I didn’t find it irritating at all! I’m thrilled that tabletop gaming is increasingly entering the mainstream. If this article convinces a few hundred people to explore modern boardgaming for the first time, I’ll chalk that up as a big win for the hobby.
I like both Eldritch Horror and the Arkham Horror card game, but they have a weird inverse structure. The base game in Eldritch Horror is great, but the add-ons make it progressively worse and worse. The Arkham Horror card game, on the other hand, is a really sad excuse for a deck-builder until you buy a mess of add-ons. Also, the replayability of Arkham Horror is more limited, since a lot of the scenarios are basically puzzles you can kind of solve. Eldritch Horror is a more varied adventure narrative.
But I do like them both in spite of them each being an example of how Fantasy Flight never met a game design they couldn’t fuck up with their business model.
Actually, fiddliness isn’t such an issue. It’s actually pretty simple. Just based on a look at your Outlive pics, I’d say Fallout is a lot less fiddly than Outlive. I’m not necessarily recommending it, though. It’s just worth bringing up when you talk about post-apocalypse boardgaming.
The real problem with that NYT article is that it’s promoting a game that’s unavailable. Good luck to all those gateway gamers who want to get started with Wingspan, see it’s $150 on amazon.com, and buy some crap like, I dunno, Ticket to Ride instead.
I have Maximum Apocalypse and enjoy it a fair bit. It is nice and modular while having a reasonably cool class/ deck mechanic with a pretty engaging search element. It sort of feels like an apocalyptic strategy video game that is not a video game. That is, it feels like a top down/ mobile version of State of Decay or a paper copy of rebuild. I highly recommend adding in the adjustments introduced in the second kickstarter. They are just rules that can be implemented even if just playing the base game.
Limited search from the updated rules and the optional rule of the encounter draw bag are especially game changing. Limited search is just what it says; you may only search once per tile per turn. The draw bag changes the way encounters are determined by drawing tokens from a bad instead of a dice roll. As the tokens are not replaced, this has a very different distribution element for baddies. I made my own draw bag out of dollar store poker chips while waiting for the newest releases so it’s totally doable with just the base game.
My main beef with the game is that not all apocalypses are created equal. Some are much more menacing than others. I don’t want to have to play aliens to be challenged. Maybe I want to play zombies. The second kickstarter releases have rules to really allow tinkering with difficulty though by optionally mixing encounter decks or adding movement rules. Also there are ways to tinker with the draw bag to really make anything rough. Heck, the draw bag itself adds a fair bit of difficulty. I have not played with all of these rules yet though.
I’m not sold on the draw bag. In fact, I’m not sure how I feel about draw bags when they don’t replenish. The 3rd edition of Arkham Horror relies heavily on the concept, which gives the structure a sort of half-deterministic, half-random feel. I think I like it? I’m not sure.
So in Maximum Apocalypse, I’ve just been rolling dice. The tiles are built around the distribution of results for 2d6 anyway. But I guess the bag tokens are as well.
As for searching once a turn, I can’t imagine how tedious the game must have been before that was a rule. Parking on salvage tiles to deplete the decks instead of moving around the map? When did the designer ever think that was a good idea?
Do you use the day/night deck, Chaplin? I like how it moves the monster tokens around the map. In theory. I haven’t used it yet.
Probably my main issues with the game is the designer’s “make your own fun!” approach to the difficulty level. So is a killed character a fail state or not? You decide! Does a fourth token cause spillover onto adjacent tiles or not? You decide! Are we supposed to use dice or the draw bag? You decide!
Yeah, the various apocalypses are clearly built for difficulty level. The theming seems pretty ancillary to the difficulty level. It seems zombies are baby mode, other stuff is hard mode. The Cthulhu stuff for instance, with those madness cards? Yikes. When is that anything other than a quick road to losing?
A word in favor of draw bags. I’ve been playing a ton of the Arkham Horror LCG lately, and the draw bag features heavily in that. As you may know, the different classes in AH tend to specialize in different areas. One of the areas the Mystic has branched into is manipulation of the dice bag, thematically represented as them messing around with time and destiny.
For example, my latest playthrough is using Father Mateo, a Mystic who starts off with 5 XP to spend as he pleases. I spent 4 of it on two copies of a ritual called Recall the Future. The way it works is this: Whenever you draw a token, which is usually at least once a round, you name a token type. If you draw it, you get a +2 bonus to your skill, which is frequently enough to turn failure into success. So, you need to predict which token you will draw. This seems simple enough- you pick the one that has the best chance of turning failure into success, right? Not quite: some of the tokens have particularly nasty consequences for failure, and even if they are fewer in number, you might want to pick them as insurance. I also might be using my ritual candles, which further changes the math on which tokens are good and which are bad. Things get more complicated if I have a counterspell that nullifies the bad effects of certain tokens. The draw bag system allows for all kinds of granularity in outcome, paired with a thematic richness that comes from using my magic to counter and change the results.
