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[Board Games] aren't worth playing until you add at least five expansions

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Posts

  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    My local store had a used gathering and sale.
    I sold off Mansions of Madness 2ed, Power Grid, an Arkham LCG expansion still sealed, and Crypt (a KS backup) and made 105$.

    It was an odd feeling seeing tables full of peoples' regrets. I saw two Twilight Imperiums, one 7th Continent and 1 KDM. I left with the new Arboretum, which will be a gift for someone. Not today, Satan. Not today.

    3DS Friendcode 5413-1311-3767
    Ringo
  • Ah_PookAh_Pook Registered User regular
    Just because you sell a game doesn't mean you regret buying it. I sell plenty of stuff that I quite like and am glad to have played (and never would have had the chance to play if I hadn't bought it).

    Pancho needs your prayers it's true
    But save a few for Lefty too
    ArcSynJustTeeIvellius
  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    Yeah, I've traded away a few games I loved but just couldn't get others to play. I am keeping a few as well and try to justify it by forcing it at least once a year.

    OSvv7zs.pngjswidget.php?username=ArcSyn&numitems=5&header=0&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=center&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    edited January 7
    Ah_Pook wrote: »
    Just because you sell a game doesn't mean you regret buying it. I sell plenty of stuff that I quite like and am glad to have played (and never would have had the chance to play if I hadn't bought it).

    Very true. Sellers had a variety of reasons for selling them and regrets were not always one of them.

    Oh all three of those sales were my regrets, I assure you :bigfrown:

    Selling Power Grid broke my heart because it is very very good but is mentally painful for me to play. I with the people around me and I had the right kind of brain for it. But when it left me too fried to continue an all day gaming event midway though, I knew I would never play it again.

    Cantido on
    3DS Friendcode 5413-1311-3767
  • Vann DirasVann Diras Registered User regular
    we got in the first two chapters of betrayal legacy last night, plus the prologue

    the opening of that game is delicious and evil and I loved it.

    Kristmas KthulhuCustom SpecialElvenshaeRingoAuralynxcrimsoncoyoteVisskarAstaerethwebguy20GnizmoIvellius
  • EpimerEpimer Registered User regular
    edited January 8
    Got a couple of Kickstarters in the post recently.

    CO2: Second Chance is a pretty heavy co-op if played in that mode (we didn't try the competitive variant) and is quite good. I like the systems and I like the intricacies, but I think it's more nakedly a big solvable optimisation puzzle than some other co-ops ( Spirit Island immediately comes to mind). That's fine, I'll be in the mood for that sometimes, but I suspect it's not going to be up there with my favourite co-ops in the long term.

    On the other hand, the wind farm and solar power station meeples are awesome.

    The other is Arkon, which is terrible. It cost 9 euros or something so I didn't scrutinise it too closely during the campaign, as I like having lighter self-contained small box card games for traveling.

    But it's really bad. It's an auction game lightly dressed up in a generic fantasy theme, but there's a very small number of different cards and the gameplay loop is really shallow and unsatisfying. The choice of theme is a bit weird because it immediately makes you think that it might be something meaty, whereas a more frivolous theme might suit the lightweight mechanics better. I dunno.

    Overall it feels like one of those games that's been designed by someone who doesn't play very many games.

    Epimer on
  • Mr. GMr. G Registered User regular
    apparently a new version of Fury of Dracula just came out, I was not aware they were gonna keep going with that, I thought it was being lost to time

    6F32U1X.png
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    Mr. G wrote: »
    apparently a new version of Fury of Dracula just came out, I was not aware they were gonna keep going with that, I thought it was being lost to time

    I see the 4th edition is being published by WizKids, not FFG.

    wpyz0Y5.png
    Gamertag: PrimusD | Rock Band DLC | GW:OttW - arrcd | WLD - Thortar
  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Mr. G wrote: »
    apparently a new version of Fury of Dracula just came out, I was not aware they were gonna keep going with that, I thought it was being lost to time

    It's owned by GW so people figured when FFG lost the license that meant it was dead, but GW got back into making games and licensing stuff out so WizKids has it now.

  • BedlamBedlam Registered User regular
    Wait, wizkids still exist?

    Steam
    IntroGiant#1396 on HearthStone
    Hearthstone referal so I can get Morgl
    Draeven
  • Ah_PookAh_Pook Registered User regular
    Wizkids had been putting out a bunch of cool stuff lately. Seal team flix, sidereal confluence, etc.

