I recently started posting my first thoughts about the games I get to play, as all too often it takes some time before I actually review them. In the last one I talked briefly about Legends Untold and this is one game that won’t be getting a review, it just isn’t for me and I won’t play it enough to get to the point where I’d be happy to review it.
This got me thinking about the many other games I’ve mentioned in the past but have so far not reviewed, and I thought it would be worth taking a quick look as to why that might be.
But before that, a quick look at my review process would probably be in order…
Slowly, Slowly, catchy monkey!
I average about one review per month. That’s not a lot is it?
No, it isn’t (Yes, I do have a habit of answering my own questions!).
Before I review a game, I have to know it. I need to nail the rules. I need to see how it plays at different player counts, considering any alternative characters or player abilities. I want to plumb its depths and see how different strategies develop, and I have test its replayabiltity, both short term and long.
I think it’s important for me to do these things, to be able to give the best account I can of what I think about the game, anything less and I’d feel I was selling the myself, the game, and above all, those who read the reviews, short.
This takes time, at least for the majority of the games I play, and until I’ve met all my criteria the game won’t receive a review. There have been a few exceptions, usually regarding player count, as it can sometimes be difficult to get a group together at the higher counts, but I make a point of mentioning this in the review.
And so, in the run up to putting pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard, I play the game to death for about a week. Time is always the limiting factor and some games require much more of it than others. Take Tainted Grail for instance. This is one game I was hoping to have reviewed by now, but I’ve barely made a scratch on the surface in terms of its story and depth, I just haven’t had the time to spend on it. It really needs a constant effort of repeat plays to really know the game, but I’m working towards having an area where I can leave such games set up, which will enable me to do just that. Until then, I’ll have to concentrate on games that don’t quite demand so much from me.
Close, but no cigar!
Of the games that I’ve mentioned over the last few years there are a few that won’t be seeing a review, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t like them. Here’s a rundown…
Alien vs Predator: The Hunt Begins (2nd Edition)
From Prodos games, this is a sci-fi dungeon crawl style game based loosely on the movies. It features some lovely miniatures, nice floor tiles, and a set of pretty awful rules.
The rules are the drawback of this game, badly written in an incoherent order, and overcomplicated for what, when you get down to it, is a fairly basic set of mechanisms.
I didn’t like a few things about the way the game worked – the movement, the environment cards, and a few other annoying little intricacies, but at its heart there is something beating there that appealed… It’s Aliens and Predators, come on, the movies were great!
And so, I changed the rules to get a game I wanted to play. Just small tweaks, like changing the movement from the horrible ‘move up to two tiles, placing the model anywhere in the footprint of the tile’ to moving a number of squares. Anyway, it worked for me and I’ve played some great, excitingly thematic games in the past.
I could write a review and go into how poor I found the rules and explain why they just didn’t work for me, but for me to meet my above mentioned review criteria it would mean playing the game a number of times using the correct rules, and honestly, I don’t want to do that!
Star Fleet Battle
I talked about this game in a ‘Remember When‘ post, and I’ve received a lot of feedback from fans of the game – it has quite a cult following.
Now this is a game I like, mainly because I love simulations, and this is as close to a Star Trek simulator as is humanly possible in a table-top game. But, because of that it’s immensely complicated, or put another way, it’s got more rules than an American Football game (speaking from an English point of view that is!).
As much as I would love to get back into this game, I just can’t see it happening anytime soon, not unless we get a disruption to the space time continuum that allows me to take a year out to learn to play it again… but hey, stranger things have happened, right?
UBoot: The Board Game
I backed this on Kickstarter and was excited to play it when I received it back in March last year. First up, though, I wrote an unboxing post, and then the game slipped into the murky depths and hardly mentioned again.
I mentioned I love simulations, and this was billed as a, “WWII Submarine Simulator,” which is what drew my attention to the game in the first place. Well, it isn’t a simulator, not by a long shot.
Okay, the app does a very good job of things, but the analogue side of things fails on several levels. Take moral for instance: whenever the Captain issues an order moral reduces… what!
