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Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game» Forums » General

Subject: As gamers, can we no longer handle streamlined rules? rss

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Kevin Outlaw
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Okay, this is not a rant, just something I have noticed while reading all the threads and waiting until I can afford to order this game.

A lot of posts are asking questions that seem to come down to the fact that we expect a rule book to tell us everything. Obviously, the rules should tell us all the rules we need to play, but I think we have reached a point where we have all read too many FFG rule books, and if there aren't 40+ pages to read through, we feel like we are missing something.

Castle Ravenloft is clearly designed to play fast, dirty, and without too much fuss. The rules adhere to this by being just 16 pages (including covers, pictures, designer credits, etc.). All the rules (as far as I can tell) are there, but because of the way they are breezed through, some people seem to be getting a bit... concerned.

I'm not picking on anybody here, but a few examples:

Someone has said it is confusing because there are five health surge tokens, but the rules say to only use two. Right - so the rules say to use two in a standard adventure (and a variant at the end says you can add more surges to make the game easier). Where's the confusion? Do we need the rule book to explicitly state:

Note, there are five surge tokens included in the box. You use two in a normal adventure. If you want the game to be easier you can use more surge tokens, but this is covered in the variants section later in the rules. By the way, feel free to make up your own variants, such as giving one surge token to each hero as a "personal" surge and allowing a party of adventurers to continue even if one of them dies. But just to reiterate: Two surges as standard, but five in the box.

(Okay, I'm overegging the pudding there, but you get my point - why add extra lines of text to the rulebook when you have already explained the rule.)

Many people have asked what the skulls on the tiles are for, and yet, the purpose of the skulls is described in the scenarios THAT USE THEM. Why do we need to clutter up a rulebook by adding in unrequired lines about what the skulls mean, when we can cut all that out, and just explain their specific purpose in the adventures where it is important?

Why can't we just trust the designers and go, "Hey, there's a skull on this tile, but as there are no rules for what they mean, I will just continue the game as normal."

Same thing goes for adventure treasures, monster tokens, etc.

My point is, the designers have gone out of their way to create rules that are streamlined and easy to reference, without adding in lots of extra information that will only be required in certain scenarios. This, to me, seems like a good idea. But, then again, perhaps it isn't... Perhaps, as gamers, we have played so many games, and modded so many more, that it is now quicker for us to read through superfluous information, just so we can discard it?

Again - not picking on anyone - just something I noticed.
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Jamey Philipp
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That would be me you are talking about, sir, and I totally agree with you.

These rules seem really well done. If it says to do something; do it. If it doesn't say to do something; don't do it.

They are short and concises.

Yet I struggled with a few things in them. I am used to games like this being more complicated and my brain tried filling in the blanks.

Shame on me.
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100% do NOT agree with the OP. Rules should be thorough and clear. Brevity and clarity, while both awesome traits in and of themselves, are not necessarily so awesome when it comes to understanding the rules of a game. Furthermore, it's definitely possible for a games' Rules booklet to actually be thorough yet concise.

To me it seems like you're trying to pin poorly explained rules on the end-users - the gamers - rather than where it belongs, on the designers.

There's no excuse for shoddy rules. You have playtesters, use them.
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Kevin Outlaw
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Superhawk2300 wrote:
That would be me you are talking about, sir, and I totally agree with you.

These rules seem really well done. If it says to do something; do it. If it doesn't say to do something; don't do it.

They are short and concises.

Yet I struggled with a few things in them. I am used to games like this being more complicated and my brain tried filling in the blanks.

Shame on me.


Not just you

And I've been guilty of trying to "fill in the blanks", so I'm not excluding myself either!

And it isn't limited to this game - similar sorts of questions cropped up in the Claustrophobia threads (to name just one other game). Some people there even asked if the "flavour art" on the tiles (such as skeletons, etc.) had "in game" effects.
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TS S. Fulk
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A picture of a tile with the Skull labeled "Special Icon for use in some scenarios" would have been nice.
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David Hoffman
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The problem with FFG rules is, sometimes, things are not-so-much summarized as they are presented in the "order" they think you'll need them.

