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Is Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons the Best Comic Book Game?

MB Updated May 22, 2020
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Is Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons the Best Comic Book Game?

Game Information

2 - 5
There Will Be Games

Hark, the Golden Age of Prospero Hall is in full swing.

On the cover, five women (including two non-white characters) are posed in fairly realistic fighting gear, ready to defend the matriarchal island of Themiscyra in an outstanding co-op design from those amazing designers at Prospero Hall, working under the Ravensburger banner. I think it’s a big deal - Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons is the first fantasy adventure game (and in some ways, war game)  that I can think of that features an all-female cast of characters. There’s not a token Steve Trevor player and Superman, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t even exist in this DC Comics licensed design.  The sole male presence is Ares, the evil god of war. Men just don’t figure into this, except for the one interloper looking to despoil the Amazons’ paradise.

It’s such a beautifully made game, as you’ll see unpacking it to the table. The Hero cards, which the Amazons use in their three-part Battle Plans to take action against one of three adversaries (Cheetah and Circe are the others), are not illustrated with kitsch pictures of the characters in action. They are titled with adjectives (Resourceful, Experienced, Nimble, and so on) and each has a wonderful illustration of a natural aspect symbolizing that quality. The Villain cards also have this, swapping virtues for vices (Tyrannical, Brutal, Threatening). It kind of blew me away that something so thoughtful, sophisticated, and genuinely elegant was a part of this game’s presentation. The rest of it looks wonderful as well- gold miniatures for each of the Amazons, white marble textures, actual comic-quality art instead of the usual birthday party favor level junk we see in most games based on comic books.

It's a co-op, and that is going to immediately cause some to groan or grimace. Yeah, it’s very Pandemic. But that is kind of the point, as this game is on shelves at mainstream retailers near Pandemic. And this is an excellent step up from that perennial favorite into something slightly more complex and compelling. It’s supremely accessible, despite Prospero Hall really pushing the hobby-class design elements a little harder than they have in previous titles.

Sure, some of the design is pretty obvious. The villain does things based on cards- they may move around, put out various cubes (which represent different adversaries, obstacles, or challenges based on who the villain is for the game), and at the end of the round they damage Themiscyra based, typically, on how much materiel they have across the board or in the central palace. There are other objectives they might win from, such as Cheetah’s quest to find three artifacts accompanied by her lycanthrope followers.

The player rounds find the Amazons dealt a couple of face-up hero cards and at least three face down. These cards have emblems along the bottom in different values. Each Amazon has to plot three action to take over the course of the round, and this is done with all players only having knowledge of the open cards. The actual plotting is done without communication, so everyone has cards that the other players aren’t aware of. That sound you hear is the Alpha player gnashing their teeth as their authority over the game and other players’ decisions disintegrates.

As each action is resolved in any order, there is a ton of coordination, combination, and strategically sequenced execution.  Working out how to handle dangerous situations, put some damage on the villain, seek out artifacts, team up to combine strength, or simply survive another round can be quite challenging and quite satisfying. There’s more “crunch” than you might expect. 

Each action card’s emblems can be enhanced and increased in a number of ways- some action cards double them, you might get a bonus for playing it in the first/second/third action slot, artifacts may double specific types of cards, and you can join forces with another Amazon at your location to add them up. This is important because the game is balanced such that with the base values you are often left short of the value you need to deal damage or accomplish a task.

One of the game’s more brilliant ideas, however, is that you can recruit Amazon Warriors at key places on the board, provided you have the Leadership emblem on your action card while you are there. These cubes can all move with you, and each one is effectively a +1 to any value. The catch is that they are expended when you use them. This is such a cool element as it makes the game feel almost like a light wargame, with Diana and her fellow leaders raising armies to beat back the opposition. What’s more, they create another strategic angle as you might have one Amazon recruit and then take the Warriors to assist another on their action.

