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Subject: A love hate thing. rss

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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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François-Marie Arouet
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kusinohki wrote:
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.


Yes, this works great in the vast majority of games, partly because you're only making these judgment calls about one time each game, max. The problem is, in Sentinels, you're making these judgment calls 2, 3, 17 times each game. You can't shake that nagging feeling that nothing is quite right.

EDIT: It's also not so much the judgment calls as the realization, two turns later, that all damage was fire and none of Voss's minions should have actually died but wait now there's Forced Deployment and crap, there's no way in heck to backtrack and "fix" this one, and that ruins the fun for most players.

And I want to clarify - I'm one of the love/haters, I own about half the sets and play the video game regularly.
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Justin Hiltz
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I'm on the market to trade or sell my Sentinels stuff because of the bookkeeping. I bought into it for a fun solo experience but it's just too much for me to keep track of. Playing on the PC has been a tremendous boon and I've played more games of it than I've played of my fully pimped out physical copy.
 
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Will Pell
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dorktron2000 wrote:
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.


A concrete example can be found in a game against the Chairman in the Ruins of Atlantis, which uses two rulings which are extremely counterintuitive. Without the official clarification of these facts, I believe very few players would guess that Haka playing Elbow Smash on the Informant would bring out a card BEFORE the Informant dies, but that a low-HP Omnitron-X can use Bio-Engineering Beam to destroy Toxic Seaweed, which deals damage only AFTER a power completely resolves. This likewise could matter with multiple players on low HP versus Spite in the Time Cataclysm; Sudden Shopping Trip kills a 1-HP Tachyon before she can resolve Blinding Speed to remove it, but a 2-HP hero can deal lethal damage to Spite with a Power, and his damage-for-powers drug never resolves because it wouldn't go off until after the Power. NOWHERE in the printed rules does this EXTREMELY important timing clarification - that you fully resolve all triggers BEFORE resolving a played One-Shot, but AFTER resolving an activated Power - receive a mention.

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Rules clarifications is another story altogether and an issue that doesn't just plague SotM but most other games I enjoy as well.


The main reason for this is that most game companies don't do a quality pass on their rulebook, or at least not a sufficiently exhaustive one. There ought to be a person on staff at every company whose ENTIRE job is to be given the rulebook and components for every game, with no other priming, and to then make every effort to plumb all corners of the game's design space in search of any unclear rules, rewrite the rules to clarify these situations, and send the result back to the designers to confirm that he executed those corner cases as the designers intended. Because in the majority of cases, they simply didn't think of the need to spell things out which they had been taking for granted all along.

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And you really can't expect rules clarifications to be included in the product to cover all situations.


Not ALL situations, but the vast majority of commonly repeated ones at least. My hypothetical rules evaluator probably won't catch everything, but if you played 100 games of SOTM, you'd see the Informant ruling and the Toxic Seaweed ruling come up at least separately, and I'd hope you'd be able to figure out that they have the ability to pertain to each other.
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pfctsqr wrote:
JackDarwid wrote:

Ugh. What should I do? arrrh



Nooooooo!!!! That would be a hate-hate relationship. This is love-hate!!

Here's a few things I have tried to love this game more:
- I made a 2 players variant with 1 Hero each to make the game easier to play with 2 players
- I made the score board from Spiff and using it with little chits for each Hero/Villain (REALLY helps a lot to track the highest and lowest HP, everyone need this!!)
- The game is so flexible that I think no counters included or not can cover everything. I stop using the specific tokens (You can not draw, etc) because finding the right token takes time too... I just use some of the common damage tokens and put a 'Here's something' token on a card that needs consideration (when an environment card is destroyed this card do this, etc).

The game runs better for us after that, but still so many things left uncovered.

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"Did you have fun? Yes? Then you did NOT play wrong."
Errr... that's true but whenever I forget something I feel the xxx inside (sorry for my English, can't find the right word for xxx, even after googling it laugh). Well, maybe that's why this site is called boardgamegeek laugh

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willpell wrote:


The main reason for this is that most game companies don't do a quality pass on their rulebook, or at least not a sufficiently exhaustive one. There ought to be a person on staff at every company whose ENTIRE job is to be given the rulebook and components for every game, with no other priming, and to then make every effort to plumb all corners of the game's design space in search of any unclear rules, rewrite the rules to clarify these situations, and send the result back to the designers to confirm that he executed those corner cases as the designers intended. Because in the majority of cases, they simply didn't think of the need to spell things out which they had been taking for granted all along.


