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World of Warcraft: The Boardgame» Forums » Reviews

Subject: WoW: Tried to love it, but much like Azeroth, a very boring experience rss

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Justin Fitzgerald
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Introduction:

When World of Warcraft was first announced, I remember a cartoon hypothesizing what the gameplay might be like. A player rolled an Event Die and it came up with the result "Server down, roll again in a few hours."

There are a number of factoring leading up to me purchasing the game: the cartoon of course, my enjoyment of the Warcraft universe, and the eternal search for the perfect quest game.

However, World of Warcraft really did nothing but leave us cold, no matter how many ways we tried to enjoy it.

Components


You get alot for your money.



The artwork, in every respect is gorgeous, the board is enormous, you get a ton of miniatures that look fantastic after you paint them, like this example:



However, the game also suffers from such an immense oversight that it is worth knocking two stars off. The game comes with a single set of dice. This causes combat, which takes virtually the entirety of the game length to take two to three times as long since you have to wait for a player to be done with the dice. While I realize you could just go get another set of dice, this is a bizarre omission which could literally add an hour to an already questionable game.

The Rules


Like most of the more complicated FFG rule sets, it is lengthy but readable. Plenty of examples are included, thus minimizing potential confusion even in a first play.

Gameplay


The gameplay of this game is basically pacing yourself. Will you rest in town to gain skills and buy treasure? Will you go fight another monster group to level (and get your HP/MP back immediately? And then which group do you fight? Can you take them alone or should you wait for help from an ally? As the game is intended to be played as Horde vs. Alliance, keeping a brisk place ensures victory.

Most rewards in the game come through completion of quests. You complete a quest and another quest comes out. In all cases, this means to place monsters somewhere on the board which you then need to go kill. Usually you'll also place non-quest monsters on the board which are effectively there just to slow you down.

When you meet up with these monsters, you fight them. In combat, you have some skills which are "equipped" and thus provide dice automatically. Others require you to spend MP to activate the skill. Ultimately you get up to 8 dice in three different areas: Ranged (Blue), Melee (Red), and Defense (Green). To keep it simple: Ranged has a chance to kill monsters before they get to you and cause harm. Red causes damage but also absorbs damage. Green simply absorbs damage.

Monster design in the game is good because you do have to actually make decisions in combat. For example, if fighting a Wraith, you get a curse if a die is left at 1 or 2. So do you use a skill to push a 2 die to a 3 to avoid the curse, or do you push a 5 up to a 6 and score a hit? This proves to makes combat very interesting.

What's even more intriguing is that each class in the game has its own unique skill trees and you choose how the character evolves! You get a very similar feeling to playing the online game this way. Your character is tailored to how you want him to play.

That said, despite how good combat is, ultimately you're rolling a handful of dice against a stat line. Roll high enough and you succeed. Too low and you fail.

So if combat is so intriguing, how could gameplay be so bad? Well imagine a game mechanic like this: Roll 5D20 and if you roll 5 or more above 15, you win! If you fail, you spend 1 turn recovering from death, another equipping yourself with better loot so you might win, then finally making your way back to the monster, and maybe taking it out this time. During this time, approximately one hour has passed as your opponent has fought several battles successfully.

Could it be that bad play has caused this player to effectively waste an hour? Not really. Even without a loss or death involved, you'll often wait while your opponent finishes a combat, then your turn comes up, you'll move twice, then wait while your opponent finishes another combat. Worse yet is waiting around while people choose what powers to equip or go shopping.

Even worse, some events actually encourage this. For example, one event gives everyone an opportunity to buy an item for half off from the merchant deck, starting with the player with the least experience. So you patiently wait as each player hums and haws about what would be best for their character. Painful, absolutely lifesuckingly painful.

Player Interaction


This game proves to be a complete and utter fakeout on player interaction. You'll see cards that encourage things like PVP but ultimately you're not really in the same areas to be able to do that. If you'd like to do it, you get to spend a few turns doing nothing but moving. Also, engaging in PVP does nothing but ensure that neither team will get a shot at the Overlord.

Secondly, Fantasy Flight Games really messed up on this game design. You split players into a Horde team and an Alliance team. This basically means that you might as well go take a half hour break anytime it isn't your turn... assuming of course they weren't forced to take a quick action like Move Move.