This is a brilliant, effortless co-op design. I get it that a lot of hobbyists are “over” co-ops and some were never on board with them to begin with. And I’m sure the garbage BGG parrot takes on this game will include that it is “whack a mole” and I’ve already seen some bemoan that Diana is balanced with the other Amazons and somehow has a “crappy” power (it isn’t). But the reality is that this is a very studied, very precise kind of design that fits right into that noble goal of merging the broader possibilities of hobby game design with mainstream accessibility and production values. It’s a $35 game you can buy at Target that is a more mature, sophisticated design than most $100 games you’ve got to buy at boutique shops or preorder on Kickstarter.

And I don’t think it can be overstated that this is a game that, if you are playing with Circe or Cheetah, completely passes the Bechdel test. If you are playing with Ares, you are striking a blow against male aggression. Male gaze doesn’t exist here, and this game is very much a story about strong, bold women leading, defending, and supporting themselves without men. I think this is awesome, especially since fantasy games have for too long been mired in tasteless sexism both overt and sublimated. It’s a fantasy game that daughters, wives, girlfriends, partners, and mothers can enjoy without feeling embarrassed or disgusted at content aimed at the sexual attention of teenage boys. It’s also the best comic book game I’ve ever played – completely respectful of the source material, presenting it in a dignified and beautiful way. It’s also one of Prospero Hall’s best games to date, which puts it in a class with Villainous and Jaws.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons
Prospero Hall does it again with another top shelf title.
Top 10 Reviewer 137 reviews
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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marlowespade's Avatar
marlowespade replied the topic: #307976 12 Mar 2020 23:57
I still can't get over how awesome it was to open the box, unwrap the cards, walk through the setup, and be up and playing in mayyyyyyyyybe 10 minutes, tops - while understanding completely how to play and win right out the gate. All credit to Prospero Hall for making this so accessible in the best way possible.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #307977 13 Mar 2020 00:26
This is kind of an awkward question because it makes me sound like an elitist game hermit, which to be fair I sort of am...

Do you play these games regularly? Like, do you look at your shelf and go "I want a light game that's like a coop game I've played a million times but has a way better and integrated theme for game night?" I'm glad that people might play this game instead of Pandemic, but I don't really play Pandemic anymore either after wearing it out years ago. Some of these Prospero Hall games feel like much better, thematic light games that should be on store shelves to improve the lives of mass market gamers... but I'm not sure how that fits into my gaming. Anyway, I know this is delicate because it feels like I'm shitting on the article but it's a genuine, non-sarcastic question.
RobertB's Avatar
RobertB replied the topic: #307978 13 Mar 2020 00:43
marlowespade's Avatar
marlowespade replied the topic: #307979 13 Mar 2020 00:49
These are actually exactly the kind of games I look for to close out a game night after I've played something weightier or have had a few too many beers to play something that needs 20 minutes of setup time. And I'm an elitist solo game hermit!

(Also, I'll note that my long-suffering non-gamer wife has absolutely zero interest in anything in my collection, but will gladly spend an evening playing Villainous and now WW. So I guess I'm a "yes" to your question.)
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #307983 13 Mar 2020 06:53
@Gary Sax, that’s a fair question to ask and it similar to what Charlie was asking the other day- how much longevity/engagement do these games have over time?

Here’s my response. I don’t care! These PH jams are -exactly- what I want to play right now at 44 years old. I do not give a crap about the latest 3 hour game that takes 30 minutes to set up and requires 4 players minimum. That is where having a “lesser” alternative is useless. When I have time and crew to play something big and hearty...that’s going to be Dune or something of that stature and class. But most times I have 2-3 players, an hour or so, and I want something high impact and low commitment. Which is, frankly, what I think _most_ people with limited time and higher priorities than gaming really want whether they say they do or not.

Yes, these are the games I reach for these days. Tracking my “development as a gamer” whatever that means, they are something of a perfect storm. Setup is usually zero (I am totally over setup), they have appealing licenses (always cared a lot about setting and theme), they are immensely accessible (I strongly value accessibility), and they have mechanics that he’s close to classic Eurogame models (remember the ERP?). They are also very tastefully made (I’ve crusaded against tackiness and tastelessness in games all my life), inexpensive (I’m done with paying more than $60 for a board game), innovative (which I always appreciate), and -heartfelt- (an intangible quality that shines through in how they treat licensed).

