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Subject: Imperial Assault, Campaign...Buyers Remorse of the decade. rss

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Brian Myers
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Yes, decade. I take time before buying a game of IA's cost but clearly my decision to not watch play-throughs of the campaign as to not spoil it was a huge mistake. My second mistake was believing that a game with such good production value would translate in to quality through out. Skirmish is fine if you like that sort of thing but I don't. I bought IA for the campaign and regret every dollar spent.

A bad campaign alone doesn't make me regret my decision to buy IA. It is only bad enough to get me to the disappointed level of satisfaction (yes after several paragraphs I will get to the campaign issues). What gets me over the hump is Fantasy Flight sleazy business practices when it comes to this game. Practices that, by the way FF, have resulted in the decision to never trust you again.

Those practices have likely been brought up before and debated countless times but I am going to bring them up again as a way to heal and if I can help just one person from making the same mistake I made...then it is worth the effort.

Those practices are to include characters in the campaign and then not include minis for them while then offering them as packs sold separately. Why is this an unforgivable sin?

1) Using tokens ruins the theme. It doesn't detract...it ruins it. I'm not even a Star Wars fan but the theme in the game is excellent and FF made a conscious decision to use that theme against players drawn to it. It was almost impossible to know before you purchased the game of their decision to include characters in the campaign that were represented with tokens. So a new player was forced in to two options when faced with the reality; they could use the tokens or wrong mini and ruin the theme or buy the mini packs. This is a shitty position to put purchasers of your game in.

2) There were other alternatives that could accomplish monetary reward without emotionally strong arming. And to be clear: I am all for FF making money and will often stand up for businesses that are treated as if they are charities. But FF has crossed the line with IA. Alternative one would have been to simply not include the characters in the campaign. Alternative two would have been to not include the AT-ST in the campaign and instead use those costs to provide the other minis. Alternative three would have been to provide a complete version of the game at a higher price point. I would have been fine with any of these three options and would have in fact probably purchased the more expensive 'complete' version. If I decided not to purchase the complete version at least I would have known what I was (or not) getting and not felt emotionally held hostage.

One final note: I am not against expansion packs. But those packs need to provide new content, not just provide minis that should have been included in the base game. (Yes I know they contain extra content but if you think that content is the primary driver for the packs you're blind.)

Now the campaign...

I'm not going to get in to the claimed balance issues. I 'ran' the campaign for my kids as the Imperials, not as 'vs'. So, I have three issues with the campaign:

1) The side missions have no set up and just drop in to the game. The story mission 'story' is ok but then all of a sudden you're dropped in to a mission to get Diala's light saber with no warning or setup. The mission starts with you approaching the location. Wait what? Why has she decided to go get it now? Why does what happen happen? Was this all a dream? There needs to be transition text. Clever writing could allow a side mission to be played at any point but feel like it has a point and fits.

2) Why would an AT-ST be there? Seriously? It can't even move...how did it get there in the first place?

3) The use of timed mission objectives is a crutch used by lazy designers. It's like the movie jump scare; sure you get a jump but you're not accomplishing your goal; generating genuine emotion. Using timed missions increases drama and stress but does it in a non-fulfilling way. And this is what ruined the campaign for myself and my kids. The entire thing felt half-assed and bolted on.

So there...off my chest.

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    This phrase --

bemyers13 wrote:
My second mistake was believing that a game with such good production value would translate in to quality through out.


    . . . should be emblazoned at the top of BGG's home page for six months for all to see. It's not about this game in particular, but about all games sold in the hobby. The number of times I've seen people talk about the "thickness of the cardboard" as a buy/no-buy condition is just astounding.

    The nature of the board gaming market at the moment is carefully designed to make sales prior to the reveal of actual gameplay. I simply don't understand why people that clearly state they "don't want luck in my games" are willing to buy products based on "OMFG! Look at those minis!!!"
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    This phrase --

bemyers13 wrote:
My second mistake was believing that a game with such good production value would translate in to quality through out.


    . . . should be emblazoned at the top of BGG's home page for six months for all to see.


If there was a microbadge I'd buy it.

For me it's a problem of the whole Descent-esque dungeon crawler just not doing it for me. Everyone time I try one I think that it is trying to be a bridge between board games and pen-n-paper RPGs and it ends up not serving either well.
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Jacob
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Why would you get Imperial Assault if you don't even like Star Wars...?
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Destrio Dai
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Randomization adds to replayability in terms of mixing starting options with a new order of missions to complete which does then remove a more tightly woven story. It is the difference between watching movies and playing a video game.

