Thursday, 3 January 2008

Desperation Morale


So yeah, Atlanta gaming legend, Black Metal tastemaker extraordinare, and my former employee BILLY MOTION and I have started playing ASL. OK, it' s just the training wheels "Starter Kit" version but it's still enough to make "hardcore" gamers who think 12 pages of rules are too much cry softly in fear. There is rules complexity, but more significantly the range of decisions, possible outcomes, and potentials for creative use of resources make PUERTO RICO look like Tic Tac Toe.

ASL is amazing. I never thought I'd say that, particularly after years of being conditioned to think that it's completely unplayable, inaccessible, and that playing the game will cause you to immediately sprout a beard and a middle-aged paunch. Truth be told, Billy has become a little more hirsute around the chops but I chalk that up to his finger-on-the-pulse fashion sense than any ASL side effect.

So move on over, cover-to-cover, to Gameshark.com for this week's Cracked LCD
where we go where even gamers fear to tread. Special thanks to Bill Abner for making me look like I knew who the hell Curt Schilling was beyond "the guy that runs Multiman Publishing".

119 comments:

bill abner said...

I do what I can.

Shellhead said...

I got Squad Leader (not ASL) for Christmas when I was 15. We were on vacation in Florida at the time, so I had the time to really concentrate and learn enough of the rules to play the first few scenarios. I can easily imagine that ASL must be even more work to learn.

By the end of the trip, I had played two games, one with my dad and one with another teenage guy staying at the same resort. After we got back from Florida, I played a couple more games with my best friend, who was more interested in wargames than I was.

Since then, Squad Leader has sat in my collection of games, gathering dust, not even opened since the early '80s.

I did enjoy Squad Leader. The setting is great and the rules provided enough realism to make the game very engaging.

But Squad Leader was long and slow and just so much work keeping track of everything and looking up so many rules. I don't even know anybody anymore who has the time and the interest to play Squad Leader. But Squad Leader was a good game. So it still sits in my collection, gathering dust.

Adam Skinner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam Skinner said...

Check out Panzer General.

Michael Barnes said...

Oh man, PANZER GENERAL was the bomb...a friend of mine and I used to play the hell out of it hot-seat. Yeah, hot-seat.

Juniper said...

Hey, Bill. Paragraph 5 is oddly reminiscent of paragraph 4.

bill abner said...

Thanks for pointing that out.

The joy of working with our database...

MWChapel said...

Ahhh...Aren't you cute with your training wheels.

Call me when you start using the IIFT for the CTC as a PTC for concealment. But only for scoring an ITCH. Luckily you get to double your FP and reverse the protective TEM. Always remember when firing at the ITT, you score a CH if your MDR is less than half of your MTH #.. DUH!

mtlawson said...

Yeah, I've got SL and Ambush! myself. I haven't played SL since the early 90's, but I've recently dug out my copies of Ambush! + Move Out! to play. It's that same narrative feel that I like about those games.

--Mike L.

Schweig! said...

The main reason which kept me off trying ASL (I own SL) is how expensive it is, especially because you need to buy the rules binder and the first module (with the playing pieces) seperatly to even start playing it.

The starter kits solve this problem a little, however no wargame/system is ever fun enough with the basic rules alone, and even when you buy all three starter kits you can't even play the excellent historical modules.

Schweig! said...

As a sidenote, the BAR was issued from 1918 onwards and the King Tiger (or Tiger II) mounted a Porsche turret.

vialiy said...

What's so great with ASL is the plausibility of the rules. If you think you ought to be able to do something, you probably can. That way, you don't have to memorize the rules that much. It's different than say, Caylus, where nothing is related to real-life events, and you absolutly have to memorize every single line of the rulebook to even get a sense of what you're doing.

Great article Michael, as always! I play PBEM through VASL myself, if you want to get together for a game that would be great. I'm about at your level of experience, although I learned straight from the ASL rulebook.

Matt said...

Well, I don't think I'll be getting to it anytime soon, but you've certainly managed to further cement my strong desire to pick up the starter kit and grow a beard. My wife is very disappointed in you.

Bryan said...

Yipee, I got all the SKs and am learning face2face with some ASLers. What a joy this game is. We figure out which scenario we are playing next time and that is all I can think about for the week...set up, LOS, coverage, reinforments.........

Frank Branham said...

Your picture looks like the original Squad Leader Stalingrad Factory scenario.

I actually never made it out of Squad Leader, which was not really all that complex, but had a decent feel. It seems like ASL kept the same system, but added zillions of new rules for extra equipment. Enough that chasing down the contradictions did get painful.

Does anyone know if the new ASL basic kit is roughly comparable to the old Squad Leader?

kriz said...

ASL is one of those games I would totally be down for giving a whirl if a friend who played showed up with it, and wanted to teach me the game.

But since I'm the one in my group who buys and teaches most games, I will probably never lay down the money or time to get into this.

Maybe that baseball guy will buy out Wizards of the Coast, and the ASL team can write some rules for D&D that make a little better sense, and they can release a 5th edition or something.

I have other dreams to, like world peace.

mtlawson said...

I don't know off the top of my head, but my gut feel is that it's more a stripped down ASL than SL is. SL -> ASL was a reworking of the rules from SL/Cross of Iron/Crescendo of Doom/GI Anvil of Victory to make it "more" streamlined and intuitive (belive it or not). By the time GI Anvil of Victory came along, the SL rules had been discombobulated across 4 rulebooks, and there was a lot of confusion. ASL was Don Greenwood's solution to the problem.

Since I used to only play the basic scenarios for SL, I never felt the need to upgrade to ASL.

If you can get your hands on them, back copies of The General had an ASL scenario in each issue. That should keep you in scenarios for years.

--Mike L.

mtlawson said...

While I wasn't so thrilled that Wizards was coming out with a D&D 3E when it came out, but I have to admit it was much better organized and streamlined than 1E and 2E.

My only complaint is that they seem to have hit upon the upgrade bug that Microsoft used to build its warchest, and that I've not really seen a compelling argument to 4E yet.

--Mike L.

Michael Barnes said...

Call me when you start using the IIFT for the CTC as a PTC for concealment. But only for scoring an ITCH. Luckily you get to double your FP and reverse the protective TEM. Always remember when firing at the ITT, you score a CH if your MDR is less than half of your MTH #.. DUH!

CHAPEL?!?!?! Is this a case of possession? Is Chapel merely "passing" as a Eurosnoot? What's going on here?! Up is down and down is up!

What's so great with ASL is the plausibility of the rules.

Wow, 3KIA for you. That is right on the money about what makes ASL a great game above all else. Yes, the rules are complex- but because they're more simulationist than abstracted, _they just make sense_. The thing that's weird about the SKs is you'll find yourself thinking "Hmm...I bet you can do X in full ASL" a lot, where X is some kind of action that makes logical and realistic sense. And chances are, you can. There's not that disconnect that more abstract games (like Euros) between real world and game world. That smells an awful lot like a full article.

As for VASL- it's completely indispensible, much how REALMSPEAK is for MAGIC REALM enthusiasts. It's a _great_ tool to learn with solo games, but the problem is that you don't have someone to check your turns for accuracy. More on VASL next week, actually.

My wife is very disappointed in you.

Wrong guy. I think you're looking for Mr. Skeletor.

Frank- I haven't touched SQUAD LEADER in many, many years but I think it's much less complex overall- remember that SK1 is just infantry with some very basic support weapons (MGs, FTs, and satchel charges). I still think it comes across as more complicated than it really is though. The SK rulebook is kind of weird because they tried to split the difference between a narrative style and case-based rules and it really isn't "easy" at all. But that being said, it's fairly easy to pick up- I was really surprised at how even in our first game most of it clicked right into place, largely due to sensible and consistent rules. There really wasn't anything to cross-reference or any exceptions to exceptions or insconsistencies- remember that at this point ASL is a _very_ finely tuned system.

