Boardgaming 2022: the year of "point salad really isn't very filling"

Interesting. That’s actually a selling point to me, maybe. I find myself at times needing a couple of readthroughs of rules and watching a playthrough video or two to grasp deckbuilding or Euro worker-placement mechanics in games. But traditional war game mechanics? For someone who grew up playing SPI and Avalon Hill games with counters with numbers on them and ye olde Combat Results Chart…well, those are mechanics I think I’ll grasp right off the jump.

Oh, me as well! And that’s part of why I love Dawn of the Zeds. Hermann Luttman, being a wargame designer, has all the meticulousness of a wargame designer, and it shows in the early editions. I mean, just the fact that @justaguy2 popped into the thread to remind someone about combat shifts! Who even knows what combat shifts are anymore, right?

The problem – this is a theory I have and it’s not based on any actual information – is that Alan Emrich’s “development” in the later editions seems to get more aggressive, introducing little tweaks and add-ons and “wouldn’t it be cool ifs…?” that ultimately weaken the original design. It turns into a messier game, a goofier game, a more pandering game, and in the process, the wargamey meticulousness gets muddied. My feeling is that the third edition is the reaction of a company trying to cash in on the popularity of zombies because, whoa!, it turns out lots of people bought the last edition, so they figured they’d make it easier to play, and think up some paid expansions, and fold in lots of extra pop culture references, and then maybe even more people will buy it! I feel the same thing happened with Chris Taylor’s Nemo’s War, by the way.

I like the third edition of Dawn of the Zeds, and I’m glad it’s a hit. But I feel like the supposed course correction it was trying to make from the second edition was mostly a mistake.


For those that may not know, Alan Emrich was previously (in)famous as the lead designer of Master of Orion 3…

And keeping with the Victory Point video game link, Nemo’s designer Chris Taylor was a lead designer on Fallout (not to be confused with the Gas-Powered Games Chris Taylor, of Total Annihilation/Dungeon Siege fame). :)

Everdell was fun, but took us a solid 2.5 hrs to play. Hopefully with an experienced group that would be closer to 90 minutes. Only mechanic that stunk was one player who was out of it pretty quickly and had no way to come back. Most of that was from new player mistakes, but I could see the same happening to a player with runs of cards that don’t work together.

Took so long that we didn’t get Quacks out, and instead of King of Tokyo we just played straight in Yahtzee which is my favorite go to.

But it’s a solo game, correct? Why is it so hard to make and awesome multiplayer zombie game that’s good? Last night on Earth was probably the best effort I’ve seen.

In theory 3rd edition has coop rules but they’re pretty much just “divvy up your actions between players”. So yeah, it’s a solo game.

He’s getting a new shot at it soonish (likely late 2023?):

Here’s my boy schooling me tonight in Transformers TCG. Late to the party, but I picked up a couple of starters and booster boxes on the cheap. Opened 8 tonight and played our second game, but first ‘full’ game with 25 stars worth of bots. Of course he opened a super rare Nemesis Prime, then mopped the floor with me.

It’s pretty fun, but I guess covid killed it in the end. The art on the cards is awesome, retro 80’s inspired and it seems pretty easy to get into and I kind of like the randomness that card draws add to attack and defense values - it made one play super memorable.

I played a combo to add attack value and additional card draws to an attack against Nemesis Prime, drawing six cards instread of the usual two. Against the odds, this ended up only adding a single attack value to my stack, which he then drew multiple defense cards against it, resulting in Nemesis Prime escaping with one health against my well executed plan, which had him screaming for joy.

I don’t care about winning, but that’s the kind of experience I want him to have to drive an interest in boardgames and all the beneficial education I think they can bring - maths, strategic and tactical thinking, planning and social interaction.

That’s pretty awesome. I can relate. I will miss those moments a lot once the kids are no longer kids and off to their own far away lives. Hopefully a memory or interest is set so that someday there will be visits with request to pull X or Y off the shelf once again.

