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Sapience

Feedback - Tabletop Track (2016)

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We hope you had an amazing experience meeting and playing against your fellow Extra Lifers at Extra Life United 2016!

 

United is an event we hope to grow every year and we strongly believe that the only way to do that is to ask you, the participants, to provide us with feedback.

 

We'd love to hear your  thoughts and experiences with the TableTop gaming track at Extra Life 2016. Please use this thread to let us know where we excelled and what we can do better for Extra Life United 2017.

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I'd be interested in getting more opinions from other Tabletoppers, and I'm prefacing all of this with that we know that this is the first year that Tabletop is added (YES!), so I have no overt complaints; just super interested in seeing the hobby become more recognized by Extra Life!!!  ...perhaps Tabletop will get an appearance in the finals, even?

 

As far as the games this year went, they've actually been changed to some really good games, from what the initial list seemed to have.  Liar's Dice, Love Letter and Blokus make for some good table talk and deception, but I'm not sure how often games like these get to the table.  Games like Catan and Blokus are popular, sure, but I think that many people that are REALLY into board games have graduated into games that expand upon some of the mechanics that these games have.


We actually talked about some of the categories that could help narrow down good games:

  • Fun to watch -- Liar's Dice might have been tough to film because the dice are hidden most of the time....
  • Obvious ranking of winners - This would kick out most cooperative/deception/winner-take-all games.
  • Time-Appropriate - Some games have wildly variable play time, and cutting games at a certain time like with Catan could hurt strategies.  Picking games meant for the time appropriate could help a lot.

Rick, if you guys need any feedback or help identifying good games for next year, let me know. I'd even be willing to chat over the phone or something with a couple of the other tabletoppers if you want to bounce ideas off of each other.

 

-Harrison Guzman

President, Extra Life Guild

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I will echo what Harrison said. I think the event was amazing overall and went well for the first time around. It would benefit most from a little more organization,  and clearly written expectations for each round (you will play 1 game of Blokus and this is your time limit). Communicate these rules up front hopefully before the tourney even starts. 

 

The game selection was okay this year, but as Harrison stated, most of us have moved on to more complex games. Not necessarily longer just better. There are established tournament rules for many of the popular ones such as Machi Koro, Splendor and 7 Wonders. I am also happy to lend assistance or advice on selection of games for next year. 

 

I was was disappointed that when I got to the finals, I was immediately at a huge disadvantage in the competition. Yes I play video games, but not anything close to the style that was played for the big pot of prizes. I understand they were trying to put everyone out of their element by making the console players play PC and vice versa, but realistically there's almost no difference between the two. I mean we were using console controllers on the PC. I was happy to make it and win what I did, but it was a little disheartening to have no shot at the big money. There were NO tabletop games included in the finals at all. Why not do a round robin, where everyone has to play one of each type of game? Or even better have a separate prize pool for each track. 

 

Thats all all I can think of right now, but overall this event changed my life. It was an amazing experience and I already can't wait until next year. Much love for all my Extra Lifers and everyone else who helped put this together. 

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I'm sure I'll have to post a few times on this thread, but the first thing I want to address is the sophistication of games.

I think basic games were a great way to go because you can't guarantee every player will know the game. Rules need to be easy to pick up and play, especially when it comes time to play with the kids. Though my wife points out it works to have simpler games on hand just for the kids plus complex ones for tournament.

There's also an aspect of who's a sponsor when picking games. I suspect it's why Fluxx was on the list, even if we didn't play it in tournament.

Did you know we had 3,500 people on the Twitch stream for Liar's Dice? I think the social aspect more than made up for not having WSOP-style camera fixtures. Love Letter didn't fare so well. And I do think Catan would be just fine on stream with a proper top-down camera.

Better organization and specific pre-planning would alleviate many concerns, including how the Catan final wound up in a hallway (started too late, sound check elsewhere in conference space forced the move).

Overall I think we had less issues than the PC and console tracks. Was a great event.

