Opinion

Fallout Board Game Review

Suit up your Power Armor and get ready for radscorpion combat. Because that’s what Fallout has become.

This game is a nightmare. I’ve kind of spoiled my entire review at the start so let’s step back a moment and talk about the good in the game—what little actually exists.

Components

Quality is standard here for Fantasy Flight: you have good linen quality cards, you have good linen quality chits, and everything is thick and very nice overall. The miniatures are great (though the lack of female representation is pretty stupid in an adventure game. It’s 1 out of 5.). The player boards are very inventive and they’re fun to play with. They do their job better than a game without such dynamic play boards. Read more

Why Mission-based Card Games Don’t Work

One of the hallmarks of western card game design since the early 90s with Decipher Inc, is the “location” or “mission” card. You can see its presence even today in some of Fantasy Flight’s biggest earners. I’m here to say that I don’t think this style of game design really works for dueling card games. Their apparent primary narrative purpose is to give a sense of dimension to the board—making it somewhat like a board game, and add a layer of depth to the game. Its apparent mechanical purpose is to split player resources across various goals (locations/missions tend to give rewards). This is a style of prescriptive design wherein the designer assigns a mechanic to the game and players must play around this mechanic. This is opposed to a freestyle game such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh or a semi-prescriptive game such as Pokemon. In those games, you can pretty much do what you want within a much larger constraint space. Players tend to value that large space because it acts like a sandbox that gives them authority and power to craft their own style of play and consequently, their own player-driven narrative. But maybe mission cards are just kinda bad. Read more

Street Dates Are Nonsense

More rumors of street breaks for Dragon Ball Super

Why They Exist

For those unaware, a “street date” is a restriction of sale dictated by a company regarding their product. For example, the sale of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince could not be conducted before the given date (oh god, the spoilers). Industries originally put these in place to keep larger stores from over-running smaller stores, like a sort of self-regulating form of capitalism. They’re not in the law and there can ultimately end up being little to no consequence, depending on if terms of service or a contract is involved. Large stores could use early sales as a form of arbitrage against smaller stores, ruining any chances of the latter having a fair shot. Sounds like I’m for them right? No.

In particular, this is a response to the never-ending accusations of Dragon Ball Super having broken street dates 1-2 weeks ahead of time. Several of these accusations have been fake, caused by baseless and poorly-researched rumors. However, new accusations keep coming so I’m not even going to bother researching or calling them out. Ultimately there’s going to come a time where a store does actually break street date and I want to lay some shit down in that inevitable event:

Why This is Bullshit

Once a distributor puts it in a store’s hands, there’s nothing Bandai (or most any company) can do legally to stop the sale or even punish them. There’s no contract signed to which stores must adhere. It’s an arbitrary capitalistic control scheme and means exactly nothing (remember the part about self-regulation?). Let me paint you a picture—a store spends hundreds of dollars on cases of product for a game (especially a new one from a company with bad history like Bandai) and are somehow socially expected to eat that capital loss for a month or more with no safety net just to stick to an arbitrary date. Read more

Chess: The Emperor Has No Clothes

A very popular consensus among the layperson, the educated, and the autodidact alike is that chess (or Go) is the ultimate game of skill and strategy. Being really good at chess (or Go) makes someone appear smarter, more pensive, and is a great shortcut to establishing that a fictional character should be taken seriously when they say anything remotely academic. But are the tropes about chess (…or Go) actually true? Do abstract lifestyle games like chess, Go, or shogi have the tangible value we place upon them as a society? It would certainly seem that dedicated players believe so. I’m here to tell you the emperor (king) has no clothes. Read more