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Vast: The Crystal Caverns» Forums » General

Subject: This game will not stay highly rated for long... rss

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Kellen Feral
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The hype is going to crash this game hard unfortunately. It's a shame because it's certainly an ambitious design.

There are numerous problems with this one:

-Each faction is so limited in how it can impact the game. It is frustrating trying to accomplish anything on one turn.

-It takes much too long to teach people how to play the game for how light it is.

-It is incredibly fiddly, with small ticky-tacky rules for the sake of rules. Specifically the knights encounters/movement and having to keep track comes to mind.

-The game length is too long for how light it is

-There is too much luck with the die roll, specifically with the Knight/Dragon play and the Dragon/Goblin eating.

-The Dragon player feels helpless for a large portion of the game

-The Cave player is really only able to make tactical decisions each turn.

-There is a ton of downtime on everyone's turn, and there is hardly any reason to pay attention to the other player's turn unless you are the Cave player and needing to add tiles.


It is ambitious for what it is, and it has glorious art. However, this is going to fall like a rock after the KS backer hype dies down.



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Carighan Maconar
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Hrm, interesting. I haven't had a chance to play this yet, but from everything I watched about it I'm tempted to agree with you.

It's a problem I see commonly in what I come to know as a "type" of board game, glorifying their rulebook and wanting to pad it out.

Which in this case is a shame because the game looks amazing, and I'll definitely want to play it before I decide against getting it. But it smells of the "Nice design and idea, bad ruleset"-problem. Very often for these games, less would have been much more, just making them very light on rules and doing away with the extras stapled on.
 
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Joshua Jacobs
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Out of curiosity how many plays have you gotten and at what player counts?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion which is great but I do have one nitpick. You say when the Kickstarter hype is done. The game sold out its first print run entirely and good chunk of that is from non kickstarter including 500 copies at gencon.

Its also entirely possible the game just isn't for you. Robinson Crusoe is a great game but you have to enjoy co-ops to enjoy it. Doesn't make it over hyped, just makes it not for me.
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Neilan Naicker
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Kellen and I just came out of the same game, and ... I'm also very disappointed. I bought it, I was excited to try it, I was confident it would be a fun evening.

I first started to worry as I was explaining the rules. We played four player, every role except the Thief. It took a while, and by the end of it I was so grateful I didn't have to explain that last board, or how the players interacted with it. With so many little fiddly mechanics and rules, I had to check and double-check the rules. And let me be clear, I STUDIED the rulebook two days ago. I watched the videos. I read every page of the FAQ thread. I scoured for errata/omissions. I was helping people out on these boards with rules questions. I knew them pretty well, and there's still a bunch of stuff that I would forget, or be unsure about. That's frustrating.

The game itself played out without many rules mishaps ... but was decidedly unfun. I don't think any of the players really enjoyed what they were doing. I played the Cave, as I figured it'd make the most sense as I had the most knowledge of how each role played - and I was excited to try that role first regardless. I love what I was doing *conceptually* but I didn't find much fun in the act of drawing omens or trying to grok what actions I could achieve with them.

I will admit that there was a moment of clarity towards the end where it seemed like it would be anyone's game - it was genuinely tense (for the cave, at least), and that was exciting. Do I hurt the Dragon? The Knight? The Goblins? The game seemed in the grasp of all of them, and I still needed time to collapse. That was great. But it was one bright spot in what seemed like an otherwise tedious and overlong game.

I really wish just about EVERYTHING about it was more streamlined. It should move faster. Be slicker. It seemed like some players were doing an awful lot of STUFF on their turns, and not really getting much out of it (the Goblins and Knight especially), whereas the Dragon seemed to mostly play avoidance, relying on card draw to accomplish anything spectacular.

It ended up being a really long game. I have to wonder if we were just playing everything fundamentally wrong, but it took us about 2.5 hours AFTER rules. That's twice the advertised time, for four players - and we're not amateur board gamers.

I'm invested in trying it again, just to see if that game was an anomaly. But somehow I don't think so. After one play I'm really tempted to never bring it to the table again, and that's *extremely* unusual for me. I ... just don't know what to think. It's frustrating.

Sorry for the rant. I kinda hate making whingy posts like this, but I don't come out of board games very often just so unsure about what just happened. I'm kinda hoping someone will tell me it gets better.
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Tomi Mononen
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I love this game. Sure it's not easy and teaching is a chose if you do it wrong. I just hand everyone theyr player aid and tell them to read it. Then questions and we play
played 4 games in 2 days and after each game I just like it more
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Michael Peterson
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Darric wrote:
I'm kinda hoping someone will tell me it gets better.