As a matter of fact, the last big game thing I did. I played Villainous, Top Gun, Horrified, and some other non-PH titles like Wildlands and Letter Press and that was exactly what I wanted out of the evening.

With all that said...for all of their accessibility, these games may actually NOT be a good fit for the more serious hobbyist. These are not really aimed at Terra Mystica diehards, the Pax Pamir worshippers, or the GMTistas. They are far more mainstream in every way, but “pop” games are what I want the most right now.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #307985 13 Mar 2020 08:23
I've been reaching more and more for these types of games over the last few years. I'm not sure there's any one easy answer as to why. What I do know is that I'm tired of unnecessary design, there only to elevate a game to the "hobby" level. I no longer have the heart for these clever for the sake of being clever games, or outside of the box mechanics, doesn't have to actually be fun, for the sake of being a fresh idea to impress hobby nerds who crave some sort of mental masturbatory satisfaction. I'm more interested in how much we can trim the fat, get to the point with less systems and still preserve the more intangible, immersive details (or "theme," if you want to call it that). Prospero Hall is doing that consistently, and more so, they are getting better at it. Wonder Woman is a clear evolutionary step by leaps and bounds over Horrified.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #307987 13 Mar 2020 09:14
Re: Pandemic

There’s an element to this game that really separates it from Pandemic, to the point where I’d argue it’s an unfair comparison. After all, the overwhelming majority of co-ops mimic that “whack-a-mole” foundation. It’s an element that I wish Michael went farther into than he did, and that’s just how big the incomplete information/discussion phase/programming actions without discussion setup is here. It really is *THE* game, and it’s why you should never ever ever play this solo. The planning, coordination, and then trust you have to put into the other players to make the right move is what makes this as a game special. Seriously, the other players are just as much a stumbling block at times as the villain you’re fighting. You really need to be *together* to stand a chance in this game, and you can’t just pretend to have that happening when you play it solo.

I will add that I have to applaud this game for getting around the alpha player problem without the use of any of that overly clever, gimmicky BS like timers or apps that I’ve seen other co-ops use to do it.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #307988 13 Mar 2020 09:29
And to tap into my inner Will Kenyon in a “I’m not done with you yet” move....

I’m not going to get into the logistics over whether I’m not “Ameritrash” games are dead, I know the answer and everyones heart of hearts, they know it, too. Its been replaced by the hybrid, while AT has now long existed on the fringe, in weird niche games for weird niche audiences, a pastiche more than an earnest effort to be AT, the quality of those games debatable.

These Prospero Hall know what they feel like? They feel like those kinds of 80s/90s games I lusted after as a kid. Games with awesome themes/settings, amazing looking components with that kind of true toy appeal that games like Cthulhu Wars desperately tries to grasp on to but never gets a hold of, and production with a whole lot of heart, soul and genuine understanding of the IP (ie, not fucking BATCOW). These games feel like a return to that era of mass market games, the roots of AT gaming, but there’s a welcome difference this time around: The games...they’re actually good.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #307990 13 Mar 2020 09:54
I'm tired of unnecessary design, there only to elevate a game to the "hobby" level.

OMG this is such a profound and far reaching statement of why I hate a lot of current design.

I’ve got a game on the review table right now called Plunder: A Pirate’s Life. It’s very much an outsider thing. It’s self-published by this guy that I hear is a screenwriter by trade. I got it and opened it up and was like WTF is this anyway. The production, the way the rules are written, everything about it is NOT like hobby games. One of the key differentiators is actually from LIFE. You have these little pirate ships and you put crew, cannons, and masts into these pegholed. Resource spending is like Settlers. You roll dice and move your ships around, take over islands, and fight other pirates. There’s a big stack of treasure cards, some of which are NASTY lose-a-point style take that.

It’s like a weird 1970s Ideal or Milton Bradley game. Almost like the designer has not played tons of modern hobby games and just went with what he thought would be fun or interesting. -And it’s oddly refreshing-.

It reminds me of the kind of pre-Kickstarter outliers we used to see like Viktory or Chaostle.

