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Subject: Inadequate Play Testing rss

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Great gaming system/process. Very thematic. Good card design. But inadequately play testing and little support.

Winning a mission is ridiculously difficult and totally dependent on luck - the draw of the obstacles and the event deck. If you are lucking in your draws on the event deck, then you might win. But their is huge variation in the difficulty in the cards in the event deck. Additionally, a number of the normal (one bullet) obstacles are as challenging or even more difficult than some of the harder (two bullet) obstacles. So again the difficulty of the game is not only random, it is random with a very wide range of difficulties.It feels like you should roll a die and only play if a 1 comes up.

This is a game of character advancement, vaguely similar to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. But it reality, to advance to a level that lets you finally win some games, you have to play lots of mission fails, hoping that your team did not go critical (dead) so that you get a minor point that will eventually add up to an improvement. Not motivating. Not fun.

Additionally, they put out very few missions including the download mission) and expect you to play the same one again and again to advance. Yawn. Huge fail here. The game developers should have put out a lot more missions to make it less boring.

The overall feel is that the general game design and art is good but that the developers rushed this to production. Some of the talk is they only play tested it amongst themselves and with a small group of friends. That is unfortunate because this could have been a good have been a good game ... but it fails. A couple of minor rule changes could have made it a game more folks want to play (not just Shadowrun loyalists) and that would have been a simple website downloadable product. But the producers of the game gave up. They put out an expansion that didn't fix anything. A new expansion is supposed to be coming out that provide more missions that should have been included in the basic game or quickly made downloadable for free.

A major disappointment. I keep hoping they'll fix it so I keep it but will only play it with some 'house rules' added that fix some of their broken game problems.
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David Ainsworth
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I felt that the expansion goes a ways towards fixing a lot of those issues you had. They added lots more enemies, diluting the cards so a couple of particularly problematic (though by no means unbeatable) enemies would be less likely to pop up. There was a good number of new scenarios, which felt different and varied enough from Crossfire that I had absolutely zero complaints there. And some of those new black market cards are insanely powerful, making the game overall quite a bit easier I felt.

Although, in regards to difficulty, once you figure it out your win rate does shoot up. The more I played the more I felt like it was really, really well balanced, and that was before the expansion. I do like the game better with it, though.

That said, I do think they should have included easier scenarios from the beginning. The learning curve is more like a cliff.
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Reggie P
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Busstop wrote:
Winning a mission is ridiculously difficult and totally dependent on luck - the draw of the obstacles and the event deck. If you are lucking in your draws on the event deck, then you might win.


If that is a problem for you, then of course you won't like this game very much as it is. I find the wild difficulty swings very refreshing. I am very tired of Dominion-type deckbuilders that are much more deterministic.

Busstop wrote:
This is a game of character advancement, vaguely similar to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. But it reality, to advance to a level that lets you finally win some games, you have to play lots of mission fails, hoping that your team did not go critical (dead) so that you get a minor point that will eventually add up to an improvement. Not motivating. Not fun.


This is one of the aspects that I find most appealing about it. I really love the challenge of an insanely difficult game, but most games out there are to the left of this one on the bell curve of how maddeningly difficult they are. I applaud the designers and publisher for having the stones to bring this game to market.

Busstop wrote:
Additionally, they put out very few missions including the download mission) and expect you to play the same one again and again to advance. Yawn. Huge fail here. The game developers should have put out a lot more missions to make it less boring.


A lot of people made a similar argument with a Games Workshop game called Assassinorum: Execution Force, and I felt the same way about that as I do about the missions in this game: I'm happy to play the basic mission again and again, because that's not where the designers felt it was important to put most of the game's variance. Rather, I appreciate the variance from play to play that occurs through the black market and the enemy decks. Granted, it's possible for the mission to add some nice changes of pace, and this is definitely some design space that I hope gets explored in the future.

Busstop wrote:
The overall feel is that the general game design and art is good but that the developers rushed this to production. Some of the talk is they only play tested it amongst themselves and with a small group of friends.


Is there anything you can point to that supports this claim?

Busstop wrote:
That is unfortunate because this could have been a good have been a good game ... but it fails. A couple of minor rule changes could have made it a game more folks want to play (not just Shadowrun loyalists) and that would have been a simple website downloadable product.


I am not a Shadowrun loyalist. The only other exposure to the universe that I have was through the Sega Genesis game that was published 22 years ago, and I really really like this game.

Busstop wrote:
But the producers of the game gave up. They put out an expansion that didn't fix anything.


The expansion is awesome. That is all.

Busstop wrote:
A major disappointment. I keep hoping they'll fix it so I keep it but will only play it with some 'house rules' added that fix some of their broken game problems.


