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Subject: A love hate thing. rss

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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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"Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative, fixed-deck card game with a comic book flavor."

I love Sentinels of the Multiverse, SotM, and at the same time, I can't stand it. It is a game that frustrates me like no other; yet, it is a game that I come back to quite frequently.


There are many things to love, when it comes to SotM:


Very strong thematically - Superhero card game where you battle against super villains across various different environments.
Each hero has their own deck which plays very differently than other heroes.
Each villain feels quite different as well.
The system of pick a villain, heroes, and environment allows for great variety to the game.
While the base game gives you a great amount of variety, mix in expansions and the amount of variety grows exponentially.
While the game says it is for 2-5 players, it is a game you can play solo. The game scales according to the number of players by introducing a (H) system; however, I find that this system doesn't necessarily work all the time. There are some villains that just require more heroes to defeat.
The game is a co-op game and it really does require all the players to play together as one team rather than as individuals if they are going to succeed.
The quality of the components. The cards are nice, and the tokens are nice, but there aren't enough tokens to cover all the different states that the game introduces or to sufficiently track everything that goes on. It is more of a band-aid fix than something that was originally planned for with the development of the game.


Things I hate about SotM:

Record keeping. I can not properly put into words how bad the record keeping system for this game can get. The problems stems from the fact that you are trying to keep track of modifiers and triggers for effects from not only your cards, but from cards from other heroes, villains, and environments. You basically have a ton of cards that interact with one another that drastically change things around. It is all too easy to overlook a card or effect here or there throughout the course of a game.


Picture by Geir Harald.

Picture by Casey Lynn.

Picture by Jonan Jello.


Kickstarter promo-cards and mini-expansions. I understand why they exist, but at the same time I hate them. I tend to hate promos in general. I'd like to go to a store and buy a game and have all things that are for the game. It seems like this is becoming less and less possible as time passes. With promos and expansions, it is getting more difficult to collect everything unless you are with a game from Kickstarter on. I am glad that Greater than Games has allowed promos to be put on BGG for people to examine and that they made the mini-expansions available for purchase. I only wish they would make promos available for purchase as well.


In conclusion:


My feelings toward this game changes quite frequently. It is a game I will not play for a long while, then play quite a bit, only to get upset with and avoid again for a long while. All in all though, I think I do like the game despite the recording keeping aspect.

At the time of writing this review, I have the game rated a 8.5. I'm sure my feelings will change in the future; but for now I like the game a great deal because it is a game that both my sons and my older daughter enjoys playing with me.
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GeekInsight
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With regard to the promos, GtG has said in the past that they will release a promo pack once the entire line of Sentinels has been published. So probably within the next year or two. Promos will be available.

As for mini-expansions, I'm not sure what the complaint is. They can be purchased just like the big expansions. Sure, preorder folks and kickstarter users got them for free. But they have never been exclusive.

EDIT: Thanks for the review!
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Andrew Dabrowski
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This is one of those games that God intended to be played on computer.
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Brian Blankstein
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bbblasterfire wrote:
I only wish they would make promos available for purchase as well.

For what it's worth, after the storyline of the game is complete, >G is going to offer all of the promo cards in a purchasable pack.

The mini-expansions are in no way exclusive. You can purchase them the same way you would purchase any expansion - it's just a single deck instead of a bunch of decks.
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Todd McCorkle
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RE: Promos.

GtG have said numerous times that when the entire game is 'complete', they will release all the promos for regular purchase. Something will differentiate these promos from the original promos (most people think it will be different artwork, but that's pure spec). In the mean time you can easily play with the promos powers by simply writing down hp, base power, and incap abilities on scrap paper. I've done this with team leader tachyon (and will probably do it some time with scientific tachy).

RE: Recordkeeping.

I almost always miss something while playing, especially solo. For the most part I simply don't sweat it. I'm just as likely to miss something that would have helped me as hurt me. If I notice I missed something, I can usually adjust things without undoing massive amounts of turns. "Oh, each hero should have taken 1 more damage 3 turns ago...I'll just apply that damage now." "The heroes should have been drawing cards during the environment... Here's a few cards to catch up." With more people, there are more eyes to catch things. Ultimately though, it's all about having fun.
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Dylan Thurston
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Nice review, thanks for writing it! I personally don't mind the complexity, but I can see how it could get overwhelming. With regards to promos, it's maybe worth mentioning that the promos that are eventually released will be distinguishable in some (still unspecified) way, so depending on the kind of completionist you are, you won't be able to get everything.

