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Gen7 Board Game Review - Recline or Die High

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16 Apr 2019 09:00 - 16 Apr 2019 10:26 #295562 by Andrew McAlpine and Jonathan Volk
[CHAPTER 1]The Ship Is Alive with the...

Andy & Jonathan review Plaid Hat Games’ latest “crossroads” epic!
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Last edit: 16 Apr 2019 10:26 by ubarose.
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16 Apr 2019 10:17 - 16 Apr 2019 13:26 #295563 by Gary Sax
"The best board games build stories the way Jigsaw builds a kill room: they create a space, purposefully fill it with a bunch of dangerous and interesting tools, and then lock a few people in and count on human nature to do the rest. Because given the right encouragement, agency, and mechanisms, humans will naturally create great stories--it’s what our brains are programmed to do! Competitive games will spin tales of deviousness, and betrayal, and fierce conflict. Cooperative games will tell stories of camaraderie, and sacrifice, and the fight for control.

Gen7 doesn’t really tell any of these stories, except (in our case) the shared struggle between a few hapless players and the game itself. This is because Gen7 makes the mistake of believing that its story is bound up in a novel’s worth of bad prose splashed on cards and the campaign book, or in the handful of consequential choices players get to make in the course of a fifteen-odd hour campaign."

This part worked for me, and is the heart of my beef about a lot of these games. Even when they are good (e.g. I've heard Dragonholt is pretty good!) they're not using what I consider the unique aspects of the medium. That doesn't mean that games that use written canned story are automatically bad, but I wonder if it's even possible for them to reach the heights that my best gaming memories have.

People have this discussion in the videogame space a lot more vis a vis using the unique aspects of the medium, the play, and its advantages.
Last edit: 16 Apr 2019 13:26 by Gary Sax.

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16 Apr 2019 10:32 #295565 by Vysetron
We came to the exact same conclusion regarding The Office in our plays. For such a grandiose production and all its spacey coats of paint, it sure is just a game about petty semi-coop office politics bullshit. It certainly has some interesting ideas but it fails at telling a compelling story or being an entertaining game.

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16 Apr 2019 13:04 #295571 by WadeMonnig
I just want to say that this review is, by far, the best review I have read in recent memory. Some of the turn of phrase and explanations are just stunning. THIS is the type of thing that would make me return to TWBG over and over...if I wasn't already here.
The game itself sounds like it might have been shooting for Hitchhiker's Guide mixed with another Infocom Douglas Adams' Video Game "Bureaucracy."
Utterly Brilliant review.
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16 Apr 2019 15:12 #295573 by AndrewMcAlpine

WadeMonnig wrote: I just want to say that this review is, by far, the best review I have read in recent memory. Some of the turn of phrase and explanations are just stunning. THIS is the type of thing that would make me return to TWBG over and over...if I wasn't already here.


Thanks man, that means a lot!
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16 Apr 2019 15:13 #295574 by AndrewMcAlpine

Vysetron wrote: For such a grandiose production and all its spacey coats of paint, it sure is just a game about petty semi-coop office politics bullshit.


Right? It makes me wish they had just leaned into it and ACTUALLY made an office politics game--this sort of thing might work better as a comedy than a drama.
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16 Apr 2019 15:18 #295575 by AndrewMcAlpine

Gary Sax wrote: Even when they are good (e.g. I've heard Dragonholt is pretty good!) they're not using what I consider the unique aspects of the medium. That doesn't mean that games that use written canned story are automatically bad, but I wonder if it's even possible for them to reach the heights that my best gaming memories have.

People have this discussion in the videogame space a lot more vis a vis using the unique aspects of the medium, the play, and its advantages.


Yeah, I think this is a discussion worth having in the tabletop space--it seems like the default is to resort to old techniques / modes, even when they don't fit the context of what you're doing. In the same way that video games can flounder when they try to be movies, board games can flounder when they try to be novels, or TV shows, or whatever the hell Gen7 wants to be. I hate to use a buzzy buzzword but the idea of "emergent narrative" really fits for the kind of storytelling games do best.

I still have a soft spot for flavor text and grand narrative ambitions (just played Android the other week and had a blast breaking out my graveliest voice for the longwinded detective monologues), but it's just so hard to make this work well.

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16 Apr 2019 15:22 #295576 by hotseatgames
A very clever review, much appreciated!
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16 Apr 2019 16:43 #295589 by GorillaGrody
If I were still back in the Pioneer Valley I would have been a part of this, and no doubt you’d still be hearing my caterwauling in your dreams, so we all dodged a bullet with this one.

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16 Apr 2019 16:52 #295590 by Vysetron

AndrewMcAlpine wrote: Right? It makes me wish they had just leaned into it and ACTUALLY made an office politics game--this sort of thing might work better as a comedy than a drama.


I mean, we absolutely played it that way. As a result we never switched departments (because the rules say you can but no, they were OURS). Our green player synthesized incredible quantities of chems and we joked that she was mass producing and hoarding space weed - Sweed. Eventually she got a crossroads card for a medical intervention. We were wheeze laughing.

Unfortunately that was very early on, it was the only memorably funny moment, and it was only entertaining because we happened to be joking about how ridiculous the game was throughout. The game didn't tell that story despite the giant book. We did.
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18 Apr 2019 14:59 #295728 by cdennett
You had me at "Detective Ling’s Bubbliness Is Actually a Dissociative Disorder That Also Protects Her from the Reality of Imminent Death!". Bravo, gentlefolks.

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19 Apr 2019 09:24 #295754 by AndrewMcAlpine

GorillaGrody wrote: If I were still back in the Pioneer Valley I would have been a part of this, and no doubt you’d still be hearing my caterwauling in your dreams, so we all dodged a bullet with this one.


Oh GG, you would have hated it so very, very much.

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