It is important to bear in mind that this is ASLSK and not full ASL so a lot of the "OMFG" complexity is stripped down. ASL is really like D&D, where it's a system that has flexibility to incorporate pretty much anything within the framework of WWII tactical combat.

We're not even into SK2 yet. We're taking it slow and really getting the most out of it. Unlike any other game I think I've ever played, I really think I could play ASL almost exclusively and live a satisfying gaming life. It has an elemental, classical quality that really transcends some of its rough edges (skulking, anyone?). It feels timeless and immortal.

As for the cost, holy jesus it's expensive. The full rulebook is like $80 and it doesn't have any pieces or maps. The first set, "Beyond Valor" is like $100 and there's countless modules, add-ons, expansions, magazines, and so on. You get the picture.

But you know, ASL is kind of a hobby-within-a-hobby and there's folks that play ASL exclusively. The thing is, ASL has sufficient depth and breadth to explore in that kind of capacity- any given scenario has pretty much unlimited possibilities and variable outcomes. If you want to play ASL "seriously", then I think it's money well spent. But I kind of fall into the more casual enthusiast category- I want to play other games too!

With the SKs, I think that the casual gamer can get a lot of value out of SK1 alone- it's a complete game that you can have up and running after a couple of hours with the rules and some fun low-density scenarios. And for around $20, it's the best value in gaming out there bar none. It's only six scenarios, but considering that I've played the first one alone eight times in just over a month I've more than gotten $20 worth of value out of it. I do think that anyone interested should definitely avoid the temptation to just get SK3 since it's "all" of the SK rules combined and is a complete game in itself. The rulebook starts to get pretty scary with the armor rules included and it definitely helps to have a good foundation from gradual learning.

Michael Barnes said...

BTW- you know what's REALLY freaky? There's a Hasbro logo on the ASLSK3 box.

Ted Torgerson said...

Does anyone know if the new ASL basic kit is roughly comparable to the old Squad Leader?

The starter kits are intended to teach the sequence of play in ASL. SL uses the same basic sequence - except Defensive First Fire that takes place while the attacker is moving his units. You may remember in SL after the attacker was done moving the defender could put the attacker's units back to a space they had moved through and fire at them. In ASL you don't get to see where they end their movement before you decide when you want to fire at them. In exchange for this loss of hindsight the defender has the advantage of being able to fire multiple times duing the Movement/Defensive Fire Phase (though only once at full fire power).

So much of SL was preserved in ASL that you could play ASLSK with a few minutes refresher. Of course things would come up in the course of play, but that is to be expected with any game that is deeper than Carcassone.

Anyone looking to try the Starter Kits online shoot me an email and I can run you through VASL set up and teach you to play in 1 or 2 sessions.

But since I'm the one in my group who buys and teaches most games, I will probably never lay down the money or time to get into this.

ASLSK#1 is hands down the best value of any game I ever bought. I have played it 40-50 times, and it costs $24.

Lagduf said...

I think this part of your article is pretty telling:

"My first impulse after playing it and falling almost instantly in love with it was to go home and order the rulebook and BEYOND VALOR, the first module"

Pretty telling in so far as it really hits the nail on the head about just how god damned good ASL actually is.

I'd heard all the Accountant/Scholar/Lawyer comments before, but I dove in w/ ASL SK2 (when SK1 was out of print, due to it's stunning success). I played a few games of SK #2, and what did I do next?

Why went out and purchased Beyond Valor + ASLRB v2.

It is that good. The logical mechanics, the amazing narrative, and the possibilities.

And admittedly, i've to date only played one full game of ASL for lack of F2F opponents, but I plan to go back and get the other SKs to ease some of my Ameritrash buddies in to playing ASL plus I really do think the SKs are a great way to get programmed instruction into the series, and i'd like to master the basics before adding more chrome. That said, the full rules aren't that much more complex - Concealment (those goofy "?" counters comes to mind...as well as a host of other things you can do - you mean my troops can start fires?).

Glad you discovered ASL Barnes. Happy gaming, and may you always roll low.

vialiy said...

If you don't mind the original first edition, you can get ASL at a low price. On eBay, I got the 1st ed. rulebook along with Paratrooper for $30 last year, and Beyond Valor for around $60 IIRC. There's very little difference with the 2nd ed., and you get the thick AH-style cardboard maps, which I consider a plus.

If you're new and want to plunge into full ASL right away, get Paratrooper. It has a very nice tutorial that will teach you everything you need about infantry.

pat h said...

Squad Leader is a game's game. Each sit down is a complete story that can be retold with much detail and dare I say - emotion?

Good article.

Ted Torgerson said...

If you're new and want to plunge into full ASL right away, get Paratrooper. It has a very nice tutorial that will teach you everything you need about infantry.


The training manual from Paratrooper now is included in the 2d edition rulebook for free.( The 2d edition also has an eighth day that was originally published, I think, with Red Barricades) The game is playable with the 1st edition rule book, but it had some errata pages that were included in each module, so depending on who you buy it from, and how complete his ASL collection was, his 1st edition rulebook may be fine or missing important errata that will not be published with the new copies of the modules. The counters in the new BV are fantastic, as ASL counters go. The mounted versus SK-style maps are a matter of taste. I do like the mounted boards myself, but if you are crazy about LOS the SK maps are printed flush to the edge so it is cleaner in that respect. The buildings look sharper on the new boards also.

kriz said...

BTW- you know what's REALLY freaky? There's a Hasbro logo on the ASLSK3 box.

Advanced Squad Dungeons and Dragons Tactical Combat Roll Playing Game....hmm intriguing. D&D combat moves a little slow as is though...hopefully those ASL writers can add realism without bogging it down. Well, not realism, but to pull out a fancy word I like "versimilitude".

So, F:AT, use your clout and influence in the gaming community to get this project going!

While I wasn't so thrilled that Wizards was coming out with a D&D 3E when it came out, but I have to admit it was much better organized and streamlined than 1E and 2E.

I disagree. The third edition rulebook is a complete mess, they even came out with 3.5 to fix everything. Which fixed alot, but has errors itself that you need 3.0 books to reference. Its a little bit ridiculous. 2.0 and 1.0 played real smooth as far as I'm concerned, and seemed actually playtested. I don't know. I like a lot what they did with 3.5 and its the version I play now, but sometimes I feel all those feats and customization clutter things up and I start feeling the itch of 1st edition.

Also the index in 3.0 and 3.5 is the worst of any book EVER. If the ASL team just got together to do the index for 4 ed., I'd be happy and think about buying it. If there's one thing ASL is famous for, in my mind anyway, is that its easy to look up a rule.

Mikoyan said...

I played SL once, it seemed pretty fun. Never played ASL. I just got Panzer Grenadier though and I like it. The rules aren't too complicated but it seems like it takes forever to do anything.

Mikoyan said...

Speaking of stuff...what happened to the thread about Agricola passing BattleLore?

mtlawson said...

kriz--

Oh, I avoid RPG indices like the plague. I used to DM MERP; I rest my case.

The design of 1E in particular I have a fondness for, but when I look at some of the old books the thing that pops out at me the most is how 1E pretty much grew organically out of the old wargames, and the design really wasn't streamlined much. Of course, by comparison, RM and MERP had charts for everything and anything, but with 1E it was kind of a hodgepodge.

And don't get me started about arbitrary class level limits for demi-humans. You're an elf, you live for 4000 years, but you are a stick in the mud as far as advancement goes.

mikoyan--

Looks like the OP zapped it. Compared to some of the Agricola threads, this one was a rather minor thing. To each his own, I suppose.

--Mike L.

Mikoyan said...

I wonder if Clearclaw didn't like the comment about an award named after him?