    Also, I'm pretty sure FoD 4th is the same as 3rd. They're listed as the same entry on bgg.

    Pancho needs your prayers it's true
    But save a few for Lefty too
  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    Sidereal Confluence published by WizKids feels like such an oxymoron.

    OSvv7zs.pngjswidget.php?username=ArcSyn&numitems=5&header=0&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=center&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
  • QuantumTurkQuantumTurk Registered User regular
    ArcSyn wrote: »
    Sidereal Confluence published by WizKids feels like such an oxymoron.

    And the art isn't there, but man oh man is that one of our fave games ever.

    DarricDirtmuncher
  • ArcticLancerArcticLancer Best served chilled. Registered User regular
    I recall Wizkids also published The Expanse game. It felt exactly as cheap as I expected. <_<

  • MrBodyMrBody Registered User regular
    I recall Wizkids also published The Expanse game. It felt exactly as cheap as I expected. <_<

    At this point, I would take $30 cheap cardboard games compared to the glut of overproduced $90-$200+ crap we have now.

    ArcSyn
  • MrBodyMrBody Registered User regular
    Speaking of which, I looked into Big Trouble in Little China after hearing so much praise for it. A hundred bucks!!!

    It looked kind of interesting, but I read through the manual and I had to stop 3 times it was giving me a headache. 40 pages to explain something that shouldn't be any more complex than Arkham Horror. Mostly because of the action die system. It seemed to add a ton of unnecessary complexity to the whole thing, like you're playing Arkham Horror but also rolling the Elder Sign dice for actions every turn. Most of the manual headaches came from trying to sort the die rules out, and it didn't seem like it added anything that over a simple action system.

  • admanbadmanb the bored genie Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    MrBody wrote: »
    I recall Wizkids also published The Expanse game. It felt exactly as cheap as I expected. <_<

    At this point, I would take $30 cheap cardboard games compared to the glut of overproduced $90-$200+ crap we have now.

    The MSRP on The Expanse was $50, so...

  • AmarylAmaryl Registered User regular
    Played a few games of bloodrage over the holidays with my siblings and parents, I like it but there's a pretty big power-gap between cards, and the game only started to get competitive when most people understood the variety of cards available. So that drafting in our later games became more balanced and produced a more mishmash of strategies, and the person playing: Hey please kill me and give me your rage didn't keep winning by miles and miles.



  • JustTeeJustTee Registered User regular
    Amaryl wrote: »
    Played a few games of bloodrage over the holidays with my siblings and parents, I like it but there's a pretty big power-gap between cards, and the game only started to get competitive when most people understood the variety of cards available. So that drafting in our later games became more balanced and produced a more mishmash of strategies, and the person playing: Hey please kill me and give me your rage didn't keep winning by miles and miles.

    Blood Rage is one of my favorite dudes on a map / area control games, but this is definitely the weakest point. Until you see how the various strategies pay off in round 3, it's hard to envision the value of the various cards. Plus, until someone pulls off a convincing Yggdrasil pillage control over a couple of rounds, it's hard to see how to stop the Loki/suicide strategy. But man, when everything really comes together in that game....*chef kiss*. It's one of the major disappointments I had about rising sun. It had that same level of table experience requirement, and not nearly the amount of pay off at the end.

    Diagnosed with AML on 6/1/12. Read about it: www.effleukemia.com
    Powerpuppies
  • Mr. GMr. G Registered User regular
    This weekend I'm finally going to get to begin the Pandemic Legacy campaign that I bought in October

    I don't even know what's in the FIRST box! what if it makes it an entirely new game! what if it's just about public transportation now!

    6F32U1X.png
    Mojo_JojoCaptainPeacockHahnsoo1ArcSynDarkPrimusVyolyncecrimsoncoyoteElvenshaeFishmanFryAstaerethRickRudeRingo
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo But do you really believe him? Registered User regular
    Mr. G wrote: »
    This weekend I'm finally going to get to begin the Pandemic Legacy campaign that I bought in October

    I don't even know what's in the FIRST box! what if it makes it an entirely new game! what if it's just about public transportation now!

    It's a medieval farming simulation

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
    Hahnsoo1VyolyncemysticjuicerElvenshaeFryIvellius
  • CaptainPeacockCaptainPeacock Board Game Hoarder Top o' the LakeRegistered User regular
    Mr. G wrote: »
    This weekend I'm finally going to get to begin the Pandemic Legacy campaign that I bought in October

    I don't even know what's in the FIRST box! what if it makes it an entirely new game! what if it's just about public transportation now!

