The Perfect Campaign Hot

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Egg ShenEgg Shen   March 01, 2017  
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Ever since the glory days of HeroQuest I’ve always been interested in boardgames that can be played out as a campaign.  That is, you play as the same character over the course of several games, getting new gear/powers to help you overcome evil.  The truth is that even back in the time before work, responsibilities, and internet cat videos I RARELY managed to successfully finish a campaign.  

More than ever we’re seeing companies attempt the impossible by pumping out big boxes that promise, immersive stories, interesting character development, and endless replayability.  Most of these games are “1 vs all” style games in the vein of HeroQuest.  However, in recent years we’ve gotten fully co-op campaigns as well as everyone for themselves campaigns.  Despite this influx of games I think we’re STILL WAITING for the one.  The proverbial Neo, that all of us “campaigners” (that what I’m calling us) are desperately waiting for.  Even if you think the ultimate campaign style game exists, you’re wrong.  Probably.  In recent years several great campaign style games have arrived, but we’re still waiting for cardboard messiah to show him/herself.

I’ve come up with a few things that I’ve deemed necessary to create the ultimate campaign style game. 

 

A Sense of Character Ownership 

Hello character sheets, goodbye fantasy character with shitty name I care nothing for.  This one is the most simplistic to implement, and yet most designers/publishers make like Simba and deliberately disobey me!  Let the players name their own damn characters.  You’re being asked to play the same character over the course of a lengthy campaign, the least you can do is be given some type of ownership over it.  Really the only game to come out in recent years to understand this is Flying Frog’s Shadows Over Brimstone.  Naming your character seems like such a trivial thing, but it’s the first step of the perfect campaign that 9 out of 10 games get wrong. 

1 vs all or Co-op? 

Put me in the camp of 1 vs all when it comes to non app assisted campaign games.  Having a GM/Overlord player is inherently trickier to design, but I think it’s worth it.  I simply think that no matter how impressive the co-op’s enemy AI is, it will never top the feeling of matching wits with a human GM.  An actual person can surprise you and do incredible and memorable things.  That can literally never happen in a co-op game where you fully know how your enemies will move/react/attack before they even do.  Now that we have solved that, let’s move onto the bigger dilemma of 1 vs All; the person playing the Evil Side needs to be going full out and playing to win.  They simply have to and the rules/mecahnics should be designed with that in mind.  If they need to “pull punches” or play sub-optimally to make it interesting for the heroes then just go play an RPG instead.  It’s as simple as that.

VICTORY!!!!!!???

So now that we’re clear that this is two sides controlled by humans battling it out over a few games, what is the ultimate victory condition?  The most common ruling seems to be, “nothing matters except the final campaign mission”.  That old style of thinking simply has to go.  It’s dumb, can make people lose interest, and puts an absurd amount of pressure on that grande finale.  No game needs to deal with that much performance anxiety!  Instead I propose that the campaign is treated like a sports championship series.  Make it a best of 3 or best of 5 series.  The minute one side wins the majority claim them to be the victor.  I hear you grumbling about how it will lead to less grandiose campaign climaxes.  I think a clever designer could figure out a way around this.  Either by offering “potential final missions” whenever one side is one victory away from the championship or something cool, that I can’t think of because I’m not Vlaada Chavatil OK!

Fine…Let’s Discuss Story

Let’s not kid ourselves; the continuing story is a big part of the campaign allure.  It’s the proverbial carrot that is supposed to keep the players coming back for more like gluttons at an all you can eat buffet.  I say that designers need to back off from the linear story lines and make things a bit more abstracted.  Give the heroes a setting where they’re trying to accomplish an overarching goal.  Make the playable scenarios tie into that loosely.  That's all you really need.  Let’s be real, the story telling in these games are not exactly “high art” or dramatic prose.  The REAL story comes from the gameplay; the close calls of battle, the uncovering of loot, the arrow to the knee, and the daring escapes.  Focus on getting that right and give the players just enough story so that they care.

