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Subject: first impression - 6 player game rss

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Désirée Greverud
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Stockholm
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In honor of the 20 year anniversary of Buffy our game group had a Buffy Night. I brought my old MB Buffy game but instead ended up player the new Buffy coöp. 6 of us played, 5 new to the game.

We began with a discussion of why a feminist icon like Buffy has a game were only 2 out 6 playable characters are women. No Faith. No Anya. No Cordelia. Very disappointing. Not off to a good start.

I am not familiar with the modern coöps this is often compared to, but I am very familiar with the old Milton Bradley Buffy game, which for a roll & move is an excellent game. I mentioned during rules explanation that this game looked like the old game "modernized" and often not in a good way.

The game started poorly for us, with Sweet being the first Villain of the Week. The Sweet card requires all discussions to be sung. This was awful on the first round as it meant we needed to sing "rules explanation exemption" (the rules explainer refused to sing at all so either exempted herself or pantomimed answers. The rest of us had to decide if our question was important enough to sing. Note also that while I am a native English speaker, this was at a Swedish Game group so for a couple of players, singing in English was an even bigger issue.

The first round took well over an hour, just to get to a point where we could attack the villain and have an unalterable random 66% chance of defeating him.

This highlights the lack of theme in what should be a very thematic game. Aside from each characters special ability, everyone has the same fight abilities entirely based on what items they are carrying. Hell the older MB game handled this better where each character gets a different number of fight and magic dice to roll during combat and can expend cards to add even more. Too often on a players turn they were in the place they wanted to be but because of other circumstance could take no other action.

Unlike games like Pandemic or Hanabi where there is a card deck countdown, adding tension and a definitive end, this Buffy game uses dead townies and wounds to move towards an ending. But wounds can be healed, and with 6 players, it is quite easy to park 1, 2 even 3 players on the healing space (since they probably have nothing else to do anyway) and clean off all the wounds. We played for over 3 hours, defeating 3 villains of the week but failed 2 attempts at the Big Bads "plot cards". It was late and 1 of our 6 had already dropped out from boredom (in her defense, she had never watched Buffy) and 2 more of us had subways to catch. After the round, we were 1 wound away from dying, so declared the game a loss and packed up.

Given the choice, I would play the old MB game over this. and since I do have that choice, I will probably never play this again.
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Oncoming Storm
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Don't give up on the game! I know it has its imperfections, but it really starts to hit a groove with 4 players. (Or with 2 players playing with 4 characters, as my wife and I are wont to do.)

Another tip; the player playing Giles is in for a long, slow game...
 
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Désirée Greverud
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OncomingStorm wrote:
Don't give up on the game! I know it has its imperfections, but it really starts to hit a groove with 4 players. (Or with 2 players playing with 4 characters, as my wife and I are wont to do.)

Another tip; the player playing Giles is in for a long, slow game...

well, it's not my game. This was at Game Night where we had a "20 year anniversary of Buffy" party

I already have a game that would scratch that (admittedly very rare) "I want a Buffy themed game" itch. A game I find to better, more thematic, less gender problematic and done in less time.
 
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Mark Jackson
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Until everyone is comfortable with the game I world definitely recommend redrawing MOTW if you draw Sweet or The Gentlemen (I think it's them... The one where you can't talk). They're fun thematically but very disruptive in a learning game situation.
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Mike Hill
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Yeahh, if you don't think singing or being barred from talking would be fun for all involved I would remove them entirly. We don't even play the optional "screaming space battles" rules for mag blast because it's too weird.
 
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Désirée Greverud
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first round/first game singing was alternately hysterical and infuriating. In hindsight, we should have redrawn. But you know - gamers, we follow the rules and live by the draw of the cards.
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Moose Detective
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Mystery of the Abbey also has a singing card. I just take it out of the deck if I'm playing with people that I think won't appreciate it.

If I got a Sweet card, I would break into the entire musical episode until ears bled.
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I. Withnail
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Drawing Sweet first in a 6-player game with 5 newbies is absolutely hilarious! Love it. I can see it was not ideal though, and I do sympathise, especially with the language issue. But, it's still really funny, and thank you for sharing the experience with us!

Nice review too. I like the game quite a lot, but you make some great observations about it. I agree with your criticism that fighting and action abilities are item-driven, for example, rather than scaled according to the character's skills in the show, although I feel compelled to add that Buffy's, Spike's, and Willow's specials do add a lot of power to those characters and in a thematic way. The use and timing of those specials is a key part of the game, so I don't think it's valid to say that leaving the specials aside, all characters are the same, because you have to use those specials every round and they are much more dynamic than regular actions. For me, the special attacks in conjunction with the Monsters of the Week, Artifact deck and beautiful board provide enough theme for a satisfying narrative thematic game. I'd have preferred more description on the event cards to add more theme.

I also wondered about only two female characters in the game. You mention the exclusion of Faith, Anya and Cordelia, and you could add Dawn and Tara there too. Looking at the characters they selected, Buffy, Giles, Willow and Xander were auto-includes, and only then does it become harder to pick. Spike is the next character with the most longevity in the show, so I get him being there and agree with that, but picking Cordelia or Anya over Angel would have balanced things up in the right way. Faith wasn't as major a presence compared to those two. The answer might be that - if the game does well - there will either be a Buffy expansion that contains all of those female characters, or an Angel game that would certainly include Cordelia, or both, although a planned Angel game makes his inclusion instead of Anya more problematic. But expansions are a maybe. I totally see where your group discussion was coming from. An alternative design decision would simply have been to include extra playable characters, eg 8 instead of 6 and add Cordelia and Anya. That would have worked because there's no shortage of characters for an expansion anyway: Faith, Oz, Kendra, Dawn, Andrew, Tara, etc. Personally, I would have gone with 7, left out Angel, and included both Cordelia and Anya.

Still, I played a 3-player game on Friday night with two women, one of whom teaches gender and played Buffy and the other who is lesbian and played Willow, and it was pretty awesome. How often are playable board game characters like that available?
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Lorenzo Favilli
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The Sweet and Gentlemen cards are probably one of the main reasons why I was really hyped for this game.
I think more monsters of week should have been like these two.
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Kotep
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I didn't realize that this had to be a feminist game....and neither did my wife. We're both huge fans of the BtVS and Angel, and had no serious issues with the lack (and selection) of characters available. Sure, more would be nice, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Perhaps the designers went with who they thought would be the popular choices. Or as previously stated, maybe an expansion in the future with more characters/MotW/BBads. We'll have to wait and see.

My biggest issue (and I DO really like the game) is that the fighting is very weapon driven - but I also realize that this was done for either simplicity or speed of gameplay.
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Steven Dos Santos
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Hallandale
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They could have still made the base game a 6 player game, but included 7 or 8 characters to choose from (i.e. Cordelia, Anya, Faith, Dawn, etc.).
 
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