On a sunny and hot Sunday earlier this month, June 6th to be exact, we played version 1.0 of our game, Battle of Brooklyn, at the Come Out & Play festival in New York. I’m happy to report that we had a successful play session. All players (I mean soldiers) seemed to enjoy themselves as they ran around the Boathouse battling each other for control over bridges, tunnels and other strategic locations. We also captured some really good feedback that will serve as inspiration for future improvements to the game.
Here are some pictures from the play session.
That is not to say that we did not have any problems. Here is a quick overview of our challenges: first, the day began with me running to Kmart and then Target to procure some bandanas. Next, when we arrived at the game location we were notified that 45 people had signed up to play our game even though we only had props for 36 players. After finding a solution to accommodate more players only 12 people actually showed up to play the game (this ended up being good news because I got to jump into the game as well).
Feedback and Opportunities
After the game we got a chance to capture feedback from the players from both teams – we were lucky because Eric Zimmerman (the guy who literally wrote the book about game design) was one of the judges assigned to play our game. Here is an overview of the most crucial or promising ideas we captured:
Team selection and balance: create a system that helps ensure teams are evenly balanced when selected. In this round of play we ended up using an ad hoc system that allowed friends to opt to join the same team. Unfortunately, this led to uneven distribution of skills between the two teams. Need to find a better way for doing this in the future.
Kill flag location: explore new locations to secure the kill flag from each soldier. One promising suggestion was to attach the kill flags to a wrist band so that whenever someone attacked the soldier from the other team they were also putting their own lives at risk. This would likely help equalize the balance of the game as well.
Territory capture using kill flags: explore different mechanisms to capture territory. One promising suggestion was to make it so that armies need to spend kill flags in order to capture a territory. This would solve the current issue with the game, where the army that has captured the most kill flags can always capture all territories since they are able to use the same kill flags to capture multiple locations.
Defending captured territories: we have been wanting to find a solution for running this game without the need for volunteers to work at each battlefield. One suggestion that came up was to change the rules so that an army needs to always leave at least one soldier to defend a conquered territory. Territory battles could be decided based on the number of kill flags + live soldiers – for example, if a soldier from the blue army is defending a territory with 2 kill flags, then to conquer the territory the other team must arrive with 3 kill flags and 1 soldier, 2 soldiers and 2 kills flags, or 1 kill flag and 3 soldiers.
Game Rules and Props
Now finally here is a detailed outline of the final game as it currently stands. The full game rules are posted as an image below next to the complete list of required props, and guidance regarding locations.
To play this game you will need the following props: each team will need two to six “nation” flags and a few maps that feature strategic battlefields. Individual players need bandanas and a flag football-style belt and flag system in their army’s color (extra flags will be needed).
Over the past few months we have tested this game in several locations. From this fieldwork we gained two important insights: First, the playing field needs to be right sized to the number of players. Since there is a lot of running in this game the field cannot be too large otherwise players get exhausted early. Secondly, it is important to find a place that has easily identifiable structures that can be used as readily-identifiable battlefields.
Thanks for the Support
Thanks to everyone who came out to play the game during the past several months. We truly appreciate your support, without it this game would not exist. A special thanks to Morgen, my partner in crime on this game.