Campaign Length

This topic is a bit more serious.  What is the ideal length of a campaign?  Is it ten games?  It is five?  How about pi?  I bet it’s pi length.  I’m not entirely sure, but I think my gut is telling me shorter campaigns are the way to go.  Seeing how they have to have an odd number thanks to my “Best of series” rule, I’d say 3, 5 or 7 games total.  I think people immediately balk when they see a 3 game mini campaign and I don’t understand why.  If the designers forgo a terrible, unexciting, intro scenario then you can have 2 or 3 really great games (remember best of 3 series).  Also, when talking about length I feel like these games shouldn’t fear sessions that push beyond that scary 2+ hour mark.  If a game goes 3 hours that’s fine.  It’s a campaign, you and your friends should be putting time aside to specially play this game.  So time shouldn’t be an issue.  However, I will say if the campaigns are on the longer side (7 games) then yes, each session should only be roughly an hour or so.  Basically regardless of total games played the amount of time to commit should be between 5-8 hours or so.  Finally, if designers are worried about only including a 3 game campaign in the box…just make two separate campaigns instead.  Boom!

Less Combat Focused

One of my absolute favorite things about HeroQuest were the options BESIDES murder, death, punch and kill.  You could find secret doors, uncover traps, loot a room to find shiny shit.  I feel like when good and evil clash in a campaign style dungeon crawl it should feel important.  It shouldn’t just be another turn in the game.  When combat happens literally every single turn it just gets boring and tedious.  Space it out and let the adventure have some sense of pacing. And for the love of god can we have some exploration?  Is that too much to ask for...to make it so the heroes might want to take a few turns combing the dungeon for secrets?

“Lemme, lemme Upgrade Ya”

Just like Beyonce knew the importance of upgrading your cable plan roughly 7 years ago, designers know that campaign games need worthwhile upgrades.  Here is where I think campaign style games have the most wiggle room.  You can make it so that you simply acquire new weapons, a la HeroQuest.  The other way to go is by adding classes and earning special abilities.  Whatever the designer chooses, the thing to remember is less is more.  Playing as a hero with 4 different special abilities, 2 weapons that have their own special abilities each and then a single once per game super cool beast mode move is just too much.  Same thing goes for the GM player.  If they’ve got 15 different options to slaughter-maim the heroes it just feels like overkill.  Make each side have to really think hard about the few important upgrades available. I like how Acradia Quest lets you draft cards and then you only have a few open slots available.  Very clean and still feels satisfying. 

 

Well, clearly some designer out there has their work cut out for them.  Obviously, I’m only speaking of stuff that I like in campaign games, but I think my ideas would legitimately help out the genre.  Maybe one day I’ll take my own advice and try to implement some of this stuff into my own game.  Probably not though…So, um, hopefully some designer sees this and rips off my ideas.  I’d be totally fine with that.  Just you know…send me a copy for free and write a special thank you haiku in the rules about how much I rule.  Or just draw my handsome mug on a Cylops in the game…I've always wanted to see what I'd look like as Ray Harryhausen style dungeon monster!

Posted: 02 Mar 2017 00:21 by Ancient_of_MuMu #244707
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Pandemic Legacy has almost everything you ask for here, but not a mention. There is a reason it is #1 on BGG.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 07:52 by stoic #244709
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Great article!
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 08:51 by Shellhead #244711
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You want D&D 3.5. It's the most boardgame-like of RPGs, in terms of tactical maps and actions, plus there is vast content available, 1 vs many, stories aplenty, leveling up, character development, etc.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 08:57 by Legomancer #244712
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I second Pandemic Legacy. The Voyage of the Beagle campaign for Robinson Crusoe also has SOME of what you're looking for.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 09:31 by Colorcrayons #244713
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Great article, Egg Shen. I too believe that the best types of campaigns lie within the realm of a human referee. We need more, not less of these types of games.
Ancient_of_MuMu wrote:
Pandemic Legacy has almost everything you ask for here, but not a mention. There is a reason it is #1 on BGG.
It is a good game, but only for that single campaign, since as far as I know each copy of pandemic legacy comes with the same twists. So the experience is diminished by lack of replayability. Then one must buy season 2, and then wait for further seasons. With a human referee, the game can be continued to be enjoyed in perpetuity, by numerous owners.

