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Roberta Yang
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See, if you actually played Lost in Time and Space before sticking Corey's ideas in a box and shipping it out, you'd have known there was a slight problem with the scenario: it's not physically possible to even set up the map.

Sure, the map looks innocent enough. Seems like a fine house. Uses some really cool new tiles, like the Rooftop, and some pretty cool new tiles, like Holding Cell and Medical Storage. But then when you try to actually build the map, you'll encounter a problem: the map uses Holding Cell and Medical Storage. Those two rooms happen to be printed on the same new tile.

Specifically, they're printed on opposite sides of it.

Yes, of course it's easy enough to substitute an unused room for one of them, once you realize that no, you're not missing a tile, FFG just screwed up. But it does indeed hurt gameplay. For example, suppose you decide to discard Medical Storage and replace it with some other random room of the same size. That's all well and good at first, but now a room that should have "Storage" in the name does not, which makes things difficult when you're the Keeper looking at the Mythos cards that require Investigators to be in Storage rooms. Keeping track of which Mythos cards can be played in what rooms is enough of a hassle when the rooms' names in the map aren't actively misleading you.

But that's not the issue here. The issue is that FFG is just so lazy about this game that they're willing to publish maps that are physically impossible to build. It takes legitimate effort to care that little about putting out an actual quality game. There are six 1x2 tile faces in Forbidden Alchemy, and only three scenarios; it's an incredibly easy problem to see how to match them up in printing so that no conflicts like these occur, and once a set of front/back pairings have been proposed, it takes only a moment to verify that they don't stupidly make it impossible to start playing the game.

But wait, you say! Surely playtesting did indeed occur with one-sided mock tiles, and it wasn't until the final printing that this problem was introduced. And I could totally buy that were it not that every aspect of the game suggests that no playtesting ever took place. If any competent playtesters at any point in the design process had ever touched the cards, Witchcraft and Uncontrollable Urges would not have both required errata to stop them from granting the Keeper infinite Threat. If any human beings at any point in the design process had ever played Classroom Curses, that scenario would never have been printed.

And this same pattern extends to Forbidden Alchemy, as well. One of the Objectives for Lost in Time and Space features a boss monster that the Investigators must kill to win, but which the Keeper doesn't actually need to do anything with to win. That boss monster can spawn anywhere on the map. The map contains a Sealed Door lock, and there is no way of removing this lock in this Objective. Any playtester Keeper doing a playtester's job properly would have exploited this ability to make the game unwinnable for the opposing team, and the game would have been revised to prevent this from occurring (e.g. by making the Objective or Clue 1 discard the Sealed Door lock).

And don't tell me that the Keeper is expected to hold back because doing otherwise would be un-thematic or something. The Keeper is not an impartial DM. The Keeper is a player in the game with their own win condition. If the Keeper is expected to hold back for theme, you may as well let the Keeper have all the Keeper Actions and unlimited Threat available in each game and just decide based on theme which ones should be used and how often. This isn't an RPG, it's a board game with, let's be honest, pretty shallow stories (since each of the three Objectives is usually an entirely different story, yet only Act III is actually different in any way), so relying on players not actually playing the game to win is not a valid option and defeats the purpose of giving the Keeper a win condition in the first place.

So, FFG, let me explain something to you that, as a giant games company, you really ought to already know: Games that are physically impossible to even play aren't fun. Games in which the game is completely unwinnable for one side or the other aren't fun. You ought to have some level of quality assurance to ensure that every single copy of the game isn't obviously broken the instant you decide to set up one of the scenarios. And you ought to have some playtesters to make sure that, once you start playing the game, you don't find that one side can effortlessly make it completely impossible for the other side to win.

Oh, and Corey? You've got some pretty interesting game ideas, but you really need to start getting actual playtesters to make sure the game isn't horribly broken. I saw the credits in the Forbidden Alchemy rulebook, and saw that, under playtesting, six names were listed. Corey, trying out some game ideas with a small circle of friends is a good start, but there's more to playtesting than merely playing the game once or twice. A playtester, in addition to playing, should also be testing the game - making sure that the game doesn't become hideously unbalanced the instant a player goes slightly off your rails and does something clever. A playtester would have caught the Witchcraft / Evil Presence and Uncontrollable Urges / Ceremonial Skull infinite Threat combos, and a playtester would have caught the "Sealed Rooms make bosses immortal" problem by abusing it when it came up - especially since this is actually a repeat of a problem from the Blood Ties scenario in the base game, so you should have been on the lookout for this leak reoccurring.

