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Subject: Why Don't the "Experts" Get It?? rss

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Michael Gonzalez
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I just saw yet another great reviewer, whom I love and usually agree with, pooh-pooh this game, and I've had enough! So many reviewers and commentators don't appreciate this game, and their reasons are facile and often just plain wrong. So, allow me to set the record straight:

1) "Just take the next space every time!"

This is barely worth a response, so let me just say this: do that against me, or any experienced player, and we'll wipe the floor with you point-wise. It won't even be close.

A little more clearly...

2) "The game doesn't reward the risk of jumping ahead, since everyone else can just scoop up all the spaces/points you left behind".

If this is how you're playing, you don't understand the game. Each character has a different strength for a reason. Play to the strengths and you'll score so much higher than someone who just indiscriminately takes any old space.

3) "It's only popular because of art/components!"

It does have beautiful art and components, and that all lends to the theme. The theme is rich and pervasive in this game, and it informs all the mechanisms and scoring objectives. That's part of what's so great about this game.

4) "Crossroads just added twice as much to explain, without making the game better".

Both aspects of this sort of statement are wrong. In the first place, it isn't twice as much to explain. Each location's second option is just a variant of what's already there. The theme shines through and helps with the explanation. But, secondly, Crossroads adds so much interest and decision-making and fun to this game! It's wonderful. I have to assume these reviewers and commentators have only played it once or twice, which would have ruled out many of the best games I've come to love.

Anyway, I'm not expecting to change any minds, just expressing the other side. Do any of you folks agree? Have you been as disturbed as I've been by the negativity among the reviewers about this gem?
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Jack Francisco
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Agreed. I've always enjoyed my plays of it. I'm not a fan of lighter games, but this one is very nice.
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Brian S.
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Mentat1231 wrote:
Do any of you folks agree?
Yes.

Mentat1231 wrote:
Have you been as disturbed as I've been by the negativity among the reviewers about this gem?
No. Just further evidence that art is in the eye of the beholder and "expert" opinion is just opinion.
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John Di Ponio
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I think the game is fine just the way it is! I enjoy playing it and found the artwork to totally compliment the game. The game is unique and while a lighter game, is definitely filled with decisions.
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Michael Gonzalez
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Vrooman wrote:

No. Just further evidence that art is in the eye of the beholder and "expert" opinion is just opinion.

Fair enough, but these are folks I normally agree with, more or less. It astounds me that they somehow fail to see how good this is. I mean, its light weight shouldn't bias them against it, since they often sing the praises of other light (gateway) games.
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Agreed. This is one of my current favorites. It was a gift for my girlfriend actually and she really enjoys it, and we played with her sister too (who is a non-gamer) and she also really liked it, and had no problems understanding it. This game should be a lot more popular than it is. It's a gorgeous-looking game that's fun and lightweight, yet has some very interesting decisions. It's all in how you play. I've had to make some really tough choices in this game - agonizing at times. And we haven't even played with the expansions yet.

It can be played passive and friendly, or more aggressively, as there are definitely many opportunities to block your opponents from completing goals , or getting in their way so they can't target a space they were hoping for. As I said, it's all in how you choose to play it.
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A recent comment on one of the Youtube reviews said, "So my group played this a few months ago and we do a wide variety of games. We all universally hated this. With so limited choices we didn't feel like it was actually a game. While the art is nice lack of gameplay really killed it for us."

To suggest it isn't even a game is preposterous. A recent thread in here even asked if it was a game?! They just don't get it. I honestly think people are entirely missing the point of this game, and the strategy along with it. It's the only game I've played that actually feels like I'm on a journey, but at the same time, there's certainly strategic choices to be made along the way. They're playing it wrong.

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It is a nice looking game. Yes, there is a game there, yes there is some strategy to it, but all very light (nothings wrong with that). I can certainly appreciate it for what it is.
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It seemed like scooping up all of the spaces left open from someone jumping ahead is quite a nice bonus, but.. you still need the money for them, and whether or not it gets you any/enough points.

Neat thing is, one could actually test this themselves, since this pretty much "programs" the "dummy player"/"AI".

.

