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Subject: Will someone please say something negative about this game? rss

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Ted Spencer
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I'm poised to purchase this, with the Dragon and Hero #1 expansion in the next few days. Is there any reason I shouldn't?

Before I buy, I like to hear some negative things about this game to make an informed decision. Other than being a table hog, I haven't read or heard anything. How can this be?

 
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Joe Reil
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I'm with you here. Even when I end up disagreeing with them, I often find negative reviews to be more useful and informative than positive ones, though I make it a point to search out examples of each if I'm buying a game I haven't had a chance to play before.

It's out there. A lot of people don't like some of the design choices (fonts/colors used, overall aesthetic).

Other than that, you can sort the message boards here by type - set it to view only reviews and you should be able to find at least one negative review. Also you can view the ratings/comments area - and look at the low ratings - there won't be full reviews but people will make comments in these areas.

For my part, I think there is room for improvement there, but I don't think it's as bad as some have made it out to be and the game and gameplay MORE than make up it.

 
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Nigel Swan
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It can be a bit of a chore to get to grips with but you will get a lot of replay ability from it.
 
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Gunther Schmidl
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The map is, at least initially, terrible to find anything on. That's pretty much it, though.
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Carlos Saldanha
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Will someone please say something negative about this game?

It costs money! whistle
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Ian Kelly
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The board design for this game could use some work. The location circles are totally garish and don't even convey the location type well, because people naturally tend to look at the illustration for the location, not at its border. It's also hard to find a specific location if you don't have them all memorized, even when you have the illustration in front of you to look at. That's because a lot of the illustrations seem pretty similar to one another -- in fact, two of the forests actually take their images from different parts of a single illustration.

The rules are also badly written. A number of points are vague or ambiguous, although thankfully there is an extensive FAQ that does a lot to clear things up. The rulebook is also interspersed with comments from one of the generals, which are meant to be humorous, but unlike the Dungeon Lords rules (where the interspersed comments from the minions are mostly helpful and informative) the general's comments are mostly just annoying and disrupt the flow of the rulebook.

That's all I've got. Once you get past those things, it's a great game. Also, I haven't bought any of the expansions, so I can't comment on those.
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Thayne Weston
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It is a hard game, which could make one frustrated.

(however, the difficulty will make the victory better, and the game much more playable since one you win it isn't like your know the formula and are going to win all the time now)
 
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Adam Kemper
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I've lost too many times on bad dice rolls. and some times it can be very hard to recover from, knowing it's over for you way before it ends. Been shelved for 6months+ but will come back out sooner or later.
 
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Nite Wolf
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oDESGOSTO wrote:
Will someone please say something negative about this game?

It costs money! whistle


Darn, I intended to post that one.
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Brent Lloyd
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It is loads of fun...which will distract you from other endeavours like learning or exercising.

Beyond that...I am tapped out.

Peace
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Christopher Senn
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Map looks retro 80s in a bad way.

Dwarf looks like a 16 yr old high school kid on steroids. 5 '8' and lean muscle... with a beard.

For me this maybe the best all around board game i ever played.
 
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Dan Conley
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It's my #1 game currently, so NO! Yeah, I have a hard time finding things on the map myself from time to time, but other players pick up THAT slack. It can be brutal at times, but it is SO simple to scale the difficulty to your liking. It IS expensive but, since I've played it so much, I've gotten way more than my money's worth.

So nothing negative from me. Well worth picking up!
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Alex G

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Some of the graphic design is questionable. The expansions come out too slowly. :)
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Christopher Paul
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It's difficult to tell what you would consider a negative. Do you love Pandemic? Then you may not like Defenders as much. It involves dice, and there's more of a random element in general. Personally, I think this is a positive. I hate Pandemic and Defenders is the medicine for that game.

Defenders is ranked up there for me with BSG as one of the best thematic games out there. I think it has just the right amount of randomness to keep it interesting, yet it's heavily immersed in theme with lots of choices and interaction.

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Pone McPoneface
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Some potential negatives....

1. It's not a dungeon crawler. When introducing this to new gamers the initial comparative expectation was to Descent: Journeys in the Dark or similarly themed title. This did put off a few new gamers, but when they played it they ended up enjoying it.

2. It's not competitive, but cooperative. If you have gamers that love to defeat their fellow gamers this may be a bit of a turn off.

