Cardboard Children – Discworld: Ankh-Morpork

By Robert Florence on February 25th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

Hello youse.

I haven’t read any of the Discworld books. Don’t judge me. I’m just – DO NOT JUDGE ME – not that big a fan of fantasy stuff, really. I couldn’t even make it through Lord of the Rings, that stuffy phone book of a thing. I was a horror guy in my youth. Stephen King and James Herbert and HP Lovecraft. Wizards? Nah. Not my bag. So Discworld was something that passed me by. Which makes it VERY INTERESTING that I now review a Discworld board game, because I have no fucking idea what any of the stuff refers to. ONWARDS.

DISCWORLD: ANKH-MORPORK

Martin Wallace designed this game, and he’s a guy who designs a lot of really intimidating games called things like THE TRAINS CARRY-ON and STEELWORKS OF THE LANCASHIRE AGES-AGO and CAN YOU AFFORD TO PRODUCE THAT CAR? He’s a great games designer, but his games are very intimidating. Ankh-Morpork isn’t intimidating at all, though. When you read the rules, you go like this:

“That’s it?”

Then you read the rules again. You glance at the camera, raise an eyebrow, and say “That’s it.”

Here is what IT is.

THE GAME

There’s a board representing a city, with lots of different areas. The city is Ankh-Morpork, I think. And all the areas are probably cool places out of the books, I dunno. You have a bunch of tokens representing “minions” and tokens representing “buildings”. And there is a big deck of cards too. You draw up to five cards, and then, turn by turn, you play a card and take the actions on the card. These actions are things like “PLACE A MINION” or “REMOVE A MINION” or “CARRY OUT TEXT PRINTED ON CARD”. Let’s take one of the cards – a guy called “Carcer”. He has a knife and stuff, and looks like a murderer or something. I dunno. But he lets you roll a die twice and kill minions in the areas the die rolls suggest. This is probably really thematic – yes, a quick google tells me that this character is a psychopathic murderer in the books, and so his in-game power makes sense. That’s nice.

But what is all this for?

At the start of the game, you take a character card (you keep this secret) and you win the game by meeting that character’s objectives. One character asks you to take control of a certain number of areas (by placing enough minions). Another character wants you to build buildings. Another wants you to just keep the game unwinnable until the deck runs out. This part of the game I get, and I like. The game’s all about understanding what your opponent might be trying to achieve, and trying to block that.

It’s kinda… nice.

There are a LOT of cards. A lot. And you burn through them really quickly. The actions on the card are optional, but must be activated from left to right as they’re printed. When you start playing, it feels chaotic.

“Okay, fuck it. I’ll play… Nobby Nobbs. He lets me take money from another player. Sorry, pal.”

“Okay then, I’ll play um… this Librarian, who seems to be a monkey. He lets me take more cards into my hand.”

And then, as the game unfolds, you start to realise that the game is a push-and-pull of game states. Buildings are erected and then burned down. Minions move around the map, causing trouble wherever they meet opposition minions. It can end super-fast if players don’t quickly understand what their opponents might be swinging for. It’s an interesting little game. Very interesting.

There are little chaotic Random Event cards too, and these get activated by certain characters. Rincewind, for example, makes you draw a Random Event card whenever you play him. I think he’s a bumbling wizard in the books, so it make sense, right? These random events can cause riots and dragon attacks and all sorts of stuff that alter the game state even further or even end the game outright. What an odd little game.

SUMMING UP

What an odd little game. It’s definitely, definitely one for Discworld fans. All the cards are unique – every card depicting a character or organisation or place from the books, and the art is beautiful. The components are beautiful. The board is beautiful.

Life is beautiful.

And it’s easy to learn too. It feels like a family game, y’know? “Granny, just do what it tells you to do on the FUCKING CARDS!!” There is no fussy business. It’s just play a card/do what it says. DONE. The only real problem is this…

Here’s the problem.

It’s a big problem.

