And, obviously, I think a segment on best practices for writing rules would be right up my alley.
Your rules weren't bad at all, but it is something a lot of publishers need help with. It far to often seems like designers write the rules then a graphic designer does the layout without ever playing the game or with knowledge so complete they don't need the rules book to be a working document.
hey I think what makes a good ruleset it would be a great idea for roundtable discussions. I can sense when a game has awful rules, but I have a hard time putting my finger exactly why or how one could fix it. Two games lately that I've played lately with brutal rules is Black Friday and Bios: Megafauna. Both are very good games. Black Friday's rules are straight up absolutely awful and incomprehensible while Bios's rules were written with the numerical system which would seem fine at first glance, but once you jump in and play you realize there are many nitpicky details that should be noted in several places but were often noted in only one of those places.
I never read the initially published version of Panic Station, but I still find the latest version not too great. I suspect part of the problem is the dense dark font which is hard to scan and read though quickly. After being at a 4-day convention where I did a fair amount of read/play games, I've come to value easy scanability very hightly!
As for the dual the review, I think they work great!
I like the two person format for reviewing a board game because you get to hear more opinions as you come to a unified rating. But I also like the individual review too where there is more of a chance to delve deeper into the game and explain why you like it or not.
Belfort - First of all, I don’t know why Scott’s game took so long. I haven’t had such a long game yet. I’m not going to say it’s my favorite game, but I like it well enough to tell other people to not be overly swayed by the strength of Scott’s dislike. Two of the people I played with at BGG Con decided they wanted to buy the game after their first play.
The Resistance – I agree with Donald. I WANTED to like this game, but there was still a bit too much randomness in it for my liking. And we DID play it correctly.
Battlestar Galactica – I just wanted to add for people who haven’t played before that there’s a lot more going on besides figuring out who the Cylons are. It’s not the driving force of the game as games like Werewolf or The Resistance are.
Shadow Hunters – Yes, it is most definitely a better Bang! You may not be forced into combat as often, but you can attack somebody nearly every turn if you want to and I always do. Plenty of players don’t though and the game does allow for that. I think it just makes sense to attack because the odds are that anyone you attack is NOT on your team. Also, if everyone takes on a more passive approach, attacking only when they’re especially suspicious of another player, then it seems to me that the Shadows are going to win most of the time. Once their powers come into play, you really need to have them low on hit points or their powers are going to cause a LOT of grief.
Bang – Like Scott, I have a special Bang story, although it’s not nearly as happy. A bunch of us were trying to sort out what to play and I ended going into the “other” game so I wasn’t in this game of Bang. Thank goodness! That had to have been the longest game of Bang EVER. The problem was that there were two players who were very skittish about possibly attacking a friend and they were equally unable to deduce anyone’s identities. On their turns, they were always HEALING other players, thinking that the wounded person MIGHT be on their team. What a nightmare.
Horrible Rulebook – The worst one that I can recall is FFG’s War of the Ring.
Sentinels of the Multiverse – Very bad balancing issues just killed this one for us. I play with one group and totally dominate. They all think the game is too easy and half of them aren’t interested in playing again. I play with another group and we get devastated. They all think the game is too hard and half of them aren’t interested in playing again. YELLOW LIGHT!
Train of Thought – I really like this one and it IS a great party game which we’ve enjoyed many times. GREEN LIGHT!
Comics - I know entirely too much about comic books to be able to focus on one favorite character.
I'd be very interested in a "boardgame rules 101" episode, especially if you can convince some experienced boardgame-developer to talk about it.
Good idea! Does anyone have requests or suggestions about who would be good for this guest slot?
Well, it was your idea. Didn't you say Scott would be trying to get someone on the show "who knows a little bit about putting together rules"? (In context of the rather "noisy" rulebook of "Sentinels of the Multiverse")
My suggestions would be someone like Bernd Dietrich (Ammonit, Queen Games) or Stefan Brück (alea) as they did a fantastic job with their rulesets over the last decade (at least), but I don't know if that would be feasible. Are they even interested? timezone/language-issues? ... Ad hoc I can't think of any native speaker with this great pedigree, sorry.
Donald - please don't stomp Scott when he gives top 3s for different groups - that information is gold dust. So what if he gets more than one bite of the cherry?
I have zero problem with him having more than one bite. That's why I try to say 'top three'. My problem is that with all of his wishy washyness he doesn't give his favorite.
If he wants to lead with defining his preferred group then giving his favorite game with that kind of group, that would be excellent. However all too often I get a 'that depends on the group' then either no more useful information or a re-tread of the conversation we just had.