Mikoyan said...

Why is it when I am reading some of the comments about ratings or whatever, I feel like I'm watching the scene from the Monty Python Balloon Episode:
Helmut But we must do something - so many important people in our drawing room - we must do something.
They think for a little while.
Mrs Helmut We could sort them out.
Helmut And make a little list.
Mrs Helmut Ja, ja. We could put the ministers for internal affairs over against the wall, and those for foreign here by the clock.
Helmut And we can sort them out alphabetically?
Mrs Helmut Nein, nein - just put the cleanest by the door.
Helmut Ja.
They start to hump the corpses around. Helmut starts to hump Von Bülow towards the clock.
Mrs Helmut No, no! That's Von Bülow! He must go over here.
Helmut That is my reading chair.
Mrs Helmut He is the Reich Chancellor of Germany, Helmut.
Helmut starts to take him towards the reading chair.
Helmut All right ... but I think he would have been better up against the clock, you know.
Mrs Helmut No, he would not look nice under the clock.
Helmut I did not say under the clock. I said against the clock.
Mrs Helmut Well then we could not see the clock!
Helmut We could put the Minister for Colonies under the clock. He's small.
Mrs Helmut No. Colonies are internal affairs. He must go against the wall. (Helmut lifts up the head of another corpse) Education!
Helmut starts to drag him over to the wall.
Helmut Soon we shall be able to make a list.
Mrs Helmut Ja, ja, wait a minute! ... Who's that by the cat litter?
Helmut I don't know. I've never seen him before.
Mrs Helmut He is not a member of the Government. Get him out of here. Put him in the drawing room.
Helmut He's in the drawing room, my dear.
Mrs Helmut Ja, well you know what I mean.
Helmut Put him in the sitting room.
Mrs Helmut Ja, in, the sittng room, it's all the same.
Helmut You can put him in the sitting room if he's in the drawing room.

Lagduf said...

I'll have to disagree with whoever said you should pick up Beyond Valor v1.0.

It's not worth the money unless you get it on the cheap.

BV3 is so worth the money, plus if you really want to you can get it online for around $66.00. But considering what you get...the MSRP is worth it.

In BV3 you get all the MAPS you need to play the scenarios in the Box. With the first edition of BV you still need to track down some of the maps from Squad Leader. Sure if you have squad leader, then great. But I was born almost 10 years after the game came out and by the time I reached HS, SL was long out of print. Oh sure you can get it on ebay. But why go through the hassle?

BV3 also has MORE scenarios than BV1.

I agree about Paratrooper though. I'd love to get it. It has some infantry and light artillery ONLY scenarios to ease you in to full ASL.

RobertB said...

@mik

Yeah, sometimes BGG threatens to disappear right up it's own asshole, and rating threads are often the culprits. I guess that if you're buying five games a week, actually exerting some effort in researching a game before buying it gets to be tiresome. And the next person who takes those little blurbs next to the ratings numbers literally ("10 - would play anytime, even if I was on fire.") needs to be slapped or something.

If you _had_ to go with a rating/stars system with little blurbs on it, I thought the old Computer Gaming World stars system was a good one:

5 - essential for your collection.

4 - Well-executed, lacks that last bit of oomph to get it to 5.

3 - Good enough. If you like the subject matter or the genre, you might want to look into it. Might have some bugs or playability issues.

2 - Flawed. Serious playability or bug issues.

1 - Total piece of garbage.

Michael Barnes said...

Actually, I think the "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" binary system is the best, because when you get down to brass tacks, a game either sucks or it doesn't. No Schloessinator-style fence-sitting or Vaselation. You'll either play it again or you won't. I could easily rate every one of the 600+ games I've rated one way or the other. Comments are also a lot more useful and telling when rating with a binary system, why a game ultimately gets the nod or doesn't. A 1-10 scale just introduces a lot of bullshit for bullshit's sake. If I really cared, I'd go back and rate all my ratings over there 1 or 10 just to back that up.

As for that AGRICOLA/BATTLELORE ratings thread, it's already pretty clear that the business end of BGG has a relationship with the game's publishers and Z-Man Games in particular. When I peeked into the thread, I saw a lot of heat about shill ratings and it's already clear that there's a vested interest in the game's success over there.

It's completely ludicrous that a brand new, import game a vast majority of the gaming population- on BGG or off- has neither seen, played, or possibly even heard of is overtaking popular, best-selling and established titles.

The thing is too that this whole AGRICOLA affair- from Hanno's comments to the ratings prank to the "cover up" of criticism about its ratings- really points out how fucked up BGG and its administration has become.

adrianbolt said...

robertb said...
"Yeah, sometimes BGG threatens to disappear right up it's own asshole, and rating threads are often the culprits. ... And the next person who takes those little blurbs next to the ratings numbers literally needs to be slapped or something."
But when someone complains that you're not using the ratings correctly, it's such fun to play Devil's Advocate and interpret them literally! A red flag to a bull, I know...

michael barnes said...
"...points out how fucked up BGG and its administration has become."
Fucked up AND contemptuous!

druenkree said...

I have washed my hands of BGG .Too many crybabies and pseudo-intellectual Ass Holes .Back when I first got on it was cool cause Barnes was on and he made it very entertaining and was a good source for reserching games ,It still is but you have to plow thru the garbage I work at a comic book/gaming store and I use to send my cutomers there to reserch games but I stoped that practice after all those internet discounters got there hands up Aldies ass.Plus Ive been banned so that actully helped from cutting away.

Michael Barnes said...

Hey, what'd you get banned for? That makes four of us...

Merkles Boner said...

Michael,

Which is more pure FUN to you-- Combat Commander or ASLSK? Does your review of CC:E change after this experience?

Great review, by the way.

Juniper said...

I don't think there's any conspiracy going on. I just think that the early ratings on a game set expectations for everyone else. If your game has over 130 playtesters and 20% of them register accounts on BGG specifically to rate your game a 10 before anyone else can get the game, you've created a buzz.

The buzz impels other folks to play the game once or twice, usually at an event like BGG.Con. My feeling is that you can't decide that a game is a 10 after only a couple of plays, but many individuals believe that the rating system on BGG measures only their desire to replay the game, not its quality, necessarily. So, buzz begets buzz. Folks are clamoring to replay the not-quite-available game just to see whether their 10 ratings really hold up. It's exciting, I guess, to feel like a participant in the BGG zeitgeist.

The game ratings on BGG also inform the tastes of the site's users. If a relative newbie discovers BGG and reads that CAYLUS is widely considered one of the best games ever published, he'll be influenced by that, and tend to rate similar games similarly.

Some games (like TEMPUS) don't arrive in an English-language edition soon enough, so the buzz bubble collapses before BGGers can get it. That won't happen with AGRICOLA because there are so many preorder customers with a high emotional investment in the success of the game.

DISCLAIMER: I've never played AGRICOLA, and have no opinion on its quality. Maybe it really is as great as its reputation. Maybe it cures Erectile Dysfunction and makes a delicious pot roast, too.

2ND DISCLAIMER: I'm easily influenced, too. I asked a local game store to special order ASLSK #1 for me last night.

Rliyen said...

Plus Ive been banned so that actully helped from cutting away.

Let me guess, it's because of lizriz's "innocence abused" thread about what is or is not acceptable content?

That woman really needs to realize that the g/l she's bitching about is NOTHING to what I have seen on the net. It's hardly sexist at all. Salacious, yes, but not sexist.

kriz said...

MTlawson-

Yes, level limits were a ridiculous rule we never played with. Of course it didn't really matter that much, only rarely did characters get much beyond about 7th level for us. I think I got one character to 14th level in 2nd ed.

