Monday, May 12, 2008

Maybe They Should Have Mentioned This On The Box

Picked up Wizard Kings the other day, the second edition. Mike is a big fan of the game and I'd heard that the second ed cleaned up a lot of problems. Normally I don't go for non-historical wargames, although something like War of the Rings is so close to historical for many gamers that I won't count it. Certainly WK has no literary precedent, at least specifically. 

I was aware that there were expansions for the game, and the first ed broke these down by army, which I always liked. So you can imagine my surprise (and no small chagrin) to learn - after reading the rules - that the expansions are randomized. 

Uhm, shouldn't that be mentioned on the box somewhere? 

Apparently there are a lot of expansion "strips," each with one block for each army. Each expansion comes with two of these, plus one "generic" strip with items and critters. Plus blocks of course. And every expansion pack has a different random set of these. 

I should mention that even the rules, which mention an expansion, then say that each one is different (which is a trick considering they used "expansion" in the singular sense). I had to go online to discover that they are collectible. 

This is a big mistake on Columbia's part, as I generally avoid collectible games (but do on occasion make a decision to buy into one). Key word in that last sentence - decision. WK doesn't let you make that decision because there is nothing on the box to indicate that there is more than a single expansion, which even has a friggin' title. The word "collectable" or any permutation thereof is completely absent.

This game goes on the sell pile immediately. I would go so far as to say that the copy on the box constitutes fraud, and I may send the game back to Columbia and ask for a refund. The game is playable (to some extent - there are multiple scenarios in the box, compared with a paltry few in the earlier edition), but to be honest having a whopping seven blocks making up your army is not what I was looking for. Even having allied armies playing together feels like a kludge. 

Poor form, Columbia. Given your recent spate of weak games (Athens v Sparta, Crusader Rex), this may have been my last purchase. There are too many other companies putting out good block games - even the guy who did East Front took his Pelopennesian War game to GMT. I've met Tom Dalgliesh, and while his wife is fairly nice, he's a bit of a jerk, and I'm tired of the "All of the rules are in these columns, except these optional rules and occasionally an actual rule stuck in a historical note" approach their rulesets take. 

I believe in buyer beware, but the box needs to mention that the expansions are collectible. Period.


Eric said...

Doug, I have to admit I'm stunned you didn't know this.

There've been at least seventeen tempests in teapots on a variety of fora related to the collectible nature of the expansions.

Mike said...

I'm not fond of with the way they've handled the expansions either. However, I still like the game, so what's an addict, errr, gamer to do? So far I've bought 4 of the 'expansions', and swapped one of the strips with someone on BGG. With all the armies from the first edition I've got plenty to play with.

Dug said...

What can I say? The game simply wasn't on my radar in any way, shape or form prior to this.

My point stands that Columbia committed fraud by not only *not* mentioning that the expansions were collectible, but by implying that there was a single expansion on the box. That the problem still exists after seventeen tempests (now eighteen) only damns Columbia further. All it would require is a sticker on the box!

The more I've considered this, the more I consider it fraud. The only thing that prevents liability on the part of Columbia is that there is an actual, playable game in the box. Just not the one I wanted.