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Another playtesting report

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Sunday, September 14, 2008, 23:04
Yesterday I played Glossotechnia with the Atlanta
Esperanto group.  Because one of the players doesn't
speak Esperanto, we used the advanced English deck.
Besides me only one of the other players had studied
linguistics, but all were polyglots; I think we speak
about eight or nine languages among the five of

I haven't made any significant changes to this deck
since it was used last (in March, when Mark and Alex
and I played at CNN Center), and I didn't try out
any new rule variations (in particular we didn't use
the conculture rules, because I hadn't added Culture
Change cards to this deck); but I did keep more careful
records of timing this game.  I didn't note the exact
time we sat down and I started explaining the deck
and rules, but it was at least half an hour and definitely
less than an hour.  The game itself started at 15:57
and ended at 18:02, two hours and five minutes;
it lasted 29 turns, or 5 and 4/5 rounds.  Each time my
turn came I noted the time.  The rounds (5 turns each
except the last) lasted 18, 13, 12, 24, 27, and 32 minutes.
I think the last couple of turns were interrupted a bit by
players going to the kitchen or restroom.  The
first round went slower than the next couple
as players were still figuring out the rules, then
the next couple of rounds were faster as players
made their card-plays and coined words with
relatively little delay, and then later rounds slowed
down as players started making sentences.

We decided to keep going after the common challenge
and the first of the players' challenge sentences
had been translated, until some of the players had
to leave to catch their bus.

Either this deck isn't quite as well-balanced
as I thought it was when Mark, Alex and I
played with it, or I didn't shuffle it thoroughly
enough; I think phoneme cards came up
a little too often, and Sound/Meaning/Grammar
change cards too rarely.   Syntax and Syllable
cards were about right.

Players' comments:

The rules should explicitly say something about
allowed allophony in the vicinity of the phones
in play, as long as no other phones too close
together are in play.  E.g., we decided that
as long as  /1/ was  in play and /i/ and /I/
were not, the former would have the latter
as allophones; similarly with /O/ until an
/o/ card was played.

There should be a special rule for handling
duplicate cards, besides the general rule allowing
you to discard any one card instead of playing,
or discard your whole hand and draw as many
cards again.  E.g., if you have a card in your
hand that is already in play, you should be
able to discard it and draw another at the
beginning of your turn.

We should give the language an autonym
at the end of the game.   We talked about doing
so, but forgot.

If convenient, it would be nice to use stickies
of some kind of affix the cards in play to a wall
or board so all players can see them right-side-up.

One player said the game was much easier and
more playable than it sounded from reading the

Jim Henry