(Also, GtG doesn't mind people printing out their own copies of the promos at all.)
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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MyParadox wrote:


As for mini-expansions, I'm not sure what the complaint is. They can be purchased just like the big expansions. Sure, preorder folks and kickstarter users got them for free. But they have never been exclusive.


My complaint with the mini-expansion is the size of the expansion. I wish they were all bundled together. It is isn't something major, as I do own them all. It is just something, that I don't care for.
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Will Pell
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I second the comment about computerizing the game, although I think if that was strictly intended, the rules would have been crystal-clear from day 1, instead of all but nonexistent. When Christopher approached Handelabra games to make the app version, they had long discussions about how to make a single, consistent ruleset that would interpret all situations the same way every time; those rules could have been written in a 36-page manual and included with every SOTM box, but instead we get a tiny pamphlet of background on the characters, and extremely vague instructions on how to actually play. So I think the "intention" was more that you "wouldn't worry too much" about whether you screwed up the recordkeeping. Which only goes to show that >G doesn't really understand the mentality of the average hardcore gamer, and/or was intentionally trying to scare the average hardcore gamer away from their product in favor of a more casual crowd.

kusinohki wrote:
Something will differentiate these promos from the original promos (most people think it will be different artwork, but that's pure spec).

I think it's a pretty good bet in view of the new oversized pack, which is confirmed to have new art.

Quote:
In the mean time you can easily play with the promos powers by simply writing down hp, base power, and incap abilities on scrap paper. I've done this with team leader tachyon (and will probably do it some time with scientific tachy).

A slightly fancier but still dirt-cheap option: in the Files under this game, you'll see six that say "QND" on them, these are my Quick-N-Dirty promo printouts. Each one is a single JPEG image, sized such that you can print the front or back side of six different promos on a single sheet of paper (two of them are villain promos, so they're a bit oversized). My local library charges 50c per page for full-color printouts, or 10c for black and white, so getting a full set will cost between 60c and $3, after which you just cut them out and tape matching sets to each other, perhaps with a blank bit of cardstock between for durability. (If you own card sleeves, you can just slip a random Magic card or something in between the two paper cutouts, and not have to glue or tape anything.)

Quote:
I almost always miss something while playing, especially solo. For the most part I simply don't sweat it. I'm just as likely to miss something that would have helped me as hurt me. If I notice I missed something, I can usually adjust things without undoing massive amounts of turns. "Oh, each hero should have taken 1 more damage 3 turns ago...I'll just apply that damage now." "The heroes should have been drawing cards during the environment... Here's a few cards to catch up." With more people, there are more eyes to catch things. Ultimately though, it's all about having fun.

The OP should stay away from the Kaargra Warfang fight at all costs, and probably doesn't want to play the Argent Adept (Fanatic is also a bit of a problem because of Divine Sacrifice, and there are a few other cards along such lines, such as Tempest's ESU, though that one's easier to manage). In an average game, the fiddliness doesn't tend to get too bad; just take your time and go through things in order, perhaps using a pawn or a die to mark your place as you read down the list of cards in the sequence they came into play.

When I'm playing solo, I don't bother with tokens, I just write a running commentation of the game, and keep handy a record of the current HP of all the heroes along with a few basic notes, such as "all damage +1 except to Mister Fixer [Imbued Frailty, Pipe Wrench]"; this is how it's done in the forum games and it works quite well, though I usually don't have to go full-version (except against Kaargra, gorram her anyway). I often end up having to scrap a game because of an unfixable error; sometimes backtracking doesn't work, because Highest HP should have changed at a crucial moment, or you've drawn cards, or whatever. But it's definitely true that more eyes on the problem will make this easier, and ultimately if you're playing socially, it's not super-important to get everything right, as long as everyone has fun (and you don't come away with strong yet inaccurate impressions about how easy/hard/epic/lame a particular bout or matchup is).

Quote:
While the game says it is for 2-5 players, it is a game you can play solo. The game scales according to the number of players by introducing a (H) system; however, I find that this system doesn't necessarily work all the time. There are some villains that just require more heroes to defeat.

This is not usually true. The only villain where I'm strongly convinced that a 3-hero team just can't win is The Chairman, since the HPs of all the targets you have to kill before beating him are fixed. Otherwise, H balancing usually works quite well; 5-hero teams are better at curbstomping some villains horrifically, but 3-hero teams are still viable. And in the case of at least two villains (The Dreamer and Miss Information; Kaargra Warfang might be a third, I'm not sure yet), having more heroes can actually be a liability; not being simple damage races where more attackers are automatically better, both of them use H so extensively that it's actually easier to win with a party of just 3.

