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Subject: It Is What It Is ... rss

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Mark Casiglio
United States
Ansonia
CT
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ConnCon 2018 March 23, 24, 25 in Stamford, CT
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World of Warcraft: The Boardgame is an unapologetic American-style combat and dicefest game. There's downtime. There's randomness. It's as big as all get out and will never fit on your kitchen table. It's going to have a steep learning curve if you're not familiar with RPGs. But you know what? All that aside it was still a darn-tootin' load of fun with lots of choices to make, lots to explore with a grand scope and excitement and variety.

I've read a number of the other reviews here and to be fair, I think I followed a different curve from many of the other reviewers who stated how much they longed for and anticipated this game. Obviously it didn't live up to their expectations. Not me. This was at the top of my son's wishlist for Christmas and it's not something I would have chosen to play. That plus all the disappointed reviews led me to think I was not going to enjoy myself when we finally took it out.

I was wrong.

Many other reviews and session reports cover the mechanics of the game ... suffice it to say that it's a role-play boardgame. You have your character. Your character is part of a faction. You go on quests and earn experience points and pick up new items and powers. You battle the big bad evil guy. Here I'll address some of the things I either enjoyed or disliked about the game:

Downtime: Yes, there's downtime. I read one review that stated that it averaged 15 minutes! On the other hand, our downtime never exceeded five minutes. But I think our downtime was seriously mitigated by the playing style of our group. We were decicive and quick to pass on our turns if a player was simply doing character maintenance.

Combat: I admit that as ex and current RPGers, the combat system was non-intuitive to us at first. "Wait a minute ... why aren't the monsters rolling dice, too?" But as soon as it clicked for us, it actually became a streamlined, efficient combat system. We even worked together to speed things up (it would be common for the attacking player to roll the dice, a second player to read the numbers off the monster "cheat sheet" and a third to place the tokens on the battle section of the board ... by the way, this also likely decreased our sense of "downtime"). I ended up enjoying the combat system very much.

Factions: I don't know how typical this is to RPG boardgames, but I loved the idea of faction play. Even in a game like Axis & Allies (something I'm more familiar with), allies very rarely actually work together. At first we tried the 'go it alone' method of striking out and completing quests ... but we quickly gravitated toward much more group/faction activity. Not only was this a more efficient way to complete quests but the increased interaction really increased our level of enjoyment. There was a much greater sense of 'team' vs. 'team' rather than player vs. player vs. player, etc.

Interaction: Maybe it's because of the gaming style of the people involved, but we had our fill of interaction (within our factions, anyway) and did not find ourselves hankering for "player vs. player" combat. In fact, it never came up in the course of our game.

The End Game: This did not come up in our game, but one thing I think I would have found disappointing was having to settle the game with a "player vs. player" combat. That just seems so anti-climactic to me. Like a shoot out in hockey. If it were up to me, I'd just say you have 30 turns to defeat The Boss (the game standard) and if he still lives at the end of that ... well, everyone loses! That just seems to be more in the spirit of the game. No, it's not fully cooperative but it always felt like the theme to me was a race to defeat the boss ... not each other. I acknowledge, however that this seems to be the opposite reaction that most people have reading the boards here (they tend to want more player vs. player combat).

In the End ...

The game has its flaws, many of which are part and parcel of the genre. It's not going to come out all that often mainly due to the sheer size and game length. But on the other hand, I can see where it would have advantages amongst our group of friends and gamers when compared to similar games ... It plays lighter than Twilight Impirium ... it's not as dry as Axis & Allies (to a group that prefers fantasy to military games) ... it's a better multi-player game than War of the Ring ... and although I don't rate WOW:tBG as highly as any of those games, I CAN see it coming out more often because of a broader range of appeal.

And it's fun.
 
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Surya Van Lierde is pure Eurosnoot and proud of it!
Belgium
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I have found that the downtime due to character maintenence goes down as players get more experienced with the game. My group has played it 4 times now, and everything went a lot more efficient. We get better at picking the right skills and abilities faster.
 
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Adam Lott
United States
Irondale
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I played this game once and had problems with the downtime. Hopefully the next playing will move faster.
 
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Marcel van der pol
Netherlands
Leiden
Zuid-Holland
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Downtime starts to decrease rapidly as soon as every player is more familiar with the rules and the character he plays. My group playes this gime like lightning and we rarely take more than 10 minutes to complete a faction turn. Ofcourse, you have to accept that you have to do things in the other faction's turn as well, such as training, character maintenance etc. But as soon as everyone knows the rules, the game can actually speed up a great deal. A second set of dice would definitely help though.
 
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Mad Halfling
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So what's the usual playing time for the game? It lists (I think) 2-4 hours on the box, but how does that measure up in practice?
 
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Mark Casiglio
United States
Ansonia
CT
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ConnCon 2018 March 23, 24, 25 in Stamford, CT
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I would say expect to play slowly the first time, as players become familiar with a different combat system and with all the power and item cards to choose. But with repeated plays we've always come in under four hours.
 
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Mad Halfling
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is that 3 hours, or 3-4 hours - we only have a limited gaming time and so really can only manage 3 hours if someone comes early and sets up so everyone is ready go as soon as they arrive
 
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Jon M
United Kingdom
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You won't finish it in three hours first time around. Perhaps after three or four plays you could get it down to that. Your problem then is obviously getting enough games in to get it down to that time.
 
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Mad Halfling
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OK, I undestand that (our group are pretty quick to pick up things) but how long, typically, are folks' games taking?
 
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James Roberts
Australia
Noble Park
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I like WoW:tBG in principle. The combat mechanics are very interesting, and the whole thing is set up nicely, gorgeous componets, etc.

But... I have played in about 6-8 games (mostly 4 player, but a few with only 3 and 1 with 5) and after each game, I feel like I have just finished some hard work. The game just wasn't relaxing to play for me - so much to think about the whole time (I often had to run two characters) and remembering which abilities to activate and pay energy for in each stage of a combat round often seemed like plain hard work to me.

Add in the fact that we often ran through the game as quickly as possible in order to finish it in reasonable time (under 4 hours including set up and pack up) and sessions of WoW often left me mentally "frazzled".

So, I have just sold my copy on ebay. I will miss having it on my shelf, but plan to replace it with a lighter game. Our gaming time should be relaxing and for our group WoW just wasn't.

 
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Christopher DeFrisco
United States
Ashland
Oregon
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Ah, negative. I am a meat popsicle.
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James...

I'm interested in buying this game for my group, but have been waffling as of late. Your reply was well spoken. I took a look at your profile to see what types of games (specifically in this genre) that you liked. But alas, nothing.

Does your group play any games akin to this that you like? (ie. Shogun, Axis & Allies, Twilight Imperium, Game of Thrones...)

Thanks.
 
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