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Subject: This Amazon game review makes me sad, any other similar sad stories? rss

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CARL SKUTSCH
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It's a review for Endeavor, a game I'd like to get my paws on but am not quite willing to pay inflated prices for a used copy. (Not saying the prices are unfair, just more than I feel like paying... today.)

The reviewer, a Mr/Ms. B Lustig is very unhappy with this "very complicated" game whose rules require "analytical geniuses" to understand and play.

Sure, a part of my reason for posting is that I feel a small sense of smug superiority. We're not talking about a heavy game. Endeavor is rated 2.9, pure medium. And yes, I realize that's me being kinda petty. I'm used to these kinds of games, the Lustig family isn't. It's no crime to not want to play complicated games.

But the main thing is the unfairness of it all. Here is the Lustig family with this game they can't stand, sitting on one corner of their gaming shelf (alongside Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly), staring back at them with malignant ire. And here I am, surrounded by only a few lonely games (ok, about 160), and wanting desperately to get my hands on that copy of Endeavor.

Life is perverse.

Do any of the rest of you have similar sad stories of the right game finding it's way into the hands of the wrong people?


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Maybe you could politely offer to reimburse them for their cost and take the game off of their hands?
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Trevor Sinnott
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I think you should make a poll about this.
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This Amazon game review makes me sad, any other similar sad stories? : THE POLL!

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Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery

This one dates back to when this was impossible to find:



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Their criticism is completely justified.

Board game manuals are written by people who can't write. They are designed for people who have played oodles of other board games and understand the mechanics that they attempt to replicate. A lot is taken for granted in manuals.

If you're new to the hobby, poor manuals can completely ruin a game. This is exactly why publishers need professional writers.

Obviously this is less applicable to this older game since it's currently out of print, but imagine if every game came with a manual written by a professional. Not only that, but every manual had an instructional video professionally made by the same writer. There would be a little blurb at the start of the manual that said something like: "Are you a visual learner? Skip the manual and head over to blahblahblah.blah and check out our video tutorial! Families could load up the video on their iPad and learn the game in 10-15 minutes! It would be magical.

The manual is the gateway to the game. If you can't even get through that then how can you enjoy the game? We've learned to put up with this crap . . . the average consumer has not. Seriously, I've seen people praise manuals in this hobby that are, from a professional point-of-view, complete shit. The Endeavor manual isn't too bad, mind you, but I know it can be made MUCH better.

I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.
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Rich Keiser
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skutsch wrote:
It's a review for Endeavor, a game I'd like to get my paws on but am not quite willing to pay inflated prices for a used copy. (Not saying the prices are unfair, just more than I feel like paying... today.)

The reviewer, a Mr/Ms. B Lustig is very unhappy with this "very complicated" game whose rules require "analytical geniuses" to understand and play.

Sure, a part of my reason for posting is that I feel a small sense of smug superiority. We're not talking about a heavy game. Endeavor is rated 2.9, pure medium. And yes, I realize that's me being kinda petty. I'm used to these kinds of games, the Lustig family isn't. It's no crime to not want to play complicated games.

But the main thing is the unfairness of it all. Here is the Lustig family with this game they can't stand, sitting on one corner of their gaming shelf (alongside Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly), staring back at them with malignant ire. And here I am, surrounded by only a few lonely games (ok, about 160), and wanting desperately to get my hands on that copy of Endeavor.

Life is perverse.

Do any of the rest of you have similar sad stories of the right game finding it's way into the hands of the wrong people?




William Lustig?

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0527350/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Rich Keiser
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broken clock wrote:
Their criticism is completely justified.

Board game manuals are written by people who can't write. They are designed for people who have played oodles of other board games and understand the mechanics that they attempt to replicate. A lot is taken for granted in manuals.

If you're new to the hobby, poor manuals can completely ruin a game. This is exactly why publishers need professional writers.

Obviously this is less applicable to this older game since it's currently out of print, but imagine if every game came with a manual written by a professional. Not only that, but every manual had an instructional video professionally made by the same writer. There would be a little blurb at the start of the manual that said something like: "Are you a visual learner? Skip the manual and head over to blahblahblah.blah and check out our video tutorial! Families could load up the video on their iPad and learn the game in 10-15 minutes! It would be magical.

The manual is the gateway to the game. If you can't even get through that then how can you enjoy the game? We've learned to put up with this crap . . . the average consumer has not. Seriously, I've seen people praise manuals in this hobby that are, from a professional point-of-view, complete shit. The Endeavor manual isn't too bad, mind you, but I know it can be made MUCH better.