Art is nice. *I* like it, and despite the (usual) number of criticisms on kickstarter, they did successfully fund "the art of ks", which was a whole book dedicated to the art used in the game (although there were stretch goals like bookmarks, and extra + alternative tiles for characters as well).
 
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ackmondual wrote:
It seemed like scooping up all of the spaces left open from someone jumping ahead is quite a nice bonus, but.. you still need the money for them, and whether or not it gets you any/enough points.

Neat thing is, one could actually test this themselves, since this pretty much "programs" the "dummy player"/"AI".

.

Art is nice. *I* like it, and despite the (usual) number of criticisms on kickstarter, they did successfully fund "the art of ks", which was a whole book dedicated to the art used in the game (although there were stretch goals like bookmarks, and extra + alternative tiles for characters as well).

I missed the Kickstarter. That book sounds awesome.
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Will McDonald
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Preach on, brother.
 
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Yeah I spent like 3 months writing comprehensive guides for this game... So don't tell me there isn't strategy.
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Michael Gonzalez
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Update: I just discovered the Board Gamers Anonymous podcast, and they do like the game, as does the Thoughtful Gamer. So, it's not that no one gets it, just most folks.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Well, I disagree with all your points, while agree with expert’s points.

Guess I’m an expert.

On a serious note:
- without crossroads it’s supereasy to choke someone by denying coins
- crossroads has been very poorly integrated into base game
- the decision space is fairly minimal for a game of this size and length

I still like it, though. I have collector’s edition and I’m always getting it out for beginners. But there is no point in defending the “advanced” side of it. It was never meant to be and even if, there are hundreds of more interesting games competing for that space.

Also saying that experts don’t understand something has probably far more error margin as a statement, than them saying you don’t understand something maybe. Worth noting.
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Michael Gonzalez
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rattkin wrote:

On a serious note:
- without crossroads it’s supereasy to choke someone by denying coins

Often at the expense of pursuing your specific goals, sure. But, yes, that is an improvement from Crossroads.

Quote:

- crossroads has been very poorly integrated into base game

How so?

Quote:

But there is no point in defending the “advanced” side of it. It was never meant to be and even if, there are hundreds of more interesting games competing for that space.

When did I say this game was "advanced"? I'm not defending that it's heavier than people think; I'm defending that it's much better than people say, and that the typical statements about it are simply incorrect (like that "just take the next space" nonsense).

Quote:

Also saying that experts don’t understand something has probably far more error margin as a statement, than them saying you don’t understand something maybe. Worth noting.

Sure, if I hadn't put the word in quotes. They're not actually experts of game design; they're just stating their opinions. And I'm fine with them having a different opinion from mine, but the reasons they give are straightforwardly incorrect. It seems like the played the game once or twice, and didn't get it (which, with the kind of volume that many reviewers put out, is probably the case).
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rattkin wrote:
Well, I disagree with all your points, while agree with expert’s points.

Guess I’m an expert.

On a serious note:
- without crossroads it’s supereasy to choke someone by denying coins
- crossroads has been very poorly integrated into base game
- the decision space is fairly minimal for a game of this size and length

I still like it, though. I have collector’s edition and I’m always getting it out for beginners. But there is no point in defending the “advanced” side of it. It was never meant to be and even if, there are hundreds of more interesting games competing for that space.

Also saying that experts don’t understand something has probably far more error margin as a statement, than them saying you don’t understand something maybe. Worth noting.

I haven't played with crossroads yet. How is it poorly integrated?
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Since it didn't introduce new board (which would be mighty expensive), it forced players to remember "when you land on this field, you can do the old action, that is depicted on the board or a new action and you have to remember which old field translates to which new action". They didn't have much choice really, but I don't find such design (where you had one option, now you have two) to be something good in the end - your options aren't really broadened, they are somewhat compressed within the same time. You can choose one, but not the other, etc. It's just obfuscation and confusion. Sure, after a while you'll internalize this fine, but it's inelegant. And "inelegant" irks me double in an otherwise very elegant game.

Mentat1231 wrote:
rattkin wrote:

On a serious note:
- without crossroads it’s supereasy to choke someone by denying coins

Often at the expense of pursuing your specific goals, sure. But, yes, that is an improvement from Crossroads.

Irrelevant. A win is a win is a win. You might not get a huge amount of points, but it is guaranteed, your opponent will get far less than you.

