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Joan of Errata & the Siege of Setup - A Time of Legends Review

AL Updated June 11, 2020
 
3.0
 
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Joan of Errata & the Siege of Setup - A Time of Legends Review

Game Information

Publisher
Players
2 - 4
There Will Be Games

The French were rallying and the English were restless. A frisson of anticipation filled the air as the inevitable clash drew nearer. Who would triumph? Would the pages of history be re-written? And what exactly did this card do? All would be revealed.

Round One- The French Troops lay snug in their plastic tray as battle commenced. Bravely I laboriously pored over the contents of the core box as I scanned the scenario booklet, trying to scry the meanings of abundant icons and identify the allegiances of tiny, tiny dudes.

First onto the field of battle was...the field of battle. Each tile selected, then placed, and re-placed as numbers were heroically checked and angles valiantly aligned. After this initial charge a dramatic follow-up was ordered whereby evocative pieces of what appeared to be broccoli (not to scale) were placed atop the tiles, signifying terrain and helpfully rich in vitamins.

Round Two- Which bit is this? The leaders pondered their options in the heat of battle. Surely, part of any good general’s toolkit is a firm grasp of logistics and yet, on the eve of battle even Napoleon himself would grow pensive as he realised that there weren’t enough coloured bases for his troops. Improvisation rides to the rescue and with a fistful of francs we summon a retinue of magic markers.

Round Three- The shuffle of battle is always relentless. The shuffle of cards even more so. Often in the heat of conflict it’s hard to determine friend from foe. Or which of these dudes on a horse is ‘Pierre Longbread’ – an essential component of this scenario. Inspecting the ranks of our troops we match their banners to bases and beyond in a feat of administration fit for bardic heraldry. Night falls.

Time of Legends Joan of Arc

DAY TWO

Round Four- They say innocence is always the first casualty of war. In this case the civilians that traipse the battlefield, trying to go about their lives, or remember why the fishmonger looks so much like the blacksmith and why their home is in a different box. Still - from the jaws of defeat we gloriously triumph by penetrating the defenses of the second box shrink-wrap and plunging into the contents beyond, uncovering the reams of hardly essential bounty within and tabling a conference of the generals dedicated to sorting them into piles. Then the cat eats one of our archers, mewling in alarm as we retrieve it from a salivary grave.

Round Five- Many battles are fought for territory, in this case the territory to display the battle in its entirety. The flow of the melee descends from the table to the floor as we lay out the infirmary for the numerous atrocities that are sure to mount in this epic, stoic endurance test. During the transition tragedy strikes as a band of pikemen are lost in the shagpile carpet and our brave leader steps on one in bare feet. The first casualty, but surely not the last on this dark day.

Round Six –  Many wars are fought for glory and there would be heroism aplenty on this day, as banners were raised in triumph and long held grudges were put to rest. We take out our mounting bloodlust on the remaining punchboard as the forces of ‘circular disc’ fall one by one. We prepare sandwiches to keep morale up.

Round Seven- The scanning of the fields! The clatter of cubes! The tumbling of dice! The trip to the corner store to buy putty as one-by-one our troops initial advances are curtailed by constant unexpected tumbles from their bases! The poor soul’s legs giving way in the gonad-shriveling terror of the charge and the eschatological meta horror of too-loose bases. Truly war is hell.

Round Eight- At last the hour is nigh. It seems an eternity since we marshaled here on this field of enmity to pit steel against steel and sunder the flesh of our nemeses. Surely this is set to be a battle for the ages. At last the anticipation will crest in a thundering climax as we ride into the very annals of history…

…After four moves it seems the French appear to have triumphed. We scan the rulebook for clarification. It has been 22 minutes since we actually crossed swords. There is no time to celebrate. We need to pack all this shit away and there are only six hours ‘til dawn.

Time of Legends Joan of Arc

Time of Legends: Joan of Arc is big game.

Perhaps you’ve seen the photos of the all-in pledge, helpfully perched next to a menhir for scale?  Or you accidentally qualified for a discount bus pass whilst watching an unboxing video? I went for the bare minimum paupers bid myself and the three boxes I received still blocked out the sun, but I can’t deny the giddy atavistic thrill of delving into such a corpulent beast.  Pulling out piece after piece and marveling over the staggering number of miniatures, cards and tokens that kept emerging from the trio of cardboard maws was a big hit with my lizard brain.

