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Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Road Goes Never On and On... (A Review) rss

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Kevin Outlaw
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This review, complete with pictures, is also available on my blog at AlwaysBoardNeverBoring. This review is the worst review evar. Some of my other stuff is better. Honest.


Well, that escalated quickly.

I am, of course, talking about the split of Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) and Games Workshop (GW). You must have heard about it. It's the most news-worthy thing to have happened in the gaming world since that last Kickstarter campaign that everybody backed, which delivered slightly late and with slightly lower quality components than expected.

For the last few years, FFG has been using GW's intellectual property to pump out living card games (Conquest), strategy games (Forbidden Stars), adventure games (Talisman, Relic), and more. But recently, it has become increasingly apparent that the relationship couldn't last. FFG has been moving more into miniatures-based games, and GW has returned to producing board games for the first time since the '90s.

GW was getting more and more chocolate in FFG's peanut butter, and FFG was getting its peanut butter all over GW's chocolate...

(Man, I'm hungry...)

It was only a matter of time until things broke down, no matter how delicious consumers thought the resulting products were. When it was time to renew the licencing agreement, the two companies went their separate ways. And I wasn't surprised in the slightest. This is the world of business, after all; and in this case, it no longer made sense for either company to continue.

Of course, there has been much debate over who's fault it was - over who "screwed the consumers" - but I'm more inclined to believe it was just a mutual agreement. The kind of agreement businesses make every day in order to stay relevant and affluent. But it doesn't really matter anyway. All that matters is that a very long list of FFG games have gone immediately out of print, and all GW-branded FFG games leave distribution channels forever in February next year.

There are no more reprints, and no more expansions.

And really, that leaves Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game up sh*t creek a little bit.

To be honest, I'm not really a fan of what FFG has been doing with the GW licence. The only game I completely invested in was the incredible Space Hulk: Death Angel card game. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't interested in the Warhammer Quest card game when it launched, so I was rather pleased when a good friend bought it for me.

So (to quote a famous space-faring feline) what is it?

Well, as the rather subtle name suggests, it's a co-operative card game for one to four players... about adventure... in the Warhammer universe (the "Old World" - you know, the world that existed until GW blew it up to make way for the new Age of Sigmar setting).

What that rather subtle name doesn't suggest is that this is, in theory, one of the best dungeon-crawling games ever made.

It has a lot going for it. GW's licence, incredible fantasy artwork, and a modular, card-based design that lends itself perfectly to creating the length and breadth of the "Old World."

And its that modular design which is the true strength of the game.

If you think about any dungeon crawler, one of the biggest concerns is replayability: What you get in the box, and how long it's going to last until it starts to get stale. How many dungeons can you explore before you have seen every chamber? How many monsters can you fight until you know all their tricks? How many treasures can you find before you are turning up the same +1 magic sword of super-zapping again.

This is a particular concern for games that feature miniatures, because those miniatures are expensive. Even the most generous games only offer so many. Look at another popular FFG title: Descent: 2nd Edition. That game comes with 39 plastic miniatures, but only nine unique types of enemies. GW's superb Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower comes with 51 miniatures, but also only has nine types of enemies (10 if you include the familiars that pop up to cause trouble).

No matter how great a dungeon-crawling game is, there is no getting around the fact that a main element of the genre is exploration. The whole essence of these games is that sense of going into somewhere dark and mysterious, and uncovering secrets. You're playing adventurers, and you need adventure. You need to explore the world, delve deeper, and push yourself to overcome greater challenges. Nobody is going to write ballads about Tim, that guy who went into the cave in his back garden every day and punched the local goblin in the face.

Tim's not a hero; he's a bloody bully.

Sooner or later, you need to reach beyond what the game gives you. That's where expansions come in; and that's where the design of Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game excels. It doesn't need to spew out big-box expansions stuffed with cardboard map tiles, and new plastic miniatures. It just needs a few cards to create a whole new world of adventure.

When you first open the box for Warhammer Quest, there is a surprising amount of air in there (clearly lots of space for all those planned expansions); but all that space belies the actual content you get.

