Looney Labs Rabbits Mailing list Archive

RE: [Rabbits] Adding More Characters to AYAW??

  • FromDavid Artman <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • DateTue, 18 Sep 2007 10:21:54 -0700
> David wrote:
> > Yes, I know "the game is best when pure, with 15 players," but that's
> > just not how it goes down at conventions...
> Well, it can be, if Authority Figures insist. During the sessions I was 
> running at GenCon, we had as many as 8 villages going at once, all with 15 
> person villages and no extra characters. The games continued all night, 

Yikes! I hope I didn't come off as too strident ("the default tone of
evil" in e-mail).

Regardless of the potential future product format, I mainly wanted to
point out that folks have gone beyond Sharpieing spare cards to actually
making entire custom decks... which DON'T mention "Are You A Werewolf"
and don't mention Looney Labs. OK, fine, most folks at a con know that
they are at a Looney Labs Experiment; but I just cringed to see such
loss of opportunity for brand recognition. Therefore, I reasoned
that--regardless of play ideals--if folks are going to run special roles
at conventions, then we need special role cards which match the standard
card backs.

> writing on existing cards with Sharpies, well, then I guess we ought to 
> make it a little easier on them by making AYAW? blanks available. Doing so 
> will create an open system, allowing people to take our core game and 
> customize it, but without us having to approve or sanction any new 
> characters.

Blanks are fine--actually great, as the rule for the role could be
included on the blank (at risk of identifying the special role player,
because he or she takes too long looking at his or her card). But an
expansion? Now I am figuring this would be a waste (I have been
persuaded). It's a niche of a niche--generally a bad thing in which to
invest heavily.

Yet I still like the idea of an eventual expanded re-release (Convention
Edition), as it updates the game without creating a two-SKU problem (or
unequal stocking levels to manage). I believe this would also
distinguish the product more: As it stands, many folks realize that they
could use playing cards for the game, as there are only three roles. But
a full-blow re-release would allow for new art, with rules on every card
(wolves and villagers too!) and could include a lot of advice in the
rules about when to include roles at various population levels. This has
the double benefit of providing an aesthetic value-add while ALSO
seeming somewhat unreproducible to the layman (i.e. it would be hard to
keep track of several new roles with normal playing cards, without a
reference sheet).

Again, while I recognize your (Andy's) experience with the game and
judgment of what's best for it, there's little point in denying
consumers a product they would use, out of "design purity" or some other
ideal. Design for players (and for your company brand recognition), not
for your ideals of 'designery' (FYI, there's a good article in this
months Game Developer magazine about this dichotomy, in the context of
saving computer games in progress--check Gamasutra.com later this
month/next month; they might release it to web).

In short, it would nearly be a new product, like AD&D replacing the
boxed D&D sets; and it would prioritize player desires and Looney Labs
branding, not some ideal of game design.

> OK then, if changing the core product is out, what about releasing a few 
> new characters as either promos or an expansion pack?

I like the idea of Promo Cards with art and a little icon/notation to
indicate at what population level(s) one should introduce the role. It's
fabulous, as it provides a "standard" for that role's play (not common,
from what I've seen) as well as matching the general aesthetic of the
existing standard deck, without a huge investment in reprinting the
whole deck. I imagine you can do promo cards as a form of "full deck"
run at your printer and then break the "decks" up to provide per-card
ordering, ya? Although this makes for a lot of new SKUs, whereas a
re-release just replaces the old SKU.

As a quick aside, isn't there some number-of-cards breakpoint at which
you get better margins per deck? If that's 15, well then it all makes
sense... but if your print provider can make a better breakpoint at,
say, 25 or 30 cards... well, that's money in pocket, yes?

Further--and this is going WAY out on a speculative limb--I think you'd
get more adoption from a HIGHER price point. Yeah, I said it: I have
noticed that folks look at a $4 pack of cards as "competing" with a
booster pack in "CCG X"... and the comparison makes AYAW fall short--it
just doesn't compare to full-color glossy "CCG X" complete with valuable
chase cards. I SUSPECT (i.e. surmise to be true or probable) that the
product would have more "weight" at about an $8 price point... which
means every card less than 30 is extra profits over the current offering
(PLUS any extra gains due to increase per-unit printing volume). I just
feel like folks look at a thin pack at $4 as "gimmicky" while they'd
look at a thicker pack at $8 or $10 as "a full game."

Case in point: Long Live the King *could* have been released as a deck
of eight cards with a little rulebook. It was, instead, released as a
boxed game with heavy cardstock character "portfolios" and (gimmicky)
cardboard coins (i.e. they could easily be replaced with beads or any
other generic unit of currency for gaming). Why did White Wolf choose
that more-expensive product over a very affordable pack of cards? I
suspect (see definition above) that they did some because they know that
they will only sell one set per eight players AND they know that a
"cheap" product is perceived as "low value", whether it is or not.

> Again, the problem here is that I've yet to find a new character which I 
> think it really benefits the game to have added. I've seen the Lovers 
> really ruin the gameplay, and I really don't care for the Little Girl. Even 
> the Vigilante messes up the dynamic for the serious hunter. Given this, I 
> could imagine us doing a promo card or two, but I'm pretty skeptical about 
> an entire packet of new characters.

This surprises me, because having read the "event reports" of the
Princeton Mafia group, it seems that several roles are quite
appropriate--even strategically critical/expansive--at certain
population levels. You mention three roles; what about the 20-odd other
roles on the wiki (or, in general, the ten or so role types)?


Anyhow, glad to hear your input, but perhaps you could give the
re-release further thought in "three years" when you run out of current
stock (Rabbits! Push AYAW!)?

----> From: shadowspeaker88 <shadowspeaker88@xxxxxxxxx>
> well, I have to say this...I've played the game Lupus in Tabula, for those
> of you not familar with that games, it's a werewolf game by Mayfair

This reinforces my point: there's a competing game out there which HAS
those roles... so who would choose the "incomplete" AYAW, assuming both
games are sitting side-by-side on a shelf (yeah, yeah, not likely, here
in America).

----> From: Fred Poutre <cloven-fruit@xxxxxxxx>
> Well, if you want more characters, buy Werewolves of Millers Creek, or Do
> you Worship Culthlu, or Are You a  Pirate, or any of the many other forms
> of the game that already are out there. Then take the blank cards they
> sell for Are You a Werewolf and make your own versions.

And, see? Not only reinforces the above "competitor" point, but even
goes so far as to advise using their blanks for AYAW (i.e. eliminating
brand, I suppose, as one couldn't just add in those blanks, least one
make it obvious who's who).

[Not jumping on you, Fred--just pointing out, through your post, that
the competition is out there and is providing a complete offering.]

Thanks, all;