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Subject: Love Games Not Toys rss

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The Mirror
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Preamble: So I've never really been into toys. Blame it on my lack of imagination or my over abundance of it, but there's just something about plastic figurines (and as a mid-30s person I grew up in the golden age of action figures and very complicated Barbies) that kinda turns me off. But I love strategy games and tactical games, and I really don't mind if the designer seem to work extra hard to get the aesthetics popping. So out comes Blood Rage which I initially ignored because my aforementioned distaste for toys, only to read droves of glowing reviews about the game, and how the figurines were just the icing on the cake. So I picked it up a few months ago at this point, because I wanted to give it time to gestate and to get it to the table with a variety of players and configurations before speaking my mind.

Review: I've played the game maybe 10 times now and some of the things I like about the game include the head games involved in the card drafting, and the battle negotiations between players. These are both nice features of a game that has a lot to do with cards and a lot to do with battles. And as I said, I like these mechanisms, I think that they are nice. And that's about it. I can appreciate that the game is well balanced, there is no real asymmetry outside of the luck involved in the first card that you draft, so balance is fairly easy to accomplish. If pressed I suppose I also like the fact that you're negotiating the benefits of sending your homies up to valhalla versus keeping them on the board, so both death and success in battle have interesting advantages. Meh, it really is a pretty cool game, it's just not great, and I feel like if the toys weren't present for a lot of the fans of this game, or the board was kind of on the small side then the tactics and strategies would wear thin more quickly. Or maybe it's me. Maybe the athematic color block and symbology print and play at the beach is more my style. But really, I can see how much detail is present in each of these toys. They are very detailed. But isn't this more dangerous trope reinforcement than we really need? I mean, the only women protagonists in the game are called Serpents. That's a bit heavy handed, no?

Conclusion: Anyway, I get it, I get why people who enjoy this game do. It feels big, there's a legitimate game in here, not just a dice chucking dungeon crawl with myriad rules and exceptions. Its really quite cleanly designed. And there's a part of me who wants to feel more immersed with the help of components as well, but the depth here simply wasn't enough to help me to overcome my distaste for playing with figurines modest.
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Reid
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Ray Stantz: You mean you never even had a Slinky?

Egon Spengler: We had part of a Slinky. But I straightened it.
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The Mirror
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Good point, actually I love slinkys, just the way they fall down the stairs...
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Patrick G.
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Ha. I have to say.. I love the chrome in the game. I think it almost makes up for the fact that playing to die will usually win.
 
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Kostas K.
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mirror33 wrote:
I mean, the only women protagonists in the game are called Serpents. That's a bit heavy handed, no?


I agree, they should have been more sensitive when naming the clans. I mean, an all male "Boar" clan? We get it, men are pigs... And don't even get me started about the Bears...
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Christopher Corrigan
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I like boardgames and have also played miniatures wargaming (mostly historical like, ancients-successors) some 30 (very) odd years. I do like "toys" but I frankly do not understand the this faux dichotomy. Oh I get it "real gamers" are serious intellectuals who only like ornate dynamic puzzles with some thin veneer of theme Ala Russian Railroads, Marco Polo and such (I "play" those too) Well, whatever gets you through the night self image wise I guess but ... but don't laugh at my toys ... cause ...cause my solder will shoot your railroad chit... dead!
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The Mirror
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I'm not trying to create a dichotomy. For me as a non toy person I feel like I'm playing the game with the pawns creating no positive impact (maaaybe a bit of a small negative one just because I feel like this box could've been smaller with wooden pieces instead) I just don't feel like the game is really all that much of a game. Like I'd prefer full sized cards and printed tokens and a lower price point and less real estate. Do you
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kostool13 wrote:
mirror33 wrote:
I mean, the only women protagonists in the game are called Serpents. That's a bit heavy handed, no?


I agree, they should have been more sensitive when naming the clans. I mean, an all male "Boar" clan? We get it, men are pigs... And don't even get me started about the Bears...


I'm not threatening your chances of getting to Valhalla or your masculinity, just noting the irony of naming the token female tribe serpents.
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Miles Stevenson
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All good points. I like high-quality miniatures because I enjoy painting them. I'm not a very artistic person in general, but I find following the reference art in the game for color schemes an enjoyable process and outlet for me. The other thing I like about miniatures is their flexibility as game components. If you enjoy coming up with your own homebrew game designs, having all the miniature available is often useful. But I'm partially like you when it comes to the feeling of toys. For me that feeling comes from cheap, low quality miniatures that look like they came from the kids section at the drug store. Unfortunately, there are several games I like quite a bit that have miniatures like this. Kemet comes to mind. There was a lot that I liked about the game Heroclix, but I just couldn't get over the feeling that I was just playing with toys.