    Buckle up.

    Cluck cluck, gibber gibber, my old man's a mushroom, etc.
    Hahnsoo1VyolynceFishmanRingo
  • MrBodyMrBody Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Mr. G wrote: »
    This weekend I'm finally going to get to begin the Pandemic Legacy campaign that I bought in October

    I don't even know what's in the FIRST box! what if it makes it an entirely new game! what if it's just about public transportation now!

    It's a medieval farming simulation

    You're thinking of Seafall.

    Ivellius
  • JonBobJonBob Registered User regular
    I finally got a chance to try The Quacks of Quedlinburg last night. It was amazing fun. I'm a sucker for push-your-luck in general, and this game gives enough control of affecting probabilities to really give the system teeth.

    The basic idea is that each player has a bag of chips in a variety of suits and denominations. At the beginning, most of your chips are "cherry bombs" but you will have a chance to gain more chips in other suits as the game progresses. Players simultaneously draw chips from their bag, one at a time, and add them to their own "pot" track, advancing them as many spaces past the last chip as the value of the chip they drew. Then the player gets to stop or keep drawing. The farther you advance before you stop, the more money and points you get. But if you draw cherry bombs totaling 8 or more, you have an "explosion," must stop and only get money or points, not both.

    The money you then spend to buy more chips for your bag. And each suit has its own special power; some might move farther depending on other drawn chips, or give you bonuses depending on what your neighbors drew, or increase the explosion threshold. These are also variable from game to game.

    The MSRP is too high, right now, but it went on my wishlist right away.

    jswidget.php?username=JonBob&numitems=10&header=1&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=right&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
  • Ah_PookAh_Pook Registered User regular
    I thought QoQ looked really fun but either too lucky for how involved it is or too involved for how lucky it is. I want to try it.

    Pancho needs your prayers it's true
    But save a few for Lefty too
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Finally got around to playing my copy of Coma Ward from the kickstarter. It feels like a decent game hampered by seemingly obvious design flaws.

    It's basically Betrayal without the random house layout. You've got a map with blank rooms which get populated out of a deck of room tiles as you explore them, which prevents the Betrayal problem where room layouts can dramatically impact the haunt portion of the game by making the overall geometry of the map the same between games. Rather than Betrayal's various Item, Event, and Omen decks it's got Hallucinations and Items. Every time you go into a room you roll some dice and either get an item or a hallucination. The item deck has Clue cards in it and once you've found 3 clues you get one of the Haunt-equivalent 'Phenomenon's based on the order of the clues you found. The Phenomena all come in individual tuckboxes, each with a sheet of flavor text and rules and whatever special components are necessary. This approach beats the pants off Betrayal's "flip through books, go read them separately, and then dig through the box for the chits you need" approach. Information that's individual to players is preserved (at least in the scenario I played) by putting it on a card that that player gets. Nobody has to leave the room and try to puzzle through the rules on their own.

    The writing is decent. The Hallucinations play a bit like the Crossroads cards from Dead of Winter in that you have some introductory text and then some number of choices, all read to you by the player on your left. There are numerous copies of the 'same' Hallucination with different outcomes so you can't game the system by memorizing which is the good choice.

    But there are so. many. problems.

    Making the item deck both the item deck and the forcing function for the transition between game phases is an obvious one. There's no setup step to put the clues in different parts of the deck, so you could get clues as your first 3 draws or your last 3 draws from the deck. And with 50ish cards in the deck, that's a lot of variance in length. After getting through half the deck without a single clue (having at that point entirely explore the hospital) we called an audible and shuffled 3 clues into the top 10 cards of the deck so we could get on with it already.

    It's too hard to get cards. You roll a Focus check either when entering a new room or when rummaging for an item in an already-explored room. A Focus check is between 1 and 5 d6. A roll of 5 or 6 is a success, 1-3 is a failure, and 4 is 'reroll + reroll one more'. But you need 3+ successes to draw an item card. The number of dice you roll is based on your Terror level, which tends to go up as the game goes on. Once your Terror is high enough that you're rolling 2 dice it's literally impossible to succeed and the odds of getting 3+ successes on 4 or even 5 dice are too low. Failing the roll is fine in that it triggers a Hallucination, which is where most of the flavor and interest in the pre-Phenomenon game comes from, but getting one means, usually, not getting an item. And every turn when you don't get an item is a turn when you're not progressing the game toward the second phase by getting the 3 clues.