Legacy does really well for giving co-op/solo an exciting experience (or at least better), but to reinforce Egg Shen's article, it is simply no match for human creativity.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 10:48 by SuperflyTNT #244716
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The game Mark (Hotseatgames) and I put together hits all of your sweet spots and has a completely new type of campaign system that could last as few as two or as many as ten 45-minute sessions, depending on the outcomes. Each mission's outcome controls the next in a novel and profound way; it's not just the "last one that counts" as you noted. There's both personal upgrades (you start out as a sort of neutral character and then you choose a specialty, and then you can add skills every few missions; the skills determine what items you can use) and item upgrades. And a third set of unrelated skills that can be purchased with campaign points scored during the previous mission.

I've put a shitload of thought into this subject myself, and it looks like we're on the same page. You should enjoy it.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 11:00 by hotseatgames #244717
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Pete is correct, I think our character growth / campaign system is really cool. And it's also very easy to just do it as one-off scenarios if that's all you want.

Which is what I usually want out of a game; if a campaign is so integral, I'm often turned off. I don't have the right game group to make that successful.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 11:39 by JEM #244719
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The character personalisation and progression is the main element of Shadows of Brimstone that I enjoy. It's weighed down by a serious amount of fiddliness, and generally poor encounter variability (combat has tactically improved in the latest expansion, but it's still just shoot/hit until dead kind of stuff) to the point sometimes where actually playing the game is less fun than planning on what gear to work towards or what level upgrades to move to.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 12:30 by Legomancer #244722
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Colorcrayons wrote:
So the experience is diminished by lack of replayability. Then one must buy season 2, and then wait for further seasons. With a human referee, the game can be continued to be enjoyed in perpetuity, by numerous owners

I swear I don't understand this argument. You'll get an average of 18 sessions out of a playthrough of PL Season one. How is that a lack of replayability? What's the last game you played 18 times?
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 12:52 by Colorcrayons #244726
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Most games I enjoy, I play a lot. A lot more than a couple dozen times.

My most recent game acquisition from last summer, gorechosen, has gotten close to between 70-80 plays on its own.

I include replayability as a valid barometer of sorts, because if a game is good, it deserves more play than what the cult of the new is used to to. And because I played second ed D&D twice a week for 8 years in the nineties. Got a lot of mileage out of that game and some of the most memorable gaming moment came from that time.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 13:37 by hotseatgames #244727
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Wow! You play a lot of games. I got Gorechosen 3 months ago. I've played it 5 times.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 14:53 by RabidWookie #244730
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Shellhead wrote:
You want D&D 3.5. It's the most boardgame-like of RPGs, in terms of tactical maps and actions, plus there is vast content available, 1 vs many, stories aplenty, leveling up, character development, etc.

D&D 4e is the most boardgamey RPG, and works great when played as a boardgame.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 14:56 by Shellhead #244731
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RabidWookie wrote:
Shellhead wrote:
You want D&D 3.5. It's the most boardgame-like of RPGs, in terms of tactical maps and actions, plus there is vast content available, 1 vs many, stories aplenty, leveling up, character development, etc.

D&D 4e is the most boardgamey RPG, and works great when played as a boardgame.