As for the game design of Blood Rage, I think I agree with you. It's a good game, clean, etc. But it also doesn't feel like a "dudes on a map" game very much to me, so doesn't quite scratch that itch when I have it. I think my favorite "dudes on a map" game right now is Cthulhu Wars, but I know that isn't something that would interest you.

If you haven't tried it yet and you are up for a longer game, I would recommend giving FFG's "A Game of Thrones the Board Game" a try. It's a very smart game, combat is completely deterministic using card-play, and the pieces are like chess pieces instead of plastic miniatures.

In the same vein, if you want something deep, any of the war game designs by Bowen Simmons are a great choice. Napoleon's Triumph is my favorite and I think you might like the look of the pieces and the map.
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Chris Wood
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mirror33 wrote:
kostool13 wrote:
mirror33 wrote:
I mean, the only women protagonists in the game are called Serpents. That's a bit heavy handed, no?


I agree, they should have been more sensitive when naming the clans. I mean, an all male "Boar" clan? We get it, men are pigs... And don't even get me started about the Bears...


I'm not threatening your chances of getting Valhalla or your masculinity, just noting the irony of naming the token female tribe serpents.


It's an 80's He-Man Teela thing. Non-toy guys wouldn't understand.
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Andreas Hemming
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Getting the cheap toy aspect you mention and that's why you HAVE to paint such models to really appreciate them. If not painted I would also prefer wooden bits; just for aesthetic not so much monetary reasons. But with the paintjob you add so much flavour to the game and I find it easier to distinguish one bit from another. So well, you need to start painting thats all
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Myoman wrote:

It's an 80's He-Man Teela thing. Non-toy guys wouldn't understand.


Fair enough
 
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warfinger wrote:
All good points. I like high-quality miniatures because I enjoy painting them. I'm not a very artistic person in general, but I find following the reference art in the game for color schemes an enjoyable process and outlet for me. The other thing I like about miniatures is their flexibility as game components. If you enjoy coming up with your own homebrew game designs, having all the miniature available is often useful. But I'm partially like you when it comes to the feeling of toys. For me that feeling comes from cheap, low quality miniatures that look like they came from the kids section at the drug store. Unfortunately, there are several games I like quite a bit that have miniatures like this. Kemet comes to mind. There was a lot that I liked about the game Heroclix, but I just couldn't get over the feeling that I was just playing with toys.

As for the game design of Blood Rage, I think I agree with you. It's a good game, clean, etc. But it also doesn't feel like a "dudes on a map" game very much to me, so doesn't quite scratch that itch when I have it. I think my favorite "dudes on a map" game right now is Cthulhu Wars, but I know that isn't something that would interest you.

If you haven't tried it yet and you are up for a longer game, I would recommend giving FFG's "A Game of Thrones the Board Game" a try. It's a very smart game, combat is completely deterministic using card-play, and the pieces are like chess pieces instead of plastic miniatures.

In the same vein, if you want something deep, any of the war game designs by Bowen Simmons are a great choice. Napoleon's Triumph is my favorite and I think you might like the look of the pieces and the map.


I really hope that my review didn't come across as an attack on folks who do like Blood Rage for the miniatures, my point was more, the mechanics and enjoyment of the game is a bit flat when you're not geeking on the plastic bits. I totally respect that painting miniatures is a hobby in and of itself and for some the interaction of two hobbies is a dream come true. I get it, I bought (and prefer) the Star Trek re-skin of Mage Knight to the original.

Anyway, cool to think of the miniatures painting thing as a primary creative outlet. I'm in a "creative" field of work and I look to gaming as a way to stretch my analytical mind in my free time so in a way perhaps we're all just trying to find balance.

Thanks for the game recs, I've not really started exploring the world of war games but am curious about them. I have a hard time segregating any of the Tolkein FFG games from the game of thrones FFG games in my mind since the art is so similar and there are so many. The board game, no not that one, no reiner knizia designed the other one, no it's not good...Ill scope them out given a chance.
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Fernando Robert Yu
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While the minis are great, the mechanics and the game is quite fun too. It is indeed a tactical game more than a strategic one, but you CAN come into the game with a general strategy and enact it.
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Becq Starforged
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OP: Have you considered just taking the figures out of the bases, writing the model type onto the base with a sharpie, and playing that way? I mean, it doesn't make sense to me, but if the models are the main thing preventing you from liking the game...

By the way, feel free to send your surplus models to me. I'll spring for shipping!
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Miles Stevenson
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mirror33 wrote:

I really hope that my review didn't come across as an attack on folks who do like Blood Rage for the miniatures, my point was more, the mechanics and enjoyment of the game is a bit flat when you're not geeking on the plastic bits. I totally respect that painting miniatures is a hobby in and of itself and for some the interaction of two hobbies is a dream come true. I get it, I bought (and prefer) the Star Trek re-skin of Mage Knight to the original.

