The Impossibility of Clear Communication

Writing on the internet is fraught with confusion and misunderstandings, all the more so because I am expressing opinions. Over the weekend I posted my Dreadfleet review 2 to BoardgameGeek. If you don’t know this site and are at all interested in board games you really should go and have a look. It has a data base of over 50,000 games and is the reference site for board games on the net. I thought that I would add my review to the corpus of reference material there because it would temper the shallow glosses I’d so far read. How silly of me.

I have to admit that I was warned against doing so. I will refrain from using the same descriptor of the posting community that I was given, but suffice to say that it was not complementary. Me being me, decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and ploughed on regardless. If you’re interested in following the whole thread it starts here, but I have picked out the nub of the problem below.

The review itself is the same as the one here on Quirkworthy, sans photos, so you’ve probably read it already. There was some debate about individual bits of rules, which was fine. Then we had (and I’m excerpting bits of longer comments):

Poster A: “My main problem with your review is that I don’t believe it to be representative of the true quality of the game (for most players) as well as the slight hinting (which is possibly just me being over-sensitive) that anyone enjoying it is, well, a bit simple.”

Is my review representative for most players? I’m honestly not sure how you could ever test that empirically. Without a possibility of an exacting analysis, I work on the assumption that most people want to have a game in which they can feel their choices and those of their opponent make the difference between winning and losing more often than not. The review basically says that DF is too random to allow this, hence my conclusion.

But everyone who enjoys it is a bit simple? Not what I was saying at all. So I wrote back:

“I don’t mean to suggest that enjoying this makes you simple (as in stupid or foolish). If pushed, I might say it made you less critical than I, or less demanding, or less competitive, but then I often think that it would make life a lot easier to be so, so that’s far from being an insult.”

I know that I am competitive and that I can’t help myself looking at the odds and looking critically at a game’s mechanics. It’s just how my brain works. I also know that this sometimes gets in the way of my enjoying games, which would be more fun if I could turn off the critical and analytical bits of my brain. I have had many discussions with gaming friends over the years on just these topics. Someone else piled in though:

Poster B: “Is this really an even handed thing to say? People who disagree with you can only reasonably do so because they have lower expectations? I’m actually having trouble finding how that doesn’t insult everyone who disagrees with you.”

Being less critical, demanding or competitive seem suddenly to be interpreted as being retarded. Personally, I am less critical of what brand of baked beans I buy than what kind of game I buy. Am I selectively retarded? The accusation is nonsensical, and seeking to find insult where there is none. It also seems deeply ironic because, as I replied:

“the comments you decide were insulting were actually coined by a good friend of mine of himself when we were discussing why he liked some games and I wasn’t so keen. I’m fairly sure he wasn’t insulting himself, nor was that how I intended it here.”

As usual I find myself beset by an inability to communicate (or perhaps by Trolls) whenever I venture out from the calm waters of the Quirk. Perhaps I should confine myself to these shores.

On the other hand, perhaps I really am a rude and curmudgeonly old man, whose arrogant ramblings are universally insulting. Perhaps. But if so, quite a few people still come to read them, and so I shall continue to write my thoughts on gaming as they come to me, and review games as I see them, and try not to worry about whether or not I am repeating what is safe or popular to say. If a game needs panning then it shall be panned; if paeans need singing in its praise, then you’ll hear my atonal croak in their honour.

As always, polite and well-argued comments are very welcome, especially if they have a new angle to illuminate the debate. However, please do try to assume that I’m not out to get everyone. It’ll make life ever so much simpler.

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80 Responses to The Impossibility of Clear Communication

  1. I could go into many different reasons as to why communication on the internet is fraught with danger. The biggest one being that it lulls us into thinking sometimes we’re actually taking part in a physical conversation, a chat if you will. Thing is it’s normally a chat with hundreds of angry people listening in, waiting to pounce on anything they can willfully misconstrue. Some people want to be ‘right’ rather than just discussing things. I came to this conclusion years ago, I used to go onto forums to ‘chat’ and find out what others thought, unsure of my own stance, clearly stating this. Invariably some ejit would hop into a conversation, claiming to be some paragon of rationality, wisdom and outright awesomeness and proceed to make a complete ass of themselves. Bell of Lost Souls is also famous for some of its very own internet ‘celebrities’ and their brainless cronies. Trying to have a sensible debate on BGG and BoLS is like trying to reason with rabble. Pointless.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Can’t say I’ve ever posted on BoLS, and you can see what happened when I tried on BGG. It does make me wonder about whether studies have been done of the different tones (auras, vibes – not sure of the right term) of different fora. How are they driven? How could you measure them? Are they controllable, or changeable if they start to drift from what was intended? If it hasn’t been studied (and I expect it has) then some PhD student needs to submit a proposal now and get to it! I smell potential industrial application.

      • OK, the linked thread makes DakkaDakka look like the center of good behavoir.
        And it confirms why I always shy away from posting there.

        Actually you made nothing wrong, but some Gonzo thought it was a good time to show everyone who’s running the show. Actually he is not running it but driving it into the ground, but he thinks he is Buddah.

      • It is also funny that some of your “opponents” admit that they have not playe the game…

      • Quirkworthy says:

        What was the saying? “If you meet Buddah on the road, kill him?”

        As long as people make it clear where they’re coming from it’s not so bad. In many cases it is the fault of the reader that assumes an armchair opinion on an unread and unplayed game is in any way comparable to something based on experience. And I’m not talking about what I’ve written here, but to reviews in a broader sense.

      • I think that is a problem every good game-designer is aware of. After a scanning first look I can tell you if the basic system is good or not, but I can’t tell you if the system is working as intended. This I can only do by testing it thoroughly. And many armchair-writers forget about this. I just recently had someone damming a game because it uses IGOYOUGO like 40K/WHFB. I admit that I am not a fan of the way it is used in both games, but I have no problems with it the way it is used in KoW or Dust Warfare. The first being just slightly modified the second a heavy modification of IGOYOUGO. You could use single activation for DW but it would overcomplicate matters and you would win nothing.

