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Subject: So- UK Game Expo gave Dark Souls an award... rss

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Drew Olds
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Does this make STeamforge less likely to give us an official change to the rules?

I mean- this game is unplayably long, and it gets WAY too boring before it gets finished.

With some changes, it is a pretty cool game.


And with Wave 2, it wouldn't be that hard for Steamforge to send out a revised rulebook that fixes the game.

BUT- the UK game expo thinks that 5+ hours of Dark Souls is awesome... does that mean that we won't get an official playable Dark Souls?
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Mark Schipper
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Being from Australia. i cant comment because i dont have my copy yet. devil
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Pete R.
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5+ hours of Dark Souls is awesome! Great game as written and deserving of some awards and kudos, imo, as it adapts the video game experience very well. Looking forward to more but the game - as is - is great fun.
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Jason
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The game accomplishes what it set out to do. I also think it's great fun. It feels unique among my miniatures games; I'd personally prefer it to stay that way.
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Paul Liolio
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Okay, back to reality. The game is a boring slog that focuses on an item lottery and I wish it was better, because I spent a lot of money on it...

Reeaally hoping for a new rule set. But hey, you dudes can keep your 1.0 ruleset even if they decide to revise the rules.

I think it'd be a good faith move to the backers to do a revision..
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Markus
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I dont think they will change the rules. I hope the expansion and invaders spice up the game a little. But honestly, after played some rounds and altering the rules, the game lives a lonely life on my shelf.
 
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Arthur Howe
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The game, as written, is tons of fun. If you don't like the longish "full" game, break it up into separate gaming sessions. Like a mini campaign: Fight the mini boss leg in the first and the main boss in the second.

As for the item "lottery", it adds an unpredictable element that forces you to tailor your play style from session to session. We rarely grind: once we start seeing loot we begin our plans for leveling and what to equip for that session. Most mini boss sessions we hit each encounter once and then try the boss. We're not always successful, but it makes the game more exciting.

"Grinding" for loot and leveling stats would be very boring and I could see most folks liking certain gear and waiting for it to pop up in the loot, leveling their stats to equip it along the way. By that time you will have out-leveled the boss encounter which takes the thrill out of it.
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Stephen Parkes
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The thing with the Expo awards is that you pay to get on the ballot and then its usually a case of whichever game on the list has the highest profile. I don't think the award means much at all. The Steamforged stand at the expo seemed rather somber to me. Like they knew they were peddling an inferior product.

I'm definitely in the 'this game is boring' camp. I honestly can't understand why people think it is good. I can only assume that we're offering two different levels of charity to what is in fact a very mediocre experience. I played it once (over two nights), and seemingly have had no inclination to go back to it again. Whereas I played Star Wars: Rebellion for the first time on Saturday night and then played another full game the morning after.

I would like to see a proper new ruleset for this game, but given the bollocks Steamforged made of the original rules, I'm not sure I'd trust them to do it.
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Robert Marney
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StarryVeck wrote:
I'm definitely in the 'this game is boring' camp. I honestly can't understand why people think it is good. I can only assume that we're offering two different levels of charity to what is in fact a very mediocre experience. I played it once (over two nights), and seemingly have had no inclination to go back to it again. Whereas I played Star Wars: Rebellion for the first time on Saturday night and then played another full game the morning after.


Maybe we just have different tolerance levels for house rules. I played Dark Souls once and was hooked, I couldn't put it down for the rest of the week. Since then, I've had tons of fun trying out increasingly wacky variants, introducing friends, and playing solo campaigns.

I agree with you that the game as written is boring, with a great core gameplay loop (boss attack cards, push-your-luck health bar, level up after winning) and a strong theme, marred by 4 hours of grinding. If a game becomes super fun after I rewrote large chunks of the rulebook, added treasure drafting, and cut out 3/4 of the encounters, does that count in the game's favor or against it?
 
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Stephen Parkes
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I dunno, I feel like having critiqued the rules so heavily, both from the perspective of them being bad as well as the desire to improve them, that I've kind of seen behind the curtain of this game. Enemy movement and behaviour is dull, there's too much dice rolling and despite many claims to the contrary, for me it doesn't capture the essence of Dark Souls at all. All the house rules and variants don't seem to do anything to remedy these issues, and that's not to say that the game doesn't have signficant issues elsewhere.
 
