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Subject: Don't you hate it when... rss

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Driver 8
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...you're trying to decide whether to buy a game, so you start reading reviews and sessions reports on BGG. You read some negatives comments in a review or read about someone's sour experience playing the game. They don't like it because of...well whatever, they give their own vague reasons. But you decide to take the plunge and buy the game anyway.

So you play the game and think "Wow, great game. I wonder what that other guy was thinking." Then you look back over his review or session report and realize he was playing the game wrong! I have to say that I've noticed this happen on several occasions.

The same has happened in real life experience. I've been at a game night with some folks and suggested we play this or that. Someone says "Ugh, I don't care for that game" but we play it anyway. Part way through the game, the one who objected says "Oh, I didn't know about that rule when I played before." Then they seem to change their opinion of the game and now they like it.

How does this happen? Could it be that some people play so many games that they rush through their game experiences without taking the time to savour them?

Maybe they think "Hmm, rules question. Well, this sounds like that other game. The rules are probably the same too."

Or "Well, I didn't like that other game, so I probably won't like this one either."

Or better yet "Let's play this new game I just bought. Let me pull the shrinkwrap off first and we'll start setting it up. Oh I know we've never played it before but we're all gamers, right? We'll just figure it out as we go along!"

"Oh, I know I have over 800 games, but I can remember every rule to every game I've played. Yea, I know it's been five years since I've last played it but I can remember, trust me."

OK, rant over. So anyway, before you review a game or make any judgments about it, make sure you know what you're talking about. People like me rely on BGG for accurate info when we're looking to buy new games. Thanks.
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Paul DeStefano
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On the other hand...


If they played it wrong, that may be an indication of poorly designed rules or mechanisms.

Maybe.
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Eric Franklin
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Geosphere wrote:
On the other hand...


If they played it wrong, that may be an indication of poorly designed rules or mechanisms.

Maybe.


Or maybe just bad layout or organization.

I've done this, however - My first 3 plays of Power Grid were ... less-than-good because of one overlooked rule (we limited players to growing into one city per turn).
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Darrell Hanning
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I think there's several possible causes for this, and you pretty much hit on them.

I just recently read an assessment of Imperial, and while I couldn't be certain, it did sound as if the player had been playing it wrong. His conclusion was that it wasn't worth playing it more than once.

I know that, on occasion, I have missed a rule, in trying to get a game on the table with my group. I'm the "enabler" of my group, buying the vast majority of games we play, and so I'm often stuck in the position of "cramming" rules in, the day before (or of) our playing of the game.

On other occasions, I think people just assume they know certain rules, based on a game's apparent similarity to another game, or are not particularly critical readers to begin with.

I think I get 99% of the rules right the first time, but that might also have to do with starting out in wargames, where some rules (and I won't mention any names of anyone who used to work at a company with the initials of "AH") had to be read perhaps several times - and in the right context - in order to make heads or tails of them.

Too, some Euros have been translated in a, shall we say, "less than optimal" fashion.
 
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Tim K.
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I'm surprised to hear that misinformation persists for very long around here. It seems to me that incorrect play reported in session reports and reviews is usually caught by those who know the correct rules who then post corrections to the original thread.

Where are those rules vigilantes when you need 'em?! ninja
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Driver 8
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EvilTimmy wrote:
I'm surprised to hear that misinformation persists for very long around here. It seems to me that incorrect play reported in session reports and reviews is usually caught by those who know the correct rules who then post corrections to the original thread.


I agree with you, this is the saving grace. Thanks to all who keep a close watch and set it all straight.
 
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Driver 8
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Gamethyme wrote:
Or maybe just bad layout or organization.

I've done this, however - My first 3 plays of Power Grid were ... less-than-good because of one overlooked rule (we limited players to growing into one city per turn).