    There are several rooms with the same broken mechanic. You enter the room and some foul thing (crazy doctor, evil baby, whatever) appears and begins chasing you. There's no way to eliminate the creatures except by transitioning into the Phenomenon phase, at which point they despawn, and no way to protect yourself except to stay away. Except that thanks to the fixed map it's extremely difficult to be more than 2 spaces away from a monster while being on the same floor. And with the monsters generally doing both physical and terror damage, and both of those impacting your stats, encountering them is extremely painful.

    A fundamental mechanism of the game is that you have a Neurosis whose effect is tied to your Terror level. At the lowest (0-1) and highest (4-5) levels of Terror they come with built-in mechanisms to lower Terror but in the mid-range 2-3 Terror level you're left to hoping to find items that lower Terror. They're not terribly uncommon but with how hard it is to successfully get an item they're uncommon enough. Your Neurosis has a secondary form with different effects accessed by lowering Terror to 0 and then doing whatever the low-Terror lowering mechanic is. If you can pull this off in the first couple of turns you're fine, but if your Terror gets above 1 you're unlikely to ever flip it to the other side. So you're generally not going to experience one side of the card or the other, which doesn't seem like the intended experience.

    The Phenomenon scenario we played didn't seem to have any meaningful choices for us to make. It was essentially a race where two players needed to reach a 3rd then all get to a point while the other 2 players tried to stop them. But there's no mechanism for blocking movement or any opportunity attack mechanic to discourage moving through a space. The distance you can move at full health is most of the way across the map while the distance you move at low health is minimal. So it was a matter of "everyone runs to the same room on the first turn, then who does damage the fastest". And since the victory conditions required one of the players on the 3-player side get to the goal, both players on the other side were free to focus attacks on them while the 3 had to try to strike both of the others down fast enough to stop them killing the required character.

    So I'll give the game another shot after some serious thought about how to house-rule the Prologue portion into working properly in the hopes of seeing better scenarios but it's disappointing how little effort seems to have gone into playtesting considering the quite nice components and decent writing.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    ElvenshaeFryAstaerethMahnmut
  • MNC DoverMNC Dover Game Designer/Stay-at-home Dad Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Oh man, after a long talk with the wife....ANOTHER REDESIGN INBOUND! While it's frustrating doing all these concepts, I'd rather rework it now and make it the best came possible. So, uh...version 1.2 in the works? Or do I go straight to 2.0?

    Twitch Page
    Hearthstone: mncdover#1994
    Nintendo Network ID: MNC.Dover
    3DS: 1934-0659-5183
    Steam ID
    ElvenshaeGvzbgulDraeven
  • JonBobJonBob Registered User regular
    If you're iterating this much this quickly (which is good), you're probably not to 1.0 yet :)

    jswidget.php?username=JonBob&numitems=10&header=1&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=right&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
    MNC DoverElvenshaeArcticLancer38thDoeNipsFryPolaritieDraeven
  • initiatefailureinitiatefailure Registered User regular
    yeah I only have graphic design experience but from experience in that process- don't get stressed out by all the changes and new versions. It's definitely a good thing and as you keep making them they'll start to be more time in between as you really lock in the good parts until you're eventually just nitpicking the little details

    I Do Design | I PSN- Subtle_Ties | 3DS: 3840-5210-2008 (Subtle)
    MNC Dover
  • ArcticLancerArcticLancer Best served chilled. Registered User regular
    I mean, naming structure is sort of up to you, but conventionally going from 1.X to 2.X ought to indicate some major changes. But that shit is pretty informal anyway, so ... :P

    Elvenshae
  • MNC DoverMNC Dover Game Designer/Stay-at-home Dad Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Oh yeah, I'm just having fun with it. Not really to 1.0 to be honest.

    But we've strayed pretty far away from the initial Worker Placement meets StarCraft theme and steering the ship back that way.

    Twitch Page
    Hearthstone: mncdover#1994
    Nintendo Network ID: MNC.Dover
    3DS: 1934-0659-5183
    Steam ID
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    I got 7 Wonders, Carcassonne, and Forbidden Desert over the holidays and have played several games of Carcassonne. I like it and am planning on picking up some expansions. Any recommendations on which ones to get first?

    I also finally had a chance to play Evolution. It was pretty good, but I think it is a game that will play either better or a lot worse on a subsequent playthrough.

