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Tabletop game reviews enjoyed lately thread

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14 Jan 2022 10:13 - 14 Jan 2022 10:27 #329786 by sornars
It's probably worth it's own topic but I'm curious how people feel about incremental re-themes/re-releases like this. If we consider board game designers as artists then it's not unreasonable for them to want to iterate within a set of themes or mechanics. A lot of euro designers are big fans of doing that; see Knizia, his latest release of Art Robbery seems to merge some of the ideas from High Society into a new filler card game. High Society itself distills a lot of his explorations of auctions into a filler game. Modern Art just says "fuck it" and puts in all types of auctions all of the time. Ra deeply explores a specific type of auction. As another example, the Future Pastimes/EON folks keep revisiting Cosmic and Dune in different contexts to iterate on their work. I get why they want to do that and it's totally rational but as a consumer I find it to be quite frustrating. It reminds me of shopping for computer parts and having to compare minor incremental differences before making a purchasing decision. I recognise I'm under no obligation to purchase any of these things and they owe me nothing but I don't see how these small changes work out for publishers sales wise.

FWIW, I'm a huge fan of SOA (the board game; no affection for the show) and will probably never pick up Wise Guys but the change of making your upgraded units specialised in Talk or Fight sounds very thematic and quite interesting. The loss of chrome is unfortunate but I appreciate Charlie calling out the tradeoff between form and function. Using what will widely be perceived as a cost saving measure to iterate on the design itself is quite smart.
Last edit: 14 Jan 2022 10:27 by sornars.
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14 Jan 2022 10:22 #329788 by hotseatgames
Making a game is hard. Making a GOOD game is practically lightning in a bottle. So it is a very appealing move to take a proven design and iterate on it / apply a new setting or license. I like it, as a concept. Every game has rough edges, so if time and the inevitable flood of player feedback can help smooth them out for a v2.0, that is great.

Having said that, I have never been down with any of the GF9 uses of this technique. Spartacus was so thoroughly SPARTACUS, I could not imagine how it was going to become X-Men. And while it was highly likely that my dislike for the SoA game was due to the people with whom I was playing it, it never caught on for me. It didn't help that I thought the show was poorly written trash with only a couple of standout performances. Regardless, it made me even less interested to try it as a D&D game, and gangsters doesn't make me want to try it either.
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14 Jan 2022 10:25 - 14 Jan 2022 10:31 #329789 by sornars
Ha, to be fair I can make the counter point to my own argument through your design. SEAL Team Flix didn't really appeal to me theme wise and I wasn't in any hurry to pick it up but I'm really looking forward to Phantom Division so maybe the point of these iterations, rethemes and re-releases is to capture new audiences instead of sell a similar product to old audiences.
Last edit: 14 Jan 2022 10:31 by sornars.
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14 Jan 2022 11:38 #329791 by Jackwraith
I'm down with "version 2.0" if the changes are actually significant. I only played SoA once about a decade ago and was left unimpressed. (Not a bad game, but not one that hooked me, either.) As an example, I think the mechanical changes in Runebound 3rd Ed. were good enough to justify trading for it, even though I have a complete set of Runebound 2nd Ed. But that's not really what Charlie or either of you are talking about. What this seems to be is a reskinning, something like Battlestar Galactica becoming Unfathomable, with some mechanical revisions that smooth out the problems that emerged in the earlier design or, in the case of Wise Guys, add something that works even better than the old system.

First off, I disagree that making it about Prohibition-era gangsters is an improvement. While I understand the reticence of modern players to not really want to play a game about violent contemporary criminals (in the same way that some are disinterested in playing European colonialists or Nazis), I think the switch to playing violent criminals from a century ago is not only six-to-one, half-dozen-to-another but also tired. The thematic appeal for SoA to me would've been that I wasn't playing the stereotypical theme that things like The Godfather (film, not game) have firmly embedded in the American mindset. Show me another game/book/film about gangsters and I'll show you another game/book/film about World War II. No, thanks.

