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Blood feud, Ben Kanelos and Shut up and sit down

So about 6 days ago the Tuseday Knight Podcast posted it’s 184th episode:

To sumarize it is the tale of Ben Kanelos four year journey to create the Mega-, boardgame thing that is “Vampire the masqarade: Blood feud”. Only for the SUSD crew to kind of rip it apart on their latest podcast.

The episode is very intresting, in that it once again puts a person behind the game that SUSD is giving a bad review but it also mentions the danger of hype and reviewing an unfinished product.

The critique of the game focused mostly on how; it was “not a Megagame”, the fact that their were human players in the game and how the game was severly lacking in theme. It never lays much foucs on why it never works mechanically, this may have been becuase of the podcast format.

Ben Kanelos points out that all of this things have already been adressed, he was never aiming to create a Megagame in a box, he aimed to fuse boardgames and megagames. There are gamemodes where everyone is a vampire and the theme was so bare bones because the art and the license was not completely implemented yet.

Points are brought up during the episode about the dangers reviewing a unfinished product, a fact that Quinns and Matt failed to mention: Blood Feud was not a finished product. Ben Kanelos also points out the apparent hypocrisy of inviting the SUSD crew to a game demo in hope that it would give him good press but that he would not tolerate if they gave him bad press.

Also Quinns and Matts problem with the game might not be thematic or hypebased at all, they might have a genuine problem with the core of the product.

So this is my attempt to sumarize the episode as objectively as posible…might have failed there but what does the forum think of this?

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(All this is written without listening to the linked podcast yet).

I think that you nailed one of the key things here - that it was discussed during a SU&SD podcast. Games that are fully reviewed (either video or written) tend to get a much more thorough going over of the ins and outs of mechanics and why the team recommend (or don’t recommend) the game. The podcast is usually initial impressions of games, which sometimes shift between first mention on a podcast and in a review. Essentially, you aren’t going to get a nuanced review of a game in their podcast. Perhaps that could be made more obvious, but I think that distinction has been repeated a fair few times.

On the actual game, the impression I had was that SU&SD were told that the game was a ‘megagame in a box’, and thus approached it expecting the game to be comparable to a megagame experience. They found that it wasn’t, and discussed it in that light. I’m not interested in the game, and haven’t seen how it has been marketed, but if it has been sold as such, I think that the criticism is valid, if only to moderate expectations.

I don’t remember mentions of the game being a prototype (could just be my memory), so it is probably fair to call them on talking about something still in development as if it was a finished product. However, this presumes that they were fully aware that the game demo was of an unfinished product. They’re usually pretty upfront about that, so I’m not sure if it was just an omission?

I agree on all sides. The game obviously wasn’t ready and should never have been available for prototype demoing. Theme is important to these sort of games - if the theme isn’t fully implemented, don’t demo it!

It sounds like there has been some messiness going on with how the game was marketed. That needs to be tightened up by the designer/publisher, especially for demos.

And yes, SUSD sometimes seem to forget how much sway they have in the industry, for better or worse, particularly with the podcast. But there’s not really much of a solution to that, without everything they release becoming highly editorialised. It’d be a lot easier if people could just stop holding reviewers as some sort of divine celebrity, but that’s the community we’re in.

(Did anyone else get annoyed by the interviewer explaining the interviewee’s words back at him using four times as many words? So rude!)


So I think I played this at SHUX '18. At least, the game described sounds extremely similar to the event I participated in, but then I feel like someone would have mentioned this? The event I attended was billed as (I think) megagame-lite, not as a megaboardgame, though I could be wrong. Instead of a massive event that took your whole day, we had ~32 people and were done in a couple hours. People were split into teams of 4. Half the teams were human, the other half vampires. My role was the marketplace guy: I took the resources a teammate gave me, a strategy our council negotiator gave me, and raced other players to buy up units and upgrades.

There was some negotiation in my segment of the game. Let’s say team A wants item Y and team B wants item Z. Sometimes it was cheaper for team A to reserve Z and team B to reserve Y then trade, so people were trying to cut good trade deals (even though on the map we might be mortal enemies). Or because the marketplace was several decks of cards with only their top cards available for purchase, people would discuss whether to pay to reveal the next card.