I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.


Most rulebooks are written for their audience... not necessarily a general audience. Specific shorthand, required knowledge, etc. is assumed, as it should be, for most advanced games like Endeavor. I'm not saying Endev is a hard game, but it isn't targeted towards the newb set, although a newb with some gaming experience could get it.

As a matter of fact, I remember the Endeavor rulebook being rather well written for gamers, although the setup steps were cumbersome.

I don't think that everything needs to be dummed down or dialed down for every audience. Some things require work, and it appears that this reviewer wasn't keen on that level of effort.

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Gregory Theriot
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A little bit less dramatic of a review, but for an even simpler game...

This review for Carcassonne: South Seas

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Bryan Thunkd
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It's easy to sit on this side of the table and mock non-gamers/new gamers who struggle with rulebooks. But we've all had lots of experience playing games. Every game we learn builds on our knowledge of other games. Concepts that we take for granted might be novel concepts for new gamers. If you don't have a lot of experience with games and you don't have someone teaching you the game, then a lot of the rules might be confusing.

Imagine someone whose entire experience of boardgames was limited to Clue and Monopoly, and who likely been taught those games as opposed to learning them from a rulebook, being confronted by this:
Endeavor Rulebook wrote:
During the Build Phase, each player must choose one Building Tile from those available in the stockpile, and add it to an empty building space on their Player Board. Each player’s Industry score determines their Build Level. Each building belongs to one of the five Build Levels, indicated by an icon on its tile. Players may only choose a building if it is from a Build Level equal to or lower than their current Build Level. (If no such building remains, players may choose a building that is from the next Build Level up.)

Players may build duplicates of buildings that they already have.
Players may not choose any building from Build Level 5 if they have already built a Level 5 building.
Some buildings feature one or more Industry, Culture, Finance, and Politics icons. When buildings featuring such icons are built, the player increases their score in the corresponding track.
I can see them struggling with this. Build level? Industry score? Wait, what? And they're probably coming into this with the idea that board games are for kids. This wasn't nearly what they were expecting. So instead of being in the mode of "Let's figure this out" they're approaching it with the mindset of "There's no way a kid could figure this out!"

If they had someone to teach it to them and walk them over the bits they'd stumble on, or if they had experience with games and had learned the skill of learning board games, then this would be a much easier experience for them.

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Andrew Berry
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I'll let Chaz Marler take this... If you haven't seen this you must. Go to about 4:20 for the Amazon reviews.
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Trevor Taylor
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broken clock wrote:


I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.


Many companies make a living on running training courses (in-person and on-line) in subjects that the teachers don't necessarily know apart from to teach the subject. The best teachers aren't necessarily the person best at doing something. So I'd go one step further than this and say they should hire a Training Company to write professional training 'manuals' for game. However, this would, of course cost them far more money and increase the cost of games too much for this to be a realistic goal, but one can dream.

I always liked the adage from school that if you can't cleanly and simply explain something to someone, then you don't fully understand it yourself. However, this breaks down when you get to extremely complex concepts and are explaining it to children or simpletons (for different reasons - I'm not suggesting all children are simpletons shake). I wouldn't say the games mentioned so far fall into that 'complex' wheelhouse, but I can understand why someone who bought a game with the same cover as a game his son likes being disappointed when it's 'too complex' for them to learn.

He was a bit irresponsible to not understand a little bit more about something before buying it for his son (the game is nothing like the video game except for 'maybe' some basic theme-ing). However the game doesn't have the best manual and is a lot to take in if you've only ever played Monopoly and the like before. It's easy for us nowadays to understand the concepts and rules behind it, but if this were my first ever 'modern' board game, I would've taken a long while to learn this.
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darthhugo wrote:
broken clock wrote:
Their criticism is completely justified.

Board game manuals are written by people who can't write. They are designed for people who have played oodles of other board games and understand the mechanics that they attempt to replicate. A lot is taken for granted in manuals.

If you're new to the hobby, poor manuals can completely ruin a game. This is exactly why publishers need professional writers.

Obviously this is less applicable to this older game since it's currently out of print, but imagine if every game came with a manual written by a professional. Not only that, but every manual had an instructional video professionally made by the same writer. There would be a little blurb at the start of the manual that said something like: "Are you a visual learner? Skip the manual and head over to blahblahblah.blah and check out our video tutorial! Families could load up the video on their iPad and learn the game in 10-15 minutes! It would be magical.