It's always rough when a core gameplay element is presented not in its own section but in a callout on the side of the page or in a seemingly unrelated paragraph in a seemingly unrelated section.

HOWEVER, I will say that once I've parsed an FFG rulebook, I rarely, if ever, have any questions about how to play the game. The barrier to entry can be daunting (though, really, it's more about remembering where the thing you forgot was) but once you're rolling, it's all good.
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Kevin Outlaw
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southernmagnus wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Again - not picking on anyone - just something I noticed.


Oh no, this post has nothing to do with someone posting a thread entitled "So many stupid rules questions that I shouldn't have to ask. A.k.a. yet another crappy rulebook tarnishes my initial thoughts on what seems to be a great game. " Not at all.

RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
I think we have reached a point where we have all read too many FFG rule books, and if there aren't 40+ pages to read through, we feel like we are missing something.


I think ultimately the knock on the instructions is that this isn't a FFG game, no where near as fiddly. Commensurately, there are several things that could have been clarified with one extra sentence.

A handful of sentences concerning monster movement, healing surges during the setup, treasure during the setup, and icons/graphics on the tiles would've answered about 99% of the rules questions I've seen so far.

I mean no offense by this, but I'd prefer not to see posts such as the OP's. BGG should be a safe haven where anyone feels comfortable to ask even the simplest questions, and I don't want to see community sentiment turn, ahem, grognardian.

That would decrease the utility of BGG considerably, in my opinion.


No - this post has a lot to do with that particular thread, but not JUST that particular thread. Only one of the examples I used was from that thread. The rest have turned up in several, which is why I noticed them enough to post this thread in the first place.

As for rather not seeing this sort of post - I haven't insulted anyone, or said anybody is stupid. In fact, I have said the opposite. The questions people have are because they are clever people who play a lot of clever and complicated games and are always looking to fill gaps in "simple" rules based on those complicated games. You have misunderstood my post entirely (and suggested I should not post my opinions in future, which is far ruder ). And besides, this is just a discussion point. If you look at my last paragraph I question who is right, and whether or not the rules should explian everything in detail to avoid this situation - perhaps the designers have underestimated our ability to read all those details in a single sitting and still find the game simple to play.

In any thread where I have been active, you will often see me answering questions that I am sure I know the correct answer to, because I want to help where I can, and it's nice to know you have helped someone enjoy a game a little bit more. So I don't want people to feel like they can't ask questions. I'm just shooting the sh*t because I'm bored.

(Oh - and I don't think this rule book is perfect, either. There are some things that could do with clearing up. And I don't have any desire to particularly defend the designers of the game - I don't work for them or anything.)

Sorry you have misunderstood my post and assumed I am attacking poeple - I thought I had tried to make it clear I wasn't doing that.
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Chris Benson
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RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Sorry you have misunderstood my post and assumed I am attacking poeple - I thought I had tried to make it clear I wasn't doing that.


Don't worry about it. Nobody else thinks you are.

I do like that out of all the countless opinions expressed on this site, it is yours that apparently should never be expressed.
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Tor Sverre Lund
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southernmagnus wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
Again - not picking on anyone - just something I noticed.


Oh no, this post has nothing to do with someone posting a thread entitled "So many stupid rules questions that I shouldn't have to ask. A.k.a. yet another crappy rulebook tarnishes my initial thoughts on what seems to be a great game. " Not at all. :p
This stuff came up loooong before that, for instance with the monster tokens.
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Brian M
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Most people (as far as I know) don't read a set of rules and completely absorb all of them and then immediately sit down and play, with all that knowledge full in your head. Sometimes you read rules a day or two in advance of actually getting to play.

This means that most of us need to look up rules on our first play, or when we haven't played a game in a long time.

