Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: Brass, The Mind, Metal Dawn, Railroad Ink


#2

An episode dedicated to rail based boardgames?

I am so in!

Now to find out if you talk about my favorite rail based boardgame, and second favorite all time, Railways of the World.


#3

If you’re interested in rail games, my brother-in-law just started a Youtube channel where he posts 6-10 hour streams of him and buddies playing though various 18xx games.


#4

Tom doesn’t sleeve his games… But has problem with metal coins pox marking his games? 🤔🤔🤔


#5

The situation with the rules for The Mind is actually worse than Tom suspected. The rules explicitly forbid all communication, verbal or non-verbal. At this point there is literally no point at all in the game, rather than just very little.

Mike was right in that the designer has then clarified that their group plays with a lot of non-verbal clues. So why do the rules not reflect this? Because, reasons the designer, people will always play a little fast and loose with rules that limit communication. If you explicitly allow body language in the rules, the players will start using gestures or something. So to calibrate the actual player behavior correctly, they wrote the rules to be stricter than that.

I hate hate hate this idea of assuming the players won’t play by the rules.


#6

The “Iron Clays” that were available with Brass are just nice poker chips they designed. They come with their own chip rack that fits inside the game box.


#7

I really want to get the new Brass after hearing Tom talk about it. Sadly it’s out of stock at all the distributors at the moment.


#8

One thing you guys didn’t discuss is just how stunning the art is on those games. It really elevates the whole thing.


#9

We all have our own red lines in the sand.

And just because I don’t use card sleeves doesn’t mean I store them with components that will scratch up their backs! Really, though, it’s mainly sour grapes. Those clay chips @JPR posted look pretty darn sweet.

Ugh. As if I didn’t already hate The Mind enough. Hey, game designers, do your job. I didn’t buy your game so I can pick up where you left off!

Do you mean for Brass? To be honest, I hadn’t really noticed. I guess the irony is that it’s art of a sooty industrial wasteland. But the production values are really good, and that includes the artwork.

-Tom


#10

Really hope you guys keep this up as a regular feature. I like Mike’s insight into the retail side of things. (If you ever want a guest game designer on for an episode or two, I’d jump at the chance!). It really bums me out to hear about poor productions, like Metal Dawn. Speaking as a designer, I can only say that while I’d like to take responsibility for everything in the final product (“the buck stops with me”), that’s pretty far from the truth. Developers and publishers end up having a lot more control over what the final product looks like, and they may even change rules or fail to fix a rulebook without informing the designer. In other words, my personal experience is that the industry isn’t particularly efficient and well-tuned, unless you’re talking about a major company like FFG. I don’t think it’s as simple as a moderately funded KS leading to lacksidasical final production.

I’m trying to avoid a rant here, but I think a major problem in the industry right now is that (most) publishers want to put out as many games as possible in a year to stay relevant and hope for that unexpected hit (e.g., Terraforming Mars) that can transform your company and give you some major capital to play with. The investment per game in terms of development and support can be fairly pathetic. So, overall, consumers are being flooded with tons of games that - in all honesty - have some really great ideas (because the design-space nowadays is amazing) but were not given the time and energy to hone them to a really finished state.


#11

Boardgames were meant to be played and enjoyed. I get sleeving cards, I guess, but I’d rather see and feel the cards as they were made. I love how worn the cards are in my copy of Incan Gold and Shadow Hunters, because it shows how well loved they are. I’ve played games with my friends at least once a month for years, I don’t make any rules about food or drink, and we’ve never had any catastrophic spills. We HAVE had spills, but most boards and cards are glossy enough that quick, careful clean-up keeps there from being any permanent damage, certainly nothing that makes the game unplayable.

I recommend focusing on enjoying your friends and the time you get to spend with them more than your stuff!

Now, LOSING pieces? Drives me batty.


#12

We are doing this regularly from now on! Glad you guys are enjoying it.


#13

Great stuff guys. Love that this will be a regular feature. But one point of feedback: please try and mix the audio better. Right now it sounds like Tom is shouting in one ear and Mike is whispering in the other. For people who listen to stuff like this in the car (where road noise can overwhelm a quiet channel so you have to turn everything up) or walking around in headphones (where ambient outside noise does the same thing) it can get uncomfortable. Record on two channels and then use Reaper to equalize them, or turn Mike’s microphone gain up, or have Mike speak directly into the mic, or something.