Yep, these expansions get really expensive but they can continue to do this model of sales as long as they find buyers.
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Tony Li
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They are sleazy with the tokens and such in each expansion but the game itself is a great tactical action game.

I agree the stories are pretty weak and as a whole the campaign usually fails to create any meaningful narrative or story arc but thats really not what I play IA for. The "stories" are really just there to set up the drama that unfolds during the gameplay.

I think OP expected too much out of the game and it just didn't live up to expectations.
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William Korner
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I have no problem with the tokens. They do not draw me out of the theme or ruin the experience for me. Sure , miniatures for every figure would be nice but then the game would cost a fortune. Unless you are playing the skirmish mode instead of the campaign the extra minis are not that important. Sucks that the tokens ruin the experience that badly for you, you should be able to resell or trade it pretty easily.

With BGG and other websites you can research a game/components/rules before purchasing pretty easily.
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Kevin Salch
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Yes it can be considered a money grab. But honestly, is that not all known up front. I don't accept your conclusion that tokens rather than minis ruin the theme. There are many examples of component quality not translating into game quality.

But tokens ruining theme? Look at any war-game. Look at Small World, heck look at King of Tokyo and it's standee's.

Claiming that you'd be happy buying a more expensive game that includes the mini's rather than the tokens and then complaining about having to buy the minis is undermining your argument.

Sorry it's not for you, and buyer's remorse is certainly your right.
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It sounds like you didn't really know what you were buying into to begin with. I don't buy a tabletop game expecting a pencil and paper rpg experience. Any glance at a review or the back of the game would let you know they use tokens for figures.

And the game's been out for a while at this point. There was every bit of information available on what you were buying into.

Sagrilarus wrote:

    "OMFG! Look at those minis!!!"


I think CMON built an empire on that thought.

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alex bermudez
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When he said it ruins the theme, I assumed he meant more like, the immersion or ambiance. Suddenly all the real-looking people are talking to a cardboard cut-out.
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Joel L
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As a Star Wars apathetic and someone who enjoyed an entire Imperial Assault campaign, I don't agree with your claims. And as others have pointed out, you could have learned all this (spoiler-free) before buying with some research on BGG and around the web.

For what it's worth, I'll point out that buyer's remorse is a psychological effect that occurs right after making a purchase. It is a fear or a guilt from having spent the money. In your case you've taken the game home and played it and have come to the conclusion it's not what you wanted. That's just normal disappointment from buying something you didn't end up liking.
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bemyers13 wrote:
Yes, decade. I take time before buying a game of IA's cost but clearly my decision to not watch play-throughs of the campaign as to not spoil it was a huge mistake. My second mistake was believing that a game with such good production value would translate in to quality through out. Skirmish is fine if you like that sort of thing but I don't. I bought IA for the campaign and regret every dollar spent.

A bad campaign alone doesn't make me regret my decision to buy IA. It is only bad enough to get me to the disappointed level of satisfaction (yes after several paragraphs I will get to the campaign issues). What gets me over the hump is Fantasy Flight sleazy business practices when it comes to this game. Practices that, by the way FF, have resulted in the decision to never trust you again.

Those practices have likely been brought up before and debated countless times but I am going to bring them up again as a way to heal and if I can help just one person from making the same mistake I made...then it is worth the effort.

Those practices are to include characters in the campaign and then not include minis for them while then offering them as packs sold separately. Why is this an unforgivable sin?

1) Using tokens ruins the theme. It doesn't detract...it ruins it. I'm not even a Star Wars fan but the theme in the game is excellent and FF made a conscious decision to use that theme against players drawn to it. It was almost impossible to know before you purchased the game of their decision to include characters in the campaign that were represented with tokens. So a new player was forced in to two options when faced with the reality; they could use the tokens or wrong mini and ruin the theme or buy the mini packs. This is a shitty position to put purchasers of your game in.

2) There were other alternatives that could accomplish monetary reward without emotionally strong arming. And to be clear: I am all for FF making money and will often stand up for businesses that are treated as if they are charities. But FF has crossed the line with IA. Alternative one would have been to simply not include the characters in the campaign. Alternative two would have been to not include the AT-ST in the campaign and instead use those costs to provide the other minis. Alternative three would have been to provide a complete version of the game at a higher price point. I would have been fine with any of these three options and would have in fact probably purchased the more expensive 'complete' version. If I decided not to purchase the complete version at least I would have known what I was (or not) getting and not felt emotionally held hostage.

