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Subject: First Impressions from a Kickstarter Backer rss

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Lawson Deming
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I generally wait for the reviews to come in before picking up a game, but I’ve been a big Ghostbusters fan for as long as I can remember, so supporting the Kickstarter at the “Mass Hysteria” level was, shall we say, a calculated risk. I received my copy of the game on Tuesday and have since had the chance to play through five of the scenarios (including the “Quick, Slimer!” Demo Scenario and the four “Slimer Campaign” scenarios). Its not fair to offer a full review after just scratching the surface of a game, but I think I’ve got enough of a taste to offer a first impression to those who are curious about picking this up.

Here are my initial thoughts…

Components and flavor of the game are really nice. The comic book art style carries over into the design of the map tiles, which is a great touch. The pieces are brightly colored (with the ghost minis being made out of suitably translucent plastic) and the candy-colored palette jives with the style of the game. I doubt I’ll paint these minis as they *feel* right the way they are. The figures sit in the box in vacu-formed plastic holders and the character and ghost sheets and missions rest in a little Tobin’s Spirit Guide box… another nice touch. The proton streams are little donut-shaped pieces of cardboard that loop over the ghosts so that they appear to be ‘lassoed’ by them. The standard dice have Ghostbusters symbols in place of sixes (not necessary but it adds to the flavor of the game) and the event die has symbols which resemble the Zener Cards that Venkman uses at the beginning of the movie. Clearly a lot of thought went into the presentation, and the artistic design works very nicely in tandem with (rather than at the expense of) gameplay and legibility. As a Kickstarter backer, I’ve received more stuff than the retail release of the game has… obviously how much I end up liking the game will determine whether its worth having the extra ghosts and scenarios, but its fun to open up a box and see a whole mess of components



The game is not incredibly complex. This is likely necessary because a decent portion of the demographic for the game is going to be Ghostbusters fans and not just boardgamers, but this isn’t necessarily a negative, as it's frankly nice to be able to play a miniatures game that doesn’t take all night. It was quick to play (some games took under 30 minutes) and mostly easy to learn (with a couple exceptions that I’ll go into below). Some people may complain that the game doesn’t *directly* simulate the deployment of traps or special equipment like Ray’s Ecto Goggles or the Slime Blowers, but I think the designers exercised a lot of discipline in minimizing the number of systems at work in the game and keeping the gameplay lean rather than overburdening it with all the stuff that normally slows down miniature-centric games.



Gameplay is co-op, up to four players, and consists of moving around a map with your Ghostbusters and trying to catch ghosts and close ‘gates’ with your proton packs. Ghosts are constantly spawning from the “Spirit World” and once you need to spawn a ghost from a gate but have run out of ghosts, you lose! You can deposit captured ghosts in the Ecto-1 to send them back to the Spirit World, so each scenario will be spent catching ghosts and dumping them back into the supply while simultaneously trying close those gates. The ghosts don’t do much when left to their own devices, but attacking them with your proton packs causes them to move around (and they often times move very erratically if you miss) which may result in them passing through your Ghostbusters and sliming them (reducing the number of actions they can take on their turn until a friend can clean them off). Its a tight little system that (in theory at least) works really well, and the large number of scenario set-ups (as well as an online scenario generator) potentially provide a lot of replayability. The process of trying to wrangle the ghosts as they dart around and dump them back into the Spirit World faster than they can come out again becomes a sort of Occult Whack-A-Mole which provides for a very thematic and unique experience that is appropriate for the source material.



There is one gameplay issues that did come up for me in these early plays that’s worth mentioning: the potential swing-i-ness of the difficulty. A couple of the early scenarios were a complete breeze to beat… understandable if they’re supposed to start out easy and ramp up. However, the Demo Scenario (“Quick, Slimer!”) starts with four out of the five gates closed, and essentially the only way to lose is if the single open gate manages to pop out the ghosts in the Spirit World before you close it. We managed to close that gate almost immediately, which means that even though we spent another 20 minutes chasing Slimer around the map (the second part of our victory condition) once the gate was closed there was actually no way for us to *lose*. Slimer led us on a merry chase, but it was a bit off-putting to feel like pinning him down was just a formality, and I kept checking the rules and scenario card to see if there was something I’d missed about an alternate lose-condition.

