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Subject: Nemo's War: A brief review rss

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Paul Shabatowski
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I am a cautious individual who rarely makes purchases online. This was due to a couple of poor online auction experiences. The introduction of secure purchasing has slowly encouraged me to try to purchase online once more. I risked and was rewarded with two great purchases: Don Verssen Games Down in Flames and Victory Point Games Nemo's War.

I love Jules Verne literature and I am devoted to the turn-of-the century science fiction themes envisioned by Verne and Wells. Who can resist that hopeful, somewhat cautious era of adventure and mystery?

Components
I recognize the budgetary restraints for VPG and I was prepared for a game that would be a little "rough around the edges". The game shipped in a ziplock bag containing a long cardboard game board and very poorly cut markers. That was made up for by the rather nice artwork and muted pastel colours. Event cards are equally poor quality but made up for again by the nice text, flavoured by quotes from the novel.I refuse to detract from the game by the quality of the components. The gameplay and theme made up for it in my eyes. The gameboard has a nice look and feel to it. I rather like the colours and fonts on the board.

Setup and Gameplay
Being a very experienced boardgamer, it only took me a couple of minutes to follow the well written rules and establish the initial setup markers and fleet deployments that were needed to get the game going. Two of the most miniscule dice are included. My own opinion is that the company should consider not providing dice to save on that prodcution cost in order to consider upgrades to the card stock.

The game object is determined by establishing Nemo's motivation at the outset. He may choose science, exploration, anti-imperialism or war. To me this is the fantastic aspect of this game because it absolutely captures the intent of Verne to depict a conflicted man who was tragically affected by his past while brilliantly devoted to his passions. Bravo to the creator of the game and thank you for staying true to the theme.

The play sequence is very standard. Dice roll determines deployment of new face down ships, doubles generates new treasure in the event that treasure has been found on each of the seas. From there Nemo has many choices that use various modifiers to improve die rolls. Adventure cards may be drawn when rolling equal to or less than the week track marker (either 7 or greater or 10 or greater depending on previous pass or fail rolls). Passage of time depicts a full year of travel that may pass unless certain events transpire.

I do not want to go into excessive detail in explaining the rules, preferring instead to give my opinions of the game.

Impression
The components are crude but embody the theme well. The turn sequences are standard of most wargames but embody the theme equally well. What makes the game for me is that I can see and feel the passion that the creator put into the game. I see that this is a labour of love. I feel that the appeal of this labour is also a passion for enough people to make this a beloved addition to a games collection. Solitaire gameplay is not usually an opprotunity for me but I realize that this is a great game for me to carry with me on my business travels and a great way to unwind in my hotel rooms when I have spent an exhausting day in meetings. I can't wait for another opportunity to look forward to an evening of solitude in a distant city which now becomes an opporunity instead of chore.

Well done.
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I agree with you about the components except that my counters looked great and were well cut. My big complaint (and I realize this is common and sometimes unwarranted...) is the price versus components. These are not cheap games. I would rather they figure out how to get me the game for 30% (yes, 30%) less with components of this level (cardstock, etc.). Leaving off the dice is a start. Not cutting the cards is another as there aren't that many. I'll even cut my own counters (their aren't very many).

It's getting to the point where my printer can do just as good a job with a PDF download and do it yourself as what I'm paying for this type of DTP+ product. It's kind of like the movie industry. There's so much content out there you either have to go really expensive, have a really good and/or unique idea or do it for so cheap it doesn't matter.

I keep getting sucked into VPG because they have so much in the "good and/or unique idea" category. I have to hold my nose at the price though. (Nemo is $29.95 and that's on sale!) I'm guessing the counters and card cutting are what hurt the most.

At the end of the day, I guess I find it worth it for some of their stuff, but I am on the edge for almost everything in their product line, but can't justify the price unless I just look at it and go wow, that's really cool!
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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TheCollector wrote:
I agree with you about the components except that my counters looked great and were well cut.
The round ones aren't so good, but the rest are decent.

TheCollector wrote:
My big complaint (and I realize this is common and sometimes unwarranted...) is the price versus components.
You're buying the intellectual property, and components good enough to bring the game to life. I won't launch into the 493rd dissertation on small print runs and how they affect costs, but will just say that nobody is trying to put one over on you. As a consumer, you consider what is offered, and purchase or not at your discretion. The components are thoroughly documented here in text and pictures. If you do the research, you'll have a very good idea of what you're buying before you spend your money.
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Scott Everts
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Thanks for the great review! This is one of Chris' best game designs. Looking forward to seeing his next one in the series.

