BLOG: Would your father ebay your bike?

I shouldn’t have done this, but well, I was tired and bored after a 10-hour-long flight from The Dice Tower con, stuck at the airport and waiting for connection flight to Poland.

I opened my phone and took a look at a Facebook group about board games. In most cases that’s like askin’ for trouble. And here it comes – there is this person, Jakub, who writes: “balance of job cards in Godfather is off (killing other minis is clearly overpowered). I played twice.”

He played twice. He knows better. I wish Eric Lang and the whole CMON development team had a chance to meet the guy earlier. He would have fixed the game for them. He is really fucking good.


I’ve been there. I’ve been there in 2004 with a release of Zombiaki, in 2005 with a release of Neuroshima Hex, in 2009 with a release of Stronghold… With every damn release I am there. Because there is always this dude who played twice. And he knows better.

I had this awesome Twitter discussion with a guy about Cry Havoc.

‘I wish #Aftermath fixes the balance issue in Cry Havoc.’ he tweets me.

‘No, sir, the expansion won’t change the status of power in the game. We are not changing any balance.’ I reply.

‘Shame. The game is not balanced.’

‘You need to learn how to play each faction and how to fight each faction. Play more. The game is well balanced’

‘I played once and ebayed. Thanks’

He played once. He knows better.

I was so close to follow up with one more tweet. ‘Did you ebay your bike back then when you were a kid and fell down after your first ride?’

I can literally see the letter from his disappointed father sent to the bike company.

Dear sir,
We bought a bicycle produced by your company. I have to say we are very disappointed. Today my son gave it a try and fell from it! This device doesn’t work. It has only two wheels. What were you thinking producing a two-wheel device?! Did anybody tested this before? It is not stable at all. It falls over each time you try to use it.

I will tell everybody in my neighbourhood about your product and your company. Next time you put a new product on the market, do some work testing it!

Your sincerely
John Silver


We live in strange times. We live in a world where you post your opinions in a split second. We played, we post right after the game, with a hot mind, with no reflection whatsoever. Just type a few words and click publish. Your Facebook just couldn’t wait any longer, huh?

We live in a world where reviewers don’t say how many times they played before they reviewed the game.

We live in times where a First Impression review is treated like actual review, and is never followed up by a full review after few plays. Just play once, tell your initial thoughts and move on – share your opinion with the world immediately, now, fast, quickly, without any hesitation and then ‘review’ a new game next day.

I’d like to ask you to act. Don’t let people who played once create the whole narration about games and influence our entire hobby. Don’t let them squander months of hard work on the game because they played once and lost. Expose them. Ask them questions. Ask them how many times they played. Ask them what strategy they chose. Ask them hard questions and make them prove they know what are they talkin’ about.

Or at least … ask them to send their CV to CMON if they are so fuckin’ smart.


Board Games That Tell Stories:

5 Comments Added

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  1. Daniel 2017-08-17 | Reply

    Do you value the input of playtesters that have only played a game once?

    • portal 2017-08-18 | Reply

      All input is heard and analysed, all feedback is valued. We don’t guess, if the input is valuable, based on number of plays. And we can always ask additional, follow up questions to determine whether insight is based on preferences or on actual problems with the game. After all, one play is a first impression of a game, so a very important matter.

  2. Ian B 2017-07-17 | Reply

    I completely understand where you are coming from, but I feel we have reached a point in the industry where many games don’t get played a second time by anyone, not just reviewers. There are so many new games coming out that if a game doesn’t grab its audience first time (or at least pique enough interest to demand a second play) then it won’t see the table again.
    This would suggest that for the majority of games, first time appeal and superficial balancing is likely more important than deep strategic options and balancing at depth….much as I would hate to suggest it, some games can be ‘too good’.

    I do suspect that some of the more recognised designers might generate a bit more loyalty from their fan base. I haven’t played Cry Havoc yet, but I’d be inclined to assume balance that I haven’t yet discovered, rather than concluding that the game is broken after one or two plays. I wouldn’t give the same benefit of the doubt to games from a designer I was not familiar with.

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We are bookworms. Movie maniacs. Story addicts. We grew up reading Tolkien, Howard, Herbert, Dick, Lem… We were watching Willow, Blade Runner, Never Ending Story, Robin Hood…

And yet, we don’t write books… we don’t make movies. We don’t make those things, because we make games. We make games that tell stories.

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