But I’m sure Tom Vasel and the legion of hobby content creators are going to savage it.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #307991 13 Mar 2020 09:56
That sounds amazing. Looking into it.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #307992 13 Mar 2020 09:57
I do want to mention the cooperation coordination element again. That is this game’s THEME. The theme is not Wonder Woman. It’s mutual support, acting as a team, and being able to collectively win while facing individual uncertainty, setbacks, or unexpected turns. The three card baffle, like Josh mentioned, does more to crush alpha player than all of the bullshit hobby gimmicks I’ve seen.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #307993 13 Mar 2020 10:05
Well, in this respect, I'd say I'm with Gary's perspective for several reasons:

1. I don't like co-ops. Once you've solved the puzzle, you've solved the puzzle. It's why I thought jigsaw puzzles were ridiculous as a kid; not only were they a kind of mindless distraction, but they were also ridiculously easy after doing them once. (This is part of why legacy games have never appealed. Anything worth doing once is worth doing again, if you enjoyed it.)

2. Part of the reason I enjoy gaming are getting into the depth of some of those more complex systems. I love games that you can just throw down and play, too. But I also like those that take some thinking.

3. I have zero nostalgia for most games of the 80s and 90s. That's when I was mostly playing RPGs, Magic, and things like Talisman, CE, and Wiz-War. Most IP-oriented games of that era were atrocious marketing ventures that had no intention of making a durable game, as opposed to riding the wave of a movie release or popular show.

Now, in the Prospero Hall case, I'm a huge Villainous proponent, despite not being a Disney fan. However, I'd argue that despite its veneer of "Sit down and play!", it's precisely not the kind of game that you can do that with because it has the Root problem: all the decks play differently and sorting out how they actually play is often a struggle for new players, to say nothing of keeping track of what anyone else is doing. In other words, it's precisely the opposite of WW: CotA. You can physically set it up in less than 10 minutes, but getting everyone to the point of understanding what they're actually doing in the game takes FAR longer than that. This is an inherent problem of any game based on cards, since every turn will be a burst of new information for the new player.

I think they were more successful with Funkoverse, in that its concepts are much simpler to grasp precisely because it doesn't have the Root problem (everyone is playing the game the same way) and because there is no hidden info. I think they were less successful with Jaws because the game, although well-designed, feels very mechanical and doesn't approach the level of intrinsic, IP-oriented joy that the other titles produce. You can easily use Funkoverse to mimic scenes from the actual Harry Potter books or films. Unless you think the crew of the Orca having a larger armory on board because they saved more swimmers is a proper representation of the film, then it's not the same thing. This is the concern I had when the game was announced in the first place; in that it can't properly represent the best parts of the film (the characters) on the cardboard and, thus, ends up being more like the cheap, marketing tools of the 80s than anything else PH has done.

I think they've largely been successful. I like their games. But to suggest that everything they're doing is and has been "the right thing" seems too broad a statement to make. If their output is working for you, great. It's mostly working for me, too. But ask me what I want to play on any given night and it's going to include a lot of stuff alongside PH and it's almost definitely not going to be a co-op.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #307997 13 Mar 2020 11:12

Jackwraith wrote: You can physically set it up in less than 10 minutes, but getting everyone to the point of understanding what they're actually doing in the game takes FAR longer than that. This is an inherent problem of any game based on cards, since every turn will be a burst of new information for the new player.

I just wanted to quote this particular remark for being very insightful. Game designers should take note.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #307998 13 Mar 2020 11:12
That’s kind of the back and forth between all hobby gamers, isn’t? I will admit that I go back and forth on it myself. When I’m in a real mood for RPGs and playing them regularly, I don’t really have as much of a need for thematic board games and will stray more Euro. Other times, it’s the opposite.

But what is a constant for me is that I am tired of learning games and I am tired of “big new ideas” that don’t actually add any fun, only the fun of learning a new thing. Tried and true systems keep showing up for a reason: They work and some of them are always going to be fun. How you re-arrange them, drop unnecessary elements and add in bits from other things that happen work well here, that’s something I’m gravitating towards more and more. There are also a ton of systems that games just do not need under any circumstance and are there to give hobby gamers to the feeling that they have more to do or more to think about when in reality, they only serve to clutter the takeaway experience from the design and dilute it to a harmful extent. The spaceship stuff in BSG is the poster child for this.