None of which answers my question of "What is your favorite" often with a follow on of "Why?".
If you ask a better question, you will get a better answer.
When someone asks "What is your favorite..", they typically are seeking a recommendation. While I don't want to play Dominion, I will certainly recommend Dominion at times. I want to separate my own desire of activity from my recommendation for someone else.
Let's compare it to wine:
"What is your favorite wine?"
Anyone who drinks wine can't answer this question well. And, the reality is, the person asking the question really needs to know "What wine would you recommend."
"What is your favorite wine with steak?" will be a very different answer than "What is your favorite wine with pasta?"
(even that question is hard to answer - is it a creamy thick pasta, or a light pasta with little sauce?)
Oh, and how much do I have to spend on that bottle? A $10 budget will produce a different answer than a $30 budget than a $100 budget.
And.. more importantly, when someone recommends wine, it's not important what they personally like. It's what they think YOU would like. So, they may ask follow-up questions:
"Do you like a drier wine?"
But.. the reality is not what the purchaser even likes. It's what the people at the table like. If he has someone coming who hates sweet wines, then that is important to know.
It's about the "wine experience".
So, the better question would be: "What wine would you recommend? I have a budget of $10-$15 and am serving steak. One of the people doesn't like sweet wines."
Now, that's a question that a wine person can answer in a meaningful way.
Most sommeliers would find it off-putting or even insulting to have someone demand to know their personal taste instead of accepting their recommendation.
This is why I don't want to answer "what is MY favorite game" for all of the listeners. That's my personal taste, and honestly, I don't always want to share my personal tastes. I know that I have very unusual personal tastes. I don't enjoy playing many games that I know many people like. Someone asked me to rate my favorite 5 of the BGG top 10, and I couldn't even give them a list of 5 of those games I wanted to play! And sometimes, I'd rather not play a board game at all and do some other form of social or physical activity.
For example, I went to the 15-hour Unity Games event yesterday. During this event, I played 3 games. Most of my time was engaged in other activities with attendees. This is not what most board gamers would do.
So, as I have become more aware that my tastes do not line up with the tastes of the typical boardgamer, I have kept my personal tastes to myself.
As I've recognized that my personal tastes are outside the norm, I have become less interested.. even guarded.. in sharing those personal tastes.
If, instead, you ask me "What game would you recommend for X situation," then I would feel VERY comfortable answering that question.
So, don't ask "Hey, Scott, what's your favorite social deduction game?" That's not a question I always want to answer. If I don't give an answer, that's because I don't really want to talk about my personal tastes.
Instead, a more useful question for the listeners would be:
"What social deduction game would you recommend for a group of casual gamers?"
I would answer - If it's a small group, I would recommend The Resistance, and if it's a large group, I would recommend Werewolf.
This "what would you recommend" question is much more about what someone else wants to play, and isn't focused on what I want to play.
wow...so boardgaming is a lot more like winetasting than even I used to think...
I've been explaining to my hip oversophisticated architecture coworkers that boardgaming is like winetasting. For an outsider, winetasting just seems like a exercise in getting trashed while acting pretentious, but if you get into the winetasting hobby it you can really nerd out on it.
This analogy works particularly well for me because I'm allergic to alcohol so I physically can't get into wine (or beer) tasting. And since my coworkers know about this allergy, they grok the comparison pretty quickly.
It doesn't make them want to play boardgames any more than before, but at least they realize that there is considerable depth and sophistication in the hobby that is not easily apparent from initial impressions.
By the time in a discussion I ask "what is your favorite?" we've already had all the pre-text discussion and in most cases the listeners have already heard it. Besides your personal tastes still impact your recommendations. Thus, by giving your actual favorites you allow the listener to understand a little more about why you recommend what you recommend.
But this whole conversation could have been sidestepped with an answer that didn't stop the conversation. Instead of saying "It depends on who I'm playing it with" and then stop, which is a conversational roadblock, you could have customized your answer to the discussion and moved the conversation forward.
For example, say we've been discussing deduction games for half an hour on a podcast about games and you are asked for your top three deduction games you could give the following answer: For playing with gamers who are into deep thinking games then my favorite deduction game is: X. When playing with gamers who are familiar with gaming but not yet deeply into deduction games but really like experience games: X. However, if I were going to be playing at home with the family over the holidays then: X.
In other words you don't necessarily have to answer exactly the question asked, just one that fulfills the intent without grinding the show to a halt.
I always try and give context to my answers but some people are just looking for the bottom line. If they "like" a game, they tend to think most people will too; those who don't, well there's something wrong with them.