To each their own! I'm glad that you are able to bring the game to a state that still allows you to get some enjoyment from it.
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Mark Blasco

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I'll also chime in to say that the game is crazy hard when you first try it, but once you get the hang of it, it's not nearly as difficult as it seems. It's still very hard, but at a level that feels rewarding.

I agree with the idea that there should have been more missions with the base set, and a few that were much easier. There are easy ways to help with this, mainly reducing the number of enemies that come out each round by one.

To say that it's not balanced and purely based on luck is just not correct. There are some aspects that swing things one way or another, but that is part of the game, dealing with challenges that constantly change.

As for the single bullet enemies that are as hard as the double bullet enemies, you'll find with those that they give you a lot more money, which is where the balance is. You may have a really hard fight, but you'll end up with a really nice reward.
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Paul Hackman
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I enjoy how difficult it is. I love the fact that you have to fight through a few missions just hoping to survive an abort in order to get a few XP. Once you buy that first upgrade things get a lot easier so I'm glad you have to work for it. To me this is incredibly thematic.

Since each time you play it's a totally different challenge based on which cards and which weapons you get, I don't have a problem with the number of missions. It's not like a scenario in a dungeon crawl where once you beat it, you've figured it out. Each time through is a totally different puzzle. If they never published another mission I'd be fine, though I'll try out the ones in the expansion.

Getting one of those difficult one bullet enemies early can make the game much easier. If you get enough money to get one of the top level weapons early it's a huge boost. I'd much rather see a card that gets me money than a card that is easy to beat.
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Mark Blasco

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One additional thought, is that this type of a game doesn't lend itself to a standard "campaign" style play, because the mechanics make things very random. The leveling up aspect is almost tacked on, but by having it in there, it does make the game feel like there should be more missions, or a story, or whatnot.

Instead of leveling up, they should have had the stickers be used in reverse. Add stickers to your character when you start, and as you get better, to adjust the difficulty level, remove them until you are playing with no additions.

I know that at one point, I started a new character with a bunch of stickers just because I wanted to play some of the harder missions, and didn't want to go through the crossfire mission a few dozen times in order to do it. If there was more of a campaign, I would have happily played through the early missions again in order to level up.
 
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Busstop wrote:
Great gaming system/process. Very thematic. Good card design. But inadequately play testing and little support.

Winning a mission is ridiculously difficult and totally dependent on luck - the draw of the obstacles and the event deck. If you are lucking in your draws on the event deck, then you might win. But their is huge variation in the difficulty in the cards in the event deck. Additionally, a number of the normal (one bullet) obstacles are as challenging or even more difficult than some of the harder (two bullet) obstacles. So again the difficulty of the game is not only random, it is random with a very wide range of difficulties.It feels like you should roll a die and only play if a 1 comes up.

This is a game of character advancement, vaguely similar to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. But it reality, to advance to a level that lets you finally win some games, you have to play lots of mission fails, hoping that your team did not go critical (dead) so that you get a minor point that will eventually add up to an improvement. Not motivating. Not fun.

Additionally, they put out very few missions including the download mission) and expect you to play the same one again and again to advance. Yawn. Huge fail here. The game developers should have put out a lot more missions to make it less boring.

The overall feel is that the general game design and art is good but that the developers rushed this to production. Some of the talk is they only play tested it amongst themselves and with a small group of friends. That is unfortunate because this could have been a good have been a good game ... but it fails. A couple of minor rule changes could have made it a game more folks want to play (not just Shadowrun loyalists) and that would have been a simple website downloadable product. But the producers of the game gave up. They put out an expansion that didn't fix anything. A new expansion is supposed to be coming out that provide more missions that should have been included in the basic game or quickly made downloadable for free.

A major disappointment. I keep hoping they'll fix it so I keep it but will only play it with some 'house rules' added that fix some of their broken game problems.


There is a start mission that was used for demo's. It's hosted here on BGG , "Ambulators". This is far better than the Crossfire Mission for learning.

I think the majority of co-op games have a level of luck built into them. I can't think of a single co-op game where you can 100% win every time if played correctly. Even solitaire is not 100% winnable.

The difficulty is high. That's true. Experienced gamers will all say that. But show me an easy co-op game, and i bet it's not played very much. Legendary Encounters is not easy, but that has never disturbed my groups.

Repeating missions sounded like a dealbreaker before I played, but it's really just a structure.


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Tor Iver Wilhelmsen
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Busstop wrote:
Additionally, they put out very few missions including the download mission) and expect you to play the same one again and again to advance. Yawn. Huge fail here. The game developers should have put out a lot more missions to make it less boring.