I'm getting to the point now where I like 3.5, I just think the rulebook is horribly organized and has some things over complicated (even though the selling point behind it was that it would streamline D&D) and has some things that are just glaring omissions. But after playing it for a few years now we have it mostly hammered out. I just have a feeling that 4.0 will be even worse, but we'll see. I have a feeling its going to turn away from being an RPG and more towards a miniature game.

RobertB said...

I think Juniper's right on the money in that all these 10's for games like Tempus and Agricola are echo-chamber effects.

Since you're asking people to rate games that they've actually played voluntarily, the ratings are going to skew high. I don't sit down and play a game just so I can slag it or rate a game I've never played, and I suspect most BGG users don't either.

Someone over there hit the nail on the head when they said (paraphrasing), glance at the rating, read the reviews, study the forums before you buy a game.

Michael Barnes said...

Juniper- Nah, I don't think it's a willful conspiracy...but I do think that once again intimate contact (ahem) between designers, publishers, and BGG could very well have a strong influence on what's happening. You pretty much echoed my old "Tastemakers" argument and I think that AGRICOLA really demonstrates it. Reviews and ratings do affect how others (particularly newbies who haven't gotten hip to the ruse) view, rate, and buy games. And BGG goes a LONG way to making people feel like they _should_ like certain games- witness that RACE FOR THE GALAXY thread where detractors were instructed on how they were wrong about the game.

Which is more pure FUN to you-- Combat Commander or ASLSK? Does your review of CC:E change after this experience?

That's tough. CC:E is definitely more "popcorn" (with TIDE OF IRON representing the jumbo bucket with a hot dog and large Coke)and has a more cinematic/"widescreen" feel to it. The cardplay, hand management, and the event triggers add a level of drama and part of the fun is in the unexpected turns of events and surprise outcomes. CC:E is more of a board game than a wargame, really, and it's pretty telling that it's very close to UP FRONT (the SL card game)with a board.

ASLSK, on the other hand, is really a different type of fun. The chief fun there is more in encountering a game system of deep potential and simulational detail that gives you a ton of options and decisions. But it's still dramatic, exciting, and actually very narrative- a few games have been as tense as anything else I've ever played. I was worried that it might be interesting but not fun, but it is genuinely a lot of fun, even on a visceral or emotional level.

I actually think ASLSK is easier to play than CC:E though, so that might mean something to you. It makes more sense overall, and even with broader decisions (not tied to cardplay)the game system just seems to run smoother and more intuitively.

Since I brought it up...TIDE OF IRON is like the saturday matinee version of the same concept. It's big, loud, fun, and ultimately more accessible and immediate than either of the other games. It has a lot of similar concepts to the others but it probably has the most immersive and engaging sense of atmosphere. It's a great game in its own regard.

Dogmatix said...

@rlyien: No kidding. I tend to wonder how some of the more "sensitive" posters in that thread manage to exist on a day to day basis. You'd think most human interaction would cause them to completely melt...

@Barnes: I too played vanilla SL way back, but never really felt the urge to invest the time and bank [and dedicate a bookshelf] when ASL v1 came out as that major metro-area yellow pages of a rulebook seemed to be a bit much for me. I never paid much attention to the subsequent development of the ASL world thereafter. The ASLSKs, however, sound like a great intro. Thanks for the useful review.

Juniper said...

but I do think that once again intimate contact (ahem) between designers, publishers, and BGG could very well have a strong influence on what's happening

Yeah, that seems to be happening.

I think that Hanno received his free pass (and many thumbs-up) for his notoriously asinine comments from people that know him personally. Those people could read his comments and hear them in his voice, so to speak. They know when he's joking, or when he's just talking shit and is otherwise harmless. MrSkeletor, on the other hand, doesn't have that advantage, so he's been getting banned every other week. The effect isn't intentional, but it really does seem that there are BGG insiders that have privileges that others do not, simply due to familiarity.

I believe that, if it had been the CARDCHESS guy in that situation rather than Hanno, there would have been an uproar over the poop-eater comments, and BGG users would be embroiled in a heated argument over whether playtesters should be allowed to rate the games they have playtested.

AGRICOLA sort of represents the moment that BGG really started to deep-throat its own tail. It's self-evident that Z-Man's preorder program was a success because of BGG; the program was promoted almost exclusively through the site. By facilitating the preorder program, BGG took a big step from simply influencing perception of games to actively determining which ones are published. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess, as long as everyone keeps in mind that it's all bullshit, anyway. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that take BGG ratings very seriously.

It's like NME declaring that the best album of all time was "Definitely Maybe," except that thousands of poor fuckers will now try to entice their friends to play something that is the boardgame equivalent of Oasis, and everyone involved is going to have a shitty time.

Juniper said...

Hey, what'd you get banned for? That makes four of us...

I count five. Did you remember to count GeneralPF/Ryan W?

Anonymous said...

Naked mole rat was banned?

Juniper said...

I thought he and MrSkeletor both got week-long suspensions over some pissing match. Am I wrong?

Rliyen said...

Naked mole rat was banned?

For a about a week.

He and Skel got into it on a Starcraft review thread and Judge Octavian banned them both for a week.

vialiy said...

lagduf: you are right about the SL boards needed for BV 1st ed. I totally forgot about that, since I already had SL when I bought it. I retract my recommendation for 1st ed.

Frank Branham said...

I'm actually not that upset that Agricola got promoted and that the preorder program was established and marketed on BGG. I am a little ticked at Hanno's behavior.

As to Agricola, I'd actually put it at a 9 or 10 myself.

One thing I have noticed is that the closer and more enmeshed you become to a genre of games, the larger the difference between small changes seems.

I can see vast, yawning gulfs of difference between Pillars, Puerto Rico, and Agricola, and this thread is discussing the rather significant differences between the "practically identical" CC, Tide of Iron, and SL/ASL.

Dogmatix said...

@Frank B. I'm not sure it's about the preorder program being marketed on BGG that's at issue. MMP and GMT both to a certain degree do the same thing [I probably wouldn't have noted MMP's hopefully forthcoming A Most Dangerous Time were it not for Starkweather's self-promotion of it. Now, I'm dying for it to go to the @#$@#$ printers already.]

I think it's more the shill/hype-machine quality that surrounded it (as well as Hanno's behavior). However, the impression that a game that I would bet a full 2/3rds [admittedly, a Wild Ass Guess (WAG) but one I would bet isn't that far off the mark] of the raters had never even seen, let alone played, demonstrates a serious and seemingly increasing problem of drinking one's own bathwater.

And, yea, I'm sure you *can* see yawning gulfs between the 3 Euros you mentioned, while I can infer them in the shooters Barnes discusses here as I'm familiar with and have played various games in this genre.

However, I wouldn't dream of rating, say, Tide of Iron a 9 or 10 and defending it in all fora against all nay-sayers since *I've never even seen a copy of ToI out of the shrink.* I'm not at all sure the bulk of the BGG crowd would say the same about Agricola, Power Grid, Caylus, or the like. I find that incredibly aggravating.

Though, I did find the scores of pages generated around the "are preorders a good idea" topics really entertaining since it's pretty much been a standard practice in the wargaming niche since Avalon Hill vaporized. The fact that so many found it to be such a "novel mechanic" was a little weird to me.

mtlawson said...

I'd also have to point out that one major difference between the three tactical WW2 wargames is that ASL/SK does NOT use cards to drive events. That option is simply not on the table. It's like trying to say that there are these three games that are like Settlers of Catan, but one of them doesn't use a map with numbers to determine (via die roll) resource allocation.

CC:E and ToI are quite a bit closer, but there are differences. (And I'm not talking about plastic vs. cardboard for playing pieces, either.)

--Mike L.

Michael Barnes said...

One thing I have noticed is that the closer and more enmeshed you become to a genre of games, the larger the difference between small changes seems.