You are correct. For purposes of this discussion, 4e is even more suitable for a boardgamer, though there isn't as much content as for 3.5.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 16:26 by Michael Barnes #244736
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Here's the only kind of campaign I really like:

1) You play a game and get some kind of money or resource
2) You spend that to improve what you have
3) The next game you put your advancement at risk
4) If it pays off, you get more resources, if not you lose something
5) BONUS- maybe a win/loss condition so that the next game has some sort of result from a previous one.

So this would be games like Blood Bowl, where the storyline that is created is the ups and downs of your team over time.

What I don't like is when board games try to act like they can (or should) tell stories like RPGs. Or TV shows. This is why I couldn't care less about all Legacy games. And if you look at all of the bookkeeping and tracking you have to do for something like Descent or Imperial Assault...it's just not worth it when the storyline is a framing device to pick up three different tokens or activate a switch.

Folks, let's face it. The best board game stories don't come from all of these bullshit, propped-up "campaigns". It comes from playing the games and what you do in them. Can any of y'all recount to me the actual STORY of any FFG game's campaign? Do any of you dare to speak up and claim that one of those "stories" was actually compelling and GOOD?

Board games should be story ENABLERS, not story TELLERS. The story should come from the performance, the alchemy of interaction and mechanics. Not from trying to create narrative by allowing Red Scorpion to keep a +1 sword for the next game.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 16:40 by hotseatgames #244738
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REMEMBER TERRINOTH
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 16:42 by Shellhead #244739
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For 18 months, I rented out part of my house to an old gaming buddy going through a rough stretch. Despite our common interest in boardgaming, we almost never played any boardgames together during that whole stretch. The main reason was that he disliked AmeriTrash and preferred Eurogames from the '90s. Another reason was that he specifically didn't want to play RPG-lite boardgames because he greatly preferred playing actual RPGs. He was one of the regulars in my D&D group at the time, and ran his own D&D campaign on opposite weekends.

I personally love RPG-lite boardgames. Generally, when I am playing a game and have a mini character sheet in front of me, I feel more engaged in the game. This character is a proxy for me, and the successes and failures of this simple boardgame avatar become my own successes and failures for the duration of the game. It gives me a stronger sense of a narrative to the game, which elevates a game above mere tedious adherence to a set of procedures and rules.

And yet, my renter made persuasive points, the best of which was that RPG-lite games, by design, will never do RPG things better than RPGs. And the structure of a boardgame is always going to be claustrophobically small compared to even a halfway decent RPG campaign. So I feel like no boardgame answer will satisfy the OP because all of his requirements are better met by an RPG than a boardgame.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 18:57 by san il defanso #244746
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I tend to agree with Michael on this one. I liked Pandemic Legacy a lot, but not because of the story. In fact, the story had a real lack of player agency I think. All of the same story beats come out at all the same times. Even some kind of branching narrative would be cool, though I can't begin to conceive how difficult that would be to design. But in a game where the stakes of failure are literally the end of the world, it comes off feeling a lot like a safety net. There's not a lot of danger in it.

Is that an unfair assessment? Maybe so. It's a very polished, well-designed game, and it made me play another 20 games of Pandemic, which I never thought I'd do. But I don't think it's good because of the story. If anything that's a liability.

I confess, getting into D&D 5e has effectively killed my interest in ever doing another campaign-style board game. If I'm going to commit to that many sessions together, I'll just put in a little extra time as a DM and play that instead. The only exception is something that is shorter, like the Warhammer Quest ACG. Too bad we never got more content for that.

One thing I HATE in campaign games is having to replay stuff. It's not so bad in something like Silver Tower, where you can play things in a pretty loosey-goosey order. But it pretty much killed Voyage of the Beagle for me.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 20:00 by Michael Barnes #244750
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I am pretty sure there is a correlation between never having played RPGs and being impressed when a board game pretends like it is telling a story when Red Scorpion gets to keep her +1 sword next game.

Crusoe creates a better sense of an actual story than most other board games because of those consequence cards. Likewise, Eldritch Horror with events that may trigger later and have good or bad consequences. But ultimately, it is not that holy grail of a serial, continuous narrative that some people seem to want.