    Ivellius
  • Ah_PookAh_Pook Registered User regular
    Gets inns and cathedrals and then stop

    Pancho needs your prayers it's true
    But save a few for Lefty too
    ArcticLancerEl Mucho
  • QuantumTurkQuantumTurk Registered User regular
    edited January 9
    Ah_Pook wrote: »
    Gets inns and cathedrals and then stop

    Disagree, builders and traders is also really good. Then stop. (Also inns and cathedrals can be wayyyy to swingy sometimes)

    But ignore the pig, it makes farms too good usually.

    QuantumTurk on
  • El FantasticoEl Fantastico Toronto, ONRegistered User regular
    JonBob wrote: »
    I finally got a chance to try The Quacks of Quedlinburg last night.

    Your write-up of the game actually makes it sound interesting to me, and I'm not usually big on push-your-luck games, but it sounds like that's mostly in the player's control. It's a shame the name of the game is what it is because it really doesn't make it sound interesting at all. On the name alone, I dismissed it as a kid's game with possibly obscure rules and terminology because the game designer thought it would be make their game sound more intellectual.
    Finally got around to playing my copy of Coma Ward.

    I saw a retail copy of the game at a local shop where I had some store credit and I was considering it. Pity about the problems in the game design. Doesn't sound like there's much to do about that short of house-ruling some fixes. Hopefully the next run of the game turns out a bit better.

    akyxa17p3s5g.png
    PSN: TheArcadeBear
    Steam: TheArcadeBear

  • ArcSynArcSyn Registered User regular
    Finally got around to playing my copy of Coma Ward from the kickstarter. It feels like a decent game hampered by seemingly obvious design flaws.

    It's basically Betrayal without the random house layout. You've got a map with blank rooms which get populated out of a deck of room tiles as you explore them, which prevents the Betrayal problem where room layouts can dramatically impact the haunt portion of the game by making the overall geometry of the map the same between games. Rather than Betrayal's various Item, Event, and Omen decks it's got Hallucinations and Items. Every time you go into a room you roll some dice and either get an item or a hallucination. The item deck has Clue cards in it and once you've found 3 clues you get one of the Haunt-equivalent 'Phenomenon's based on the order of the clues you found. The Phenomena all come in individual tuckboxes, each with a sheet of flavor text and rules and whatever special components are necessary. This approach beats the pants off Betrayal's "flip through books, go read them separately, and then dig through the box for the chits you need" approach. Information that's individual to players is preserved (at least in the scenario I played) by putting it on a card that that player gets. Nobody has to leave the room and try to puzzle through the rules on their own.

    The writing is decent. The Hallucinations play a bit like the Crossroads cards from Dead of Winter in that you have some introductory text and then some number of choices, all read to you by the player on your left. There are numerous copies of the 'same' Hallucination with different outcomes so you can't game the system by memorizing which is the good choice.

    But there are so. many. problems.

    Making the item deck both the item deck and the forcing function for the transition between game phases is an obvious one. There's no setup step to put the clues in different parts of the deck, so you could get clues as your first 3 draws or your last 3 draws from the deck. And with 50ish cards in the deck, that's a lot of variance in length. After getting through half the deck without a single clue (having at that point entirely explore the hospital) we called an audible and shuffled 3 clues into the top 10 cards of the deck so we could get on with it already.

    It's too hard to get cards. You roll a Focus check either when entering a new room or when rummaging for an item in an already-explored room. A Focus check is between 1 and 5 d6. A roll of 5 or 6 is a success, 1-3 is a failure, and 4 is 'reroll + reroll one more'. But you need 3+ successes to draw an item card. The number of dice you roll is based on your Terror level, which tends to go up as the game goes on. Once your Terror is high enough that you're rolling 2 dice it's literally impossible to succeed and the odds of getting 3+ successes on 4 or even 5 dice are too low. Failing the roll is fine in that it triggers a Hallucination, which is where most of the flavor and interest in the pre-Phenomenon game comes from, but getting one means, usually, not getting an item. And every turn when you don't get an item is a turn when you're not progressing the game toward the second phase by getting the 3 clues.

    There are several rooms with the same broken mechanic. You enter the room and some foul thing (crazy doctor, evil baby, whatever) appears and begins chasing you. There's no way to eliminate the creatures except by transitioning into the Phenomenon phase, at which point they despawn, and no way to protect yourself except to stay away. Except that thanks to the fixed map it's extremely difficult to be more than 2 spaces away from a monster while being on the same floor. And with the monsters generally doing both physical and terror damage, and both of those impacting your stats, encountering them is extremely painful.