With each eager fistful of plastic however, my mood started twisting from ‘conspicuous consumption serotonin bomb’ to fretfully cataloging the sheer logistic hurdle I had just invited into my home. Was I feeling…stressed out? How was I meant to transform all of this stuff into y’know…a game?

Thankfully, the core mechanics at the atrophied heart of this colossus are mercifully straightforward. A wargame/boardgame hybrid utilising epic scale models, it errs pleasantly on the boardgame side of the fence, with nary a tape measure or ruler in sight, flaunting their gateway to arbitration debates and tendency to knock scenery into the dip. Featuring a neat twist on symbol matching dice-based conflict, your clashes will be fraught with an excitement that is instantly easy to parse and soars above the ‘roll high to wound’ legacy of its Skaven-infused cousins. A similarly clever system of activation cubes offers both strategic nuance, whilst ensuring the battlefield is easy to read at-a-glance, keeping the sweep of swords swift and the rain of bolts plentiful. Stir  these robust bones in with the numerous scenarios, generous spread of units and twin thematic poles of history and myth, and it seems there are acres of possibility teeming within these groaning chests, begging to be explored.

In short, its ambition cannot be faulted.  It’s in the execution that this heavily plated warhorse stumbles. Like a mounted knight wielding both lance and banner at a gallop, its balance is suspect.

Time of Legends Joan of Arc

Right out of the gate, the errata was flying, then the errata to the errata, then the 1.5 rule-set, then the errata to the 1.5 ruleset, then the errata to the errata of the 1.5 ruleset and so on, print-out piling upon print-out to add additional girth to what was already crowding my shelf-space like a rotund, scented gourmand.

The scenarios were the issue. Each one replete with situational exceptions, one-off rules, idiosyncratic victory conditions and seemingly all teetering on the knife edge of imbalance to the point of being broken.

Straddling the expanse between historical revisionism and mythical flights of fancy, these scenarios can be loosely grouped into two camps- the historical affairs featuring a pleasing cliff’s notes potted history of the conflict in question, and the mythical battles drawing upon the belief sets and reality tunnels of the age to play at ‘what if’ with angels, demons, djinns and dragons. On top of this, the game offers its ‘battle mode’ in a nod to becoming a fully-fledged wargaming system, complete with army lists and point values for units which remains frustrating incomplete and undergoing a similar dance with editors, as errata and FAQ’s come tumbling from the desks of harried scribes faster that you can cry “Zut Alors!”

In all honesty, this rambling ode ought to labelled ‘first impressions’ rather than any kind of in-depth analysis, as after an initial three game session and a follow up two game romp testing an alternate scenario, the massed ranks of Time of Legends bid a tactful retreat to my shelves where they have sat perched with intent in turtle formation, gathering the expansive patinas of dust that befit such a hefty trio of boxes ever since.

Time of Legends Joan of Arc

But honesty I believe that’s telling enough in its own fashion. Although it could never be denied that it looks glorious upon the table, this is a game that, and I cannot stress this enough TAKES LONGER TO SET UP THAN IT DOES TO PLAY. It has knocked pretenders to the throne such as previous champion Gloomhaven into a cocked hat when it comes to excelling at laborious preparation, and whilst I’m certain that this burden could become eased with the optimisation of familiarisation, it still imposes a hefty speed bump upon the aspirational road of any relatively clean-shaven gamers who don’t hail from ye olde town of Grognardia. Similarly, the brevity of its bouts and rules-light essence probably render it too flimsy an affair for the hex and counter crowd as they continue to coo over their Gettysburg chits and contemplate weather effects on marching speed until they climax in cross-referenced ecstasy.

In the end, much like the Maid of Orléans herself, it seems doomed to an unjust fate. Torn between God and the nation of France, it cannot serve two masters. And whilst it's unlikely to end its life upon the pyre, for many gamers it may well end up doomed to an even more ignominious end, as it sits static and brooding in its cardboard mausoleum, and the unrealised limbo of “one day”.

 

You can Late-Pledge for the 1.5 edition of Joan of Arc here. Well...maybe you can, there's an ongoing IP dispute that might throw a baguette into the works, so sign up for updates if this seems like your kind of thing.


Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
3.0
AL
1 reviews
Andi Lennon
Associate Writer

Andi Lennon is Sydney based writer, musician and soap dodger. He graduated from Wizbang University with full honours and no teeth. When he isn't feeling conflicted about Morrissey he likes to play indie games with a dubious 80's aesthetic.

