Season 8 Preview: Season Structure and Playtesting League Explained

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Welcome, Astronauts, War Heroes, Olympians, and future World Champions, to the IACP Science Division! There’s thousands of tests performed every day here in our enrichment modules, and I can’t personally oversee every one of them, so this pre-recorded article will cover any questions you might have and respond to any incidents that may occur in the course of your science adventure. Your testing experiences will vary depending on the manner in which you have bent the metagame to your will. Don’t worry though, you’re not in the control group, you’ll be testing the real actual IACP cards, 100%! I’ll be honest, we’re throwing science at the wall here to see what sticks.

*The Steering Committee has informed me that I should not have mentioned the control group. They’re telling me I should stop making this article into an obscure video game parody from 2011, which reminds me, write more obscure video game parodies! I make all the card images for this project, I can talk about the control group all damn day!

That’s right, I’m doubling down on this joke, much like this card.

I know you’re all extra excited to get out there and start testing, but before you do that, I want to explain a few things about how Seasons and the public playtesting structure works here at IACP. Each season is comprised of a combination of brand new cards, existing cards that have been redesigned and rebalanced, and existing cards that have just had points adjusted.

The goal is that once a card goes through the 4-month public playtesting phase and gets approved at the end through a community vote, the card will remain unchanged for as long as possible. Sometimes though we do go back and adjust cards that were approved several seasons ago, like Saska, or like Bossk here. You’ll notice that he’s already got his IACP approved card frame, because we’re just re-costing him from 8 points to 7. Additionally, we’re also re-costing his Command card from 2 points to 1, which originally had been untouched by IACP. We generally try to avoid updating a figure’s command card if we believe it’s already functional, but in this case we thought that making Bossk’s command card more playable with a points change would help to make him feel more new to players while making minimal adjustments to both cards.

Here at IACP, we love to test! Science isn’t about why, it’s about WHY NOT! Why did we let the community create a card that costs 4 and can deal damage to every figure on the board? Well why NOT MARRY safe card design if you love it so much! We don’t have time for safety, there’s Science to be done.

The main process of playtesting cards for IACP is to test, iterate, and repeat. We do that by releasing slight tweaks and updates to cards periodically throughout the playtesting period, which will last from April 24th to September 1st. Hey look at that, we have a schedule! That’s right, we’re professionals, and we’ve developed a timetable for when cards will receive updates after a set amount of time during the playtest period. This set schedule helps players to know exactly when cards will get updated so there’s no guesswork or feelings of uncertainty. Each update will be announced on the IACP main site and implemented into Vassal and the Tabletop Admiral list-builder ASAP.

Important Dates for Season 8

  • 8.0 and Public Playtesting Begins – April 24th
  • 8.1 changes – May 29th
  • 8.2 changes – June 26th
  • 8.3 changes – July 31st
  • Community Final Approval Voting – Aug 21 – Sept 1 (final day to vote)

The Playtest League

Now that we’ve gotten the schedule out of the way, I’m sure you’re wondering how you can get involved and help us test these new cards to make sure they are as fun and balanced as possible. The best way you can do that is by entering the playtest league. This will pair you up against a new player each week with whom you’ll have a week to schedule your game online. Games are played using the Vassal client, and you’ll contact your opponent through our Discord channel, linked at the top of the main page of this site. This is not a competitive league. Players are allowed to enter and drop from the league at any time. Players are also required to include at least 1 card from Season 8 in their lists, which for this season cannot just be only Technician training or one of the existing Deployments that only had the Technician trait added.

And of course, playtesting games don’t have to be from the playtesting league! You can just play random games against people using the new cards, and that can be on Vassal or Tabletop Simulator or even in real life with printed cards! We’ll have printable sheets for all the playtest cards this season that you can print out to play against your friends at home or the game store. Further down I’ll talk about how you can report the results of games that aren’t played on Vassal.

Randomized Map Picker

Something that we’re bringing back for this season’s Playtest League is the Random Map Picker Wheel! We want these cards to be tested in a wide variety of different conditions, not just the 3 maps that are legal at the time. However, not every map that’s ever been released is actually conducive to a fair or competitive game of skirmish, some are just too wacky or poorly designed. So we’ve collected many of the best maps in the game onto this Picker Wheel. Both players can either opt to play one of the current tournament maps or spin the wheel. Additionally, each player gets one veto on a Picker Wheel map selection, to mitigate people from being forced to play on a map or mission they don’t like or that is extremely unfavorable for them.

Submitting your Testing Data for Analysis

Of course after you’ve played a game against someone, it’s very important that we collect the data from that game so we can analyze how each card is performing in an actual mission. The main way we do this is through Vassal’s game log feature. As long as you remember to begin a logfile before each game and end the logfile before closing Vassal, you’ll have a nice compact .vlog file that you can upload to our public Dropbox, which is also linked at the top of the main site for your convenience. These logfiles are invaluable as it lets us review games move-by-move to see exactly how cards play out in real gameplay.

After each playtest game, if you properly saved and uploaded your vassal logfile to the Dropbox, there will be cake! And then you will be baked.

Results and Feedback Submission Form

Now of course sometimes players forget to save a log, or a technical glitch prevents a log from saving. Or maybe you played a game on something other than Vassal, like Tabletop Simulator or even a real life table! In cases like this, I’ve created a short Google Form that you can fill out for both players to provide information about your lists, the mission played, and several other parameters such as Initiative, Deployment Zones, etc. There’s also a field at the bottom to include any comments or feedback you have about the cards, so even if you already submitted a game log for your game, you can fill out one of these forms if you want to send us some feedback directly without posting it publicly.

If you don’t have a Vassal log file to submit for your playtest game, we highly request that you fill out one of these forms for our data collection purposes. Otherwise, it’s pretty much as if your game never happened if nobody knows about it but you and your opponent. The link for the Feedback Form will also be placed prominently at the top of the main website to make it easy for people to find once the playtesting period begins on April 24th.

Remember, if IACP gives you Lemons, don’t make lemonnade! Make us take the lemons back! Get Mad! Say “I don’t want your damn lemons, what am I supposed to do with these!?” Demand to see our Manager. Make us rue the day we thought we could give you lemons. Get your engineers to design combustible lemons and use them to burn…

*Yeah, uh-huh… Yeah I know the article’s late… No it’s not… okay fine, no more Portal references.

We make it Our Business to make sure these cards are properly tested and balanced. We’re not banging rocks together over here.

Congrautlations! The simple fact that you are still reading this pre-recorded article means you’ve made a glorious contribution to Science! I thank you for your participation and hope we can count on you for another round of tests. We’re not going to release this stuff into the wild until it’s good and damn ready. So long as you keep yourself in top skirmish-playing form, there will always be another Season of IACP playtesting waiting for you.

-TVboy Johnson. We’re done here.

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