    A fundamental mechanism of the game is that you have a Neurosis whose effect is tied to your Terror level. At the lowest (0-1) and highest (4-5) levels of Terror they come with built-in mechanisms to lower Terror but in the mid-range 2-3 Terror level you're left to hoping to find items that lower Terror. They're not terribly uncommon but with how hard it is to successfully get an item they're uncommon enough. Your Neurosis has a secondary form with different effects accessed by lowering Terror to 0 and then doing whatever the low-Terror lowering mechanic is. If you can pull this off in the first couple of turns you're fine, but if your Terror gets above 1 you're unlikely to ever flip it to the other side. So you're generally not going to experience one side of the card or the other, which doesn't seem like the intended experience.

    The Phenomenon scenario we played didn't seem to have any meaningful choices for us to make. It was essentially a race where two players needed to reach a 3rd then all get to a point while the other 2 players tried to stop them. But there's no mechanism for blocking movement or any opportunity attack mechanic to discourage moving through a space. The distance you can move at full health is most of the way across the map while the distance you move at low health is minimal. So it was a matter of "everyone runs to the same room on the first turn, then who does damage the fastest". And since the victory conditions required one of the players on the 3-player side get to the goal, both players on the other side were free to focus attacks on them while the 3 had to try to strike both of the others down fast enough to stop them killing the required character.

    So I'll give the game another shot after some serious thought about how to house-rule the Prologue portion into working properly in the hopes of seeing better scenarios but it's disappointing how little effort seems to have gone into playtesting considering the quite nice components and decent writing.

    From your description and complaint, I would probably make the following house rules, not knowing much else about it.

    1: Split deck into 4. Add and shuffle clues to 3, stack them on top of 4th. Similar to Pandemic handling of epidemics.

    2: Always gain an item in a room the first time you enter, roll to avoid hallucinations.

    OSvv7zs.pngjswidget.php?username=ArcSyn&numitems=5&header=0&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=center&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    ArcSyn wrote: »
    Finally got around to playing my copy of Coma Ward from the kickstarter. It feels like a decent game hampered by seemingly obvious design flaws.

    It's basically Betrayal without the random house layout. You've got a map with blank rooms which get populated out of a deck of room tiles as you explore them, which prevents the Betrayal problem where room layouts can dramatically impact the haunt portion of the game by making the overall geometry of the map the same between games. Rather than Betrayal's various Item, Event, and Omen decks it's got Hallucinations and Items. Every time you go into a room you roll some dice and either get an item or a hallucination. The item deck has Clue cards in it and once you've found 3 clues you get one of the Haunt-equivalent 'Phenomenon's based on the order of the clues you found. The Phenomena all come in individual tuckboxes, each with a sheet of flavor text and rules and whatever special components are necessary. This approach beats the pants off Betrayal's "flip through books, go read them separately, and then dig through the box for the chits you need" approach. Information that's individual to players is preserved (at least in the scenario I played) by putting it on a card that that player gets. Nobody has to leave the room and try to puzzle through the rules on their own.

    The writing is decent. The Hallucinations play a bit like the Crossroads cards from Dead of Winter in that you have some introductory text and then some number of choices, all read to you by the player on your left. There are numerous copies of the 'same' Hallucination with different outcomes so you can't game the system by memorizing which is the good choice.

    But there are so. many. problems.

    Making the item deck both the item deck and the forcing function for the transition between game phases is an obvious one. There's no setup step to put the clues in different parts of the deck, so you could get clues as your first 3 draws or your last 3 draws from the deck. And with 50ish cards in the deck, that's a lot of variance in length. After getting through half the deck without a single clue (having at that point entirely explore the hospital) we called an audible and shuffled 3 clues into the top 10 cards of the deck so we could get on with it already.

    It's too hard to get cards. You roll a Focus check either when entering a new room or when rummaging for an item in an already-explored room. A Focus check is between 1 and 5 d6. A roll of 5 or 6 is a success, 1-3 is a failure, and 4 is 'reroll + reroll one more'. But you need 3+ successes to draw an item card. The number of dice you roll is based on your Terror level, which tends to go up as the game goes on. Once your Terror is high enough that you're rolling 2 dice it's literally impossible to succeed and the odds of getting 3+ successes on 4 or even 5 dice are too low. Failing the roll is fine in that it triggers a Hallucination, which is where most of the flavor and interest in the pre-Phenomenon game comes from, but getting one means, usually, not getting an item. And every turn when you don't get an item is a turn when you're not progressing the game toward the second phase by getting the 3 clues.