You can read more of his work by visiting Mongol Cult

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n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #311023 10 Jun 2020 09:55
Fun read!
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #311025 10 Jun 2020 10:18
I had almost regretted not backing this just so I could get the minis... but after all of the fulfillment issues that it had, I was really glad I passed.
evilgit's Avatar
evilgit replied the topic: #311028 10 Jun 2020 12:25
Yeah, I haven't actually played mine yet. Being a 15mm fantasy guy already, I'm happy with the minis and terrain. Once the 1.5. rules come out, I'll try it.
In the meantime I've used the figures and terrain for rpgs, mini war-games and my custom Battlelore set up.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #311031 10 Jun 2020 14:01
Excellent writing sir.

There are games being produced today that I simply cannot purchase, because I live in a small house.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311041 10 Jun 2020 22:20

evilgit wrote: Yeah, I haven't actually played mine yet. Being a 15mm fantasy guy already, I'm happy with the minis and terrain.


Yeah if you're just in it for the minis and can work with the small scale then this is probably still a good get. It's advertised as a game though hahaha.

Fantastic paint-jobs by the way. The sheer scale of it has daunted me out of daubing mine thus far.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311042 10 Jun 2020 22:22

hotseatgames wrote: I had almost regretted not backing this just so I could get the minis... but after all of the fulfillment issues that it had, I was really glad I passed.


It looks like 1.5 backers are in for quite the wait yeah. I actually got this at-cost from a 1.0 backer NIS. It was during a particularly enthused period of frenzied acquisition and possibly not the most well-reasoned purchase I've made. Perhaps it will yet fulfill it's promise though, Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311043 10 Jun 2020 22:24

Sagrilarus wrote: Excellent writing sir.

There are games being produced today that I simply cannot purchase, because I live in a small house.


Thanks again man. Yeah when space is at a premium this kind of indulgent opulence is definitely surplus-to-requirements. However, if you empty out the boxes they could probably be used to construct another wing to your humble abode.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #311044 10 Jun 2020 22:41
It's an era (and location) of history that I have a devoted interest in but when I took a look I quickly concluded that it was going to be a Monster. I'm not a collector by any stretch of the imagination and I don't care about minis either. So this packaging, regardless of the gameplay was a showstopper. Its campaign's success meant stretch goals and that compounded the problem.

Had they done this in cardboard they could have had pre-printed maps for each scenario and setup would have been much easier. But it would never sell. What will sell and what is best for usability don't coincide much anymore, because a big part of the hobby is collecting. I'm OK with that, didn't used to be.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #311048 11 Jun 2020 01:49
This may be the best portrayal of everything wrong about these monster KS I’ve read. It was painful to read through, I got stressed out!

Between the big bucks for all this shit, sorting all this shit, storing all this shit, setting up all this shut, putting away all this shit, figuring out the rules for all this shit, deal with FAQs and erratas to make all this shit playable...at what do you just say fuck it and move on? There is NOTHING fun about all of the above.

I’ve drawn my line- I’m no longer interested in games like this. I thought I wanted this because I like the period and I like Joan of Arc anything...almost pledged. Thank god I didn’t. I think I would burn this in a fire.

My kids and I played Citadels three times tonight. Up and running in minutes, 30 minute games, put away in two minutes and stored in a drawer with 6-7 other card games. Done and fun. None of the stress that these kinds of hobby games create.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311051 11 Jun 2020 08:09

Michael Barnes wrote: This may be the best portrayal of everything wrong about these monster KS I’ve read.
I’ve drawn my line- I’m no longer interested in games like this.


Yeah it's kind of 'review as cautionary tale' although apparently I've still not learned my lesson as I have numerous big box kickstarters I rashly eye-stalked over during this period in various stages of their meandering route to my doorstep, although none of quite this magnitude. What's really maddening about this one is it could have been great. I'm also a big fan of the theme and the core system is solid fun. If it were a third of the size and they actually bothered to play test the fucking scenarios it'd probably be on my floor regularly.

We'll see what Hel brings and hope it's only a name.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311052 11 Jun 2020 08:19

Sagrilarus wrote: Had they done this in cardboard they could have had pre-printed maps for each scenario and setup would have been much easier. But it would never sell.