I could write up a more detailed session report of Lost in Time and Space. I could explain in detail how the time-travel mechanic essentially makes all the monsters pop-up. I could explain in detail how the time-travel isn't much more than a gimmick and there's not more than one or two reasons to ever visit any given time period (it would be nice if the different time periods had different ongoing effects to give them different flavors, e.g. constant rules saying things like "The ground is really unstable in the future! To take a Run Action, any Investigator must pass a Dexterity check or take 1 damage when" or "An evil cult is at work in the past, and their chanting is beginning to get to you! All Investigators have -1 Willpower while in the past"; little things like that to give the Investigators some reason to time-travel other than "The plot-lock said so"). I could explain in detail how the Alchemy puzzles feel shoehorned in and make no logical sense whatsoever (I have a beaker of acid and a rock I want to pour the acid on, why is this so very difficult?), and how the probability of passing an Alchemy puzzle's die roll only varies very minorly with the Investigator's Intellect. I could explain in detail how some of the new Mythos cards actually hurt the Keeper instead of helping and how the Keeper has no motivation to play them since the Investigators can always just say no. I could explain in detail how all the Objectives are pretty much the same for the Keeper. I could explain how the Hounds of Tindalos fail entirely to have the desired flavor; far from time-travel attracting them, what comes up far more often in gameplay is that time-travel is an easy way of ditching them in another time period to which you will never have reason to return. I could even rant about just how many cards in this scenario have typos that any proofreader could have caught.

But I'm tired of FFG taking two steps backward (The Silver Tablet, Lost in Time and Space) for every step forward (`Til Death Do Us Part) it takes. So instead of ranting for several paragraphs over each of those broken aspects of the game (which I promise I will do once I've tried the other Forbidden Alchemy scenarios so I can review them at the same time), I'm going to skip ahead to the punchline:

To prospective buyers: Initial play indicates that Forbidden Alchemy is horribly unfun and not worth buying, and it definitely proves that FFG and Corey didn't put the slightest effort into making sure that the game was fun, balanced, or playable. And do you know why they didn't? Because they don't need to. They know you're going to go and buy this game no matter how terrible it is as long as it looks shiny - who cares if the time-travel makes for awful gameplay, time-travel = cool = buy it = profit! And who cares if the game is unbalanced and it's impossible to even set up the map as written, it's not like they'll find that out until after they've already handed over their money. So, please, I urge you: Do not buy Forbidden Alchemy. It's not fun, it's not worth your money, and it's not fair for us to continue telling FFG that it can keep on failing at every level to make the game work and still walk away with ridiculous stacks of money.

To Corey and FFG: Hire some competent playtesters, some competent quality assurance people, and some competent proofreaders. They exist for a reason. That reason is to make sure you don't screw up. So how about you actually start putting in the slightest bit of effort to stop screwing up?
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James McTeague
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Okay, either you're a sockpuppet of someone in my playgroup, or your playgroup is the good twin of my playgroup. I was in the middle of writing a post to this effect, and your play experience matches ours exactly with Lost in Time and Space.


(For the record, if we're different playgroups, you're the good twin because there's no way we're not the evil twin.)
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Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
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And I pre-order it.

Nice. shake

Regards,
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James McTeague
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To be fair, Yellow Matter doesn't appear broken from my read of it, but actually playing it may prove different. I'm less excited about the reanimator one because
Spoiler (click to reveal)
the objectives in that one are stupid.
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Kevin Seachrist
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Of the 15 scenarios in the base game, only 3 or 4 have even met with positive reviews here on BGG. I spent hours one night reading through reviews trying to find a good one for a group of mostly new players to try out that wasn't one of the 3 the larger gaming group here has played. I couldn't find one that had me convinced it was worthwhile so we just played #1 again anyway.

I was excited for this expansion because I'd hoped it addressed all the issues mentioned above. It seems based on Roberta's review (which I have no reason to feel is designed to be anything other than an honest warning more than a complaint) that if anything, the expansion makes matters worse.

I didn't buy the overpriced mini-expansions, and I now have no intention of buying this one. I suspect my next move may simply be to sell the game.