        What I want to say: Often people damn a tool just because it has been used badly by one game and forget that if used in the right way the tool can be very helpful.

        Coming back to your post: They simply reduce you review to one “tool” and because they had bad experiences with it yours must be bad too and it ain´t. I can have a personal opinion and can also be very balanced. Not every opinion must be a hate-comment.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        “Not every opinion must be a hate-comment.”

        Succinctly put.

        I agree entirely about game mechanics. Rules are neutral, not inherently good or bad. Some require more amelioration than others (“roll and move” is often brainless, but it need not necessarily be so and even if it is there are times that can be an advantage). The more experience you have the better able you are to see how things might pan out on the tabletop. However, after playing games for over 3 decades and working professionally with them for about 2, I’d still want to play something a couple of times before I really claimed to understand it.

  2. RobYeah says:

    The only advice I can only really offer about daring to post your opinion about a game online is: http://bit.ly/qUX1hI

    Personally I enjoyed the review and think you handled a lot of the criticism thrown at it very well. I have been a bit worried about the luck factor in the game and your review seemed to highlight this issue.

    And for the record Advanced Space Crusade is the worst GW game to have been produced. At least Dreadfleet has nice figures!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Nice toon 🙂

      You are right about the figures, but is ASC a worse game? I’m not convinced.

      • Stunty says:

        I personally enjoyed ASC and back in the day the figures were pretty good.. hang on a minute does this mean your calling me an idiot Rob?! 😉
        I personally hated GorkaMorka and wasnt too fond of was it called battle for armagedon? I think that was more down to lack of mini’s though and I was still quite young.
        Out of interest how do you think Dreadful Fleet would play if you took the random event fate cards as a ‘no events this time’ and just used the wind events as they are?

      • Quirkworthy says:

        If I was to rework DF, I would start by making the following changes:

        1) double hull values.
        2) allow ships to aim high or low (D6 “where hit”, split equally into hull, crew, speed; + or -2 for aim high low).
        3) use chits to show “standard” damage to those areas.
        4) Damage cards become a critical effect (which cannot be repaired, unlike normal damage).
        5) fate is one card per turn, not one per player. Might remove some of them.

        Then play this and see if it is any better. Might be rubbish, might not be. However, it would give you half the wind changes, so more skill in planning sailing moves; and more skill in choosing targets for shots. Shoot the sails to slow down pursuit, or go for the sinking.

        The rest of it could probably stay the same.

        That’s off the top of my head and is in no way tested or balanced.

      • RobYeah says:

        ASC was FINE if you had a Space Marine army and a Tyranid army to hand (as we all did :p) and committed to playing it for 5/6 hours.

        Out of the box it was dull and repetitive. “Space Marine Scouts encounter… 3 Tyranid Warriors. Again.”

    • Sam Dale says:

      Basic Space Crusade’s models were minging. At least the ASC models had a bit of character.

      And yeah, you didn’t need much to make ASC a bit more interesting. The contents of Space Hulk would get you Terminators and Genestealers, for starters, then you just needed your inevitable plastic womble marines, and maybe some IG for mind-slaves and some plastic ‘Stealer half-breeds from the Space Hulk expansion (can’t remember if they were in ASC, they were certainly in the 40k army list), and you were away.

      Or you just used cardboard markers to show the models you didn’t own.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        When I was little we used all manner of things to stand in for whatever we had because our imaginations seemed to perpetually outpace our pocket money. That seems to still be true of the really small children I know. Are the older kids still like that, or have they been battered into submission by an advert break every 5 minutes and GW’s policy that you must have the correct model or you’re a Heretic?

      • RobYeah says:

        Oh no! What have I started?

        I do actually remember my Dad coming back from the Manchester Brown Street store with the Terminators & Tyranids boxset and being amazed by it. That certainly improved the game. Maybe I just have bad recollections of ASC….

        I enjoyed the Space Crusade models as they formed the basis of my early gaming (I am talking when I was about 8/9) by just changing the squares to inches and having them fight over a desk full of boxes and books to represent a cityscape…

      • RobYeah says:

        In regards to GW making you have the official model they actually seem to have gone back on this quite a bit, at least with the in-store gaming.

        When I was properly playing their games around the time of 2nd Edition 40K, Necromunda, Titan Legions etc. and everyone working on White Dwarf had to have a ponytail (or be Nigel Stillman) to play in store you had to have the right model AND it had to be painted and properly based. Preferably in goblin green with yellow highlighting in the sand.

        Now if I pop in to the stores you see unbased, unpainted wads of bare metal (or is it resin?) and plastic being pushed along on black movement trays and people reminding each other that these 3 Rhinos are ACTUALLY Necron Pylons.

      • Sam Dale says:

        “unbased, unpainted wads of bare metal (or is it resin?) and plastic being pushed along on black movement trays and people reminding each other that these 3 Rhinos are ACTUALLY Necron Pylons.”

        And you still have to have a GW model. You’re not going to get away with using Warjacks as Dreadnoughts in a GW store.

        And, at least at Warhammer World, you have to have at least an undercoat on the models before putting them on the table, even if they are being used to proxy something else utterly unrelated. (Tbh, that’s the minimum before I’ll play a model, generally. I’m usually part-way through painting the army, and playing it gives impetus to get it all painted.)

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I do remember an entertaining (for me) moment when someone in a GW tournament was almost chucked out for having non-GW models. In fact they were GW models, just ones that were older than the staff member that was getting all exercised about it 🙂

        And before anyone starts, I think GW and anyone else are entirely within their rights to have whatever rules they like about provenance of models in their own tourneys. People can read them before they come, so it’s their look out.

  3. Mike says:

    I’m afraid that is the peril of making your views public and for being honest. Most people will praise you for your views and honesty but there is always going to be at least someone who will disagree with you. It is just the way the world works. If I were you I would just take it on the chin as part of being of the job and continue what you’re doing. Your views about the gaming industry are held with very high regard – keep them coming.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Mike, that’s very kind. I do intend to keep posting here. I’ve been doing this for long enough to know that people will be burning effigies of me somewhere, whatever I do, as long as it’s public. What I find frustrating is that reasonable people seem to be being held collectively under siege by a minority of folk who seem to have nothing worthwhile to say and simply hurl abuse like bored monkeys throwing faeces against their cages. Maybe they are bored; perhaps that’s it.

