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Subject: Quick review of S&S rss

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Mike Pace
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Component quality: 5/5
Excellently casted miniatures for both the heroes and monsters. Monster variety is limited due to their expansion strategy but this doesn't take away from the quality of the models. Cardboard tokens are thick and well printed, and there are tons of them for all the different effects, story triggers, etc. that the game contains. Cardboard map tiles are also of good quality with detailed environment artwork. Cards are your average plastic coated stock with high quality artwork of equipment, items, and abilities. The dice are easy to read and all seem to roll as randomly as they should.

Gameplay: 4/5
The game is fun and runs fairly smoothly once all of the rules are understood (more on that below). Some highlights:

Unlike some other games with a tile reveal mechanism, you completely pre-build each scenario map before beginning the game. Then you place markers representing story triggers, friendly and enemy spawn points, treasure piles, etc. at the appropriate locations as defined in the campaign book. The story triggers are really fun, as your party doesn't know what's going to happen when a certain location has been reached and must consult a "Secrets" book that presents some narrative and (more often than not) a decision to make based off of your party's alignment, which in turn usually spawns special enemies, triggers status effects, drops loot, or open another story arc. It's a fun system that encourages the party to explore the whole map instead of just trying to "beat" it.

Character building is fun and leveling up is reminiscent of picking new skills from a skill tree in a video game. You've got all of your classic RPG archetypes from tanky cleric to dual-wielding rogue, so it's familiar ground when deciding which equipment and skills to choose. There are lots of fun spells and abilities for each class that make combat decisions interesting and allow for some clever tactics.

Enemy movement and combat is pretty straightforward if you’ve played other games in the same vein. Each Player Character is assigned an enemy model as it spawns. Each enemy type has a very detailed AI sheet, dictating how it moves and attacks during the enemy turn phase. Enemies also have passive and active abilities that make things more interesting (read: difficult).

Rulebook 2/5

I’m the kind of board gamer that gets excited when a game has multiple rulebooks. I actually enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and a thick rulebook (please send help). Sword & Sorcery’s rulebook is not the worst set of rules that I’ve ever come across. In fact, the rules themselves are actually not that bad if you’re used to slightly heavier games. But by all the gods, this game took me forever to learn due to the format of the rules and the way they are written. Rules pertaining to the same small sequence of events seem to be spread out across three pages and various captions. Many people new to games like Mage Knight bemoan the difficulty of learning the rules, but these days it’s actually not bad at all. Why? Because we have succinct reference materials to turn to when we can’t remember one of the dozens of modifiers or rules interactions. S&S desperately needs a good editor for its rulebook to distill the flow of a turn down into an easy-to-follow progression.

TL;DR

A great game with a bad rulebook. If you have the patience to mentally organize the rules you’ll find a fun, story-driven RPG that keeps you wanting to play again and again.
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Kevin Erskine
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Alexandria
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Weird. I was just thinking last night how great the rulebook is. The index is especially great for finding things. I learned a lot from watching a video, so perhaps I might dislike it to learn the game, but once you have a handle on it. I think it's one of the best out there.
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N F
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Greenwood
Indiana
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I agree that the rulebook is really easy to reference, so that is good. But it was also really hard to learn and took several readings. I still can't put my finger on it. After playing the game a few times, it is really not that complicated. So, there is something about the rulebook that just doesn't do a good job teaching the rules, even though they are all in there.
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Caleb Kester
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kerskine wrote:
Weird. I was just thinking last night how great the rulebook is. The index is especially great for finding things. I learned a lot from watching a video, so perhaps I might dislike it to learn the game, but once you have a handle on it. I think it's one of the best out there.


I agree. It seems like the rulebook is pretty polarizing. I agree there are things that the rulebook could improve on but I've seen a lot worse rules.
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Vasilis
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I'm baffled when I read that the rulebook is bad. I had zero problems with it beyond some things that needed to be more clear.
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Skaak
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I suspect part of the reason the rulebook tends to have people love it or hate it is because on an initial read-through it doesn't give you an easy handle on how the game actually flows; instead, things are organized based on subject for easier reference.

I think this is ultimately the right choice (with this many random little rules, if you couldn't find them when you needed it would be horrific), but it does slightly increase the learning curve if you haven't seen the gameplay in action before (or are not familiar with Galaxy Defenders already).

I can see where people are coming from when they are frustrated by the rulebook on their initial read, though.
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N F
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Greenwood
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Bowmangr wrote:
I'm baffled when I read that the rulebook is bad. I had zero problems with it beyond some things that needed to be more clear.


This is what is funny to me. I agree with you. When I went through the rules, I didn't see anything wrong with the rulebook either. But, through my playing experience I have just found that the rulebook didn't do a good job of preparing me to play. After 3 reads, I never have to look at a rulebook again for almost any game. This one I still have to reference a lot. Which it does very well.

Usually, I can look at a bad rulebook and say why it is bad. This one seems like a good rulebook, but in the end, doesn't convey the rules very well.(to me) And, of course, that is the whole purpose of a rulebook.
 
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Many people says the game is fiddly


The rulebook is fiddly and too verbose, the game is not :|.


To learn the rules (consider i am used to mostly complex games) i had to read it twice, play a couple test missions and finally come here to read or ask for rules.

Now i never even take the rulebook out of the box.
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Frank Franco
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Put me in the "liked the rulebook" camp.
 
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Mike Pace
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Skaak wrote:
it doesn't give you an easy handle on how the game actually flows


I think this was my biggest frustration. The game isn't complicated but for some reason I kept overthinking things and had to keep going back to the rules to make sure I was doing things correctly. I think if they had put all of the isolated examples found throughout the book into a continuous example, then I would have eased into the game much more quickly. A little player and enemy turn example section or booklet would not be out of place.
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