Haha, been there! In fact, has anyone played Power Grid correctly the first time after reading the rules once?
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Yes, we played Power Grid correctly the first time, it was very good. The second game would have been a LOT better if we'd got the rules correct, as in the first play, we realised about halfway though something was not right. Re-read the rules and realised we were killing off the lowest power plant EACH round, not when city numbers equalled plant number. shakelaughblush
 
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I've been on both ends of this. Just the other day we played Portabello Market with a friend that had been playing almost daily with his work group. When we got to scoring the Lord (black meeple), his explanation didn't make sense. So I read the rules and discovered he'd been playing wrong the whole time.

Then there's Yspahan, which we learned from the rules (and the 2-player variant). When we finally played with another experienced player, we found out that we could do only 1 of the 3 options instead of all of them. We actually enjoyed the game our way, but once we were shown the correct rules, it did make more sense.

I believe it's mostly the fault of the rules. I'm not saying it's easy to write clear and concise rules, but I think most writings can have different meanings based on your perspective or bias.

Then there's the occasional game where you actually play correctly, but you believe you *must* have read the rules incorrectly because the game is sooo bad.

That's happened to me exactly 3 times

Tom
 
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Matt Davis
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We played Power Grid correctly our first game. Of course, it was on BSW...
 
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Jim Pulles
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I don't think that this is uncommon.

I think that it's a rule at our Club to play a game wrong the fist time. There is always a rule that is missed or misinterpreted on our first play. Sometimes it just takes multiple plays to get ALL of the rules right.

It's normally something that doesn't have a lot of bearing on victory, but sometimes it can be a game breaker

It usually comes with a WTF Moment... "What do you mean I get THREE actions on my turn instead of only one!!" Hell, we played "Taj Mahal" literally for years before someone pointed out a rule that was being played wrong.

It doesn't matter if the game has one page of rules or ten... if there's a way to screw up, we'll find it. It's one of the reasons that I don't rate a game after playing only once.

We are so eager to get the game to the table that rules get skimmed or, as someone earlier pointed out, assumptions get made based on other games.

Does this mean we're enjoying our games less? I don't think so... we're still having fun.
 
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I've found that more often than not, one's first play through of a game that is new to all players will often be wrong. This happens to me all the time. I'll play a brand new game, come to BGG to read about it, and then have a couple of "Ah Ha!" moments as I realize we were implementing some rules incorrectly.

Probably the #1 reason why you shouldn't review a game until you've played it a couple of times.
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BoardsAndBits wrote:

Then there's the occasional game where you actually play correctly, but you believe you *must* have read the rules incorrectly because the game is sooo bad.

That's happened to me exactly 3 times

Tom


YES! I know exactly what you mean. I feel that way about a few games, presently Balloon Cup and Pirate's Cove. And don't get me started on Lucky Loop.
 
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Chuck Alessi
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I almost always screw up at least one rule on the first playing of a game. The problem is that I'm always the one reading and teaching the rules, and am frequently doing this without having played the game at all before. Also, I can never anticipate when a new game might be played, so I usually read the rules when I first get it, and might have a chance to skim the rules again prior to a game night, but not always.

As a result, half the time I'm trying to teach while going through the rulebook again, and skimming as I go. Then, while playing, I'll come across something I'll need to refer to the rules for. I hate slowing down the game, so I do this as fast as I can, and the result is sometimes less than ideal.

Had this happen in our first game of Pillars of the Earth. I was checking the market rules, and saw that as an action, you could either buy a type of good, or sell a type of good. I assumed you could perform one action, so either buying or selling. After I lost the game by one point because I couldn't do both, it was pointed out to me in a thread that players at the market take turns taking actions. I'd completely skipped that sentence when doing my quickie search during the game.

There's not really a way to avoid the first game screw-ups, I think. When reading the rules, it's hard to decide what's a vital rule and what's not. During play, that stuff comes out quickly. My usual technique is to play the game, and re-read the rules as soon possible afterward to figure out where we went wrong, and because we screwed up once, I usually don't let that happen again.
 
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John N.
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Driver 8 wrote:
BoardsAndBits wrote:

Then there's the occasional game where you actually play correctly, but you believe you *must* have read the rules incorrectly because the game is sooo bad.