      I don’t mid people disagreeing with me, in fact, I rather expect someone to. Be kind of dull if they didn’t. Sometimes I see something that looks obvious to me and which nobody has said yet, and wonder if I’ve somehow got the wrong end of the stick. Having alternative viewpoints can be very helpful to refine my own, and having one’s own world view challenged can be important as well as unnerving.

  4. Andy Frazer says:

    Ah… the perennial problem of putting your head above the parapet!

    As someone who writes a lot of opinion on the web, I know what that’s like, albeit our website is thankfully more sedate and considered than most others.

    What you need to know is the simple truth… people who are satisfied and agree with your position DO NOT post comments to say “I agree”… they simply sit at their monitor and nod. However those who disagree have more chance of being stirred to action, which in turn galvanises other malcontents to join in… and the odd supporter to weigh in on your side, but only after the negative comments are posted.

    … and the final damning indictment of the internet is reading for comprehension… and just plain reading.

    The majority of users on the internet do not read, or if they do they skim to see if they like what’s being said, before moving on. If they don’t like what they read. They might stop to post an “I don’t like this ” or “thumbs down” comment and again move on. If you get anything more in-depth than this you probably have someone “trolling” rather than someone who really wants to change your mind… in the days of the internet voting system, those who don’t like what they see just vote you down… those who want a fight, post a comment.

    Saying that Warren, over at BoW, honestly likes the game and his review reflects that, but as always Jake, you are welcome to disagree with him on the BoW website.

    As for me, I’ve barely looked at the stuff in the box, I haven’t read the rulebook and I haven’t played a game… but I know it’s not my sort of game.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      My, you’re even more cynical than I am today, Andy: “those who don’t like what they see just vote you down… those who want a fight, post a comment.” And those in agreement just nod 🙂

      I’ll debate the issue with Warren when he’s played DF a few times with all the ships. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes his mind, or whether he’s as excited about it then. It may be just his thing. Who knows?

      One final thought: at what age do schools teach reading for comprehension these days?

      • Minitrol says:

        I am not sure they do any more. At least not here. They only get achieved or not achieved so it allows for a greater degree of mediocrity.

        Also in our day 🙂 we were taught critical thinking and analysis for writing. I think the focus now is more on reporting and sources. It seems you can no longer just post an opinion you have to have facts and figures to back you up!

        I certainly respect your opinion, I don’t disagree with it as I have not played the game – I may disagree then but really thus far I have been trying to get a handle on what exactly gets under your skin and it has been very interesting so please keep writing!

      • Andy Frazer says:

        Perhaps it’s writing this TV show that’s got my goat today!

        Writing for TV is even more problematic than the internet. The TV guidelines are so woolly! It’s this “we must not offend anyone” and “everyone’s point of view is valid” type nonsense.

        It’s a minefield. 😦

      • Quirkworthy says:

        And therein may lie the problem.

        I did a degree not long ago, and found it perpetually frustrating not to be allowed to have an opinion of my own. As long as I could cite someone, that was fine, but original thought? Heavens, no! What an excellent way to teach people that the sum of all human knowledge resides in Google.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Andy, is that why so much TV is bland pap then? It’s safe. I can see how writing for that would be a different challenge.

    • Elromanozo says:

      How well worded… And how polite !
      I’d have been more concise.
      In fact, I have… below.

  5. Paul aka Chibi says:

    Have read as much of the debate as my head could take and made it to page three
    (and lived to tell the tale.)

    One punter said the review was eloquent and well argued. Another said it was a rant.
    They both can’t be right uless it was a well argued, eloquent rant. lol

    The problem as I see it is that some people are treating your review as if you are making some dogmatic statement of fact, rather than what is essentially your opinion after playing the game.
    Having read the review here on your blog, I assumed it was the latter, and therefore some chaps on BGG are being unfair in their assessments.

    This I believe is supported by your responses to the criticism. At no point did I see you say that your opinion of this game or any other should be treated as sacrosanct and absolute. You don’t strike me as an absolutist gamer.

    Sadly it is the way things often go on the internet so would say carry on as per and keep up the good job you do.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Paul, I’ll see if I can do more “well argued, eloquent rants” in the future. Sounds like a dramatic style to adopt.

      My review is my opinion, as is everything else here unless I tell you it’s not. I always try to say if something is only hearsay or press release blurb rather than something I’ve had personal experience of. I think it makes my comments more useful as you then have a context. I’m sure I get it wrong some of the time, but that’s what I’m trying to do.

  6. Galfridus on BGG says:

    Came here from the geek to troll–er, to leave a comment. 🙂

    As BGG has grown, the nature of discourse has changed, or perhaps broadened. In some ways it would be nice to go back to when the site was smaller, but there are advantages to the growth as well. Unfortunately, those advantages tend to show up less on the “hot” games (such as Dreadfleet, Dominion, etc.).

    I don’t think you could have written your review in a manner that would not have produced comments similar to the ones you received. It’s unfortunate if that prevents you from future posts; I would suggest (selfishly) that you post anyway and do your best to not engage with posts that distress you.

    Best of luck!

  7. Greg Smith says:

    Wow! Then again, if you WILL write opinions on the internet….;)

    In all seriousness, I thought you were a *little* harsh on the game, but then I haven’t played it yet (oh to have spare time!) I have read most of the rules (should finish tonight) and I think they don’t sound TOO bad – for example the wind mechanics don’t sound all that game breaking to me but again I acknowledge that you have played and I have not, so my opinion is based on less in the way of evidence.

    What I will say is that I know where you are coming from on your own experience and expertise perhaps coloring everything. Since I have started proofreading, editing and indeed writing, I find I bring a more critical eye to what I read/watch/play (video games wise) and therefore I am conscious of enjoying things less than I would have even a year ago. Gears of War 3 for example – I am certain that in reality the story was no worse than Gears 2, yet I know that it disappointed me in very specific ways.