Mentat1231 wrote:

I'm defending that it's much better than people say

14k people say that it is rated at 7.2, which equate to "mediocre, meh game, not bad, but nothing particularly standing out" here on BGG. It's one thing to blame few reviewers, but your opinion is just one of 14k people. And the rules of math are winning with you here. The average value is 7.2. Of 14k people. Let that sink in.

Mentat1231 wrote:

Sure, if I hadn't put the word in quotes. They're not actually experts of game design; they're just stating their opinions. And I'm fine with them having a different opinion from mine, but the reasons they give are straightforwardly incorrect. It seems like the played the game once or twice, and didn't get it (which, with the kind of volume that many reviewers put out, is probably the case).

You're generalizing a lot. Do you have anyone particular in mind? Who are the mythical "they"?
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Michael Gonzalez
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rattkin wrote:
your options aren't really broadened, they are somewhat compressed within the same time. You can choose one, but not the other, etc. It's just obfuscation and confusion.

I don't see it that way, and I've taught the game with Crossroads in it from the get-go; no one found the two options odd or inelegant or confusing. It's just interesting decisions (long-term vs. short, risk of a lot vs. certainty of a little, etc). But, your opinion makes sense too, and I'm not really disputing it; people don't have to like the game or the expansion. That isn't the point, as I'll explain in a moment.

Quote:

Irrelevant. A win is a win is a win. You might not get a huge amount of points, but it is guaranteed, your opponent will get far less than you.

I have played with very little money the whole time and won. If someone is jumping ahead to deny you money, they're going to miss a lot. I'm going to scoop up points from hot springs, friends, paintings, etc.

Quote:

14k people say that it is rated at 7.2, which equate to "mediocre, meh game, not bad, but nothing particularly standing out" here on BGG. It's one thing to blame few reviewers, but your opinion is just one of 14k people. And the rules of math are winning with you here. The average value is 7.2. Of 14k people. Let that sink in.

Don't be dramatic, especially when you've clearly not actually looked at the numbers. 5.7k rate it an 8 or higher. 4.5k rate it a 7. That puts it in the top half of a percent of games on BGG. Or, if you only count the 15.9k that are rated, Tokaido is in the top 2.8%.

In any case, I clearly meant critics, when I said "people", since that's the topic of this thread. So, even if you'd been right about the stats, it wouldn't address my point.

Quote:

You're generalizing a lot. Do you have anyone particular in mind? Who are the mythical "they"?

I'm referring to Zee Garcia and other members of the Dice Tower, Rahdo, and then a couple of podcasts had folks repeating the "just take the next spot" nonsense or asking if it was really a game. I can try to look back at which podcasts exactly, but the specific criticisms I mentioned in the first post are what I'm saying are wrong. There's no generalization if I restrict consideration to people who say these specific things about the game.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Mentat1231 wrote:

Don't be dramatic, especially when you've clearly not actually looked at the numbers. 5.7k rate it an 8 or higher. 4.5k rate it a 7.

"Dramatic" sounds kind of bizarre, when I'm giving the raw numbers to the author of the post titled "Why Don't the 'Experts' get it" ended with two question marks.

Treat critics as the ultimate voice of the average opinion expressed by these numbers. Even if they are maybe expressing the "wrong" reasons, the opinion expressed, in the end, matches the opinion of the crowd. Say what you want, but it's rated at 7.1(!) now. That's gotta mean something. There is a lot of comments attached to these ratings, that can be mined for data and explanation.

That still doesn't invalidate your admiration for the game, mind you. But it puts it into broader context of 14k people.

Quote:
"just take the next spot" nonsense or asking if it was really a game. I can try to look back at which podcasts exactly, but the specific criticisms I mentioned in the first post are what I'm saying are wrong. There's no generalization if I restrict consideration to people who say these specific things about the game.

Maybe, but I'm still interested in who *actually* said that. If it's Tom or Richard, I'd like to revisit their material, hear that and understand the context, because I trust their credibility and experience. If that's just a random opinion of a low-end podcast, then I'm probably less inclined to care.
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Michael Gonzalez
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rattkin wrote:

"Dramatic" sounds kind of bizarre, when I'm giving the raw numbers to the author of the post titled "Why Don't the 'Experts' get it" ended with two question marks.

