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Top 5 Adventure Games: The Definitive List

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09 Dec 2018 15:09 #287803 by Josh Look
Am I a lion?

Guy makes a “definitive” adventure games list and doesn’t put Firefly on there.

Does that seem right to you?

Now, before anyone goes any types up some ill-conceived bullshit about Firefly being a pick up and deliver game, let me state that Firefly _is_, without any shadow of a doubt, an adventure game that happens to have pick up and deliver elements. Not the other way around. The only statement one could make about it that is any more wrong is that the game isn’t any good, so go ahead and stick that line of stupid right back under your hat where it belongs.
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09 Dec 2018 15:15 - 09 Dec 2018 15:16 #287804 by Gary Sax
It's an average pick up and deliver game *and* an average adventure game that's way too long, in the same package!

If I were going space, I'd definitely go Xia way before Firefly. Though not sure that'd be in my top five either.
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 15:16 by Gary Sax.

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09 Dec 2018 15:35 #287805 by repoman
Firefly is an Adventure game, no doubt. And I did have it written down as a contender. I think what kept it off the list for me is that the game sort of dictates your course of action via the jobs you take. Yes there is some choice but it's mostly a card draw thing. If you spend too long trying to get the jobs you are interested in then Al Rose has already won.

That constrained choice is in line with the source material and I understand it but I think the superior adventure game gives more agency to the player in terms of career path.

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09 Dec 2018 15:40 #287806 by hotseatgames
I'd really like to try Western Legends. I love Mage Knight and would like to play that one again soon. I still have not gotten around to buying the Tezla expansion.

As for Talisman, I will happily play Relic any time, even though it always overstays its welcome. I'm guessing Talisman does the same thing.

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09 Dec 2018 16:29 #287807 by repoman
I think the idea that Talisman and Relic overstay is wrong. The games run long when players dick around until their character is so over powered that they cannot fail to sail through the inner section. A person who can judge when they have enough for a decent shot at victory will always triumph over the plodding "must be sure" player even when the risk taker suffers some set backs.

It's a flaw in the players understanding not the game itself
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09 Dec 2018 17:01 #287808 by Frohike
Definitively disqualified due to Dungeon Degenerates deficiency.
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09 Dec 2018 17:09 #287809 by SaMoKo
If Firefly is a pick up and deliver game, Merchants and Mauraders sure as hell is!

I’d consider both adventure games first.

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09 Dec 2018 17:34 - 09 Dec 2018 21:09 #287810 by ubarose
I think it is amazing that there are now so many adventure games. When KingPut wrote up his "Dummy's Guide to Adventure Games" ten years ago, I believe there were maybe only 5 adventure style games available, and Talisman was out of print.

I think this is an excellent list even though it doesn't represent my personal favorites. Each of the games on this list captures the essence of a specific style of adventure game. If a newbie gamer told me they liked adventure games, and wanted to know what to try next, I'd give them this list. After they played these 5, and were able to tell me which game they liked best and why, or what they found lacking, I could direct towards which rabbit hole to jump down.

I like that RepoMan didn't shy away from the longer and more sprawling games. The shorter playing and/or more streamlined descendants of Arkham Horror, Merchants & Marauders, and Talisman may make it to the table more often, but each do so at the price of cutting something out. I think if you are making a definitive guide, and limiting it to just 5 games, you have to lean towards the games that have all of it thrown in there.
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 21:09 by ubarose.
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09 Dec 2018 20:30 #287819 by Gary Sax
To me, personally, the real distinction between adventure games that I feel most prominently is if they're "you're going to fucking die" adventure games or they're "explore the space" adventure games. Do you legitimately fear death in every encounter? Is there a good chance you will die and be set way back? They can both make good adventure games!

So, like, on your list Merchants and Marauders is clearly "you're going to die" given how brutal combat is. So is Talisman, imho, and definitely something like Dungeonquest. Magic Realm fits here too.

Most adventure games these days are explore the space, because punishing players or player elimination/huge setback w/death is not a well regarded mechanic anymore. Which is what makes Merchants and Marauders so remarkable to me since it is recent-ish.
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09 Dec 2018 22:13 - 09 Dec 2018 22:46 #287822 by Josh Look

repoman wrote: Firefly is an Adventure game, no doubt. And I did have it written down as a contender. I think what kept it off the list for me is that the game sort of dictates your course of action via the jobs you take. Yes there is some choice but it's mostly a card draw thing. If you spend too long trying to get the jobs you are interested in then Al Rose has already won.

That constrained choice is in line with the source material and I understand it but I think the superior adventure game gives more agency to the player in terms of career path.


I’d give you that if you hadn’t put M&M on the list. Sure, you get a choice over which path you want to take, but the captain you get (also a card draw) makes it 100% obvious which path you should take. You can choose to ignore it, but with everyone else doing what their captain cards suggest and reaping the benefits of doing so, that puts you at a big disadvantage.