The only potential solution is either immense patience (which isn't worth it) or changing the game to being either solo or co-op (Neil has a nice set of rules in Files for this). However, these experiences are not very fulfilling either as you find you're doing nothing but pushing chits around and still suffering from the same pointlessness of turns like "move move".

Luck


Luck is a factor in this game but it is not a gamebreaking experience. You end up rolling fists full of dice so the likelihood of a single bad roll isn't very high.

Theme



You've got these great character classes with tons of powers. They equip themselves with named equipment you'll remember from playing WoW. There's a pile of plastic dudes including those damn Mghrgrling Murlocks. What's not to love?

That said, this game has NO SOUL. It tries to suck yours out while you play it.

It is an exercise in putting out monsters, then killing them, then doing it again. When I discussed the pointlessness with my wife she said, "Yes, but if the game is trying to be an accurate depiction of World of Warcraft and particularly during Azeroth times, they did it perfectly."

The game is an incredibly accurate representation of WoW. You'll never actually kill the Overlord (symbolizing the never-ending end game or your lack of ability to get a raid group). You'll be forced to fight blue monsters with no reward (think getting knocked off your mount as you run through a zone). You'll collect items that are under your level and not really worth using. Stupid amounts of time will be spent watching people buy items (think about wasted time at the auction house).

Now I enjoy WoW the computer game as much as the next guy but I think back to that cartoon where they roll to find that the server is down and think "They really weren't that far off."

This isn't a game. It is a simulation of World of Warcraft in every way, except for the part about getting you into the storyline. Instead it is the utter despair of pointless hours spent grinding for things you really don't need.

Fun


Try as you might, this game isn't fun. You'll feel like it is almost fun as you level up your character and gain new skills. But ultimately, despite these moments of enjoyment, it will leave you cold.

Ironically, this might give it points towards theme. Addiction is really caused by moments of happiness spread through long periods of pointless boredom. The quest to make this game not suck horribly fits this perfectly as does playing the computer game.

Time to Play


I've never seen a player playing this that doesn't say, "OMG, isn't this game over yet?" And when you think it might be, then you find out that if no one kills the Overlord, you don't both lose. Instead you fight a final PVP battle to the death. This will take at least half an hour and you'll find out that several people you know really don't like playing boardgames with you much anymore.

Playing it solo or co-op doesn't do much to change this. It does cut the time but it doesn't stop the part of wishing you were doing something else.

Conclusion


I can't help but feel like there is some sort of magic panacea to all that is wrong with World of Warcraft. Perhaps co-op play. Perhaps elimination of money and instead award additional treasure. Perhaps you automatically beat creatures if you can prove a certain number of dice versus their threat/health somehow. Perhaps we could add a few turns so you could kill the Overlord. I think that maybe buying the expansion will help. They end up making blue creatures quests, among other things. But truth be told, if you ADD anything to this game you're doing it a huge disservice. You need to REMOVE things from the game.

But how does removing elements of play make the game better? It is still a soulless game devoid of any storyline and driving force, aside from the turns ticking away.

World of Warcraft fails miserably at being a quest game. What it does well is simulate what playing World of Warcraft online is like. It honestly makes me wonder if the game is in some way a joke targeted at WoW fanboys. It's the only rational explanation I can come up with why FFG would put out this rubbish. I enjoy virtually all of their other games at some level.

My final recommendation is: If you're interested in WoW, go buy the online game. Particularly the Lvl 61+ content has really been amazing. I can't say enough good things about it other than it proves to be a pretty big time sink. However, you'll enjoy it and later wish you could have the hours back. If you play this board game, you'll hate it and wish you didn't own it.
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Daniel Corban
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I can't disagree with your review any more than humanly possible.

You try to boil down the entire game into one dice roll. Untrue. If this is true for you and your group, then you do not understand the game.

You suggest that there are 30 minute game turns. Untrue. If this were true, the game would not consistently take 3-4 hours for me and my friends to play to completion. While your faction is taking its turn, the other faction should be planning out their turn. Levelling/training should also be fast, since players will have tentatively selected skills at the very start of the game.

You state there is no player interaction. Untrue, unless you are playing with only two players (although the content of your review appears to strongly suggest that you are). This is a team game, which by definition has player interaction.

It honestly sounds like you played this game one time with one other player. I have no idea why your players are spending indefinite amounts of time "buying items" or spending 30 minutes per turn or not marching off to defeat the overlord by turn 24. It sounds like you have given up on the game, but I hate to see an attempt to publicly turn others off of a good, unique, team-based game.

