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Products That Overwhelmed You

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Man, I loved me some SFB. I was pretty wicked at it with certain races (especially Hydrans & Tholians), and a tricksy hobbit in general. I won’t lie and say I won every game I played, because I didn’t. But a lot of my victories left my opponents utterly disgusted with how they lost.

Because I came to SFB first, games like Battletech and Crimson Skies were always like rules-light versions of SFB for me. Very enjoyable. But because the various mechs were more similar to each other than the varied tech between species in SFB, there were fewer wrinkles to exploit. Combats were more straightforward.

(Not saying one is better than the others, just noting differences.)
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Transhuman Space for GURPS. I still have the books, and maybe someday i'll get back to reading them; but Transhumanism can be really hard to wrap ones mind around and hard to make sure to share spotlight around the table. Add in the Space/Solar System stuff and it got to be too much.
 

darjr

I crit!
Traveller campaigns. Mine always petered out as soon as the players could afford big weapons and armor. It wasn’t until years later that a seasoned Traveller GM clued me in to the fact that wealth and gear “are” leveling up in Traveller and the key to a long campaign was busting the PCs down by metered controlled access, taxation, theft, and just plain breaking their stuff.
 

Synnibarr. I read the reviews online. I saw a copy in a used book store, and thought about picking it up to run as a gag. Purusing it, I realized the reviews were not exaggerating, and it definitely wasn't worth the price. Bullet dodged.

On the board game front:

Arkham Horror. Sat down and spent an afternoon teaching myself this a decade ago. Then we decided to just play Elder Signs instead. Still haven't played a full game.

Civilization. Just too many pieces.
 

Retreater

Legend
Arkham Horror. Sat down and spent an afternoon teaching myself this a decade ago. Then we decided to just play Elder Signs instead. Still haven't played a full game.
My Arkham Horror story. Signed up to play in 2007 at GenCon with a group of a half dozen other players. The turns were so long, the gameplay so long and boring (and I'm not much for board games anyway), that I walked away from the table and started aimlessly wandering the vendor's hall.

Then I ran into Gary Gygax. He was signing copies of a book he wrote with Jeffrey Talanian (who later went on to write Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea). I got to hang out with Gary and get an autograph at his last appearance at GenCon.

Moral of the story: life's too short for games you don't like.
 

Man, I loved me some SFB. I was pretty wicked at it with certain races (especially Hydrans & Tholians), and a tricksy hobbit in general. I won’t lie and say I won every game I played, because I didn’t. But a lot of my victories left my opponents utterly disgusted with how they lost.

Because I came to SFB first, games like Battletech and Crimson Skies were always like rules-light versions of SFB for me. Very enjoyable. But because the various mechs were more similar to each other than the varied tech between species in SFB, there were fewer wrinkles to exploit. Combats were more straightforward.

(Not saying one is better than the others, just noting differences.)
Hydrans. Man on man. I had the same experience with them. Early on, I didn't always win, but when I did WOW. It was usually because I was able to get 4 or 5 fighter ships with hellbores a 1-3 hex range. And yes, "disgusted" is the only way to describe the other team.

I got really lucky learning SFB. Two guys in the group played from the very beginning, so they learned it step by step as new books came out. Then others of us joined and had the benefit of their expertise. That said, I think we avoided some of the more complicated weapons, ie no x-ray drones, only very occasionally using Andromeda or ISC ships.

Once you got energy allocation and damage charts down, it fell into a pretty predictable routine.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
Pirates of Drinax
I'm running this Traveller campaign right now. But I'm having to work very hard at not being buried by the cognative load.

There are 4 hardback books and about 10 more PDF books covering this campaign. It's sweeping in scale, beautiful in execution, and utterly overwhelming in volume!

We're about a year into the campaign and I think there is enough material for 3 more years. :oops:
 

My Arkham Horror story. ...

Moral of the story: life's too short for games you don't like.

Pun intended? :p

The really weird part? I liked the time I spent with Arkham Horror. I love the setting, I enjoy crunchy games, I liked the combination of strategy and luck involved in it. I still occasionally get a urge to learn it and play it. But I know I couldn't handle teaching it to anyone, so it remains unplayed.
 