That's happened to me exactly 3 times

Tom


YES! I know exactly what you mean. I feel that way about a few games, presently Balloon Cup and Pirate's Cove. And don't get me started on Lucky Loop.



Pirate's Cove is such a fun game. We played it wrong a couple of times, but every time we played it we loved it so much. It's just a fun little game that anyone can pick up really quickly. So I wonder if you really do understand the rules; or maybe we just have differing opinions on games.

When I read sessions and reviews I look to see who is making statements about a game, have I trusted their opinion in the past and pretty much agreed with them when actually playing the game? Do they like similar games to me, and therefore we may have somewhat similar tastes. I love Tom Vassel reviews, as I find that he really speaks to what I like and dislike about various games.

If you look in my comments of games I own I have a really bad rating and review of Bang!; a game that is universally loved here on the geek. I just can't get my group to like it, because we are having a hard time really knowing what all the cards do, but I state this in the comment. I don;t know how to play the game and that is why I hate it. I really want to love (and that is why I keep it and keep trying to bring it to the table!).
 
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Alexander B.
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I've had this happen, and it was minorly irritating.

What is much *much* more irritating though, is when I go to buy a game that I have read a few negative comments about, and the negative comments were 100% correct! At the same time, all or most of the fanboy spouting-off turned out to be just that.

That really makes me feel like a fool
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Driver 8
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CharmlessMan77 wrote:

Pirate's Cove is such a fun game. We played it wrong a couple of times, but every time we played it we loved it so much. It's just a fun little game that anyone can pick up really quickly. So I wonder if you really do understand the rules;


Well, while we're on the subject, the things I don't like about Pirate's Cove are...

1. Every time I've played, the winner is the person who can avoid combat early on. Then, once he's pimped out his ship he can continue to win fights are gather more and more goodies. Hence, run-away leader.

2. The legendary pirates are MONSTERS and it seems pointless to go after them considering the benefits for beating them are so few.

3. By the time you've started to build up your strength (or get it back if you've been crippled earlier), the game is over. 12 turns seems short to me.

But, those are just my opinions of course.

CharmlessMan77 wrote:
or maybe we just have differing opinions on games.

Yea, I took a glance at our prespective favorites and we do differ.
 
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I should have hated to disappoint the woman whose absolute *favorite* new game was Rum & Pirates, but she was the one who convinced me to play without letting me take several shots to dull the pain first, so I didn't really regret pointing out that she had learned FOUR rules wrong.
 
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John N.
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Quote:
Driver 8
Well, while we're on the subject, the things I don't like about Pirate's Cove are...

1. Every time I've played, the winner is the person who can avoid combat early on. Then, once he's pimped out his ship he can continue to win fights are gather more and more goodies. Hence, run-away leader.

2. The legendary pirates are MONSTERS and it seems pointless to go after them considering the benefits for beating them are so few.

3. By the time you've started to build up your strength (or get it back if you've been crippled earlier), the game is over. 12 turns seems short to me.

But, those are just my opinions of course.



1) I have seen different people using differing tactics. I have seen where people get in fights every turn from the beginning and winning. I have seen where someone builds up their ships "enough" but really just tryign to accumulate treasure chests to bury to get the fame. I ahve seen where someone just sits the whole game buyign tavern cards to get the points in there and have the battle cards to fight at the end. I love that not one tactic wins every time. I do, however, hate that if someone does have a pimped out ride and is in front of others in the fame arena that sending the Royal Navy after these guys has just given them 3 free points My wife LOVES having the Royal Navy nhunt her down, because she says that just seals the game for her!

2) Couldn't agree more. It is fun to watch people eye each others treasure boxes etc to figure out who will be heading in to Treasure Island to fight the Legendary Pirates, just so they know they ahve backup BUT don't break the rule of no table-talk. Plus once you kill them this way the 6 points for each seemes measly when split between the surviving pirates. We have thought of upping the ante on each, but we feel the game isn't toally broke because of this, so nothing to fix.

