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Subject: Wasn't ready for prime time rss

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Mark Sautman
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When this was initially on kickstarter, it said:

"The game design, sourcing, marketing, story, and components, are done. We are fine tuning our packaging depending on whether we reach our stretch goals. We need to purchase about 2 dozen more artistic licenses for some of our cards, and are waiting on half a dozen more pieces from various artists. . . .Our projected ship date is now July 31, 2012."

So I was expecting a game that was basically ready to be published. Meanwhile, tonight I get another update like:

"PlayTest Set 3.0
We are working on finishing up the PT 3.0 for you. The cards are done! We are revising rules to match the most recent changes. . . . It required extensive reworking of rules and card balance . . After PT 3.0 Launches we will be conducting a series of Design Contests for Rules, Wording, Glossary Terms, Art, Specializations and other aspects of the game."

So here we are, two weeks after the game was supposed to be shipped and they are going through a third round of playtesting, extensive reworking of the rules, card balancing, and a bunch of design contests.

I was really excited about this game, but as it drags on and on, the enthusiasm is waning. I'm all for fixing the rules and gameplay if it improves the game, but shouldn't that have been done before you went on Kickstarter, especially one claiming the design is done?

I know the designers released a video explaining why they are doing all of this development now, but that was one day before the Kickstarter campaign ended. These updates are less like production updates and more like designer diaries.
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Bwian, just
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Honestly, one of the reasons I didn't back it was because I was worried they were going to rush something out the door. If they are actually willing to do major revisions at this point, that's probably a good thing.

Of course, it's easy for someone with no skin in the game to say that...
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Sky Zero
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I need to dig up some of my old posts where I stated this is what would happen. I feel bad for the people who threw their money away on this abomination.
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Adam Kazimierczak
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This is exactly the kind of thing Kickstarter critics warn about: unfinished games that haven't been properly playtested. I think this should be a warning to all future Kickstarter releases that supporters will expect more than empty promises before they take that plunge again. shake

Complete rules, impartial reviews, strong presence on BGG with frequent updates. Accept nothing less.
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Tiwaz Tyrsfist
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Shortly before the kickstarter ended, in a video update, Christopher Gabrielson said in short that because they'd pulled more than 10 times their goal, that they wanted to refine and improve the game. This abundance of funding would be used to MAKE THE GAME BETTER.

And in the video he also said, doing things like REWRITING and FULLY REALIZING a constructed language, refining the mechanics of the game, in general, to make it better, would take time. And he announced that they were pushing their ship date back to OCTOBER. Because they wanted to create the best game the funding would allow.

The game was DONE as it was back when they posted it on Kickstarter. If they'd pull just the $18K they were shooting for, they'd have sent it to the printers as it'd be shipping now. But because they had the money to MAKE IT BETTER, they chose to take the time to do that. And when you make LARGE CHANGES to a game, you have to playtest it again to make sure you haven't broken it.

Yes, it is a bit hard waiting for something, but when you expand the scope of a project LITERALLY TEN FOLD in complexity and refinement, maybe three months isn't such a big deal?


And you know what? If this game isn't you cup of tea, if you think it's a stupid idea, that's fine. Please don't tell me I'm wrong or stupid for liking something you don't.
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Luis Cortez
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Well said, Tiwaz!

Playtesting now! So far, I like the changes I'm seeing and the shape it is taking.

I love how they are soliciting our opinions and even our participation in making this something we can all enjoy.

Seil Nakay l elumadh, ahzder lu.

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Justin Wawrzonek
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Couldn't agree with you more Tiwaz. The game is shaping up very nicely. I am all for waiting to make the game a better product.
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Magic Pink
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skyzero wrote:
I need to dig up some of my old posts where I stated this is what would happen. I feel bad for the people who threw their money away on this abomination.


You mean those posts where you threw around insults and ridiculous declarations based on zero facts, much like this exact post here? By all means, pull up more proof of how often you jump to conclusions.
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T France
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I like to think it was ready for prime time, but then they got a bigger budget. So now they're making it a Premium Cable Channel series...
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David Stahler Jr.
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My main concern is that in making it "better," they're making it crazy complicated. Though I appreciate the increased effort of late to keep us informed, with each new update I feel more and more confused by where all this is going. I worry that the game is going to morph into something different from what I originally signed onto.