Fantasy Flight produces amazing components (albeit with recycled art) and games that have FAQs longer than the actual rules of some other games. I think the amount of hate they bring on themeselves is directly proportionate to the amount of letdown their buyers feel when a game fails to live up to its often insanely high potential.
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Ian Burgess
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Very well said. Thanks for an honest and well backed-up review of this tragic expansion.
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Brett Doull
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After the PoD scenarios I really should have known better than to preorder this. :S

Oh well.
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Caleb
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Disappointing, perhaps, but hardly surprising. I gave up on FFG long ago, for these very reasons. Got temporarily sucked back in by the LotR LCG, but thankfully got over that as well.
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Todd
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What a fantastic review! Your detailed description of the problems at FFG seem right on based on other recent games. That I have tried.

I think this puts the stake in the heart of MoM for me.

FFG should pay attention to this review.
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Balazs Szendroi
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So glad I sold my copy. In the beginning I wanted to wait for the first expansions to come out, but after we played each scenario 2 times, I couldnt handle it any more. Most of the scenarios and goals are broken in the game one way or other. The components were really nice, but as a game, it was a huge letdown. I still love FFG boardgames, and I still think that Corey Konieczka is a good game designer, but Mansions is just a really flawed game, not sure it would be succesful design without its theme.
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Chris J Davis
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I still think the game engine for MoM is a work of genius, but it seems that the scenario design for a game as intricate as this (and by intricate, I mean how all of the separate elements - clues, objectives, events, etc - are supposed to come together to form a coherent scenario) requires more effort than FFG are willing to put in. Such a shame, because with the proper amount of effort put into the scenario design it could be a truly amazing game.

I'll still buy this expansion, mostly because although I wouldn't say I'm *happy* to mod the components to my liking, I am at least willing. Hopefully sales will suffer enough from the non-OCD crowd not buying it for FFG to sit up and take notice.
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Athos
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Falcons wrote:
What a fantastic review! Your detailed description of the problems at FFG seem right on based on other recent games. That I have tried.

I think this puts the stake in the heart of MoM for me.

FFG should pay attention to this review.


I agree that this was a good review. I am an FFG fan, and it really bugs me when they screw up on such simple things.

But MoM just won a Golden Geek for best thematic game, so really are they going to care about these types of complaints?

I am actually cool with the FAQs they put out as their games are complex with enough moving parts to warrant questions that arise. What I am finding harder and harder to palate are the numerous typos and gaffs, such as the one that the review highlighted. That is just not acceptable.
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Alexander Barowski
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Hello Roberta,

thank you for the honest review. I actually love most of the fantasy flight games. They are usually well produced and have the right atmospheare. But I hate the fact, that almost every game needs an expansion. That makes the basic game feel so uncomplete and you get the feeling, that they didn´t playtested the game enough (best example Tanhäuser).
I saw this expansion at most loved internet shop :-) and nearly bought the expansion until I read your review.
You saved my money (and I hope a lot of other guys too).
Thank you very very much.

Best regards from Germany,

Alex
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Level One Noob
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Damn. This is very troubling. I also pre-ordered this expansion and now I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival to see how righteously indignant I should be.
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Chris Wood
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This is precisely the reason I don't want FFG to remake Merchant of Venus.
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Andres Rueff
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This doesnt amaze me much, since FFG began to publish 132556838 games per year their qualitiy of the games decreased to a level where i dont buy a FFG title anymore. I hope they (customers and FFG themselves) realize that nice sculpted miniatures and 100s of colored cards dont make a good game.
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soak man
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But if you think of the base game set and room tiles as a tool box to create your own scenarios, I honestly think the expansion is STILL worth it.

So the scenario is jacked. Make your own. Problem solved. Here's a link to custom-scenarios people have made. They are fun. Some are not 100% playtested and if you can't deal with a scenario that requires house-rules, don't play fantasy flight games.

Especially Arkham related games. Arkham horror called for so many house-rules it's not even funny. But it can be fun. And for me, it almost always is.

Link to custom-made scenarios:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/67310/fan-created-stories-...
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C. Batalla

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Thanks for your honest review. Im really dissapoined that the number 1 company is putting on the market broken games and untested stories. Now they will publish some erratas and tell us to print it, or mark it on our keeper guide book... In fact, im sure that they are going to just change that problematic tile in the manual tweaking the story if it is necessary.

What worries me more is the people who buy this game and is not aware of the errata world or this forums. Imagine it, you put the game on table with your friends and suddently the game collapses. When a game doesnt work the owner feels the pain in most cases, because he did a bet on that particular game and, also, he droped his time and his money. Moneyback is the only fair apologie that could amend this big issue.