The manual is the gateway to the game. If you can't even get through that then how can you enjoy the game? We've learned to put up with this crap . . . the average consumer has not. Seriously, I've seen people praise manuals in this hobby that are, from a professional point-of-view, complete shit. The Endeavor manual isn't too bad, mind you, but I know it can be made MUCH better.

I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.


Most rulebooks are written for their audience... not necessarily a general audience. Specific shorthand, required knowledge, etc. is assumed, as it should be, for most advanced games like Endeavor. I'm not saying Endev is a hard game, but it isn't targeted towards the newb set, although a newb with some gaming experience could get it.

As a matter of fact, I remember the Endeavor rulebook being rather well written for gamers, although the setup steps were cumbersome.

I don't think that everything needs to be dummed down or dialed down for every audience. Some things require work, and it appears that this reviewer wasn't keen on that level of effort.



Heck, if a publisher only wants to have their games be consumed by "gamers" than they are doing it right when they are writing rulebooks only for their audience.

Sort of elitist? maybe
Bad business? yup
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Hugh Wyeth
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broken clock wrote:
Their criticism is completely justified.

Board game manuals are written by people who can't write. They are designed for people who have played oodles of other board games and understand the mechanics that they attempt to replicate. A lot is taken for granted in manuals.

If you're new to the hobby, poor manuals can completely ruin a game. This is exactly why publishers need professional writers.

Obviously this is less applicable to this older game since it's currently out of print, but imagine if every game came with a manual written by a professional. Not only that, but every manual had an instructional video professionally made by the same writer. There would be a little blurb at the start of the manual that said something like: "Are you a visual learner? Skip the manual and head over to blahblahblah.blah and check out our video tutorial! Families could load up the video on their iPad and learn the game in 10-15 minutes! It would be magical.

The manual is the gateway to the game. If you can't even get through that then how can you enjoy the game? We've learned to put up with this crap . . . the average consumer has not. Seriously, I've seen people praise manuals in this hobby that are, from a professional point-of-view, complete shit. The Endeavor manual isn't too bad, mind you, but I know it can be made MUCH better.

I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.


100% correct.

I wonder if BGGers just can't remember reading their first hobbyist board game manual? My first was Kingdom Builders. If you've never played a hobby board game before, you come to the game with a lot of preconceptions about how games work. With Kingdom Builders, I spent ages trying to find out where a player started- did you have to start in an area touching the side of the board? I couldn't find the information at all so proceeded as I assumed you should and made my first area touch the edge. Only after a few plays through (having taken 1 hour to figure out the game) did I realise that you start wherever you like, that's part of the strategy. But that makes zero sense to someone who's played Risk or Monopoly (or even Warhammer) before, where you have predetermined start points.

If you've played loads of hobbyist board games before then rulebooks are very easy to read. If you haven't they're almost impenetrable. I think this is a major block to having the games we love become mainstream- they're just inaccessible to most people.

bookwo3107 wrote:
A little bit less dramatic of a review, but for an even simpler game...

This review for Carcassonne: South Seas



Carcassonne was one of my earlier games and it took me a while to realise how you do keep track of "your" stuff. I didn't get how you could see what you had built without having a meeple stay on the board in your city/road/abbey.
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Gregory Theriot
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Yeah I realized that this sounds like I'm laughing at them but I agree with the overall consensus that game manuals are hard to decipher.

I mostly just feel sad that these people are missing out on quality games - ones that are really not all that complicated - because they feel frustrated and just give up.
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Ryan James
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The best one ever was for Caylus:

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Sandmanx82 wrote:
The best one ever was for Caylus:



Shall we run a pool to guess how many of the 22 comments on this review are basically calling the reviewer stupid?

PS I felt like an idiot when I struggled through reading this entire review before realising the zoom button was right there...
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broken clock wrote:
Their criticism is completely justified.

Board game manuals are written by people who can't write. They are designed for people who have played oodles of other board games and understand the mechanics that they attempt to replicate. A lot is taken for granted in manuals.

If you're new to the hobby, poor manuals can completely ruin a game. This is exactly why publishers need professional writers.

Obviously this is less applicable to this older game since it's currently out of print, but imagine if every game came with a manual written by a professional. Not only that, but every manual had an instructional video professionally made by the same writer. There would be a little blurb at the start of the manual that said something like: "Are you a visual learner? Skip the manual and head over to blahblahblah.blah and check out our video tutorial! Families could load up the video on their iPad and learn the game in 10-15 minutes! It would be magical.