I just need to vent

I don’t understand Kickstarter. And I mean that in the most literal sense possible. I have never backed anything, but every once in awhile I go to see what might be coming.

Today I stumbled upon the Game Toppers, but when I go to the KS page it is just an absolute mess of images and numbers and explanations and I honestly have no idea what is going on:

Why isn’t this just a proper store with a storefront? (don’t answer, I know why)

It isn’t just this product - I’m consistently confused when I go to KS pages to try and figure out what the product is, if it is even available to back, when it might ship and what will be included. Drives me crazy

/end rant

It is, assuming your definition of “proper storefront” dates back to about 1995.

I mean, it’s a standard KS page. You glance at the pictures to get an idea of what’s on offer. Then you click on Rewards to check the prices and decide what to get.

I’m not totally sure as I’ve never run a KS, but I think the usage of pictures must make it easier to update the rewards (update the pictures on your CDN) as you unlock stretch goals, …

The only thing meant to act like a store front are the rewards though. And those kinds of work like they should.

As for whether it’s available to back, does it have days left on the campaign or a late pledge link near the top?

KS is still a pain when it comes to managing pledges and add ons on mobile though. They haven’t quite gotten the responsive design memo throughout.

Also, I think GameFound has a cleaner interface, but a fraction of the audience.

They aren’t actually a storefront though. Never forget. The creator can abscond with your money and there’s nothing you can do about it. I have lost hundreds of dollars on just such a gaming tabletop. I personally recommend buying retail and not using Kickstarter for anything.

Oh, sure. I agree. I’m not here to tell people to treat KS as a pre-order store.

Mind you, since about 10-11 years ago, I must have backed well over 100 projects (some $10 participation to a documentary being made, some $150 on a TTRPG or board game, and many in between). Looking back, over 95% delivered. And some delivered rewards not available outside of the campaign. I haven’t personally lost hundreds of dollars. But that’s possibly luck as much as picking campaigns judiciously.

Where I lost money is on widely distributed products available cheaper after release (that’s the price you often pay for supporting a creator) or buying a dud. Some of the delivered projects disappointed in one way or another. Waiting for reviews where possible is much better. And yes some are among my favourite things (and not available commercially).

So there is a balance, but I’ve tended to back and feel FOMO less and less as time passes.

There’s some luck to it, certainly, but there’s also plenty of basis to judge projects by. I’ve backed more like 500 projects and I have been burned maybe a couple dozen times, nearly always for stuff I was only speculatively interested in and put minimal money down on. That said, it’s never risk free, and you should only put down money you can afford to potentially lose. But then, I’d say that about boardgames in general - they are not important enough to spend money you actually need on them!

Sounds like some of you have figured out how to navigate it all.

For me, as an outsider, the whole experience made feel like I’m at a madhouse carnival with no idea what was going on.

I bought and played Welcome To (the roll and write game). I played the regular game, and liked it. Then I tried the solo game, and was really bored. I think this game is only interesting as multiplayer.

Don’t buy this for solo.

Having now played burncycle two nights in a row (once in person, once in TTS tonight as our third for Middara has no power currently and thus no TTS), definitely happy with my purchase.

For those unfamiliar, it’s the latest (at least, physically manufactured) Chip Theory game, a stealth game of robots in the year 3000 trying to infiltrate corporate headquarters and achieve some objective or objectives despite oppressive programming trying to keep them in line. As is typical for Chip Theory, there are loads of things you can swap out to keep any given session fresh, between a variety of different guards patrolling the halls (mostly but not entirely humans in powered armor suits), to the corporations (who have different missions, floor layouts, and threat effects) to the guard captains (who each inflict a different negative effect on their chip on the burncycle, and have different security loadouts, personal stats, and abilities) to the bots themselves (nowhere near as unique as Gearlocs in TMB, but a small suite of unique abilities and different stats), to the command module (the bot you’re running your operation through, who can be any bot that’s not in player hands and has a different special ability and stats on that side).