Well, this is true in anything- if I played three black metal records for folks not into the genre they'd likely think they sounded alike or were at least very similar. But for someone really interested in the genre, there could be huge differences. The casual observer may not even be able to discern musicianship, craft, or creativity but it's there for those who can (or want)recognize it.

I agree that between PILLARS,PUERTO RICO, and AGRICOLA that there are vast differences and in fact I think they're different games altogether (not so much PILLARS versus CAYLUS though)- but I do think that the style of gameplay and the way things are depicted and abstracted are very similar.

ToI, ASL, and CC:E all have the same theme. They depict the same kinds of events and materials. They even have very similiar mechanics. But they're not practically identical at all and in fact each game goes different routes to depict and abstract the particulars and each features different mechanics and resolution devices. They're different "inflections" of the same thing, and I think there is absolutely room for all three on my shelf.

But yeah, I can see that someone really into Eurogames can determine finer points of difference...but I'd still argue that the inflection is very, very similar among many titles.

Ken B. said...

Michael Barnes wrote:

When I peeked into the thread, I saw a lot of heat about shill ratings and it's already clear that there's a vested interest in the game's success over there.



Amen, brother. I've never seen such a thing. It's like...there's this REAL push to get this to be the "next big thing", everything else be damned. So you get strong words from the "in crowd" for the prank, the designer telling everyone to eat shit and die, stupid-obsessive ratings-watch threads, and more.


I've been wanting to do an article forever on finding out why, exactly, BGG's ratings system is obviously flawed. I would post it there, but I'd expect to be lynched by the 'regulars'.

Is that the sort of content that would be acceptable here? Do you guys want to talk about it? I could take plenty of criticism, no problem about that, but I want a discussion to take place somewhere where your words won't be blackballed just for having the gall to say "BGG" and "wrong" in the same sentence.


Well, I guess, "BGG hasn't got it wrong--Agricola is the second coming of every major deity that has ever been written about, now and forever." I suppose that would be okay.

Michael Barnes said...

Is that the sort of content that would be acceptable here? Do you guys want to talk about it?

Absolutely. My personal vendetta against BGG notwithstanding, I think articles that are critical and questioning of The Leading Board Game Site are very valuable, particularly when intelligent and insightful folks like our readers and participants here actively engage in discussion about subjects like that. Unfortunately, a lot of people dismiss things like that as "whining" or "bitching" but that's just the internet equivalent of telling someone to "move to Russia" when they question or criticize the United States government.

Look at it this way- critical articles really serve to make things _better_, if anyone is actually listening and not flatly dismissing the possibility that maybe something _is_ wrong or at least not the best it can be.

It's ridiculous, the level of loyalty and dedication people have to what is now a commercial business and no longer primarily a community resource. I've said it before and I'll say it again- being away from the community at BGG has really improved my gaming life.

The problem is ultimately, I guess, that BGG is too entrenched in many gamers' hobby experience and some people are more invested in it than they are gaming itself.

Rliyen said...

I've been wanting to do an article forever on finding out why, exactly, BGG's ratings system is obviously flawed.

Ken, I find your unwritten article disturbing and offensive, and in my quest to understand how this is acceptable in this community, I will start a thread decrying how your article WILL offend my delicate sensibilities; all the while abrogating my responsibility to realize that not everyone sees things the same way I do.

Dogmatix said...

Ken, I find your unwritten article disturbing and offensive, and in my quest to understand how this is acceptable in this community, I will start a thread decrying how your article WILL offend my delicate sensibilities; all the while abrogating my responsibility to realize that not everyone sees things the same way I do.

Thanks you bastard. I just flushed 3 ounces of iced coffee out of my nostrils. Christ but that stings.

Frank Branham said...

As to the BGG rating system being broken, it reminds me an old comment on why British cars were always so unreliable.

"It gives the lads something to do."

Rliyen said...

Thanks you bastard. I just flushed 3 ounces of iced coffee out of my nostrils. Christ but that stings.

My plan is complete!

*steeples fingers and chuckles evil-like*

Michael Barnes said...

Thanks you bastard. I just flushed 3 ounces of iced coffee out of my nostrils.

Why do people spit up all the time when they read something funny on the internet? You'd think people constantly have some fluid in their mouths at all times while online.

"It gives the lads something to do."

That's the best perspective on it, really...it really is just a type of trainspotting at the end of the day. But when there's other factors such as a game's relative marketplace success or failure in the balance, I worry that it's not so frivolous after all.

The whole fracas with Stein Thompson is an interesting perspective on it...I totally see how they would feel that their games, which are really designed and marketed for a family/mass market crowd rather than a BGG/hobby crowd, could actually be _hurt_ by all exposure to the anal sandbaggers and trainspotters on BGG.

Michael Barnes said...

Back OT...if anyone wants to do some of the first couple of ASKSK scenarios via PBEM, let me know via PM. I ain't gonna teach you how to play, but I can help if you're less green than I am. Factorygames at bellsouth.net

Dogmatix said...

Why do people spit up all the time when they read something funny on the internet? You'd think people constantly have some fluid in their mouths at all times while online.

Yea, well, sadly, in this case it was actually true. And, yes, I feel a wee bit retarded for it.

The whole fracas with Stein Thompson is an interesting perspective on it...
I'm not sure if this was covered in any depth here previously, but I'm curious. While I understand Stein Thompson's perspective on getting slagged on BGG, precisely how much pull *does* BGG have in the mass market? That's the bit that's unclear to me. From where I sit, I would have thought that that particular tempest wouldn't even fit in a tea cup, let alone the pot...

I say that because the site is, by my read, so openly hostile to family/mass market gaming that their opinions are utterly meaningless in that realm. Do I understate their influence or do they [in this case Stein Thompson] overstate BGGs market influence? Am I missing something on that front?

Ken B. said...

That's exactly the sort of thing I'd like to discuss in an article dedicated to that. Maybe we could use that as a send-off for the blog...

Or save it. For...something.


I can't say anymore or Frank will call me a "Wanker". I'm not sure what that means, but I think it has something to do with self-gratification. Or an avid fan of the English Futball Cup. Or some other third thing.

Michael Barnes said...

As far as BGG's influence on the marketplace, it's really impossible to measure in any kind of scientific, Randy Cox kind of way. But from my experience in the retail end of it, I feel safe making the claim that it does despite the market success of BGG-hated games like any given mass-market title or the entire MUNCHKIN and ZOMBIES franchises.

I've had customers come in with printed out lists of the top 10 games and asking me if I could special order a copy of DIE MACHER for them (back when it was higher rated and unavailable). I've had people come in with lists of titles with the BGG average rating next to them. I've heard people specifically cite BGG ratings as a guideline for what they will and won't buy. With Eurogames in particular, if something has an average rating of anything under a 7, you can bet that it's going to be a shelfwarmer and eventually wind up on the clearance table, unless Frank Branham comes in and is feeling reckless.

The problem seems to be that many people view BGG as a buyer's guide, which it really isn't and I don't think it was intended to be in the first place. And add to that that with internet search engines if you put in a board game title you're going to get to BGG, almost every time.

Think of it this way. Somebody sees NINJA GALAXY in a shop and thinks "hey, I like Ninjas and I like Galaxies, that may be cool". But they're a savvy consumer so they see if they can find anything about it on the internet before they spend their money. They got to BGG and all they see is negative (and even hateful) comments from people who were not the intended audience of NINJA GALAXY in the first place and lots of totally out-of-context criticism that may be completely irrelevant to this consumer. And seeing that a game has an average rating of 5 on a scale of 1-10 from the leading boardgaming website- "folks who ought to know"- could very well result in this person not buying the game. Now, in this niche business if 100 people do that, it sucks. 1000 people and it's a disaster.

RobertB said...