One final note: I am not against expansion packs. But those packs need to provide new content, not just provide minis that should have been included in the base game. (Yes I know they contain extra content but if you think that content is the primary driver for the packs you're blind.)

Now the campaign...

I'm not going to get in to the claimed balance issues. I 'ran' the campaign for my kids as the Imperials, not as 'vs'. So, I have three issues with the campaign:

1) The side missions have no set up and just drop in to the game. The story mission 'story' is ok but then all of a sudden you're dropped in to a mission to get Diala's light saber with no warning or setup. The mission starts with you approaching the location. Wait what? Why has she decided to go get it now? Why does what happen happen? Was this all a dream? There needs to be transition text. Clever writing could allow a side mission to be played at any point but feel like it has a point and fits.

2) Why would an AT-ST be there? Seriously? It can't even move...how did it get there in the first place?

3) The use of timed mission objectives is a crutch used by lazy designers. It's like the movie jump scare; sure you get a jump but you're not accomplishing your goal; generating genuine emotion. Using timed missions increases drama and stress but does it in a non-fulfilling way. And this is what ruined the campaign for myself and my kids. The entire thing felt half-assed and bolted on.

So there...off my chest.



Cool story.

Can I have your stuff?
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kakitamike wrote:
It sounds like you didn't really know what you were buying into to begin with. I don't buy a tabletop game expecting a pencil and paper rpg experience. Any glance at a review or the back of the game would let you know they use tokens for figures.

And teh game's been out for a while at this point. There was every bit of information available on what you were buying into.

Sagrilarus wrote:

    "OMFG! Look at those minis!!!"


I think CMON built an empire on that thought.



Well, sure. COOL MINI is the first half of their company name.
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Richard Dickson
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There are people who might want the Boba Fett and Jabba figures and not want to buy the full campaign sets they were in. And business wise, asking you to spend an extra $15 on a model you do want is a better decision than asking them to spend $40 on a set they don't want just to get one figure. And better than putting the figure in both.
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bemyers13 wrote:
One final note: I am not against expansion packs. But those packs need to provide new content, not just provide minis that should have been included in the base game. (Yes I know they contain extra content but if you think that content is the primary driver for the packs you're blind.)

I have no idea what the expansion packs would need to have to satisfy you.

Yeah, the model is the top draw. Then you get two skirmish scenarios and one side/forced mission. Plus some command cards and maybe some upgrade cards. What else does there need to be?

If you are going to complain about anything with regard to marketing the game, I'd go with the fact that the main character on the front of the boxed expansions usually isn't a model in the box.
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and thousands and thousands and thousands of people disagree with you

it is one of our all time favourite games ever

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cornixt wrote:
bemyers13 wrote:
One final note: I am not against expansion packs. But those packs need to provide new content, not just provide minis that should have been included in the base game. (Yes I know they contain extra content but if you think that content is the primary driver for the packs you're blind.)

I have no idea what the expansion packs would need to have to satisfy you.

Yeah, the model is the top draw. Then you get two skirmish scenarios and one side/forced mission. Plus some command cards and maybe some upgrade cards. What else does there need to be?

If you are going to complain about anything with regard to marketing the game, I'd go with the fact that the main character on the front of the boxed expansions usually isn't a model in the box.


Normally fair, but mine came with the Luke/Vader expansions in there so I've got everyone. Return to Hoth box makes me a little sad now with Leia so prominently displayed (RIP).

As far as tokens; fair, but like... none of the characters that are tokens are essential to the campaign, and I'd rather pay $55 out the door and choose to spend up for more minis/missions then pay $110 for a game I may not love/replay that much.
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This is another case of lamenting about what could have been instead of brainstorming about what could be.

You have the game, the pieces, the chits, minis, a number of cards... but you are not satisfied with the story. Lucky for you the story is the easiest part to replace! Write your own! Go to the session reports of IA or Star Wars: Rebellion, or hell, google Star Wars Fan-Fic. SEARCH OUT INSPIRATION. If all board games are to you is a tool to drone out your entertainment, then of course you aren't going to be satisfied with the campaign. There is a story inside of you that desires to be told or you would not have had such a hard time with IA's campaign.

My challenge to you is to open up the game, setup a scenario, then play your kids through it. Use IA as Pseudo-DnD that you can share with your kids, except this time, you are telling the story and you can add twists and turns how YOU see fit...

