Last night I got to play test Bad Elf with friends. The couple I gamed with are experienced gamers and were interested in trying the game. Though I will be replacing the conveyor deck with a central board and a random draw bag for the presents, we played with the conveyor deck.
They both liked the game though were not singing its praises as the next Ra. The feedback was excellent. One issue the game has is caused by players passing on the bidding phase to avoid taking coal. While this is a valid strategy there should be a consequence for passing. After discussion, it was decided that when a player sends no elves to the conveyor belt they must send a minimum of two elves to the loading zone. These elves can reorganize or trade presents on the sleigh as per the rules. This means that players will not be able to pass and then have a full compliment of elves to bid with next turn.
In order to make this option clear to the players, one of the zero elf cards will be edited to have two small elf heads with the words loading zone underneath.
This change will also have a change in bidding patterns. Now no player may bid 7 elves as this would leave no elves to bid in the next round…a bid of zero requires a minimum of 2 elves (that would be sent to the loading zone). Now a maximum of six elves is the possible maximum bid. There is a risk to bidding 6 elves. If a player bids six elves then for the next round they will only one elf left. One elf is a must bid as a bid of zero elves requires two elves to be sent to the loading zone. Though this sounds complex, I think it will add some extra strategy to the bidding process.
Because a bid of six elves is risky – due to the fact that the next bid is a must bid of one elf – this 6 elf bid now replaces the Pixie Dust Card. Any player sending six elves will get the choice of any group of presents no matter what placement they are on the conveyor.
Now to re-prototype with the central board and with the new Dwarven Mining theme. The suggested new name for the game is NINJA DWARF.