I admit that this game can be ruined by certain kinds of players, an your review confirms this. I am not suggesting that there is a "right" way to play the game, but that certain personalities and behaviors can, indeed, turn the game from a tense, interesting, team-based race game into an agonizing sleeper. This would be exacerbated by bad play, both on your part and theirs (the former causing boredom as you can't see how to win, and the latter causing boredom due to slow play).
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Adam D.
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I haven't played this game and suspect I wouldn't like it either, but I feel compelled to point out two things that I noticed regarding the review:

1. You didn't like World of Warcraft the MMO. I suppose you might have liked the board game version, but odds were already stacked.

2. Lack of dice adding up to an hour to play... Sort of a straw man, right? I mean it didn't actually add an hour, it just might have if you didn't own any other dice...

Again, I agree with much of the review, but not liking the source material, especially, is almost a guaranteed negative.
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Royce Hix
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I agree with the above posts, and just have two things to add:

1) Why would you need more dice than that? You roll them, figure out your hits, and pass them to the next player. It is an extremely small detriment (if any at all) and more of a testament to your poor time management skills (as made evident by the rest of the review).

2) You really confuse me with what you really feel about this game...

KakarisMaelstrom wrote:

Monster design in the game is good because you do have to actually make decisions in combat. For example, if fighting a Wraith, you get a curse if a die is left at 1 or 2. So do you use a skill to push a 2 die to a 3 to avoid the curse, or do you push a 5 up to a 6 and score a hit? This proves to makes combat very interesting.


But then you say...

KakarisMaelstrom wrote:

That said, despite how good combat is, ultimately you're rolling a handful of dice against a stat line. Roll high enough and you succeed. Too low and you fail.

So if combat is so intriguing, how could gameplay be so bad? Well imagine a game mechanic like this: Roll 5D20 and if you roll 5 or more about 15, you win! If you fail, you spend 1 turn recovering from death, another equipping yourself with better loot so you might win, then finally making your way back to the monster, and maybe taking it out this time. During this time, approximately one hour has passed as your opponent has fought several battles successfully.


So apparently, combat is very interesting, but the mechanic that combat is based on is terrible? What are you trying to say here?

Also, I'm glad death has a strong penalty, much unlike the MMO version. It makes you do a lot of risk management, and can have some strong influences on co-operation to avoid such a penalty. It's your own fault if you are killed - you shouldn't say it's a problem with the game when you don't understand why it happens and how to avoid it.

Especially interesting then that you write this...

KakarisMaelstrom wrote:

Luck is a factor in this game but it is not a gamebreaking experience. You end up rolling fists full of dice so the likelihood of a single bad roll isn't very high.


After complaining before basically that gameplay is bad (but combat is good?) because it's a dice fest.

Despite the title of your review, I don't think you tried to love it. I get the hint you have a very sour or bittersweet opinion of the MMO version, which transferred over to your experience with this game.
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Justin Fitzgerald
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TFA wrote:
My final recommendation is: If you're interested in WoW, go buy the online game. Particularly the Lvl 61+ content has really been amazing. I can't say enough good things about it other than it proves to be a pretty big time sink.


I've actually got several lvl 80 epic geared characters in WoW. Azeroth (lvl 1-60) was a little slow. The newer expansions were pretty amazing though. I'd say "revolutionary". No other MMO is like it. But it does take a load of time to play

For the record, I've played this with anywhere from 1-6, upwards of 15 plays, mostly playing with 4.

Really, it's also okay if we have different opinions. I can see people enjoy the game.
 
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Justin Fitzgerald
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hend wrote:
So apparently, combat is very interesting, but the mechanic that combat is based on is terrible? What are you trying to say here?


It's kind of like a nice roast beef sandwich with cow patties as the bun. Combat is good but because everything wrapped around it is terrible, the whole thing is inedible.
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My group's experience with this game parallels Justin's. We played with six people, four of whom were hardcore online WoW players. We loved the source material and understand the game mechanics.

It's a race game. Whether you're racing as a team or by yourself, it's a race game with virtually no interaction with the opposing side. My group is very competitive and thrive on confrontational games, and we HATED this aspect of it. We're not against race games per se; we play and enjoy Race for the Galaxy. RftG allows a fair degree of interaction in trying to guess what actions the other guys are going to take. WoW the BG doesn't. A group with different tastes might not dislike this so much, but we did.

