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Moonflight Development: Learning Lessons

Dead Sea by Paul Nash

Bad playtests are the ones when nothing goes wrong. I'm happy where Moonflight is right now as a game still developing. The Jack O' Clay and Bones deck is in a very final form and when I play the game solo it makes good sense, is filled with interesting choices and satisfying moments. The problem is I know how its "meant" to be played. Now every game has a right and a wrong way to play it, hopefully a lot of the right ways and some fun wrong ways, but every game can be ruined by playing it wrongly. As a designer my job is to make it clear what the wrong path is so that players don't walk down it accidentally and to make unfun wrong paths unrewarding so that competitive players don't go down them intentionally. I'm not a massively competitive player of deck or deck builder games, I play them looking for patterns and combination moments, meaning that I play Moonflight in solo play tests a very specific way. Happily I have two playtesters who are capable, experienced and competitive when it comes to deck building and play Moonflight very differently. The play experience when they play Moonflight is fine, but its not what I intended players to find in the game, so a redesign was needed.

In a traditional deck builder there is very little reason not to buy cards when you have the chance. Its possible to dilute a deck's engine but purchases that strengthen the engine are always right. In Moonflight every card you purchase after your engine is running and you have secured your scoring cards is just another card you need to trash later on. There needs to be an excess