Panzerschreck Design Studio

Journey of a Wargamer – Comments welcomed

Paper and Iron

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 8


I see from the stats that the upsurge in visitors corresponds with an increase in regular posts and funnily enough inclusion of images. It’s not hard to actually post something reasonably substantive each day, although I’m not sure how many relevant pictures I can insert without being too flashy.

A bit of an opinion post today, mainly to do with boardgames, and the current state of the hobby as I perceive it.

I’ve almost given up buying new games. Many of the newer games are on subjects I find uninteresting or more often I have severe doubts about the ability, research methods and general credibility of the designer, developer etc etc. I’m also loathe to spend close to NZD$100 on a game that will end up needing a complete new rulebook, reprinted components and more than likely has some fundamental flaws that should have been picked up in playtesting.

In this I’m more talking about some of the major game companies: Decision, GMT, MMP/Gamers, Clash of Arms and ATO. I haven’t included Avalanche or Columbia as I don’t own a single game from either and am unlikely to. Of those 5 publishers, only MMP seems to have been offering a range of games that both interest me and have decent development and playtesting as well as fairly significant track record on quality control.

Decision can say goodbye to any of my money these days, for one Ty Bomba(stic) is heavily involved in game design there and I find nothing to like about either his research, persona online or indeed his ability to design an interesting game. Secondly Decision have almost the worst record at stuffing things up in terms of errata and lack of adequate playtesting that I’ve seen of late (Wacht am Errata II anyone?)

GMT, well they have Dick (Head) Berg as an unfortunate PR face for them and his games on the subjects I’m interested in are pretty poor in terms of understanding and definitely research of the topic. GMT also have had real issues with releasing multitudinous subsequent editions of the same game along with a notable amount of printing errors. I also have some issues with the ethics of the company on three or four levels, which when added together pretty much mean they’re a non-starter. Plus outside of a couple of recent one off games, they’re very much a stable of designers with the same old series, same old solutions churned out.

ATO : nice physical production values, some really interesting topics but would someone please get them a) to develop and playtest their games b) realise that graphics and gameplay are part of the whole not separate things you design in isolation and c) quit using Nazi apologists and panzerporn fanbois as their development team. Oh and notably, pushing the envelope graphically is fine as a means to an end but it is not the be all and end all – I’d rather have a game that works and is intuitive to immerse oneself into the system properly.

MMP: If they could just get Adam Starkweather to drop the proto-Ty Bomba mode he seems to be developping online, it’d be great. There are a lot of really good, well developed and playtested designs coming out of MMP, it’d be a shame if Starkweather’s inability to compromise or even admit mistakes dissuaded people from buying the games. At least with MMP though, they seem to get things done right the first time. It’s not like their living rules are used as a cop out for lazy development and minimal quality playtesting a la GMT. Now if they could just keep Rinella and Starkweather in check it’d be great.

Clash of Arms: I’ve only got games from their early days and I doubt I’ll buy more. Not really to do with the quality more that CoA no longer publish games on topics that hold any interest for me.

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3 Responses to “Paper and Iron”

  1. Stu said

    Thanks for the pointer – I’ll definitely be checking http://www.warchest.com.au out!

  2. panzerschreckdesign said

    The Starter Kits are extremely good value for money, and excellent games in their own right. Frankly if you are even slightly interested in ASL they’re the best way to get your toes wet and see for yourself how the system generally works. I know a lot of veteran ASLers have bought them for exactly this reason to introduce the system as painlessly as possible to people who are new to ASL.

    As for obtaining thme, the best source in terms of pricing and speed of delivery is by contacting Stephen at http://www.warchest.com.au He’s an awesome guy and maintains up to date stock levels on his website as well as taking Credit Cards or Paypal.

  3. Stu said

    This is a bit of a random comment, but I notice you’re an ASL player. I’ve played this system once or twice in the dim distant past have recently been interested in examining it again.

    Do you have any opinion about MultimanPublishing.com’s ASL ‘Starter Kits’? Are they worth the investment? Or is it better simply to purchase the ASL rule book and dive in?

    Any other suggestions for an ASL newbie at all?

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