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Award winning games with flaws.

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RookieDesign
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Without starting a flame war of preference, a started this threat on the demand of Zaiga regarding explaning the flaws in highly popular and respected game Prince of Florence and Amun-Re.

I'll start with the easier one, Amun-Re. For those who haven't played, this game is an auction game for 3-5 players. The twist is at mid point in the game, you lose the land you aquired and start auctioning them again with the pyramid you painfully built on them. In my opinion there's two major flaw in the offering to the god Amun-Re. In order to receive money from your farmer, you need to give money to the god. The revenue of each farmer is decided by the overall money the players are putting on the table. The problem is for the farmer to produce 4 coins each, you need the total of money to be around 20 coins in offering. With 5 players, this is easy to achieve, with 3 it is quite hard.

The second big problem with this game is the gift from the god. The rule stated that the player with the most money offered to the god, receive the gift first, tie are break in order of seating starting from the player having the amun-re icon. That by itself made me drop the game. I can't consider a rule like this for tie-breaker. Furthermore the player that receive the best gift get the Amun-Re icon. As long as you are holding the icon, if you can match the biggest offer to the god, you'll keep ending up with the best gift.

As for Princes of Florence, maybe I use a too big of a term in saying that the game is flawed. I don't see any problem with this game except that it is uninteresting. The game consist on a almost pure mathematical calculation on how to maximize your auction, buying and production of a work. The auction is limited on interest and consist of the only interaction between the players for the game. Buying the action aren't challenging. You can't block, denied, attack or force your opponent on anything. I considered that you play this game against yourself and not your friend.

What bother me is these games receive very high marks on some well known price, Nomination for game of the year in Germany for Amun-Re and Games Magazine #1 Strategic for Princes of Florence. Furthermore, PoF is at #4 on boardgamegeek for best game ever.

Hope I'm clear enough. I invite everybody to discuss these examples or bring your own. I guess it's just me that is pecky, or I missed the point of these game completly.

Have a good day.

jwarrend
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Re: Award winning games with flaws.

RookieDesign wrote:

As for Princes of Florence, maybe I use a too big of a term in saying that the game is flawed. I don't see any problem with this game except that it is uninteresting. The game consist on a almost pure mathematical calculation on how to maximize your auction, buying and production of a work. The auction is limited on interest and consist of the only interaction between the players for the game. Buying the action aren't challenging. You can't block, denied, attack or force your opponent on anything. I considered that you play this game against yourself and not your friend.

Certainly you've echoed a common complaint about Princes, and I haven't played the game nearly enough to have a strong opinion about the game, but I don't know if I can agree that you can't "block, deny, force your opponent on anything". In an auction game, by definition, you have a strong influence in what your opponents are able to acquire; it's all a question of how much it's worth to you to drive up the price vs. "letting them take it."

Quote:

What bother me is these games receive very high marks on some well known price, Nomination for game of the year in Germany for Amun-Re and Games Magazine #1 Strategic for Princes of Florence. Furthermore, PoF is at #4 on boardgamegeek for best game ever.

First, the obvious question: have you played the games enough to be sure you've fully appreciated their depth? Perhaps it's you rather than everyone else who is missing something.

Or perhaps not; there's nothing wrong with finding the game uninteresting. But as you've obviously seen, you have to choose your words carefully in a design group; "flawed" is meant to be an objective description, not a statement of opinion.

If you want to have some real fun, you might post this same post over at the "spielfrieks" yahoo group with a title like "Amun-Re and PoF flawed!"

Another thing I'd point out is that I wouldn't worry all that much about those internet ratings; they merely reflect the snapshot of preferences of gamers who've given their opinions. There's absolutely a herd mentality among gamers that certainly "hypes up" certain games. The real question here is what difference it makes? Do you feel that PoF and Amun-Re being highly rated in some way diminishes games that you like? Or games that you're desiging?

The latter is what I'd worry about -- that folks like Kramer and Knizia and such get "free passes", in the sense that their designs, just by having their names on them, are automatically highly received, thus making it easier for them to keep dominating the market and thus making it harder for "no-names" like us to get published, even if our games are better. Mind you, I'm not saying that this actually happens, but rather, that it's a legitimate thing to worry about.