I was very excited about this game at first--they really wowed me with their pitch, but the enthusiasm has begun to wane a little as time goes on. I've never contributed to a Kickstarter before, and if this doesn't pan out, it'll probably be the last one.

That said, I'm trying to patient and hope that my fears will not be realized. I like this band of brothers and want both them and the game to be successful.

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As another backer of the kickstarter campaign, I've lost almost all interest in this game. To echo the OP, they essentially had a product, they just needed funding. I've funded a number of successful board games on kickstarter, so I liked what I saw, and enthusiastically backed them. Then, in an amazing bait and switch, they let us know the day before the campaign ends, they were not making a 20K game, but a 200K game. The implications of this were not readily obvious. I thought "great, take the time you need, and make it better." Better bits, better production values, better advertising, refined rules, etc.

Then the first playtest came out, which was what they had created to make it "better," and it was a disaster. Instead of refining what they had, they basically built it from the ground up. How do I know this? Easy. The rules were a mess, and game breaking typos and graphics across enough cards to make it fairly unplayable. Where did all that extra time and money go for development? And the language, that needs special mention.

A lot of us backed the game because it had an interesting interplay between mastering a made up "language," and card play. It was different enough to warrant a look. The "language" was essentially something like 20 words, that would be rearranged to cast spells. 20 words, easy enough, and it's essentially what was advertised on kickstarter and their website. Go ahead, check them out, the video hasn't changed. Tell me it's not misleading, compared to what we have now. At the time, this was still a game. Instead, they bring in someone to completely redo the language. In fact he created a real made up language, that you essentially need to know to play. Basically, it's Klingon, and has become more lifestyle than game. So if you have a lot of time on your hands, learning an entire language that has no use outside of a game appeals to you, you will LOVE this game. Everyone else? Buyer beware.

While I think the game they are currently making might have made sense as an advanced edition a few years from now, after the success of the Serpent's Tongue many of us backed, I can't see the current design being attractive to a large audience; it's going to be very niche. I'm still getting my copy, and it will serve as a cautionary reminder of how I pledge my money in the future.
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Fractal Energy
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The reason I pulled back my support was because the whole thing just seemed too intangible; something about the whole project just seemed unreal or just a little too far out there. I checked today to see what happened to it and was surprised to see how much money they pulled in. I'm curious to see what actually happens when the game is released, but I'm sad to hear that some backers got caught in this mess. I went with my gut on deciding to stay out of this one until it got funded, and then wait to see what it was about before jumping in.
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Sky Zero
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Magic Pink wrote:
skyzero wrote:
I need to dig up some of my old posts where I stated this is what would happen. I feel bad for the people who threw their money away on this abomination.


You mean those posts where you threw around insults and ridiculous declarations based on zero facts, much like this exact post here? By all means, pull up more proof of how often you jump to conclusions.


I happen to like the game "Jump to Conclusions" laugh
 
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linoleum blownaparte
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When I was reading the rules a few months ago, there were a couple things that I popped an eyebrow at, that made me think the "original version" of this game was going to be broken.

Now the development cycle has stretched out over 3-4 months... I don't think they are "trying to make the game better" I think they are "trying to make the game work." The wholesale removal and addition of core game features is indicative of this. If I had to put my finger on it, what is wrong with their design is... unfortunately, something that was also the chief selling point of the Kickstarter. Namely the "codex" concept.

The codex introduces numerous problems into the game that anyone who has played Magic can probably figure out. I don't say that every card game has to be Magic: The Knockoff. I don't even particularly like Magic. But it's a solid game and has been played and stress-tested more than any other "gamer" card game, and if you're designing a game it pays to have a healthy respect for the lessons learned from MTG.

When you have a card game with

1. No randomness or deck draw
2. Access to any card any time
3. No limit on card-multiples (this was the eyebrow-popper)
4. No power curve or cost (all cards are free unless you mispronounce a fantasy word)
5. Timing issues

Right out of the gate you have a problematic game imo.
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Leland Gross
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Compare Zombicide KStarter end to its actual release (MONTHS LATER after GenCon) and you will see it takes a while to get the finished product for a successful game that does well on KStarter and decides to add a bunch of extra stuff...(also reference Dread Ball, thats gonna take forever as well but is being broken up into "Seasons")

So they could consider doing multiple small update releases with new cards that have been playtested. But either way its not going to be instantly produced. We are just so used to instant results.
 