I enjoyed my first time with MOM. Its on my hands and im willing to play it a lot. But im really terrified that a story gets broken in the middle of a game. I and my friends have little time to gather together and play, so its really dissapointing to lose 3 hours on a anticlimatic broken game.

Im also a fan of Corey games, but that doesnt justify the broken status of this expansion. One could feel real terror with this expansion, but that terror comes from the fear to play one broken scenario, not from the theme...

I understand and im agree that the MOM system game is a masterpiece. But the customer paid a astronomical ammount of money for a system that works only in a couple of scenarios. Its unfair and nobody will pay back this mess.

Its untolerable in my modest opinion that you have to fix the game yourself because they already collected your money for their "awarded game".

Im really sorry if I sound drastic. I really was expecting this expansion and now I realise that they just dropped us some untested cartoons with plastic whithout honesty.


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Wade Nelson
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Rixxar wrote:
This doesnt amaze me much, since FFG began to publish 132556838 games per year their qualitiy of the games decreased to a level where i dont buy a FFG title anymore. I hope they (customers and FFG themselves) realize that nice sculpted miniatures and 100s of colored cards dont make a good game.


I'm becoming concerned that they're choosing quantity over quality as well. The OP amazingly captures some of the concerns that I've been having about recent FFG releases.
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Thanasis Patsios
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Excellent review, excellent point. Just saved me ~30Euros.
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Caleb
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wadenels wrote:
Rixxar wrote:
This doesnt amaze me much, since FFG began to publish 132556838 games per year their qualitiy of the games decreased to a level where i dont buy a FFG title anymore. I hope they (customers and FFG themselves) realize that nice sculpted miniatures and 100s of colored cards dont make a good game.


I'm becoming concerned that they're choosing quantity over quality as well. The OP amazingly captures some of the concerns that I've been having about recent FFG releases.


Well, it's a business, you know? So as long as the legions of fans will continue to buy untested crap, they'll keep shoveling it out. Only when people stop buying will their pattern change; I mean, why bother to test stuff (and go through the hassle, time, and expense of that) if your fanbase doesn't require it? It's simple market forces at work. I'm wondering how long it'll work for them - it's been at least a few years, accelerating lately, that they've been really bad about testing & proofing.
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Joshua Gardner
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Gabriel Knight. Check it out at GOG.Com
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This is one of the worst reviews I've ever read here on the Geek. Drop the inflammatory statements, tell me about the game instead of your suppositions as to how it was play-tested, and then maybe this will approach 'review' territory over just a simple 'rant' that belongs in the General forum.

Though I suppose as a 'review' it draws the attention you were seeking. Congrats.
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Chick Lewis
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The playtesting problem on this expansion can be easily explained.

THE FFG CREW GOT IT ON THE SHELVES FOR CHRISTMAS !! That goal was paramount. Everything which might threaten this outcome was ditched.
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Caleb
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bullseyetm wrote:
This is one of the worst reviews I've ever read here on the Geek. Drop the inflammatory statements, tell me about the game instead of your suppositions as to how it was play-tested, and then maybe this will approach 'review' territory over just a simple 'rant' that belongs in the General forum.

Though I suppose as a 'review' it draws the attention you were seeking. Congrats.


Um, he did explain the game, since it's an expansion, from the standpoint of those who already know the base game. And there is nothing wrong from inferring FFG's lack of playtesting when you're confronted with a crappy product that shows strong evidence of...lack of playtesting. If it walks and quacks like a duck, and all.

I enjoyed it. And yes, it is a review. But thanks for your input.
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Francis K. Lalumiere
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soakma wrote:
But if you think of the base game set and room tiles as a tool box to create your own scenarios, I honestly think the expansion is STILL worth it.

So the scenario is jacked. Make your own. Problem solved. Here's a link to custom-scenarios people have made. They are fun. Some are not 100% playtested and if you can't deal with a scenario that requires house-rules, don't play fantasy flight games.

Especially Arkham related games. Arkham horror called for so many house-rules it's not even funny. But it can be fun. And for me, it almost always is.

Link to custom-made scenarios:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/67310/fan-created-stories-...

I know some gamers here are fine with defective scenarios, as long as they can use the material to make their own. But frankly, when I buy a game/expansion, I consider that some (most?) of my money is going to the THINKING behind the game/expansion. When that if flawed, why should I pay?

Put differently, I except all the pieces to work the way they're supposed to. I never had someone tell me if my wipers didn't work on my brand new car, I just had to install my own and get over it...
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