Man, THAT is the wonder of Board games for me. The ability to take a published game like Wiz-War and turn it into whatever I want. Have you really forgotten the same imagination that your kids likely hold?

I don't think FFG ruined the campaign for your kids, I think you did. You couldn't play the part of the actor and create an experience with what you were given. Give it another chance, give your kids another chance with a special story that THEIR OWN FATHER came up with. At the end of the day, it's just a bunch of cardboard and plastic that goes back into the same box. The stories, however, are held onto forever and hold much more intrinsic value.
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bemyers13 wrote:
1) Using tokens ruins the theme. It doesn't detract...it ruins it. I'm not even a Star Wars fan but the theme in the game is excellent and FF made a conscious decision to use that theme against players drawn to it. It was almost impossible to know before you purchased the game of their decision to include characters in the campaign that were represented with tokens.


Quote:
12 Ally and Villain Token


That's on the home page for the game here.

See roughly around 5:16 of this video which was posted on Oct. 28th 2014.



You might not have liked their decision to do something, but please, don't try to sell us on the idea that this information is "almost impossible" to find when it has been sitting there for 2+ years.
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    This phrase --

bemyers13 wrote:
My second mistake was believing that a game with such good production value would translate in to quality through out.


    . . . should be emblazoned at the top of BGG's home page for six months for all to see. It's not about this game in particular, but about all games sold in the hobby. The number of times I've seen people talk about the "thickness of the cardboard" as a buy/no-buy condition is just astounding.
Hey, this ain't limited to board gaming. People used to joke about who with cell phone reviews, one important thing to cover is what material the casing is made out of... metal, plastic? Does it attract or repel fingerprints? Nowadays, it really isn't a joke anymore



Sagrilarus wrote:
    The nature of the board gaming market at the moment is carefully designed to make sales prior to the reveal of actual gameplay. I simply don't understand why people that clearly state they "don't want luck in my games" are willing to buy products based on "OMFG! Look at those minis!!!"
Video games too! I've seen waaay too many people buy vg just because they had a big budget. With both bg and vg, how people buy games based largely on b/c it's from a popular/beloved franchise!
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I researched the heck out of SWIA before buying it, and mainly will play skirmish. At my "age and stage" too hard to find 4 other folks that can commit to regular play for several weeks.

What I didn't pick up on in my research was that SWIA is less of a canonical dungeon crawler and more of a slimmed-down skirmish game with "collectible" elements (e.g. all those fancy "powers" cards you get in the minis packs).

So this was a surprise but I still like the game. I do prefer more self-contained "one-shot" dungeon crawler titles, but I can always make rules for that and use my old Star Wars minis and new SWIA minis.

Too bad OP didn't like it. I thought it was cool though I would have implemented differently.
 
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Destrio wrote:
Randomization adds to replayability in terms of mixing starting options with a new order of missions to complete which does then remove a more tightly woven story. It is the difference between watching movies and playing a video game.

Yep, these expansions get really expensive but they can continue to do this model of sales as long as they find buyers.


A good movie I'll watch forever. A mediocre video game I'll play once, if that.
 
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Might I recommend Mice and Mystics. It sounds a lot more like what you are looking for. It is a similar game to Imperial Assault, but with Mice and Insects. It and the two expansions come with large story books that have a lot more plot to them then Imperial Assault.
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jaybeethree wrote:
Destrio wrote:
Randomization adds to replayability in terms of mixing starting options with a new order of missions to complete which does then remove a more tightly woven story. It is the difference between watching movies and playing a video game.

Yep, these expansions get really expensive but they can continue to do this model of sales as long as they find buyers.


A good movie I'll watch forever. A mediocre video game I'll play once, if that.


This is where the analogy parts. I was just trying to illustrate how the design of IA is more about replayability than a static setup. For instance, you wouldn't replay Time Stories forever without new expansions no matter how much you like it. Gaming is interactive whereas movies and books are passive and can be retread without losing as much in the experience.

Anyway, IA isn't for everyone and I don't play it often either. Just thought I'd chime in as I have seen reviews of board games where the negatives come off more from the reviewers' expectations of some other design rather than the design itself. I know this isn't a review, but we can avoid purchase regrets with more time dedicated to researching prior to purchase.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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Meh, I could make similar complaints about any game...

That's why I do a little bit of research before buying a game. All the issues mentioned were already discussed and mentioned days after the release of the game on this very site, the same site the OP somehow has managed to access to complain.

Blindly buying a game and then being surprised it doesn't offer the experience you were looking for isn't really a reflection on the game in my mind.
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