I’m ex-military and if my moral had reduced every time I was issued an order I’d have lasted about three seconds; it just doesn’t make sense. Yes, there are times when orders can have an effect on morale, but they’re usually of the type, ‘paint those kerb stone white,’ kind of order – those who have served will understand – and in times of war those under command tend to do what their told because that’s what they’re trained to do and they do it well.
Also, if you look at the history of the U-boats, I don’t believe there was a single occurrence of mutiny, which speaks volumes of the men undertaking the task.
The Engineering, the shift system, the production of meals, all have issues when looked at from a simulation point of view, and for me this put a downer on the game. I also found that the roles were unequal, with the Navigator having the most pressure on them, probably because it was the closest role to a simulation and featured some good mechanisms replicating a little realism.
Rewinding slightly, though, my main gripe with the game is the morale system that becomes the central aspect of the game, forcing you to centre on the issuing of orders, keeping them to a minimum and ending up fire fighting to keep morale from ending the game, and it just didn’t gel with me.
Since my last play they have re-written the rules and up-dated the app, but my initial disappointment with the game has kept me from going back to it, and I can’t review a game based on play-throughs using out of date rules now, can I?
Maybe in the future I’ll revisit it, but I just don’t want to be disappointed all over again.
Star Wars X-Wing
X-Wing is an excellent miniatures space combat game and one I would certainly recommend, especially to fans. It has great pre-painted miniatures, slick mechanisms, and can be a quick dog-fight game or a more in depth, build your own squadron tactical affair, so why then will I not be reviewing it?
Simple: I have the first edition.
The second edition makes several changes to the game, for good or bad I couldn’t say, I haven’t played it, but I’m not about to review a game that has been superseded and no longer available.
Munchkin tends to be a bit of a Marmite game – love it or hate it. I’ve played it once or twice and found it entertaining, in a cut-throat kind of way, but trying to get it to the table seems nigh on impossible for me, as nobody else wants to play.
Part of the problem is the minimum 3-player count, which makes it difficult, and you need the right kind of people playing for it to be a fun experience.
Munchkin is loosely a dungeon exploring card game, where you kill monsters and grab the loot. Other players can assist, or, as is more often the case, they can stab you in the back, and I found it quite an enjoyable experience when played with good friends over a drink or two… or actually seven or eight. But it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and the likelihood of me playing it more than once a year is slim, hence, no review.
A definite maybe… possibly!
There are a few games that are currently on the fence.
Will they, or won’t they? Here’s my thoughts…
Tiny Epic Tactics
Still sitting, un-played, on the shelf. Tiny Epic Tactics is another game I backed on Kickstarter, but by the time I received it I’d sort of lost interest.
To be fair to the game it looks pretty good and through reading the rules it sounds like it should play okay. Every time I think about playing the game something else jumps out at me that just sounds more, well, exciting. I don’t know what it is about the game, but I can’t seem to work up much enthusiasm to play it, even though I know I might be missing out.
Still, at some point I will get it to the table and then I’m sure I’ll go on to review it… maybe!
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on cursed island
An excellent Game, once you’ve battled through the rules, Robinson Crusoe is a co-op exploration survival game, and it’s a challenging game in more ways than one.
I think I’ve played half a dozen or so solo games and never gotten close to winning a game, but still found it enjoyable. I have the second edition, but even so I still had to visit BGG and print out a user version of the rules, as they’re a bit tricky to say the least. This is the problem I have with the game – leave it on the shelf for any length of time and you have to re-learn the game, and that’s a bit of a drag. Teaching the game can also be an issue, especially if you don’t have the rules nailed down. This makes it difficult for me to get it to the table, which is a bit sad as it really is quite good.
I acquired mine second hand and it has different (I wouldn’t say upgraded) meeples and wooden resources in it to what it should have, so to some extent if I reviewed it, I wouldn’t be reviewing an original in terms of component level, but this is a small issue really.
If I can get the rules clear in my head and get enough games played then I would be sure to review it, probably a solo review, we shall have to wait and see.
Mice and Mystics
I really, really, wanted to like this game. Unfortunately, I don’t.