    Ultimately old chap, a review is just that – a review. As in an opinion of the reviewer of a thing being reviewed. You will never please all the people all the time and I hate to say it but that probably goes double (at least) for GW fans….

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As you say, a review is the opinion of the reviewer. Seems that concept has eluded some people though.

      The wind rules are not game breaking, they just make it impossible to plan sailing moves more than the turn you are in. To contrast, if I was playing Age of Sail (Napoleonic Naval rules) you plan your sailing moves so that you have the wind in your favour when you need it. Wind changes occasionally and you have to adapt, but you will typically plan several turns in advance and have a strategy for the battle. Obviously this is not a historical game, but what it means is that the majority of ships (6/10 are sail, I believe) can be majorly influenced by this random factor. For example, if the wind is behind me then a ship that nominally moves 12 can add the wind strength to this. If I choose the order that gets me another 2D6 straight ahead that is a huge move (average of, say, 4 for the strength and 7 for the dice; almost doubling my base move). If the wind is in my face then I either move as normal, but can’t do the extra 2D6, or if I fail a check then I subtract the wind strength from my move. Simple enough. In the games we played it was common for a given ship to have the wind in a different quarter from one turn to the next and we spent several turns with wind strength 8 (IIRC). Given the huge difference in movement possible, how do you make any plan beyond this turn? Answer: you can’t. The rules for moving the ship are fine, but they are yet another element which is removed from your ability to influence the game by the frequency of the changes in direction. It is the cumulative effect of every aspect being taken out of your control or overwritten by random cards that is so dire. In my opinion, obviously. Do please let me know what you find when you get all 10 ships on the table.

  8. You’ve definitely stumbled into a hornet’s nest! I read your review(s) here first, then checked them out on BGG to gauge the reaction.

    I agree with the general sentiment that, when writing a critical review of a new and popular game, one is bound to ruffle some feathers.

    However, I found your comments to be thoughtful and your analysis to be sound! Thanks for a good review! In complete fairness, you did use a lot of hyperbole in the second piece – do you think that might have contributed somewhat to negative reactions on BGG?

    As an aside, what was the degree that you did recently that discouraged independent thought? Sounds a bit overzealous! Very unfortunate.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It could have been hyperbole, it could have just been my being critical. Fawning sycophants do tend to get an easier ride. Part of the reason for the extra hyperbole was that by this stage in my DF coverage (4th article? 5th?) I’d said all I needed to about the facts of the rules and the contents. I was, by this point, dealing in feelings and emotional reactions and these are often best expressed in metaphor and, yes, at times, hyperbole. I was also extremely unhappy with the game, with my having wasted so much time and money on it, that I was using whatever came to hand to avoid swearing uncontrollably. The worst game I have played in a very long time.

      One other thought though is that hyperbole is defined as “obvious and intentional exaggeration” or “an extravagant statement not intended to be taken literally”. In many cases I am exaggerating only a little or not at all.

      As to degree, I started History and then switched to Archaeology which was rather more relaxed and generally more my cup of tea in the way it was taught. Both followed exactly the same principles on paper, but I found the Archaeology staff more amenable to original thought.

      • Yeah, fair enough. It’s a shame that the game went so badly. I guess it’s ironic that your emotional reaction to the game was based on actually playing it, while the emotional reactions that people had to your review were based on (I think) the perception that the game was expensive and made by Games Workshop so it couldnt *possibly* be that bad… right? Again, unfortunate.

        Aha, History. It’s hard to compare academic standards here in Canada with those of the UK, of course, but I do tend to think of History (as an academic discipline) as being a bit stodgy.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I am (heroically) resisting the urge to rant about that whole history episode. Perhaps when I am less tired and fuzzy headed.

        And yes, it was ironic.

  9. Sod ’em! (that was the edited version) Stick to doing reviews on your blog, even if your posting reviews on other forums for the benefit of other people they won’t thank you for it, so sod’em!

    Most of these forums spiral into a meaningless non-conversation about the minutia of every syllable written. As I told you a while ago, us wargamers spend so much of our time playing with toys that it’s sometimes all too easy to chuck them out of the pram when someone says something that we don’t like.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      It’s true, you did say that. It may have even been regarding this particular game, I forget. Either way it is certainly true online.

      Actually, I think the most extreme example of this I’ve personally fallen foul of was the whole mess about Rackham and what was laughably called 4th edition Confrontation (“Age of Ragnarok”). That got so silly that people were being banned from forums just for asking questions, let alone actually offering dissenting opinions.

      • 4th Edition was not that bad, but they never had the ressources to launch two full-size ranges at the same time. I do have quite some unpublished material and it would have turned out good if it had gotten the resources needed. Another problem was that one rules designer posted his private POV on the english forums as official rules comments and destroyed both games for the angloamerican gamers by unbalancing them in favour of his pet-races.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I am holding back a major (and yes, Sami: an emotional) rant here, but I do have to say…

        4th edition “Confrontation” was not Confrontation; it was 2nd edition Rag’narok. That was the problem. You can’t replace a skirmish game with a mass battle game and tell people it’s the same thing. It’s like telling someone you have a new line of fur coats for winter and then giving them a bikini.

        I knew literally dozens of people who played Confrontation 3rd, and zero people who played Rag, before 4th was announced. The numbers of forum posts wherever they shared forums were always a couple of orders of magnitude in favour of Confrontation over Rag’narok. That should have been a clue. People loved the models and the background, but wanted to play a skirmish game not a mass battle. Ramming it down their throats (by taking the skirmish game away and renaming the mass battle) was not a good plan and majorly upset a huge percentage of the existing fan base.

        The customers were promised one thing and given something else, certainly that’s how I felt as did many of my friends. A hugely popular game (a close 2nd to 40K at our club at the time) was abandoned in favour of something nobody wanted and nobody played.

