Did a bit more playtesting of Rainbow Skyscrapers over the weekend, and people seemed to find it fun: lots of cussing and laughter! This was with casual gamers: I haven’t tried it on a hardcore mob yet. (Or with kids.)
Players quite quickly hit on the tactic of placing blocks deliberately wonkily on other players’ towers, to make them likely to fall earlier. Which was nice. And the hand-management aspects were readily apprehended, and not so complex as to induce analysis paralysis.
Tracy came up with a good scoring idea for the situation where no tower falls and everyone uses up all their blocks. In this situation, everyone scores points equal to [the difference in height between their own tower and the tallest tower]. So good play will be rewarded even if it’s not sufficient to bring down a tower.
This no-fall ending is still rather unsatisfying though, because a tower falling is pretty much the payoff of the game. I think I’m just going to have to advise people that if it happens, they should on the next round all take 3 more blocks than before.
(Or perhaps if the game ever gets manufactured, the blocks could be designed to be somewhat irregular, so they don’t stack as well.)
Of course, at the moment it’s unsellable. It breaks Rule #[small_number] of commercial board game design, which is: don’t design something that can be played using only generic components. If it were to be published, it would have to be themed in some way that made the components different from generic coloured wooden blocks. Unfortunately theming is something I’m pretty hopeless at coming up with ideas around, so I might have to hope that the gameplay is fun enough that some publisher will themselves be prepared to take on the job of theming it. (They quite often retheme, anyway, for marketability purposes.)
I would say that this has probably had the most immediate fun factor of any of the games I’ve designed so far. Only taking about 30 seconds to explain the rules probably helps with that.