There are some good things here but ultimately I found the central game mechanisms, especially the combat, let it down. Too much randomness that, especially in the opening scenarios, can’t be mitigated make the game quite difficult, and ‘swingy’.
One game you can breeze through, the next you barely make it out of the first room. It’s something I dislike in a game and it’s debatable now whether I’ll ever play it again.
If I do, then I may go on to write about it, but don’t hold your breath!
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
Another game I really wanted to like, and to an extent I do.
I played several, probably closer to a dozen, games with the starter set and though I enjoyed them I noticed a pattern emerging – every game was won by Steelheart’s champions!
It didn’t matter who played which side the result was always the same, Steelhearts kick butt!
This put me off buying further expansions and the game sits on the shelf, but I can hear it calling to me. Maybe we played it wrong? Maybe I should find out, especially now that I’ve painted those lovely miniatures.
Anyway, Shadespire is a tactical arena combat game, where you play with a customisable deck of cards unique to your faction. These offer up various ways to enhance the abilities of your characters and give you options on how to achieve the set objectives. It’s fast paced, exciting, and lasts around thirty minutes a game.
If I can persuade someone to play again then I’m sure it will get the review it probably deserves.
Imminent… anytime now… soon… ish!
I’ll finish off with a quick list of games that I will be reviewing anytime between now and the end of all time…
In no particular order
- Pandemic – I should have done this by now but it’s old and I keep putting it to the back of the queue!
- 6 Nimmt! – just need a refresher game or two.
- Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – Excellent game, especially solo. Just trying to persuade the family to play so I can see how it plays with others.
- Everdell – I need to play it solo, but every time I get it out someone else wants to play too!
- Lord of The Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth – There’s the new mode of play to explore, which could take some time.
- Star Wars: Legion – need more plays.
- Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon – Need a lot more time to explore everything about this game, and I’m just not getting the chance at the moment.
- Legendary Encounters: The X-files – I’ve only played a couple of games, but I already know I’ll be reviewing it.
- Museum – Ready to review.
- Great Western Trail – Need a couple of refresher games.
- Suburbia – Could review now, but I really want to play it at higher player count.
- Various Exit games – Ready to review.
- Dungeons and Dragons: The Temple of Elemental Evil the board game – I should really review it now, but I’ve lost the love for the game.
- Nusfjord – Imminent!
- Scythe: The Rise of Fenris – As soon as we finish the campaign, only a few scenarios to go.
- Viticulture – A quick refresher of the solo game required.
It isn’t a complete list, I’ve missed off several games that need greater time spent on them, such as Eldritch Horror, where it’s been a good year or so since I last played it. There’s also a few games I’ve yet to play at all, like Marvel: Crisis Protocol (I’ve spent all the time painting the minis!) and the new, recently acquired, Obsession second edition, complete with the Upstairs Downstairs expansion.
I’m sure there are plenty more that I’ve failed to mention that will crop up over time, but it’s enough to be going on with.
I’m going to try and keep on with the one game a month, though ideally, I’d like to increase it to two, it really comes down to time.
“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”Dr Seuss
4 thoughts on “What, no Review?”
A different slant on your posts! 🙂 Enjoyed reading it! I reckon Scythe: The Rise of Fenris will creep to near the top of the review list!
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Thanks John… Fenris sure will, though it will be an easy one to write, nice and short to avoid all the spoilers – great expansion for a great game 😀
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l empathise. Reviewing games must be time-consuming if you want to be confident that you know what you are talking about. I can’t imagine Real Life allowing me the leisure to do that properly, unless I focused on very very very simple games that is…
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Thanks. Yep, it certainly is a challenge trying to find the time, but for me I just couldn’t review a game without giving it a thorough going over. I hate reading reviews where an opinion is given based on a single play through, it can be so misleading. I want to give my impressions based upon several plays and a good understanding of the rules and strategy, and if I can’t do that then I try to be open and honest about it. I try to give examples to back up what I say, both positively and negatively, as it would be wrong to say such and such doesn’t work but then fail to say why.
Basically, I try to write a review that I’d be happy reading and yes it eats time. I’m glad I have a very understanding family 😉