Retreater

Legend
Pun intended? :p

The really weird part? I liked the time I spent with Arkham Horror. I love the setting, I enjoy crunchy games, I liked the combination of strategy and luck involved in it. I still occasionally get a urge to learn it and play it. But I know I couldn't handle teaching it to anyone, so it remains unplayed.
Completely pun-intended coincidence.
I didn't like that it's so difficult (like most co-op games are). You can play a game for 8 hours that you know you have no hope of winning. I just don't like feeling that way when I'm trying to have fun.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Hydrans. Man on man. I had the same experience with them. Early on, I didn't always win, but when I did WOW. It was usually because I was able to get 4 or 5 fighter ships with hellbores a 1-3 hex range. And yes, "disgusted" is the only way to describe the other team.

I got really lucky learning SFB. Two guys in the group played from the very beginning, so they learned it step by step as new books came out. Then others of us joined and had the benefit of their expertise. That said, I think we avoided some of the more complicated weapons, ie no x-ray drones, only very occasionally using Andromeda or ISC ships.

Once you got energy allocation and damage charts down, it fell into a pretty predictable routine.
One of my favorite battles, we were using all the rules, including pre-plotted movement. I was piloting a Gorn Dreadnaught Vs it’s Federation counterpart.

Both of us opened hyper-aggressivley, closing as fast as possible with weapons overloaded and shields maxed & reinforced. Alpha strikes were exchanged at close range, with both ships surviving, but with front shields dropped and some internal damage done.

The next turn, I gambled on a HET- successfully executed!- turning tail with my REAR shield reinforced. He followed at the fastest speed he could muster.

...and ran smack dab into the nuclear space mines I had been dropping behind me (with my rear shields down) on the final approach to the face-off. Damn near blew his saucer off.

As that turn ended, I was doing a languid turn, preparing to release some more plasma torpedoes at range as he took his shambles of a starship as quickly to the board edge for an escape.

Whole game was 4-5 turns.
 

Richards

Legend
I had a friend who loved Star Fleet Battles. He'd set up these specific scenarios - three Klingon vessels attacking three comparable Federation vessels, say - and we'd play through it, and I'd beat him. So then we'd play the same scenario over again, only this time swapping who was running which side - and I'd beat him again. The next day, he'd have set up a scenario with him running a pair of Orion raiders attacking my Federation cargo ship with its security escort, and I'd run them off; then we'd switch sides and when I was running the Orions I defeated his security vessel and successfully overtook the cargo ship. This used to tick him off to no end, since he was much better versed in the intricacies of the game than I was. (I remember him pulling off some little-known maneuver where the Orion ship could burn out one of its own engine squares by doing a full 180-degree turn, while I - not aware of any of these fancy maneuvers - was getting by with the "basic game" tactics I'd picked up playing the game with my cousins. These were the same cousins who introduced me to AD&D 1st Edition when we were in high school.)

Good times.

Johnathan
 

Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
Honestly, 5e overwhelmed me & still does. I was just smart enough to learn how to play 3e. Then I skipped 4e.
Yet I picked up 5e. Because I wanted to learn how to play, so that I could write DMs Guild stuff for my favorite settings.
And me and a buddy did play. And we did learn it. We played quite a lot. We had a good deal of fun.
But also tremendous frustrations. After a year of weekly play, taking turns as DM, it still overwhelmed me.
We'd argue about the rules. My head would spin at all the details.

And so we started testing various simpler systems (BX, Whitebox, Heroes & Monsters)
Also fun, but some counter-intuitive wonky bits.
After a failed, frustrating time with trying to run Palace of the Silver Princess with BX rules, I'd had enough.

So I designed my own D&D, which was basically a freeform LARP, played outside.

Me and a couple buddies would play through entire modules in freeform LARP style, such as the Keep on the Borderlands, Elwyn's Sanctuary, and Palace of the Silver Princess.
It was storytelling with essentially no mechanics. Except I'd have the player draw a card as an approximate guide to say how well they did in that round. (No one could die.) If I wanted to get on with it, I'd just have them draw one card for the whole scene. And then we'd co-describe how it went. While acting it out.
We immersed ourselves in these these classic stories, while skipping the rules. I love the D&D Multiverse and classic adventures. Yet I don't need to get a headache and stress out about mastering the rules. I'm just not that smart.

It was a lot of fun. And a huge relief.

From that experience, I'm publishing a very simple RPG, called Twelvefold Adventure System. I have placeholder page at DriveThruRPG, but it's not quite online yet.

I'm continually amazed when I see all sorts of people, from all walks of life, playing 5E online. I'm like: "Wow, people are so smart!"

I still haven't written anything for DMs Guild yet, so my mission failed in that regard.
 
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For some reason, Hero System is something I struggled with.