The more I think about it, the more I think The Quest For El Dorado might have been like a big, spiritual wake up call for me.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #307999 13 Mar 2020 11:13
As a life-long fan of superhero comics, I have long been hoping for a great superhero board game. So far, I have been disappointed by everything. This game actually sounds pretty good and I may end up getting it, but I suspect it still won't scratch that superhero itch.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #308001 13 Mar 2020 11:27

Shellhead wrote:

Jackwraith wrote: You can physically set it up in less than 10 minutes, but getting everyone to the point of understanding what they're actually doing in the game takes FAR longer than that. This is an inherent problem of any game based on cards, since every turn will be a burst of new information for the new player.

I just wanted to quote this particular remark for being very insightful. Game designers should take note.

I’m actually going to refuse to do that. That I actually have zero problem with, so long as there’s still a game to be had after everyone does understand what they’re doing. I went out of my way on the Kaiju game to ensure that it’s exactly that kind of game since that’s the kind of game with “depth” that I’m interested in. Root, Villainous, Res Arcana, all of those were massive inspirations. I’d put Theseus in that lot as well.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #308002 13 Mar 2020 11:29
I believe that Josh and Michael and others are playing these types of games regularly. But I'd assume you're not playing individual title many times and the depth of strategy and potential for exploration just isn't there. Instead, Prospero Hall is landing hard with quantity and it almost looks to be its own sort of treadmill.

I'm not doggjng Prospero Hall designs, but I question many of the titles effectiveness for a hobby gamer.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #308004 13 Mar 2020 11:38
I think the "unnecessary systems" complaint is valid. From my distant impressions, Tapestry suffers from this. I think that Wonderland's War thing I posted about last month is subsumed in this problem. But I don't think emphasizing simplicity is the one truth, either.

A great comparison is Twilight Struggle and 13 Days. Twilight Struggle's scope is much larger and, thus, has a number of additional mechanics that 13 Days doesn't have or need. But they're both operating in a similar framework: card-driven, random draws that can benefit your opponent, competing on the same "tracks" (actual tracks for 13 Days, nations for TS), and having the one-track-to-rule-them-all to determine the winner. Plus, they both have a backdoor win in nuclear war(!) But I could explain 13 Days and have someone playing decently in a matter of minutes. TS takes longer than that because it is a more complex game. That doesn't mean that 13 Days is a BETTER game than TS. It's just simpler.

I think Funkoverse is a great, simple, quick-to-learn-and-play combat game. But I don't think that Wiz-War is any less because that spell deck is SO huge and there's so much to read and comprehend at any moment... and in the next turn it will all change. You could argue that there are a lot of "unnecessary" systems/detail in Wiz-War, but I don't think it makes it any less of a game.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #308006 13 Mar 2020 12:16

charlest wrote: I believe that Josh and Michael and others are playing these types of games regularly. But I'd assume you're not playing individual title many times and the depth of strategy and potential for exploration just isn't there.

I don’t think that should necessarily be a barometer for how we measure games. I will admit that I have not played Jaws as many times as other PH games, but I do always have a good time when I do. Isn’t that enough? Like, why do we have to play a game a metric shit ton in a short period of time? Under best circumstances, that’s how most people play games, not trying to cram enough plays in so that they can get a review out in time so that their work remains relevant. If I take Jaws of the shelf once, twice a month and have a good time with it, what else do I need out of it?

FWIW, I have played Funkoverse, Horrified, and Kero (which I again will plug here because it’s awesome and their most hobby-centric design) quite a bit. Funkoverse is going to obviously have some staying power with new models being released, but I’m by no means bored with Horrified yet, and that’s with at least 20 plays so far. Is there a ton of strategy? Probably not, but I still enjoy the puzzle of sizing up which monsters I have in the game, prioritizing which one I’m going to go after first and reacting to others when they start to get a jump on us. Again, like Jaws, it’s fun, what else do I need?