Quote:
the tokens are nice, but there aren't enough tokens to cover all the different states that the game introduces or to sufficiently track everything that goes on. It is more of a band-aid fix than something that was originally planned for with the development of the game.

Agreed. If I were richer I'd go to Litko Aerosystems, a company that makes special plastic tokens for wargamers and other hobbyists, and order a set of custom tokens to really do Sentinels justice. There need to be distinct tokens for the two different kinds of damage reduction - Wraith's "Stealth" versus the Sentinels's "Block", or Haka's "Haka of Shielding" versus the Perform effect of AA's "Counterpoint Bulwark". The other main issue is that you virtually never need the full range of "you cannot play cards", "you cannot use powers", and "you cannot draw cards" effects (and absolutely never need the "all damage: fire/toxic" that's printed on the reverses of two of them, since that info is always global for the entire table and thus hard to forget), but routinely will want more than the six "you cannot deal damage" tokens that you get, since Tachyon's Hypersonic Assault might hit eight out of the twelve targets in play depending on what order you resolved a pair of Informant-type effects in, or some similarly confusing situation.

One of these days I really need to sit down, read through every SOTM card ever printed, and come up with a master list of exactly what tokens need to exist in order to allow for the proper tracking, and how many of each are worth including. The Kaargra fight alone ought to have a full dedicated token set, unless you just plain houserule The Mindbreaker to be less of a gigantic pain in the rear to track. ("Did I take damage from three gladiators or four during that round? Oh crap, we forgot about that Environment guy, turns out Kaargra already got the title two turns ago, we're all retroactively dead now from when we attacked her.")

The biggest reason why all this fiddliness isn't a minus for me? The game is called "Sentinels of the Multiverse." And the way that a game's outcome completely changes depending on which hero takes a single bullet is absolutely fitting for a game about alternate timelines battling it out. I only wish they hadn't intentionally set the bar so low for how many heroes and villains would eventually exist; they could have tried to match Marvel and DC's thousand-character rosters, with a hundred variations each on eighty or ninety broad archetypes, instead of stopping at a mere 26. But even with the fairly limited cast of characters, you can really get the idea of a vast and tangled web of parallel realities, just by imagining that certain choices in each game had been made differently (intentionally and legally, or by accidentally forgetting that some game effect was in play; either works.)

bbblasterfire wrote:
MyParadox wrote:


As for mini-expansions, I'm not sure what the complaint is. They can be purchased just like the big expansions. Sure, preorder folks and kickstarter users got them for free. But they have never been exclusive.


My complaint with the mini-expansion is the size of the expansion. I wish they were all bundled together. It is isn't something major, as I do own them all. It is just something, that I don't care for.

I am of several minds about this. Unity, Scholar, Guise, Ambuscade, Miss Info, arguably Omnitron-4 and W.M. (I think of the latter as being part of WCos in a way that Guise is not, but the only real support for that idea is the fact that he's called "A Cosmic Challenge"; he could just as easily have been from a parallel dimesnion like Mxyzptlk, rather than from outer space), and at a guess Chokepoint all feel very much like they ought to stand on their own; they don't really match anything else or fit anywhere in the existing expansions. Visionary could have been in Shattered Timelines rather than the core set, and ditto for Ra in Infernal Relics, Tempest in WCos, or The Wraith in Rook City, but then the core set would be pretty anemic-looking. Mostly I think the divvying up makes sense.

But based on what little we know about it, the upcoming Celestial Tribunal mini-exp seems like it ought to have come with Wrath of the Cosmos, perhaps even been part of it - indeed, as the Environment version of a Villain, Omnitron-4 might have made more sense releasing with Villains instead, so maybe they should have been swapped. And the one HUGE exception I would identify is the two mini-expansions that were released with Shattered Timelines - both of them are alternate times, and both tie-in with the backstory of one of that expansion's Heroes, so it's really kind of absurd that they're not counted as part of the set itself (I'd even have swapped them out for the two that actually DID come in the box, as The Block is somewhat less fitting than those two, and Time Cataclysm is just a really goofy and "off"-seeming design that would have fit with the generally oddball nature of mini-expansions).

If I could restructure the entire gameline, I'd have made it come in standalone-playable expansions that would each have about 3-4 heroes, probably 2-3 villains and 3-5 environments (in general I want more environments and fewer villains than the game gives us; Infinitor is not so different from The Matriarch, or Spite from Plague Rat, or Progeny from Iron Legacy, or the Ennead from the Vengeance Five, that I really think we 100% needed them all to be different, but the Environments are distinctly more secondary than I would prefer, even if VOTM is going to help with that a lot).
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Mr Deltaz
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The first time I played it was a pain keeping track of things, it also didn't help that the person that was teaching the game had played only once before (somebody else's copy) and was reading the rules as we went.

