Version 1 was just as exciting to make and confusing to play as you’d expect. The good news was that the core ‘Ready/Stare/Bang! /Flashback’ game worked far better than I had anticipated. It built tension and created moments where players had to gamble.
The other good news was that the way ‘Flashback’ cards worked seemed to create their own sense of urgency; a player realised that the more time their opponent was given time to develop their ‘Flashback’ cards, the scarier things got.
Then there were problems – quite a few problems – and unfortunately not all of them were fixed in the next few versions (one was even only fixed in version 5 – and it was a biggie!). The first problem was that there wasn’t enough of a variety of ‘Event’ cards. Whilst this didn’t have too much of an impact initially, it meant players were getting used to roughly what kind of cards to expect. This wouldn’t have been that much of an issue per se if it hadn’t compounded by 2 other bigger problems: duplicated cards and slow cards.
Having multiple different event cards do the exact same thing proved to be something to avoid unless absolutely necessary. If players drew ‘Event’ cards which were the same, it diminished the excitement of drawing them. Furthermore, the card effects I was using repeatedly were ‘slow.’ Slow cards didn’t properly disappear until version 5 (I should have figured out earlier!). A ‘fast’ card, in this instance, means something that resolves and has an immediate effect, such as discarding a card from your opponent’s board. Those cards were fun to play and kept the game engaging on a moment-to-moment basis. ‘Slow’ card, on the other hand, were things like ‘Your first Ready card also counts as a Stare card’. Whilst they were useful from a balance perspective, they made the game feel clunky. If you want a sure-fire way of dispelling tension, making players worry about maintaining the correct board state will certainly work.
Also, I made the cards way too big. I made them in poker size, and that was a mistake. They were impossible to hold with so many cards in your hand (they’re relatively wide), and it needlessly increased the required playing surface. Oops.