I've worked with Chris on several games and we put a lot time into design, playtesting, and art. Certainly we'd love to have better components but we work within the constraints of VPG's component capability. The strength of VPG is they allow us to make more unusual designs without having to print 1000 copies in advance. Most of these games sell in the hundreds instead of thousands and the risk of printing so many would of meant huge financial risk.

Boardgame profits are razor thin, they really are. We agonize over cost changes in the $1 range when discussing how much its going to sell for. Remember its not just the components, but the manufacturing (all done by hand), design royalty, art royalty, office rent, office supplies. There's so many costs involved you just would not believe it. I'm actually shocked at how VPG keeps the doors open!
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Paul Shabatowski
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It is only my opinion so please bear that in mind. Cost to me is secondary to the spirit of the game and the quality of my experience with the game. If I factor in the time I spend with a particuarly good game I soon realize that this is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there.
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Scott Everts
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Paul Shabatowski wrote:
It is only my opinion so please bear that in mind. Cost to me is secondary to the spirit of the game and the quality of my experience with the game. If I factor in the time I spend with a particuarly good game I soon realize that this is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there.
I certainly understand. Games are all about the enjoyment, not the business. We all love games and we try our best to make cool titles both us and others will enjoy. Very few in this industry do it full time. I consider it a hobby and mix doing published games and free stuff for games I like. Eventually high end printing technology will become more affordable so that small publishers like VPG will be able to print stuff that rivals the big boys.
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Paul Shabatowski wrote:
It is only my opinion so please bear that in mind. Cost to me is secondary to the spirit of the game and the quality of my experience with the game. If I factor in the time I spend with a particuarly good game I soon realize that this is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there.
Well said, Paul - no worries however as VPG does take some flak for their components and pricing. I was a skeptic at first too, I admit.

However, after hundreds of hours of enjoyment with the VPG product line, I've found that their titles are some of the best values in the hobby today. The colorful components have really grown on me, too.

Oh, I have visited their warehouse, helped out with game manufacturing, proofreading, playtesting, development, and now design, and it really has been quite an eye-opening experience - the amount of time put into just a single game is amazing!

Anyway, really glad that you enjoyed the game (it's a gem that's getting lots of good press elsewhere, too).
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TheCollector wrote:

It's getting to the point where my printer can do just as good a job with a PDF download and do it yourself as what I'm paying for this type of DTP+ product.
My thoughts exactly when I first came across Nemo's War; factor in international shipping and it becomes (for me at least) a financially questionable proposition, whereas if it were available as a PDF for, say, 15 to 20 dollars I'd have already purchased and made it (although I'm biased, having access to a colour printer at work ninja ).
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Quote:

Being a very experienced boardgamer, it only took me a couple of minutes to follow the well written rules and establish the initial setup markers and fleet deployments that were needed to get the game going. Two of the most miniscule dice are included. My own opinion is that the company should consider not providing dice to save on that prodcution cost in order to consider upgrades to the card stock.
Not putting the dice in would really not change our costs to any significant degree. Taking them out would save just a few cents per game. And technically they are our gift to you. They are never listed in the components for any game.

At the same time, an upgrade to card stock is very high on our list. We are currently looking at a card cutting machine, we just have to see if the costs work out. As has been pointed out above, we operate on thin margins, and have just moved into an official office/warehouse (as opposed to Alan Emrich's attic) so we've just taken on a lot of new overhead. That being said, we are committed to further growth and improvement, so watch for this as time goes by.
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Ding Duck wrote:
TheCollector wrote:

It's getting to the point where my printer can do just as good a job with a PDF download and do it yourself as what I'm paying for this type of DTP+ product.
My thoughts exactly when I first came across Nemo's War; factor in international shipping and it becomes (for me at least) a financially questionable proposition, whereas if it were available as a PDF for, say, 15 to 20 dollars I'd have already purchased and made it (although I'm biased, having access to a colour printer at work :ninja: ).

While at this point is unlikely (although not impossible) that we will be offering the games as PDF downloads, we are working on getting more international distribution for our games, mostly through individual retailers, some through shops. We already have stores carrying our games in Japan, the UK and Germany, and are in talks with a number of others. If you have a favorite store in Australia that you would like to see carry our games, please forward their contact info (especially their e-mail) to me at jgottesman at victorypointgames dot com and I'll get in touch.
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