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Jared Wilbur
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If the rules for a game need alterations to make the game enjoyable, they are not good rules. These designers are professionals, they make money because they are tasked to make good rules that don't need alteration for the game to be fun.

An example. If I am a project manager and I come up with a project but in order for it to be successful it needs significant alterations, why did I get paid? They might as well have hired someone else who could come up with a good scope to begin with. Or if I program but in order for my code to work clean without being buggy it needs significant alterations, they should get a better programmer.

I think the fundamental mechanics are fine. The core game doesn't have enough variety in treasures, enemies, or heroes to make the game fun. In my mind, the dullness of the game doesn't stem entirely from the 'as written' rules, but more so from the lack of stuff that comes in the core box. Adding summons, invaders, more effects in weapons and enemies, more enemy types, more of everything would be a big step in improving the game.
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Crazed Survivor
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I was so surprised when I heard of that.
I really don't believe it deserves an award unless it's the award of the most disappoingly-rushed piece of game that could have been awesome and is just meh instead surprise

Not to mention very low replay-value with the base game only.
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Farydia Pseudo
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Wow... the amount of acid in this thread is amazing! So much so, that I feel obliged to get some positivity in here.

I enjoyed my first game of Dark Souls immensely. We played 2-player with the rules as written and although it is a long game, we were engaged all the time. The second time you go into an encounter is very different from the first time when you just stumble in. And the ones we did a third time just went by in a breeze (<5min. / encounter). The boss mechanic is very cool imo and we had tremendous fun. I expect that the add-ons will improve replayability, as well, although I think we will be happy enough with the base game until then. We might do half sparks / double souls next time or maybe not. It is very easy to "save" after the mini-boss and just continue next time.

Of course, as with every game, everyone is entitled not to like it. But it certainly does not deserve the level of outright hatred it gets in this thread. I think there are award-worthy mechanics in this game, e. g. I think the combat (especially boss encounters) is just brilliant. It is extremely tactical and all about luck-mitigation, teamwork and clever usage of the information available to you.

Just to take away the usual accusations, a short disclaimer: I neither get paid by SFG or Bandai Namco for saying this, nor do I suffer from "I have to justify my KS investment" syndrome. I do not miss the money I invested into Dark Souls (I make a point of never investing money I would actually need for anything), so I feel no need to justify anything. It is probably not the best board game ever invented and I would not rate it as the best game I currently own - but that is true for 99.5% of the games I own .

Thanks for reading.
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Crazed Survivor
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Well it was bound to be a polarizing game. Beloved IP + extremely successfull KS campaign could only lead to acid criticism unless the game was perfect.
And then it was rushed.
 
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Anders Pedersen
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I played a couple of games before loosing interest.
Now the game will be sitting in my closet waiting for the Kickstarter extras to arrive.
Very disappointed it did not have longer staying power, but at this point the game has already shown me what it has to offer.
Good for those who enjoy houseruling a lot, but I personally pay to get a finished game, which this does not feel like, sadly.
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Jared Wilbur
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I'm with you Anders. I played three different sessions, and several solo trying to refine the rules to reduce the playtime required then called it good. Ultimately, the problem was that there isn't enough in the box to keep me coming back. SFG's mention that the invader mechanic was removed from the core game and saved for an expansion coupled with unusable stagger tokens and negligible freeze tokens make the game feel like they designed a lot more and withheld it from the core game in order to increase revenue through expansions.

To be fair, if a game regularly plays at over 2 hours it tends to get out less often, even if it's brilliant like Twilight Struggle. I usually trade my longer games away because they never see the light of day.
 
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Dave Rowe
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I'm in the "houserules make it playable, and you need to houserule eventually, anyhow, to keep it interesting" camp.

I love Dark Souls, I have books written about it, am developing my own computer game informed by a lot of it, and I credit it with saving video games for me in a time when the general design philosophies in the medium were pushing me out. I picked it up launch day without a console, and had to borrow an xbox for months to finish it.

To me, Dark Souls being "hard" is a misinterpretation. Dark Souls punishes thoughtlessness, demanding the player be engaged at all times and considerate. It is not "hard" in the same way as a hardcore shmup or such, it is just exacting. This is one thing I feel the board game failed to interpret or understand the spirit of Dark Souls on.

The board game just feels... somewhat amateur to me, it feels like board games I started working on and abandoned when I realized there were too many foundational problems that were not easy to fix, even if I was in love with some of the mechanical ideas present.