You might, for example, need to look up something like "how many healing surges do we start with?" And you'll have a hard time with this, because its in a totally unintuitive place, buried in the middle of a paragraph in the back of the book.

The book would have been just as brief, but caused a lot less confusion, if that same statement was under the set up rules, when its telling you what pieces you take to start the game. That's probably the first place people would look.

Since we know we don't have perfect memories and do forget or miss things, when we come across a piece that we have no idea what it does, the logical conclusion is "we missed a rule", and you sit there poring through the rulebook to figure out what the heck you missed.

Its bad enough when you can't find what rule your missing, but its even worse if the rule isn't really there. This can drag a game to a crawl.

A simple sidebar titled something like "Special Scenario Tokens" or perhaps even "What are these for?" with a line saying:

The following pieces are used only in special scenarios:
The monster tokens
The extra healing surge tokens
The skull icons on room tiles

Would clear up a lot of confusion, and could probably take up no more space than the enlarged picture of a monster token placed prominently between other tokens that ARE being explained with no indication of what in the world the monster token is doing there!
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Greg Nichols
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(Haven't read the rule book yet but...)

If you are going to break the rules up so that certain things like skulls on tiles will be used in certain scenarios, then simply state that up front in a clearly labeled box and I'm cool with it.

I agree 90% with the OP here but the designers do need to give players a head's up on the way the rules are structured. But maybe this is the way mass-market games are produced these days.
 
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Jason Cookingham
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StormKnight wrote:
A simple sidebar titled something like "Special Scenario Tokens" or perhaps even "What are these for?" with a line saying:


Even an asterisk next to those items with a footnote would have sufficed. I know I paused during our first game to try to find the skull icon in the instructions. It isn't a big deal-- it slowed down the game for a minute or two, but it would have been nice if it had been noted.
 
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The Galaxy is Just Packed!
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Well, since I'm the OP of the thread that spurred on this post, I guess I better respond.

In a word, yes, rules should be thorough and should deal with every aspect of the gameplay so a casual reader (like, for example, your mom) would be able to understand how to play each aspect of the game after an initial read.

Does this mean that the Ravenloft rules should be 40 pages long and use "Grognard notation" of Rule 4.23.a.1? Good God no.

What it means is that rules should be carefully written, put on a shelf for 6 weeks, and then rewritten after a fresh view of them. And then probably rewritten on more time after you have your mom read them.

What it means is that you have to be careful about the words and sentence structure you use. In my OP I made the example that the "overlapping treasure effects" rule:

Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Cards in play that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use a Blessing, a Fortune, and an Item to increase the bonus to an attack roll so that you can boost a single attack."


Would probably be less prone to question if it were reworded thus:

Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Card effects in play at the same time that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use an Item effect along with any Blessing and Fortune effects that are currently affecting play."


Same rule, slightly reworded, and much more succinct (IMHO).

Long rules are not (necessarily) better rules. Sometimes they are. Sometimes shorter rules are better rules.

But well-written rules are ALWAYS better rules. The Ravenloft rules are not well-written. At all. I'm being a bit presumptuous, but my guess is that they were edited by someone who was familiar with the game going in. That is always a problem. Your editor should go in blind.

Do I need to be spoon-fed the rules of a game? No. Do core concepts (such as monster movement) need to be at least mentioned in the rules? I don't think that is too much to ask.

Do I need to be told that the 3 extra Surge tokens are extras? No, but I think it is natural that someone is going to start wondering why the extras are there.

Can a hero move onto a crypt? No mention in the rules. But from what I gather there are equal camps on "yes" and "no." Too much to ask to add a single sentence in the rulebook saying which is which? Nope. This one I see as a clear oversight.

Does it matter? No...and yes. We "gamers" can get by with experience and what the rules "probably" mean. But how sloppy is that? As soon as someone has to think about what a rule means, it's time to rewrite that rule.