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bob mcgee
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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:


1. No randomness or deck draw
2. Access to any card any time
3. No limit on card-multiples (this was the eyebrow-popper)
4. No power curve or cost (all cards are free unless you mispronounce a fantasy word)
5. Timing issues


You either started following a version of the game well before I did, or you have some things wrong here. I started following the game ~2 weeks before the KS closed.

1. Valid
2. Valid
3. I'm not certain about this one, although I seem to recall there being a limit to multiples. Perhaps this changed.
4. This isn't accurate. Some cards are free, while others require an expenditure of one of the game's resources, and others still require an upkeep over time using said resources. Some cards require certain "states" as prerequisites as well, essentially costing you "turns" as a form of cost in getting into the appropriate "state" first.
5. Not sure if this is what you're meaning when you say timing issues, but this is my biggest complaint: When playtesting the first set of cards that were released as PDFs to the playtesters, me and a couple of gaming friends immediately saw that there was no countermeasure to off-set who goes first. Whoever goes first got a huge advantage, essentially forcing the 2nd player to react to what was done. This forces an act-counteract style of play. Magic handled it by having the first player not get to draw a card.

I echo the sentiments of a lot of backers in thinking that the game was much further along to completion than it turned out to be. I get the whole "wanting to make it better" but as someone else in this thread pointed out, the fact that it was essentially broken down and written from the ground up indicates to me that it was never a working product in the first place. There is a marked difference between making something better, and making something work in the first place.

Admittedly, I have since stopped dealing with playtesting after the very first documents were released. When they first came out, me and my gaming crew were excited to try things out. We printed out all the cards and affixed them ourselves to poster-board etc. An expensive and laborious process. Then, a mere ~2 weeks later it was announced that an entirely new set of cards and rules would be released. That's when I decided I was done. Granted, it was my own "fault" for being excited and printing everything out to make nice cards, but by the same token, I certainly didn't expect the cards I just made to be rendered completely useless by a complete re-write of the game either.

This brings me to my last point. Too many chefs in the kitchen. It's awesome that game companies want to start including their players more in development, but I just get the feeling that they are trying to listen to and appease too many different people with this project. Again, I haven't been following much of what's been going on since the very first playtest, but from the comments I've read pertaining to the game getting bloated and overly complex, it only enforces my fears. Add in the fact that now players themselves are creating cards and submitting artwork? WTF is going on here... Maybe they should have taken some of that 1083% over goal money and gotten some legit play testers, or tournament level CCG/LCG gamers/playtesters.

As it stands, this was my first large KS purchase (my very first was Empires of the Void) and I went in as a Line for Lifer. My enthusiasm for this project is close to 0 at this point, but I still hold on to an inkling of hope that the game doesn't turn out to be garbage.

I should have seen there was a bit of a problem (for my tastes personally) when I saw a poll on their website where 90% of their player base preferred random elements of chance mixed into the game, instead of sticking more to the pure strategy side of things, akin to chess. Don't get me wrong, I love elements of chance, when I feel it's appropriate, and fitting the theme of the game. 90% of my games utilize dice or cards in some form or fashion, however, a strategy game in which they were hoping to become the next "Magic" and have a big tournament scene etc., strikes me as a game in which you want the least amount of chance as possible.

As an aside, I'm slightly annoyed by the level of "seriousness" with which some of the ST community already seems to be operating. And by that I mean the threads that were cropping up about irl occultism and the like. I get that this game has a big appeal for RPers, and personally, I love RPGs, perhaps even more than boardgames, but for some reason I just get the sense that this mindset is one that is damaging to the proliferation of this game to a mass market. Add to that the fact that a lot of these sorts of players are the ones that are endlessly submitting cards and artwork instead of trying their hardest to get the game to be mechanically sound, and it just gets on my nerves.

