This was my first scheduled consult session at Lucca. As usual, I had no expectations, but if I did, they would have been challenged by the degree that people came prepared. Francesco brought a deck of cards that looked ready to print.
The title in English is “The Trench,” so my first question, as I’m pretty sure is typical, was “which war,” or presuming WWI. Neither is the case. It’s not specified, and remains abstract during play. Now, I am all about history and historical education, so usually, I favor specifying and detailing locations of play. However, I recalled the abstract version of war working well when we played Callan Sweet’s Diary of a Skull Soldier, so I tried to articulate why during the discussion. The logic being that Francesco’s going to need a standard reply in the face of this question and of constant recommendations to nail it down.
(reviewing that play thread: it includes links to a number of experimental RPGs about war, different from the usual rather celebratory context)
We made characters as if we were to play, then moved into more explanatory dialogue, as I tried mainly to understand Francesco’s current thinking or stage in the design, rather than to learn or review the game in detail. When I realized he knew exactly what he wanted, and had moved into the final phases of design rather than grappling with its basics, I focused on what those final phases require. It may seem as if we didn’t really address the game much, but I want to stress that most game designers don’t have much trouble with that – what nails them, at this point, is getting distracted from it, by intrusive feedback and by skipping into presentation and production too quickly.
My video fails slightly in that I can’t find the pictures I took of the prototype cards on the table, so you can’t see their clever design. Briefly, the differing text is well-sized and contrasted for visibility, and oriented for use by different people at the table, so it’s easy to glance around the table-top and see what you can use, without anyone reaching over and rotating cards.