This rulebook does not need to be longer. It needs to be wordsmithed.

(Oh and BTW, RedMonkey, I was not offended at all. You make good points, well worth discussion!)
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southernmagnus wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:
[you] suggested I should not post my opinions in future, which is far ruder


Nope, nothing of the sort. I just called into question the ultimate utility of your discussion point.

It is my opinion that discussions such as this one ultimately discourage people from asking rules questions, which I think decreases the utilty of this website. If I was a new user and read your post, it would discourage me from doing just that. I have no probelem with your posts or opinions in general.

Gamers can be OCD. They have rules questions. Lao-tzu could write the instructions and there'd still be questions. The end.

Quote:
Sorry you have misunderstood my post and assumed I am attacking poeple - I thought I had tried to make it clear I wasn't doing that.


Well, I suppose you've already copped to being guilty of seeing things that aren't there. I never said you were attacking anyone.

The irony of having to explain my post in this thread.


Hmmm... I don't really want to get into this "did he / didn't he" stuff, but you did specifically quote my line saying "I am not picking on anyone" and then say "oh no" and quote the post you obviously thought I was directly referencing. So I think I can be forgiven for assuming you thought I was attacking someone.

This is a discussion forum, I thought it would be fun to discuss something I noticed. And seriously... If my post puts anyone off asking a question they must be a very delicate flower indeed.

Other people have made some good points - StormKnight in particular made a very good point about people thinking they may have forgotten a rule when they see the skull, rather than remembering there was no rule there in the first place. Perhaps, in their desire to make the game as quick as possible to play straight out of the box, WotC dropped the ball with this rule book. I dunno. That was kind of the point of the discussion.
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Paul DeStefano
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bryanwinter wrote:


Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Cards in play that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use a Blessing, a Fortune, and an Item to increase the bonus to an attack roll so that you can boost a single attack."


Would probably be less prone to question if it were reworded thus:

Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Card effects in play at the same time that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use an Item effect along with any Blessing and Fortune effects that are currently affecting play."


Same rule, slightly reworded, and much more succinct (IMHO).


Not much more succinct. In fact, I think the original is superior. And its also shorter. Your wording gets very tied up in the words "effect(s)" and "affecting" and comes out rather tongue twistery.

Their wording refers to the cards, not the effects. Effects are a gamery term.
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Geosphere wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:


Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Cards in play that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use a Blessing, a Fortune, and an Item to increase the bonus to an attack roll so that you can boost a single attack."


Would probably be less prone to question if it were reworded thus:

Quote:
"You can benefit from multiple Treasure Card effects in play at the same time that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use an Item effect along with any Blessing and Fortune effects that are currently affecting play."


Same rule, slightly reworded, and much more succinct (IMHO).


Not much more succinct. In fact, I think the original is superior. And its also shorter. Your wording gets very tied up in the words "effect(s)" and "affecting" and comes out rather tongue twistery.

Their wording refers to the cards, not the effects. Effects are a gamery term.


Possibly, but the way the initial rules are given implies that you can "play" Blessing and Fortune cards at the same time you "play" your item card, which is completely against the actual rule that states Fortunes and Blessings are played immediately after they are drawn. So (again, IMHO), the rule needs to be written in a way that does not appear to state the opposite of a rule that was already given. That was my point.

And affect and effect are not gamer terms. They are the English language.
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Paul DeStefano
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bryanwinter wrote:

And affect and effect are not gamer terms. They are the English language.


No, that's not what I mean.

An 11 year old kid does not play game effects. He plays cards.
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Geosphere wrote:
bryanwinter wrote:

And affect and effect are not gamer terms. They are the English language.


No, that's not what I mean.

An 11 year old kid does not play game effects. He plays cards.


That have effects on them. Or affect another aspect of the game. I think you can give an 11 year old the credit of understanding. Mine does.

OK, so...

"You can benefit from multiple Treasure cards in play at the same time that apply to your Hero. For example, you can use an Item card along with any Blessing and Fortune cards that are currently affecting play."