For a start there are 15 different types of monsters, and as there are basic and elite versions for each, you effectively get 30 types of monster. On top of that, you get five different boss monsters. I can't think of any other dungeon-crawler that comes close to offering that kind of enemy variety straight out of the box.

Furthermore, even though the game is scenario-based, and only includes a single five-scenario campaign in the box (plus one "open play" scenario that gives you the chance to play one-off adventures), the dungeons are generated semi-randomly from a combination of specific quest locations and "open" dungeon cards that could appear in any dungeon. And unlike in many other adventure games, every location is unique, with its own set of rules. If you ever played the original Warhammer Quest and thought it would be nice if all those pretty corridor tiles actually had some rules associated with them, this little card game addresses that concern.

The combinations of monsters and locations means it is very unlikely for two games to play out exactly the same, even if you are playing the same scenario. Put simply: there is a lot of adventure packed into the box.

And yet...

And yet...

Somehow, it still doesn't feel like enough.

Perhaps it is because the game is so obviously designed with expansions in mind.

Perhaps it is because there are only five scenarios, and no matter how much variety there is in locations and monsters, it eventually starts to feel samey when your main objectives are always fixed.

Perhaps it is because the five scenarios link in a single story, so the game starts to fill a bit like a "choose your own adventure" book, where no matter what happens along the way, the destination is always the same.

Or perhaps it's just because, unlike many other adventure games, Warhammer Quest feels more like a puzzle than an unravelling saga. Once you have a handle on how to "solve" the various challenges, there just isn't enough story to make each time through the dungeon feel relevant.

Whatever the reason, Warhammer Quest feels like a game that should be giving more than what you get: a game that demands the FFG model of churning out expansions at an alarming rate.

And that, of course, given what we now know about the relationship between FFG and GW, is an issue.

But if I'm being honest, that was never going to be a problem for me personally. I don't think I would expand the game even if I could. I realise that I am in the minority, and I realise I am putting myself at risk of being burned at the stake by saying it, but I just didn't really enjoy my time in the "Old World" with this game.

I think I got off on the wrong foot with the game because of the truly horrible rules books. You get a quick-start "Learn to Play" book and a "Rules Reference," and the intention is that you read the first book, set up an example game, and play through the basic rules. By the end of that, you are supposed to be ready to play, but you have the reference book for clarifying any rules questions that crop up on the way.

But it just doesn't work.

For a start, while the rules are quite dense, once you know the sequence of play it's all pretty straightforward. In this case, separating the rules into two books was over-egging the pudding. One well-organised book would have been enough, but instead you get two that seem to work as hard as possible to confuse even the most basic concepts by splitting them up, scattering them around all over the place, and jumbling up the terminology.

The "Learn to Play" guide makes it harder to figure out the rules as it creates an additional layer of learning, before you actually learn the rules. For example, it gives you specific instructions for setting up an encounter, but those instructions are completely different to how you actually set up an encounter in the game. I played through the tutorial, and then went to start my first proper game, and realised I had no idea how to spawn the starting monsters, which meant my first game started with me flicking through the "Rules Reference" to learn all the vital information I hadn't been told.

There are also massive gaps in the rules, and hardly any examples to help clarify what you are supposed to do.

For what is, at heart, a fairly simple game, just learning how to play was a chore. I have since played Legends of Andor (another game FFG no longer has the rights to publish), and that adopts a similar approach to learning the rules, but does it so, so, so much better.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But he said that in theory this was possibly the best dungeon-crawling game ever made." Yeah, I did.

"In theory."

The game is actually pretty damned slick.

The rules books were a pain, but I realised that one full turn in a proper game was all it took to know exactly how to play, And everything really does work very smoothly. The heart of the game is an action selection system reminiscent of Space Hulk: Death Angel. Each hero entering the dungeon has four actions: Attack, Explore, Aid, and Rest. On your turn, you get to select one action, and perform all the instructions on that action card, including rolling a number of dice to generate "successes" in that activity. For example, if you Explore, you roll a certain number of dice, and put a progress token on your current location for each "success" you roll. The twist is that you are not allowed to do that action again until you refresh all your cards, and the only way to do that is to play the one action card you have that has a refresh symbol on it.