This is certainly a lesson learned, and the last time I will back a KS project from an unknown person or company that has 0 track record of doing anything.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my rant.
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David Stahler Jr.
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It would be nice to have the designers--who are no doubt following this thread--respond to at least some of these concerns.

I understand the reluctance to get drawn into a pissing match with disgruntled investors, but a response could go a long way toward assuaging some of our fears. I'm sure the designers would do at least some things differently given the chance. I don't think that's awful--it's to be expected given a project this complex and the fact that this is new territory for the designers. But let's hear what they have to say about this! Maybe they're fine with it. Maybe they think none of these concerns are valid. Fine, let's hear that, too!
 
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Collin raised another good point about too much emphasis on the language. And I'll go one further by saying, the problem isn't so much the focus on language in terms of its detail in general, but more in terms of its use as a balancing factor.

They have it arranged so that the difficulty of the words used to play a card is increased the more powerful/strong the card is. Even after a few minutes of discussion, me and my friends came to the conclusion that this wasn't a good solution in a game that hopes to be played competitively on any level, not to mention the strong tournament scene the designers hinted toward.

There needs to be an actual mechanic tied to the gameplay itself to regulate more powerful spells. Especially in the instance of spells that are higher rankings of the same spell. e.g. There would be no use to ever have a rank 1 spell over a rank 4 spell. No use ever to have anything but the highest available rank of any of the spells, rendering any lesser rank spells obsolete if they have any higher ranking counterparts. The easiest and most widely known example of what I mean is how in Magic, more powerful cards cost more mana. You don't just have to memorize their mana cost and say "3 blue" or "2 blue, 2 green, 2 white" to play them. That would be ridiculous, no?

I understand the theme and lore of this decision. It's great from a RPG standpoint or for a light game that isn't planning on joining the ranks of other competitively played CCG/LCGs. But, it simply isn't enough of a counterbalance to the power of the cards to have the only balancing compensation be a phrase of varying lengths for the player to say.

Obviously, players will completely memorize the most powerful cards in time, especially those who are planning on tournaments. If all of the most powerful cards are going to just be committed to memory, the entire language system as mechanism to balance the power/cost of each card is rendered wholly useless. Then it becomes "who has the most powerful cards memorized". The game, from a competitive standpoint, would turn into people who just had their entire decks memorized. This would be fine if every card was equally powerful, but obviously, that is never the case in any CCG/LCG.

Don't get me wrong, the language is one of the things that drew me to this game. I love the lore and theme of it all. But that doesn't prevent or blind me from wanting the game to be as mechanically sound as possible. The life of the product as a competitive card game depends on it.

Edit: I feel compelled to repeatedly state that I have not playtested any of the most recent versions of the game. It would be music to my ears to hear that they had completely addressed this issue, along with the issue of who gets the first move.
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David Stahler Jr.
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qaesyan wrote:
Collin raised another good point about too much emphasis on the language. And I'll go one further by saying, the problem isn't so much the focus on language in terms of its detail in general, but more in terms of its use as a balancing factor.

They have it arranged so that the difficulty of the words used to play a card is increased the more powerful/strong the card is. Even after a few minutes of discussion, me and my friends came to the conclusion that this wasn't a good solution in a game that hopes to be played competitively on any level, not to mention the strong tournament scene the designers hinted toward.

There needs to be an actual mechanic tied to the gameplay itself to regulate more powerful spells. Especially in the instance of spells that are higher rankings of the same spell. e.g. There would be no use to ever have a rank 1 spell over a rank 4 spell. No use ever to have anything but the highest available rank of any of the spells, rendering any lesser rank spells obsolete if they have any higher ranking counterparts. The easiest and most widely known example of what I mean is how in Magic, more powerful cards cost more mana. You don't just have to memorize their mana cost and say "3 blue" or "2 blue, 2 green, 2 white" to play them. That would be ridiculous, no?

I understand the theme and lore of this decision. It's great from a RPG standpoint or for a light game that isn't planning on joining the ranks of other competitively played CCG/LCGs. But, it simply isn't enough of a counterbalance to the power of the cards to have the only balancing compensation be a phrase of varying lengths for the player to say.