I keep wanting to disagree with this list, but I’m not sure what I would do differently. I dislike at least half of these games, some of them I dislike quite a bit. Western Legends and Mage Knight are the only two that I genuinely enjoy playing. I don’t think it’s a matter of me falling out of love with adventures games, it’s more that they’ve never really sat well for me and I’m just now becoming comfortable with the fact that I don’t have to like them. I do RPGs and I have a certain “This time is for this, that time is for that” approach to my gaming schedule and adventure games are often lesser experiences without anything interesting for me to latch on to. I don’t want “RPGs in a box,” neither campaign or one-off plays. That’s probably why Mage Knight, Firefly, and Western Legends are such big hits for me. They all do something special or do something differently that brings me back down to that I’m playing a board game, not something my brain registers as being redundant with a similar but completely separate hobby.
Last edit: 09 Dec 2018 22:46 by Josh Look.
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09 Dec 2018 23:00 #287826 by Gary Sax
I'll bite. What does Firefly do that you consider special in the genre? I'm not trolling.

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10 Dec 2018 00:05 #287827 by repoman
I'm with you that no board game or computer game will ever compete with a well done RPG for adventure.

However, I think adventure games fill a need at least for me in that RPG's take a great deal of time and effort in preparation to play. They require scheduling and they need attendance. What DM has not gnashed his teeth when contemplating the fact that their 10 hours of prep time just got flushed because or scheduling problems with the players? An adventure game can be picked up and played with 0 prep time (outside of rules refreshers) and isn't so dependent on everybody showing up.

And we should be honest in that not everyone is or wants to be and RPG gamer. Plenty of people can enjoy an adventure game and not have the ability or desire to be as extroverted (not sure if that is the right word but it's close) enough to be comfortable RPing.

I also think they allow for the ability to leap from one setting to another. Maybe tonight we are tired of fantasy and want horror or pirates or whatever. RPG's require a commitment to the setting of the system or campaign.

Add in a touch of competition and what you have is something that is it's own thing and not necessarily a poor substitute for an RPG.
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10 Dec 2018 02:11 #287829 by san il defanso
Yeah, I don't see a ton of overlap between adventure games and RPGs. Dungeoncrawls are another story, especially with campaigns, but adventure games are a little more unmoored from that heritage.

You know, one thing about adventure games that I actually like less is that they don't always give you room to do the stuff you like because there is often such a strong racing component. This is true in both Arkham Horror (where you're trying to beat the game) and in Merchants & Marauders (where you're trying to beat the other players). They have all these cool options and weird stuff you can do, but if you do much of that at all you'll probably lose. This is especially bad with Arkham Horror, because there are all those places like the Newspaper and the Silver Twilight Lodge that make for entertaining stories but actively pull you away from the process of winning.

Talisman is a race too, but it's driven by the players entirely. It's also long enough that it feels like you've gotten to do most of the cool stuff by the time the game is over. Playing to win doesn't necessarily mean you are missing out on the weirder things.
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10 Dec 2018 09:20 - 10 Dec 2018 15:52 #287839 by Josh Look
I’m

Gary Sax wrote: I'll bite. What does Firefly do that you consider special in the genre? I'm not trolling.


There’s two ways to look at why this game is as good as it is.

First, there’s the inescapable standpoint of the IP. If you’re a fan of the show (and to be entirely upfront in my estimation of the game, it is my favorite show), it gives you that universe in full. All the stuff and window dressing is there, but what’s really important is that what the show is about is there. No matter what you’re doing in the game or what jobs you’re taking, the game is about the same exact things the show is about. Pushing your luck to get ahead, dealing with the unexpected when things go wrong, getting a crew of diverse people together who might not always agree with what they’re doing. If you ever want a crystal clear example of the difference between setting vs themes, look no further than a GF9 game, especially Firefly. They nailed it as much as they did Star Trek.

The other thing to consider are the mechanics. They handle those themes with clean, back to basics design that works. It’s a long game, but you’re never spending that time with overhead or needless clutter. It has my absolute most favorite movement system in all of gaming. Anyone designing a Firefly game would know to have some pickup and deliver elements, with adventurey stuff at either or both ends of that aspect, but they fit it in the movement as well (again, just like the show) with minimal fuss. It doesn’t matter how many times I play the game, flipping those cards over when doing a full burn can be so tense and exciting.

It absolutely deserved to be on this list, especially over M&M, a game that is completely undeserving of the praise it gets. It offers nothing interesting from a mechanics standpoint, the combat is a chore, and the choice of path A or B is a complete farce. It has AH style 5 and 6 hunting. Wow. Merchants have it easy until a pirate player messes with them, which, oh good, there’s that combat system!. Holy shit, color me fucking floored! No, I’m not having it. Its status is entirely built on the fact that it has a somewhat underused subject matter.
Last edit: 10 Dec 2018 15:52 by Josh Look.
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10 Dec 2018 10:29 #287846 by Legomancer
A good list! The only contenders I'd put in are:

Escape from 100 Million BC - just bonkers nuts but produces some fun narratives.

Would Android count as one?

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