Sorry, but you can't expect a small operation like >G when they first released SotM to have an entire position dedicated to rulebook and component quality control. I have high expectation of my purchases but, from a business perspective, this is unrealistic.

As to your gameplay examples, yes, there are some issues playing 100% accurately given the provided rulebook(s). And again, the game is still perfectly playable without any FAQs and clarifications. The goal is fun and the goal has been reached for me with SotM for over a year before I even printed out Spiff's FAQ. In fact, I disagree with some of the rulings in that document anyways and play the game how I enjoy it the most as others should.

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Will Pell
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dorktron2000 wrote:
Sorry, but you can't expect a small operation like >G when they first released SotM to have an entire position dedicated to rulebook and component quality control. I have high expectation of my purchases but, from a business perspective, this is unrealistic.


It was never meant to be a realistic example, but an idealistic one, hence the word "should" (which has very little bearing on how anything actually turns out in the world we live in). Besides which, whatever was practical back when they first started up, they've long since become a successful company; why have they STILL never put together a real rulebook?

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yes, there are some issues playing 100% accurately given the provided rulebook(s). And again, the game is still perfectly playable without any FAQs and clarifications.


Contradiction in terms. If you don't know how to resolve a head-scratching situation, and have no strong opinion on which way it should be called, the game grinds to a halt unless you select one interpretation arbitrarily. While such an impasse can be overcome, doing so essentially constitutes no longer "playing the game", since the game consists of its rules, and its rules have locked it into a glitch-state which can only be broken by ignoring them temporarily. If a computer program had such a bug, you wouldn't have the right to claim it was properly functional. And SOTM's game design is very program-esque; you follow a series of instructions in sequence, and sometimes they lead you to an unresolvable state, which the "user manual" fails to address. This was an inarguable failure on the designers' part; it wasn't sufficient to stop the game from being good, but it is a major flaw in a product that comes very close to being perfect otherwise.

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The goal is fun and the goal has been reached for me with SotM for over a year before I even printed out Spiff's FAQ. In fact, I disagree with some of the rulings in that document anyways and play the game how I enjoy it the most as others should.


So there are people right here on BGG who are saying things like "Progeny isn't really a 4 difficulty but no way is Infinitor a 2". Statements like that indicate that those people are not playing correctly; a villain that's supposed to be difficult is seeming easy to them and vice versa, so they obviously must be doing something wrong.
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willpell wrote:

It was never meant to be a realistic example, but an idealistic one, hence the word "should" (which has very little bearing on how anything actually turns out in the world we live in). Besides which, whatever was practical back when they first started up, they've long since become a successful company; why have they STILL never put together a real rulebook?


Oh OK, so I'm supposed to parse your words in addition to reflect on your meaning. Got it.


Quote:

Contradiction in terms. If you don't know how to resolve a head-scratching situation, and have no strong opinion on which way it should be called, the game grinds to a halt


Nothing has come to a "halt" for me when I play SotM, if "halt" indeed means what I think you think it means... You simply make a ruling and move on. Simple.


Quote:
So there are people right here on BGG who are saying things like "Progeny isn't really a 4 difficulty but no way is Infinitor a 2". Statements like that indicate that those people are not playing correctly; a villain that's supposed to be difficult is seeming easy to them and vice versa, so they obviously must be doing something wrong.


Way to make an assumption, assclown.
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Will Pell
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dorktron2000 wrote:
Way to make an assumption, assclown.


It's a perfectly fair one. Even if you beat Iron Legacy, it's never "easy" (well, unless you use Nightmist, who's a complete spoiler for him, the Magneto to his Wolverine as it were). Progeny is the same listed difficulty as IL, therefore he ought to be a comparably tough fight. If people are not finding him so, a mistake has been made, and I find it easier to assume that that mistake lies upon the players rather than the designers.
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Tommy Brownell
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unhandyandy wrote:
This is one of those games that God intended to be played on computer.


