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Subject: WoW:tBG from the point of view of a WoW online player rss

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Camo Coffey
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I’d known about this game for a while – and was never terribly interested in it. “Why?” was my main opinion on the matter. I play the MMORG; I’d rather play something else on our usual weekday gaming night: a proper boardgame, not trying to be something it can’t. But it surprised me greatly: I enjoyed it immensely. I think the fact that I play the online game meant I actually enjoyed it more rather than less, as I’d expected; I was finding myself going, “Ooh, that’s a neat way of representing X, Y or Z.” The translation of computer game to boardgame is very well done indeed. The characters and world and gameplay all feel right, which was quite impressive; especially when you consider the wealth of options available to players in WoW (you have 8 classes, each of whom has about a dozen characteristics, 150 talents and probably 200 skills and spells to choose from).

I especially enjoyed the combination of co-operative and competitive play; the Horde vs. Alliance faction structure. It meant you get the interaction and teamwork that we enjoy in the MMORG with the conflict necessary for a proper boardgame. (Yes, there’s competitive play in WoW as well, with the PvP side of things; but you don’t tend to face off against your mates, which is half the fun.) The only other co-operative boardgames I think I’ve played, Lord of the Rings and Shadows Over Camelot, both pall quickly – they may as well be solitaire for all the interaction involved; whereas WoW:tBG has a really nice balance there, I think. You can go off and do your own thing or negotiate with your team to deal with a quest together; and that’s quite cool. It balances out as well: if you group up, the challenges are easy but the treasure and XP get divided between everyone; going it alone is more dangerous but more personally rewarding.

I love board game RPGs, like Talisman or Runebound … or rather, I want to love them. They’re usually actually pretty poor games in themselves, with no sense of power scale: the end game challenge demands that you spend ages getting every bit of treasure in the game, whilst every other encounter gets piss weak very quickly. Certainly this was the case with Talisman, was improved upon in Runebound, and further in WoW:tBG … but the problem’s still there, unfortunately. By 3rd level (the game goes up to 5th), our team felt capable of taking on almost any challenge. I reckon we could have taken down the last boss, with a few lucky rolls. We could have done with the difficulty scale climbing more quickly, to keep pace with our own fairly rapid advancement. It got too easy, too quickly.

That being said, we managed to avoid any PvP, which could have bollixed things up a bit. A good scrap might sufficiently have weakened us to the point where we’d have to spend Rest actions before we could consider taking on another quest. As it was, our warlock took a Rest action once; that was the only one of those we saw, and I think he did it only for the lack of anything else to do in his current situation. Yes, we got hurt in a couple of fights (quite seriously so by a bloody spider early in the game) but repairing every time you go up a level meant we were back on full health every couple of encounters.

Another thing about most RPG boardgames is that they tend to last a long time. Unfortunately, put WoW:tBG in that category: we got about 2/3 of the way through a game in 3-4 hours; I like long games but they don’t fit too well into our usual Tuesday night slot. But if you have the time, that’s cool – sometimes. If you’re lucky, they remain interesting for the duration (Magic Realm lasts hours yet keeps your attention throughout) but mostly they don’t (Mystic Wood and Sorcerer’s Cave got dull within an hour – but lasted two or three); the rapid power scaling generally means that you get bored with the challenges presented and just want to get on with the end boss scenario, whatever that is, and finish the game. Usually the reason for this is that you tend to draw encounters from the same deck each round; this means that, for a monster to be a threat to a character who has the best gear in the game, knows every spell and has boosted his stats through the roof, it would utterly marmalise a starting character; and when that critter has an equal chance of turning up in Round 001 as in Round 100, you end up with players dying off continually in the early game and being bored out of their skulls in the endgame. Runebound and WoW:tBG both deal with this by scaling the encounters so that you draw quests from different card decks, and forcing you to migrate around the board to get to the better challenges … but the scale doesn’t really feel quite enough. WoW:tBG certainly was better (and is probably the best of the lot, in this genre, that I’ve played – I’d rank it higher than Magic Realm, which is quite an accolade – but perhaps if only for being much simpler and more approachable) but not quite good enough, in my mind. Maybe we were lucky or maybe it was just because my Horde group were cowardly and ran around as a group a lot – but I think the other team were finding it all a bit too easy as well. Put it this way: we never had to re-check the graveyard rules.

