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T.I.M.E Stories: Madame» Forums » Reviews

Subject: What a waste of potential [SPOILERS] rss

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Jason Chisler
United States
Texas
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I played with the same group through every scenario. We felt like this system had tons of potential and had some compelling story aspects, but we just finished Madame and it seems to have all been for nothing.
Spoiler (click to reveal)

There is zero mention of the factions (agency, Syaans, and Elois). All of that is forgotten and you go on a "Ensure that baby Bob is born" quest, and then when you complete it, it turns out he's dead in the present time anyway. If you didn't complete every single scenario, and gather every single cube, then you don't have the code needed to follow the broken QR code. I looked up the code in another BGG post, and it turns out that all you get is an advertisement for the next series...

I can't express how disappointing this was. There were new interesting mechanics, which is true for every scenario, and the artwork was compelling as always, but what a giant flop for the overall series.

I would love for someone to take this overall concept and run with it. Scenarios should have their own goals and story, but each should contribute to a larger overarching story. Tough decisions, puzzles, and a bit of luck should help you navigate your way through different story branches. With proper translations, good play testing, and thoughtful storytelling, it could be a real hit.

My group had a lot of fun playing the overall series. It was great spending time playing something we cared about and agonizing over certain decisions and outcomes, but it turned out that none of it mattered and the series was shuttered...
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Eriks Dunens

Minnesota
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I always want to play all of Vlaada's games
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My group wrapped up last night and felt similar. We liked what Madame offered in terms of tweaks in its own right but it really missed the mark when it came to the meta-narrative. I think had the developers leaned into well-told stand alone stories OR really ran with the meta from the beginning (rather than as add on somewhat through), this would have been even better.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We didn't mind that the story was about saving baby Bob, just that there was no sense of how this connected back to everything about the Consortium, Elois, and Syaans. I was reminded of this recent article about storytelling in board games (https://spacebiff.com/2019/04/08/joshua-buergel-on-storytell...) that gets to the heart of what I felt was disatisfying - that ultimately the choices we made didn't amount to much when we were brought on rails to a pre-determined path. It didn't matter what decisions we made as a group in the previous missions. If we leaned hard into Elois, wouldn't we have wanted to keep baby bob's great-great-great grandparents from hooking up?

Secondarily, there just wasn't a conclusion. To market this expansion as the conclusion of the White Cycle led me to believe, rightly or wrongly, that this meant we would get some narrative closure to the meta-narrative. Turns out I have to keep investing in the blue cycle to maybe get it? Or buy a novel? Never say never but I think I'm done, which is sad because I did enjoy so much of the narrative that was shared, even the after-the-fact stuff on the time agency site.
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Stephanie
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Agree completely. We had the exact same experience which was really disappointing.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
We thought we'd finished when we decided to go ahead to the 12th Mission Failed card, and thought it was a joke that we had to keep going through the case to figure out the "real" ending.

The problem with the "ensure that baby Bob is born" quest is that we had virtually no direction that was our objective. The instructions given at the beginning of the case was to get the king's imprint, which we achieved and thought was it.

We ended up trying to check every loose end we missed and somehow stumbled onto real ending of getting his "ancestors" together. We also found it really implausible and a thematic disconnect that Bob was descended from French aristocracy.

It took us over 4 hours which is way too long and I was absolutely drained by the end. Ultimately, such wasted potential of a great concept. Feel very let down by the promised overarching storyline which culminated in a broken QR code and unsatisfying final page once we found it (thanks to BGG).
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Jens Hoppe
Denmark
Frederiksberg
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I agree with you. We played for 4-5 hours or so, and the last two hours, where we were just brute-forcing our way through all combinations of receptacles and locations to find the ONE way to complete the scenario, were just excruciating. And the climax was disappointing, to say the least.
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D P
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Our group just finished and... yep, same feelings. We're really pissed. We LOVED the first half of Madame. Then it got super boring and repetitive. And then the ending was just rubbish. Obviously we didn't get the real endings, got pissed, and flipped the card anyway and... broken.

I'm not sure we'll go on to Time Stories 2nd edition.
 
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noremac noremac
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I always thought the arc in time stories felt tacked on as an afterthought. This game pretty much confirmed that. I agree the the first couple of hours of this one were up with the best but the Paris bit just did not feel playtested to me. I nearly stopped getting these after the California one which I just found in appalling taste. But brotherhood of the coast was really good. But with this one I am definitely done. There are now loads of games that are narrative heavy and do 5 hours which are a more reliably enjoyable experience
 
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Dr. Saari
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Spoiler (click to reveal)
The overarching narrative had problems from the start, beginning with them acting as if they were releasing the modules more often than 1 to 2 times per year (which rendered the ability to remember details very difficult).

Our group focused more on the individual modules than the overarching narrative as a result. It still would have been nice to get some type of closure instead of this lazy writing. This was the board game version of the TV show Lost. It started great but at some point they realized they had too many loose ends and just said "f- it." That's actually unfair to Lost. Its ending was disappointing but nowhere near as bad as this.

Biggest Gripes:

1. We never got explanations for the factions. Were we working for the good guys or the bad guys? What impact did the decisions made in previous modules have? After making a choice in Brotherhood to betray the agency we are left with a cliffhanger that gets no resolution on Item Card 12 in Madame. That card may as well have not existed.

2. There should have been different endings based on which cubes were collected. Any team that gets to the end without all 8 is forced to pretend they got all 8 (or go back and replay all of the modules?!!!). Plus there was one scenario where the cube you collected was based on the decision you made at the end. This again makes that choice irrelevant because apparently you were supposed to play through twice and collect both cubes by making different choices???! That's just idiotic.

3. Thanks to those who spoiled the QR code. I'm not wasting my time if it is simply an advertisement. If the "Blue Series" is an attempt to reboot the series to address problems, hopefully that will begin with eliminating an overarching narrative since they blew it. If the new series just functions as individual stories/missions, it will play to the strength of the series.

4. Madame had an ad for a novel coming in 2019 too. If this bad ending was so we'd buy the novel to get the answers we did not get here, I'll read a post about it later (or not). I won't be suckered into buying it.
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