My favorite spell right now is the 0 cost, fast casting Precognition, that lets you draw a token and set it aside. The next test you take WILL use that token. So, what do you do now?
Yeah, the draw bag is a fantastic idea for setting up quick and easy percentages that may not translate to dice without a bunch of charts. As well as providing the game with an easy way to scale itself on player counts, difficulty, etc.
I loved the draw bag (or draw mug, in my case) in my recent play of Comancheria.
Ok, it seems like you came in at Gothic Horrors (the second Kickstarter). That’s good as there were some big changes. Yes, the scavenging thing was pretty head scratching as folks very quickly broke (played) the game at release by just camping and churning scavenge decks. This lowered the difficulty substantially by making action super efficient so starvation, monsters, and deck burn were much less of a concern. Essentially the Gothic Horrors Kickstarter aimed to fix all of that plus add difficulty and content.
For me, I played Maximum Apocalypse 1.5. That is, I learned about it during the second Kickstarter, bought the base game locally, then played with the updated rules including making my own grab bag. Thus other than a game or two for reference, I didn’t play much 1.0 Maximum Apocalypse. I have the Gothic Horrors content, but have not played it yet so I can’t really comment on day/night, movement, or newer critter sets.
As to the grab bag, I like it. I played both ways and prefer the bag. I have other games with grab bags, but I don’t really think much about the use there. To me, without the grab bag, MA can feel a bit to Settlers of Catan with knowing how an 8 space should be handled over a 12 space. I like the flattening out of the curve via the grab bag such that 8 is still common, but that 12 gets more scary each pull until it hits. For me this adds to the tension and unpredictability that goes hand in hand with the theme. I also like the ambush difficulty modifiers that can go with the grab bag.
This brings up point two. Yes, the game has this build your own difficulty element (“you decide”) especially with all the Gothic Horrors options. I know this isn’t your thing. You seem to really lean hard on designers to do all this ahead of time. I get that. And, I agree in part. To me board gaming is such a varied customer pool that I also recognize that is a pretty tough demand too. Board games are exploding. Most of my friends play them. However, nearly all of them are pretty light gamers and have no interest or tolerance for difficulty, rules, or learning curve. They accept the day of Monoploly is done, but asking more than Cards against Humanity from most game night combinations, is tough.
As a grizzled gamer, I too want the Doom “hurt me plenty” setting right from the start. I expect designers are afraid of cutting their market down by doing this. You and I might be ready for Dark Souls level board gaming all the time, but most of folks (unless you have a similar minded gaming group) don’t seem to land there. I expect this is especially true if a game leads with comic book styled art for a zombie apocalypse.
So, I appreciate the difficulty options. The first core release did hedge towards the easy side. However, I also am one that has generally accepted tweaking and house ruling to tastes over the years. That said, I would like a Doom level set of suggestions out of the box for low to very high difficulty ruleset and Apocalypse choice combinations. And maybe that invalidates my entire point.
I like the game though. I really like the theme. I like the hunger, scavenge, and deck economy. I like the exploration. Map setup is also a “you decide” element that is pretty big. Making a serpentine map with lots of holes rather than a basic square can really shake up the game and choices.
I dunno. I like Maximum Apocalypse. I like its theme and open ended setup (but still random and hidden) options. It is a fairly engaging analog rogue-like with all the tropes from Mad Max to The Walking Dead. I am glad at least that I was not left behind by a crazy easy difficulty curve and have options, but still have options to drop this game on casual night (aka most nights that are not me solo at my table).
So, I think there is a distinction between, “you decide,” and difficulty in game design. I think if the designer is punting to the players to let them adjust the difficulty then the designer is doing it wrong. A novice player without really understanding the game as it is shouldn’t be tasked with making adjustments right out of the gate.