Anyway, all-in-all, it was a very enjoyable experience and I would gladly play it again; indeed, I’d buy it myself, if I had the cash. Now that we know how to play, it’ll probably be quicker; we can run stuff simultaneously rather than waiting for the other faction to complete their go, and so forth. (We were starting to do that already, but it was a little confusing sometimes, when you’re not entirely sure of the sequences of events.)

I’d give the game 7/10. If the characters scaled more slowly, or the encounters more quickly, I’d probably give it 8+. If we’d finished the game, the Alliance team probably would have won: the druid seemed to be rolling way too many dice and the rogue was dishing out some obscene damage every round. When we stopped, they were all 3rd and 4th level while we were 3rd, across the board, I think – but they were one round ahead, by that point, so we could likely have caught up. Mostly, I think they were a little luckier, gear-wise.
 
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Brian M
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An interesting review Camo. Its neat to here what a player of the computer thing thinks about it.

One thing I am curious about is that you mention that the challenges seemed too easy. Was your entire team of 3 staying together as a group? It sounds like this was the case. In that case, the challenges wouldn't be too hard - but you will be going up much more slowly than a team taking more risks and splitting up to solo quests. This is one of the tough choices in the game - whether to play it safe and stay as a group for less gain, or take a chance but potentially advance faster.
 
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Joel Yoder
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Yes, you mention early in your review that you can choose to group up and advance slowly with little risk, or split and advance faster with more risk. Then you seem to forget you ever said that at the end of the review.

Remember, the game is a race between the factions. Each character on your side has, at most, 30 actions in the entire game--your goal is to get more out of those 30 actions than your opponents. Evaluating how you can get the most xp in the shortest time is key. As you discovered, if you can skip resting, you can save some time. On the other hand, if you will earn twice the reward for a harder fight, even after a rest action you will still be ahead.

Otherwise, I think your review hits all the high and low points. It's interesting to hear a WoW online player's opinion, since I've never played the computer game myself. The fact that you play Magic Realm makes you more than qualified to review any fantasy boardgame you want, in my opinion!

--Joel

 
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Magic Realm is rough, I have played it twice, I died twice.

I enjoyed WOW/TBG however, I do think the key is to separate.
 
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I've never seen a flying hogfish. I saw one gliding once, but never flying, not actually flying.
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I was also playing in the same game with Camo, though I was on the fabulous Alliance side rather than the raggedy Horde mob.

The point that has been brought up a few times about splitting up vs. staying together is very valid, for the most part both groups hung around in a pack. I put that down to being a first play of a game that was new to everyone except me, and trying to get a handle on how the combat system works (I remember my first game was a bit hesitant). One of the proud Alliance warriors did venture out on his own at one point, and reached the next level ahead of anyone else because of it, I suggested that we all go our seperate ways, but it wasn't to be. Near the end, I decided to head off on my own, but it was at exactly the moment that the encounter card offering XP for killing off one member on each team (for which I was the target, natch), and the encounter I was planning to head for would have taken within striking distance of the smelly Horde.

Not sure if I'd go with Camo's suggestion of placing this above Magic Realm, I like WOW a lot and it's 110% easier to get into, but c'mon, MR has a geomorphic hex map - how can anything with a fixed board beat that, I ask you?

P.S. I don't play the computer game - but that hasn't stopped me enjoying the boardgame yet, although sometimes someone will say "pass a red Naga", and I'll have to ask if that's the one with the spiky shoulders or not...
 
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Jay T Leone
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Uh balance? How come none of you think the game is UNBALANCED? Have you ever tried Paladin and Warrior vs Priest and Warlock? From what I remember from playing, the game HIGHLY favors independent players. And only melee players can be independent in the beginning. Ranged players have to leach along and thus take away valuable experience while the other team (who does not have range characters) jumps ahead and never falls behind.

Also, to get into a PVP in a normal game is way too hard. 2 movement doesn't leave room for any surprise attacks.

Is there an errata which fixed these problems?
 
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