The lack of content and staying power also really hurts it right now, there just isn't enough variety in the situations to keep it interesting to me, to the point where the games where the dungeon aspect was played at all is in the minority now, instead preferring to skip straight to the boss with a restrictive item draft and soul pool to work with.

It also doesn't help that, after playing many solo games and some group games, some of the foundational rules still seem unclear or inconsistent to me and I have to look things up on the rulings forums constantly (for example, one of the titanite demon attack cards offers a combination of icons that contradict a lot of the rules of the game, and interpreting that is difficult, or how players had to collectively agree on the steamforged forums on how weak points and ranged attacks interact, which seems like... a common scenario to come up).

There's also some really obvious graphic design issues, like, why doesn't the player board show that characters icon anywhere? Or why does every card have a giant "BASE SET" icon on it? Why are the trap room icons so subtle and easy to miss?

It's also a bit revealing that the official forums have a massive rules questions board, and the "game discussion" board is pretty much dominated by painting tips and photos, same with the subreddit for the game, with little to no discussion of the gameplay or strategy present.

A lot of the variants save it somewhat, but it's telling that after 2 plays of fast-play or boss only variants, my group doesn't want to play it again, leaving it as a solo game primarily for me to tweak rules and mess with like a design exercise.

It also kind of feels like there aren't any meaningful choices in the game. I can't remember an instance where someone, or myself, made a move that could have been considered a "good move", and not "an obvious move". One of the first house rules we added was the ability to buy another attack or move action for 2 stamina to offer SOME kind of choice on your turn.

All that said, it's not all bad. The boss fights are pretty great. My group primarily plays engine-building euros or social deduction party games, so this is a bit different from our usual fare, and definitely hits a "big messy handfuls of dice" void we had in our game menu. We did have some instances where the table cheered or held their breath in regards to an important roll, but those moments were offset by the sheer downtime problems and lack of interesting choices on an individuals turn.

Honestly, in terms of playing with the group, the best thing this game did was make some of them interested in the franchise a bit, if not only to see "why that guy has eyes on his moobs".
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Pete R.
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Hardcore players of the Dark Souls video games are used to people not liking the gams or wishing it was easier/different/etc. It appears the Dark Souls boardgame is also drawing the same discussion which I think speaks well for how close SteamForged nailed the Dark Souls theme, imo.
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Crazed Survivor
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Strom40 wrote:
Hardcore players of the Dark Souls video games are used to people not liking the gams or wishing it was easier/different/etc. It appears the Dark Souls boardgame is also drawing the same discussion which I think speaks well for how close SteamForged nailed the Dark Souls theme, imo.


Yeah well except that it's all related to the luck of the draw. Which makes me think that they totally not nailed it.
And also being qualified as boring by many people isn't exactly success either, and is it never used to qualify the source material.

Again, it has its moments, and its good points.

It's just not what it should, sorry, would have been if it had been playtested for an additional year.

Oh whatever, enjoy it if you can.
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Timo R
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I agree, the game could have been much better with a little more polished mechanics. But in all honesty, it was an impossible task to make everyone happy. The audience is just too diverse!

For me, house ruling is no big deal, as the game is fully cooperative. There will not be one party feeling cheated by modifications and turning rules lawyer, because everyone wins or loses together.

My group really likes the game, but not RaW to be honest (we applied some rather subtle modifications without altering the core of the game - posted in the variants section).

What disappoints me the most:
- The very limited amount of content regarding standard enemies and behavior (this gets old pretty fast)
- The high amount of mistakes regarding attribute requirements on item cards (not fitting the correct class, the item's flavor, making items right out useless etc.)

Let's see, what wave 2 does for the game!

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Dave Rowe
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I also don't buy the "true fans of DS will eat it up" argument because, well, I like DS because of the quality of the game design and how considered every aspect of it is, which I feel this product does not demonstrate.

I also rarely see anyone debating the merits or quality of the DS video game (DS2 and 3 non-withstanding, which have a lot of debate regarding their individual choices and strengths, but that's within the fan community). Most who dislike it, who I've seen, simply concede it's not for them from a design stance, not a quality stance.
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Adam Daily

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I know based on some of their Facebook replies and forums that Steamforged are very encouraging of house rules and want to actively foster that community. There's a Facebook post where they mentioned the possibility of doing blog posts with their favorite house rules and variants, which is pretty cool. On the same post, they mentioned that they're not going to be doing rules errata "at this point in time", but the general implication of the post to me is that they've still got their hands full with shipping and there aren't serious enough gameplay issues to need to think about rules changes now, rather than saying that they're great how they are and aren't subject to change.