It's a very clever system, that forces you to think outside the box. You may be swamped with enemies, but you can't just hack your way out of a tight corner, because you simply aren't allowed to use your attack action multiple turns in a row. Instead, you have to figure out how you can temporarily stun a few monsters, hurt a few more, force more to retreat into the darkness, pass some off onto other heroes to deal with, or simply buff yourself up to withstand their onslaught.

It's clever, and deep, and... I dunno... stale?

It just didn't click with me, which is weird, because I am a huge fan of Space Hulk: Death Angel.

I think, though, the difference is to do with pace. In the Space Hulk card game, marines have one wound, and genestealers have one wound. When you attack, you get the chance to mow down a horde. When you are attacked, there is real heart-in-the-mouth tension because one bad roll and your marine is gone. By contrast, in Warhammer Quest, heroes can soak incredible amounts of damage, and even beating up a measly goblin could take several turns as you slowly chip away at his life one wound at a time. It just feels exhausting and drawn-out.

And it's not just attacking that feels like it goes on forever. Exploring is equally tiresome. To progress through the dungeon, you need to put a certain number of progress tokens on your current location, which you do by performing the Explore action. Once you have explored enough, you get to move to the next location in your dungeon deck. Simple. Effective. Clever.

And yet, for me...

Look, okay. I'm going to tell you this little story. Last year, I built an extension on my house. It was messy, and involved knocking out some interior walls, so I moved my entire family into my mum and dad's house for what felt like forever.

While I was there, I had to endure quite a lot of terrible television that my parents like; and they love Downton Abbey.

I don't.

To me, Downton Abbey is akin to being slowly suffocated by a warm cup of cocoa. It's just awful.

I pointed this out to my mum who said, "Well everyone else likes it, so you're wrong."

Naturally, having learned how to argue this sort of thing from the Internet, I called my mum a Nazi.

But anyway, I know that Warhammer Quest is immensely popular. I know that I am in the minority here. And it comes down to this: Either I'm wrong, or you're all Nazis.

I can't change the way I feel though. This game just left me a bit cold.

Maybe it was the repetition.

You have your four actions, and every turn you pick one. You either fight, explore your location, help another hero in some way, or rest to recover some of your hit points. Monsters come and go, and when they attack they follow a specific procedural sequence of actions printed on their card. Eventually you move to a new location. You do the same thing there, until you reach the end of level boss.

You take tokens off, you put tokens on. You tally your accounts.

And it's clever... don't get me wrong, it's really clever... but it doesn't feel like adventuring. I mean, you can find treasure when you explore, you can earn powerful weapons, between missions you get the chance to level up your action cards so they do more powerful things, and as the campaign progresses you face tougher monsters. All the trappings of adventure are there, but I just didn't feel it.

I have said before, I don't really review games; I review how games make me feel. In this case, I just didn't really feel anything.

The rules are good, the art is excellent, the component quality is good, the setting is the wonderful Warhammer world I love so much. Everything is there except the spark I need to not only appreciate the design, but also love the game.

So maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm wrong.

But it doesn't really matter anyway, does it?

In truth, this review is late. I've been meaning to write it for months, and now it doesn't feel particularly relevant any more. The base game is all there is, and all there ever will be (unless you count two hard-to-find character expansions that don't add any new monsters, treasures, or scenarios). Recent events have overshadowed the actual quality of the game, and now it isn't a matter of answering the question, "Is this game good?"

It's more a question of, "Is this game good enough?"

Is it good enough to buy now, probably at an inflated price, because you aren't going to be able to buy it later?

Is it good enough to buy now, knowing you are never going to get any new scenarios to play through?

It is good enough to buy, when in all likelihood, FFG is already working on reskinning the rules with their boiled chicken and white rice Terrinoth setting?

And those are questions I can't really answer. Unless "It depends" counts. And I suppose that makes this review a very long waste of time.

But maybe I can chuck some figures around, and you might get some idea of how you might value the game. I mean, how many evenings of entertainment do you expect from a game before you consider it value for money? Assuming you like the game mechanisms and actually want to play it, of course.

