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Published on August 11th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich


Dragonflight 36 Recap

132 Hours of Gaming and Playtesting

This was our first year attending Dragonflight, Seattle’s longest-running tabletop convention. For 36 years Dragonflight has featured 3 days devoted to board games and rpgs. Everyone in attendance was there to play hours and hours of games.

We participated in the playtestNW area which was organized by Isaias and David of Game Designer’s Clubhouse. There were 6 tables at the front of the ballroom where designers shared their game in two hour blocks. In total, there were 23 different games being playtested over the 3 day convention and every game saw a lot of action.

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I have never encountered a more eager group of gamers and playtesters before. In my experience at larger cons like PAX and Emerald City Comic Con, getting people to stop and play a 30 minute game is difficult–even with prize incentives. People are running around, meeting friends, heading to panels and many don’t have interest in prototype board games.

At Dragonflight, however, this was not the case. We had playtesters trying multiple games. playtestNW offered many under 30 minute games with little wait time which allowed players to enjoy a couple different games in each 2 hour block. Some playtesters literally went from table to table, playing all that were available and needed more playtesters. For games that did fill up or had playtesters interested in participating, designers would often find a table in the freeplay space and set up a game after their 2 hour block concluded.

Having the designer at the table was also a plus. Playtesters could ask questions,  talk about strategy and instantly provide feedback. The designer could learn, from the questions, frustrations or excitement of the playtester, how to improve or alter their game in the future.

Each playtester who filled out a feedback form after playing a game was entered into a drawing to win free games. The biggest prize of the weekend for me and many participants was connecting designers and gamers together to have a fun experience and to help build better games — which is the core of playtestNW. We are so grateful to all those who stopped by and played games with us over the Dragonflight weekend. Thank you!

Now onto the Games…

We volunteered to spend a few hours Saturday to greet people, share playtestNW’s mission and help gamers find a game to play. We also brought Food Truck Frenzy, our deliciously competitive food truck game that we’ve been developing and testing for 18 months, to playtest in three different time blocks. So we only played a couple of the games at the table:

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Fightin’ Words by Levi Mote and Sara Sharp:

I have a 50/50 track record with liking word games. I dislike playing word games like Scrabble where players compete to build the most complex word. I find that kind of gameplay arduous and boring. I want my word games to be quick and more interactive and that’s exactly what Fightin’ Words did. Players are in the weird west and find themselves in a “spell” slinging duel in the middle of town.

Players have 3 options on their turn: 1) Spell Sling: which is attacking a chosen player with a word spelled from the attacker’s hand. Defending players have the opportunity to play a word in defense to reduce the damage taken. 2) Cursing: a player can choose any 4 letters in their hand to spell a curse though the curse has a 50% chance of back-firing and damaging the attacker. And lastly 3) Quick Draw: a player can challenge another player where each discards their hand, redraws 8 cards and the first to spell a word will attack.

Fightin’ Words favors quick-thinking over complex word chains and also encourages storytelling and using different character abilities to alter the gameplay. I look forward to playing this game more in the future and hopefully, winning my first quick draw challenge.

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Runaway Train by Tim Schutz:

Runaway Train game is a 9-year project by Tim that made its first appearance at Dragonflight. Players are a bunch of crooks who just finished robbing a local town. Instead of a successful getaway, the train cars split and you are speeding back down the mountain where it will crash into the town.

To avoid your just reward, you and the other players will be looking to get your valuable luggage off the train and yourselves before the train crashes. A full game of 4 players is absolute mayhem as everyone tries to bluff, con and muscle their way to gain the most points. The train is going faster at every turn and the greedy players know the luggage counts for more points the later a player waits to throw out their luggage. Runaway Train is a very fun bluffing and gambling game and gave me a lot of laughs even as I missed my exit and plunged into town-losing my entire collection of points in the process.

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Invaluable Experience for Designers

We will definitely be back at Dragonflight next year to share more of our game designs and enjoy a weekend of gaming with passionate gamers. Our first game, Food Truck Frenzy, was well-liked and we had playtesters asking to play our game all weekend. It was the ultimate compliment to have complete strangers excited to play something you created.

We look forward to participating in future playtestNW events and we’ll see all you gamers going to PAX Prime 2015.


About the Author

Nicole Jekich

came from humble beginnings as a Boise suburbanite with a love of Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She attended an open board game day three years ago and is now an avid gamer and fantasy artist. Her interests are primarily in Dungeons & Dragons, dice placement and Roman-themed tabletop games. Nicole is also a fan of playing games that let her release her inner barbarian. Her favorite game currently is Far Space Foundry.

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