Yeah, in my recent experience, a game like 'Sea Evil' which comes in the form of a MAGAZINE (!) has provided way more enjoyment than these big box affairs. Perhaps I've just been unlucky or foolhardy in my choices though, as with both this and the famously crap Dark Souls, it seems like the amount of fun on offer is inversely proportionate to the size of the product. Just this evening I placed an order for Undaunted: Normandy (despite the meh theme) in the hope that its minimal outlay in both cash money and time investment will remedy some of the ennui. Having said that though, when a game of scale and ambition actually works, it can really work. Kingdom Death Colon Monster, although hugely polarising is a 10/10 game for me and I can't imagine it being half of what it is if it was, well, half of what it is.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #311093 12 Jun 2020 12:31

Andi Lennon wrote: Kingdom Death Colon Monster


That sure puts a new spin on it. I'm a bit uncomfortable in my chair now.

In 2002 games were labeled "elegant" and "refined" precisely because they were minimalist, and it was deemed the ultimate game publishing goal. Now it's about revenue and bigger is better, even bigger is even better. Another situation where "crowd sourcing" has proven that the crowd might just, on occasion, be stupid.

I appreciate that there are a lot of you out there with a 4500 square foot house and a $4,000 gaming table that can leave this kind of game set up ready to play for weeks at a time. But that's just not a part of my reality and never will be, in spite of having four children that all consider themselves boardgamers. Had this game fit in a tall GMT box I'd have likely taken a bite.

In spite of your light-handed approach your article is a pretty solid condemnation of this particular delivery.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #311097 12 Jun 2020 13:32
I’m actually kinnnnnnnd of close to never buying or acquiring a game in box larger than the standard square or bookshelf box again. I’m not doing the gigantic boxes and their gigantic boxes of expansions again.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #311105 12 Jun 2020 15:42

Michael Barnes wrote: I’m actually kinnnnnnnd of close to never buying or acquiring a game in box larger than the standard square or bookshelf box again. I’m not doing the gigantic boxes and their gigantic boxes of expansions again.


I'm already there as I realized that all of my favorite games are regular boxes without hundreds of pieces and also I always, always end up wanting to sell the gigantic ones within a year. Usually after the toy factor wears off or I discover they're garbage people hyped without playing or I just find them too much of a chore to setup and play.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #311106 12 Jun 2020 15:48
Exactly. The best, most timeless games that you come back to year after year are never going to be these big honking tugboats full of components, 500 scenarios, 500 variant characters, etc. Games like this are, with very very few exceptions all but written off after a year.

But bust out Citadels, Colossal Arena, Tikal, For Sale, Nexus Ops...never a chore.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #311107 12 Jun 2020 15:58
It is disappointing that some Kickstarter marketer out there decided it was far more profitable to ask people to buy an entire life cycle for a game at one time, as opposed to putting out targeted expansions over time. The expansions would be of higher quality, and they would get played far more.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #311108 12 Jun 2020 16:33
Witness the old FFG expansion model, before they just started churning out serial product lines. It would be like a year or more for a well-developed expansion that had time to mature and react to the game’s reception and how it was being played. Versus buying 3 expansions up front and if you don’t get them in the campaign you are SOL.

That mode made games like Ti3, GOT, Descent, Runebound, Arkham Horror last and stay relevant for YEARS. In contrast to shitting out an entire product line in one go and the doing it again for “season 2”.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #311110 12 Jun 2020 18:02
Setup time and a built-in expansion model plagued Heroscape, one of my favorite games of all time, which I hardly ever play now. Still haven't gotten rid of all of it. I can't bring myself to do it.

It had a similar "game can potentially be shorter than setup" factor, which is why you'd leave it out and play multiple games, if possible.

Balance was definitely 'off' too, but there was so much content released that there was plenty of variety at even a tournament level, in my opinion.
n815e's Avatar
n815e replied the topic: #311111 12 Jun 2020 20:37
I think of GW’s perpetual cycle of releasing new editions or sourcebooks to fix problems that create new ones. A wonderful means of constantly selling products.

Some of these massive kickstarters have been hits for me. Cthulhu Wars (although it’s now so bloated it is overwhelming), Hellboy and Mythic Battles are all favorites.

And being someone that spent decades as a miniatures gamer, these games have a certain appeal to me as basically miniatures games in a self-contained box(es).

But I only have so much room and time so my interest in acquiring more is next to none and I am more interested now in fun, one box games that are interesting, can be played a bit, then put away and revisited easily later.

I already have enough deep and expansive games to last so many years to come.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311115 12 Jun 2020 22:55

Sagrilarus wrote:

Andi Lennon wrote: Kingdom Death Colon Monster


In 2002 games were labeled "elegant" and "refined" precisely because they were minimalist, and it was deemed the ultimate game publishing goal. Now it's about revenue and bigger is better, even bigger is even better. Another situation where "crowd sourcing" has proven that the crowd might just, on occasion, be stupid.