Newsflash. You will never be attached to a character or setting in a board game as the Elf ranger you rolled up in 8th grade and played with your buddies through a summer or throughout high school. You will never get that level of engagement in a grid-based dungeon crawl that lets you keep a +1 sword for next week's game.

Imperial Assault has some things where the outcomes and rewards distributed have direct impact on the fluff text you get to read. Win a scenario and you get to read different fluff text than if you lose. Wow.
Posted: 02 Mar 2017 20:44 by Egg Shen #244755
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Damn lots of stuff to unravel here.

I fully understand that the best way to do any sort of campaign style of gaming is with an RPG. I don't care if it's D&D 3.5, 4th Edition or 5th...it's all going to provide more than a boardgame ever can in a campaign setting. Hence why I wrote the article...to see if it's even remotely possible. To see if someone can make some sort of game that is a campaign in a self contained box that totally blows me away.

Also, I tend to fully agree with Barnes when it comes to story and I briefly touch upon that in the article. The real story comes from the gameplay and time you spend with your friends. The fluff and window trappings of the game need to be JUST interesting enough, but the gameplay itself needs to be addictive. And that is where most campaign style games fail. Even something as robust as the Descent App tends to fall apart because it's too goddamn combat heavy. The game punishes you for not charging full steam ahead into danger, and the search tokens barely offer any rewards worth a damn (unless they've since patched it).

As for Pandemic Legacy, I've played it and I'm just not a fan. I think Pandemic as a game sucks and all the Legacy shit just tries to hide that. To be honest I had a whole paragraph titled "To Legacy or Not to Legacy" but I cut it because I didn't want to article to be too long winded. The gist was that I essentially thought the whole Legacy thing was far too gimmicky and not really what I was looking for.

So far the only campaign game that I think gets it mostly right is Arcadia Quest. It's a 6 quest campaign, the leveling up is done through the purchasing of cards/abilities where you have limited slots available. The real kicker is that you get to play as an entire guild instead of one hero. So it satisfies multiple itches. You can be the hardy dwarf and the magic missile tossing wizard. Where it lets me down is that it all comes down to the final quest, and despite having a cool leveling system you don't really have much sense of ownership overt the heroes of the guild. Sure you get attached to a particularly powerful one, but it's nothing to write home about. Honestly, it's a game where I'd rather draft heroes, draft weapons and powers and simply play a one off game.

I REALLY need to try my copy of Shadows of Brimstone. I have a feeling that it will totally nail the ownership of character and leveling up aspect that I'm seeking...but I think the combat-centric gameplay might cause it falter.
Posted: 03 Mar 2017 10:30 by Shellhead #244769
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There are some things that an RPG-lite boardgame will do better than a regular tabletop RPG. Although a tabletop RPG can deliver some amazing and unforgettable moments, those are rare unless you have a good gamemaster and/or good players. An RPG-lite boardgame will deliver a lower but more consistent level of entertainment. And most tabletop RPGs include long stretches of nothing interesting happening because the group is having a long discussion regarding the division of loot or an overly complex plan of action. To be honest, the reason why I am usually the DM is because I tend to doze off when I am just a player and one of those long loot discussions gets going. When I run a game, I try to get players to handle those long-winded discussions via emails in between game sessions.
Posted: 07 Mar 2017 22:01 by Egg Shen #244938
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So the past couple of weeks I've been playing in a D&D campaign and it got me thinking about this article again. While I absolutely adore playing a RPG I'm more convinced than ever that a great campaign style boardgame CAN actually exist. More than that though, both can offer a COMPLETELY different type of experience while not actually overlapping too much..

