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Subject: The Rulebook is Terrible rss

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Why oh why is no one talking about how horrendously the rules are written AND laid out in the rulebook?

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the game, but the shear mindboggling obscurity of the rulebook has to be addressed especially when publishers can simply use a logical layout and format akin to Fantasy Flight's new Rulebook + Rules Reference system (as an example).

We have had to refer to the designers over and over again for clarifications and to ask questions about rules that they say are in place but are not in the rulebook.

Frustrating. I can see why Portal commissioned Rodney of Watch it Played to do a How to Play of the game before is was released (that fact is advertised on the box itself.) Yet even the excellent How to Play does not address questions that continuously have come up.

Again: really like the game but hate the rulebook.

Be aware of this before you run out to buy this new hotness- especially since reviewers like Vasel do not mention things like this.
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Joe Martineau
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The rulebook appears to be so terrible in part because the rules were seemingly not finalized before it being printed. Even now, we still have unanswered questions, despite Grant's admirable efforts.
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Thomas Leitner
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ubidubium wrote:
Why oh why is no one talking about how horrendously the rules are written AND laid out in the rulebook?

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the game, but the shear mindboggling obscurity of the rulebook has to be addressed especially when publishers can simply use a logical layout and format akin to Fantasy Flight's new Rulebook + Rules Reference system (as an example).

We have had to refer to the designers over and over again for clarifications and to ask questions about rules that they say are in place but are not in the rulebook.

Frustrating. I can see why Portal commissioned Rodney of Watch it Played to do a How to Play of the game before is was released (that fact is advertised on the box itself.) Yet even the excellent How to Play does not address questions that continuously have come up.

Again: really like the game but hate the rulebook.

Be aware of this before you run out to buy this new hotness- especially since reviewers like Vasel do not mention things like this.


I agree with everything you've said.
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Brandon Kempf
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Because the rule book isn't really horrible would be my guess.

This is actually a pretty well laid out and well written rulebook as far as I can tell from actually reading it.

Also, I don't buy that FFG rule books & play books are any better. I feel more lost in FFG rules than I do in Portal or Stronghold rulebooks for the most part.
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Thomas Leitner
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Vacabck wrote:
Because the rule book isn't really horrible would be my guess.

This is actually a pretty well laid out and well written rulebook as far as I can tell from actually reading it.


Actually, Brandon, it is horrible. It's not the layout so much (that tends to be based more on subjective expectations, I think), it's the chunks of information missing.

Playing the game correctly out of the box is simply not possible.

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I didn't find the rulebook to be that bad, except for one instance: the strange placement of the TROG rules for 2-3 players. Adding a specific 2-3 player explanation that was self contained for how the TROG works would have been the way to go.

My issues are currently in the design of the game and how to play the different races. Although I am still on the fence as to whether I am just bad at the game or there is a disparity between the level of power between the races. I'm leaning towards a bit of both currently haha.

Humans seem OP in 2-3 player games. In a 2 player game, winning comes down to when you draw your scoring card more often than not, which feels awful.

As I said though, I am on the fence. I need to play this game a lot more. There is a lot going on and I don't want to rush to judgement.
 
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Randall Monk
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The rules seem OK to me. Not the best ever, but reasonably good and far from horrible.
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Thomas Leitner
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Let me try to clarify my position.

The rulebook is not a bad read. I read it before I bought the game, and it seemed fine.

The problems come once you play the game. You will start to run into situations that you simply cannot resolve by reviewing the rules. Quite a few, in fact.

Take a look at the FAQ. Many of the questions answered in there are not mere clarifications of rules included in the book, they are actual rules left out altogether.

I think one of the biggest mistakes Portal made was not including an appendix explaining the buildings and skill cards, and how they might interact with one another. Players are largely left to their own devices here.

I do like the game. Quite a bit, in fact. I'm just unhappy with the rulebook. I am also glad to see Grant's presence on these boards. He's been a tremendous help and is an excellent face for this game.
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Brandon Kempf
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MDJD wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
Because the rule book isn't really horrible would be my guess.

This is actually a pretty well laid out and well written rulebook as far as I can tell from actually reading it.


Actually, Brandon, it is horrible. It's not the layout so much (that tends to be based more on subjective expectations, I think), it's the chunks of information missing.

Playing the game correctly out of the box is simply not possible.



My reply was to the fact that the OP said that they were, " horrendously the rules are written AND laid out in the rulebook" and they aren't. The rule book is well written and laid out for reading.

Other things I don't know yet, I haven't played it so all I know is that I see clarifications on the rules forum like I do with 99.9% of other games like this.

As for it being unplayable correctly out of the box? Guess we'll see. But I have a feeling we'll be fine with the rules and the FAQ, oh and a bit of Grant if needed.
 
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Thomas Leitner
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Vacabck wrote:
MDJD wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
Because the rule book isn't really horrible would be my guess.