Also, after pretty-much flying through the first three scenarios of “The Slimer Situation” campaign without breaking a sweat, the #4 scenario simply DESTROYED us. I think the problem lies in the way that the combat rolls and result happen in the game. Attacking a ghost or gate with the proton pack requires a roll on a single six-sided die, often with the goal to get a 4 or higher (so 50% odds). Ghosts generally move randomly as a result of combat rolls, so a missed shot may result in one or more Ghostbusters getting slimed and/or the ghost moving in such a way that it breaks line-of-sight (thus breaking the stream). Most ghosts (and gates) require multiple streams to capture/destroy, and each subsequent attempt to add a stream to a ghost could theoretically result in some or all the previous streams being undone if you fail your 50/50 shot and the ghost moves in a random direction. Sometimes you have a series of lucky rolls and slam through gates or bag a bunch of ghosts… but sometimes you have a streak of bad rolls, and every bad roll creates circumstances that can cause the game to snowball against you (e.g. you lose all your previous proton streams, you get slimed, and/or more ghosts spawn). Now, granted, there’s some nice thematic aspects to have a ghost that you’d almost wrangled squirt out and get away from you… however there doesn’t seem to be any way to actually *mitigate* the luck involved in this. Because of the intentional simplicity of the rules, there is no bonus to flanking ghosts… no way to really maneuver to contain them. You can’t get any bonuses by combining characters’ actions or improve your to-hit by getting closer to the ghosts or aiming better or anything like that. It is always a 50/50 chance with the possibility of unpredictable ghost movement if you miss that could cause you to start from scratch (or worse). So you’ll end up on your turn with the option to shoot a ghost (50/50) or shoot a gate (50/50) and you *need* to attempt these things because that’s how you win the game… but if you attempt either roll and fail, you’ve actually pushed yourself further towards losing the game. Ghosts like Slimer require 4 streams to capture, and it’s very easy to lose him time and time again simply through a couple bad rolls, even if you’re maneuvering your guys and trying to be careful.




In that 4th Slimer scenario, I just couldn't hit anything to save my life for several rounds, and with each miss the game was actually getting harder and harder.

Considering how quickly this snowballing effect (both positive and negative) became apparent in my playthroughs, I can’t help but think it was caught very early in playtesting, which means that either a significant amount of randomness and chaos was meant to be part of the game at the expense of the ability to play tactically, OR there is something that I don’t understand yet about the proper tactics to use. If it’s the former, I can’t help but feel that even a very minor addition to the rules allowing the Ghostbusters to boost their die rolls through some kind of synergy with one-another would enhance my experience by making it feel like I have more control over what happens. If it’s the latter, and I’m just missing an essential part of the game’s strategy, I’d welcome suggestions. And of course I will continue to play through the scenarios and see if I come to any new conclusions.

TLDR; Beautiful components, light, fast, and lean gameply for a miniature game, and a good integration of theme, perhaps a bit heavy on dice randomness(?). Will keep playing before passing judgment but it’s promising, and, as a GB fan, I’m certainly predisposed to like it.

(P.S. This game is aged 15+, but Descent 2nd Ed. which is very complex compared to this, is 14+... and heck, I was playing Battletech at age 12. I think a 12 year old could figure this out for sure)
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Tom Howard
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Thanks for the write-up, Lawson! Can't wait to come over to your place and give it a go!
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Brian M
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Very nice review! thumbsup

The randomness sounds potentially annoying, though if it is a half-hour light game I can put up with a lot of randomness.

Sight..not even a shipping notification for my KS copy yet.
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Andrew Doane
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Looks good! I backed it on KS and am anxiously awaiting my shipping notice! The comments at the KS updates are full of grumpy people who want their games. It's a little calmer here at BGG.
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Thanks for the write up. My 9 year old got into the game quickly and this morning before school he wants to play again when he comes home.If I can get the kids off their electronic attachment, then this game won them over. I would compare this game to Zombicide Season 1. Hopefully they add some item decks, more in game objectives and extra character abilities.
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Daily Grind
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Thanks for the first review. Do you have any thoughts on how the difficulty might swing by player count?

Some co-ops like Arkham get way harder with 2p and some, like Legendary: Aliens seem to get easier with 2p.

(I'm aware you probably haven't played enough to know for sure, but perhaps you have an impression just based on the team mechanics.)
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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cafin8d wrote:
Thanks for the first review. Do you have any thoughts on how the difficulty might swing by player count?