3) Sometimes 12 turns feels just right, sometimes it feels too long (if you are playing with the wrong group of people who have AP about which island to go to EACH AND EVERY turn) and sometimes just too short because I know that if I get a few more turns I can finally have enough firepower and Hull to go against Blackbeard. Although I have played in a game where I was blown out of the water every round for the forst 6 rounds and pulled it back for a substantial win, just because of the free Tavern cards.

The game is so light that we have the most fun playing it. I do prefer games with a bit more meat, but I look at games I can actually get to the table with my family and friends and rate them high because of this; and because I have fun playing them as well!
 
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Driver 8 wrote:
So anyway, before you review a game or make any judgments about it, make sure you know what you're talking about..


You must be new here.
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Morgan Dontanville
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I've played games that I loved and discovered I'd been playing with the incorrect rules only to find out later that I actually prefer my mistaken impression of how to play.
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sisteray wrote:
I've played games that I loved and discovered I'd been playing with the incorrect rules only to find out later that I actually prefer my mistaken impression of how to play.


I've felt this way about Uno and Taboo.
 
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sisteray wrote:
I've played games that I loved and discovered I'd been playing with the incorrect rules only to find out later that I actually prefer my mistaken impression of how to play.

I had that happen once -- with Ys. Our rules reader for the evening misread the tiebreaker rule, and when we finally realized our mistake, we decided we preferred the way we did it the first time.

Chris
 
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Driver 8 wrote:
...you're trying to decide whether to buy a game, so you start reading reviews and sessions reports on BGG. You read some negatives comments in a review or read about someone's sour experience playing the game. They don't like it because of...well whatever, they give their own vague reasons. But you decide to take the plunge and buy the game anyway.

So you play the game and think "Wow, great game. I wonder what that other guy was thinking." Then you look back over his review or session report and realize he was playing the game wrong! I have to say that I've noticed this happen on several occasions.


One of the more humorous threads that I've seen of this nature is here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/124468

The article is a review of San Juan in which the reviewer totally panned the game as "unbalanced and not very fun." He ripped on San Juan, some defenders of the game sallied forth, and the debate was on. All sorts of strategies were discussed, ripped, defended, etc. Finally, a comment from the original poster reveals that he had been playing the game incorrectly.

In San Juan, when you produce a crop, the card that represents it gets taken from the face-down draw pile. The reviewer's group, however, kept taking their "crops" from their own hands of cards. In a game where the cards serve as everything (buildings, crops, and cash), taking them from the wrong place will quickly strap everyone to the point of poverty.

It was a reasonably easy mistake to make for a game-full of new players. What cracked me up was all the time and energy that people had put into responding to this one bad review only to find out that the reviewer had been playing the game incorrectly.

Quote:
The same has happened in real life experience. I've been at a game night with some folks and suggested we play this or that. Someone says "Ugh, I don't care for that game" but we play it anyway. Part way through the game, the one who objected says "Oh, I didn't know about that rule when I played before." Then they seem to change their opinion of the game and now they like it.

How does this happen? Could it be that some people play so many games that they rush through their game experiences without taking the time to savour them?


I think you may be inadvertently blaming the victims here. If you're seriously getting into this whole Eurogaming hobby, Lesson #1 is that game rules translated from their original languages to English are often confusing, suspect, and vulnerable to translating difficulties.

Lesson #2 is that there seem to be dozens of ways to organize the rules in a game's rulebook, and many of them just...plain...suck. The games themselves are often fine games, and a blast to play if you can wade through the minefields of their rulebooks.

Often it's not the translation of rules from, say, German to English that cause problems. More often than not, it's the clumsy or odd ways in which a game's rules are organized within their rulebooks.

Power Grid is a great game with a rather oddly-organized rule book, as are Reef Encounter and Struggle Of Empires. The games are a blast to play, but wading through those rulebooks took some doing.

Silverton is a train-themed game that seemed like lots of fun my first time around, but it was a bitch to learn because its rulebook is horribly organized. Instead of putting everything you need to know about Surveyors and Prospectors into their respective sections of the rulebook, bits and pieces of what each piece does and how it works are scattered everywhere, leading to much searching for rules as you wade through your first game.