The two big things that you get out of RPGs that cannot be easily replicated in a boardgame are:

1) In depth character development. From rolling up a character, coming up with a background, determining a play style for your decisions, and personality based on the group and encounters...it all adds up to an experience that is wholly unique to RPGs. Like Barnes says, modern boardgamers get jazzed over a +1 sword simply because they can carry it to the next adventure. It seems laughable by comparison.

2) Robust combat and adventuring options. If you can think it and the DM allows it, you can do it. This level of freedom flies directly in the face of most modern game designing ethos. Yet it provides laughter, group interaction, thinking on your feet etc... Why cut down an orc with your blade when you can cast Mage Hand, use the ghostly appendage to pick up a lantern off the wall and burn it to death instead?

It seems like most boardgames cannot easily replicate this two very core ideas so they instead focus on tactical combat that feels more like a poor man's XCOM, fluff text/story that reads like Tolkien Cliff Notes for Dummies, and quests with very strict goals and ways to go about achieving success.

However, there are few things that RPGs do, that kind of suck and I can see an actual advantage to playing a boardgame instead.

- The level of freedom comes at a price. Depending on the situation there can be heated discussions between players and the DM about what they can do. Or sometimes players will take forever formulating a plan. The more opened ended nature of RPGs means it's so much easier for crucial moments to "go off the rails". Where as a boardgame has a very narrow and strict set of rules that make sure players are on track and having fun at all times.

- While the stories in RPGs are much more memorable because you and your friends are essentially handcrafting the tale to amuse you, the seemingly endless narrative can actually be disappointing. Sometimes RPG campaigns end because they're just not interesting. Unless you're strictly following modules put out by a publisher there is a very real risk of things just petering out. Or sometimes the DM just isn't all that good and the story hooks/ideas just don't go anywhere interesting. It's all up to the players really.

- What one person wants out of their RPG might not be what another person wants. Player A might want to be a hero. Player B might just want to see the world burn. You might hate a character or NPC in Descent but the rules never allow you set fire to the good guys castle or punch your friend in the face because they're being a dick.

I think in order for a campaign style boardgame to be successful it needs to stop trying to mimic the things RPGs do best and focus on the unique things that boardgames bring to the table. More varied and interesting mechanics are the first ace in the sleeve of boardgames. Competitive play is another thing that I'd considered a strength. Finally, easier bar of entry for players is usually the main selling point. Most people don't want to play RPGs because they're TIME CONSUMING. If you're really into an RPG it can take up hours and days of the week. I think people keep chasing the campaign dream because they want a boardgame that scratches a similar itch, while offering it's own set of perks.

I'm not gonna lie...all this talk has actually gotten my wheels spinning and for the first time in my life I'm actually thinking about whipping up a prototype for a game I've thought up in my head.
Posted: 08 Mar 2017 15:34 by quozl #244976
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How is playing an RPG campaign more time consuming than a boardgame campaign?
Posted: 08 Mar 2017 15:46 by JEM #244977
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Instead of only increasing power and loot, I think adventure/campaign board games can explore more in the nature of ongoing consequences. The injury, madness and mutations in Shadows of Brimstone add a lot to the personalisation of the player characters for me. They also provide motivations beyond the acquisition of more power & wealth. There's an "artifact" card you can pull that's called a Soul Parasite. You draw it as loot, and it confers some benefits (increased Initiative and Lore stats) but it also wounds you sometimes. You might save up to try and get it removed by a doctor in town (I think) or if you go on the basic "Swamps of Jargono" mission there's a chance at the end that you find a well-spring that can cure mutations, parasites etc, so it provides an extra motivation for the adventure.

I think there's a lot to be gained, narratively speaking, from the accumulation of negative traits and consequences in both adventure board games and role playing games.
Posted: 08 Mar 2017 16:42 by san il defanso #244978
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JEM wrote:
Instead of only increasing power and loot, I think adventure/campaign board games can explore more in the nature of ongoing consequences. The injury, madness and mutations in Shadows of Brimstone add a lot to the personalisation of the player characters for me. They also provide motivations beyond the acquisition of more power & wealth. There's an "artifact" card you can pull that's called a Soul Parasite. You draw it as loot, and it confers some benefits (increased Initiative and Lore stats) but it also wounds you sometimes. You might save up to try and get it removed by a doctor in town (I think) or if you go on the basic "Swamps of Jargono" mission there's a chance at the end that you find a well-spring that can cure mutations, parasites etc, so it provides an extra motivation for the adventure.