This game comes with five scenarios, and each one is going to take you two or three hours (unless you are in one of those groups that claims to be able to play Arkham Horror in two hours, in which case your mileage will vary significantly). So five scenarios is five games. Unless you lose. Say you lose each scenario once. That's now 10 games.

Now consider the semi-random distribution of monsters and dungeon locations. That probably means you can squeeze another play out of each scenario.

Now consider hero distribution. If you are playing with only two heroes (solo, or with a partner), you've got several iterations of the four heroes to play around with. Even if you always play with four players and four heroes, you may find that each player in your group would like to play through the scenarios several times, taking a different hero each time, so let's say that gives you four times as many playthroughs.

And then there is the "free play" mode that works like a condensed campaign that you play in a single sitting. That's got to be good for a couple of games.

All told, if you look at what you are getting for your money (and I mean a sane retail price, not a stupidly inflated price on eBay), I think it's a sound deal. But... you won't be able to help yourself... you're still going to feel short changed. You're going to see all the areas where the game was going to expand. You're going to see all the potential.

No matter how often you play the game, and how much you enjoy it, you are always going to feel like this was just a taste of things to come. There will always be that nagging thought in the back of your mind: where was the road going to go?

What could have happened?

This game was a big hit for FFG. Countless adventurers took up their lanterns, and ventured into the depths of the darkest dungeons, expecting to find endless catacombs of terror to explore for years to come. But those lanterns burned all too briefly. They spluttered out in the darkness. And those adventurers... They were lost in the never-ending night beneath the world, doomed to retrace their footsteps over and over again; and their tales of heroism and adventure were lost with them.
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Dillon Flaherty
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
No matter how often you play the game, and how much you enjoy it, you are always going to feel like this was just a taste of things to come. There will always be that nagging thought in the back of your mind: where was the road going to go?


You nailed it pretty well here. This is a game that gave many of us really high hopes, and pretty reasonable expectations considering that FFG produced it.

To see it cut short like this is a notable "tragedy" following the end of a licensing deal. We can only hope that FFG resuscitates the engine and core of the game with a new IP. They can consider my money already theirs for a purchase if they do so!
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David Hebart-Coleman
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Do you think that FFG could release some sufficiently neutral flavour Print on Demand set as an interim measure, without overt Warhammer imagery or character names, whilst they get the next version going?
 
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John E
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
boiled chicken and white rice Terrinoth setting?


Boy that's a great way of describing Terrinoth. I don't care how many apostrophes they put in the names of places and people, it still comes across as very generic.

But at least it's all theirs, no licensing to worry about!

After the split I'm worried they will start leaning even more heavily on their big other lines - star wars, arkham, terrinoth. I'm pretty much at overload on all of those for now though.
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David desJardins
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
No matter how often you play the game, and how much you enjoy it, you are always going to feel like this was just a taste of things to come. There will always be that nagging thought in the back of your mind: where was the road going to go?


No, I'm really not. That's not how I feel. The exposition of this review would have been better if you had written, "I am always going to feel" rather than "you are always going to feel". You know how you yourself feel, but you don't really know how I feel.
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Josh
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GRRRRR!!!
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GRRRRRRRRR!!
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Quote:
So (to quote a famous space-faring feline) what is it?


You get just for this comment.

Somebody punch him out!
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Martin
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:

To me, Downton Abbey is akin to being slowly suffocated by a warm cup of cocoa. It's just awful.

I pointed this out to my mum who said, "Well everyone else likes it, so you're wrong."

Naturally, having learned how to argue this sort of thing from the Internet, I called my mum a Nazi.


Worth it for this bit alone!
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Kevin Outlaw
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jozxyqk wrote:
Quote:
So (to quote a famous space-faring feline) what is it?


You get just for this comment.

Somebody punch him out!


So what is it?
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Vadim Golembo
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That's a nice eulogy for a game that didn't do anyone any harm and gave pleasure to many.

I will instead alway look at it's lineage.

Theme aside, this game is only an evolutionary step that (I believe...I'm sure some one will correct me) stated with Space Hulk: Death Angel the Card Game, then became Lord of the Rings, then this thing we are morning, then I do believe is going to evolve into Arkham the card game.