I scratched the game from my to buy list. I ended up with a copy of first edition (Got it on a math trade for something I didn't play anyways, I figured it couldn't be worst).

I had a bunch of dice from before and read a suggestion at some point to use dice instead of counters. That helped a lot!

The other thing that helps is for every hero to keep track of their own things and let others remind you what cards they have played that benefit you. I also go very slow and methodical with all the start and end of action triggers to avoid missing anything.

Overall after the second game or so the record keeping didn't bother us and the game has been a blast.

Very fair review though!
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Jason Sherlock
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I love playing this on my tablet. Just wish that they would get the expansions out quicker. Still, I would rather that they have the programming to be bullet-proof rather than buggy. They have done a great job so far.
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Fran├žois-Marie Arouet
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You've perfectly captured my feelings about Sentinels - excellent review.
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Jack Darwid
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Yes! That's exactly my feelings too...

I have a conclusion that me and my gaming group need no expansion of any kind, since usually we start playing something else when the base game is done. Many expansions are left unplayed, the last one is Escape the Big Box, it's almost come to an halt exactly before we enter the expansions (Illusion rooms, etc), I should have just bought the base game shake

Except SotM! I have everything up to WotC, including all the promos. I don't pre-order VotM since I don't like Vengeance style (rise the fiddliness arrrh )

Everytime I play the game, I just wish that the game can be less fiddly... I hate, really hate that I usually forget to activate that ability or substract that damage etc. And sometimes I just come to a limbo... continue the game but it will feel like cheating, or just scrap the session? soblue

The best solution so far is to play in a relax condition. Checking here and there...Slowly. But this will make the other players yawn and the game can take too long. Ugh. What should I do? arrrh

Usually me is the rules lawyer in the group but really this game push me to the limit... AARRRGGGHHHH!!!

I haven't played WotC, and the mention of Kaargra Warfang above (by willpell) scares me...

Love and hate... Yes, exactly! Still I give this a 8.5 (it was 9.5 before). Just wish someone can dig inside the mud and somehow make the game more streamlined, then this will be my 10 game. Me love playing, but the hate is there almost everytime I play this....
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Markus
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What you guys are calling fiddliness I call excellent brain exercise that will hopefully keep my noggin going for a long time to come.
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David B
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JackDarwid wrote:

Ugh. What should I do? arrrh


 
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Alejandro F
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The main drawback of this game is that the rules are not in the box and neither in the Greater than Games web. And, no, you can't convince me that that 4 pages summary is a rulebook.

Also, the most useful tokens, i.e. the last type of damage done to Omnitron, are not in the set. Mind you, simply a token for every specific type of damage, nothing more.
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Chris Gallo
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I think that since the game does a great job bringing out the theme and getting the players engaged that the fiddliness dies down a bit. Play the game to have fun. If you miss something it's not the end of the world. I think as far as theme this is one of the best superhero games out there and is worth it just for that. It's still a great game no matter hoe much book keeping there is to do and once you get it down it's really not that much unless maybe you're soloing the game.
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Bill D.
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I played this a couple times and enjoyed both times (I believe a 6 player and 4 player game). The key however was the owner of the game had an iPhone App that kept track of everything. The game does come with a good amount of tokens to keep track of thing manually but I don't see it as practically feasible as every possible "trigger" would need to be checked every turn, sometimes several times a turn.
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Will Pell
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Fisico wrote:
The main drawback of this game is that the rules are not in the box and neither in the Greater than Games web. And, no, you can't convince me that that 4 pages summary is a rulebook.

This.
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Nerds call me
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Fisico wrote:
The main drawback of this game is that the rules are not in the box and neither in the Greater than Games web. And, no, you can't convince me that that 4 pages summary is a rulebook.

What do you mean the rules aren't in the box?
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Alejandro F
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dorktron2000 wrote:
Fisico wrote:
The main drawback of this game is that the rules are not in the box and neither in the Greater than Games web. And, no, you can't convince me that that 4 pages summary is a rulebook.

What do you mean the rules aren't in the box?

Make the following mental experiment: Put a group of people who dont know how to play this game. Put them to play with the rulebook as written. In the next room is Christopher and others playing. Every card the first group reveals is revealed in the second group and every decission the first group takes is applied to the second room. However, Christopher will play right, no mess up or wrong rules deccissions. In three turns, it could go no more because the state of the table will be so different that it couldnt be applicable. It will end with a card that is not there dealing damage to a target that it isnt there too.