-Jeff

zaiga
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Re: Award winning games with flaws.

Hello RookieDesign,

Thanks for letting us know why you think Amun-Re and Princes of Florence are "flawed". Like Jeff, I think it is important to be careful when using strong words when criticizing a game. Of course, it is totally up to you which games you like and which not for whatever reasons, but when you use a word like "flawed" it implies something objective rather than subjective.

RookieDesign wrote:
In my opinion there's two major flaw in the offering to the god Amun-Re. In order to receive money from your farmer, you need to give money to the god. The revenue of each farmer is decided by the overall money the players are putting on the table. The problem is for the farmer to produce 4 coins each, you need the total of money to be around 20 coins in offering. With 5 players, this is easy to achieve, with 3 it is quite hard.

Amun-Re is one of my favorite games and the sacrifice mechanic is one of my favorite game mechanics. What I like about it is that there are several factors to consider when you place you blind bid. It is not just a matter of bidding the most to get those 3 free items, you also have to consider how high the total sacrifice could get and adjust your bid accordingly. The players with camel provinces will want to drive the total sacrifice down, while the players with a lot of farmers will want to drive the sacrifice up. Then there are players who don't care much either way, but might be interested in bidding something to get a free item or two. As a player you will need to find your way through this maze of conflicting intrerests and come up with a correct bid.

To me, the sacrifice adds a nice pyschological dilemma and a bit of uncertainty to the game to counteract the more predictable and calculable action phase. It also adds a nice strategic layer to the game. Already during the province auction phase you have to predict how the sacrifice is going to turn out. If there are a lot of camel provinces, then the players who have those provinces will probably drive the sacrifice down, making the camels more valubale and the farmer heavy provinces less valuable. Also, if you have a lot of farmers, you might not want to spend all your money during the action phase, but save some for the sacrifice. All in all, good stuff in my book.

You say that the sacrifice level doesn't go to 4 very often with 3 players. This is probably true, because most certainly one player will be interested in driving down the sacrifice, making it near impossible to get top level 4. Is this a flaw? I don't think so. Rather it is something to keep in mind and plan around during the game. From a game mechanic point of view, getting the sacrfice to level 4 isn't very interesting. The tipping point of the sacrfice lies between level 2 and 3. Do the camels pay out, or not?

In almost every game the dynamics will be different with a different number of players and every game has a "sweet spot" of number of players at which it plays best. Amun-Re is no exception. I certainly would't call it a flaw.

Quote:
The second big problem with this game is the gift from the god. The rule stated that the player with the most money offered to the god, receive the gift first, tie are break in order of seating starting from the player having the amun-re icon. That by itself made me drop the game. I can't consider a rule like this for tie-breaker.

OK, I agree with this somewhat. I don't like the tiebreak mechanism very much myself either, because it is very arbitrary. You need some kind of tiebreak mechanism when dealing with blind bids, but a better solution would have been to let all players involved in the tie get all the goods. For example, if players would tie for first place, each of them would receive three items.

Quote:
Furthermore the player that receive the best gift get the Amun-Re icon. As long as you are holding the icon, if you can match the biggest offer to the god, you'll keep ending up with the best gift.

This is mostly a theoretical complaint. Bids are blind, so you never know for sure what others are bidding exactly. This means chances are very slim that the player holding the Amun-Re token will win several consecutive bids on tiebreaker. By the way, if holding the Amun-Re token is so good, perhaps you should bid a little bit more to get it?

Quote:
As for Princes of Florence, maybe I use a too big of a term in saying that the game is flawed. I don't see any problem with this game except that it is uninteresting.

OK, so it is an opinion, rather than an objective assessment of the quality of the game.

Quote:
The game consist on a almost pure mathematical calculation on how to maximize your auction, buying and production of a work. The auction is limited on interest and consist of the only interaction between the players for the game. Buying the action aren't challenging. You can't block, denied, attack or force your opponent on anything. I considered that you play this game against yourself and not your friend.

