Tuesday, August 14, 2007

World of Warcraft the Board Game: Burning Crusade

I never progressed too far into the on-line Burning Crusade expansion before deciding I wanted more out of life than to sit for days at a time in front of a monitor grinding away. I'm sure many people still find the game exciting, but after about a year of putting a few hours a week into the game, I pretty much grew sick of it. Now instead I waste this free time with board gaming, and I'm quite happier for the choice.

Thankfully in 2005 FFG released the board game version of WoW, which I find much more engaging from a visual and social standpoint. I've played the board game to completion I believe three times now, and though its not my favorite FFG big box game, I'm happy to allow it nearly a full shelf of real estate in my game closet.

I do feel the base game was dramatically improved with last year's Shadow of War expansion set, which added a significant amount of PvP interaction plus a reason to kill lots of blue monsters. The combat system within the game system is still its hallmark as is the character development system that captures a lot of the excitement of leveling up in the computer version.

So, when I saw the rules to the next expansion set, The Burning Crusade, posted on-line, I dashed over to check them out. My first impressions are as follows:
  • A September release is projected, but I predict around December based on previous FFG predictions around the holidays
  • This is one huge expansion, with a large pile of new monsters, a large expansion board for Outland, the requisite pile of new decks and replacement cards, five new mega bosses, two new characters, and a bunch of dungeons added to the game.
  • The rules for the dungeons take up a significant portion of the new 48 page rulebook. I haven't looked in enough detail to see how interactive they'll be between the players, but this certainly must have been a key consideration
  • All the characters in the game can progress now to Level 6 instead of Level 5
  • The only way to end the game now is to take out the final boss
  • The rules actually encourage having a second table available to hold all the game components
  • I think its safe to say this is now going to be an 8-hour experience of game. Pre-order your pizza for this one folks!

So, in short, FFG added pretty much more of everything to this game. I'm looking forward to playing it, though I realize the massive scale of this game is going to scare away a good portion of our group, let alone general society. I think this game must be squarely aimed at the hardcore FFG-phile style of gamer like I am. If there are tons of great components, great theme, and fun gameplay, who cares if it takes all day to play!

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6 Comments:

At 9:12 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I wanted more out of life than to sit for days at a time in front of a monitor grinding away

I thought this was what you were doing with Beyond the Sword. :-)

I hear you, though. When WOW first came out, I LOVED it. I used to play computer games a lot, and this basically replaced all of them. I liked it because you could play as much or as little as you wanted and it always seemed like you got a nice satisfying chunk of gaming in return. I loved the art and style and the fact that there always seemed to be somewhere new to go and something new to do. You could play solo or with other people just as easily.

But then, it just stopped being fun. So many people take the game so seriously, and when I ran into those people, it blew the illusion of the gaming world for me. Instead of being a fun little fantasy-themed world, it was a bunch of kids running around, racing for the next big-ticket item.

I realized pretty quickly that there is a fairly large portion of the game that is really only open to those kind of people, the people who play this constantly and know the techniques for running the dungeons and partition out the loot amongst their gaming buddies by strange and archaic methods. What's left began to feel very old and familiar, and (insert obvious point to everyone else here) moving through those regions became just a big grind.

I had that dawning realization that I'm sure you probably did, too: "What the hell am I doing here [in this game]?" I wasn't in it for any race, I just wanted to enjoy the setting. But I feel like I saw it all (at least what I could) and the time it took to keep playing just felt like it was being sucked out of me, never to return.

I ordered The Burning Crusade. It is sitting on my shelf, unopened. Maybe I'll play it, but I kinda doubt it.

The thing I dislike about this game and that I like a lot about board games is just what you mentioned: the social aspect. I like playing with other people. It's the interaction that's rewarding, and it's that interaction that is missing from computer games, which is why I never seem to play them much anymore.

I always thought that I would have continued playing if I had actually had a group of real-life friends that played this online. Then there would have been some semblance of social interaction. Even then, though, the game is still a grind, and nothing will change that.

Worse, there's no end. You can't win the thing. That's another HUGE difference between WOW and boardgames that won't change.

As Homer Simpson might say, "Stupid computer game! Be more fun!"
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The rules actually encourage having a second table available to hold all the game components

Holy crap! Not even Arkham says that, and I thought we ran out of room on THAT one.

I realize the massive scale of this game is going to scare away a good portion of our group

No DOUBT. But, I have to stand with you in solidarity as the only other self-admitted component/theme junkie I know in the group.

I think this game must be squarely aimed at the hardcore FFG-phile style of gamer like I am.

Why, that sounds like me! The description you've posted sounds intimidating, but I'm up for the challenge. We'll probably be playing two-player, but we'll be playing.

Ben, I suppose you've heard about the Epic Armor Blizzcon supplements. The impression I got from the BGG forums is that they'll be on sale at some point from the FFG website. They're already all over eBay (surprise).

I really need a total word limit on my blog entries.

 
At 9:49 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Chad said...

I play WoW with a group of friends. We've been gaming in one fashion or another for at least ten years. One of them is from my original gaming group from middle school. We used to do marathon RPG campaigns back in the day, but for various reasons we don't do that nearly as much as we used to. WoW lets us hang out and do our thing without the hassle of trying to arrange getting together or anything like that. We get on Team Speak and chat while we're playing, and half the time we aren't talking what we're actually doing in the game. That's what makes the game worth playing for me. If I was just out there without anyone I knew, I wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much.

As for the board game, I couldn't quite get into it. It isn't because of the length. The game seems less about adventuring and more about leveling your character and maximizing your weapons and skills. The quests don't have the same storytelling quality like, say, Runebound. I dig the combat system, though. I wouldn't mind giving it a go when the expansion comes out.

 
At 11:00 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Oh, man.... I hadn't seen or heard about the Blizzcon epic armor cards... argh! Bidding now.

 
At 11:06 PM, August 14, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Wow, some guy is hoping to get $50 for his deck... I'll have to select "watch" on that one.

 
At 9:01 PM, August 15, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Chris, same story here when it comes to computer games. I was really addicted to computer games. Now I transferred (most) that same addiction to board games....but it somehow seems much more satisfying.

Chad: The [board] game seems less about adventuring and more about leveling your character and maximizing your weapons and skills.

Hmmm... are we talking about the online game?

Chad: The quests don't have the same storytelling quality like, say, Runebound.

Well, just like the online game. I never could really get into the "story" in WoW. Yes, I played it for months, and even tried the new expansion for about 3 months. Then cancelled my account for the fourth time. In WoW,all the quests very quickly become mechanical to the point where I would skip the whole "story" and just work on tediously completing "checklists": they are all kill this, or gather that.

Plus, I could never get rid of the idea that my actions don't really change the world, like they would in a single player RPG. Things are really static, and don't change at all. Quests are never truly "complete"; they will always be available to be done over and over again by all players. Plus like Chris said, these games never end.... thus bringing me back to the point that MMO's in general are just grindfest (yes, just like the boardgame, but the bg has a true ending, and cool face2face interaction).

Storytelling? I'd then like to try Runebound someday.

 
At 4:55 PM, August 20, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Hooray! I won an epic armor deck for $14.50 plus $2 shipping.

 

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