Anyway, cool to think of the miniatures painting thing as a primary creative outlet. I'm in a "creative" field of work and I look to gaming as a way to stretch my analytical mind in my free time so in a way perhaps we're all just trying to find balance.

Thanks for the game recs, I've not really started exploring the world of war games but am curious about them. I have a hard time segregating any of the Tolkein FFG games from the game of thrones FFG games in my mind since the art is so similar and there are so many. The board game, no not that one, no reiner knizia designed the other one, no it's not good...Ill scope them out given a chance.


I certainly didn't take it that way. I think people are just enjoying sharing their own perspective. Anyone else who takes offense, well, that's on them.

You mention Mage Knight, and oh man. I love Mage Knight, but I don't like the WizKids style for graphic design and components. Mage Knight is one of those games that I really wish were published by FFG instead of WizKids. Toy-ish miniatures aside, I think the unintuitive graphic design is one of the reasons that game gets a bad reputation for being too complicated.
 
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Becq wrote:
OP: Have you considered just taking the figures out of the bases, writing the model type onto the base with a sharpie, and playing that way? I mean, it doesn't make sense to me, but if the models are the main thing preventing you from liking the game...

By the way, feel free to send your surplus models to me. I'll spring for shipping!


Haha I'll sell my near mint copy of the game to you for below market value!
 
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warfinger wrote:
mirror33 wrote:

I really hope that my review didn't come across as an attack on folks who do like Blood Rage for the miniatures, my point was more, the mechanics and enjoyment of the game is a bit flat when you're not geeking on the plastic bits. I totally respect that painting miniatures is a hobby in and of itself and for some the interaction of two hobbies is a dream come true. I get it, I bought (and prefer) the Star Trek re-skin of Mage Knight to the original.

Anyway, cool to think of the miniatures painting thing as a primary creative outlet. I'm in a "creative" field of work and I look to gaming as a way to stretch my analytical mind in my free time so in a way perhaps we're all just trying to find balance.

Thanks for the game recs, I've not really started exploring the world of war games but am curious about them. I have a hard time segregating any of the Tolkein FFG games from the game of thrones FFG games in my mind since the art is so similar and there are so many. The board game, no not that one, no reiner knizia designed the other one, no it's not good...Ill scope them out given a chance.


I certainly didn't take it that way. I think people are just enjoying sharing their own perspective. Anyone else who takes offense, well, that's on them.

You mention Mage Knight, and oh man. I love Mage Knight, but I don't like the WizKids style for graphic design and components. Mage Knight is one of those games that I really wish were published by FFG instead of WizKids. Toy-ish miniatures aside, I think the unintuitive graphic design is one of the reasons that game gets a bad reputation for being too complicated.


I love Mage Knight too and actually really dislike the theme and the components but that's an example of a game being so interesting to me that I can transcend my petty aesthetic snobbery. With Star Trek: Frontiers some of the problems are remedied and others made more problematic but as a low key but dedicated Trekkie I'm more into it. But yeah basically any decent developer/publisher would do a better job.
 
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I don't know what's worse, Through the Ages having two entries on the rankings list or this hobby being flooded with games that, with the addition of higher quality thematic components, are reduced to nothing more than a childs toy, to be poked, prodded, and loved by those with inferior intelligence and questionable taste.

Heed this warning. Many years ago, one of our dnd players suggested we get miniatures to replace the old jar of coins to "enhance the experience" during encounters. Just the suggestion of bringing toys into the game destroyed it forever.

A couple of the others stopped coming to the sessions. One claimed illness kept him away, but we all knew it was to avoid the possibility of playing with toys. The other just seemed to wander off, muttering soft no's to himself as he disappeared into the mist.

We thought it was an isolated incident, but alas, it was not. Today, there is no table that has hosted the roll of a d20 and not also felt the tapping of a plastic base across it's surface.

Very recently, I succumbed to this disease as well. The Starter box for Battletech clearly states that you can use anything as a representation of your mech on the field... but then it also includes many high quality miniatures that you can use instead. Too late did I realize the trap, it's poisonous barbs secured deep beneath my skin.

Following that, there were hours, even whole days, that would be consumed playing with toys. Battletech, board games, dnd, it didn't matter. They were mine and I was their's. I welcomed every opportunity to play with these physical representations of the intended theme despite the toll it would take.

Beware that this doesn't happen to you as well. It took the help of many friends and family, some of whom will never speak to me again, but now I am finally clean.

When it gets tough, I just repeat over and over, "Love games, not toys, love games, not toys..." until the desire for more unique theme in a game's components recedes. I do this and I stay strong.



I know this post is pretty ridiculous but none of it is as awful as Through the Ages having two entries. Let's get that fixed first.