I only played PoF once, so take this with a grain of salt, but what I liked so much about PoF (and also about Amun-Re) is that you can do a lot of planning, but there's always a level of uncertainty as to what your opponents might be interested in and for how much you can get an item in the auction. You can make a whole plan, but if you cannot get that crucial item in the auction it might all fall to pieces.

PoF is certainly not the most interactive game in the world. So, if you want a game where you can directly interfere with the plans of your opponents, then this won't be a game for you. Apparently, judged by it's rankings, a lot of people don't mind that there's not so much interactivity in the game, or even like it because of that!

Quote:
What bother me is these games receive very high marks on some well known price, Nomination for game of the year in Germany for Amun-Re and Games Magazine #1 Strategic for Princes of Florence. Furthermore, PoF is at #4 on boardgamegeek for best game ever.

There are some highly rated games which I don't like either. Tastes just differ. However, rather than thinking that whole the world has gone crazy except for you it is much more useful to try and think about why a lot of people like these games despite the things that you conceive as "flaws". If you can figure out what people like and don't like about games and why they apparently don't mind some of these "flaws" you will become a better designer for it. :)

- René Wiersma

Anonymous
Is it a flaw...

Is it a "flaw" that the scoring in Amun-Re is "odd" or "difficult" (depending on personal tastes)?

On the other note, on BGG I don't pay much attention to the number ratings, but more on the comments (even then I wish people would say WHY they think whatever).

IngredientX
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Award winning games with flaws.

As far as Princes of Florence is concerned, this is a completely different game depending on the number of people who are playing. A 3-player game is relatively placid, and generates the most complaints of "multi-player solitaire." In a 3er, very few resources are extinguished by the end of the game.

But the five-player game generates a great deal of player interaction, as the resources extinguish very quickly - for example, the Profession deck will usually vanish in the middle of the second round, and the last Recruitment card is usually won in the fifth round. So the auctions tend to be much more intense with five.

RookieDesign
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Award winning games with flaws.

Please, when I started this topic, my idea was: Do these game deserve to be as highly place in the game community.

Think this as you're being strangle on a deserted island; which three (3) game do you bring with you?

Prince of Florence and Amun-Re doens't figure in that list for me.

The Geek list place Prince of Florence at position 4 (was 3 last week) is this well deserve.

If everybody think yes, then I might play it wrong or I need the 5 players to make it interesting.

jwarrend
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Award winning games with flaws.

RookieDesign wrote:
Please, when I started this topic, my idea was: Do these game deserve to be as highly place in the game community.

Again, though, what meaning does "highly placed in the game community" have except to say that those are the games that members of the game community they've indicated they like? I see that you don't care for the games, and I think that's fine, but I don't yet see why it bothers you that other people like these games. If you don't like the games, you don't have to play them. But what do you think is hurt by people liking these "flawed" games? What benefit do you perceive "highly rated games" to enjoy that in some way causes you vexation when an unworthy game receives unearned adulation?

Quote:

Think this as you're being strangle on a deserted island; which three (3) game do you bring with you?

I'll leave it to those more sarcastic than me to jazz you for this amusing misuse of English.

Quote:

The Geek list place Prince of Florence at position 4 (was 3 last week) is this well deserve.

I'm sorry for how this sounds, but all you've really had to say about Princes thus far is "I don't like it". Without something more specific, I'd say you're in the overwhelming minority and there's no real reason why the majority should feel uncomfortable about the conclusion it has drawn in rating the game highly.

-Jeff

RookieDesign
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Award winning games with flaws.

jwarrend wrote:
I'm sorry for how this sounds, but all you've really had to say about Princes thus far is "I don't like it". Without something more specific, I'd say you're in the overwhelming minority and there's no real reason why the majority should feel uncomfortable about the conclusion it has drawn in rating the game highly.
-Jeff

jwarred,

I not that young anymore, and I've played many games in my life. My involvement in BGDF is quite new, but my mind is into games since I'm young and never fade since. Here I really not trying to say that I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong. I don't like Scrabble, but I consider it a very nice game. I like Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico. I consider these game the best in a gaming achievement.