I do think Wonder Woman will have an even longer shelf life since so much of it is more social/trust based than is typical co-op puzzle. It only has three villains, which I’m not willing to call a limit just yet, but I certainly wouldn’t turn more down in the future.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #308010 13 Mar 2020 13:35
OK, here's what I've self-realized in our apocalyptic age.

I'm not a hobby gamer anymore.

I was reading over Charlie's comments in particular and it just cast into relief that what I want out of playing games and what I enjoy out of playing games, and what the hobby game market's creators and publishers either want me to want or assume that I want is not what I actually want.

I've felt like this for a while - out of step with THE HOBBY. I don't fucking care about conventions, public game nights, Kickstarter, video content, and all of the hallmarks of the modern hobby. Remember the ERP, my long period of Games Workshop servitude, and now my return to RPGs? Think about the games that I've liked the most over the past few years. All not in step with the hobby, with maybe a few points of crossover.

No, I do not regard hobby board games and the principles of hobby board gaming as part of my life right now. That's a big revelation for me. I've played what would be called hobby games since I was 5 years old, so that's 40 years this year.

So when I hear "there's not enough depth/room for exploration"...I just don't care. Like Josh said above, if I pull Jaws out once or twice a month and have fun...why do I want more out of a $25 game I bought at Target?

I get wanting the deeper, richer experiences. And I still do. I'm playing Dune sunday. But that's the thing...the deeper, richer experiences are extremely rare. 9999 out of 1000 games today aren't deep or rich no matter how many hobby games mechanics they cobble together to make you think they are. True depth and richness comes from emergent, player-driven situations and bounded reactions described by the rules. This is why Acquire, Tigris & Euphrates, Cosmic, and Wiz-War are immensely deep and rich. Today's complex, over-designed hobby games are not because they foreground mechanisms and "clever" designs to generate a sense of depth.

As far as exploration goes, the fool's gold there is in scenario-based design, modularity, and character-based variety. Some games pull this off. Dominon is a great example, as is Aeon's End. The recent spate of sharply assymetric games is another exception - Root and Villainous for example, where the rules are a framework explored by the modules for different processes and outcomes. This is where the range of available options creates room for exploration and discovery. But most games built like this, the Kickstarters with all the expansions and's like what I've always said about Diablo (one of my favorite video games of all time) - the map does not matter. It does not matter if the dungeon doglegs right and the enemies are slightly different. It doesn't even really matter what your character build is. It is fundamentally, conceptually the same game with the same outcomes.

The reality of it is that having Kool-Aid Man and Joker square off against Aggrestuko and Ian Malcolm is just fun. It changes up a game of Funkoverse, but are you really exploring anything there, are you really encountering depth? No. But it doesn't matter, because it's fun to do and at the end of the day, that should be why you are playing that game to begin with. Not to aspire to a certain level of "hobby-ness".

So a lot of the concerns and harrumphing I hear around this just washes over me because it sounds like someone that likes blues trying really hard to convince me that John Lee Hooker or whatever is great and I should listen to it because that is serious music. But I'd rather hear Carly Rae Jepsen.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #308012 13 Mar 2020 13:58
I can understand that, mostly because I've never really registered the "hobby" aspect of it. I've just never thought of it that way. I just like to play games. Are they more complex than stuff that typically comes off the shelf at Wal-Mart? Yes. But, honestly, so is backgammon, contract bridge, and mah-jong. So, calling myself a "hobby gamer" has never been something that occurred to me.

When I was playing Magic, 24-7, and entering tournaments every other day, that was probably a hobby. When I was playing every minis game Games Workshop ever produced and painting everything I played with, that was definitely a hobby. But the fact that I have a bunch of games that are more complex than Sorry! sitting on my shelf...? Eh. Doesn't seem to fly with me. I could have a copy of every classic abstract currently labeled as such (actually, I think I might...) and nothing else. Would I still be a "hobby gamer" playing those on a regular basis? This is like trying to decide what genres of music fit which artists.

There's no right way to have fun. I don't think there's much point in trying to label it, either.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #308014 13 Mar 2020 14:18
Appreciate all your thoughts and the discussion, thank you for taking me at face value as that was not a troll.

