Our profound apologies for not posting in a while, but it’s with good reason! Since our last update, we’ve completed two more playtests and have been going though a ton of player notes. Much of the feedback so far has aligned with our own expectations, especially when it comes to Dice Plates.
Very early on in the first half of 2017, when we were just starting to toss around general ideas and concepts for The Black Brick, we quickly came to the realization that this wasn’t a game to be played with your standard 1D4, 1D6, or 1D8, etc. One of our guiding principles was (and still is) that if we couldn’t justify a number above 10, then it needed to be reworked. We intended for roll ranges to be far tighter than you’d find in a traditional D&D setting, but that meant we had to come up with a unique dice system that provided us the flexibility and freedom to reinterpret one of the most sacred bedrock fundamentals in tabletop gaming.
But how and where were we going to find just the right materials for such a strange, new endeavor? Over the past year, we looked into custom-moulded/printed dice, but that was prohibitively expensive. We looked at basic stickers, but that would have become unwieldy as we’d be burning through tons of stickers during the prototyping stages. We even briefly flirted with the idea of sourcing old LEGO dice from the long-since defunct LEGO Games line, but that would have been similarly expensive and unwieldy.
Then in Q2 2018, one of our consultants happened to pick up a game called Dice Forge. He hadn’t had the chance to do a full playthrough yet, but after chatting about it for a few minutes, we realized its dice-crafting mechanism had enormous potential to meet our dice range needs. Through Dice Forge, we found Rattlebones, and through Rattlebones, we found Rattlebones Prototyping Dice. Our order arrived a few days later, and pushed forward development in a big way. Within a few weeks, we went from a concept to a fully realized prototype:
These Dice Plates far exceeded our expectations in our first two playtests back in July and August. Combat was extremely balanced. There were no major surprises—well, apart from the Rage 1/Rebel Strike combo we discussed in our previous post. Everything was generally smooth.
That was not the case with subsequent tests, and we quickly realized why. Our first two tests used Tier 1 Heroes, Tier 1 Abilities, and most importantly…Tier 1 Dice Plates. This put the Dice Plate range firmly within 1-3.
Our later tests were Tier 2, which saw a significant Dice Plate range increase from 1-3 to 4-9. Ouch. Characters were dying left and right. No Defense roll seemed to be able to consistently save anyone. We saw far too many Attacks rolling 8’s and 9’s against Defenses of 2’s and 3’s. Captains (mini-bosses) were destroying pretty much everything. We wanted combat to be fast and brutal, but this was just too much, too soon.
So, we had to retool our Dice Plates and tighten the ranges:
You’ll notice that there are quite a few repeating plate values here. Our expectation is that this retooling will help address the range issues we’ve discovered, and stabilize higher Tier combat. We want our players to be challenged by tactics and strategy, not dice rolls.
Onward and upward to playtest #5 we go!