As far as BGG's influence on the marketplace, it's really impossible to measure in any kind of scientific, Randy Cox kind of way. But from my experience in the retail end of it, I feel safe making the claim that it does despite the market success of BGG-hated games like any given mass-market title or the entire MUNCHKIN and ZOMBIES franchises.

I guess there's no _Consumers' Reports_ for board gaming, as in some place for a relative novice to get an overview of what might be fun in board and card gaming beyond Pictionary. Even if there is, BGG ain't it. As a niche in a niche sort of site, you're definitely going to see bias.

Juniper said...

I guess there's no _Consumers' Reports_ for board gaming, as in some place for a relative novice to get an overview of what might be fun in board and card gaming beyond Pictionary. Even if there is, BGG ain't it. As a niche in a niche sort of site, you're definitely going to see bias.

Exactly! Someone needs to build nongeekboardgaming.com, or something. It should have advice on the best prosecco to serve during a game of 6 NIMMT!, or whether endive and gruyere salad is suitable for a CA$H 'N' GUN$ get-together. It needs fashion tips and recipes.

In other words, it should talk about things that normal people care about, and games that normal people might actually be willing to play together. It should emphasize the social aspects of boardgaming over the mathematical ones.

Shit, you need to be a geek just to navigate BoardGameGeek.com. What a fucking ugly website!

vialiy said...

In other words, it should talk about things that normal people care about, and games that normal people might actually be willing to play together. It should emphasize the social aspects of boardgaming over the mathematical ones.

boardgames.about.com does a good job at that.

Merkles Boner said...

On BGG being an ugly website:

Since we're talking about wargames--I do have to say that I far prefer BGG to Consimworld if I have a question about rules or strategy.

Consimworld requires going through multiple pages before finding a nugget on a specific topic. It IS useful if you follow it from the beginning.

Also---the ugliness/usefulness of a website is a potentially useful discussion here if the F:AT website is in the works, too.

Dogmatix said...

@Ken B: I'd really like to see that article/discussion develop the post-apocalypse version of F:AT.

Barnes, thanks for that perspective. I didn't realize that people actually walked into retail outlets with those lists. I find that a bit disheartening.

Shit, you need to be a geek just to navigate BoardGameGeek.com.
Heh, I directed a friend at work who specializes in website accessibility/Section 508 compliance to BGG. She nearly had a stroke trying to navigate that site.

adrianbolt said...

rliyen said...
"He and Skel got into it on a Starcraft review thread and Judge Octavian banned them both for a week."
So admins can ban someone? Not just aldie? What a disconcerting thought, giving that power to the pinheads! Ugh!

michael barnes said...
"if anyone is actually listening and not flatly dismissing the possibility that maybe something _is_ wrong or at least not the best it can be.
It's ridiculous, the level of loyalty and dedication people have to what is now a commercial business and no longer primarily a community resource."
I'm becoming more and more convinced that the former will never happen on BGG. And for the latter, I'm starting to suspect that quite a few think that if they perform sufficient brown-nosing they may be elevated to godhood AKA adminhood.

rliyen said...
"Ken, I find your unwritten article disturbing and offensive, and in my quest to understand how this is acceptable in this community, I will start a thread decrying how your article WILL offend my delicate sensibilities; all the while abrogating my responsibility to realize that not everyone sees things the same way I do."
Brilliant! (Except you didn't give us enough time to thoroughly nitpick and complain about your complaint before you'd written it.)

arichbourg said...

Hey Michael,

The article is the kind of GREAT writing that made you big time FAMOUS. Keep up the great work!

I was thinking about breaking out SL again, now I'm certain I will.

Mr Skeletor said...

Aldie banned us, not Octavian.

mtlawson said...

In my opinion, the issue with the ratings system is that it's interpreted differently by everyone.

The system, according to the fine print, is whether you'd play a game a not, not whether you like it or not. That's quite different than how people often view those things.

I don't think that there's a single game out there that I'd say "Hey, I'll play it whenever or wherever someone suggests it." There's always going to be times when I'm not that interested in playing Advanced Civ, We The People or Settlers, and those are my top three rated games. There are going to be times when I say, "To hell with it, I'd rather watch a good college hoops game or play Scrabble than those three."

To other people, such a view like that is completely alien. Those are the people who are so obsessed about a game that they'll give it a 10.

To the rest of the people, the rating system is simply a measure of how they like a game, and in spite of the guidelines they superimpose their own views on the scale. I know I do; I consider a 7 a darn good game, and the midrange of 4-6 okay games. Other people think that a 7 is a game with serious flaws. And still others superimpose their own systems (such as bentlarsen's Yea(10)/Meh(5)/Bleh(1) system). With so many differing interpretations of the rating system, there's little surprise that it gives the impression that the rating system is broken.

The one thing I wish would happen would be a change to a 1-4 rating system, but have separate components to the rating system:

Components
Rulebook
Gameplay
Replayability

And have a required multiple choice section:

Recommend to a Friend
Who should play this game
Who should not play this game

The first one is a simple yes/no. The other two would have a series of 10-20 radio buttons to select from with a gamer's different interests; you can select as many as you want.

That would be more informative than the current system, and in fact make it easier for people to find what they want rather than having to spend enough time on the Geek to find Geekbuddies with similar (or markedly opposite) tastes.

There; finally got that out of my system.

--Mike L.

vialiy said...

Mike, I wrote an article about this a few weeks ago, that went largely unnoticed:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1925613

Mikoyan said...

BGG helped me get Power Grid and Peurto Rico (games I enjoy alot) and Caylus (a game that is okay but ends way too soon). But I think I agree with the folks here, theme is more important to me. I love Last Night on Earth. Drips with theme.

Southernman said...

Mike (and anyone else) - I've got my first game of CC:E tomorrow with gaming mate, and F:AT defiler, fellonmyhead and I'm after advice on anything to look out for or to definitely remember.

There have been so many lame people posting threads at BGG recently that I have run out of time trying to participate in them all - there was the Liz bird upset by a 'guys' geeklist, then some woman going ballistic because the only female admin had chucked it in and how she wasn't going to accept male only admins (I had to jump into that one ... I could hear it calling to me), and then the never-ending 'people should update their ratings' threads - I finally lost my rag in one where they wanted a timestamp that expires on all your ratings ... God give me strength.

Juniper said...

Alright, you guys. There has been too much criticism of BGG in this comments thread, so it is now LOCKED.

pat h said...

Being pretty far from being a geek with the exception of this hobby - if that can qualify for geekdom, I was able to discern fairly quickly that some of the comments and reviews I was reading (on BGG)were written by the types of folks that make me snicker and not to take them seriously(anywhere). This was when I discovered BGG in an attempt to read about Zombies!! which I felt might be fun and easy to play with my wife for a new diversion. I was able to understand that the game was not too deep but easy fun nonetheless. There were several inciteful reviews to this effect that were simple enough to digest but some of the railing against a "simple" game were just hilarious.

Please more discussion on Squad Leader and the all powerful CRT. Can there be an experience like rushing some engineers under cover across the street to clear a building of troops with a demo charge or flamethrower? Using precious turns to move that MMG through backyards to try and stem the endless flow of conscripts threatening your flank while you deal with that tank in the street, which seems to absorb multiple rounds from your only AT gun?

Good fun (from a completely non-combatant point of view).

adrianbolt said...

vialiy said...
"Mike, I wrote an article about this a few weeks ago, that went largely unnoticed:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1925613"
Thumbed and commented upon; hopefully that'll help get it noticed. By the way, I was amused/saddened/resigned to see the only comment being from an admin posting the dictionary definition of "Agricola". You write a dozen or so paragraphs and he focuses on the P.S. In it you said "The conspiracy runs deep". Maybe they're contractually bound to comment on any mention of Agricola in order to make it more prominent. Maybe I should add "*cough* Agricola *cough*" in a random location of every post to test the theory...

southernman said...
"I finally lost my rag in one where they wanted a timestamp that expires on all your ratings ... God give me strength."
Please post the link, I could do with a good laugh. (And stir.)

adrianbolt said...

vialiy...
Success! It's on the front page!