This is my favorite card game, and I play it all the time...but the video game version is so, so, so perfect. Especially for solo games.
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Oh Good. Will's in this thread.

One takeaway I have from the comments, not so much the review is that some folks are way too wound up. I've got over 150 plays in now(stopped tracking them) not including the video game, and the number of times a card's ever stumped myself or the group I was with have been, well, I honestly can't remember one.

We just do Fifo for start/end of turn execution of cards, with differing player cards being optional choice timing, and anything 'in turn' being optional choice timing all around. It's simple, it's easy. Keeping track of stuff.. I believe other folks that they gt fuddled by it, but I've never experienced it so I don't rightly understand why it happens to them.

About the only thing I've felt was lacking in the rulebook was letting you know you reshuffle your deck if you're drawn out. That was actually a formatting error. Otherwise it identifies the cards, identifies the turn structure, and the rest is simply 'play the game' which is all you really need.

This isn't magic, it's not even competitive. You don't need a compendium of rulings and clarifications in order to play the game. If you make the wrong call you're not cheating anyone. Just relax into it and have fun.
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Alejandro F
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Then, i suposse i give too much crédito to playtesting. If I go with muy interpretation, it could be that I stomp over Iron Legacy and ser it impossible to scrach omnitron. Because the rulesets i use are different from the ones used in playtesting. Or worse, no villain could beat Ra.

I understand that the first edition had the rules it had, but I own the Enhanced Edition and WotC. I dont think it should be a rule for every card. I expect a little number of rules of how they interact.

During some time I thought that two rules were the guidelines to follow: 1- Nothing happens simultaneously and 2 - Every effect needs a text in play that says so. Now, I know that this rules are not true. Neither this ruling nor the opposite are in the rulebook.

What I mean, to play a tested and balanced game (if i want untested games I can find them in the forums for free) I need three things: The sentinels box, internet access and the knowledge of where to find the FAQ. By the way, many thanks to Spiff for compiling it, else it would be necessary a fourth thing, the time and pattience to search the forum for oficial answers.
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The problem with that argument is that plenty of folks have played a great game with both losses and victories without the faq, so it isn't needed, by definition. The game woudn't be on it's 6th expansion if people needed this faq in order to play and have fun. That's why I put the causation (note, not blame!) with the player and not the game. Certain people need a rigid set of guidelines and structure to *know* they did it right. They are unable or unwilling to be an active participant in their game experience from a generation standpoint. That's just how they're wired. It's akin to how for some people remembering that Legacy is buffing the heroes for +1 from inspiration and another +1 from his ongoing, but baron blade also has his living forcefield out and his backlash field meaning it's a net +1, and you're looking at sucking up 3 damage for hitting blade is hard to hold in their heads and fiddly and for others it flows like silk. Aspects of the game just don't click for certain folks, but thst isn't nessecarily a flaw in the game.

Advanced Squad Leader has a huge pile of rules that come in various modules and you need a three ring binder to tote them all around in. I am not really ever keen to play it. You won't find me calling it too fiddley, or complaining it is poorly written, because the longevity of the game puts lie to that. The game does what it does well, and people love it. The lack of enjoyment would come from me and my tastes, not a flaw in the game.



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Alejandro F
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I found a game for you. Emperor's New Clothes
 
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Fisico wrote:
I found a game for you. Emperor's New Clothes


I've seen it. I don't think I would enjoy it.

See also: http://www.trulyfallacious.com/logic/logical-fallacies/presu...
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Alejandro F
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What I mean is, that the player will have doubts of how the game is supposed to play, almost in every game. It's not a corner case that could occur a game in every ten or less. If you are playing with Deadline you will have to make a judgement call 30 seconds in the game, and it changes it from a 2 difficulty villain to barely a 1.