Maybe on both of these games, I wrong, but nobody here could also tell me what did I miss about these games that make them so incredible that I totally missed the point playing them. And again, do these games deserve the rating that they have?

I guess then it is just me.

zaiga
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Award winning games with flaws.

I really think there's not much to discuss here. You apparently don't like a few games that a lot of other people do like a lot. Like I said before: tastes differ, and that's OK. I think almost everyone can point to a bunch of games in the BGG top 100 which they don't like that much.

You are not "wrong", nor are the people who do like those game "right". A rating, or even an award, is just a subjective thing after all. If you don't like these highly rated games: don't play them!

Quote:
And again, do these games deserve the rating that they have?

A rating is always correct. Or a rating is always incorrect, depending on your point of view. Or to put it yet another way: a rating doesn't matter. What does a game's rating mean to you?

When I look at the BBG's top 100, I see "War of the Ring" and "Memoir '44" in the top. These are games I have never played, but since I like most of the other highly rated games at BGG, they might be interesting to me as well.

Then I check out the comments on the games. "War of the Ring" is a 4-6 hour war game. It looks great, but I just know I will never get to play it. "Memoir '44" is a 1 hour, 2 player war game. Another game I know I will have hard time getting to the table.

The trick is to find out what you like and don't like about certain games and then trying to filter the comments in such a way that you get an indictaion whether you'll like a game or not.

For example, it seems that you don't like games that don't have a lot of interaction or play as "multiplayer solitaire". So, when you browse through a game's comments and you see a lot of references to "multiplayer solitaire", "little interaction" then that might be an indication that you probably won't like that game a lot. I'm pretty sure you won't be a fan of "Goa" for the same reasons that you don't like "Princes of Florence".

Bottomline is, people like different games for different reasons. Find out what you like and don't like about games, and why, and it'll be much easier to filter out games you probably won't like before you play them.

- René Wiersma

Scurra
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Award winning games with flaws.

RookieDesign wrote:
Maybe on both of these games, I wrong, but nobody here could also tell me what did I miss about these games that make them so incredible that I totally missed the point playing them. And again, do these games deserve the rating that they have?

I dunno. You articulated your concerns about Amun-Re quite clearly, and Zaiga expressed his opinion in return (indeed, he agreed with you on one point!) What Amun-Re and PoF have in common is that they are pure auction games - yes, there are other things you do, but they are indeed solitairy pursuits, albeit based on other's actions. And they can seem uninteresting, if not broken, if all the players don't have accurate assessments of the value of things. (In the same way Puerto Rico verges on broken with new players - does that make it a bad game?) Which then leads to mistaken assertions, such as "Jesters are the only viable strategy" in PoF, which is patently not true.

I've played both of those games multiple times and know that neither of them are perfect by any stretch, but they are both a lot closer to that ideal that many other games, which is why they get such good ratings.
(Although I note that PoF has maintained a high standing over a number of years, whereas Amun-Re never really broke into the top tier.)

In the end, your question cannot have an answer. I rate Amun-Re rather low but Princes of Florence very high (it's in my personal Top Ten.) You rate them both low but Puerto Rico high (whereas I am in a minority in that that game isn't in my Top Ten.) As I said elsewhere, it'd be a dull world if we all liked the same sort of thing. In other words - it's not just you. It's all of us. :-)

jwarrend
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Award winning games with flaws.

RookieDesign wrote:

Maybe on both of these games, I wrong, but nobody here could also tell me what did I miss about these games that make them so incredible that I totally missed the point playing them. And again, do these games deserve the rating that they have?

I haven't played either game enough to have given either a rating, so I couldn't say whether I rate the games as highly as other folks have, but I'd say that they must deserve the ratings they've earned insofar as a rating is nothing more or less than the collective opinion of many gamers. You absolutely are saying that other gamers must be wrong to like these games, and I think that needs at least as much support as someone saying that the games are good -- particularly when you take into account the inherently subjective nature of calling games "good" and "bad" in the first place.