This is actually a pretty well laid out and well written rulebook as far as I can tell from actually reading it.


Actually, Brandon, it is horrible. It's not the layout so much (that tends to be based more on subjective expectations, I think), it's the chunks of information missing.

Playing the game correctly out of the box is simply not possible.



My reply was to the fact that the OP said that they were, " horrendously the rules are written AND laid out in the rulebook" and they aren't. The rule book is well written and laid out for reading.

Other things I don't know yet, I haven't played it so all I know is that I see clarifications on the rules forum like I do with 99.9% of other games like this.

As for it being unplayable correctly out of the box? Guess we'll see. But I have a feeling we'll be fine with the rules and the FAQ, oh and a bit of Grant if needed.


Probably. Much of my frustration is borne out of trying to play the game at GenCon, before there was an FAQ or Grant answers. Things will, inevitably, settle down.
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Jason Preder
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Vacabck wrote:
MDJD wrote:
Vacabck wrote:
Because the rule book isn't really horrible would be my guess.

This is actually a pretty well laid out and well written rulebook as far as I can tell from actually reading it.


Actually, Brandon, it is horrible. It's not the layout so much (that tends to be based more on subjective expectations, I think), it's the chunks of information missing.

Playing the game correctly out of the box is simply not possible.



My reply was to the fact that the OP said that they were, " horrendously the rules are written AND laid out in the rulebook" and they aren't. The rule book is well written and laid out for reading.

Other things I don't know yet, I haven't played it so all I know is that I see clarifications on the rules forum like I do with 99.9% of other games like this.

As for it being unplayable correctly out of the box? Guess we'll see. But I have a feeling we'll be fine with the rules and the FAQ, oh and a bit of Grant if needed.


I'd reserve your judgement until after you have played it, especially with 4 players and not with 4 players. Game is quite a bit different and not explained all that well.

The layout is aesthetically pleasing, but I'd have to agree that very important stuff is left out or not explained in the correct order. Also, the varying gameplay for different player counts is baffling.
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Siegfried Steurer
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hth:

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The problem with the rulebook is that it's missing any sort of clarifications or run downs of what faction buildings and skills actually do. Other than that it's pretty much all the stuff you need to know to play.

edit: which I see was already mentioned. I need to improve my reading skill.

I believe the nerf to Scouting and the errata for Airfield and Matrix could have been avoided with a small supplemental, like Hans Im Gluck make for their titles that involve player powers or card abilities.
 
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Dustin Crenshaw
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I can't believe you use FFG horrendously bad 2 rulebook system as a good example.
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James Mathias
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SeerMagic wrote:
I can't believe you use FFG horrendously bad 2 rulebook system as a good example.


In theory, the two rulebook approach is not a bad idea.

In practice it's hit and miss. I like having the Reference guide, but would prefer the Learn to Play manual be a full rules explanation, as opposed to a quick start guide. That way you can actually learn the game, then have a Alphabetized reference for rules questions during play.
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Peter Mulholland
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ubidubium wrote:
a logical layout and format akin to Fantasy Flight's new Rulebook + Rules Reference system (as an example).


I deteste these rule books. Specifically the FFG ones are horrific.
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Joe Martineau
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The layout of a rulebook is subjective. We could argue for days over what style we prefer. I love Vlaada's rulebooks, since humor is so helpful in retaining knowledge.



On the other hand, a rulebook that outright omits important information is objectively bad.
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Nathaniel Chambers
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RageGoblin wrote:
The layout of a rulebook is subjective. We could argue for days over what style we prefer. I love Vlaada's rulebooks, since humor is so helpful in retaining knowledge.



On the other hand, a rulebook that outright omits important information is objectively bad.


+1 for Vlaada rules.
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I'm not surprised that the rulebook is bothering some, being that it's a Portal game. Looking at past games by Portal:

1. 51st State--out of 278 forum posts, 137 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=3.1) (57% of total posts)
2. Imperial Settlers--out of 573 forum posts, 237 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=2.8) (41% of total posts)
3. Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot--out of 77 forum posts, 38 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=2.4) (49% of total posts)

And of course, the king: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island--out of 2,300 forum posts, 1,200 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=3.7) (52% of total posts)

Comparing this to non-Portal games from the top 50 on BGG:

1. Agricola--also has 1,200 posts regarding rules, but out of 4,600 total (weight 3.6).--comparing to Robinson Crusoe (26% of total posts)
2. 7 Wonders--300 rules posts out of 1,300 total (weight 2.4)--Comparing to Rattle Battle (23% of total posts)
3. Castles of Burgundy, 144 out of 491. (29% of total posts)

Cry Havoc is currently at 37 out of 95 (38% of total posts). I wouldn't be surprised if that percentage climbs quite a bit, based on precedent.

