Home Videos Games Podcastle

SUSD reviews you don't agree with


I’d say I agree with them in general, but occasionally I’m not on board. Some games just don’t appeal to me, but I’d say that Sentinels of the Multiverse is one I disagree with, even though I think their criticisms are generally valid.

As for Kickstarter, I don’t think it was SUSD’s intention to suggest that Kickstarter is bad…tons of games are funded through KS these days But there were elements that I think were being highlighted by Paul’s review.

  • Hyped Kickstarters with tons of upgraded components for ‘bespoke’ games - Rising Sun, for example: does it have to have giant monster minis that are so much larger than the regular minis? Flashy components attract funding for some projects, regardless of the quality of the game. Some people at one of our recent meetups had a copy of Anachrony (and at least two others had it) and The Others. Both are all about having tons of plastic and lots of components. Many KS games seems to focus on that (and then targets a high price tag that they could only pull of if they get big KS support and which appear to be designed to engender that support). That isn’t necessarily a negative, but it IS a factor. The recently cancelled ‘Heroes of Land, Sea and Air’ KS from Gamelyn highlighted the complexity of that approach. This can also lead to fairly low print runs outside of the intial KS backers…and due to the cost/difficulty of the game, it can mean that retail customers might have to wait 6 months-1 year later for a chance at the game.
  • SUSD has a reluctance to review greatly-hyped KS games because both Quinns and Paul have discussed (both on the podcast and in videos) that often the folks who dropped $100+ on these kind of Kickstarters aren’t looking for a review, they’re looking for confirmation that the game that so appealed to them was a great game. They have an emotional investment and more importantly a review for them is pointless, since they already got the game. They don’t need a review as they already purchased it. There are certainly people who legitimately wanted a review to hear what the fuss is about, but given the cost and lack of availability, I think SUSD didn’t feel like it was as big a priority as some games.

And I didn’t view Paul’s review of ‘Scythe’ as negative, more along the lines of ‘this a decent game, if you like this sort of thing…and here’s what this sort of thing actually is’. His description of plodding was important to me, because I had assumed it was a much different game than it actually is (like Paul, I had visions of mechs traipsing across the continent, locked in desperate battle…not Epic Windmill Construction). I don’t think it’s unfair to point that out. He didn’t put me off of Scythe, but he didn’t energize me to run out and grab it, either. Feast for Odin, on the other hand, I picked up entirely because of his review. Make of that what you will.


I’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers but that doesn’t quite square with breakdowns I’ve read from people like Fred Hicks.

Shipping costs frequently have a much larger impact on Kickstarter than on traditional retail, for example, and the up-front payments mean that you’ve pre-commited to a price point before you’ve squared away development costs completely. There are some developers who leverage their experience with traditional publishing to turn Kickstarter into a system that lets them keep more of the profits and scale development more dynamically with product demand, but I do not think that is by any means the normal mode.

In general, Kickstarter could lead to more profit retention since there are fewer middle persons. But if you’re not careful you end up with a similar number of middle persons or more expensive middle persons and potentially sacrificing volume relative to a retail distribution scheme. And not only are a lot of Kickstarter projects are not run by careful people, but when they are run by careful people they’re often just an out-sourced pre-order scheme that might as well be a traditionally funded direct-sale campaign through a company owned website.


@webs and @pgreyy
Sorry to come to this late, but I’d like to note that this forum is very up for both semantics and people who don’t like semantics.

I’d appreciate it if people don’t roundly declare that other people are in the ‘wrong place’ here unless that person is being rude, aggressive, bigoted or otherwise harmful. Even in jest/rhetoric it sounds mean spirited (though I’m sure it wasn’t intended to be).

I’d link to the community guidelines, but in general they just state “be kind” so it always seems a little unnecessary.


I’m sorry it came across like this - what I meant to say was that the precise usage of language is generally held in high regard here and if they didn’t enjoy that they’d maybe also not enjoy some of the discussions here. Which I obviously didn’t convey very well - in addition to the intended meaning being quite condescending also.

Sorry for that, @pgreyy - I guess I was a little irritated by your use of capped letters at that time, delicate snowflake that I am.


Just to be clear–I didn’t flag the conversation nor did I ask for an apology.

Nor, really, did I need one. I’ve obviously stuck around here…I’ve even liked at least one of @webs posts since then. :slight_smile:

But yes, certainly…discussions of board games should never get too personal…and if I pushed you into doing something that required @Alexava intervention or caused you, @webs, to apologize for with my liberal use of emphasis capitalization…then my apologies right back at you.


(Oh, damn…I’ve done it again…)


@webs @pgreyy D’awww. Both of you are great, thanks for being lovely! Responses like that make nodding ludicrously easy! (And if anything maybe I could’ve got away with less!)
Thanks all! Carry on.

Oh wait. I should carry on.

On topic:

I really though Quinns went way too easy on Cry Havoc. I would amplify his criticisms and add that combat is broadly tedious. Most disappointing game of last year.


Every time my 7 year old son sees Cry Havoc at the store…or sees it mentioned in a Dice Tower video, he’s all “OOOOOOH, AWESOME!!!”

I think I’ll show him your comment here…to cool his jets a bit.


Cry Havoc does absolutely nothing for me, but the reviews I’ve seen broadly echo this :arrow_up:︎ (Plus it just looks like something I’d be annoyed with about fifteen minutes into it.)