Why? 90% of games out there has only one mission anyway. If replaying the same few missions is boring, isn't playing any of the single-mission board games (like Pandemic) even more boring?
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Pauli Vinni
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Yep, I think that 99% of the board games has only one mission. Pandemic is one good choise, twiligtht trugle another. Heck, top ten board game geek games Are single scenario games. 11 is the highest game that has several scenarios at this moment...
And this game is playtested. And it is easier than for example Ghost Stories that is very popular, very well planned and and very, very difficult!
But not everyone like hard games, so it is fair to say that the game is really hard, because it is it. We win about 50% of the games at this moment, so for our playing croup the game seems to be too easy, but that is just illusion because we have not started to play those harder scenarios yet, so we know that we will get crushed totally if we want it to happen! And there you Are right, Many scenarios offer even more challenge to the players, who think that base game is too easy to them so, having Many scenarios is good. But crosfire we have not run out scenarios so far. There Are enough really hard scenarios to keep us playing for, long long time.
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Tristan Hall
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Busstop wrote:
Great gaming system/process. Very thematic. Good card design. But inadequately play testing and little support.


Download and play the Ambulators mission from the file section. It's designed specifically for noobs who are struggling to beat the game. cool
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Chris Alton
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Shots fired
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Tristan Hall
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The Painted Goblin wrote:
Shots fired


I should probably have clarified that I was once one of those noobs...
Congrats on your Citizenship Recognition Chris - you's been Recognised as all hell yo!
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Chris Alton
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Thanks matey, it all happened just around the time of the UK Games Expo so I must have made an impression laugh

And yes, we were all noobs once, and this game can definitely punish you. My own efforts were greatly enhanced after reading this tips thread.

Of course, anyone is entitled to their own opinion - mine is that this is a fine game and is in my top 5.
I can't say for sure because the OP hasn't declared how many games they've played, but to claim a game has been inadequately play tested, you must first have racked up dozens of plays at least.
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Thanee
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Busstop wrote:
Winning a mission is ridiculously difficult and totally dependent on luck - the draw of the obstacles and the event deck. If you are lucking in your draws on the event deck, then you might win. But their is huge variation in the difficulty in the cards in the event deck.


While it is true, that there is quite some variation depending on which cards you draw (esp. Encounter and Crossfire cards), it is not that luck-dependent as you might think.

My runner team of two (which is quite a bit harder than playing with four already) is sitting at 14 wins and 0 losses against the Crossfire mission using the official rules so far (and no, I am neither playing the game wrong, nor am I cheating). One of those wins was a very lucky break, but the others were not. There were easier games and there were harder games, i.e. the aforementioned variation, but none of the games were unwinnable. I have drawn all high-damage Obstacles, and I have been hit by Crossfire cards that completely wrecked my planning. There are always options and different ways to approach a situation.

If you lose all the time, it is often because you are making the wrong choices during the game, not always because the game didn't give you a chance.

You could also check the video series put up by the designers, where they play the game. They win each and every one of them. And it's not even close, most of the time.

If anything, the game is too easy!

Bye
Thanee
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J M
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We played this on the weekend. I felt the team made some iffy choices and we eventually got hosed in the third scene. I told them we should have took Covering Fire before the market got wiped. Everyone was excited to play again, so we did, and this time played better and pulled out an epic win through teamwork and canny card play.

Fantastic game.
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Adam Pogatshnik
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concerning the difficulty:

The difficulty of this game is fantastic because it is on a sliding scale. You can make this game exactly as difficult as you want it to be, and that is one reason why I like it so much.

If the game is too hard, you can play runners with more Karma, if it is too easy you can play with less Karma or harder missions or use one of the difficulty adjustments to make it more difficult.

I know that the rulebook implies that you should "earn" your karma by playing a few missions first. Some people will enjoy playing this way. But if you don't, then there is no reason to force yourself into it. Start off with a 20 karma build, this allows each Runner to get either up to one 20 karma ability, or two 5 point abilities.

If it's still too hard make it 30 karma builds, or whatever you like. Whether you're an old hand or just learning the game, you can make the difficulty right for you.

You should play the game how it is fun for you. Would you like to know how it is fun for me? I am a tinkerer, I like to try different things and mess around. I didn't put the stickers on my game, I cut out the abilities with the stickers still on their backs and used paper clips to hold them in place on the character cards. It works really well, you can even put the game away and store the character abilities on the cards.