    There are several rooms with the same broken mechanic. You enter the room and some foul thing (crazy doctor, evil baby, whatever) appears and begins chasing you. There's no way to eliminate the creatures except by transitioning into the Phenomenon phase, at which point they despawn, and no way to protect yourself except to stay away. Except that thanks to the fixed map it's extremely difficult to be more than 2 spaces away from a monster while being on the same floor. And with the monsters generally doing both physical and terror damage, and both of those impacting your stats, encountering them is extremely painful.

    A fundamental mechanism of the game is that you have a Neurosis whose effect is tied to your Terror level. At the lowest (0-1) and highest (4-5) levels of Terror they come with built-in mechanisms to lower Terror but in the mid-range 2-3 Terror level you're left to hoping to find items that lower Terror. They're not terribly uncommon but with how hard it is to successfully get an item they're uncommon enough. Your Neurosis has a secondary form with different effects accessed by lowering Terror to 0 and then doing whatever the low-Terror lowering mechanic is. If you can pull this off in the first couple of turns you're fine, but if your Terror gets above 1 you're unlikely to ever flip it to the other side. So you're generally not going to experience one side of the card or the other, which doesn't seem like the intended experience.

    The Phenomenon scenario we played didn't seem to have any meaningful choices for us to make. It was essentially a race where two players needed to reach a 3rd then all get to a point while the other 2 players tried to stop them. But there's no mechanism for blocking movement or any opportunity attack mechanic to discourage moving through a space. The distance you can move at full health is most of the way across the map while the distance you move at low health is minimal. So it was a matter of "everyone runs to the same room on the first turn, then who does damage the fastest". And since the victory conditions required one of the players on the 3-player side get to the goal, both players on the other side were free to focus attacks on them while the 3 had to try to strike both of the others down fast enough to stop them killing the required character.

    So I'll give the game another shot after some serious thought about how to house-rule the Prologue portion into working properly in the hopes of seeing better scenarios but it's disappointing how little effort seems to have gone into playtesting considering the quite nice components and decent writing.

    From your description and complaint, I would probably make the following house rules, not knowing much else about it.

    1: Split deck into 4. Add and shuffle clues to 3, stack them on top of 4th. Similar to Pandemic handling of epidemics.

    2: Always gain an item in a room the first time you enter, roll to avoid hallucinations.

    That was pretty much my thinking. There are actually 4 clue cards so I was going to count the number of room spaces and shuffle them into 1/4ths of 1.25 times that many item cards (I'm fairly certain there are more item cards than it's possible to draw without invoking the "if there is nothing else you can do you can re-rummage an already rummaged room" rule). Probably also make the various monsters just do their damage to the person who encounters them and then disappear rather than standing around keeping people from accessing parts of the map.

    There's a line in the rulebook about how you should feel free to modify the rules on the fly to improve the experience. Having now played the game I think I agree with the commentators on boardgamegeek who called that an excuse for their poorly-tested rule set.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
    FryAuralynxIvellius
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    I see that excuse rolled out a lot in tabletop and boardgames and 90% of the time it seems to be used as a way of wallpapering over problems brought about because the designers haven't done enough testing to refine their game so it has the expected outcomes or they can't be bothered to make sure the probability/math underlying their game works. 10% of the time it comes with some additional guidance, reasoning, and explanations for why and how you can modify things. Either way it is a huge red flag and makes me approach the game with a good degree of skepticism.

    JonBobFrymysticjuicerIvellius
  • FryFry Registered User regular
    edited January 10
    I have a personal policy of not backing Kickstarters if they don't have full rules to read. And any mention of "just change the rules to make it more fun" is a serious red flag. It's the designer's job to figure out what should be most fun, dangit!

    Fry on
    mysticjuicerPolaritieElvenshaeadmanb
  • CaedwyrCaedwyr Registered User regular
    It also adds a huge barrier to less experienced players who are going to have a lot less fun since they won't know what should be changed or gentleman's agreements required to make the game run smoothly.

    Its generally just a waste of time and money when there are so many other good games out there.

    FryElvenshaeCptHamilton
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