I think there's a lot to be gained, narratively speaking, from the accumulation of negative traits and consequences in both adventure board games and role playing games.

I really like this, and I think this is where Pandemic Legacy excelled. It's hard to create a sense of character development over a campaign board game. But board games do have an unambiguous game state, and that is something where the impact can be felt more acutely. The decisions we made in the second game are now being felt several games later.
Posted: 08 Mar 2017 16:44 by Shellhead #244979
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quozl wrote:
How is playing an RPG campaign more time consuming than a boardgame campaign?

You know that part in the heist movies where they show the plan going smoothly while the smart character gives a voice over, up until the surprise twist? In an rpg, replace those minutes with a two-hour discussion by a half dozen earnest nerds about how the party should obtain the mcguffin. Also, when something exciting happens in the heist movie, it takes seconds, maybe minutes to happen. In an rpg, that exciting event will take an hour or more to resolve. Some players and game masters are willing to play quickly, even if mistakes are made, but the overall tendency is to slow the pace down so that each role-player can try to make the best decisions.

In a boardgame, the rules tend to restrict all imaginable actions down to a very limited list of playable actions. The debate about which actions to take each round of play are likely to be much quicker.
Posted: 10 Mar 2017 19:06 by Space Ghost #245036
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I don't have much to say beyond the picture attached to this article is always what I think of when playing games. Its presence on the front page has made the week much more enjoyable -- we should just create a permanent spot for it somewhere.
Posted: 11 Mar 2017 22:10 by quozl #245058
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Shellhead wrote:
In a boardgame, the rules tend to restrict all imaginable actions down to a very limited list of playable actions. The debate about which actions to take each round of play are likely to be much quicker.

I can see that. I might be blessed that I roleplay with people who don't take 2 hours to figure out what to do.
Posted: 12 Mar 2017 12:48 by Colorcrayons #245062
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I've been seeing some good reviews about the newest war hammer quest iteration. Maybe that might strike a chord with you, Egg Shen?
Posted: 12 Mar 2017 20:44 by Sevej #245064
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I think a lot about this. While these days I simply don't have chance to play campaign games, I like the concept, and those that I've gone through to the end are simply a blast.

But I think I like them better fully co-op. I love Descent, but there are lots of gripes coming out from having a DM player. I'm not talking about being a DM is boring/challenging/etc. Lots of the worse aspects came from having a DM player. The race nature of scenarios, balance issues, repeatedly used monsters... these are indirect results of making the game more interesting for the DM.

These games' core (tactical) part should be only as complex as it needs. Numbers need to be toned down. Tactical positioning should matter more. There should be a good amount non-combat content in the tactical part. It should not always become a meat-grinder. Scenarios should have crescendos (like Pandemic's epidemic), climax or simply starts with a bang.

On character upgrades, I do agree that there needs to be fewer skills, but they should be more interesting. +1 damage isn't that much fun. If anything, please *upgrade* existing skills instead of adding more.

Story needs to go away. I should be able to make up story from the mechanisms. Sure they will be somewhat rudimentary tales, but they're MY story, and they happen organically.

(the funny thing is, the bit about story going away came up when I was having discussion with a friend on the new Zelda game. Both of us haven't played it, but we talked about it conceptually, particularly about "having interesting encounters". The main pitfall to this issue is that if you make encounters very interesting (i.e. scripted), they're simply not replayable. If you make them semi-random, it's going to feel samey over time. Anything between those will be some uninteresting half-assed encounter.)

