I got in my Onslaught 2 shipment of Cthulhu Wars today and it made me reflect on games in general and some conversations I've had previously.
One time on a GeekList I posted that I really enjoyed Cthulhu Wars, and while I didn't mean it to be overly negative (or negative at all really), I made a comment that it might be overproduced. The illustrious and incredibly talented Sandy Peterson replied to me saying "it's better to be overproduced than underproduced". At the time I agreed whole-heartedly, or so I thought. Of course if I'm being completely honest there was a small part of me that wished Cthulhu Wars was cheaper. I mean, I love the quality and/or quantity of stuff I get with expensive game purchases as much as the next person; 200+ dollars a CMoN campaign, FireTeam Zero with everything, Cthulhu Wars, virtually every kickstarter campaign with minis, etc. but it doesn't bring me joy to spend that much money on it or anything. I'd rather spend less obviously, as would I think everyone, but the benefit outweighs the cost in the form of those delicious and lovely stretch goals. The games themselves and a lot of these extras are remarkable. The time and craftsmanship that goes into them equally so.
This brings me to my overall point. I recently played Ethnos, repeatedly, and I love this game. I wasn't excited about buying it at all however. While the art is amazing and John Howe deserves and abundance of accolades, the game board and components looked bland as all hell. I was genuinely shocked by how it looked from a production quality standpoint because it was coming from CMoN and CMoN usually does such remarkable work. When we played it the game turned out to be remarkable although a couple of people in our group just didn't enjoy it, and they said it was entirely because the game looked poorly and/or sloppily thrown together outside of the art on the cards and cover. I can see where they're coming from although I still enjoy the game immensely despite it. I've seen some of the component upgrades people have done on their own with it and I can't help but think if it would maybe be more enjoyable if it was more immersive via higher quality.
Ultimately, all this has made me an even more firm believer that Sandy Peterson was completely correct. It is far better to be overproduced than under produced. Ultimately games are about immersion in an experience and production quality helps that immersion, so much so that lacking it significantly can make it a deal breaker for some players. I at least would gladly have sprung more for Ethnos for a higher quality production value to match the high quality of gameplay (and strongly urge CMoN to produce a Deluxe or Collector's Edition, but that's just my 2 cents), and it reminded me of a valuable lesson that you get what you pay for. A lesson Sandy Peterson definitively knew before I did and I'm glad he did. After all it made Cthulhu Wars one of the greatest area control games of our time and something to truly marvel at when it's out on the table. In fact, I adore taking it to group game nights and conventions and watching the awe at seeing it sprawled out on the table.
My thoughts for what they're worth. Until next time.
Shaun "MammothBus" Varsos
Game reviews and other musings from Slice of Dice.
21 Jun 2017
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