It's a race game, and you should only pick it up if you really like race games in which you don't interact with your opponents. And that feature a non-trivial amount of downtime during the other players' turns.
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Justin Fitzgerald
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dcorban wrote:
You state there is no player interaction. Untrue, unless you are playing with only two players (although the content of your review appears to strongly suggest that you are). This is a team game, which by definition has player interaction.


This is true. There is interaction within your own team. I put the focus on the interaction between the two teams and neglected talking about interaction within one's own team.
 
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Jason Horton
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I play the MMO and do like this game. The combat and character leveling systems are amazing but it can be a bit slow when the other team is taking their turn and the quests are somewhat repetitive.

Due to time constraints with my gaming group we usually go for the WoW Adventure Game now to get our fix.

I had high hopes for the expansion which briefly appeared in one of their catalogs and was on display (box only) at Gencon last year. I believe it was called Scion of Darkness and was the size of the Burning Crusade box. One of the bullet points touted a fully co-op mode which sounded very interesting. There was no mention of it this year at Gencon however...
 
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Justin Fitzgerald
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ChildeRoland wrote:
had high hopes for the expansion which briefly appeared in one of their catalogs and was on display (box only) at Gencon last year. I believe it was called Scion of Darkness and was the size of the Burning Crusade box. One of the bullet points touted a fully co-op mode which sounded very interesting. There was no mention of it this year at Gencon however...


May still be coming:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/409419

I thought about waiting for it but I've finally given up on the game.
 
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Pell Bort
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I have to agree with OP's review. I found WoW:TB a bloodless and boring experience. Roll, move, roll, move, roll roll roll.
 
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I have never tried WOWtBG as a competitive game so far. My only experience is as a solo- or co-op game, and it did well every time we / I played it.
As co-op (an it's more fun in my opinion) this game has a great deal of player interaction (who should go for which mission, who should support whom, ...) - nearly like Arkham Horror has. Even the choice of new skills, the shopping etc. can be done as a team (and will be done, in my experience!). My gaming group started the first co-op play around 8 PM and was really surprized that it was in fact 1 AM when we managed to took out the overlord (everyone had supposed it to be 11 PM or so)...

The reason why I don't like to play this game as a race game (but I'm unfair in this point!) is that I think PvP is pointless: You waste time and ressources to make the other team waste time and ressources. And with time as your stronger opponent (as in AH, for example) this game becomes a great experience! [At least - my opinion... ]

Edit: By the way: I DON'T play the MMO - probably this screwed my perception?!
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Daniel Corban
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PvP in the boardgame is very costly for the attacker. You would only consider it if it would put a very large chink in the other factions plans or if there were event cards out which give PvP rewards. PvP is also much more viable in six-player than four-player.

It still seems that the OP is confusing "I don't like this kind of game" with "this game is broken". To me, this is Runebound with teams, which is great, since the worst aspect of Runebound is that it is literally multiplayer solitaire.
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Jim Patching
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We never ran out of dice for this game but I agree, it's very boring
 
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Daniel Corban
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I think Warhammer is some of the most boring shit on earth, but I am not about to go write a negative review about it because I know that, for the people who are into those type of games, Warhammer is likely one of the best.

Likewise, I am not going to review a country music CD, or the latest Hannah Montana movie.
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It's kinda strange, because I actually agree with most of the OP's negative points and I still like this game a lot (it's one of my favourites actually).

I have played this twice as competitive with 4 players. Both times were very lenghty, almost painful experiences. After several hours were none of the factions were able to attack the overlord, you just wanted it to stop.

Then I've played it co-op and solo several times with both 2 and 3 characters. These games are really cool for me, because no other game does character building as well as this (as far as I know) and that really is a great experience. Solo and coop games tend to drag on as well, but it's easier to leave the game and come back the next day.

I really hope they finish Scion of Darkness some day.
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Me, I don't have much of a problem with the fact that this game takes such a long time to play. After all, the pc game does take a very very long time, and if you wanna have any kind of "epic" quality in an adventure game, it can't be too short. But that said, I wish I could play in about 4 hours, while our playing time (especially with BC expansion) is more 5 hours + longest setup in boardgame history.