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As my first time in a Tabletop tournament I don't have much to compare to but there were some things I experienced and think have been sounded here already. Blokus seemed like a nice way to start as our first game as the rules are really basic especially if you haven't played or little experience with it. However, I don't think the rules were clearly stated and it was a bit disappointing to having a one game elimination. I think we were done at our table by 10am and had very little to do for a few hours. It was nice that some of us had brought our own games to pass some time. I felt like I had no chance at even making finals in a single game and it sounded like other tables had played more then one round. Liar's Dice seemed to go really well for a lot of us and we practiced the night before for some of us who had never played before. I also think the lack of copies of a game like Love Letter, which is short in rounds but to be the first to 7 wins is long. I had brought a copy of my own so I think if a game is to be used for the tournament more copies at least per table would be good. Settlers of Catan is a landmark game of course, but the hour time limit became a bit rough. We had finished in a tie in the hour and when we announced it, we were told to keep playing however we had to show all our cards to tally up a score so strategy was no longer optional to play longer. I think some guidelines as far as elimination, scoring and tie breakers would be good. Our table played Sushi Go between myself and the other person who tied for 1st. I would recommend for next year games that focus more on scoring like Ticket to Ride or King of Tokyo which can be played in a half hour per game. I'd recommend maybe games also played on Tabletop as a way for people to brush up on rules prior to playing. I'm sure I can think of more, but this is just some of my feelings and feedback. I loved every minute and had a great time with my other tabletoppers. I look forward to next year as I'm usually a video gamer, but the games were some good choices and I am excited to see what comes after a learning experience.

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I think a lot of these issues would be addressed by having someone available for the Tabletop tournament that has intimate knowledge of various table top games, and also an active camera crew. Board and card games can be fun to watch on stream, but it needs to have a good commentary and very specific camera work, which is otherwise not necessary for something like console or PC. 

 

 The commentary can be either explanatory or strategic "This is the goal of the game." "We can see that this player has chosen a strong starting location, but is lacking in resource generation. I hope he's able to trade early and often."

 

What the tabletop track needs is expertise in design and execution.

 

This is not meant as a dig on the part of those that worked on it, but it did appear that tabletop did not appear to have an expert on hand, other than the players themselves being willing to help each other out. 

 

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Yeah we definitely need some folks well versed in tabletop gaming next time. We need clearer expectations, and furthermore, those expectations should be developed with the knowledge of what each specific game entails. Then there was the shifting line-up. Some games have rules that take an hour to learn. Some games can be learned in a few minutes, but mastered over a lifetime. Giving players a clear foreknowledge of what games will be played is pretty vital for games that don't rely on a computer, because it is up to us players to police ourselves by having a clear understanding of the game. More than once I witnessed or was part of a "oh wait you shouldn't have done that" moment that was realized several moves later because not everyone had a working knowledge of the game mechanics. In that same vein, the One and Done way we played many of the games was brutal.

 

Basically, as @slowmojoe said, I think we need to have a specific organizer for our track that has intimate knowledge of the games we'll be playing.

 

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I have a lot of thoughts on this, as you will see below, but for a TL;DR version, it can be summed up in this: having someone who's responsibility it is to be in charge of starting games and monitoring games in EACH track.

 

I agree with many of the sentiments above about the types of games played. In some ways, they were not sophisticated and did not show our ability as tabletop gamers. I know some of that is determined by what partnerships you get for the event, and I understand that some of the "child-like" games were to be played with the kids.  That, to me, is wonderful, because it is all about the kids. While some of them weren't sophisticated, they did do well on camera and made for lots of fun. Those who are saying that the games were too complicated and learning the mechanics caused them to lose....let me remind you that 3 of the 4 games we played were announced 3 weeks before the competition....which is plenty of time to play them, learn the basics...and even learn strategies.  Love Letter was the only game not announced, and that game does not take an hour to learn. I understand the element of surprise is necessary to something like this tournament...and that didn't bother me. What may have made things a bit less confusing is if there was someone at open play teaching the game....besides just a fellow gamer who may play it differently.

 

Here's a bunch of things I didn't like about it however:

 