It gets better. A lot better. I was one of the first people to playtest the early prototypes of this game and I've played it a lot over the last 18 months. I've seen several people (mostly experienced gamers) come out of their first game feeling overwhelmed. There is a lot to know and keep track of. With repeated plays, you're going to get comfortable with the rules and what the players can do, and the speed of play is going to increase dramatically. Once you get a sense for the strategic and tactical opportunities, the speed of play will increase even more. I found the 90 minutes to be accurate, in my experience.

My biggest concern about the success of the game is exactly the experience you described. There's a high cost of entry, and while I think there's no question that it's worth forging ahead, I can see where others would feel differently. I can say that in 18 months of playing this at least weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, I never got even a little sick of it. Vast repays sustained attention.

One thing I continue to find amazing is that even after such a long time, players would innovate. I think I had probably played the dragon 40 times before I thought to slap a treasure to a square that already had one, so I picked up two on the same turn. I was blown away the first time I saw the goblin player use cave-in to create a path of dark tiles through the middle of the cave to make a previously safe knight very much dead.

I would encourage you to stick it out. The turns will quicken, the stoppages in play to check rules will wane, the strategic elements of the game will emerge, the endgame tension will remain, and you're going to see some moments of pure magic when someone does something unexpected to win.
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neko flying
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Tjolmir wrote:

I just hand everyone theyr player aid and tell them to read it.



This. Also, first game has everyone on easiest, with "learn by playing" spirit
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James Ridgway
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Thank you. This concrete feedback is very helpful. This has been on my radar since Gen Con and these are the types of concerns that help me evaluate where to priortize trying/buying this game.

Fair critical feedback that is well thought out and expressed to inform others is under appreciated here. This game is still going to be on my radar, but now I have a good sense of what to look for when I'm trying to understand if this is for me.
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Moose Detective
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Darric wrote:


I will admit that there was a moment of clarity towards the end where it seemed like it would be anyone's game - it was genuinely tense (for the cave, at least), and that was exciting. Do I hurt the Dragon? The Knight? The Goblins? The game seemed in the grasp of all of them, and I still needed time to collapse. That was great. But it was one bright spot in what seemed like an otherwise tedious and overlong game.



So in everyone's first game, you had a tense, nail-bitey "anyone can win" finish?

That sounds like it speaks tons to the design and balance of the game and something I'd love to get back to the table ASAP while the rules are still fresh and player could really start playing with their options.

I played the PNP many iterations ago, and haven't played my final copy yet, but even when we played it back then - we had more than one game where multiple players were close to winning.

The complaint I've seen over and over again is that the game is hard to teach. But as far as I can tell - its not hard to teach, its just time-consuming because of the different roles. Now I've seen some comments in different reviews/session reports that X role is underpowered or doesn't have a lot to do - but each time its a different role. This time the dragon wasn't doing much. Last time it was the goblins who were just dragon-food all game so the dragon had it "easy", etc etc.

Maybe my opinion of the final version will differ, maybe not, but either way I REALLY don't think this isn't a "play once and it took too long" game. But I also think a tense first-time endgame would tremednously outweigh a "longer than the box time" or "it takes a while to explain rules" complaints. "way longer than the box time" is true for 75% of games all the time, and 99% of games on first play. And the rules thing seems really dependent on how people learn. (Last night I listened to the Secret Cabal guys praise FFG's awful two rulebook setup and hate on the rulebook for the Others - which I thought was a super clean and easy read.) And that's far from the first time I've grossly disagreed with people about which rulebooks are good and which are bad and which rules are easy to teach or not.

TLDR: "I will admit that there was a moment of clarity towards the end where it seemed like it would be anyone's game - it was genuinely tense (for the cave, at least), and that was exciting. Do I hurt the Dragon? The Knight? The Goblins? The game seemed in the grasp of all of them, and I still needed time to collapse. That was great. " sounds like a quote worthy of being on the box to sell the game - but somehow is in a negative review - which makes no sense to me.
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neko flying
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stevelabny wrote:


The complaint I've seen over and over again is that the game is hard to teach. But as far as I can tell - its not hard to teach, its just time-consuming because of the different roles.


In addition to that, there are many little tricky details and exceptions to the rules that can make it a little bit frustrating, too. Occasionally, the information is not where you would expect it to be: What does it mean that the Knight needs to "see" the Goblins? At other times the same rule is worded in two substantially different ways, leaving you to wonder whether that was intentional: For example, when the Dragon Swats a Treasure vs. when he Slaps the Knight.

I think that the author and developers are investing a bit of effort into the second printing / edition to improve the rules, and that is good.