...any way I can use Photoshop to make my own cards if I really want to.

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Fred Cromer
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I told you so .........

FFG does it again.

I`m O.K. with it.

Bring on Arkham Horror : the card game

Fabulous FreeBird
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Evan Tyler
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I agree with most of your review, except this is my #1 favorite game. Such a bummer that it didn't get even one big fat expansion - the core set isn't enough to stand the test of time, but the foundation it provides sure is great.
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Kevin Outlaw
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goldmonkee wrote:
I agree with most of your review, except this is my #1 favorite game. Such a bummer that it didn't get even one big fat expansion - the core set isn't enough to stand the test of time, but the foundation it provides sure is great.


I think I can understand why people would rate it as their favourite game. It's so clever, and so well put together. I do appreciate the design, I just don't enjoy it as much as I think I should. It's a real shame you didn't get any proper expansions.
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That´s what makes it so important that some of the fans around comes up with nice ideas to build on what is already out there.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
No matter how often you play the game, and how much you enjoy it, you are always going to feel like this was just a taste of things to come. There will always be that nagging thought in the back of your mind: where was the road going to go?


No, I'm really not. That's not how I feel. The exposition of this review would have been better if you had written, "I am always going to feel" rather than "you are always going to feel". You know how you yourself feel, but you don't really know how I feel.


No. You think the exposition would have been better, but that doesn't mean it would have been better. I think it reads better as written.

If you're going to take that sort of "don't say what I'm thinking!" approach, you could at least be consistent about it.
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David desJardins
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LeonardQuirm wrote:
No. You think the exposition would have been better, but that doesn't mean it would have been better. I think it reads better as written.


He knows how he thinks, but he doesn't know how I think. Why do you think it's better for him to use "you" as the pronoun when referring to himself?
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
LeonardQuirm wrote:
No. You think the exposition would have been better, but that doesn't mean it would have been better. I think it reads better as written.


He knows how he thinks, but he doesn't know how I think. Why do you think it's better for him to use "you" as the pronoun when referring to himself?


I could spend quite a long time explaining all the style choices I make in my writing, but I don't see the point. You don't like my decisions, and that's fine. I really see no reason to debate the issue, or to make this review thread all about you.

Life's a garden party.
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David Hebart-Coleman
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
LeonardQuirm wrote:
No. You think the exposition would have been better, but that doesn't mean it would have been better. I think it reads better as written.


He knows how he thinks, but he doesn't know how I think. Why do you think it's better for him to use "you" as the pronoun when referring to himself?


I could spend quite a long time explaining all the style choices I make in my writing, but I don't see the point. You don't like my decisions, and that's fine. I really see no reason to debate the issue, or to make this review thread all about you.

Life's a garden party.


And sometimes it rains.
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David desJardins
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I just found it strange because 95% of the review seemed really on point. You talked about how you felt about the game but also the reasons that others might feel differently. But at the very end you started talking about how the rest of us would see this particular thing (the need for expansions) the same way as you. Of course you don't have to explain why you took that particular point of view if you don't want to.
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I just found it strange because 95% of the review seemed really on point.


Seemed really on point to you.
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c4dillon wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
No matter how often you play the game, and how much you enjoy it, you are always going to feel like this was just a taste of things to come. There will always be that nagging thought in the back of your mind: where was the road going to go?


You nailed it pretty well here. This is a game that gave many of us really high hopes, and pretty reasonable expectations considering that FFG produced it.

To see it cut short like this is a notable "tragedy" following the end of a licensing deal.


There have been many discussions on bgg about this "tragedy" and I think there (will always) be different opinions about it, mainly:

- gamers extremely disappointed by the fact that the game potential has not been fulfilled
- gamers quite satisfied about the money they have spent on the game
- gamers looking forward to the development of the same mechanics in other contexts


From my side, after my mourning phase, I really hope willing fans will continue to support this game with additional content and ideas(see the unofficial quests) as it has happened for other games (see what NinjaDorg has done for Legend of Drizzt).
 