I remember cutting a deal with a young girl at the table near the end of the game. We both wanted the same item out of a particular deck but didn’t have enough money. But if two out of the top three cards (or something like that) were the thing we were looking for, we could do a trade deal and both get what we want. But if there was only one, someone would miss out. We agreed that she would get the first item, because it was still than either of us getting nothing; we both got the item we were looking for.

I felt like I got a good chunk of the megagame experience? I didn’t know what was happening in the other tables, so I was just trying to do my job based on the information my teammates were telling me. There was no newspaper keeping people informed about what was going on in the world. I ran around making deals with people at my table and communicating with my teammates. It was fun for a couple hours.

Anyway, I think the podcast has some good points. It sounds like part of the impressions in the SU&SD podcast were due to a mismatch between how the game was portrayed (a megagame based on the Vampire the Masquerade franchise) and what they saw (the previous iteration of the “megaboardgame” with a more vanilla theme). But as for reviewing unfinished products, I think Matt and Quinns are experienced enough to see through prototype components (I think there are pictures in the newsletter of them playing prototypes), and the game they did play was the well-tested version of Nightfall the designer had been working on for years.

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Even if they didn’t state it explicitly, IMO there were enough cues in their discussion that it was clear to me it was an unfinished game. E.g. they say the game wouldn’t work without a drastic overhaul (or something similar) --if it’s finished there is no opportunity for that to happen.

That was night falls, also by Ben, which I think he described as a mini megagame.

Ben isn’t having a lot of luck, when he announced this to the megagame facebook group a lot of the discussion was about the trade marking of the term ‘Megagame in a box’ and some people were worried that his publisher was after the market itself.

I’d like to hear more from Ben, I’m sure he can get there!

I think that Night falls was the previous name of the game that is now Blood Feud.

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This is some of the marketing of the game here:


As a person who hasn’t played a mega game I read that marketing as “you can play a mega game but at home”, which is quite enticing. I am certain that on playing it I would relate my experience to mega games more broadly. It seems splitting hairs to say SU&SD were reviewing this as a mega game but it is actually a mega board game. It is clearly referencing the experience of a mega game but promising it in a more manageable “at home” style.

I listened to the linked cast and I must say I feel for the guy, it would be tough. But much better to take it on the chin and say SU&SD know what they are talking about, it’s constructive and let’s think about what we can take from the critique to improve it, rather than what comes off as hurt and quite defensive.

I am excited by mega games (and hope to play one very soon), they seem a very creative and innovative area of gaming at the moment. I can understand SU&SD’s concern about that not being negatively affected by a commercial product that doesn’t well represent the genre.

Quinns and Matt went easy on it on the podcast, seriously, they were extremely generous to it. If you’re asking the SUASD folk to spend hours playing your game, the onus is on you to make sure it’s in a state worth playing. No matter what label was applied to it, this wasn’t.

Oh hey look at that. Matt actually appeared on the verry next episode to talk about, well what it is like to be a Journalist and specifically a game Journalist.

To once again try and sumarize. Matt talks about how it is important to not take to much pleasure is tearing games apart and does a comparison with video game press. Where the most well known video game reviewers are the once how just tear games apart for the fun of it. Think his example was JohnTron?

They continue the disscussion from last week with a focus on the relationship between the board game- Developers, press and media. Specifically how Matt thinks that the reason Blood Feud had been marketed as a Megagame in a box was because of the publisher and he reminds people to not just sign of controll for part of your game with out thinking it through first.

I recomend listening to the episode since I only got a C in english on my exam and there for might just be bad at sumarising. Anyhow.


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It’s a good discussion. There aren’t any solid conclusions, but that’s not what it’s really about, there’s a decent examination about games and criticism. A lot of people forget that criticism isn’t about tearing things down, it’s about examining the different parts of a creative project to try to see how they work.

While the first episode was very personal to the designer of Blood Feud, describing their side of events and their reaction to the podcast, the second episode was framed as what does journalistic integrity look like for game reviewers. I think Matt makes clear that there are a lot of gray areas, that he had set rules for himself, that less established reviewers may not have the luxury of following the same rules, and that he feels he followed his rules in this instance. It seems if anything is to be blamed for the mess, it’s the publisher’s marketing in preparation for the KS.

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