Martin Wallace is a fine designer, right? And he designs deep, thinky games, right? So he gets asked to do a board game with the setting of these popular books. And so he makes it accessible and easy to play, right? But you can’t change the true nature of a designer like Martin Wallace. He’s thinking – “I will make a family game, yes. But I will make a family game that, over time, will allow players to understand how to play strategically and so on and so on and yadda yadda.”

If you play Ankh-Morpork only once, you’re really just bumbling along, letting shit happen. And a lot of family games only get played once, then put away for a while, then brought back out again for a second game that feels exactly like the first play. Are people really going to LEARN this? Get better at it? Or will they just play it occasionally and kinda stagger through it? Or do they just want a cool Discworld game to play?

I like the game. It’s chilled out and pleasant to play. But I worry about exactly where it sits for different gaming audiences. You could easily play the game, roll through for a while, then someone says “I won!” and that’s it. That’s probably exactly how most first and second and maybe third plays of this game, for casual players, will pan out. More advanced players might be all like “WAIT! Repeat those win conditions for me. Now let me think…HM!” But those people really should be playing something else anyway.

Like another Martin Wallace game.

Like CAN YOU PAY FOR THIS TRAIN TO YORKSHIRE YOU SOD? or something.

See you next time. Stay dicey.

__________________

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114 Comments »

  1. Commander Gun says:

    Good review! I found the game a little bit too easy, especially considering it was made by Martin Wallace. It is fun for a few times, but lacks depth. Then again, i am not really a discworld fan so that may have something to do with it.

    Still, it could be worse. I played a sequel of this game (“Witches” it was called i think?) on Essen last year, and it was even more easier (in a stupid way) and therefore much worse than this game.

    • Emeraude says:

      It certainly lacks depth, but I find the randomized elements give it a lot of replayability while being thematically perfectly fitting for the Disc World’s general mood.It’s one of those games where one (un)fortunate draw can totally change the course of the game.

      Perfect apéritif game, if you’ll forgive my Franglish.

      • Diatribe says:

        My biggest gripe with this game is that it is 80% about playing a card from your hand each turn. Sometimes multiple cards, if you happen to have good cards in your hand then you are allowed to play more than 1 card. The problem is cards are not remotely created equal. Some of them are just way better than others. You also draw them randomly, and redraw your hand size back to 5 after each of your plays.

        This creates some weird results. For example, spending 1 card to take 2 of your opponent’s cards is an incredibly bad play. This means you aren’t drawing any new cards, and they’ll just give you the crummiest cards they have in hand. It also means you WANT your opponent to play that card on you to steal your cards, because now you get to give him some garbage, and draw new cards from the deck at the end of your next turn. In other words, when 80% of the game is playing cards, cycling through them as fast as possible is nearly always the best play. (Corner case exception is when someone else will win soon by exhausting the deck.)

        This also means any building that allows you to discard cards when you use it is AMAZING. The silly thing is, judging from the prices of things, I think the designer intended discarding to be a malus not a bonus.

        Bottom line, if you dislike games where your opponent has an advantage because they drew better cards than you (or a better win condition), then you won’t like this game.

        • jrodman says:

          Does the game explicitly say that when you take cards the person you’re taking them from chooses which?

          That’s pretty unusual.

          • Diatribe says:

            IIRC, there are several cards that give your opponent a choice. They do a bad thing or give you something. (E.g., I think there’s one that destroys one of their buildings unless they give you money.) I think a couple of the cards make them pay you, or they have to give you some cards if they refuse to pay.

            There may also be some that take cards randomly from an opponent, but you probably still wouldn’t want to play those cards (because taking randomly still isn’t better than drawing randomly, and you’ll draw less cards this way, not to mention your opponent probably plays his best card(s) every turn, leaving him with mostly lower than average cards in his hand).