In spite of your light-handed approach your article is a pretty solid condemnation of this particular delivery.


Hahaha I don't even have *a* table. There's simply nowhere in my house where even a modest one will fit. If you look at the shots I've taken myself you'll notice that we're always playing on the floor, sacrificing our lower backs to the greater good as our feet fall asleep beneath hunched knees.

https://mongolcult.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/wolves-printed.jpg?w=1000&h=

As I grow more canny with my balancing of 'aspiration vs. reality' I'm sure my habit of acquisition will evolve accordingly. It's depressing to realise that no matter how the cool the concept of a game is, without the opportunity to actually play it, it's just a bunch of stuff clogging up not only your living space but more importantly, your psyche as well. And as a sometime pantheist (especially when I'm playing pinball) I believe these objects are invested with a life of their own but only via osmosis, which means they need to be played.

As for the inclinations of the mob, I'm put in mind of the Lisa Simpsons quote: "He'll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator" and sadly, in a sick society that is predicated almost solely on the accumulation of things, most people have very little creative flex when it comes to expression of their agency or attempts at manifesting happiness. So they buy stuff. The more stuff the better. I'm not immune but i catch myself sometimes and i'm aghast.

The fact that we're yet to see a backlash against all this stuff doesn't mean there won't be one. It's quite likely that refined and self-contained experiences will swing sine-wave like back into the ascendant as more people realise the sheer impracticality of scale and that the return on investment , not even money-wise, but measured in 'initial joy of novelty vs. eventual overwhelmed anxiety' is tilted poorly.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311116 12 Jun 2020 23:13

n815e wrote: I think of GW’s perpetual cycle of releasing new editions or sourcebooks to fix problems that create new ones. A wonderful means of constantly selling products..


Oh man, as someone who until recently could only lay claim to some nascent dabbling with Rogue Trader way back in the day, I'd managed to pretty successfully avoid the whole spiked rabbit-hole of GW mania.

Then everyone here and throughout the game-o-sphere went bananas over Warcry and I took the plunge on the starter set. I've assembled it and got as far as painting the two warbands and maybe two of the beasts and a ladder or two (everyone's favourite part of the hobby-painting ladders).

I've played it once.

We did two different scenarios and whilst it was pretty fun, the fiddliness of rulers has never sat right with me when as a species we have a perfectly good grasp on hexagons. I can see it coming out again, maybe even this weekend but the weird thing is I realised I was already contemplating grabbing another warband. Or maybe some of the cards that meant I could use other minis.

Games Workshop's stock prices are clearly not skyrocketing through random chance. Their whole marketing schtick is an almost weaponised sense of completionism fomo and continual upgrade cycles. Even the act of calling something a 'Starter Set' is a not-so-subtle psychological lure.

So yeah, I'm wary. I'm not a dyed in the wool "hobbyist" so forests of sprues have a limited appeal and I've backed away. I assemble and paint infrequently and whilst I initially found it relaxing, it became less so as I grew more aware of what I perceived to be a 'backlog'. These were no longer just cool toys, they were becoming an unfinished task. A chore. A hang-up. It wasn't a cool feeling. And whilst their minis are really well done, the whole He-Man on steroids covered in spikes thing is a bit fucking gauche in the end.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311117 12 Jun 2020 23:16
Getting back to JoA though- Staggering, ludicrously, farcically, Mythic games released another version of the Reliquary booklet this week and not only did it feature the wrong maps and feature tiles that did not exist in the game, BUT IT WAS MISSING ENTIRE PAGES. It beggars belief. It's almost like an elaborate prank at this stage.
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #311120 13 Jun 2020 06:53
I want to note one thing: It is impossible to transport these games in the metro or in a bus. They are very unconfortable to walk with. They require to be played in your own house or to drive.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311121 13 Jun 2020 07:41

Erik Twice wrote: I want to note one thing: It is impossible to transport these games in the metro or in a bus. They are very unconfortable to walk with. They require to be played in your own house or to drive.


You forgot via private helicopter or luxury yacht.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #311122 13 Jun 2020 08:35
Edit-played Warcry again tonight and yeah, it's a lot of fun (despite the petty squabbling over inches). The choice of scenarios can make a big difference. I can see it becoming a more regular outing and anticipate horrendous grudges evolving as the trash talk reaches far beyond fun and on into the pure heart of darkness...