Does removing the word "effect" make it better? Actually, I think it does...! My version was really more about the structure than the words, but I hope you get my drift.

See, you are a good editor!
 
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bryanwinter wrote:

See, you are a good editor!


They're overpaying me a whole lot if I'm not.
 
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I like the rule book 100%. Yea I had some questions and some "Did I miss something" moments but the rule book had it's effect. It got us playing with next to no time "Reading aloud" like some do.

In addition to this though, I think they could have done at least a "Glossary" or a "List of terms and components" or even a "Q&A" from some playtest sessions.

I'm not saying I needed it but some things came up that I posted about and the OP and others nicely answered. And while we were playing right and "Figured it out" while playing, it would be nice to be able to look up something for an "Official" ruling.

Like I said they could have had the best of both worlds. Left the rulebook as streamlined and quick to play as it is and added a back section appendix or glossary for those "Bound to come up" questions.

Before I go though I must stress that I LOVE the game and the rulebook really didn't hamper any experience I had with the game. I'm also sure Wizards will be adding errata and a FAQ because they do with everything they release.
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Kevin Outlaw
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southernmagnus wrote:
RedMonkeyBoy wrote:

Hmmm... I don't really want to get into this "did he / didn't he" stuff.


No you were right, I edited my post to reflect this .

Quote:
This is a discussion forum, I thought it would be fun to discuss something I noticed. And seriously... If my post puts anyone off asking a question they must be a very delicate flower indeed.


You have to admit that it seems a bit too coincidental that your post occurred *immediately* after the one I mentioned. You don't need Psych 101 to notice the symmetry between the title of your post and the one I mentioned. C'mon.

And as far as your repeated statements that you weren't picking on anyone, well, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Again, I feel very strongly on the subject. I'm expressing the opinion that even the slightest inference that question asking or the need for rules clarification is some sort of character defect is nonsense.

BGG descending into grognardism would be the lamest, most common and predictable thing that could happen. I'm sorry if I come off as a bit too vigilant about it.




You're calling me a liar.

So, which is worse... My post to encourage discussion. Or your post which says I shouldn't have posted, accuses me of picking on people, and calls me a liar.

Oh... and calls me a lady too

Which one of those posts is more likely to encourage someone not to post in future?

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With a view to getting this thread back on track....

My view of the rules was nicely brought into focus when someone on another thread offered to do an FAQ. This yielded a huge personal sigh of relief! Why? Well simply the current rule set left me with too many basic questions for a game at this "level". All so far have been raised by others here on BGG, so I conclude its not just me.

I don't think the rules are bad, its just seems that a lot of things could have been dealt with, and still not cluttered up the ruleset.

Looking forward to the DIY FAQ (DoTR sets the standard here and would hope that WotC would do the same!)

Edit: Typo's
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The "problem" with FFG rulebooks is that when they were NOT written in the overbearing, overexplaining way they are now, people hammered BGG, the FFG website, and probably customer support with exactly those kinds of questions.

So, yes, some gamers need EVERYTHING explained and EVERYTHING ruled on. We call them "rules lawyers," and they ruin it for the rest of us.
 
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Joseph Gesumaria
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I don't think anyone said we need a 40+ page FF rule book. Most people would just like 1 or 2 things elaborated on.
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Seems a lot of people worries about knowing what every single bit does.

The inclusion of bits with out a florescent sheet of paper with a large "Actung!" on it explaining that the bits are for use someplace in this game, and that if you are not using them currently, that you will use them when the game calls for them to be used is really a big deal?

I just assumed that when I need to know what the bits are for the game will tell me. I was pretty sure they wern't just tossing random game bits into the box at the factory and that a major production from a large game company wouldn't forget they ordered them to be printed and put into the box.

You guys take apart a traffic light to see what all the bits do before obeying the signal? Just start playing the game and it will all work out.
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