I feel only super purists would argue that I'm playing the game 'wrong' in any capacity, and I feel the exact same way about starting with more Karma. Or if you want to fight the dragon, why slog through 70 karma just to do it? Again, some runners will want to, and that is awesome. But some runners might want to fight a different mission, so go build a character with 70 karma and go dragon hunting!
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Part of the source of the difficulty can be attributed to capturing the feel of the Shadowrun RPG. The Crossfire deck is perfect at this. Shadowrun is like a lot of other paper and pencil RPGs... you lay your plan out, start executing it,... and then something unexpected happens and it all hits the fan.

After my first 7 (yes that's right 7) mission aborts, my first successful mission felt amazing. Now I know all the cards better so I am deep in the strategy for setting up a plan and hoping the Crossfire deck doesn't botch my plan. This game is great.

Sometimes Mr. Johnson sets you up on a mission you just can't complete. Knowing when to pull out can be an interesting and fun alternate win condition when you think of it that way narratively.
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Busstop wrote:
A major disappointment. I keep hoping they'll fix it so I keep it but will only play it with some 'house rules' added that fix some of their broken game problems.



I'm curious how many times you've played and what level your karma is up to with honest, actually played through missions.

This game could have easily released with a single mission (crossfire) without any loss of play or function. The other game structures are there for variety above and beyond what the 3 scene Crossfire mission offers due to the shuffle of the obstacles deck.

Seriously - most games release with one "mission", which is the standard structure of the game.
Catan: randomize board, place initial settlements/roads, play
Pandemic: randomize (or don't) roles, seed board with initial infections, play
Dominion: randomize (or don't) purchasable cards, play

Each of these games (and countless others) have only one "mission".

SR:CF has three missions in the box and one that was immediately downloadable because it was part of the 'preview kit' that was available before commercial release. Each of the three "in the box" missions hangs the basic play structure on a different framework.

HCO adds a few more mission options and was a wonderful addition to the whole game.

So I'm curious why "playing the same mission repeatedly" is a negative in this game, but presumably not in others.

I'm curious where the documented evidence of "the talk about minimal play testing" is.

I'm curious what your "required house rules" are.

And in the end, I'm curious how much you've play-tested those house rules.
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Thanee wrote:
You could also check the video series put up by the designers, where they play the game. They win each and every one of them. And it's not even close, most of the time.

Videos with little cheating and very lucky card drawing.

Sometimes there is no chances to win the game. But also if there is a chances, you can screw up everything because of poor planning, so winning is rewarding, even more rewarding than it should be.
 
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Busstop wrote:
Some of the talk is they only play tested it amongst themselves and with a small group of friends.


I refute this. While it was indeed extensively playtested in house, there were also a copious amount of blind playtests, external playtests, etc. Several playtest sets were sent to various places where people playtested it, ran demos at conventions, and filed feedback. At a minimum, I know playtests were run in Washington, California, Nevada, Indiana, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. And those only include playtest groups I personally knew of. I have no idea how many other playtest groups were formed by the other Fire Opal Media or Catalyst people.

Rob Watkins
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I still have a love/hate relationship with this game, where the sheer speed of play and ability to play it solo make it one of my most played games ever, but I absolutely loathe the game itself.


From discussions here, I apparently just have worse luck than most other players (which has also been an issue with Mystic Vale, where my options are almost always objectively worse than other players', to an almost comically impossible degree).

After literally hundreds of plays (seriously, my most-played game by like 1000% of any second place), lots of investigations into strategy from other players and even the designers, I still feel like the only real strategic choices that I feel I have a better control over are when and how to orchestrate a planned Abort.


I completely agree on the feeling of it being a random chance - a "roll of the dice" - whether any given game will be winnable, or even enjoyable. Every moving part has to line up in a particular way to avoid defeat (on top of "playing it right"), and I once described it as being as satisfying as rolling a handful of dice and "winning" only if none of them came up a 1.


The expansion normalizes a lot of this, and adds a lot of options that really make the game feel complete. But still, the randomness that sours me on the whole thing remains in full force; you just have more (reliable) ways to mitigate it.
 
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Yit Ng
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If your slottin' Johnson double-crossed you, just jack out, grab a cup of soykaf and move on.
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J S

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I've never played this game, but been looking for a copy for a few months. Finally found one and picking it up tomorrow. Anyone have an opinion on whether or not I should go ahead and grab the expansion and play with it right out of the gate or just the core game to start?
 
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Jessmon wrote:
I've never played this game, but been looking for a copy for a few months. Finally found one and picking it up tomorrow. Anyone have an opinion on whether or not I should go ahead and grab the expansion and play with it right out of the gate or just the core game to start?


This is probably better as a new thread versus being posted on an older review.

I would grab the expansion if available, regardless.

Adding it or not is your choice - I typically prefer to play a base game a bit before throwing the expansions in.
 
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