3. Once you discover there are two cool ArtsCow decks you can purchase to enhance game play you may resent the fact that you are dishing out more money for this game. shake
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/673912/click-to-buy-arts...
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/7680098#7680098

edit: 4. Some people feel that the expansion, Defenders of the Realm: The Dragon Expansion is a bit on the expensive side, but because they love the base game so much feel compelled to buy it.
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The fonts and graphic design are terrible.

The names of the locations are so generic they seem to be taken from an online survey of 11-year olds:

Q: Provide a name for three imaginary fantasy locations

Answers: Fire cave, dark woods, unicorn glade, battle bay, high cliff, rainbow cavern, etc

BUT it's a great, great game!
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Matt Smith
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My wife likes it so much she won't play my other games.

Seriously, my biggest gripe with the game is the rules. When you need 15+ pages of FAQ, it means the rules leave a lot of situations unexplained.
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Gerry Lowe
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I say the following as someone who likes the game alot...

The graphic design is appalling.
The artwork is adolescent.
The dragon mini is pretty cheesy.
The rulebook is poorly organised.
The attempt to introduce humour into the rules is arse-clenching.
The world (and accompanying flavour text on the cards) is devoid of character.
Alot of these features combine to give the game the flavour of a pre-production demo.

And yet...the gameplay is seldom less than thrilling. I think that this game might have been hugely popular (beyond its current level) if some/all of the above issues were addressed.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Have you read this review?

Distinguishes itself from Pandemic, but not in a good way

The author's opinion was that Pandemic, which has clear similarities, is a better game. There was a good discussion about the relative merits.
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Ted Spencer
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Thanks everyone for your input. This review Distinguishes itself from Pandemic, but not in a good way and the discussion that followed were great. I love Pandemic, yet found myself agreeing with those who found DotR more satisfying, and I haven't every played the game.

So I have a few last questions about things that haven't been mentioned yet.

There was some mention (in the review) of downtime boring players. When does the downtime occur, and how long and how frequent is it? For example, in TI3, downtime doesn't creep into our games until mid to late game, when battles between large forces begin. But once they begin, they become more frequent. So by end game, downtime can be long and frequent.

And finally this: winning the game. I've played games where it's five hours of rollicking good times, only to end with a dice showdown. I could have saved myself the five hours and played a better game.

I'm not interested in the rules here, but the experience. At the end, do you know you won by making the right decisions, or did you just make enough right decisions to last long enough for the final flip of a coin?

Thanks again for all your help in this!
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Paul Hackman
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The downtime is pretty consistent. It might increase as the game goes on because there are more threats and more options, but even at the beginning slow players can take time assessing the situation. However, I play this game with my young kids so there's not much downtime for me since I'm constantly explaining all their options to them. I'm not sure how bad it would be with an adult playgroup.

I really enjoy the experience, and I think we've only won once, but I'm not sure I ever feel like I'm much in control. There is the random deck of darkness cards which can be very kind or very harsh from the very first turn. There are quest rewards that are very powerful and if you get them early (which usually also means getting a lucky dice roll) the game will go much more smoothly. The general battles can swing wildly based on dice rolls. I haven't played with the global events or royal blessings but they would add even more randomness.

Unlike most other co-op games, Defenders almost never feels like a puzzle you solve. For some this is its major selling point. There's definitely some learning curve so players can get better with experience, so there must be skill involved, but I wouldn't be shocked if a player won their first game easily and then didn't win again for months.

In Pandemic you have some idea what locations are most dangerous because the same cards keep getting reshuffled and put on top of the deck. In Ghost Stories you face more or less the same group of ghosts every game so, though the order makes a big difference, you can still plan ahead a little. In LOTR:TCG you know what you need to do from the start (beat certain creatures or explore certain areas) and plan your game accordingly. In DotR every game can be a completely different experience. You put out fires all over the board while gradually making progress toward the victory conditions. I like that as a change of pace and because I play it mainly with my kids, who care a lot more about roleplaying and dice rolling than game mechanics.

Short answer: you survive long enough to make the final dice roll. There is skill and good play involved, but every game is a unique experience rather than a consistent puzzle you gradually master.
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Ron
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I can't find too many things to nag ... but I'll try meeple

One that bothers me a little bit is that the cards are not marked in a better way. I would have wished for clear little symbols in a corner to identify "this is from the expansion" and "this is the deck for that bad-ass" or similar to sort the cards more quickly.
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Christopher Paul
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superflat wrote:
Thanks everyone for your input. This review Distinguishes itself from Pandemic, but not in a good way and the discussion that followed were great. I love Pandemic, yet found myself agreeing with those who found DotR more satisfying, and I haven't every played the game.