It was the "let that sink in" bit. And I responded with a clarification of the numbers.

Quote:

Treat critics as the ultimate voice of the average opinion expressed by these numbers. Even if they are maybe expressing the "wrong" reasons...

That's my entire point: the reasons I've heard were simply incorrect. That's what my initial post showed. Also, my main issue about experts was that it was the experts with whom I usually agree. Zee Garcia, Ryan Metzler (I just remembered that one of the podcasts was the Deep End, which I really like and often agree with; especially Ryan), Rahdo, etc. They're good reviewers with whom I tend to agree, and I'm just wondering why they accept the incorrect statements about the game that I mentioned in the post (note: each doesn't necessarily accept all the statements; it was a characteristic sample of what I've heard said, and a rebuttal of each point).

I'm not saying they need to like it, or that top 2.8% of all rated games isn't good enough. I just don't get why anyone believes the specific criticisms I mentioned in the first post. That's all.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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You still haven't brought any specific example of material in which reviewers are saying what you are saying "they" are saying. Without that, you're kind of fighting with imaginary adversary you've created to ... I'm not sure what for, actually. Was this a quest to prove that someone who calls himself a reviewer does not know what he/she is talking about? Or some kind of jaded response in general, that the world doesn't appreciate the game the same way you do?

I'm genuinely curious. I've watched Dice Tower review of Tokaido and Tokaido: Crossroads. None of your points were mentioned in both videos. As for Rahdo, I think he never reviewed Tokaido, actually.
 
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rattkin wrote:
Since it didn't introduce new board (which would be mighty expensive), it forced players to remember "when you land on this field, you can do the old action, that is depicted on the board or a new action and you have to remember which old field translates to which new action". They didn't have much choice really...
Lord of the Rings: Friends & Foes, published by Fantasy Flight back in 2001, handled the same sort of problem with stickers that could be applied to the original board. The stickers had matching artwork, so they didn't ruin the beauty of the original board, but added links to new features included in the expansion. The material cost for doing it that way is virtually nil - the expense is in production of the compatible artwork - but sticker art is orders of magnitude less involved than printing new mapboards. I could name other games where the publisher took this approach a decade or two back, but I haven't seen it done lately. It's worth consideration in such cases.
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I'll be the voice of descent here.

I'm not a huge fan of the game. It frustrates me to no end at 4-5 players and it bores me to tears at 2-3. I jokingly agree with the comments that its a 'walking simulator' and my inner ameritrash gamer would love to turn it into 'grand theft sandal' and get some ameritrash game play in there.

But with all that said, there's nothing wrong with the game. It is indeed a game, there are strategies and each character has their strengths and weaknesses. You can play optimally or you can still win just gleaming what open spaces there are.

This is one of my wife's favorite games (Takinoko shares that spot) and is always up to a game. I play because i enjoy playing games with her, but if it was up to me i'd always choose somthing else. But that's ok...she feels that way about 75% of my collection. :)
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Barronmore wrote:
I'll be the voice of descent here.
Going down that road, are you?
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Michael Gonzalez
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rattkin wrote:
You still haven't brought any specific example of material in which reviewers are saying what you are saying "they" are saying. Without that, you're kind of fighting with imaginary adversary you've created to ... I'm not sure what for, actually. Was this a quest to prove that someone who calls himself a reviewer does not know what he/she is talking about? Or some kind of jaded response in general, that the world doesn't appreciate the game the same way you do?

I'm genuinely curious. I've watched Dice Tower review of Tokaido and Tokaido: Crossroads. None of your points were mentioned in both videos. As for Rahdo, I think he never reviewed Tokaido, actually.

I don't see how I could be clearer: I gave representative statements of what people have said, and showed why those are mistaken. Others chimed in, as I expected they would, and said they also disagree with similar criticisms (rilos even quoted a recent YouTube review). I gave the specific example of Ryan on the Deep End, with whom I normally agree, and Zee has mentioned on more than one occasion that he thinks Crossroads doubles the complexity and difficulty of teaching. It's a general point. I wasn't frustrated because I keep clips from every podcast and memorize them; it was a general impression and some of the criticisms I'd heard. So I gave rebuttals. Is that alright?
 
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