I still think it's a great game.
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Ethan Furman
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Darric wrote:
I'm kinda hoping someone will tell me it gets better.


It gets a lot better.

Vast is definitely painful to learn if everyone is new to the game, even more so if everyone keeps going back to the rules to check every little detail.

I am fortunate in that my wife hates setup and rules learning, so I had to play solo games first to get a feel for the mechanics and strategy (oh darn, that was such a chore! ). And when we played if a question came up we just made a decision and moved on. After the game I would go back to the rules and double-check our decisions so I would know better the next time.

So my two bits of wisdom:
1) play solo games first (if you can) so somebody has some experience with the game; and
2) read the rules, then play; after the game recheck the rules so you know better for next time.
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Kellen Feral
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stevelabny wrote:
Darric wrote:


I will admit that there was a moment of clarity towards the end where it seemed like it would be anyone's game - it was genuinely tense (for the cave, at least), and that was exciting. Do I hurt the Dragon? The Knight? The Goblins? The game seemed in the grasp of all of them, and I still needed time to collapse. That was great. But it was one bright spot in what seemed like an otherwise tedious and overlong game.



So in everyone's first game, you had a tense, nail-bitey "anyone can win" finish?

That sounds like it speaks tons to the design and balance of the game and something I'd love to get back to the table ASAP while the rules are still fresh and player could really start playing with their options.



So, two things. One specific to Vast and one generic

- I , as the knight player, had the most fun in the very early-game. The Dragon and the Cave player seemed like they didn't even have options until 3/4 of the way through the game. I peaked out my entire EXP track about 1/2 way through the game and ran out of things to do except run towards the Dragon, and have him run away from me. I lost almost my entire decision-making ability, because all I could do was try to hurt the dragon. The end game was not "tense" and "exciting". It took an hour too long and I'd rather it had already ended.

- The simple fact of a game being close near the end does not make it "good" or even "balanced". There are so many dry Eurogames that every turn you get , +1, +2, or +3 points if you are lucky. By their very restrictions, you all end up with virtually the same score. People spend a lot of time talking about balance when the scores are close, and I think that's a bit of a misconception.
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Kellen Feral
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DrDugtrio wrote:


Everyone is entitled to their opinion which is great but I do have one nitpick. You say when the Kickstarter hype is done. The game sold out its first print run entirely and good chunk of that is from non kickstarter including 500 copies at gencon.


The game is literally being shipped to Kickstarter backers as we speak. Source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2074786394/trove-the-cr...

This is traditionally when a wave of kickstarter backers are most excited about a game. Selling out at Gencon is partially a function of the hype of the successful kickstarter. I don't think your "nitpick" has any merit. It sounds more like you are a disgruntled KS backer, which plays right into the stereotype.
 
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Dave Jackson
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We've played with 4 players three times now and our group feels we've pretty much explored what it has to offer. Really it only took 1 play to understand what everyone else was doing and how that fit into your limited goals, and how you can influence progress. It was an interesting concept and fun for some of the first game as we learned the tricks everyone had, but it's kind of bottomed out now, as the play isn't really that deep for each individual player, and the interaction not as good as say, Chaos in the Old World. Of course this is only our opinion and other groups will have more fun with it and I certainly respect that. However for me, I'll be putting it up for sale so another group can perhaps enjoy it more.

(Edit: maybe I need to mention for my own defense that I hadn't heard of this game until I saw it on Man vs Meeple several week ago, where it sounded interesting, and so bought it off the website and received a copy very soon thereafter. So, no KS angst to be found here, just an honest opinion).
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C&H Schmidt
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I don't see why Vast shouldn't be highly rated (still) once it gets more ratings.

I've played twice (2 player dragon-knight & 3-player dragon-knight-goblins) and the game is exactly as fun as I thought it would be. The first game we were learning, but even though for the second game we switched roles and a third player joined, it was much clearer what to do and really tense. In the end we all stopped each other from winning enough that the cave collapsed (the dragon would have won on the next turn, though).
Yes, having everyone learn their role rakes longer than for other typical euros, but not for games like Android: Netrunner, Doomtown: Reloaded etc. After everyone has learned their role, I don't think the playtime is too long at all.

I do think the game is stronger at 3-4 than 2 players.

The comment about the dragon I do not understand at all -- to us it felt like the most powerful role at the start (having once played as the dragon, once against it).
 
