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Mage Knight Board Game» Forums » General

Subject: why don't they revise the rulebook? rss

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Jeff Glazier
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I have just learned about Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers today. I have been reading a lot about the games, trying to decide what one I want to buy.

Anyway, I've read so much about how difficult and poorly laid out the rulebooks are. Why haven't the designers revised the rulebook, to help ease the learning pain?

Is the rulebook really as bad as I've been reading? Is this game really nearly impenetrable to learn without watching YouTube tutorials (which I don't mind watching, but they shouldn't be required).

Thanks!
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TonyKR
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I personally find the rulebook for Mage Knight to be perfectly fine. After using the walkthrough book to learn the system, I've never had the need to use it again. And anytime I've wanted to find a rule, I've been able to find it in the rulebook. It sometimes takes a while to find it (there are a whole lot of rules), but once I do, it makes sense to me why it was put in the section that it was. The rulebook itself is a reference book, and is intended to be used like one. In that regard, it functions exactly as intended.

I know others have different experiences, but that's my take on it.
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David desJardins
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jglazier wrote:
Anyway, I've read so much about how difficult and poorly laid out the rulebooks are. Why haven't the designers revised the rulebook, to help ease the learning pain?


Because the rulebook for Mage Knight is excellent.

It's only hard to learn because it's a complicated game.
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Teeka
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I agree with the above posters.

The walkthrough is excellent for learning step by step. All you need to do is be patient enough to not skip ahead.

If you were to learn straight from the rulebook instead, I guess it would be a bit harder though. But that doesn't mean the rulebook is bad at all.
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Jeff Glazier
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Walkthrough? Does the game come with this walkthrough?
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You may call me
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jglazier wrote:
Walkthrough? Does the game come with this walkthrough?

Yes, and you can download both the walkthrough and rulebook from their website.
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Georg D.
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Mage Knight comes with two booklets.
1. The Walkthrough: This includes an introscenario and teaches you step by step the rules you need to play the introscenario. You can start to play quite fast because the setup of the introscenario is very fixed and every new rule comes at the moment you need it and not earlier. After that you know about 90% of the rules you need for the full game.

2. The Rulebook: This covers all *) the rules you need to play the full game so that you never have to go back to the walkthrough. This rulebook is strictly organized according to phases of the game so you will find every rule you need for the actual phase of the game at one place. All rules are presented as short facts without much unnescessary text around it. If you are a logical/mathematical mind you will have no problems with it. If you need to connect everything you learn with some stories you have to work a bit yourself as the rulebook doesn't provide much help here. The rulebook has not many examples - you don't need them at this point as you've already learned most of the game by the walkthrough (which contains examples) and should have enough understanding of the important aspects of the game to understand the rules without more examples.
The rulebook requires you to read it completely even if you covered the walkthrough as there is nowhere highlighted what changes from the walkthrough. So if you think it is enough to skim the rulebook you will miss some minor but important rules and you will have difficulties to find them later. But once you've read everything it is very logical and easy to navigate.


I hope this explains a bit why this is an excelent rulebook and why many people still have problems with it.

*) unfortunately there are some things not perfect: Some rules about locations are no in the rulebook but only on some extra locationcards. If you search for such a rule and don't think about these cards you can get frustrated soon.
Rules for scoring are only in the walkthrough - but once you understod it you only need the quicreference card for that.
Some card interactions aren't ruled very clear and need a faq. Same for some other more complicated rules - but that aren't that many for such a complex game and most of them you can just rule as you want without breaking the game.
The biggest complain is that there is no index. I never missed one - but for many people it seems to be difficult to find some rules without it.
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Cliff Fisher
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The rulebook actually isn't bad. The game is just very complex. I think any time a game weight is 4 or above you're going to have lots of questions about the rules.
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Pedro Ortiz
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Its not an easy game to learn, for the first 3 times i played the whole game checking and checking for the details... but when you learn how it plays, you still will most likely need to search for stuff, specially if your playing solo (you dont wana cheat...yourself), and then after many games 8-10 you can go full games withaut looking at any rule or detail....still a GREAT game, i put a 9 on it, its not a 10 beacause its so hard to teach to someone else and have multiplayer with a new player... just take your time, and enjoy this masterpiece of boardgaming.
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Jeff Glazier
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Excellent responses, everyone! Thanks very much for your help.
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jglazier wrote:
I have just learned about Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers today. I have been reading a lot about the games, trying to decide what one I want to buy.

Anyway, I've read so much about how difficult and poorly laid out the rulebooks are. Why haven't the designers revised the rulebook, to help ease the learning pain?

Is the rulebook really as bad as I've been reading? Is this game really nearly impenetrable to learn without watching YouTube tutorials (which I don't mind watching, but they shouldn't be required).

Thanks!

The only real issue I have with the rulebook is that it really wants to have a proper numbered paragraph system like a wargame. I assume they didn't implement it either out of ignorance of the style or in fear it would scare people off. Given the things you've heard I imagine they were correct about the latter.
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David desJardins
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I can't see how numbering the paragraphs would matter. I just refer to them by page number and title. That seems to work fine.
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Zeus Cat

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Some people love the rulebook and some people hate the rulebook. And the company that makes this is Wizkids; they are not known for being customer friendly. So even if everyone agreed that the rulebook was terrible they probably wouldn't change it.

Anyway, download the rulebook and decide for yourself. And if you do get confused with a rule or twenty you can come here and search for answers. There have been a lot of questions posted here and many great answers.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I can't see how numbering the paragraphs would matter. I just refer to them by page number and title. That seems to work fine.

Well good for you.
 