Rant begins:
My big problem with the SU&SD review is its use of the term “war game” to describe it. It isn’t one. I know this because it has no counters, no numbered hexes, no range tables, morale charts, or combat result tables. Additionally, I feel secure in my certainty because I am a snobby and pretentious “Grognard” (as my forum title so accurately points out). Cry Havoc looks to me more like a “Rarebit Dream Simulator” than a war game.

Also, war games don’t involve gems popping out of the ground. I just can’t see Marlborough at Blenheim saying, “Look men! There’s the Duc de Tollard! If we attack him now, we might be able to capture him and…I say! Are those rubies and emeralds shooting up out of the mud?! Quickly! Let’s all fill up our enormous hats!”

I’m sure I’d have other complaints, but I stopped reading after the gems popping up bit.
Rant ends.


Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of area control.


I’m still undecided on whether I’m okay with war games being used to refer to:
(a) anything involving war and conflict
(b) anything attempting the simulation of an actual historical war
© anything that fits the standard grognard template (hexes, counters, attrition tables!)

On the one hand, I like language to be simple and obvious, on the other hand, I feel like without the term ‘war game’ there’s no way to siphon off that particular niche.

The one thing I do hate is when people call table top miniatures games war games. I realise this is irrational, as they probably do meet more criteria than most, but that doesn’t stop me getting wound up.



In reality, I think a reasonable argument can be made for any simulated interplay between real/fictional individuals/groups to be considered a “war game”. I have my preferences, but, previous tongue-in-cheek rant notwithstanding, I am open to other definitions.

As for that, it is impossible for me to agree with you more. It’s just playing with toys, but with silly range rules added. :wink:

Addendum: Thinking about it, I do not count naval miniatures in the above though. I guess it’s to do with tradition: land warfare has always been represented by maps and counters in official circles, while navies (the USN at least) used small models on grid-tiled floors to simulate tactical engagements, and wooden blocks on maps for strategic operations.


Harpoon is clearly a wargame. Man O’War is a very silly wargame but I think it just sneaks inside the definition. For my “feels right”:

  • primarily about the violent aspects of a conflict
  • probably involving trained forces on at least one side
  • generally about more than a couple of individual combatants

Sorry, folks, that does include your Warhammers and such. Perhaps also:

  • aiming to be a simulation of the violent conflict more than a game about it

? That’s horribly subjective, of course.


For me as well. However, I would also add that the game needs to add or impart real knowledge regarding the specific event being modeled, or real world conflict in general (which is why generic force vs. force games like Victory or Tactics are still bona fide war games in my view).

I tend to look at war games, not so much as “fun things to do on my days off”, but as “educational exercises to do on my days off…that I also find to be lots of fun”. By my arbitrary personal definitions, Warhammer…Anything (and indeed, most tabletop miniature games) are not war games, but rather games about fighting. Conversely, Churchill, which basically simulates a series of conferences, most assuredly is a war game, and a damn good one too.

Others will have differing opinions I’m sure. And I’d be interested to learn them.


I don’t have strong opinions about war games, but Twilight Struggle “feels” like a wargame to me (and I know this is a point of strong contention). Warhammer doesn’t. Memoir '44 doesn’t, either. Risk doesn’t really either, though it’s dancing around the edges.

I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s a combination of scale, abstraction, and strategic depth?


Your opinions of your cited examples get no argument from me. I used to scoff at Twilight Struggle being labeled a “war game” because I, like many dyed-in-the-wool-sticks-in-the-mud, was distrustful of the card driven element. It is still slightly problematic for me, but I’ve come to view it as a very good war game, although technically we should probably call it a “Cold War Game” instead.


I think the conceptual leap with card-driven games is that it’s a level of abstraction where you’re making game decisions that aren’t analogous to real-world decisions. No one in the US Government ever had the opportunity to say “We could send Castro to space, but he’ll just come back later…”


It’s a holistic approach to world events. A butterfly flaps its wings in Kamchatka and it rains in Belize; an engineering team builds a rocket in Houston and an international crisis in Cuba is averted. Everything is connected, even if the connections aren’t obvious!



My counter argument to that (although I accept you’re probably right) would be that sometimes you can get greater verisimilitude by capturing the ‘feeling’ of the decisions rather than the the actual decisions.

My favourite example here is Maria, which has a heavily abstracted resource allocation puzzle based around card suits and a grid on the board matching those suits (if you attack from a ‘hearts’ zone, but are attacking a ‘clubs’ city, you need to play your suit, and your opponent plays theirs). The grid clearly has NOTHING to do with the war being simulated, but somehow, this tense struggle to decide where you want to fight, and where you want to drain your opponents resources leads to decisions that just FEEL like the sort of cruel and brutal (but deep and thoughtful) decisions I imagine generals of the era making.

God I need to play more of that game.


Me too. It’s easy to reconcile the different suited areas as zones of supply plus initiative. That’s how I look at it. And it works.


That is 100% my instinctive response too. The abstract decision is “I can do something in this part of the world, but it will give my enemy an advantage in this other part of the world”. The fact that the event is “Castro rises to power” or whatever is almost flavour text; the real struggle being captured is the tug of war where doing one thing meant not doing another, or conceding something else.

(Why am I even in this conversation? When’s the last time I even played a wargame? Can I count Pandemic?)