So I have a few last questions about things that haven't been mentioned yet.

There was some mention (in the review) of downtime boring players. When does the downtime occur, and how long and how frequent is it? For example, in TI3, downtime doesn't creep into our games until mid to late game, when battles between large forces begin. But once they begin, they become more frequent. So by end game, downtime can be long and frequent.

And finally this: winning the game. I've played games where it's five hours of rollicking good times, only to end with a dice showdown. I could have saved myself the five hours and played a better game.

I'm not interested in the rules here, but the experience. At the end, do you know you won by making the right decisions, or did you just make enough right decisions to last long enough for the final flip of a coin?

Thanks again for all your help in this!


This is not a game that I would ever associate with downtime! Nobody that I've played with takes long on their turns, and you're usually involved. Unlike Pandemic, where the most experienced player is the boss, I find myself (usually the most experienced player) asking other people about what they think. Sometimes it's obvious, but sometimes we need to plan when we're getting to a particular area to face a foe together. I'm honestly surprised that downtime is a complaint...

Regarding losing due to a random roll: I think this can happen, but no game I've played has gone beyond three hours, and it has to be a fairly devastating defeat. But it can happen. It's just not the typical way of losing. Also, sometimes after the game has ended we think of a few things we could have done differently. I see most games ending with things getting a bit more and more hopeless and you trying to hang on and trying to make those last desperate attempts to overturn evil - sometimes you do it and sometimes evil wins and you have to fight another day...
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Ted Spencer
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Thanks to everyone who contributed here. Your arguments have been persuasive, both for and against.

So, to wrap up this post and for your amusement, I list the Positive, Negative and Non-Factors as I see them. Keep in mind as you read that these are my personal, subjective lists of the persuasive (or non-)factors I read here.

I have decided to purchase DotR, Dragons, and Heroes #1. Distinguishes itself from Pandemic, but not in a good way was very helpful in this regard. I have not yet found a polarizing game that I did not love to play. The enthusiasm for the game in that thread and this one leaves me with no doubt I will love this game, too.

The lists below are exactly what I wanted when I posted the thread to begin with. Thanks much to all for your time, your humor and your help. Case closed.


Positive Factors - Things That Make Me Want The Game
1. Garrish retro board
2. Unbalanced quests
3. Unbalanced roles
4. Randomness
5. All-player discussions during downtime
6. Infrequent one-player downtime
7. Many of the geeks I admire like the game
8. Not a puzzle you gradually master
9. Will distract me from exercising
10. Dwarf looks like a 16 yr old high school kid on steroids with a beard
11. It can be brutal at times.
12. Can scale the difficulty
13. Some of the graphic design is questionable
14. Heavily immersed in theme with lots of choices and interaction
15. It's not a dungeon crawler
16. It's not competitive, but cooperative
17. The names of the locations are so generic they seem to be taken from an online survey of 11-year olds
18. Gameplay is seldom less than thrilling
19. There is skill and good play involved
20. Every game is a unique experience


Negative Factors - Things That Make Me Not Want The Game
1. Hard to find locations on the board
2. Can lose on last die-roll
3. The rulebook is poorly organised
4. 15 pages of faqs
5. Will distract me from learning
6. The world (and accompanying flavour text on the cards) is devoid of character


Non-Factors - Things That Made No Difference In My Decision
1. Knowing it's over before it ends. (I end games whenever I can say about losing "It's Obvious")
2. It's expensive. (Value trumps price. If I never play a $20 game, I wasted my money. If I play a $100 game 10 times, I'm ahead)
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Richard Launius
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Thanks for your consideration and giving the game not only a fair evaluation, but also for your interest to add it to your games. I hope you enjoy it as much as many of the players that responded to your post and that it gives you the value you are seeking. It continues to be fun for me every game.

One other note, after you have played the game for a while and want even more story and adventure please take a look at the variants and scenarios posted in the files section here on BGG by other players and myself. I think you will find that they are challenging and fun to play.

Thanks for joining the realm.

Richard
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