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David desJardins
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Would you give an example of how paragraph numbering has been helpful to you? I've played a lot of games with numbered paragraphs and without numbered paragraphs and I've never noticed much difference. But I could be missing something.
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Jorge
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Fluxx wrote:
*) unfortunately there are some things not perfect: Some rules about locations are no in the rulebook but only on some extra locationcards. If you search for such a rule and don't think about these cards you can get frustrated soon.
Rules for scoring are only in the walkthrough - but once you understod it you only need the quicreference card for that.
Some card interactions aren't ruled very clear and need a faq. Same for some other more complicated rules - but that aren't that many for such a complex game and most of them you can just rule as you want without breaking the game.
The biggest complain is that there is no index. I never missed one - but for many people it seems to be difficult to find some rules without it.
I don't have Vlaada's quote with me, but he has clearly stated that the site description cards and the scoring card are part of the rulebook. He didn't include these in the rulebook on purpose as he would repeat the same information twice.
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David desJardins
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Picon wrote:
I don't have Vlaada's quote with me, but he has clearly stated that the site description cards and the scoring card are part of the rulebook. He didn't include these in the rulebook on purpose as he would repeat the same information twice.


I have the feeling that Wizkids specifically wanted those rules to be only on the cards and not in the rulebook. I have nothing to base that on except for intuition.
 
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DaviddesJ wrote:
jglazier wrote:
Anyway, I've read so much about how difficult and poorly laid out the rulebooks are. Why haven't the designers revised the rulebook, to help ease the learning pain?


Because the rulebook for Mage Knight is excellent.

It's only hard to learn because it's a complicated game.
Actually, for the German version of the game, the rulebooks _have_ been revised. But that was likely only done because the German publisher has changed (previously it was Pegasus Games, now it's Wizkids Germany).

I have to disagree that the rulebooks for Mage Knight are excellent.

For examples of truly excellent rulebooks (for games with a similar high complexity) check out any of GMT's COIN games. They also use numbered paragraphs, btw.
They have a cleaner layout, more images, all the rules are in one place, and you even get designer's notes to explain _why_ the rules are the way they are.

Numbered paragraphs make it easier to (cross-)reference rules, find them, and (if required) issue errata for them. There's a reason why technical documents always use numbered paragraphs.

In Mage Knight the layout is messy, the font is too small, there's very few images, and it's often difficult to locate the rule you're looking for. Some of the rules are (only) explained on the reference cards, some are in the walkthrough, and some in the rulebook, and unfortunately, not always in the places you'd expect them to be.
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Magnesi
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jhaelen wrote:
some are in the walkthrough
People keep saying that, but AFAIK that's false. Can you give a single example of a rule in the WT that it's not in the rulebook (or site cards)?
Quote:
Unfortunately, not always in the places you'd expect them to be.
Again, can you give an example?
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Stefano Colombo
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i really like the MK Rule Book (s):

They split it into 2 separate booklet as said before, the Walkthrough is very intuitive as describe rules while you are playing and doesn't overwhelm you, all you need to know is written at the right moment you are facing it in the first game (read it page by page and do what it say in the meanwhile).

I suggest to do the Intro scenario 2 or 3 time before move on on the second and full rulebook, in this way you will learn in a stressful way the 85% of the game. Once you are ready and you have assimilated all the situation of the intro scenario, then (and only at this point in time) you should read the second booklet.

The second Booklet is a point by point rules explanation and is basically a "Reference" for every doubt you might have while playing, it is NOT written to be a classic rule book, once you understand how to consult it, its very helpful.

It's a normal thing to go back to the Rules during your fist 8 game. (this is not a Lack of Rule's explanation, but the fact that this game have TONS of info to keep track of)

I cannot think of a better Rules book for a game like this, for me is very well done game even for this well written booklet.
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Jeff Glazier
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Still, an index and numbered paragraphs is easily the way to go.

Just look at the Combat Commander series of rulebooks. Those are probably the best written rules I have ever read. I can find ANYTHING I need in just a few seconds. Go to the index, find the section, go to that section. Read. Done.

There is no argument that will convince me an index is not necessary for a rulebook of this length and detail.

Also - the lack of pictures and examples of play just increase the lack of clarity and time it takes to find stuff. For instance, last night I was trying to find out what the two icons on the "level up" tokens mean. There were no pictures of that token in the main rulebook, and a glance through every page came up with nothing. Finally, I found one small sentence in the walkthrough that tells you what the shield and card icons mean.

Just stuff like that make it more difficult than it needs to be. I'll survive, though. It's just lazy rulebook writing to not include an index.
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David desJardins
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jglazier wrote:
There is no argument that will convince me an index is not necessary for a rulebook of this length and detail.


You have full text search, that makes it easy to find every reference to any term or concept, not just those that someone thought were important enough to index.
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Jeff Glazier
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Electronically, yes. But, I read my rulebooks in hardcopy.

My fault for being old school, I guess.
 
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Magnesi
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I don't know if you realize that the rulebook with examples and pictures would require a lot of space. Finding something in a 50 pages rulebook would be impossible.

That's why there is a WT: to clear the rulebook of images and examples and make it more compact.
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Michael Boucher
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I just started playing MK and at the first it was overwhelming. Looking back my mistake was consulting both the Walkthrough and the Rulebook. I should have sticked with the Walkthrough.

I played through the first scenario which is basically a tutorial then I watched Box of Delight videos. Keep in mind I am Deaf and those videos are not captioned so I can't hear what was being said. I had to watch and refer to the Walkthrough.

Also my other mistake was to go straight to the Walkthrough instead of looking up reference cards first. Once I sticked with consulting the reference cards then consult the Walkthrough to clarify up any questions I may have, it became far easier to play and learn the game.\

With that said, I still have questions but at least I'm able to play the game. Last night I just finished fourth runthrough of the tutorial (first two was solo, last two were with a friend) and everytime it became easier and less frustrating.
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