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Nathaniel Chambers
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Matt62702 wrote:
I'm not surprised that the rulebook is bothering some, being that it's a Portal game. Looking at past games by Portal:

1. 51st State--out of 278 forum posts, 137 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=3.1) (57% of total posts)
2. Imperial Settlers--out of 573 forum posts, 237 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=2.8) (41% of total posts)
3. Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot--out of 77 forum posts, 38 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=2.4) (49% of total posts)

And of course, the king: Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island--out of 2,300 forum posts, 1,200 have been in regard to rules questions/clarifications. (weight=3.7) (52% of total posts)

Comparing this to non-Portal games from the top 50 on BGG:

1. Agricola--also has 1,200 posts regarding rules, but out of 4,600 total (weight 3.6).--comparing to Robinson Crusoe (26% of total posts)
2. 7 Wonders--300 rules posts out of 1,300 total (weight 2.4)--Comparing to Rattle Battle (23% of total posts)
3. Castles of Burgundy, 144 out of 491. (29% of total posts)

Cry Havoc is currently at 37 out of 95 (38% of total posts). I wouldn't be surprised if that percentage climbs quite a bit, based on precedent.



Okay, that's just fascinating. Thanks for sharing! (glad to know I'm not the only one with Portal problems haha. I still enjoy their work though.)
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It would be good to know from Grant whether the next print run for October will include any Rules Book editing changes, improvements, or FAQ in the rules inside the box.

Its great that he's already done an FAQ, but without the game I can't evaluate it yet. What do others think about it so far?

I've come up with FAQ for a number of games on bgg when publishers did not provide one, or taken charge of them with some brand new games (Mare Nostrum Empires is one of these). But since I couldn't actually get this game at GenCon, I'm letting others handle it. Since I have to wait anyway, I'm hoping a new edition rules book will be in the works at some point. (Right now I'm doing an early FAQ for Star Trek Ascendancy, since I actually have a GenCon copy of it to play).
 
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As one of the editors of the rulebook, I have to apologise to people that found the rulebook unclear. The rulebook was a joint effort with a number of people, and I thought it read ok. I've since got the game, and read it again, and thought it was mostly clear for the content in the rulebook.

However, I never got to play the game before editing the rules, so questions about how the skills and buildings work was not something I was able to clarify; it seems that a lot of questions are about these things - and I agree - this should have probably been in the rulebook, 2 pages at the back for detailed explanation about how each of the skills and buildings work, and addressing most of the questions that crop up about these cards.

I will speak to Ignacy the next time I get chance to ask that some appendix be put in the back of future rulebooks. Or that everything gets added into the FAQ.

I've now played the game once and we didn't have any big problems as far as I could tell.
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PaulGrogan wrote:


However, I never got to play the game before editing the rules, so questions about how the skills and buildings work was not something I was able to clarify; it seems that a lot of questions are about these things - and I agree - this should have probably been in the rulebook, 2 pages at the back for detailed explanation about how each of the skills and buildings work, and addressing most of the questions that crop up about these cards.

.


Your review would have only been based on grammatical errors. It's strange at how many posts from the team are saying they never saw the final product? Grant as the lead designer also didn't see the final final product.

I guess who did do the end to end editing of the game to call these things out? Everyone had their job but they needed to have someone to review and play test the whole lot. A learning for the next game or second edition I guess.
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chas59 wrote:
It would be good to know from Grant whether the next print run for October will include any Rules Book editing changes, improvements, or FAQ in the rules inside the box.

Its great that he's already done an FAQ, but without the game I can't evaluate it yet. What do others think about it so far?

I've come up with FAQ for a number of games on bgg when publishers did not provide one, or taken charge of them with some brand new games (Mare Nostrum Empires is one of these). But since I couldn't actually get this game at GenCon, I'm letting others handle it. Since I have to wait anyway, I'm hoping a new edition rules book will be in the works at some point. (Right now I'm doing an early FAQ for Star Trek Ascendancy, since I actually have a GenCon copy of it to play).


Hi -- Decisions on rulebook reside with Portal, the publisher. I can't comment, as I don't know.
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lazza wrote:
PaulGrogan wrote:


However, I never got to play the game before editing the rules, so questions about how the skills and buildings work was not something I was able to clarify; it seems that a lot of questions are about these things - and I agree - this should have probably been in the rulebook, 2 pages at the back for detailed explanation about how each of the skills and buildings work, and addressing most of the questions that crop up about these cards.

.


Your review would have only been based on grammatical errors. It's strange at how many posts from the team are saying they never saw the final product? Grant as the lead designer also didn't see the final final product.

I guess who did do the end to end editing of the game to call these things out? Everyone had their job but they needed to have someone to review and play test the whole lot. A learning for the next game or second edition I guess.


Not to get nitpicky, but I'm a co-designer. I worked on the game for 2 years, had the original idea, and licensed it to Portal, which is why, I guess, my name is the big one on the cover. But, I'm not the lead designer.
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