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Mike Hill
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
[i]You have your four actions, and every turn you pick one. You either fight, explore your location, help another hero in some way, or rest to recover some of your hit points. Monsters come and go, and when they attack they follow a specific procedural sequence of actions printed on their card. Eventually you move to a new location. You do the same thing there, until you reach the end of level boss.

You take tokens off, you put tokens on. You tally your accounts.


Wait. Aren't you describing ANY board game or game in general? Everything in life is repetitive when you do it several times, that's the definition of repetition - that's why people buy new games and have large collections - things get old by nature of the universe. Entropy. You can't view a lack of freshness after a bunch of plays as a downside...you've played it...right? I know that most of your complaints were regarding expansion content and the discontentment that comes with knowing there (probably) won't be any, but taken as a whole, how can you discredit a game for not having endless content?
 
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HillKing wrote:
I know that most of your complaints were regarding expansion content and the discontentment that comes with knowing there (probably) won't be any, but taken as a whole, how can you discredit a game for not having endless content?


You pulled a very small quote from my piece. This was the very next bit after your quote:

"And it's clever... don't get me wrong, it's really clever... but it doesn't feel like adventuring. I mean, you can find treasure when you explore, you can earn powerful weapons, between missions you get the chance to level up your action cards so they do more powerful things, and as the campaign progresses you face tougher monsters. All the trappings of adventure are there, but I just didn't feel it.

I have said before, I don't really review games; I review how games make me feel. In this case, I just didn't really feel anything.

The rules are good, the art is excellent, the component quality is good, the setting is the wonderful Warhammer world I love so much. Everything is there except the spark I need to not only appreciate the design, but also love the game."

For many people who love this game, the lack of constant new content is going to be heartbreaking. But I didn't enjoy the game I got in the box, and it wasn't through any particular fault in the design. In fact, I thought I went out of my way to say how good I think the game is (in theory), it just wasn't a game that clicked with me even though I thought it would. I don't believe new adventures would have shaken up the formula enough for me to keep playing.
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Mike Hill
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Sure, I understand that. From the post it just seems like the spark you were missing was that it eventually felt samey without expansions and didn't have more to it to sustain endless plays. Either that or I missed exactly what that spark you wanted was. Interesting though!
 
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Kevin Outlaw
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The Wing Warrior - learn more at www.facebook.com/thelegendriders
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HillKing wrote:
Sure, I understand that. From the post it just seems like the spark you were missing was that it eventually felt samey without expansions and didn't have more to it to sustain endless plays. Either that or I missed exactly what that spark you wanted was. Interesting though!


Ah, I see. No, it was a bit more than that, I think; and maybe a bit less.

I do think expansions were going to be important for this game, but like I said in my review: "But if I'm being honest, that was never going to be a problem for me personally. I don't think I would expand the game even if I could. I realise that I am in the minority, and I realise I am putting myself at risk of being burned at the stake by saying it, but I just didn't really enjoy my time in the "Old World" with this game."

It's difficult to explain exactly why. It's just that ephemeral "spark." It didn't feel samey because there were no expansions (I didn't play it enough for that); it just felt very mechanical, and the pacing seemed to sap all the adventure out of it despite the clever design.

I tried as best I could to say why I think I didn't like the game, but ultimately, it was everything and nothing.

Thanks for taking the time to read.
 
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Francesco M
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
I realise that I am in the minority, and I realise I am putting myself at risk of being burned at the stake by saying it, but I just didn't really enjoy my time in the "Old World" with this game."


"The test is simple: if he does not burn, he is a witch. If he does burn, the he was an innocent." "The verdict is guilty. The verdict is always guilty."

Yes, you are minority and I think I will let our WQACG Witch Hunter taking care of you !! (just joking laugh ).

I suppose if you are not really interested in the game, expansions would have not changed your opinion about it.

However, even if you are not a fan of the game, I think you have probably spotted some nice mechanics and a certain variability, which could have been exploited more.

Among the different things, one in particular that comes in my mind now: what is the meaning of having monsters and locations with traits if you don't provide expansions or rules related to it ?? In my opinion they add nothing to the flavour and it is hard for me to believe that FFG foresaw that somebody could have used them (we do but there are not so many possibilities with just the core game).





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