I'd probably be willing to look past that if the mechanical improvements/changes are as significant as Charlie says. Given our similar tastes and my trust in his judgment, I have no reason to doubt that. But if I were already the owner of SoA, it would be a very large question for me as to just how much said changes impact gameplay. Charlie already talked about his disappointment in the physical changes and those are significant things. I regularly repeat Eric Lang's assertion that one of his primary design principles when approaching his mythic trilogy was to make something that looked cool on the table. It is a lot more interesting to be moving around plastic bikers and duffel bags than cardboard chits. In a preemptive answer to MB diving in about "CMON plastic!", it's similar to the physical changes between the Ra Uberplay and Z-Man versions. The bright colors and wooden sun disks of the former were far more interesting than the taupe and cardboard of the latter. Those visual and tactile impressions are part of playing the game. But I'm usually willing to overlook that and own both if the changes are good enough to compensate.

What would be the final question for me in this case is: Does it feel different enough that you don't feel like you're playing a reskin? I haven't heard any definitive opinions about Unfathomable in that respect, but the casual opinions I've heard say that it plays pretty much like BSG, so if you own the latter, there's not really a compelling reason to own the former, unless you're so in love with the HPL theme(!) that it's interesting enough to do so. In that case, I'd probably end up selling/trading BSG and just owning Unfathomable. As noted, I think the mechanical changes in Runebound 3rd Ed were enough to make me feel like I'm playing a different adventure game. Thus, I own both.
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14 Jan 2022 11:53 #329792 by Msample
I think you have to divide re-skins/new editions into two camps . One are those driven by a failure to retain/acquire the necessary licensing rights. That is the case with UNFATHOMABLE/BSG, and has happened in recent years with some wargames where designers who lost the rights because the original was when they worked for Avalon Hill ( and Hasborg can't be unassed to look in the archives about 40 year old games ) .

The other is when its just a cash grab, like the aforementioned RA with shittier components.
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14 Jan 2022 12:25 #329793 by charlest

Jackwraith wrote: First off, I disagree that making it about Prohibition-era gangsters is an improvement. While I understand the reticence of modern players to not really want to play a game about violent contemporary criminals (in the same way that some are disinterested in playing European colonialists or Nazis), I think the switch to playing violent criminals from a century ago is not only six-to-one, half-dozen-to-another but also tired.


I actually prefer the SOA setting as well. I think I kind of allude to that discussing the loss of "cool".

But I had a hell of a time convincing people outside my core group to play SOA. At that time in particular, I was attending a lot of local meetups and playing with random people. Only fans of the show would play the game. Everyone else scoffed at it.

So I believe the setting is a much better choice from that qualification. I think that's important from a broad view, particularly if the game staying in print and experienced by new generations is desired.

What would be the final question for me in this case is: Does it feel different enough that you don't feel like you're playing a reskin? I haven't heard any definitive opinions about Unfathomable in that respect, but the casual opinions I've heard say that it plays pretty much like BSG, so if you own the latter, there's not really a compelling reason to own the former, unless you're so in love with the HPL theme(!) that it's interesting enough to do so. In that case, I'd probably end up selling/trading BSG and just owning Unfathomable. As noted, I think the mechanical changes in Runebound 3rd Ed were enough to make me feel like I'm playing a different adventure game. Thus, I own both.


It does feel like a reskin. I think the mechanical change matters quite a bit in terms of strategy, but not enough to where you're playing a different game. I will probably edit the review and make this clear, as it's a failing in the current draft.
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14 Jan 2022 12:38 #329794 by Jackwraith

charlest wrote: But I had a hell of a time convincing people outside my core group to play SOA. At that time in particular, I was attending a lot of local meetups and playing with random people. Only fans of the show would play the game. Everyone else scoffed at it.


That mirrors my encounter with it. I had zero interest in playing it because I'd never seen the show and had no interest in watching it because it seemed like fairly low-grade TV to me. Of course, I'd never seen Spartacus, either, because it also seemed like low-grade TV ("Skinemax") but I was willing to play because Rome. In an unusual deviation around these parts, I owned Spartacus for a time (again, because Rome) but it didn't have staying power either with me or with my groups at the time, so I ended up trading it.

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14 Jan 2022 12:40 #329795 by hotseatgames
I'm hoping to get Spartacus to the table in two weeks, actually. I believe it contains my all-time favorite card in a game... ACCEPT DEEPER RAMMING
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