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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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Postmortem- The Gothic Game Fails to Fund, But Is Still Awesome

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11 Nov 2019 12:41 #304084 by Michael Barnes
Last week, Blackletter Games announced that their Kickstarter campaign for...

Rise from the grave.

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11 Nov 2019 13:45 #304087 by Shellhead
Sorry to hear that it didn't fund. I think is actually the second time that it failed to fund, as a friend of mine tried to back a kickstarter for it about a year ago. I bought The Gothic Game in early 2018 from a seller at BGG who had five of them for sale, and I got the cheapest one for $110 plus shipping of $10. I questioned my sanity at the time, but it has been a consistent hit with a wide of variety of players, including AT gamers, general gamers, and even total non-gamers. I can only imagine that the game would fall flat with euro-gamers, because I generally avoid euro-gamers as humorless fun murderers. Anyway, I hope that they find a way to get The Gothic Game funded, because it offers a unique experience in a hobby over-run by dry, themeless games about worker placement, deck building, and auctions.

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11 Nov 2019 14:05 #304089 by ubarose
We played just this weekend. I have vowed to write up rules clarifications (which may actually be considered house rules, as some of the rules are a bit ambiguous). I think there is only one issue that needs to be addressed, which is that when the game gets down to only two remaining players it can drag. I'm thinking of adding a house rule that when the game gets to that point, players lose 10 or maybe 20 points of heath at the beginning of every turn.

We write how people die on our score sheets and save them. Looking over the old score sheets the number one killer is "Death by Prunes."

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11 Nov 2019 14:11 #304091 by hotseatgames
I look forward to being able to own a copy of this some day.

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11 Nov 2019 15:05 #304092 by Shellhead

ubarose wrote: We played just this weekend. I have vowed to write up rules clarifications (which may actually be considered house rules, as some of the rules are a bit ambiguous). I think there is only one issue that needs to be addressed, which is that when the game gets down to only two remaining players it can drag. I'm thinking of adding a house rule that when the game gets to that point, players lose 10 or maybe 20 points of heath at the beginning of every turn.

We write how people die on our score sheets and save them. Looking over the old score sheets the number one killer is "Death by Prunes."


I like the house rule. I save my old score sheets, too, and I am surprised that your Prunes are so lethal. I estimate at least 1/3 of the deaths that I have seen involved the vampire.

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11 Nov 2019 15:37 #304097 by ubarose

Shellhead wrote:

ubarose wrote: We played just this weekend. I have vowed to write up rules clarifications (which may actually be considered house rules, as some of the rules are a bit ambiguous). I think there is only one issue that needs to be addressed, which is that when the game gets down to only two remaining players it can drag. I'm thinking of adding a house rule that when the game gets to that point, players lose 10 or maybe 20 points of heath at the beginning of every turn.

We write how people die on our score sheets and save them. Looking over the old score sheets the number one killer is "Death by Prunes."


I like the house rule. I save my old score sheets, too, and I am surprised that your Prunes are so lethal. I estimate at least 1/3 of the deaths that I have seen involved the vampire.


I think it is because we nearly always play with 8 players, and the Kitchen seems to be the most visited room due to it being in the middle of the board, it's proximity to Dracula, and the fact that it seems to have more beneficial cards than the other rooms (butcher knife, garlic, Christmas pudding). Therefore, we always run through the Kitchen deck, so Prunes always makes an appearance at least once, if not twice. I think Prunes ding you for about 40 life points, so it can be a killer.

Our Draculas seem to be more successful at getting themselves killed by garlic, stake or not returning to the Vault in time than they are at killing other players.
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11 Nov 2019 15:56 #304098 by southernman
Sorry Michael, it failed to fund because (as you have said of other old games) it is out of date and (as you have criticised previously) people have started to decide not to buy another new game just because it has a vocal fanbase and have stuck with what they have or what they know they like. Also it cost too much for a once or twice a year silly fun when people have other games for that price they's get much more enjoyment out of playing. And I say this with total recognition that a hell of a lot of people love this game, just like most games have their ardent fans, unfortunately those people already have their copy and not enough new fans wanted to buy in.
Anyway I better go now as I have likely earned ire from many people and they are probably all thinking of a terrible misfortune for me ... likely very gothic.

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11 Nov 2019 17:04 #304102 by Michael Barnes
No no Tom, you are absolutely correct. Your comments point to some of my issues with the reprint. It was remodeled and reframed as a modern game with the assumption of an audience that frankly isn’t there. This is a cult item with very limited appeal for sure and expectations should have been cast as such. The reality is that there was never really was a big audience for this, there was not a clamoring for a reprint.

But I do think a modest 500 piece print run would sell through, especially if it were only very lightly updated.