#14

Tom noticed the mix problem after the fact. It will be addressed in the next one!


#15

Cool, but please remind him that this is what audio mixing software is for - to remix stuffI He can still fix this one!


#16

You’re not allowed to hate The Mind until you play it. I picked it up on a whim because it was cheap and there was some buzz about it. After reading the rules and even playing through my first game, I wondered if this game was a total dud. There just didn’t seem to be that much to it. But after we got the hang of it and got a feel for the flow of the game, it was a big hit with my group. There is such a nice building of tension and then relief, or even outright joy when the group holds a bunch of tightly packed numbers and then rapid-fire plays them out in perfect order within a couple of seconds. That kind of thing happens more than you might expect as you start to sync up with each other.

I agree that it was an error of judgment on the developer’s part to completely prohibit nonverbal communication in the rulebook. The game is much better IMO when you allow some room for nervous fidgeting or laying down your cards because you can’t possibly have the lowest number. On the other hand, there’s so much gray area on the kinds of “tells” that might ruin the game that maybe it’s better to just let players use their own judgment for what they might tolerate.


#17

I just want to say something about Betrayal at House on the Hill. I haven’t played the Legacy version, and I apologize to Vesper who likes it, but I can’t imagine it being good.

The original Betrayal is one of the worst board games ever made, and I am not exaggerating. The first half of the game is a bunch of pointless wandering around. You’re collecting items and exploring rooms, but it’s all to no effect because you have no idea what you are trying to do. You don’t know what the victory conditions are. You don’t even know which team you’re on. What the hell is the point of a game where you’re making moves with no information about what the goal of the game is??

And then you get to the second half, where the players split up and go read different rules – and at least 50% of the time those rules are broken or impossible to interpret, and of course the players can’t get together to agree on what they mean, because they’re supposed to keep them secret from each other. (I understand that some of the most broken haunts have been fixed, but this was my experience). Also, in my experience, once you read the haunt rules, the game is usually already over; in that one side or the other has already, by accident, fulfilled their requirements, or can’t be stopped from doing so.

I already know the counter-argument, which is “It’s a great haunted house experience!”. To which I say, go watch House on Haunted Hill on Netflix. It’s a better haunted house experience without pretending to be a game. Or Evil Dead, or Cabin in the Woods, or… just anything else.

And then there’s the Legacy version, which, again, I haven’t played. But I have played Seafall, another Legacy game by the same designer, and it is an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. The rules are poorly written, the unlocks change the rules far too much (you can suddenly be confronted with the fact that the strategy you’ve been molding your faction towards is now nonviable), and it is even possible to completely break the game, making it impossible to finish (we nearly did this).

So I’d warn anyone away from either of those games. If you really want to play a Legacy game, well, I hear Pandemic is good (although the same designer was involved), although it’s coop, which isn’t my thing, so I haven’t played that either. I liked Charterstone, I played that all the way through. And I hopefully am about to start the Scythe campaign expansion (which isn’t Legacy – you don’t alter any components, it’s completely re-settable, and playable as a modular expansion after/instead of the campaign).


#18

Pandemic Legacy is very good, and I don’t like regular Pandemic.


#19

I like regular Pandemic! Haven’t played Pandemic Legacy.


#20

There is software that will even out different recording levels? Or do you mean that’s what I should manually do using Audacity or something?

-Tom


#21

@JoshL, your comments about the non-legacy Betrayal game are certainly my take on it, as well. However, I think the appeal of the legacy version is growing a set of rules and playing pieces with the group. Whereas the original Betrayal just dumps you into a pile of stuff, some of which will be picked out for whatever scenario you happen to roll, the legacy version seems to slowly build up a shared toybox and a set of factions and characters that can interact with the pieces in different ways? At least I think that’s the idea based on reading everything before the strident DO NOT READ THIS YET warnings.

You misspelled “solitaire”.

I think it’s a safe bet that I will never play The Mind. I pre-hate it that much!

-Tom