Some co-ops like Arkham get way harder with 2p and some, like Legendary: Aliens seem to get easier with 2p.

(I'm aware you probably haven't played enough to know for sure, but perhaps you have an impression just based on the team mechanics.)
You always use four ghostbusters no matter how many players there are, so there should be no difference.
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Daily Grind
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Quote:
You always use four ghostbusters no matter how many players there are, so there should be no difference.
True. And the lady and I do just that for Arkham, but it just makes things a little more fiddly. Of course... Arkham is pretty fiddly on its own so *shrugs*.
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Mataio Wilson
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Thanks you for taking the time to detail your experience with the game, Lawson. I'm stoked you are enjoying it so far. I can hopefully put some light on your valid concerns and walk you through my process for where it came from.

The randomness from the dice are an ancestral element that I enjoy working with, but adding even a +1 to hit curved the game away from the balance it arrived on. We worked with bonuses for standing a certain way, or at certain distances, but it devolved into players feeling there was only one way to play.

As part of the Kickstarter, we experimented with alternate Ghostbusters that can derive a hit bonus when they failed a shot, or replaced that miss with another Action. That seemed to be the sweet spot. Making Ghosts ramp up in difficulty with higher "To Hit" scores didn't work out in the end if other players had not caught up to the bonuses required to hit them, like asking for a 6 to hit something.

As a hint to tackling Slimer, positioning is key to cut him off if you miss him, but tracking his path towards the next Gate also helps you find a nice spot to turn him around.

Thanks again for supporting the game and for the thoughtful review, I appreciate it!
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Martin Smith
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A great review thanks!

As a big fan of Ghostbusters also, I eventually didn't back this on Kickstarter as I was worried I might be ultimately disappointed when it turned up. [It has happened ...]

But it sounds like it's pretty good - and faithful to how it was represented.

In a couple of respects it sounds a little like 'Arkham Horror supa-lite'. Does it feel like that at all?


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Lawson Deming
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HiMataio wrote:

The randomness from the dice are an ancestral element that I enjoy working with, but adding even a +1 to hit curved the game away from the balance it arrived on. We worked with bonuses for standing a certain way, or at certain distances, but it devolved into players feeling there was only one way to play.
Yes, I can imagine that even a minor tweak to the rules could have unbalanced the game, so this is understandable, and far be it from me as a guy who's only played a few times to critique a system that I assume was arrived at after many rounds of playtesting.

I'm definitely not against some of the randomness as I feel like it works with a game that plays this fast and *does* fit the theme (I'm thinking back to the GBs destroying the hotel ballroom as Slimer bounced around it in the movie).

I'll keep working through the scenarios and will likely learn more about what works and what doesn't tactically.


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Lawson Deming
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As somebody else mentioned, its always 4 ghostbusters, so if there are fewer than 4 players, individuals are controlling more than one character. There is no hidden information between players, so I wouldn't say that its any harder or easier (unless you're playing with someone else who has terrible dice-rolling luck).
 
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Lawson Deming
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smithnewz wrote:


In a couple of respects it sounds a little like 'Arkham Horror supa-lite'. Does it feel like that at all?

It sort-of felt reminiscent of Zombicide, both because of the hordes of enemies that can build up over the course of each mission and also the way you earn experience and level up, earning a new ability with each level. It also has elements of Descent and other dungeon crawls, but I do have to stress that the 'capturing ghosts' aspect of it is pretty unique in the sense that you're not just doing damage to the ghosts until they die... you have to maintain line of sight while adding more streams to them until you capture them, and they can break away from you if you're not careful. It does a pretty good job of making it really feel like Ghostbusters.
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mike christiansen
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I'm surprised that this hasn't gone to backers. I was at my local Hasting's last night and saw this game on the shelf. That would upset me as a backer.
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VonMeister
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megasquidd wrote:
I'm surprised that this hasn't gone to backers. I was at my local Hasting's last night and saw this game on the shelf. That would upset me as a backer.
Please, for the love of all that's good and holy, don't start that thread here. There's enough of it on the KS comments.
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Flavio Santos
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megasquidd wrote:
I'm surprised that this hasn't gone to backers. I was at my local Hasting's last night and saw this game on the shelf. That would upset me as a backer.
I am a backer and I am not upset at all. But I am not a child who get upset just because someone got a toy before I did.
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Flaviorbs wrote:
megasquidd wrote:
I'm surprised that this hasn't gone to backers. I was at my local Hasting's last night and saw this game on the shelf. That would upset me as a backer.
I am a backer and I am not upset at all. But I am not a child who get upset just because someone got a toy before I did.
You might not get upset, but I spent my good money and I feel the need to complain to people who couldn't possibly care less. Companies should reward their kickstarter backers first regardless of whether or not it kills their company and prevents them from making expansions. Kickstarter is a just a gamestore and not as they pretend to be a place to support interesting ideas.