I think in general, it feels to me like the very barebones of a potentially cool game. I think you see so many people spending so much time making house rules because they're effectively finishing developing the game. I would argue that the game wasn't rushed, it's just that there's not enough time to fit all kinds of crazy neat ideas into gameplay and also take the time to test those mechanics. I'd imagine they were given a very strict timeline and had to prioritize what stuff to include and playtest. It's better to release a simple, boring game that can easily be iterated on than a game that includes many cool ideas that are completely unbalanced and untested. The former is a little underwhelming but easy to build out, the latter is an unwieldy mess that can't be easily fixed because the foundations of the game are not well thought through or don't scale well. They only had a year to release something, so I'm guessing it was a mindset of "pick N cool features and make sure they operate really well, and just make sure everything else is well balanced so we can build on strong foundations later". The flaws with the game aren't things that make the game irreparably unplayable, they just aren't fleshed out enough. No one would be complaining about a 5 hour game that's packed to the gills with tense combat decisions and interesting character progression (there's a reason Mage Knight is well rated, and it's got nothing to do with brevity). I think you'd see fewer complaints about dice-based combat or random loot if a bad dice roll or unusuable loot was just the result of one decision among many and you had ways of coming back from that bad result on your turn. If you had a decision to make before/after your bad roll/shitty loot, you get a feeling of player agency. It's just that that part didn't get developed.

I'm a software developer for a very large tech company and defining scope for software on our team works very much the same way. Product management prioritizes a few cool features, but then otherwise we write APIs in such a way that they're minimal but easy to iterate on. If you jam everything you think is cool into your product right from the get go, you're either going to break your deadline, or you risk shooting yourself in the foot and not being able to fix it after the fact.
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Jared Wilbur
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Adam,

You make it sound like they created a foundational, base product to build on over time. I agree with you to an extent. Here is where I differ in opinion (the 'over time' part).

Their time constraint was massive, and with board games you cannot undersell how important it is to playtest. An incubation period is necessary for board game development, and for creative projects in general.

Due to this time constraint, the base game is not the only thing they created. I believe they created all Kickstarter content simultaneously and playtested it all in the same time frame. Due to the October delay, they may have gained a few more months to tweak some rules, but thats hardly a large amount of time for playtesting. And they are probably spending those months primarily on fulfillment. One of SFGs early updates showed a bunch of enemy data cards scribbled on a piece of paper and several enemies on there were not included in the base game. They also offered the PnP of the Mimic in another update.

The stretch goal expansions, in my mind, are part of a base game that was fractured in order to make the KS campaign more attractive and increase future revenue from non-backers.

I can't recommend the base game alone, but I imagine a few expansions thrown in will make it a really fun, albeit cost prohibitive, experience.

Also, a HEARTY AMEN to Dave Rowe.
 
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Adam Daily

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So, what I meant to imply is that they created a foundational design. Whether that culminates in something that feels like a full game on its own is I think a different story. I think that the core rules feel pretty light and empty are symptomatic of what you're talking about: pressure to develop a ton of material in a short time frame. Again, my guess is that they stressed building something that can easily accommodate changes later so that they can at least playtest the core concept in the limited available time rather than adding additional features and innovation up front.

Completely agree that I would not recommend the base game as is at the current price.
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Adam Daily

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Jared,

Ah, I think you're saying that the "full game" is really the core game plus stretch goals, and the developers didn't accommodate for the fact that the game is much less appealing without the stretch goals. Perhaps. I do still feel though that the mechanics themselves feel very anemic but something you could make fun by adding stuff on top of it (additional abilities, ways to combo attacks, meaningful terrain, etc.) It feels very proof-of-concept to me, like when you play an alpha build of a PC game. For instance, I made a bunch of houserules that basically expand on how combat, movement, and character progression work and it doesn't really break the base rules at all. I don't think that's coincidental. I think the developers were conservative with what they introduced so they could iterate and expand on the mechanics when they have a little breathing room to develop ideas and flesh the game out. Or maybe I'm wrong and they just like boring games
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