Keep in mind, also, that this is a design discussion group moreso than a gaming discussion group. That's not to say that your post is off-topic, but rather, that if you really want an answer to the question "what makes Amun-Re and PoF great games", post that question over at spielfrieks -- you'll get a lot of responses.

But for me, I keep coming back to the question, "what difference does it make"? What harm do you perceive in these games being highly rated by others?

-Jeff

Scurra
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Award winning games with flaws.

jwarrend wrote:
What harm do you perceive in these games being highly rated by others?

When this came up in the original thread, it was about spending money on a game based on the opinions of others. He was specifically asking about War of the Ring, which has had good write-ups on places like the 'Geek, along with bags of theme and a genre he liked. However, it's quite pricey and if you buy something on the basis of many good write-ups but find that you think the game sucks then you feel quite resentful (I think we've all been there, although I find it more with movies than games ;-)

Me, I'm just a Geek who buys games almost the moment they hit the shelves. This means I get stung frequently, but equally I find gems that I enjoy introducing to others (for instance, I've just got the two expansions to Alhambra, one of my current favourite games and I'm dying to try them out - but I had to get them from Germany as there doesn't look like there'll be an English edition of them.)

This means that ultimately I'm more likely to be an opinion-setter than a follower (although I haven't done much rating at the Geek yet, so it's not so significant there.) In this case, I have been playing PoF regularly since it came out, and it shows no signs of outlasting its welcome. Amun-Re has been less popular but still gets some play. I doubt we'll be playing it in a year though (unlike PoF or PR, or even Ra come to that...)

sedjtroll
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Award winning games with flaws.

Scurra wrote:
I have been playing PoF regularly since it came out, and it shows no signs of outlasting its welcome

I don't know what it's rated, but I played Princes of Florence for the first time the other night, and thought I wouldn't like it due to the bidding (I'mnot much for bidding games, mostly because I'm not good at it). I was pleasantly suprised that I liked the game very much.

- Seth

jwarrend
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Award winning games with flaws.

Scurra wrote:
jwarrend wrote:
What harm do you perceive in these games being highly rated by others?

When this came up in the original thread, it was about spending money on a game based on the opinions of others.

Ah, I see. That's a good point, and a legitimate concern. RD's complaint here, though, seems to be more with some perceived injustice associated with unworthy games being highly ranked, and I don't yet see why that would be a problem. With buying decisions, it makes sense, but I think one's best bet is not to look at the ratings but at the descriptions of the game to see if it sounds like something one would enjoy (and I think most people who've played a fair number of games can get an idea of this just from the rules, and most of us do this before buying). I will grant that when I'm looking to buy a game, the "buzz" games of course attract my interest, but the buzz doesn't really affect my purchasing decisions, it just selects which possible purchases I'm likely to consider. But this can't be what RD is talking about either, since games like PoF and Amun-Re have sustained high ratings after any initial "buzz" would have long since worn off.

-Jeff

Scurra
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Award winning games with flaws.

sedjtroll wrote:
(I'm not much for bidding games, mostly because I'm not good at it).

Neither am I! I am truly terrible at bidding games (I imagine that's why I keep designing games with auction mechanics, so I've got a ready made excuse for why I do badly at them... :-) The only bidding game I am consistently good at is "Medici", and even there I only ever finish second.

onew0rd
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Award winning games with flaws.

I personally am pretty neutral to Princes. I don’t particularly like it, but I won’t run it off the table either. The fact is that games are different things to different people. Some see them as mental workouts, some favor the competitive aspects, some like adversarial social aspects like negotiation and trash talking, some people like to be cooperative and just chit chat through a game, others just like to be in the company of others enjoying a good game, etc...The fact is that PoF is very popular and thus appeals to many people in one way or another. Is it flawed? Although you yourself admitted that it probably isn't, I don't even think it would matter if it was. I would say enough people play this and enjoy this as it is that it doesn’t matter much whether it is flawed or not.

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