It probably says a lot about me and my tabletop gaming that in my video gaming my most played games are the Paradox Grand Strategy games. Systems within systems. So I do think it's a gaming ethos differences thing and I'm glad to hear your ethos, which makes sense.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #308018 13 Mar 2020 14:32
I think it's totally fine to just play a game a couple of times. I play Earth Reborn every other year at most.

I guess what bothers me slightly is that it feels like you're trying to have it both ways. It seems to be a common criticism that Kickstarters are full of junk, people play them once or twice, there's no depth and they're just propped up by minis, etc.

Is the critical difference the price? Is that enough? When is it ok to play a game once or twice and when is it not?

Mostly being devil's advocate here, but I think the psychology here is interesting.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #308021 13 Mar 2020 15:17
The psychology is very interesting, and that's the conversation going on in the CMON Tyranny thread to some extent.

Step 1 -- figure out what you like.

All the other steps follow that, and the steps that follow are easy. But you need to figure out what it is that is bringing you happiness, and that's sometimes very hard to do. The whole industry is telling you what you should like.

I get the feeling I'd think this game is well-produced junk. I thought Villainous was a waste. In fact I've more or less given it away. But that's me. It just felt stilted and detached and required me to turn my thoughts inward and that's not what I look for in a game. So it's not a good fit.

Years ago Shellie referred to Merchant of Venus as a once-a-year game. It's expensive, and more importantly to me it's taking up a fair chunk of space on my shelf. But, when I play it once a year I frikkin' love it. So it stays.

I think what I'm trying to say is ignore the self-appointed cognoscenti and make sure you understand where you should be spending your money for you and yours. It's all valid, but it may not all be valid for you.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #308023 13 Mar 2020 15:19
Totally worthwhile questions to ask.

I think the money is issue is definitely a thing, and that brings with it the issues of crowdfunding, FOMO, exclusivity, phony "investorship", KS milling, lack of proper development time, lack of editorial restraint, wasteful production, and so forth. I think we are talking about something very different when we are holding a $200+ game that ships in 5-6 boxes or whatever, stuffed with...stuff...that buyers pay for a year in advance versus a professionally designed $25-40 game made by Ravensburger.

I get the "have it both ways" comment...but the reality of it is that some games have a time, and when that time is gone, you move on. There are very few forever games. Right now, these games are what I want. That may change 3 years from now. I may want something different. I may want no board games at all. I may just be playing strictly RPGs. Or not.

When I complain about the KS games barely getting played, that has as much to do with the churn and the absolute tidal wave of releases as it does with any individual game. And maybe somebody gets $200 worth out of 1 play of Marvel United, that's up to them, not me. But this is my position on it, and that's what I'm concerned with rather than the larger hobby which has, in a very real sense, abandoned game players like me that want more like Quest for El Dorado.

And also too, you've got to remember that Josh and I were talking about playing Jaws once or twice a month. Not "in total". I've played it maybe 15 times? No, I don't play it every time I'm at the table. But I'm still eager to play it again and if someone suggests it I get excited - I don't secretly dread it coming out again like I might for the bigger, more complex games out today.

I rather controversially liked Scythe. We had that big roundtable review at MM. And I did honestly like it a lot. But as my tastes changed out from under it...I started to absolutely dread playing it. When I got the last expansion, I was like "oh man, I really do not want to set that game up". And that is why a lot of games that I get I play for a while, enjoy, and ditch. Because I start to dread them. These PH games...I haven't dreaded them one bit, going back to when Villainous really put them on my radar.

There are number of factors there. One is that their games require almost no setup. Another is that I don't have to relearn the rules every time and teaching is generally quick and easy. Villainous DOES require some player experience and understanding, but I've found it still easier to apprehend and share than Cthulhu Wars or Root. Another is that these are licenses that I'm really excited about - I'm a huge Disneyphile, so Villainous had my name on it the second I saw it. I love Jurassic Park, Jaws, Universal Monsters...all things that I love, and despite my staunch stand against corporations and capitalism, they are brands that I love. I'm always going to be excited to play a Jurassic Park game.

So I think this is a complex aren't wrong to point it out as something of a contradiction. But the truth of it is that all games is personal, so to speak.