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Thornwatch» Forums » Reviews

Subject: :-/ Meh Review of my first (release) playthrough rss

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Marcus Gaskamp
United States
Oklahoma
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On the good side. Artwork and IP are awesome. Not much else to say here. The Eyrewood setting is high fantasy but different enough to not feel like just another Tolkien rip off. The setting itself is deep and thought provoking. The artwork is great and very PA but that's what they do well.

The So/so...

The game mechanics can be interesting with the right group. I can easily imagine a group of people who are not comfortable with RP just completely ignoring the traits. And even avid RPers feel shoehorned into the experience. The Eyrewood is a strange setting and unless you're just a die-hard PA fan you don't know much about it when starting the game. This doesn't exactly give you an RP head start. But, in addition to that, some criticism has come that the Role-Play aspect feels bolted on and I have to agree. I have found that explaining the Thornwatch to the players is helpful but really I wish there was a book or set of comics or something I could point to help players "find" their characters and understand just what the hell is supposed to be going on in RP.

Aside from RP I like most everything else gameplay-wise. The momentum track is... interesting. I haven't decided if I love it or tolerate it. I defiantly don't hate it. Perhaps if I start to learn to judge a bit better I can use it to make a more compelling game but after just a few playthroughs separated by years and in a variety of groups that question will have to be open for a bit.

I only find myself wanting a little in that it'd be nice to be able to customize your member of the thornwatch somehow. Add a bit more deckbuilder to the mix. I understand they're re-summoned from one campaign to the next but some aggressive deck-building between scenes would be fun. Receive your objective, pick cards you think will help you with that objective, see what happens.


The bad.

Although I haven't played through all of the scenarios, an ongoing list (even digital) of new, official, scenarios would be great. I can see playing through the content in the box on a family vacation. The scenes have some replay-ability but the kind of replay value you find in something like talisman. Once the mysteries of the scene have been revealed, once you understand the monsters and the objective, they lose a lot of their luster.

The real bad.

The components are, frankly, embarrassing for the price. For all that time they spent on artwork they cinched on the components. My assumption is that the actual printing and much of the mechanics were left to loneshark while the art and IP, along with approval of the mechanics and starting design for them were in the PA wheelhouse. That said, and if I'm right, the publication part of the job seems to be treated like a chore and not a passion like the rest of the game.

The artwork threatened to tear off on every cardboard punchout. The cardboard itself de-laminated even if you were careful making bulgy ends near the connection points at best and ripped off art at worst. The punch tools they used caused big leftover cardboard burrs on every piece. My box was missing the hero and judge trackers from the base game. Others complained in the kickstarter comments about various other missing bits. The cards were pretty thin but so far no problems. They're getting sleeved but I certainly wouldn't recommend much playing without sleeved cards. On a scale of 1 to 10 for durability, 1 being printer paper and 10 being full plastic or Custom strong matte. They have to come in about a 4. Typical Magic cards would be a solid 6.
The saddest casualty is that the art on the boards seems to chaff easily. I think I'll have to do something to protect it before it get handled much in the box or out. The artwork on screen that was shown in the kickstarter was drool-worthy IMHO. I just fucking loved it. In the version of the game I received I'm not sure if it was the printer or the stock but somehow the colors came a little washed out. Not terrible but noticeably less saturation than the onscreen images and actually a good deal worse than the self-printed boards from the print-and-play. The self print I did came out spectacular but that may have been because on those pages I bumped the dpi up and used the pantone-calibrated printer at work.
I suspect this has something to do with the printing process for the scene boards because the trackers for the expansion came out great. And most of the npc and player tokens look ok.

I'm so interested in this game and the IP that I'm going to do my best to laminate the pieces and upgrade the game to make it more presentable.

In fact, today I plan to set up some stls for 3d printable ebb, standees, and so on. I got the wood box (which is misshaped but that's another matter) so I plan on making some dividers for that and buying burlap sacks on amazon. True to Thornwatch the plan is to buy some leather lacing to tie into some of the knots from the game to keep the various bits. Also, I think the game will organize better if I keep a leather binder filled with full-page sleeves and card sleeves alongside it. The scene cards are full 8.5x11 and the cards noting npc abilities and momentum trackers are standard playing card size so this should make things easier to sort through.

The is probably the most interesting part of the PA IP to me. I'm obsessed with the Eyrewood. I'm sure some of my disappointment spurs from that ravenous hunger for all things ebb-infused. At the same time, this is something I'd desperately like to share with my friends and family at the game table, and right out of the box, I can easily see how this won't be picked up and enjoyed as quickly as a gloomhaven or what-have-you. So I think the other part of my disappointment is fear that the whole project will be abandoned because of the (almost inevitable) bad reviews for thornwatch.

I hope more people will "get it" by the end of the summer to make it a worth-while endeavor and enjoy it enough to look past the cheapy components.
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A J
United States
Riverside
California
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Thanks for the review. I haven't played it yet, so I'm looking forward to at least moving through the stories.

I definitely agree regarding component quality. As far as modern board games go (and especially Kickstarters), it's sub-par. I'd say it's about the quality of a Monopoly set back in the '90s. The smaller cards are about the same material as a cheap business card (mine already have several edge tears). The punch-outs were poorly manufactured and were in constant danger of ripping. It's sad that such evocative art and setting have been pulled down by the cost-saving publishing.

The player boards are also much thinner than I'd imagined. Most other publishers would have thicker player boards at the least.

While I'm definitely going to play it, I wouldn't show anyone this game as an example of good modern board game design.
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Jon Jacquet
United States
Washington
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This review is pretty spot on.

I had that same thought about the quality of the board being Loneshark's decision. The game feels very overpriced for how cheaply made it feels.But the art and story is pitch perfect.



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William Giant
United States
Douglas
Alaska
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Appreciate you honest review. I know it can be tough when something I'd hoped for isn't nearly as great as I'd hoped.

I'm perfectly happy with PA's deck building game by Cryptozoic, even if it's very generic. But, Thornwatch looks like the wrong captain was steering the ship at the wrong moment.

It kind of sounds like trusting someone answering to "Loneshark" to wisely invest your money is not a sound business practice.
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