Obviously, players will completely memorize the most powerful cards in time, especially those who are planning on tournaments. If all of the most powerful cards are going to just be committed to memory, the entire language system as mechanism to balance the power/cost of each card is rendered wholly useless. Then it becomes "who has the most powerful cards memorized". The game, from a competitive standpoint, would turn into people who just had their entire decks memorized. This would be fine if every card was equally powerful, but obviously, that is never the case in any CCG/LCG.

Don't get me wrong, the language is one of the things that drew me to this game. I love the lore and theme of it all. But that doesn't prevent or blind me from wanting the game to be as mechanically sound as possible. The life of the product as a competitive card game depends on it.

Edit: I feel compelled to repeatedly state that I have not playtested any of the most recent versions of the game. It would be music to my ears to hear that they had completely addressed this issue, along with the issue of who gets the first move.


I understand what you're saying here, but I think what you're not happy about is the whole point of the game. It's supposed to be "skill-based," where the skill is being able to remember the words associated with an incantation and say them correctly in play against a ticking timer. It is a different kind of skill than deciding what kind of card to play at a given to moment to give yourself an edge, but it is a skill. Being able to perform well under pressure is certainly a different kind of skill-based mechanic than we're used to seeing, but I believe it's supposed to be what sets this game apart.

This being the case (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on what I just wrote!), my concern is that being able to play this game takes a lot of time and practice outside of the game itself by yourself. It's only really occurring to me now how unlikely it is that I'm going to have the time or inclination to actually sit down and memorize all these made-up words by myself, let alone convince my gaming friends to do it. It sounds like a lot of work, to be honest, and is a bit too far out on the wavering branch of the geek tree than I feel like creeping.

But you know what? That's my fault. That aspect of the game wasn't disguised in any way. It was very clear up front that the memorization mechanic was a key part of game play. I guess at the time I was so intrigued by the uniqueness of it and, I'll admit it, all the pretty pictures on the Kickstarter page, that I let my impulse and emotion get the better of me instead of thinking it through. What can I say? I was playing a lot of Skyrim at the time, and all those Dragon shouts reminded me of what I saw on the cards.

Still holding onto the hope that it'll be a cool game. I actually went in for $145 all told (including two of the fancy leather spellbooks). So worse case, it'll be an interesting albeit expensive keepsake and a beautiful-looking reminder to be more careful about how I invest my gaming dollars.

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bob mcgee
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Wheelockian wrote:

I understand what you're saying here, but I think what you're not happy about is the whole point of the game. It's supposed to be "skill-based," where the skill is being able to remember the words associated with an incantation and say them correctly in play against a ticking timer. It is a different kind of skill than deciding what kind of card to play at a given to moment to give yourself an edge, but it is a skill. Being able to perform well under pressure is certainly a different kind of skill-based mechanic than we're used to seeing, but I believe it's supposed to be what sets this game apart.

This being the case (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on what I just wrote!), my concern is that being able to play this game takes a lot of time and practice outside of the game itself by yourself. It's only really occurring to me now how unlikely it is that I'm going to have the time or inclination to actually sit down and memorize all these made-up words by myself, let alone convince my gaming friends to do it. It sounds like a lot of work, to be honest, and is a bit too far out on the wavering branch of the geek tree than I feel like creeping.

But you know what? That's my fault. That aspect of the game wasn't disguised in any way. It was very clear up front that the memorization mechanic was a key part of game play. I guess at the time I was so intrigued by the uniqueness of it and, I'll admit it, all the pretty pictures on the Kickstarter page, that I let my impulse and emotion get the better of me instead of thinking it through. What can I say? I was playing a lot of Skyrim at the time, and all those Dragon shouts reminded me of what I saw on the cards.

Still holding onto the hope that it'll be a cool game. I actually went in for $145 all told (including two of the fancy leather spellbooks). So worse case, it'll be an interesting albeit expensive keepsake and a beautiful-looking reminder to be more careful about how I invest my gaming dollars.



I agree that it may take a long time, some more than others, for people to memorize the spells. Although, where I disagree seems to be on the interpretation of "skill" in this game. It might be difficult for some people to say these weird and invented words...initially. I suppose the case could be made that people that intuitively have a knack for pronunciation of strange words have more "skill" than others that do not. But, once they're memorized, there is 0 skill, by any definition, in regurgitating them. Unless it's a person that simply cannot bring themselves to properly pronounce something, due to a speech impediment or having a thick accent that they don't care enough to correct, there will eventually be little problem in spouting off even the most high rank spell.