and I hate people who interject sarcastically so please delete this post, I find it the offensive pandering of some SJW.
 
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Martin Gallo
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llyrghmnghyll wrote:
Companies should reward their kickstarter backers first regardless of whether or not it kills their company and prevents them from making expansions.
Well, only if they promised it as part of the campaign.
 
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Yeah man - the company should burn - as long as you get your toys when you want 'em.
Great idea.
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drewpdoane wrote:
Looks good! I backed it on KS and am anxiously awaiting my shipping notice! The comments at the KS updates are full of grumpy people who want their games. It's a little calmer here at BGG.
Kickstarter in general is full of grumpy people.
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HiMataio wrote:
Thanks you for taking the time to detail your experience with the game, Lawson. I'm stoked you are enjoying it so far. I can hopefully put some light on your valid concerns and walk you through my process for where it came from.

The randomness from the dice are an ancestral element that I enjoy working with, but adding even a +1 to hit curved the game away from the balance it arrived on. We worked with bonuses for standing a certain way, or at certain distances, but it devolved into players feeling there was only one way to play.

As part of the Kickstarter, we experimented with alternate Ghostbusters that can derive a hit bonus when they failed a shot, or replaced that miss with another Action. That seemed to be the sweet spot. Making Ghosts ramp up in difficulty with higher "To Hit" scores didn't work out in the end if other players had not caught up to the bonuses required to hit them, like asking for a 6 to hit something.

As a hint to tackling Slimer, positioning is key to cut him off if you miss him, but tracking his path towards the next Gate also helps you find a nice spot to turn him around.

Thanks again for supporting the game and for the thoughtful review, I appreciate it!
The other ghostbuster roles sound interesting. Are there plans to expand these and bring them out in an expansion?
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HiMataio wrote:
Thanks you for taking the time to detail your experience with the game, Lawson. I'm stoked you are enjoying it so far. I can hopefully put some light on your valid concerns and walk you through my process for where it came from.

The randomness from the dice are an ancestral element that I enjoy working with, but adding even a +1 to hit curved the game away from the balance it arrived on. We worked with bonuses for standing a certain way, or at certain distances, but it devolved into players feeling there was only one way to play.

As part of the Kickstarter, we experimented with alternate Ghostbusters that can derive a hit bonus when they failed a shot, or replaced that miss with another Action. That seemed to be the sweet spot. Making Ghosts ramp up in difficulty with higher "To Hit" scores didn't work out in the end if other players had not caught up to the bonuses required to hit them, like asking for a 6 to hit something.

As a hint to tackling Slimer, positioning is key to cut him off if you miss him, but tracking his path towards the next Gate also helps you find a nice spot to turn him around.

Thanks again for supporting the game and for the thoughtful review, I appreciate it!
Have you tried to make it easier to hit a ghost that already has streams on them? I feel it would be easier to hit something that is hold in place by a stream of one of your teammates.

Something like:
If there are 1 or more streams on the ghost, "To Hit" is reduced by one!

That would reflect that it's harder to hit a free floating ghost than one that is hold in place by a proton stream. So the first shot would be a little harder to hit, but all follow ups would have the same difficulty!
It's better than reducing the difficulty for each stream, as that would greatly imbalance the game.
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martimer wrote:
llyrghmnghyll wrote:
Companies should reward their kickstarter backers first regardless of whether or not it kills their company and prevents them from making expansions.
Well, only if they promised it as part of the campaign.
Which they did, several times.
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Zachary Dyer
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Thanks for the review. I too missed out on the kick starter but I'm very excited to eventually get this game.
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Stephen Thomas
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As my copy probably wont arrive for another 2 months, Can you tell me if you think the game was worth $150?; i personally felt i over-payed by $100 just cause it had a GB logo.
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