Finally, the game needs to remember more. There should be villains making come back (or like RC, actions having repercussions).

So yeah, Pandemic Legacy... I'm a fan of the original game, but I really don't feel like trying it...
Posted: 13 Mar 2017 05:52 by Galdred #245070
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I too have been looking for the "perfect" campaign since Heroquest.
The one that came closest for me was Descent 1: Road to Legend.
The main reason my group liked it more was that each mission had a sense of purpose:
Instead of going from one "story" mission to the other, heroes and overlord each had one or several goals they were trying to achieve, and missions/encounters were the way they got this done (ok, most missions were just: raid the dungeon to get stronger but there was always decisions to be made about how to stop the Overlord lieutenants from razing a settlement, whether it was worth spending time to go to a specific trainer, and so on...).
These "strategic" decisions gave much more context to the game that any written fluff could ever do.
When you compare that to Imperial Assault: The heroes don't even know why they are chaining missions. They don't have any goal except reach the finale.
The "only" problem with Descent RTL was that its game system was too fiddly, with an insane amount of bookkeeping and setup./teardown time (we used to leave the board in place and not touch it until next session), and we ended up with 30 pages of rule tweaks to rebalance the campaign, and avoid having one side keep steamrolling the other after a few quests.

I think it worked because it didn't try to be a railroaded RPG, but instead, had some very light elements of an X-COM game.
That is the same reason Blood Bowl works well IMO, especially when playing in a championship format:
Each game is a part of an overarching contest that is clear from the beginning to the end.
Posted: 15 Mar 2017 08:57 by Egg Shen #245157
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Colorcrayons wrote:
I've been seeing some good reviews about the newest war hammer quest iteration. Maybe that might strike a chord with you, Egg Shen?

You talking about the Silver Tower or the new one that they just released? I haven't really looked into the new one, but is it that much different than the Silver Tower? I figured it was just more of the same with a new setting/skin.
Posted: 15 Mar 2017 09:32 by san il defanso #245159
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Egg Shen wrote:
Colorcrayons wrote:
I've been seeing some good reviews about the newest war hammer quest iteration. Maybe that might strike a chord with you, Egg Shen?

You talking about the Silver Tower or the new one that they just released? I haven't really looked into the new one, but is it that much different than the Silver Tower? I figured it was just more of the same with a new setting/skin.

I think it's actually more like the 1 vs. many format. One of the players serves as a GM of sorts. That makes me feel a little better about not being able to afford it right now.
Posted: 15 Mar 2017 10:39 by panzerattack #245164
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san il defanso wrote:
Egg Shen wrote:
Colorcrayons wrote:
I've been seeing some good reviews about the newest war hammer quest iteration. Maybe that might strike a chord with you, Egg Shen?

You talking about the Silver Tower or the new one that they just released? I haven't really looked into the new one, but is it that much different than the Silver Tower? I figured it was just more of the same with a new setting/skin.

I think it's actually more like the 1 vs. many format. One of the players serves as a GM of sorts. That makes me feel a little better about not being able to afford it right now.

Yeah, it's much more like Heroquest in fact. You've got one enormous multi level pre-set dungeon with set features like secret doors and traps and events that kick off other than just combat
Posted: 15 Mar 2017 13:13 by Colorcrayons #245183
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Yeah the latest iteration, buddies of hammerhall, or sumthin'.

Anyways, even those who are ghey for co-op are admitting it is pretty good. But there are times where you have to be more of a ref as a gm than a no punch pulling opponent., due to how some expanded exotic monsters aren't quite balanced in that regard.
Posted: 15 Mar 2017 13:20 by charlest #245185
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Yeah Shadows Over Hammerhal is pretty damn good. I enjoy it more than Silver Tower.

I wrote up a short review on it at Geek & Sundry: geekandsundry.com/warhammer-quest-return...dows-over-hammerhal/

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