        Whilst Rackham may have been able to make a better game of 4th or not is kind of a moot point. Given the way my friends and I felt about how we had been treated as customers at the time it made no difference. Myself and the others I spoke to about it assumed that Rackham didn’t care about upsetting the existing fans and was after an entirely new market. I did actually play 4th edition with a few different people to see if we could salvage something from the debacle, but I didn’t especially like it. It was OK, but not a patch on 3rd and a completely different thing. Nobody was interested. Personally, if I wanted mass battle I’d use one of my many Warhammer armies. 4th was nowhere near good enough to make me bin all that investment and start again. Bendy plastic prepaints definitely didn’t help either.

        I said I wouldn’t rant, but I’m on the edge of one here (no, seriously, if you think this is a rant… ). It’s not your fault, I’m sure. It’s just a sore point. I don’t like people being dumb, and I rank the change from 3rd to 4th as one of the dumbest moves in gaming.

  10. Elromanozo says:

    You answered. You fed the troll. What did you expect ?

    I will simply sigh and leave you with this pearl of wisdom acquired with years of browsing… Because of these rules, my life is now simpler, I sleep better, and I hate less.

    The Internet is used in this way :

    – E-mail is for communication
    – Blogging and posting things is your soapbox, NOT for initiating dialog
    – Forums are for browsing, for noobs to ask question and take the heat for you… But mainly for arguing and flaming.

    The three rules or Forums, Youtube and Reviews sites are :

    – DO NOT post opinion in a forum. They are the asylum, and the moderators are Nurse Ratchet.

    – DO NOT answer anything or anyone if you disagree, unless you have fact and quote, and even then, just post said fact and said quote. Saying anything else is inviting argument.

    – DO NOT answer negative comments, no matter how well worded, if you post a review, ANY review, or an opinion, ANY opinion. Only answer balanced comments that seem to genuinely ask for clarification… And even then, if it degenerates, if someone repeats or rewords, even if it’s yourself (ESPECIALLY if it’s yourself), just QUIT. It is NOT worth it. Seriously. NO ONE will be convinced, NO ONE will benefit from this. As the proverb says, it’s like the special olympics : Even if you “win”, you’re still a retard, just like everyone else who participates.

    In other words, do not feed the troll.

    Sorry to be blunt, but this is the sad truth, unless you manage to find a civilized website… A rare thing. Civility is usually inversely proportional to the number of visitors.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I know, I know. You’ve told me before. I just keep hoping that not everyone is like that. My foolish optimism, I suppose.

      At least the Quirk seems to be relatively sane, and I shall continue to swap comments with folk here. Let’s pretend this is a “civilised website”. Perhaps the very reasonableness of those that comment here has given me false hope for the rest of humanity out there in the unstable and entirely too mutable warp.

      In either case, I shall endeavour to avoid feeding the Troll in future. At least, all but the home grown variety we have here 🙂

      • paul aka chibi says:

        This just made me think of an analogy of how people use and behave in different spaces. Am a bit rusty with this stuff but roughly speaking:
        A blog is like a private area. For example your garden. Most people would behave politely and respect that it is your property and behave accordingly.
        BoW for example, is more public but a bit like shared space so people still tend to be respectful of the neighbourhood. The neighbours get along mostly despite the odd row over parking.
        Forums are public spaces such as outside a pub at chucking out time! lol
        Sorry if that doesn’t make mush sense. I know what I mean. 😉

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I follow that. So I should stay in bed 😛

  11. Aegnor says:

    There was nothing wrong with your review. It was clearly flagged as opinion and if people can’t handle reviewers having opinions you have to wonder why they bother reading.

    There is a general trend to idiocy from the vantage point of anonymous comment on the web. If you had praised the game, the many GW haters would probably complain with equal vehemance.

    On the example of you “insulting” people by saying it might suit those who like simpler games, puh-lease! You were giving a description of your view of a game mechanic. Do those complaining want to dispute your analysis? Or put words in your mouth and infer an insult where none was offered. That’s just trolling in my view.

    I wonder whether part of the hostility towards the negative review was based on people not want to believe they had paid an exorbitant amount for a turkey, and hence trying to shoot the messenger.

  12. Sami Mahmoud says:

    Posting in this topic is against my better judgement, but we’ll see how this goes….

    I’ll preface this by saying that I found all your Dreadfleet reviews very useful and informative in terms of my expectations once I get round to playing it. I like serious chess-like games, I like silly random games, it really depends on what mood I’m in and matching the mood to the game, so as far as Dreadfleet is concerned I’ll probably end up enjoying it.

    If I was to characterise your review in question, I would divide it into 4 broadly equal parts. Parts 1 and 3* read like a pretty standard internet hater rant, and TBH aren’t that great a reflection on either your normal discussion style or the quality analysis you’re capable of providing (in my experience from your other blog entries/comments). Parts 2 and 4 I found to be very good.

    From the above comments it seems one suggestion is not to write it whilst your still “emotionally involved” in the game? If you write parts of a review in the internet equivalent of tabloid-style writing then I don’t think it’s fair to complain if people then accuse you of quaking like a duck even if you aren’t actually a duck.

    *Complete with badly-informed and incorrect slating of WH 8th, which doesn’t really help your cause 😉

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Firstly, thanks for posting Sami. Sorry for the delayed reply, I wasn’t at my computer yesterday.

      Also thank you for the back handed complement on my normal stuff. I think 😛

      I’m not so sure about parts reading “like a pretty standard internet hater rant”. Maybe if you de-contextualise bits and quote odd lines on their own, I don’t know. I don’t study the hater rants, so I’m not an expert. It’s a worrying though though, and I’ll go back and re-read it again in a few days when it’s more distant. It is, however, about the only useful criticism I’ve had, so thank you very much for that.

      As to writing when I am not “emotionally involved”, I’m not sure you’d want to read unemotional and detached reviews. Nor do I think I would. Dry and dull are the first words that come to mind. I think gaming is both an emotional and involving hobby, and that goes for liking as well as disliking things. If I can’t be passionately excited by something then it’s probably not doing its job. People are described as “frothing” over something, not because they are calm and detached bur because they are emotional and excited, and in gaming that is seen as normal (and generally, not wrong).

