Qt3 Games Podcast: Brad Talton and Millennium Blades

Title Qt3 Games Podcast: Brad Talton and Millennium Blades
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Games podcasts
When April 22, 2015

After establishing his CCG bona fides, Tom Chick talks to Brad Talton about his newest boardgame, Millennium Blades, which is currently enjoying a successful campaign on Kickstarter..

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As the unnamed friend who wasn't in love with this game, I'd just like to clarify that I have nothing against CCGs (I play Magic and Hearthstone and Tom is getting me into Dice Masters). And while my "hardcore cred" was questioned a bit, I am fully capable of enjoying Civilization (the good ones, like Civ IV).

My main issue with Millennium Blades is that it purports to abstract the process of preparing for a CCG and then playing a CCG. But it FEELS like ACTUALLY DOING both of those things in a not-at-all-abstract way. The difference between MB and a "real" CCG is that all the homework is done at the table, silently studying cards and doing math, while all your friends are silently doing math too. But I just scheduled time to hang out with all my friends! Why are we silently doing math in front of each other? If I wanted to play a CCG with them I would have done just that, and gotten the math out of the way beforehand, at home!

And then the "playing the CCG" portion of the game just didn't grab me.

A lot more I could say but I'd rather not rant at the developer on my friend's website. :)

If I'm ever in the neighborhood or vice versa, I will totally play Vampire: The Eternal Struggle with you. Although my decks are very rudimentary.

It's worth noting that Netrunner is also a Richard Garfield design.

Well, how is that different from any tableau scoring game where you're "silently doing math"? And furthermore, I think you're neglecting the interactive part of that math, where part of the calculation is reacting to what the other players have done. You make it sound like we're doing arbitrary math drills, when what we're doing is figuring how best to set up our own scoring to survive contact with the other players.

And the reason you can't have done the deckbuilding at home before the game is because your options unfold differently each time you play Millennium Blades. You don't know what cards you'll be getting. You don't know what cards will be available. You don't know what sets will be used. And you certainly don't know what cards the other players will be using. That part of the CCG experience is different each time you play.

As for the argument that Millennium Blades is just like playing a CCG, well, yeah, inasmuch as any game that simulates something is just like what it's simulating. But you neglect to point out that the CCG being modeled is compressed and abstracted to fit the single session of gameplay. So other than that, yeah, just like playing a CCG. :)

Well, sure. I'm not saying I'd rather do the Millennium Blades deckbuilding at home. I'm saying I'd rather play something else. :)

And the gameplay is arbitrarily compressed. The reason there's a clock is because you could very well spend much longer analyzing your deck. A more elegant, meaningfully abstracted design wouldn't need a clock. You'd be able to do what you wanted to do without setting an arbitrary time limit, because what you wanted to do would be doable in a short amount of time.

Oh, and how it's different from any tableau scoring game I've ever played is, I've never played a tableau scoring game where you can literally sit in silence for 10 minutes without someone becoming concerned that you might have narcolepsy. Maybe such games exist. Mercifully, I've never seen them, and hope I never do.

I seem to recall at least one round you finished well before the timer was up and wandered off to do something else. If you felt you needed more time, I didn't get that sense when we played, but the rules very specifically say you can be flexible with the timing. If I didn't explain that clearly enough and you felt pressed for time, it's my fault.

And I thought Brad mentioned this on the podcast, but that phase used to be turn-based. He said that making it real-time actually helped the pacing.

I can think of plenty of non-interactive tableau scoring games that take up to two hours or more to play. I can't think of any that also have the very interactive tournament structure of Millennium Blades.

It sounds like you're just digging at a game you've decided isn't for you. And that's fine if it isn't for you because you don't like the deck-building phase. But you're simultaneously complaining that it's too short and it's too long. It seems your complaint is that you just didn't like deck-building in front of other people for any length of time. That's more of a "you" issue than a "game" issue.

The beauty and the hassle of Jyhad is that we would need a third player. :)

This should be made into a debate special.

I will wear a bowtie for that special.

Hmm - it's interesting, hearing your opinion of Android Netrunner, as some of the competitive players actually complained throughout the first two cycles was that the power level was to low compared to the core set. There are certainly exceptions, and it's gotten stronger recently, but the core set is still the high watermark on a card for card power level (this is stated to be intentional by FFG, as a way to start new players in a good place). A lot of the power that did show up was given to previously lower powered factions, which is probably the right place to put it.

What is true is that as a card pool expands (in any game) the power level of decks generally rises.

Anyway! Excellent podcast, good interviewing technique. (Sorry about the nitpicking, got linked here from a netrunner forum so I still have it on the brain)