The manual is the gateway to the game. If you can't even get through that then how can you enjoy the game? We've learned to put up with this crap . . . the average consumer has not. Seriously, I've seen people praise manuals in this hobby that are, from a professional point-of-view, complete shit. The Endeavor manual isn't too bad, mind you, but I know it can be made MUCH better.

I honestly believe that if publishers started hiring professional writers there would be a very large surge in the industry and they would be rewarded with record profits.

"Any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan." It's not the fault of the consumer.


There are bad manuals, sure, but I don't think that's the case here at all. And even the bad manuals I've read come down to format issues or lack of visual aids.

Even if the extent of your boardgame experience is Monopoly you still know what a turn is, you know about moving pieces and so on. You know what all the components are, what to pick up and put down.

The real problem here is trying to learn the game in a group environment. This is the absolute WORST way to accomplish it. I have left the table when someone suggests a game nobody has played and someone has to read the book aloud while we all twiddle our thumbs. There's no advice I can offer you in this situation, I'm just sitting there while you try to grasp something we're all unfamiliar with.

And the reviewer mentioned this straight up. That maybe the best thing to do was find someone who played the game before. Except the simplest of party games there should always be someone who has gone through a couple turns by themselves and read the entire manual. There's nothing worse in this entire hobby than to gather a group, pop the shrink wrap, and sit around the fire scratching your heads for 60 minutes before giving up entirely.
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A friend of mine bought Lord of the Rings about 10-or-so years ago as her first modern game ever. She was really into Tolkien etc hence the purchase.

She and her husband read the rules and she found the game so difficult to figure out that it literally brought her to tears.

I think that's why there exist "gateway" games like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Catan... THOSE are the games non/new gamers should be starting with. Definitely not a medium-weight game like Endeavor. Rather, an SdJ-type game that is meant to be opened up by a family and played right away, out of the box, reading from the rules.
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Rules are a teaching tool, and like a teacher, you have to adapt to every possible type of person. For me, and I am really generalising here, there are two basic types of logic, the mathematical type , and the more artistic / literary type. Not that a mathematician can't be artistic and vice versa. Very often, I find rule books to be biased towards the more scientific / mathematical type of logic. I just don't see the world in that way, and what is self evident to those with that type of logic, ain't obvious to me !!!

I am sure that rule books will get better and better though. I get the impression that it is becoming more important to publishers.
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To be fair to the Endeavor review, the game is extremely abstract, and is a perfect example of "pasted on theme". It's one of those "point salad" games. It is far from an ideal gateway game.
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Gary Barnett
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Mere number of pages defeated this reviewer and resulted in a terribly unfair one star for Imperial Settlers...

Quote:

Top critical review
0 of 42 people found this helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
One Star
Bymadge10on 30 July 2015
14 page set of instructions!!!!!!!!!!! Did not play it. Gave it to my son to decipher.

Now, if it had been for the rule book for Robinson Crusoe....
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Husky Seahawk wrote:
I'll let Chaz Marler take this... If you haven't seen this you must. Go to about 4:20 for the Amazon reviews.


Thanks for sharing. This really brought a laugh.
How many people are you holding a grudge against, lady!?
laughlaughlaugh
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If you really want to cry, you should read the negative reviews of Sushi Go!.

For example:

Quote:
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment - not for casual pick up and play card gamers

We're huge fans of quick play games like Uno or Exploding Kittens which this game shares in style and recommendations on Amazon but is far from.
I expected more from such a highly reviewed card game but the rules make it extremely confusing with multiple rounds of drafting cards, confusing non-listed card values, and above all REQUIRED score keeping which is just annoying for a card game. My kids, their cousins, and I ended up giving up after reading the poorly written rules and trying it out.

Games like this are good for hardcore card or avid gamers but not for casual games that want to play with friends that can learn easily after a brief explanation.
Too bad, the art is cute, but returning this. In the future I'll likely stay away from this manufacturers games knowing their games are not created for casual players.


Quote:
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of $$

Waste of $$, Was so excited to buy this game for my 9 and 11 yr old who love sushi, this game is terrible! Instructions are unclear, there is too much focus on point system to even bein game , sadly we will return!
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I think the review is the natural consequence of mainstream publications recommending non-gateway games. Whoever wrote the article obviously didn't have the right audience in mind. I think the SFChronicle is to blame here.
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