in the OP.

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Old July 24th, 2012, 09:19 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Yeah, over in C3G, I questioned the wording the power of the figure I was playtesting, saying that it would work better written another way copied from another power, and they ended up changing it so that it worked better.

So, don't be afraid to ask a question or question something even before you playtest the figure, too.
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Old July 29th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Heads up guys, along this same line we decided to update our Public Playtesting Sheet. Check it out HERE.

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Old July 29th, 2012, 11:16 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

This is something I have been meaning to ask for a while now.

Should maps be played with glyphs, or without? If you should play with glyphs, which ones are considered balanced and appropriate for playtesting? I have not found a good list of non-overpowered glyphs (like the +attack and +range are known to be) and I thought it would be a good resource.
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Old July 29th, 2012, 11:24 PM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Viegon usually plays with them, I often play without them, but I've been using them more often lately.

Some good glyphs are Wannok, Dagmar, Lodin, Kelda, and Valda.

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Old July 30th, 2012, 11:03 AM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Glyphs are completely optional. Generally, I play with glyphs simply because a lot of maps are balanced using the glyphs, and taking them off can unbalance the map.

My favorite glyph by far and away is Wannok, I love that one. If I'm looking for glyphs to be a minor part of the game, I like to use Dagmar (Initiative +8.). I'll double those glyphs a lot and play with either two Wannoks or two Dagmars (I'll also do one of each of those sometimes). As I'm always looking to speed up my games, I don't like to use the defensive ones. Some like Kelda and Lodin can be pretty good, though I normally shy away from them because you have the chance that one of the armies can't benefit from them. Valda and Astrid are also ones I like.

In short, it's really just another one of those "playtest like you play". If you normally play with glyphs, put them on there; if not, leave them off.

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Old July 30th, 2012, 11:13 AM
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Re: C3V Public Playtesting Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Viegon View Post
Glyphs are completely optional. Generally, I play with glyphs simply because a lot of maps are balanced using the glyphs, and taking them off can unbalance the map.
He's right, of course. Many maps are designed to have glyphs in specific locations. When they're not there it messes everything up--usually reduces the decision-making necessary on the map.

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