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Peter S.
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Every game has players that end up not caring for it after a few plays. I'm not sure it's fair to turn that into a prophesy of imminent demise.
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David desJardins
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For some strange reason, I'm much more interested in whether I will like the game. I'm much less concerned with whether other people will like the game.
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Neilan Naicker
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stevelabny wrote:
TLDR: "I will admit that there was a moment of clarity towards the end where it seemed like it would be anyone's game - it was genuinely tense (for the cave, at least), and that was exciting. Do I hurt the Dragon? The Knight? The Goblins? The game seemed in the grasp of all of them, and I still needed time to collapse. That was great. " sounds like a quote worthy of being on the box to sell the game - but somehow is in a negative review - which makes no sense to me.


That's what I wanted out of the game, absolutely. But ... that was the final ten minutes of a 2+ hour game. And possibly only for myself as the Cave, I'm not sure the others shared that sentiment.

I agree with you in principle, if a game produced that knife edge balance for four players on the first game - there's definitely something to it. And that has me intrigued.

My THREE major takeaways after the first game:

- The rules are overbearing. Forget the teaching aspect (I'm taking other people's advice to heart about how I'd teach in future) but the complexity (fiddliness, not *weight*) of the interactions has produced a TON of FAQs and errata. Card/board text doesn't always convey as much info as it should. I reckon I have a pretty solid handle on it now, but it's taken a LOT to get to this point - an investment I don't expect equally of the people I play with. Rulebook/reprint revisions won't fix this entirely. It's a part of the game you have to accept. I wish the game was more streamlined, but it is what it is.

- The game definitely seems to reward repeat plays OF THE SAME ROLE more intensely than most pseudo-asymmetric games I've played. That's an interesting concept, but one I suspect will be hard to fulfill in big board game groups when lots of games and players are vying for attention. Three of us seemed intent on at least trying it again, BUT: the Knight wants to try a different role, and the Goblin probably won't touch the game again. That's two players/roles we'd have to get up to speed, even without introducing the Thief (which at this point I'm sort of loathe to do) or allowing people to switch roles.

- THERE IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING HERE. I can't stress this enough. Like I said, from my perspective, we had a tense end-game where I was genuinely excited about the board state, and wasn't sure who would win. If we'd gotten to that point sooner, without all the tedium up to that point, I think it would've been a lot more satisfying overall. This might well have been our fault (I think the game might've ended a lot sooner if some of us had been playing more optimally). I'm now, weirdly enough, still excited to try DO THIS GAME RIGHT. But it's somewhat dulled based after that first play.
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Dave Jackson
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DaviddesJ wrote:
For some strange reason, I'm much more interested in whether I will like the game. I'm much less concerned with whether other people will like the game.


And yet for some strange reason, here you are reading about whether other people like the game.
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David desJardins
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artisan88 wrote:
And yet for some strange reason, here you are reading about whether other people like the game.


I'm reading about WHAT people like and don't like about the game. WHETHER certain people like or don't like the game doesn't really interest me.
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Cole Wehrle
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The only thing light about Vast is the cutesy art. Like the COIN games, once you get into it, the game is all about strategic "suboptimal" play. I think a lot of folks who get this might be shocked by the learning curve and the density of the design.
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Dylan Thurston
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Cole Wehrle wrote:
The only thing light about Vast is the cutesy art. Like the COIN games, once you get into it, the game is all about strategic "suboptimal" play. I think a lot of folks who get this might be shocked by the learning curve and the density of the design.
That sounds interesting. Can you say how many games you've played, and how long it took before players started adopting these strategies?
 
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Harv Veerman
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DaviddesJ wrote:
artisan88 wrote:
And yet for some strange reason, here you are reading about whether other people like the game.


I'm reading about WHAT people like and don't like about the game. WHETHER certain people like or don't like the game doesn't really interest me.


Then consider responding to the WHAT next time in stead of the WHETHER.
 
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Cole Wehrle
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dthurston wrote:
Cole Wehrle wrote:
The only thing light about Vast is the cutesy art. Like the COIN games, once you get into it, the game is all about strategic "suboptimal" play. I think a lot of folks who get this might be shocked by the learning curve and the density of the design.
That sounds interesting. Can you say how many games you've played, and how long it took before players started adopting these strategies?


I'm only a week in but my wife and I played nightly and worked through most of the roles in 1v1s (not an ideal way to play). Then Friday saw a 4 player game and Saturday saw a 3 player. Those were more instructive.

I'd guess that groups will need 3-4 plays (in a relatively short timeframe) to figure out if its a good game for them.
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Cole Wehrle
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I'l add too that I've got some reservations about balance and have found the rules to make for a poor reference (they either could have used more precision or more copious instruction).

But, I'm hopeful and interested, which is about as much as I can give a game ~5 plays in.
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