1a) In almost every instance, there was discrepancy in how we were playing the games. Games like Love Letter, Blokus, and Catan would see easy since they have rules...but at least once in every round, someone got confused on the rules.  The traditional rules of Love Letter say to play 13 hands and whoever wins the most...wins.  But the rules given to two of the tables by the person "in charge" were to play until someone had won 7 hands...which put the schedule far behind.  Plus, not every table played the same way since no one gave us rules ahead of time. Blokus seemed to go smoothly, at least for the two rounds I did on stream. Catan...was a nightmare for many.  Once again, there was not someone to lay down the rules, besides that the time limit was an hour.  It was decided amongst us players that we would set up the board as it was in the display in the Catan rules....I don't think that was ever said by the tournament organizers. It was decided by the gamers because we wanted it to be fair.  As for the time limit...it sounded easy...until you got to the end.  No one said what was supposed to happen at the end of the hour.  For instance, my table decided that when the timer went off, we would finish the round of turns.  This made it easy for people to gang up on the winner when the timer went off and prevent them from actually winning.  Other tables ended promptly at the timer and did not finish the round.  This confusion would have been prevented by having someone be in charge. Instead, we had people from other tracks watching and dictating how we would play fair.  The finals of Catan were actually managed by a tabletop gamer...not anyone in the tournament organization. Or, choose a game with clear tournament rules. 

2) For games WITHOUT rules, rules should be created and given to everyone involved.  Liar's Dice was a hot mess, to be honest.  Most people showed up not knowing how to play, and the guys in charge of the tournament were of no help.  Three tables played the game at once and each table was given a different set of rules by the guy "in charge." Two tables began with 5 dice per player and one table began with 6 dice per player.  Two tables were told to play til someone won 3 rounds and one table was told to play "best of 3." And, since many people did not know how to play the game, the betting aspect of the game was complicated.  We all had to kind of agree how to play amongst ourselves instead of having someone in charge make the rules and make them clear. .

3) There were not enough copies of Love Letter, which put the timeline behind on day one.  If a game is going to be played, it would be nice if everyone could play it at once so we aren't having to share and cause a delay in gaming.

4) Unfair advantage in the finals for PC and console gamers.  This may have been different if either of our two guys had made it to the final 2...because maybe they could have chosen a tabletop game...though this would only happen in the event they lost NBA Jam or another game. I get the idea of console gamers and tabletop gamers competing on a PC...but why not make the console and PC gamers play a board game? There were plenty of quick games that could have been played...even if it hadn't been as "fun" for the stream. I even had a few gents from the PC track commenting on the lack of board games in the finals. I know it sounds like we are being rude and ungrateful, but as board gamers...we are "forgotten" about a lot as gamers and it gets really old.

 

How can this be helped?  Have someone be in charge of each track.  Then, have some assigned helpers. These helpers could be tabletop gamers who aren't playing at the time and have assigned duties...OR you can reach out to spectators for help.  They are already coming and already know gaming...they just aren't competing...so maybe they can help in other ways?

 

I must note here that the lack of organization was not just in our track.  When watching many of the PC games...I found a lack of organization there as well.  Two of our gamers played each other...one won...and then they had no idea what to do.  They had no one to go to to tell who won and they had no idea what to do after their match was over.  Also, a lot of winning and playing relied on the "honor system."  Though we are all honorable and good people...one bad apple could have made the experience negative for a lot of people.

 

I may have more to say later (I'm sure this surprises no one), but for now...here you go :)

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On 2/25/2016 at 4:30 PM, Sapience said:

We'd love to hear your  thoughts and experiences with the TableTop gaming track at Extra Life 2016. Please use this thread to let us know where we excelled and what we can do better for Extra Life United 2017.

 

Last year there was a Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. Is there a date for this event this year? We'd like to put it on the schedule as soon as we can.

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9 minutes ago, 7DGames said:

 

Last year there was a Extra Life Tabletop Appreciation Weekend. Is there a date for this event this year? We'd like to put it on the schedule as soon as we can.

 

No date to share yet, but as soon as I know I'll get the word out!

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Sorry, I got home, and spent the week sick. (YAY!!!)  But, now I am all better, and giving a read.

 

I think most people have been spot on with fair and honest criticism, but, as we all have pointed out, we loved having Tabletop represented.  I would also like to express my willingness to help in any way for next year; game selection, tournament format, rules, etc.

 

Some games, specifically Liar's Dice, would benefit from a simple chart, showing proper betting/play sequence.  A cheat sheet to help things in line and move the play along.

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5 hours ago, futiles said:

 

Some games, specifically Liar's Dice, would benefit from a simple chart, showing proper betting/play sequence.  A cheat sheet to help things in line and move the play along.



I didn't play in the Tabletop track, but having posterboards of each tabletop game's rules AKA a large cheat sheet hanging around is a genius idea, You could also use this for the other tracks and have the game specific rules for each poster board.

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