For example, if you think (which is as sane option as the real one) that Wrest the mind will always do 3 damage to Visionary, that card changes from a very useful card to a very situational one. That reduces the options of the players and nerf Visionary. In the long run, the favorable mistakes could get balanced with the unfavorable ones. Or not. If a group, takes all the unfavorable mistakes and none of the favorables, the game will crunch them. If the situation is the opposite they will run a parade. Either one of them will think the game unbalanced and poorly playtested. And they will be right, in fact, with that ruleset the game is not playtested at all! If you put a lot of effort in playtesting, like greater than games did, you want to bring that effort to the final product. Instead, it get lost in the rules' limbo.

I think that what i am talking about is Return of Investment. Also, about Added value. Chris is rummaging the forums answering this and that. Use that effort to take care of what are the most unclear situations, write it down and made it available to customers. Elder sign has a FAQ and I dont think is more complex than SotM! In every reprint of FFG games there is a section with updated FAQ and in FFG's site there is a link to download the most up-to-date FAQ. One or the other or prefirably both are not unreasonale actions to make live of customers easy. Expect them to find and unofficial file in the vast inmensity of internet is not.

And I think I will drop the subject as I dont want to hijack the thread.
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Fisico wrote:
What I mean is, that the player will have doubts of how the game is supposed to play, almost in every game. It's not a corner case that could occur a game in every ten or less. If you are playing with Deadline you will have to make a judgement call 30 seconds in the game, and it changes it from a 2 difficulty villain to barely a 1.

And I think I will drop the subject as I don't want to hijack the thread.


Then I will reply in brief. I bolded some assertions. Those are unsupported. I know plenty of people who do not have doubts every time, or one time in ten, or barely ever. Sure it's anecdotal, but a pool of 30+ individuals over hundreds of games without a single positive is either a freak happening or at least cause enough to put the brakes on such strong language. In every instance I've ever run across just reading the cards in plain-speak rather than rules-speak(The language used in Magic The Gathering or other games that have a faq 100 pages long) has given a viable and sensible solution, perhaps we're not following the faq 100% But we win some, we lose some, and we have lots of fun.
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I know I said I will drop the subject but just to make your take clear. You are saying that the rulebook is fine like it is now and a faq will not be useful to many people (who are unable or unwilling to look for clarifications in the forums)?
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Some might find it useful? It's not necessary to enjoy the game. Aside from that syntax error, and 'nothing's simultaneous' I haven't found cause to dig around much. I think I hit one or two outside scenarios(which will happen in a game with this much variability) that I asked here about, but if this hadn't been available as a resource, I wouldn't have felt slighted or cheated in my gaming experience
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Will Pell
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Fisico wrote:
If you are playing with Deadline you will have to make a judgement call 30 seconds in the game, and it changes it from a 2 difficulty villain to barely a 1.


I'm just curious what the judgment call is here. I definitely agree that Deadline (who is ostensibly a "3") is among the easier villains, at least until you play him on Advanced (where the decision to destroy every Ongoing he plays carries a serious consequence, keeping it from being a complete no-brainer; even this doesn't stop him from being fairly easy, but it helps). But I can't think of anything about him offhand which seems like it would cause issues with rules comprehension.

Quote:
For example, if you think (which is as sane option as the real one) that Wrest the mind will always do 3 damage to Visionary, that card changes from a very useful card to a very situational one.


I would happily take that trade in exchange for a third copy of the card in the deck. As a x2, I'm glad it's more powerful and can be exploited easily.

Quote:
If a group, takes all the unfavorable mistakes and none of the favorables, the game will crunch them. If the situation is the opposite they will run a parade. Either one of them will think the game unbalanced and poorly playtested. And they will be right, in fact, with that ruleset the game is not playtested at all! If you put a lot of effort in playtesting, like greater than games did, you want to bring that effort to the final product. Instead, it get lost in the rules' limbo.


This, 100%.

Quote:
Chris is rummaging the forums answering this and that. Use that effort to take care of what are the most unclear situations, write it down and made it available to customers.


Agreed again. He's not shy about providing the answers; all that's absent is some effort collating them, which he leaves in the hands of the fans (like Spiff). Back when the game started, that was reasonable behavior; >G was a tiny company with no spare time or energy, so outsourcing the bells and whistles of their game to passionate hobbyists was a fine move. But the time is past when they should have begun acting as the professionals they've become, and started to do things Properly(TM).