I don't know why. It does a lot of similar things to how GURPS (a game which seems very intuitive to me) works, but something about how the books I tried to pick up explained things didn't click for me. Offhand, I do not know which edition of the game it was that I was trying to play at the time. It was whatever would have been available at the local game store around the middle of D&D 4E's life cycle.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
HERO is my jam. Whenever I encounter someone having difficulties with it, I try to help. One thing that i love most about HERO as compared to similarly complex games is that, once you’ve designed your characters, almost everything you need to play is on the sheet in front of you. You can play 99% of most sessions without referring to the book. In my experience, that can lead to a very enjoyable, uncluttered gaming session.
 
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HERO is my jam. Whenever I encounter someone having difficulties with it, I try to help. One thing that i love most about HERO as compared to similarly complex games is that, once you’ve designed your characters, almost everything you need to play is on the sheet in front of you. You can play 99% of most sessions without referring to the book. In my experience, that can lead to a very enjoyable, unclu gaming session.

I wish I could remember which edition it was. It's been years, but it's still something I remember. Part of why I remember it is because it was back when the local game store near me was at their old location. (They've since moved. In my brain, those two events are linked to a similar time frame.) I remember being at the point where I wanted to try something other than D&D. (I had played a little Rifts, but was primarily familiar with D&D 3rd and 4th.)

I read the backs of a few game books which looked interesting, and I then sat and skimmed through some of the content. I don't think it was the actual rules themselves which were difficult for me. It was something about how they were presented. Later, I sat in one a few sessions with someone who played. Overall, I could follow what was going on, but something about how the information was organized was rough for me. I vaguely remember not having a good grasp on how equipment worked.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I wish I could remember which edition it was. It's been years, but it's still something I remember. Part of why I remember it is because it was back when the local game store near me was at their old location. (They've since moved. In my brain, those two events are linked to a similar time frame.) I remember being at the point where I wanted to try something other than D&D. (I had played a little Rifts, but was primarily familiar with D&D 3rd and 4th.)

I read the backs of a few game books which looked interesting, and I then sat and skimmed through some of the content. I don't think it was the actual rules themselves which were difficult for me. It was something about how they were presented. Later, I sat in one a few sessions with someone who played. Overall, I could follow what was going on, but something about how the information was organized was rough for me. I vaguely remember not having a good grasp on how equipment worked.
Since the system was essentially a LEGOs approach to building anything, it could get overwhelming sinply due to the number of ways virtually anything could be designed. And in fairness, there were precious few walkthroughs of how something could be done in one way, much less variations on a theme.

If you got into it like I did, you’d notice that a lot of things that most games would organize into chapters or even splatbooks were simply buried in character builds. A lot of times, I simply yoinked the stats from one piece of gear and reused them as needed. Cut & paste, essentially.

Sure, there were a few sourcebooks that had big chunks of gear already statted out, but they were the exception, not the rule. And if any system would have benefited from major gear (etc) splatbooks, HERO was it.

But I always got the feeling that the game’s designers assumed that people would just copy gear stats or reskin NPC cops as NPC city watchmen, or otherwise copy & tweak characters to save themselves the trouble of doing the math themselves...but they never suggested that in any real way.
 

amethal

Adventurer
I played and DM'd a ton of Pathfinder 1e, the Occult book's new magic classes look cool thematically, but I have not done more than skim over the intro descriptions, despite them being free in the PDFSRD.
I had the Occult Adventures PDF and found the kineticist class impossible to follow. Since it's the first class in the book I just gave up at that point. (And I've been playing Pathfinder 1st edition pretty much since it came out.)

When I eventually got the book version, I was able to get the hang of the kineticist by dint of lots of flicking back and forth, so I decided to play one. It went okay, but I still made plenty of mistakes and kept having to look up terminology as the exact meaning became important. It's a fun class, but Paizo's standard format for class write-ups really doesn't do it any favours.
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Synnibarr. I read the reviews online. I saw a copy in a used book store, and thought about picking it up to run as a gag. Purusing it, I realized the reviews were not exaggerating, and it definitely wasn't worth the price. Bullet dodged.
This was fun as heck to play at Raven's table, but yeah, I wouldn't recommend the system.

It does probably sit right at the middle point of Jeff Rients' Retro/Stupid/Pretentious threefold model, but a highly creative, charismatic, and idiosyncratic GM can do a lot even with very weird and cumbersome rules.
 
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Committed Hero

Explorer
The Armitage Files for Trail of Cthulhu. It's designed to be run improvisationally, but I had to run The Dracula Dossier first before I could see how to do that.
 

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