But this is not a million dollar KS. Or even a $50k one.
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12 Nov 2019 07:14 #304122 by Kris
Hi everyone,

Firstly, I just want to say thank you to everyone from here who backed the game on Kickstarter. Obviously, it didn't go the way I wanted it to go on this occasion. I need to consider the options now in terms of moving forwards, but I'm still committed to releasing the game in the future.

Also, I just wanted to respond to a couple of points that Michael has made in his excellent piece, as well as to some of the subsequent comments.

Michael's version of the game
I would have been really interested to have seen your interpretation on how to take the game forwards - I'm sure you'd have done a great job of it. However, if you'd gotten a little further with the venture, you'd have hit a couple of significant barriers. Firstly, the trademark had lapsed. I couldn't have called the game 'The Gothic Game' without the risk of being sued by the people who developed the 'Gothic' series of video games. I contacted them to see if we could come to an arrangement (I didn't want to alter the name), but it didn't lead anywhere.

If anyone thinks finding a sensible, original, available ‘.com’ URL is tough... try finding a decent trademark that's available in the UK, US and the EU. Personally, I'm delighted with Damnation - apologies if anyone doesn't like it. Whatever your take, I really don't think this would have had too much bearing on whether people backed the game or not.

The second barrier was that the creators (Robert and Nigel) didn't own the IP for any of the artwork, which includes the logo. So I had to start from scratch with all of that too. Using the same box art was simply never an option.

Art is obviously hugely subjective, but if there's something about this game that's drawn - almost - entirely positive feedback, it's the visuals. I think this game would have worked with a Gloom, or Escape the Dark Castle aesthetic, but given the positive reaction, I have no regrets going down the Mignola-inspired route.

Second Kickstarter
No, this is absolutely the one and only Kickstarter that has been run for this game. This is obviously quite concerning to read. Shellhead – if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind asking your friend if they have a link to that campaign? I’ve not been able to find anything on there myself.

The Gothic Game in today's climate
Thanks for your blunt assessment, Southernman (Tom?). This clearly characterises the views of many people.

During the development of this version I've not shied away from making changes to the game in an effort to make it more appealing to a modern audience. People will read that and I'm sure blood will begin to boil... but just from reading the comments on this site, this is a game that is almost universally played with a set of house rules. I’ve just tried to expand on what most fans have already identified as being improvements to the game.

Fundamentally, here are the two things I wanted to try and improve:
- I wanted to speed the game up, particularly after the first player has been eliminated
- I wanted to increase the number of options available to players

Having read the comments on here, as well as on the other post, I hope the first stated aim is something of a no brainer. On the second aim, the original can feel like a 'spectator sport' at times - even if you're still alive in the game! I wanted to give players more choices and decisions to make, which I think adds a great deal to the experience.

At some point, I'll write in detail about the individual changes I've made. I’m sure there will be people who disagree with them, but I can talk through the reasoning for each one in more detail at a later date if anyone’s interested.

For me, the magic of The Gothic Game is in the way it generates "remember that time when..." moments. I think there's something about these shared experiences that transcends 'modern' or 'old school' tastes. Does the game feature mechanics that are considered outdated? Clearly, yes. Does that mean it can’t be popular with modern gamers? I’d argue, no – but obviously it will always be something of a niche audience.

I'll be honest with you all, I was pretty terrified when I sent out the review copies. I was braced for the absolute worst, but I've been blown away by the reaction to the game, which has been hugely, hugely positive - one guy actually said it's his game of the year (!!!?!?!). It gives me hope that this version does have an audience, despite suggestions to the contrary.

Thanks again for all the comments - I enjoy reading them. If anyone has any thoughts and suggestions, I’m all ears! I’m a huge fan of the original, just like you, and I want to make this game the best it can be.

Kris

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12 Nov 2019 08:40 #304123 by Nodens

Kris wrote: At some point, I'll write in detail about the individual changes I've made. I’m sure there will be people who disagree with them, but I can talk through the reasoning for each one in more detail at a later date if anyone’s interested.

Please do.
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14 Nov 2019 17:37 #304209 by southernman
Hi Kris, if you don't follow your dreams then you can lose a bit of yourselves so kudos for getting it out there. It seems it is going to be a case of getting the message to the people out there who do want a game like this, Kickstarter may be a big word for all of us here but it still isn't that well known - hell I only started looking at it regularly about a year ago (and instantly regretted missing out on Nemesis). Also the high quality production may not be the right fit for this game, it's probably not needed for fans of the game and I'm assuming it is contributing to the cost.

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22 Oct 2021 05:56 - 22 Oct 2021 05:58 #327351 by Kris
Hello! I just wanted to let anyone who's interested know that we're relaunching the game on Tuesday the 26th of October. It's been two years since the last (failed) campaign and I'm hoping that I've learned from some of the mistakes I made last time around. You might be wondering what changes we've made since the last campaign - if you are, here's a brief overview.