Quote:
In every reprint of FFG games there is a section with updated FAQ and in FFG's site there is a link to download the most up-to-date FAQ.


(Well FFG isn't exactly a shining example of rules clarity in the first place either. It's good that they at least take some steps to improve the matter, but it's still a lesser version of the same problem - letting people who've purchased the game finish the beta-testing for it, and then releasing patches, rather than actually getting the design 100% right before going to market. Games are a product which have lax enough quality standards that you can get away with that kind of thing.)
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Colin Marsh
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i do find that I can have a love / hate relationship with this game. it's related to one of the things you bring up (general fiddliness) but it's a bit different.

my challenge with this game is that there are certain combinations that turn out to be really fun but there are also combinations that turn out really bad. with all the variety in the game i can certainly understand that balance is an issue but i've had a handful of games of this where we're playing a difficulty 3 villain say and the particular heroes we chose combine to make it utterly laughable. in these cases it's still sort of fun but you never get that feeling of really struggling for victory.

still though the far worse situation are the villains who really slow the game down with extreme fiddliness and by locking down the players. i understand why there are mechanics which remove all ongoing & equipment cards but it leads to most people at the table not feeling like they can really do anything. it's one thing if that comes up a few times per game but there are villains whose design makes this come up near constantly and it can be really unfulfilling for people. it would be one thing if it were a solo game where you feel like you are solving a puzzle, but in a multiplayer game people want to feel like they have some options.

i still play the game but now make note of particular villains which just don't result in a good table experience regardless of how hard / easy they are.
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Chiming in to say that I have played the game around 20 times now out of the box and really enjoyed it. Players seem to cooperate in resolving rules quandaries and moving the story along. The rules, which do indeed come in the box, are generally well written.

From a commercial standpoint, I think it's noteworthy that these discussions usually come around to Advanced Squad Leader. This game is the magnetic north of "complexity" because the rules are written in the 1970s case heading format and packaged in a single giant book. It's more trendy today to write a "simple" 8-page rulebook . . .but then, each card or other accessory that you buy has its own accessory rule. You are really buying a giant ASL type rulebook one paragraph at a time. I think the work involved in playing a big customizeable game and a very comprehensive wargame are near the same, despite appearances.

In a good game, these unpredictable rules interactions make for an interesting and persuasive experience.

Again, I have gotten farther with Sentinels and had more fun than with any other rules-on-the-card game. I would give it a high rating for clarity. (I would say the same about ASL, which everyone should try at least once.)
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Will Pell
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I definitely agree that the trend today is toward minimalist rulebooks which don't actually tell you much of anything, but are full of big attractive pictures and possibly-illustrative examples. (And a pet peeve of mine is the components summary; while you do need to know how many of everything you have, as well as what everything is called, most rulebooks waste far too much "real estate" on the page on a comprehensive breakdown of everything they contain, when the information could have been contained in a very tiny block of text.) I belive the ideal rulebook needs to be about, let's say, 32-64 pages long, with only the first 4-8 pages being must-read "how to play" basic info. The rest is an extensively cross-indexed appendix of clarifications, FAQ, and statements of intent from the designers. You should be 100% capable of answering every conceivable question using only that booklet, without ever having to go on the Internet and contact the publisher for clarifications. Fantasy Flight Games is the ur-example of how to do this wrong, IMO, but Sentinels of the Multiverse is arguably even worse, although for better reasons, if that makes sense.
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Scott de Brestian
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Quote:
EDIT: It's also not so much the judgment calls as the realization, two turns later, that all damage was fire and none of Voss's minions should have actually died but wait now there's Forced Deployment and crap, there's no way in heck to backtrack and "fix" this one, and that ruins the fun for most players.


The simple protocol I follow: If you notice the mistake in the same Villain/Hero/Environment turn, you fix it. If you notice it in the same overall round, you fix it if it doesn't require you to undo anything. If you notice it in a later round, you just ignore it.

Keeps things simple. And yes, maybe it ends up helping you a bit, or it might end up hurting you a bit. Rarely is it a major issue.

Besides, who said the comics were ever logically consistent??
 
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