Now, this brings up a whole other can of worms; about the game catering more to linguistically inclined people. But, I won't get into that aspect, as I feel fans of this game are already interested in that aspect of things.

The language itself as the only balance of power is my fear for the competitive/tournament side of things. At first, yeah, the words will be tricky because they will all be so new and strange. Once they're just rote memory though? They won't be any more difficult to say than words we use daily from the English language (or whatever your native language is).

I definitely agree that the language aspect alone is what will keep this game from having broad appeal. As you pointed out, sitting down to memorize all of these words for an invented language is quite a chore that will only appeal to die-hard fans of the project. Again, that's another issue all together relating to the game's mass appeal.

My complaint with the mechanics (keeping in mind that they may have changed this by now) is to be viewed from an insiders perspective, not an outsiders. My problem affects the people that already know they want to play this game, and for whom the language component hasn't already dissuaded from partaking. In that context, the "fans" are going to be memorizing these spells, removing the balance-of-power factor completely. It doesn't matter how long it takes person A or B or C to eventually memorize their deck. The point is that eventually, they will all have it memorized, and there will no longer be the argument for skill in saying the words being a balance to power. And for people who don't want to memorize them? This isn't really a discussion for them, because they aren't going to be the ones going to tournaments, or being highly competitive for prizes or anything.

As a casual game, I don't have a problem with the only balancing mechanism for powerful cards being played being exclusively tied to the language. Because, then it would just be a casual and light game that you break out every now and again for fun. And, of course, there will be many fans of this game that do exactly that. They're the lucky ones. Even if it was a RPG (as was their original plan, which is probably why these problems exist in the first place) I wouldn't mind at all. Roleplaying is, first and foremost, about collective storytelling, after all. But, as they've claimed to want to have this game be able to be played competitively, and have a heavy tournament scene in gaming shops across the country, this is a HUGE problem.

Edit: In typing this, just now, I'm reminded of another portion of a conversation me and my friends had when playtesting. The Gentleman's Rules or Gentleman's Guide to Serpent's Tongue, or whatever they call it. That's great to promote sportsmanlike conduct, and rules of etiquette for your game. But, in tournament level practice, that sort of thing simply isn't taken seriously. The Gentleman's Guide says that if someone is close to the pronunciation of a word, that it is "good enough". You think that's going to fly in tournament play where money or prizes are on the line?

My friends were regaling me with tales of their MTG tournament days where people would do anything they could to get an edge on their opponent, mental or otherwise. They remember someone forcing them to remove all of their cards from sleeves because they were "allergic to the sleeve material", or the light reflecting off of them was distracting. It gets really ridiculous.

Now, I'm not saying ST will turn into that, but am only illustrating the difference between a game going for a "around the coffee table with friends and family" casual vibe, and a more serious competitive/tournament vibe. The makers of this game will have to decide which one they're going for, because thus far, their design decisions are counter to what their own stated goals have been.

I hope I'm not coming off as a major detractor to the game. I really do hope that the game is as mechanically sound as possible, and can thrive and attain a mass market. I went in for $420 as a line-for-life member with other extras here and there. I'm definitely not hoping for this game's failure, that much is certain.

Like you though, if the game does fail, I will just have to take it as an expensive lesson learned, and try to console myself in having a really fancy looking and expensive casual game.
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Mark Sautman
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Wheelockian wrote:
my concern is that being able to play this game takes a lot of time and practice outside of the game itself by yourself. It's only really occurring to me now how unlikely it is that I'm going to have the time or inclination to actually sit down and memorize all these made-up words by myself, let alone convince my gaming friends to do it. It sounds like a lot of work


I share this concern. I own a lot of games so I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to any particular one. I was always more interested in the wizards battling aspect rather than the linguistics. I viewed the casting spells as more of a novelty than a core mechanic. I wanted a game that I could bring to game night occasionally, but am worried that this will scare off others. I bought Mage Wars last week because I suspect it will be easier to get that to the table (already easier since it is actually released vs still being in development).
 