Unlike some stealth games, getting spotted doesn’t automatically make your situation worse - threat is the big omnipresent problem, advanced both every round and by acting against the corporation in certain ways (or by certain corporate abilities), but just getting seen only affects threat in the hardest difficulty. Instead, it creates both problems and opportunities. The problem is obvious: the guards come looking for you, and if they find you, they attack you. Fighting back is hard (getting harder as you progress), loud, and increases threat. On the other hand…getting seen means the guards come looking for you. Which means you can get them out of that room they’re monitoring, or onto a different patrol loop, or into a room you don’t need to mess with (where they will stay unless otherwise prompted) or…

Other things I appreciate:
The objectives are a lot more varied and interesting than just “go here, retrieve this” or “kill this”. Those are components, often, but there’s enough to keep you on your toes and thinking creatively.
The titular burncycle adds an interesting element of not-quite-programming. This isn’t Roborally, you’ve always got the full suite of actions at your disposal (more or less depending on whether you’ve invested in unlocking the slots in it, and extra chips to replace the ones that degrade, and when you decide to reboot it), but as you go you can be slotting in a limited number of optimized chips that power up certain types of action…but only when they’re done at that point in the cycle. And every bot uses the same burncycle configuration apart from it steadily degrading every turn.
Every turn every bot gets to maneuver around in the Network, capturing the hacking side of so many futuristic heist stories, which can reduce threat and get you power to upgrade with. Or, if you’ve had downtime that turn to generate cards for it, get to particular nodes on the network for powerful additional effects. Like blowing up a wall through the internet. (The Internet of Walls, it’s called.) Which is delightful.

The dice betray me. Doing some of the actions requires generating AP, which you do by rolling dice from a pool you gather at the start of your turn. But there’s not much way to mitigate other than trying the same action again, and any dice you used the first time (which doesn’t include any actual blanks unless you want it to) are used for the turn. With my dice luck, this can be a problem.
As a corellary, buying dice upgrades tends to be better than buying cool stuff like your special powers. Not always. But the latter are definitely more situational. Not my favorite version of levelling.

You sold me here. I’m waiting on my copy to arrive. Boooo… But with that copy also comes Too Many Bones and also Cloudspire. So that’s good. Though the bad is finding space. I’ve decided Gloomhaven on PC is the better way to go, so that’s one box gone. Same with Charterstone - think it can go too.

This seems similar to what I’ve seen of Too Many Bones, where stat upgrades are better than skill upgrades. And that does bother me a little bit only because stat upgrades feel more ‘boring’ I suppose compared to unlocking new skills. I hope I’ve interpreted your views on the game correctly though.

Yeah, I’ve heard that about TMB too. And I agree that they’re more boring (for one thing, everyone’s got them). But with TMB, by the time you hit the Tyrant, you’ve probably gotten to upgrade your Gearloc a good 10-12 times if not more, so I feel like I usually have room to bump key stats a bit and get some cool unique skill dice. In my limited experience of burncycle so far, you’ve got more competing for your upgrade resource (and it’s also your health and your basic dice pool) and you don’t get as much of it - I mean, neither game has gone past one floor, so maybe I’d feel differently on a three floor run. (The in person one yesterday was meant to be a two floor run but between fucking up our opening turns really badly - both in rules and decisions - and resetting and just generally taking ages to grok the game, we only made it through one before calling it.) But that’d also represent more chances to take damage. IDK. And fundamentally, those dice can be the difference between being able to do some actions at all or being able to split up dice into successfully managing a couple things, whereas in TMB stats feel less immediately vital? Oh, and you have baseline stats in TMB. burncycle just says “here’s ten points to spend how you like, you’ve got to spend down to your cap and you’ve got to reserve at least one to be alive, otherwise do what you feel”.