So you’ve got your map nicely prepped, and you’ve shown your friends here and there. The first time they play your map they love it. But over time as they play your map the experience starts to boil down to a ton of camping tactics and broken gameplay. Sounds like you’ve got your first impression down. Now it is time to look at the lasting impression of your map.
In the same way that Kleenex testing is used to test for your map’s first impression, veteran testing allows you to test your map’s lasting impression. In Kleenex testing you take the time to study how well players orient themselves, learn your map, find incentives, and just how they play in general when they have no knowledge of the map. Veteran testing goes for the opposite approach. If a player knows everything there is to know about your map, then how will that player play your map? Will he stay in his base because he has learned that it is easier to defend the base and he has enough power in the base to overcome everyone that approaches it? Or will that player take control of the top level because it offers him an extremely powerful threat zone that his opponents cannot overcome? In veteran testing you are testing for balance, not for learning. Eye catching, innovation, area introduction, etc. mean nothing in this phase of testing. Incentive weighting, path manipulation, degree of focus, etc. is what you are looking at.
The key to veteran testing is giving your players enough time to learn the map. You can either do this through just playing with these players regularly so that they learn over time or you can pull them to the side and point out every possible thing that may be beneficial to them. Your goal in this phase of testing is making sure your players are well equipped to make the best decisions possible. This is a testing phase that can happen naturally if you playtest your map for a long enough period of time with the same group of friends. Eventually you will start to learn the best spots to play, the best paths to take, the incentives to go for, the deterrents to avoid, etc. Learning as much as you can and ensuring that your players are well informed will be very valuable in this style of testing.
Observe and analyze
Once you ensure that your players know everything there is to know about the map, you can watch them as they play and observe and analyze their decisions. Take the time to see where they spend most of their time, what incentives pull at them more, what deterrents affect them the most, etc. Not only do you want to take the time to notice everything that they are doing and interacting with, but it can also be beneficial to observe what they aren’t doing. After players get used to the map, do they stop using a certain path in their path map? Ask yourself why and take the time to see if you can encourage more players to use that path. Anything that is not used in the map might as well not exist. Who knows, increasing traffic to this path can reduce combat congestion in another path. This is the time you take to analyze every little detail about the gameplay that you possibly can to create a fair and balanced experience for all players involved. So take the time required to study how your map plays in the long run. You won’t regret it.