      As to passionate feelings, when I think about it I still feel very passionately and with a great deal of anger that I have wasted such a great deal of cash on such an abysmal item with no recourse. Of course, that is my personal opinion and may not be shared by all. Time will tell if it becomes a classic.

      Regarding the “badly informed and incorrect slating of WH 8th” – I can’t recall when that edition came out, but it was only three days ago that I had anyone say anything to me that was positive about the game. Prior to that (and still in a massive majority) are gamers who tell me it is terrible and list reasons why, mostly randomness. As I said, this was what I had heard, not my own experience. I think it is entirely reasonable to report something as widely held opinion when it is just that. I think it is especially pertinent when it is the same criticism as the one I had from my own experience with DF (too much randomness) because that suggests the notion that this is intentional on the part of GW. I have no idea whether it is or not, but it seems that it is a valid point of discussion. Of course, some people will disagree that the original issue is present, which is fine. That’s a valid point too, if they can come up with any evidence to support it. Opinion is not the same. Whether you like very random or not is a different question to whether DF is very random.

      • Sami Mahmoud says:

        S’alright, we’re all busy 😉 Apologies for wall o’text but it ended up necessary to try and communicate clearly (is this irony?) 😉 I may also have got a bit carried away……

        Also apologies for occasional use of CAPS, wasn’t sure how to use italics for emphasis 😦

        The complement was not intended to be backhanded (but yeah, I guess it does read as “you normally do better”), IMO if someone read that piece as their first visit to the site they would get a false impression of the level of insight they would find here 😉

        I guess it’s a difficult balance as hyperbole and the like has it’s place in conveying both emotion and humour. Take the build up to the worst game ever part as an example, that is in my experience a “standard-hater”/”tabloid” style of writing, both hyperbolic and presenting opinion as fact (absolutist). Calling it “Dreadfulfleet” is another example – again that’s not about substance, if that’s what you think, it’s what you think, it’s about style, it gives the impression: “not only am I going to dislike it, I’m going to take the mick out of it”, which people will often extend to themselves if you take the mick out of something they like or support.

        I see your point about blog by default equals opinion, and totally agree, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in using phrases at key points that remind the reader of that. In my experience hyperbole + absolutist invites people to CHALLENGE you, whereas careful prompts to remind them it’s opinion invites people to DISCUSS or EXPLORE your experience. To me the paragraph to the right of the cat would have been enough (possibly with a couple of extra negative adjectives if you don’t feel it conveys your disappointment sufficiently).

        Again, I agree with you about the emotion (would I be here if I didn’t get warm, fuzzy feelings about little pieces of plastic?), but I think there’s a sweet spot – I wouldn’t try and explain to someone why I was angry if I was a hair’s breath away from punching them in the face for example (not that I’ve ever hit anyone!), but I might not want to calm down too much in case I fail to convey my feelings in order to make my point. It might be totally irrelevant in this case, as I can’t read your mind I was just observing how the two might be connected 😉

        I probably didn’t explain the link to 8th Ed very well. The issue is not the criticism of 8th Ed in itself (the validity of that is a different conversation), but that having written a fairly scathing report of one game by a company, you then throw in the extra criticism which ISN’T BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE. Even if you clearly state that’s only what you’ve heard, it gives the impression that you’re a hater through just looking for an excuse to put the boot in somewhere else. If you’d been able to link across to another review where you’d constructed that argument from your own experience then it’d be a different matter. I’d definitely challenge that’s it’s widely held now (was it in the beginning…. maybe), it was a big change that was difficult to adjust to but I think it’s reached a point where most people say “Magic system needs adjusting, war machines need adjusting, steadfast needs adjusting, everything else is pretty good it’s just the non 8th army books doing most of the spoiling now”. There’s definitely a strong feeling it’s the most balanced edition, and you can also see a fair few “hated 6th and/or 7th but now I’m back” topics.

        I’ve got two separate discussion points, which is why it’s out of sequence:

        1) Fair enough that even now you still feel you wasted money, but I would partially challenge you on whether that’s entirely GW or Dreadfleet’s fault. “Perhaps the core of the problem is that the game seems to have no idea who it’s aiming at.” If you aren’t the target audience, how valid is it for you to be upset? The Metro often send their female cinema critic to review “boys films” like Transformers 2, now ofc women can enjoy action films too 😉 but how much value is her review to me given that she’s not in the target demographic in the first place… was there ever a chance she would like it?
        (As I said before, your review was easily detailed enough that it did have value to me, but in terms of reviews in general I think it’s an important consideration).

        2) Related to 8th and DF. People often seem to assume that if something isn’t certain, it’s random. This isn’t actually the case. Now clearly the Fate deck in DF is truly random as you can’t influence or control the outcomes in any way (according to what I’ve read 😉 ). Most of 8th Ed WH is about risk-management (which is the middle ground between the certainty and random) because the decision to take an action is still in your hands and you can develop your tactics to influence the outcomes. A lot of people got upset because they lost the certainty of out-balling someone over a fraction of an inch and being able to virtually guarantee no attacks back by spanking the front rank. People started crying random when the reality is they needed DIFFERENT risk-management strategies to the ones they were currently using. There might also be an argument that it’s MORE random, which could ofc be demonstrated by comparing similar combat situations under the two rulesets and examining the range of results available, still wouldn’t make it actually random though 😉

      • Quirkworthy says:

        Italics, I discovered, is em in angle brackets at the start and /em in angle brackets at the end. Bold is the same, but with strong and /strong. By angle brackets I mean . Tricky to write this without it actually applying it.

        You’re right about the sweet spot for emotive commentary, and perhaps I missed it here. As with most things, views will differ, very likely based on the reader’s own opinion.

        I’m certainly more interested in the discuss and explore option, so I’ll have a think. Again, it’s a line to balance on between too much and not enough “it is my opinion that…”.

        As to 8th, I take your point. Not entirely sure I agree, but it’s a thought. I’m going to see if I can get a game sometime and see what happens.

