We played more Death in the Family, my card game about the Machiavellian intrigues of a twisted clan of nobles in a gloomy manor house, this weekend.
Unlike my previous game, Sex Farce, which had an almost perfect game balance right off the bat, this one is proving very difficult to make right. We've playtested it many times, and each session has provided great improvements, but the game still took a good two hours to play, and could have taken longer if there hadn't been a series of murders in the first round. It's quite frustrating to make some changes only to discover that, while they solve the earlier problems, introduce new ones which are just as problematic.
Still, I'm convinced there's a good game in there somewhere. I love the core game mechanic that models the backstabbing, conspiracy, and corruption; it's the stuff around it that tries to bring that mechanic to a full-fledged game that is problematic. If I can get those ironed out, I'm certain it would be a great little game.
As usual, this play session generated a lot of ideas for improvements, but we didn't have time to immediately test those ideas, so I'll have to wait for another time to see if those improvements work. It's a slow process relying on the patience of your friends for playtesting, because, really, no one wants to play a game that drags on forever, even if they know it's playtesting rather than straight-up entertainment. Thankfully, I've got some friends who are patient enough and good-natured enough that they're willing to do it every once in a while. Heh.