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lanothe wrote:

I don't know what's worse, Through the Ages having two entries on the rankings list or this hobby being flooded with games that, with the addition of higher quality thematic components, are reduced to nothing more than a childs toy, to be poked, prodded, and loved by those with inferior intelligence and questionable taste.

Heed this warning. Many years ago, one of our dnd players suggested we get miniatures to replace the old jar of coins to "enhance the experience" during encounters. Just the suggestion of bringing toys into the game destroyed it forever.

A couple of the others stopped coming to the sessions. One claimed illness kept him away, but we all knew it was to avoid the possibility of playing with toys. The other just seemed to wander off, muttering soft no's to himself as he disappeared into the mist.

We thought it was an isolated incident, but alas, it was not. Today, there is no table that has hosted the roll of a d20 and not also felt the tapping of a plastic base across it's surface.

Very recently, I succumbed to this disease as well. The Starter box for Battletech clearly states that you can use anything as a representation of your mech on the field... but then it also includes many high quality miniatures that you can use instead. Too late did I realize the trap, it's poisonous barbs secured deep beneath my skin.

Following that, there were hours, even whole days, that would be consumed playing with toys. Battletech, board games, dnd, it didn't matter. They were mine and I was their's. I welcomed every opportunity to play with these physical representations of the intended theme despite the toll it would take.

Beware that this doesn't happen to you as well. It took the help of many friends and family, some of whom will never speak to me again, but now I am finally clean.

When it gets tough, I just repeat over and over, "Love games, not toys, love games, not toys..." until the desire for more unique theme in a game's components recedes. I do this and I stay strong.



I know this post is pretty ridiculous but none of it is as awful as Through the Ages having two entries. Let's get that fixed first.




Haha

I don't personally think that viking toys indicate a particular uniqueness. The figures in scythe, for instance, don't bother me as much, perhaps I just respond better to animal figurines.

But seriously, I think that playing games for me, even when "thematic" are more about the strategic mechanisms than story-driven escapism. I prefer Pandemic Legacy (with the evolving game mechanisms) to T.I.M.E. Stories which just plays out like a story with game elements. That said, both of the above games have more appealing pieces than Blood Rage for me.

N.B. I don't think toys and intelligence are mutually exclusive.
 
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mirror33 wrote:
..my point was more, the mechanics and enjoyment of the game is a bit flat when you're not geeking on the plastic bits.
I disagree. Eric Lang doesn't start a design with minis on hand, ever. He designs the best game in his mind without the minis and this is one good design.

It is based on a previous game by him, Midgard, which is a cards and pawns, strategy heavy, "El Grande"-like area control game which was somewhat well regarded (watch Joel Eddy's review).

This game is in my mind very clearly better than Midgard and thus much more than the "toys" that come with it. I'm sure it plays great with only cubes.
 
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Espinoza wrote:
mirror33 wrote:
..my point was more, the mechanics and enjoyment of the game is a bit flat when you're not geeking on the plastic bits.
I disagree. Eric Lang doesn't start a design with minis on hand, ever. He designs the best game in his mind without the minis and this is one good design.

It is based on a previous game by him, Midgard, which is a cards and pawns, strategy heavy, "El Grande"-like area control game which was somewhat well regarded (watch Joel Eddy's review).

This game is in my mind very clearly better than Midgard and thus much more than the "toys" that come with it. I'm sure it plays great with only cubes.


As noted somewhere above, it's a fine game. I just feel like by virtue of the fact that it's one of the strategically better games with actually high quality miniatures, the game has garnered credibility from those who would rate the game more favorably for either strength, and given that I don't care for the miniatures I rate this as overpriced and overhyped in comparison to a game like Scythe (for example) which I feel has game mechanics which transcend its components.

I would happily pay $20 for a travel edition of Blood Rage sans the toys but the MSRP places it squarely in the realm of the trading block for me. Just my personal cost/benefit analysis.
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chaon choan
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same issue with the new hype game Conan.
a nice game with lot of toys. but the game itself is duh.

 
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Miles Stevenson
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choan wrote:
same issue with the new hype game Conan.
a nice game with lot of toys. but the game itself is duh.



I haven't played Conan, but the review from Shut Up & Sit Down makes it seem like the game itself is actually quite good. The resource management for both the heroes and the overlord player seem interesting without being over-wrought.

I think most of the complaints about the game are that they removed the rampant racism from the source material, but felt the need to keep the abundance of sexism.
 
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I found the review very useful. I enjoy chrome and wouldn't mind have some awesome Cthulhu instead on a chit on some of my games. goo

But in the FB BGG group 9 out of 10 pictures of blood rage are "look at my painted minis" whereas other games' pictures depict and tell an exciting endgame or catch 22 board situation. I didn't even know this game had cards until I got here to snoop around a bit.

Make it 10 out of 10. And there are lots of them.
 
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