        Your points:

        1) True, I am culpable for buying in, sight unseen. Caveat emptor, as it were. However, there is with GW, as with all companies, an unspoken agreement that people will produce the sort of thing they are expected to. One would not expect a new Marmite snack to taste of strawberries., for example (rubbish example as half of you won’t know Marmite, but anyway…). GW is known for a certain sort of games, and I would contend that this is out of that frame. I have a fairly broad church view of gaming and play all sorts, but I go to different places for different things. I expect (because I have been encouraged to expect) a certain type of product from each company, mainly based on a combination of the image they project themselves plus my experience of past products. If someone wants to branch out then that’s great. They should, however, flag this up. To turn your example about a bit, if I send my male reviewer to a movie that has been flagged as an all-action “boys film” and it turns out to be a touchy-feely family drama about emotional conflict, then who is to blame when the review says it’s rubbish?

        2) Sounds like a fair comment, though I’ve still not played 8th. I will try to get a game as it’s clearly going to be more useful if I can comment from practical experience. Probably won’t be very soon, but I’ll see what I can do.

        Different is usually proclaimed to be terrible when all it is is different. I’ve seen that many times, so it’s a credible argument. The problem I have with DF is not randomness per se, but a lack of ability to influence. Recalibrating one’s risk management strategies is not a problem. If that’s all they’ve done then it shouldn’t be an issue (for me). As a purely “touchy-feely” kind of vibe though, I do have the sense that the complaints and upset about this edition do seem to have gone on longer and with more vehemence than I’ve noticed before. All new editions have detractors, and that goes with the territory. 8th just seems to have really hit a nerve with some folk, and there are a lot of bitter folk about.

        One last, somewhat random thought (that will almost certainly get me into yet more trouble), based only on the manner in which some people have told me things about the current WH at conventions. Could it be that hating 8th has become a badge of honour?

  13. Poosh says:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with your review. *shrugs*. You make a comment about Warhammer 8th which I think is wrong, but you clearly pointed out it was just what you “heard” not what you know.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Poosh. Intriguingly, it is only now, after however long since 8th came out, that anyone has said anything at all positive about 8th to me. I’m actually growing a little curious and may see if I can arrange a game to find out for myself.

      • Poosh says:

        8th I think it probably the best edition of Warhammer in recent times. But with every good new rule or quality that it comes with, there is a negative. The game isn’t just blind luck and throwing dice, leaving your brain in a jar though. If you play like that against someone who knows what she or he is doing you’re gonna get smashed.

        Magic though… every time you cast a spell you have a chance or destroying the entire unit you’re in. THAT kinda randomness is too much for many I think, and rightly so.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        There are many things that have put me off playing 8th, not least of which was being fairly burnt out with it. However, I am intrigued. As I may have mentioned, the undercurrent of discontent seems to have gone on far longer than I recall with previous editions, and that’s what I find interesing. What is it about this edition that so divides people and provokes such passion? I’ll have to pick up my dice and find out.

  14. pancake says:

    Why do gamers complain so much about comments made about games they like. Would it not be best to inform us the positives they see in the game. You played the game over two weekends then gave a good solid review og the game in depth, now having played DF with you i know the bad game mechanics that have spoilt what could of been a massive pirate romp of fun. Keep postinh on all forums and blogs, dont be put off by us fickle gamers.

  15. pancake says:

    By the way i’m posting from my new touch screen mobile so some words are not what they should be fat fingers 🙂

  16. Varrak says:

    Dear Jake,

    any review which is headlined by the words: “please can I have my money back” will provoke controversy. Especially if quite a few people have already committed a fair amount of cash to it.

    I for one am growing a bit tired of the general: “internet is a cesspool, the youth of today …” sentiment. The internet is what it is. It allows people to spread their views at a speed and over a distance unthinkable in the past. But it also allows an unfiltered anonymous interaction which seems to bring the worst out of people. So in the end it comes down to what people are willing to endure. If it is really bothering you, keeping the reviews on your own blog will shield you to some extend. It will mean that you’ll reach fewer people, but everything has it’s price.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Perhaps it is optimistic naivete, perhaps it is innate stubbornness, but I find it hard to accept. Intellectually I entirely agree with you: the internet has changed the rules, and people will be people. Your post is undeniably true. However, I really do believe that people can learn to be better than this. Hiding in a corner away from the mob doesn’t address an issue of ignorance (as opposed to stupidity, just to be clear) that could be fixed with better education. At least, I think it could. I hope it could.

      I’m probably just barking up the wrong idealist here. In a funny mod this morning. Never mind.

    • paul says:

      I thought the phrase was used knowingly as it is very unlikely that Jake would get his money back, and he presumably is intelligent enough to know that.

      If other people take it literally and subsequently take umbrage then that is a pity but it can’t be helped.

  17. I have found that with internet postings AND email every word gets parsed by some people. I don’t talk, write or read that way so I am often frustrated by the interpretation of what I have written. To be honest this is more of a problem for me in email because I really need to have that communication work. With my blogging I do not worry about it because for everyone who is upset you can reasonably expect there is one person who thinks it is right on. When you are on any sort of forum you will find that there is a group consensus for that forum on what is the right way of thinking and posting if you go outside that box you will be vigorously chastised. The vigorous chastisement normally comes from early members of the list/forum and often are older people so the decadent youth get a pass in this case.

    You are getting a number of posters on Quirkworthy now and we can expect a group consensus is starting to form so it will not be long and you will be confronted with the need to be the parental adult who defines what is unacceptable on Quirkworthy. Every thing seems to extract a cost even free communication over the internet. 😦 However I for one am glad you started Quirkworthy and hope you do not get put off by any negative feedback.