One of the issues I wanted to address right from the very beginning of this project was speeding things up, particularly when the first player is eliminated from the game. That's the point at which it can become frustrating for some people. The longer it drags on, the greater the frustration. I tried to address that by adding a set of Deathknell cards that are revealed as each player is killed in the game, each one introducing a new rule that will speed up the game - for example, The Creature means that from that point onwards entering The Moat is fatal. The idea was that once 2-3 of these are in play, the game is going to end pretty quickly. This definitely helps, but it still wasn't there.



Next, I gave players an incentive to play aggressively by rewarding players with 'Soul' tokens when they eliminate another player. These can be traded in at a new room called The Dark Tower for super powerful cards like The Vampire Cloak which allows you to always move up to your movement total while you hold it. Again, it helped, but it wasn't quite there. We played a couple of games in Spiel in 2019 where the two remaining players basically played incredibly defensively. Both quite happy to just move up and down a corridor on opposite sides of the board. I'll be honest, it was a painful experience to watch!

Since then, I've come up with a solution. The game now takes place over four chapters, which I'll summarise here:

The Arrival
This chapter covers the characters entering the castle while it's still dusk and so there's still some light outside. Each player takes four turn back to back in order. They can't interfere with other players during this time and a couple of rooms are locked. It basically gives players the opportunity to pick up 2-3 cards before the game begins properly.

Anyone who's played The Gothic Game will be aware that the area at the beginning of the game can become something of a bottleneck. It could descend into a power of adjacency back and forth, which while sometimes fun, could lead to players dying having had very little to do. Again, sometimes amusing.

Once this chapter concludes, the characters are dispersed throughout the map and everyone has had a chance to pick up a couple of cards. Plus, by making it back to back, it's really quick - about 5 minutes at four to five players.

Nightfall
Once all players have taken their four consecutive turns, the game starts for real. Players can very much interfere with one another from this point onwards!

The Descent
The third chapter is triggered when that first player is killed in the game. This is the crucial turning point and by honing in on this moment in time we can start to put pressure on the remaining players. During this chapter, the Descent tracker will move down a space at the end of each player's turn. There are a couple of spaces that will lead to players revealing Deathknell cards, and once the final space is reached, the fourth and final chapter is triggered - The Fall.

The Fall
I read that the original ending to Dracula would see the castle crack and fall into the ground but Stoker considered it too similar to 'The Fall of the House of Usher.' Using that as inspiration, during this chapter, the castle begins to crumble which causes 1 damage to a player at the end of their turn. Only one room is safe from this - The Great Spiral Staircase. In addition, players can no longer gain health, and entering The Vault is instant death (no more deals with The Vampire!). Essentially what this does is put a clock on the game.

As of now, games tend to finish around 10-15 mins maximum after the first player is killed. Quite often games conclude while still in The Descent. It works perfectly and is consistent. Finally!

Another major change we've made is to introduce the concept of haunting the castle. Inspired by the video game Crawl (absolutely amazing game by the way). Once killed, players flip over their character boards to reveal the Haunt side. From this point onwards, on that player's turn they can choose from one of six powers to subtly influence the game in various ways. For example, they can look at the top two cards off any room deck and return them to the top or bottom of that deck in any order. Or they can become a wraith and until their next turn, players who pass the location where they were killed suffer 2 damage. There's even an opportunity to roll 3 dice and on getting a '666' return to the game - obviously very unlikely, as it should be.



The Haunt mechanic means that eliminated players are still engaged in the game, which again reduces the frustration people feel. Balancing these powers has been really important and I'm very happy with where they are right now.

So those are the two major things I've changed. If you're reading this and you hate these ideas, perhaps you're a Gothic Game purist, well we've got a 'classic' game variant that removes them and tries to recreate the feeling of the original as much as possible.

If you'd be interested in checking out the campaign, here's a link to the campaign. As I say, it will be going live on Tuesday. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/blacklettergames/damnation-the-gothic-game-0/

I'm excited for the campaign and have a couple of really nice surprises lined up - look out for Halloween! I've also got a couple of interview with Robert Wynne Simmons that I'll be sharing as well.

If anyone has any questions, I'd be very happy to answer them.

Thanks for reading - so much for brief eh! :laugh:

Kris
Last edit: 22 Oct 2021 05:58 by Kris. Reason: Images weren't displaying
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22 Oct 2021 06:08 #327352 by Greg Aleknevicus
Good luck with your game!

That Haunt graphic has a spelling error: "Decent" should be "Descent".
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22 Oct 2021 06:20 #327353 by Kris
Thanks Greg! Yes, sadly my brain seems to have a blindspot for the word descent / descent. Thankfully I spotted this one in time for the prototype run, but there are a couple of instances in the rulebook where I've missed them. So embarrassing!

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22 Oct 2021 08:30 #327355 by hotseatgames
This game sounds great and I hope it can become a reality before NEXT Halloween!
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