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David Stahler Jr.
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Bob,

I've never been into any kind of tournament scene, so I'll admit that part of it isn't even on my radar screen.

I see now how you're defining skill. I guess I was using a broader, looser sense of the word in terms of not only memorizing but also retaining the language and being able to perform it under pressure. True, some will be better at that than others, particular those willing to invest the time. But you could argue the same thing for all kinds of different game-related activities--some are better at seeing patterns, using strategy, reading an opponent's body language, etc. I'm not sure some skills should be privileged over others. But, as we both seem to agree, I'm just not sure I'm interested in developing the kind of skill this game calls for.

I know the designers say you can also decipher a code instead of rote memorization. I'll be interested to see how that aspect of casting works.

 
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Aaron Gabrielson
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A Note from the Serpent's Tongue Designers
The frustration in this thread is very understandable. I thought I would let you know that the Serpent's Tongue designers are paying close attention to the feedback here.

Here are a couple of things from our end of this:

(1) The claim was made that the game wasn't playtested, and wasn't ready for "primetime". I think that is correct. We thought it was playtested, but not nearly as much as it should have been. We could have released it anyway, but decided it was better to release something polished and awesome. You can scratch that up to our inexperience. However, there is nothing like the pressure cooker of game production to help us learn fast. We have been playtesting heavily and the rough edges of the game have been smoothed over.

(2) The game is playing really really fun. We have focused heavily on streamlining and speeding up the gameplay. There is just a little luck, and there is not a heavy emphasis on the language. You can play the game at lower levels no problem with ZERO Serpent's Tongue language ability. If you want to move up, you will have to learn some. But it is gradual. The game is designed to teach you the language as you go. It doesn't feel like a grind to learn, it is fun to hold up your hand and speak it. It is unlike any game experience I have had.

(3) Most of what I read on this thread is very hypothetical. Judgements are being made about the quality of a game that people haven't played. Wait until you play the final version, then tell me it isn't one of the most unique games you have ever played.

(4) We have gotten a flood of artwork. A lot of it is very poor. Some of it is brilliant. Very little of what you have seen will end up on the cards, only the best of the best.

Kickstarter is about helping to get unique ideas off the ground. There is no way Serpent's Tongue would have happened any other way. The result is worth waiting for. My team of brothers and other fanatics are working to create something that has never been done before. You are going to love it. I would just ask that you hold your criticism of the actual game until you play it in it's final form.

Thanks for all the support and the feedback.

Aaron Gabrielson
Project Manager
Serpent's Tongue

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David Stahler Jr.
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Thanks, Aaron. I appreciate the response! As I said before, despite my concerns, I admire your team's passion and ingenuity and hope you succeed.
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Bob, this is another aspect of how ST tries to occupy an uncomfortable space halfway between "RPG prop" and "competitive cardgame." It's great to explore new design space and I have no doubt that ST will create "a game experience like none I have ever had." RPGs and games have very different mechanisms to "how they play," however. From the RPG perspective the spellcasting language is a novel and intriguingly flavorful idea. From the cardgame perspective, I do not think it will work (as Aaron quite correctly points, I certainly don't know it won't work.). My impression is a lot of the ST backers are interested in it from the RPG side of things.

The best way I can explain my perspective is, imagine if there was a rule in poker that "your hand only counts if you always hold it in your left hand."

This rule:

1. Adds nothing to the competitive aspect of the game.
2. Is trivial to follow.
3. Is incredibly frustrating when it punishes you the one time you screw up.

This example is a little reductive, but I see the language requirement as kinda the same thing. Everyone will only use cards they have memorized (2); thus the language requirement will not succeed in making better spells 'harder' or 'costlier' (1); and the one time you screw up the game punishes you (3).

In general, punishing people for rare or uncommon mistakes is "unfun" while rewarding them for uncommon achievements is "fun." An example is Nightfall - not a particularly great game, but the central new mechanism of the game is that you get rewards for stringing spells in a synergistic order (a spell "primes" a color and then you get a reward if you cast a spell of that color next). You don't get PUNISHED for NOT doing that ("spells fizzle unless you cast them after the right color precursor").
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