Merkles Boner said...

I've got my first game of CC:E tomorrow with gaming mate, and F:AT defiler, fellonmyhead and I'm after advice on anything to look out for or to definitely remember.

Well, I just played my first game last night—so I can give a neophyte’s advice, at least.
We first played the practice game laid out at the end of the playbook that walks players through a scenario step by step. It was a bit tedious near the end, but I recommend it for the first few turns at least to see how things work. Many of the rules clicked for me in that practice game. It also familiarized us with how the various actions and orders actually worked.
In the real game (we played the first scenario), I started with the initiative card and kept forgetting to use it until it was too late. (The card allows the holder of the card to have a re-roll, then giving the card to the opponent). That was my biggest mistake, by far—and something I’ll definitely remember.
Remember to start looking at your hand to see combinations of cards that can be played on a turn—like “Advance”—to go into a melee, then an “Ambush” action card that automatically breaks a unit in the melee space (giving the attacker a potential advantage—of course, my opponent often had a matching “Ambush” action to play as well. But the idea of watching out for potential combinations is useful.
Finally, don’t forget that forcing an opponent’s unit off the board on its own side effectively kills the unit. We found that Rout cards can do this well against a weakened unit—even from the middle of the board. Again, we’re new—so I’m sure there’s others with far more sage advice….but for me, that’s what I need to remember and watch out for the next time. It was a blast….Michael’s comments regarding CC:E as a popcorn game were right on (though I’ll need to compare against the Jumbo Combo of Tide of Iron sometime in the future).

andy malcolm said...

Anyone have any comments on Lock N Load - Band of Heroes? Combat Commander and ASL look a lot drier than LNL to me, and the designer of LNL seems to have a good Ameritrash attitude on things from what I have read, but it still looks like it offers a lot of the depth that the other more talked about games offer. I've ordered LNL but it hasn't arrived yet. Looking forward to playing.

kriz said...

juniper said: Exactly! Someone needs to build nongeekboardgaming.com, or something. It should have advice on the best prosecco to serve during a game of 6 NIMMT!, or whether endive and gruyere salad is suitable for a CA$H 'N' GUN$ get-together. It needs fashion tips and recipes.

Awesome. I've always thought, reading endless lists of "what should I buy next", that some of these people should maybe dig out one of the thousands of games they've already bought, and spend the money on some salad and meat for the grill to lure some friends over to actually PLAY something.

Juniper said...

Didn't you people hear me? This thread is LOCKED!

Oh, and Rush is fucking awesome.

Here's a crackpot theory for a hungover Saturday morning:

The craziness over RACE FOR THE GALAXY made it clear that there's disagreement over what constitutes interaction in games. Some believe that player interaction is like human-computer interaction; if you do something that elicits any response at all, then you're interacting. Others seem to think of player interaction in terms of social interaction -- it's genuine interaction only if it allows a player to reveal something about their personality, or whatever.

The idea that the quality of a game can be evaluated on a numerical scale is incredibly stupid, for all the reasons that have already been mentioned in this thread, but there's another important reason, too. The entertainment value of a game depends greatly on factors that are not intrinsic to the game itself. More than anything else, the entertainment value of a game is contingent on the group with whom you play it. With some of my friends, I'd really only want to play CHESS. With others, 6 NIMMT! is my first choice.

When you ask a large group of BGG users to assign numerical ratings to games, they'll try to rate what they perceive to be the intrinsic qualities of a game, because the other, environmental factors are too subjective, too particular. The games that tend to be least sensitive to variation in those environmental factors are the ones that offer little social interaction -- the ones that aren't affected much by the personalities of the players.

If a game is relatively insensitive to these environmental factors, then a BGG user can rate it a 9 or a 10 with confidence, since she will assume that any other BGGer's experience of the game will be similar to hers. If she can't make that assumption, she might dock the game a point or two.

The entire idea of rating games, and the illusion of objectivity that numerical ratings foster, will naturally cause games like RACE FOR THE GALAXY to score well. After a while, tastes are informed by the game ratings, so everyone will profess a preference for games that are devoid of social interaction.


Like I said, crackpot. Here's, one more
Bubbles clip.

Rliyen said...

Alright, you guys. There has been too much criticism of BGG in this comments thread, so it is now LOCKED.

Great! Now, thanks to Judge Juniper, no one's wittle precious snowflake feewings will be hurt!

Dredd would be proud, if he ever had an emotion.

Juniper said...

Hey, I was just thinking:

can the ASL system be adapted to, like, superhero combat? Would it make sense to invent house rules so that I could pit Captain America, Namor, and original Human Torch against the Red Skull and a horde of Nazi soldiers? Or would the result necessarily suck?

Mark said...

A select group of people pushing particular games isn't anything new to me. For as long as I've been in the hobby there have been games with "buzz". Very rarely is the game with the "buzz" a great game and it's almost never the best game of a given year, but it's unlikely to be truly terrible.

Consider the number of new games released every year. Few of us have the time to seriously look over even half of them, let alone buy or play them. I have no interest in trying to dig through the hundreds of new games to find those that are worth my time. Most of us already apply filters on what games we look at. For a lot of people their first criteria is publisher, designer or recommendation.

Recommendation can be the most reliable way to filter, but it's also the trickiest since you can hold someone personally responsible for buying a bad game. It tends to either be strongly self-reinforcing or cause a strong negative reaction. This is why you end up with games with buzz one way or another. The people out there playing a lot of games and writing about them on BGG, here and other places are the ones that give exposure to games that are worth consideration. Even if BGG disappeared tomorrow there'd be games out there that would acquire unwarranted positive or negative reputations. It's just it'd be collected from a smaller group of reviewers on a few select sites. BGG has a lot of idiots, true. If I wanted to completely avoid idiots I wouldn't leave my house and even then my odds wouldn't be good.

vialiy said...

There are Heroes in ASL, you are free to fit them with the latex suit of your choice.

Southernman said...

Rliyen said...
Dredd would be proud, if he ever had an emotion.


Drokk !

ubarose said...

Shit, you need to be a geek just to navigate BoardGameGeek.com. What a fucking ugly website!

It's not meant to be navigated. It is designed so that someone shopping for a game can type a game name into Google. The first site on the Google list will be BGG. They click on that, it brings you to the game's page. They click on the advert directly below the game's picture. BGG makes money.

BGG is the epinions.com of board games. The primary function & purpose of BGG is to deliver consumers to advertisers. The forums, the database, the guilds, the wish lists, and everything else are just tools to achieve this primary function. These things provide advertisers with more consumers, provide motivation for adding the content that attracts more consumers, or just plain reinforces the consumer desire to buy MORE. If BGG could shut down the forums and the database and everything else, and make the same amount of money, I doubt all that functionality be there.

ubarose said...

Juniper I need to talk to you off line, but you don't have an email link in your profile. Can you please email me.

mtlawson said...

Jeez, Juniper, I thought you were going to link to Family Guy clip with Chester Cheeto.

Uba--

That's true about BGG, but at least epinions does a better job of ratings.

Just a note that the New Year seems to have rung in more mainstream ads on the Geek, I've noticed. Sony? Since when did Sony start advertising on the Geek? Or Lendingtree, the University of Phoenix, or Monster?

--Mike L.

druenkree said...

Let me guess, it's because of lizriz's "innocence abused" thread about what is or is not acceptable content?