    Your feeling about Dreadfleet made me feel better about my approach of a careful in internal search of what I like and a careful review of games/rules/systems that get me there. Now that I have the system that works for me I am leaving no rock unturned with it. It seems a lot of gamers like to like play multiple systems at the same time which I can understand as I feel the pull to try new ones. As long is my discipline holds out I will be rewarded with less expense, less disappointment and the ability to play with painted figures in every game. Now for the comment that you must NOT take out of context. Thanks to your review of Dreadfleet I will not be buying new games. 🙂

  18. Quirkworthy says:

    Thanks Don. An interesting view, as always. In many ways I wish I could focus like you seem to be able to, but it’s not in my blood. It’s not that I have no ability to stick with something (having played Warhammer for 6+ editions), just that there is always a goodly portion of my time that is devoted to exploring new pastures of gaming and hoovering up everything there is to know about games. I am sure that you will save loads of money with your plan, and will have no less fun. There are more games than one could ever do justice to, and many more of them will be cool and entertaining than you or I will ever know. One could (and I do) spend/waste a great deal of potential gaming time looking, and picking one and sticking to it is as intellectually tempting for me as it is emotionally impossible. For me, that is. I wish you the best in your project, and hope you like what’s coming next in DKH 3 🙂

    Interestingly, there have already been a couple of awkward posts that have been dealt with by other posters rather than myself. The only comments I have touched myself have been a couple that needed editing for typos, but that’s only because I have different editing rights to you guys. Long may that continue 🙂

  19. Hum_Con says:

    Having gone back over the review, I think I understand where poster B is coming from, because I had a similar reaction both to that and to your previous review of Kings of War.

    The Dreadfleet review is pretty relentless negative and in quite extreme terms and you use lines like:

    “Foolish me wants a game where I get to make tactical decisions: where I make the difference between winning and losing. Apparently that was so last year.”

    and

    “If you want a game that poses a series of interesting tactical challenges, keeps you on the edge of your seat with excitement and allows you to engage in a cunning battle of wits with your opponent, buy something else.”

    It’s pretty clear where you stand. Then you go on to say:

    “I don’t mean to suggest that enjoying this makes you simple (as in stupid or foolish). If pushed, I might say it made you less critical than I, or less demanding, or less competitive…”

    The problem with this is that words like critical, demanding and competitive are ambiguously positive or negative. Depending on who you talk to they can be perceived as good or bad qualities and the dividing line between too critical and not critical enough, say, is not universally agreed. So to say someone is less critical than you may or may not be perceived as an insult. The problem is that this comes after a review that called it the worst game Games Workshop have ever produced and that it made Snap look deep and tactical. This may be hyperbole, but its pretty unambiguous

    Adding, “this is not an insult” may sound like clarification, but can come across as sarcastic or passive agressive. Like a person saying “you’re so lucky you don’t care about your appearance.” Which usually come across as “you’re ugly.”

    You may not mean these phrases to be insulting, but there are probably people out there who like Dreadfleet and do think of the selves as reasonably critical, demanding and competitive and do feel they like to make tactical decisions. To heap skorn on a game like to the extent that you do comes across as insulting even if you do so politely.

    This is not intended as an attack, just an observation as to how some of what you have written could come across and how, I think, people could see it as insulting, even if that isn’t what was meant.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks Hum Con. I can see what you mean, and it is a similar comment to Sami’s (though expressed a little differently). However, I am sure that there is no change I could make that would avoid criticism; I could perhaps mitigate it somewhat though. The impossibility of avoiding criticism is true many times over for reviews that are not wholeheartedly sycophantic, and even they get slated by some.

      My repetition of (perceived) faults and my emphasis on my dislike are entirely deliberate. It is abundantly clear from a number of the replies I have had (not yours though) that people have simply not read what was written. I am referring here not to holding a different opinion from me, but simply not reading the words. This is very common on the net in general, and is by no means limited to my writing. The follow up post then disagrees with what I haven’t even written.

      I once read that it takes 14 repetitions to get a simple fact imbedded in someone’s memory. Obviously that is a statement fraught with footnotes and ifs/buts/howevers. It does hold some truth though: saying something once is far from guaranteed to stick in people’s heads. Advertising is a good example of this understanding in action. How many times will an advert say the product’s name or company? Once? Never. It’s as many times as they can crowbar into the happy voiceover and sneak into the corner of the screen. Advertisers are paying a lot of money for their air time and if they could effectively communicate in a sorter time by repeating themselves less then I’m sure they would. Repetition is key to conveying information.

      The same principle can be applied to rules. It’s often worth repeating core concepts as they may not have “stuck” first time, and if a reader has missed a core concept then the rules that build on it won’t be as clear.

      Of course, repeating stuff has the contrasting issue that you flag up here: those that did “get it” the first time may find it overstated, and this is especially obvious if you deconstruct the text slowly. As you have to pick some level of repetition you can guarantee not working for everyone, and that’s just the way things are. Admittedly I may have overcooked things here. That’s partly because that’s sometimes how things work out, but also because I was, as Sami noted, emotionally involved. I was, and remain, shocked by just how unpleasant the experience of the game was, as was my opponent and other people I have spoken to. The enormous emphasis you read on how unhappy I was with this game is, in reality, no more than I felt.

  20. Well, Jake, had the same problem these days….
    With some folks you can post what you want, you will always be the bad guy and there is no escape from it. Very often it goes like this:

    1) Someone posts something that has some wrong things in it.
    2) You kindly try to correct him and give some examples.
    3) The battele begins!
    4) You get accused of using generalities or being to focused on one subject. Also eveyrthing you say is from hearsay and you have nothing to prove it.
    5) You give links (which get ignored) and also tell them that you have worked vor a long time in this business and do know one or two things and if they need proof they can check your name in the books.
    6) You get either accused as not being the person you claim to be or they accuse you of being a know-it-all that never knows when it is better to write nothing.
    7) You try to explain kindly, but that is a sign of weakness to them and they descend upon you like starving vultures.
    8) You get accused of being arrogant and doing everyone a disservice by even existing and if you only would behave different you would have friends all over the place.
    9) You swear to yourself never ever to post something in this forum
    10) The same guy that drove you away complain months later that designers/writers are so arrogant that they never deem it necessary to get into contact with their customers.
    11) Facepalm!

    Does this sound familiar ;)?

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