Then there was the fairly simple mathematical formula you use to determine the game's market prices. The formula shown on the game's chart lacked a pair of parentheses, leading to the screwing up of every sale we made. Everything in the rulebook seemed to suggest that the first guy to sell a big load of coal or lumber at market would crash the market a bit for sellers who followed him in the turn order, but we just weren't seeing it happen. It was because the price calculating formula printed on the game chart was missing those paretheses, causing our price-fixing formula to be far more generous than it should have been.

Another rulebook error--a rule procedure that was not laid out in the rules anywhere, but was clearly demonstrated in one of the game's examples of how the rule was supposed to work. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to convince a group of gamers that a rule works as shown in the example, and not as written in the book! Anyway, Silverton looks like a very good game, but only if you don't let the rulebook oddities scare you away.

Another game which gets no favors from its own rulebook is the English version of Fearsome Floors. We had to stop and search for rules several times the first time we tried out Fearsome Floors. Does that make it a bad game? Not at all, but it certainly makes its potential as a group favorite much harder to see. My group wasn't impressed with Fearsome Floors after our first game. It struck everyone as a classic case of "not that much fun for the amount of time it takes..."

Great Games With Wonderfully Written Rulebooks:

Puerto Rico
Traders Of Genoa
San Juan
Louis XIV
Princes Of Florence


What do these games have in common? They all use the same wonderful style of rulebooks. When you stumble across a weird combination of buildings in Puerto Rico only to dive into the rules and find that they specifically cover the very same goofy combination you've assembled, you have to be impressed. The game is deep enough that you probably won't breeze through your first playing of it, but by golly, you probably won't get lost because of poorly organized rules, either!

Quote:

Maybe they think "Hmm, rules question. Well, this sounds like that other game. The rules are probably the same too."

Or "Well, I didn't like that other game, so I probably won't like this one either."


These can often be frightening attitudes to encounter, especially when the views above are expressed because of just one striking similarity between two entirely different games. For example, if someone claims at a glance that Keythedral or Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition are "just like Settlers" because all three use modular boards that are made out of individual hexes, that "student" is in for an education with a hell of a learning curve!

Quote:
Or better yet "Let's play this new game I just bought. Let me pull the shrinkwrap off first and we'll start setting it up. Oh I know we've never played it before but we're all gamers, right? We'll just figure it out as we go along!"


AAARRRGGGHH! Shoot me! Shoot me now! Doing this always doubles the game's playing time and triples the rules arguments! There's a guy in my group who's a great gameplayer and all, but his weakness is that he loves to try to teach games after one less-than-thorough reading of the rules. He never fails to leave out some centrally important rule that completely screws up the first game, and we never fail to waste craploads of time while sitting there watching him wade through the rules at a dozen different points during the game...

Quote:
OK, rant over. So anyway, before you review a game or make any judgments about it, make sure you know what you're talking about. People like me rely on BGG for accurate info when we're looking to buy new games. Thanks.


Fair enough, but let the shopper beware--never get excited about or buy a game based on one review read here on the BoardGameGeek. For one thing, there aren't very many games here that only have one review posted for them, so if you just read the most recent one and make your judgment from it, you're asking for trouble. Most games have several reviews posted for them, so read at least a couple before writing out that check. And if you can find them, read some negative reviews of a game as well as its positive ones. Sometimes the negative reviews are mistaken, like the San Juan review I mentioned above, and other times it quickly becomes clear that the game in question simply wasn't a good choice for this particular reviewer. Beware the panning of a Eurogame that was written by someone who keeps dropping wargame references into his review. Wargamers and Eurogamers seem to be significantly divided on what types of games they like, and it's not often that their likes seem to match.
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Jon Greisz
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BoardsAndBits wrote:
That's happened to me exactly 3 times

Tom


So Tom, which 3 games were those, I'll be sure not to buy them off your site.
 
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