BINGO
some douchbag PM me about how insensivtive I was being and I let him have both barrels ,so then he narced me off.

adrianbolt said...

juniper said...
"The idea that the quality of a game can be evaluated on a numerical scale is incredibly stupid, ... The entertainment value of a game depends greatly on factors that are not intrinsic to the game itself. More than anything else, the entertainment value of a game is contingent on the group with whom you play it. ... When you ask a large group of BGG users to assign numerical ratings to games, they'll try to rate what they perceive to be the intrinsic qualities of a game, because the other, environmental factors are too subjective, too particular. ... If a game is relatively insensitive to these environmental factors, then a BGG user can rate it a 9 or a 10 with confidence, since she will assume that any other BGGer's experience of the game will be similar to hers. If she can't make that assumption, she might dock the game a point or two."
Intrinsic qualities? Wouldn't that mean being objective and not rating games based on the anticipation factor? *cough* Agricola *cough* 'Fraid I'm being insensitive and rating pretty much on the environmental factors. And with confidence! Guess I must be using the ratings wrongly. Even worse, I don't dock a point or two due to being unable to assume other BGGer's experience will be similar. I know it'll be different, unlike many of them I don't have a butt impalement. If anything, I'm rating the 'groups' (the players in the group vary) reaction to the game, predominantly how much I enjoyed it but modified by the others reactions. Jeez, that sounds suspiciously like I'm rating the fun element! I'm a bad boy!

mark said...
"BGG has a lot of idiots, true. If I wanted to completely avoid idiots I wouldn't leave my house and even then my odds wouldn't be good."
Funniest thing I've read all day!! Great!

Lagduf said...

It would be great if F:AT had it's own site, or at the very least some FORUMS.

Somewhere for board game discussion other than BGG would be nice. As it stands I like BGG as a database for games, and I do appreciate reviews (well good ones at least), and the ability to track my own game collection. Game specific forums are nice for clearing up any rules questions too. But I don't really feel much a part of the BGG community as a whole. It's just not a place I want to hang out at online. For that I go to other forums. Plus I really don't like to discuss games on BGG either. I wish the moderation was less than what it was and people there as a whole were a little bit more laid back.

druenkree said...

This is what I see when I go to BGG

Your user account is not permitted to perform that action.

Like I said this is a good thing ,I was going there just to see which over sensitive asshole I could piss off today.

Ken B. said...

Lagduf, there's so much I would like to say right this second, but...I can't.

There's a reason things have been quiet here, everyone...and it's not due to disinterest on our part all of the sudden.

The light is coming, folks. We're bringing it. And when it gets here, you all need to bow down to Ubarose, who is a BIG part of making it happen.

Gabbo. Think of it as the "Blue Harvest" of boardgaming.

Lagduf said...

Whatever happens sounds great to me.

Dogmatix said...

@druenkree: That's a damn shame. I would think everyone's favorite train game litigator's first comment in the first item would be worth your efforts: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/27768

(And here I thought the reason I couldn't buy that game was because there are only 80 copies on the planet. Do all train game players take Fun Murdering[tm] to the level of spree or serial killing?)

mtlawson said...

Good luck with that, Ken. Hopefully you guys will have figured something out on how to support the darn thing. My employer gets grumpy about doing that sort of thing on the side, even though it's not like I'd be steering them toward more money.

--Mike L.

Jur said...

There's a reason things have been quiet here, everyone...and it's not due to disinterest on our part all of the sudden."

ha, you are just afraid somebody will go loudmouthing about it on BGG. As if...

adrianbolt said...

Can anyone tell me which F:AT article first coined the phrase "Fun Murderer" (I tried to find it but couldn't spot it easily)? I'll then post the link in my Microbadge proposal post. (http://boardgamegeek.com/article/1980755#1980755 in case pimping is allowed here...)

Juniper said...

Hey, now that all the adults are sequestered while they finish off their top-secret "Project: Gabbo," shouldn't the rest of us be taking over this place?

Shouldn't we be anti-shill rating the forthcoming FFG edition of COSMIC ENCOUNTER, or something?

Frank Branham said...

Regarding the BGG layout:

The basic BGG layout of single game page came entirely from Luding and The Gaming Dumpster. At the time (1997-98) people were passing files, translations, and errata mostly by email and paper copies.

When I built the Gaming Dumpster, it was intended to archive all of the translations I had made. I just added (very, very basic) web accessibility so that others could grab and add translations and files and stuff, as well as reviews.

BGG originally only had that layout, along with session reports and ratings, as well as a better database backend and a moderator approval system for new content. (This is actually quite necessary. The Dumpster was becoming filled up with total crap, basically web graffiti.)

Lists, Forums, advertising, and the other ephemera were added by Aldie over the years. It does mean that the original purpose of the site is not that well represented anymore. The extra crap has made it so that translations take 4-7 DAYS for approval.

Michael Barnes said...

Can anyone tell me which F:AT article first coined the phrase "Fun Murderer" (I tried to find it but couldn't spot it easily)

Post before pub, Adrian. It's called "The Fun Murderers", and do not let any imposter out there think he coined the term before I did. I want royalties from the sale of those microbadges.

Jeb said...

If you want to dabble in wargames, Multiman Publishing will send you Target Arnhem for the cost of shipping. Link!

adrianbolt said...

michael barnes said...
"It's called "The Fun Murderers", and do not let any imposter out there think he coined the term before I did. I want royalties from the sale of those microbadges."
Ye gods, November! I didn't think it was that long ago, no wonder I didn't find it! Thanks for your help, I've edited my post in the Microbadge design thread to add a F:ATlink™ with the words "The Fun Murderers, Posted by Michael Barnes". Start a sweepstake for how long it'll be before I'm castigated/banned and be alert for incoming buttheads!
Royalties? I won't get a GeekCent out of it, just a coupon for a free Microbadge provided 15 people buy it! You'd've thought if someone designs a 'badge they'd get it for free but no... I've just had an evil idea though, instead of the tooltip being my suggested "I passively-aggressively hate Fun Murderers", how about if I ask for it to be the link to the article itself?

dbuel said...

"Oh, and Rush is fucking awesome."

There is unrest in the Fortress
There is trouble at BGG
For the maples want their boardgames "lite"
The oaks just give them 3s

vandemonium said...

In no particular order because I am too lazy to quote you longwinded bastards and I am late to the party.

Point 1) I like Oasis. Ok, I love Oasis. I don't care what you say.

Point 2) I like Rush. A lot. I don't care what you say.

Point 3) ASL and all the other war game type acronyms are just not my thing at all. Zero interest. Nice article Michael I did read the whole thing but it just does not float my boat at all. If they develop the system into a super hero game like Juniper suggested let me know.

Point 4) Bgg. Yes, there are things that I wish were different BUT - I disagree that there is not fun discussion there. A lot of it is in Chit Chat. That is where I hang out the most. That is where I find the people I gel with the most. I venture outside of that to the Werewolf forum which is a niche within a niche of its own.

Yes, there are never ending "suggest for me threads" and blah blah blah, yes the navigation is errr, esoteric. And yes it IS a business now. But it is also what you make of it, ya know? I like bantering with a bunch of the people just as much as I like the banter here. I try to stay out of most of the shit storms. Usually. Sorta.

I do agree with the influence factor - that is definitely there but I think that is probably true for any little niche don't you? I mean I get sucked into soccer jerseys reading ESPN's soccer news.

I don't think that is BGGs fault per se, so much as people just taking things WAY too fucking seriously. I think the best thing to do (for me) is when I see that type of stuff, I just go make fun of it with the chit chatters.

Point the last) Good luck on Greedo. Or Gabbo or whatever!

benny said...

Awesome writing Barnes. I had to pop in here after Frankie (Skeletor) broke the news that you had been waxing lyrical about ASL; I'm amazed at how quickly the appeal of the game got to you and how easily you put it to words.

I've only once come close to writing something that good and it was years ago after snorting two grams of speed.

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