You can play fairly well with Spiff's FAQ, but there are some rules that are ambiguos even with it. Mostly, timing issues. Take care that that FAQ is not official.
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Nerds call me
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Fisico wrote:


Make the following mental experiment: Put a group of people who dont know how to play this game. Put them to play with the rulebook as written. In the next room is Christopher and others playing. Every card the first group reveals is revealed in the second group and every decission the first group takes is applied to the second room. However, Christopher will play right, no mess up or wrong rules deccissions. In three turns, it could go no more because the state of the table will be so different that it couldnt be applicable. It will end with a card that is not there dealing damage to a target that it isnt there too.

I think we are discussing two different things. You said "the rules were not in the box" which, taken literally, is obviously false. SotM is perfectly playable with the given rules. Rules clarifications is another story altogether and an issue that doesn't just plague SotM but most other games I enjoy as well. And you really can't expect rules clarifications to be included in the product to cover all situations.
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mike mcginnis

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Great review! It sums up my feelings on the game as well. I also don't like the fact that there isn't a solid 1 player variant outside of playing multiple heroes. I don't want to play multiple heroes. I'm sorry but that just ruins the game for me. I have gotten so excited about playing this game that on occasion, I have sat down and setup a 3 hero match that was meant to be played by myself and after about 10 minutes I remember why I don't play this game. The AWFUL record keeping. I keep hoping that someone will come up with some sort of handy record keeping guide or method that will make me want to play this game. I love everything about the game EXCEPT the record keeping. It takes a fun theme and turns it into a boring, over complicated, mathematical, story problem.
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Todd McCorkle
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I have a feeling the result of that mental experiment would be Chris saying, "Did you have fun? Yes? Then you did NOT play wrong."

Any game where "the rules are on the cards" would be impossible to list every possible clarification of card interaction. I know Spiff's FAQ is trying to do that, but honestly, I've read through about half of it and so far I can paraphrase about 80% of it as "the cards work the way they say they do".

GtG decision to keep the rulebook as simple as possible helps new players jump in to the game without being overwhelmed too much. When a weird interaction hits, just make a snap judgment "I think it works like this" and move on. Ask BGG later and if it turns out it works differently, we know for next time. Just about every board game our group has played has gone through this stage at some point.
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Brian Blankstein
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kusinohki wrote:
I have a feeling the result of that mental experiment would be Chris saying, "Did you have fun? Yes? Then you did NOT play wrong."

Any game where "the rules are on the cards" would be impossible to list every possible clarification of card interaction. I know Spiff's FAQ is trying to do that, but honestly, I've read through about half of it and so far I can paraphrase about 80% of it as "the cards work the way they say they do".

GtG decision to keep the rulebook as simple as possible helps new players jump in to the game without being overwhelmed too much. When a weird interaction hits, just make a snap judgment "I think it works like this" and move on. Ask BGG later and if it turns out it works differently, we know for next time. Just about every board game our group has played has gone through this stage at some point.

All of this. There is really no cost associated with not following the "official" rules. If you're not sure about something, just do whatever makes the most sense at the time. If you are really concerned about playing correctly, write down your question and you can look it up later.
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mike mcginnis

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kusinohki wrote:
I have a feeling the result of that mental experiment would be Chris saying, "Did you have fun? Yes? Then you did NOT play wrong."

Any game where "the rules are on the cards" would be impossible to list every possible clarification of card interaction. I know Spiff's FAQ is trying to do that, but honestly, I've read through about half of it and so far I can paraphrase about 80% of it as "the cards work the way they say they do".

GtG decision to keep the rulebook as simple as possible helps new players jump in to the game without being overwhelmed too much. When a weird interaction hits, just make a snap judgment "I think it works like this" and move on. Ask BGG later and if it turns out it works differently, we know for next time. Just about every board game our group has played has gone through this stage at some point.

I personally don't think it's an issues of knowing the rules. As stated, they are on the cards and it would be a monsterous task to list them all.

I think the fun disappears at that moment when you flip a card and go:

" ok so hero A gets 5 damage..... or wait... no he gets 3 damage because hero B negates 2 damage with his ongoing card...... or wait.... no hero A gets 2 damage because hero C negates 1 damage with his ongoing.... oh wait..... hero A is a nemesis to the Villain so it's actually 3 damage....."

After you do that over and over with ever changing rules...... The game stops being fun and the story/role playing elements are gone. It's just a lengthy math problem and you hope that you aren't missing anything.
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