I have not read through the final draft of the Maximum Apocalypse Gothic Horrors rules, but the rules are (were?) established. You start with zombies and move your way up in scenarios/ apocalypses, use dice for spawns, don’t mix decks, and when you die you lose. I think the default rules said that maps should be square grids, but leaving holes or getting creative added difficulty. That said, the rules are very open ended with options (like map setup). Usually this is “advanced rules” right after the tutorial rules which is just the full ruleset. However, Mike Gnade seems to be essentially offerering the players rules options in computer game styled checkboxes. That is, there isn’t an advanced/ full ruleset, just an “options screen” of sorts. Do you want to play ironman mode? Check box. Do you want to salvage 5 mech parts instead of 3 in order to be able to rebuild a mech? Check box. Does your playgroup hate player elimination? Check box. Do you want monsters to wander? Check box. Or, don’t check any boxes and play the default game. Default zombies is definitely baby mode. It sounds like default Cthulhu is crazy hard. Options can and did allow making zombies more challenging-- which I appreciated.
Has anybody seen any good previews of this game designed purely as a solitaire? It has 6 days left on Kickstarter.
The design and setting seem good. I like the look of the mind interface (the stats sheet) and how the stats seem to interact. But the first overview video started as a confusing mess and cooled me down quite a bit. And the turn examples are another head scratcher. Hmmm…
Wendelius, you probably want to give that one a wide berth:
Ugh. Thanks for the heads up.
Wow. I decided about 6 months ago that I’m done with Kickstarter for good. I pledged to pledge no more. Good reminder that was a good decision.
Yeah. I’ve had a range of OK-ish to regret level Kickstarter boardgames with very few that really pleased me much once they came in. Then I had two colossal failures that as far as I can tell will never deliver and feel like serious mismanagement of funds/ misrepresentation of facts to what should be criminal levels. I’m not completely out, but I am much more selective nowadays.
I only do kickstarters from established game makers. I have never tried one from a first timer and will always research the people/companies/publishers to make sure they are legit.
I’ve had good success with kickstarter…I pledge and forget and a game suddenly shows up at my door, it’s like xmas.
I did screw up with Nemesis. I picked the wrong shipping option so my purchase of only the main game is coming with the 2nd wave stuff as I messed that up.
And, D day dice 2 is taking an annoying amount of time getting done but overall I’ve been happy with KS.
I got nailed by Myth 2.0 that looks like it will fail to deliver anything besides printed material and the two base expansion boxes. The creator just pushed out printed items and did a bunch of hand waiving about selling the IP before washing his hands of the whole thing. The believers still think all is dandy and the new owners will make good someday, but there is a whole lot of quiet and no action almost a year after the supposed final sale. If anything I expect a disappointing reboot that will leave backers behind.
I also got nailed by Super Dungeon Explore Legends. These guys are thieves. Their game was rather clunky. It was then fixed up rather well with the help of a hamstrung outside developer (Malifaux) brought in and fans testing and providing feedback. The game was considerably better. But Soda Pop Miniatures had burned through all their cash doing other Kickstarters (that failed too to ranging degrees), overhead, and paying licensing fees to themselves among other shady crap. Right now I have great rules, but no product. They are broke and seem to only exist to troll backers and fluff up intentions to attorney generals.
Both of these were large, well known commercial products that have retail presence and have had as much for years. I’ve been a fan and played SDE since it was first released under the then unknown Cool Mini or Not that just had a website for showing off mini paint jobs. Soda Pop did have questionable connections to the Robotech Tactics that failed.
Besides those huge disappointments, I have run through my list of backed and delivered games. Some are good to okay. However looking at all that I spent, I never got near the fun return for investment. I kind of miss the good old days when just base games existed and I could guiltlessly buy them without risking filling my house with untested expansions.
I’ve leaned that Kickstarter pretty much exists to push FOMO and as long as they get paid, they don’t care what happens in projects. It is a much safer bet to wait on reviews and product then pay eBay tax.
Sorry you got burned, man :(
I’ve been burned twice, but on smaller projects. For my part, I figure that the kind of things I am most interested in tend to have second printings that are more widely available at more reasonable prices. So the price I pay is more in patience than in lost consumer surplus via ebay. Still, waiting, as we all well know, sucks.
I swore off video game Kickstarters a long time ago after a short string of failures and just plain galling treatment, but I thought board game Kickstarters were in better shape, although I have not backed any and do not plan to. In fact, I should probably just stop buying board games altogether, as I just don’t have the shelf space for any more!
They are. Most boardgame Kickstarters are already at final stages of design if not fully complete and are funding production, not development. They are far more likely to fulfill than videogame projects and are generally as promised or very close to it. And while that doesn’t mean they are automatically a safe bet, it tends to be relatively easy to identify projects that aren’t a great idea to back. Finally, because of the economics of physical production, you may find Kickstarter games cheaper at online retail than for backers, but it will never be as much or as fast as post-launch videogames get discounted, if you can find it at retail at all.