That the game is not fully coop out of the box is pretty ridiculous though. It makes for very long downtimes and isn't the whole point of WoW to play with your friends? Who cares about what the other faction is doing??
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Jeremy Jordan
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Dan, you're a fanboy. We get it.

Actually, I got it in the first sentence of your first post. You can leave knowing you've defended WOW's honor.



dcorban wrote:
I think Warhammer is some of the most boring shit on earth, but I am not about to go write a negative review about it because I know that, for the people who are into those type of games, Warhammer is likely one of the best.

Likewise, I am not going to review a country music CD, or the latest Hannah Montana movie.
 
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generalpf wrote:
dcorban wrote:
Likewise, I am not going to review a country music CD, or the latest Hannah Montana movie.

I'm guessing that the majority of professional film critics are not fans of Hannah Montana. Does that mean the movies shouldn't get reviewed?

No, but they do have experience in reviewing movies, have the public's trust in reviewing movies (in fact trusted enough to get paid for it), and know how to objectively review movies (and when to be subjective).

This review shows none of this.
 
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Daniel Corban
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JeremyJordan wrote:
Dan, you're a fanboy. We get it.


That's a ridiculous thing to say and it pretty much ends the "discussion" here. I didn't label you a "hater".

I enjoy WoW because my friends enjoy it, and because it has the qualities of a game worth playing, not because of an irrational or obsessive love of the game.
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meyberg wrote:
I have never tried WOWtBG as a competitive game so far. My only experience is as a solo- or co-op game, and it did well every time we / I played it.


For myself, the difference between competitive and co-op was night and day! No more downtime... shorter game... and I thought PvP just made a long game longer, anyway. Sure, I'm missing *something* by not playing the race game, but I get that with *every* adventure game. Just gimme my character deck and let me fiddle with my ladder!
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Mike Mead
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dcorban wrote:
I think Warhammer is some of the most boring shit on earth, but I am not about to go write a negative review about it because I know that, for the people who are into those type of games, Warhammer is likely one of the best.

Likewise, I am not going to review a country music CD, or the latest Hannah Montana movie.


Dude, the guy is entitled to his opinion. Even though you disagree with him and point out how he may have played the game incorrectly, he is still entitled to not like the game and write a review about it.
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Mark Beattie
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Totally agree with the reviewer. We so much wanted to like this game and even bought all the expansions to see if that would help but alas no, still the same tedium, we were all wow mmo players so knew all about the character abilites etc but it was sooooo slow, my group just won't even entertain the thought of playing it again, but each to their own
 
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Steve Bernardo
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Whoa... now I know why my Infernal is getting plenty hits~!

Sorry I wasn't able to finish the Abomination in time... that looks more kick-arse
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Pellbort wrote:
I have to agree with OP's review. I found WoW:TB a bloodless and boring experience. Roll, move, roll, move, roll roll roll.


I keep hearing this a lot. If it weren't "roll, roll, move, roll" what SHOULD it be?? OR what would make it better? Isn't every board game "roll, roll, move, roll"? I'm not a big boardgamer myself, so I wouldn't know what else there is that might be better nor how these are better.

I agree that PVP is a total waste of time. There's absolutely nothing to gain from it unless your opponent happens to have an item that you desperately need... and said item might be just so powerful that you'd lose trying to get it in the first place~!

But I have to disagree that WoW:TBG is a boring game. There are so many player combinations to figure out and really -- I haven't defeated any of the Overlords and am still trying to figure out what many others have (in order to defeat the Overlords). Once I get all this figured out and everything becomes routine, then yeah... I can probably say "been there, done that".

But then there -IS- the setup. This is a huge game and requires serious management in terms of getting the pieces out, the board set up and the cards figured. And that's just the beginning. In the game there's sstill plenty management going on. So it's not just roll, roll, move, roll. There's a lot of stuff to look at and figure out. Back to the point though -- I found it "dangerously essential" to make my own set of boxes/organisers etc. for the game before I tout it to my players else they'll just be overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Game time yes -- is also a big concern. Not everyone has 6 hours straight to throw away on a board game. Online games are different things, but board games? Again, I found it absolutely a MUST to be able to save, and I have actually solved that problem with the stuff I've made.

Alas, not everyone is a designer/hobbyist. Most of us are just plain boardgamers, so I can see where all the heat might be coming from.
 
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