    • peth says:

      I love this game, but to get to the point of enjoying it requires understanding of the potential combos, and the concept of feints within feints.
      Everyone seems to think that Vimes is overpowered, but I find that Chrysoprase and the Dragon king tend to be the most overpowered.
      The requirement to play totally different strategeys for each character combined with the need for mental agility to respond to card combinations.
      One of the most enjoyable victories I have had involved playing the Dragonking as first a Lord then as Vetinari, then placing 5 trouble markers on the board in one go FTW

  2. SupahSpankeh says:

    What in the the EVERLIVING FUCK are you doing?

    You’re presumably at least a little bit of a nerd, and you’ve NEVER read a Pratchett?

    Liking fantasy is not a prerequisite. In fact, I loathe the stuff – tedious dribble about pointless cliched races attempting to save whatever from whomever before whenever – but Pratchett is not optional. Read a book, then make your next article “OK, I’ve read it” and I’ll start reading your columns again.

    Jeez. I’d be alright with it if you were a cannibal but skipping Pratchett?!

    • LimEJET says:

      I’m seconding this. Pretchett doesn’t write fantasy, he writes Douglas Adams in wizzard [sic.] robes with funny hats on.

      • Ushao says:

        Pratchett writes about the amazing ridiculousness of humanity disguised as comedic fantasy novels. Reading his books really shows you how much of a wonderfully silly race we are.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I think that’s why I love his books so much. He exposes all our flaws but also shows how wonderful we can be. There’s a love of life, in all its misery and beauty in those books.

      • Fumarole says:

        Indeed. Discworld is as much fantasy as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is scifi.

        • PoLLeNSKi says:

          Yeah he’s more of a humorist than a fantasist. For anyone that hasn’t stumbled upon him, I highly recommend Robert Rankin in a similar vein.

          • jonfitt says:

            Yes. You are ace and I like you.
            Also, mine’s a pint of large since you’re up.

          • KDR_11k says:

            I haven’t read all that many Rankin books because they got repetitive fairly quickly.

        • Baines says:

          The amount of fantasy varies with when Pratchett wrote a book.

          The first two are parodies of classic/pulp fantasy. (Conan, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the Cthulhu mythos, D&D style magicians (D&D’s remember a spell and cast it once itself coming from a fantasy world I can’t remember), etc.)

          As the series progresses, it becomes a bit more about the characters and their world.

          Then as it continues to progress, the fantasy stuff starts getting phased out more and more. Magic becomes less and less important while technology becomes increasingly important. The world itself has become established to the point that it references its own history more than other fiction. The latter third of the series read like entirely different works by a different writer than the first two or three books.

          • KDR_11k says:

            Also the later books are usually about real life things, either major inventions (postal service, banking, …) or real world problems (slavery, racism, …).

          • geerad says:

            D&D magic is loosely based on Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series.

      • Geen says:

        Seriously, read Pratchett. He even co-wrote Good Omens with Niel Gaiman, which is awesome.

        • HadToLogin says:

          While book is great, you shouldn’t write it like that. It’s not like they were “the Pratchett” and “the Gaiman” then.

          • Werthead says:

            Not to the extent they are now, but they were quite well-known in 1990. Gaiman was two years into the run of SANDMAN and Pratchett was already seven years into DISCWORLD and it had already produced a steady stream of bestselling novels.

      • The Random One says:

        Aye. Skipping Pratchett because you don’t like fantasy is like skipping Doctor Who because you don’t like history documentaries.

    • DrollRemark says:

      I can’t help shake the feeling that this entire article was designed to provoke this response from commenters.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Thirding this. This is nothing like that Tolkien tripe. Trust us.

      Go read the first one!

    • badseed says:

      This. Like so many people said on this thread, Discworld has *nothing* to do with regular fantasy: it’s more like Douglas Adams with more plot (and, yes, some wizards and whatnot). You really, really, should give it a try: there’s really nothing quite like it.

    • Hypocee says:

      Another drone here. Tolerate like three fantasy things, loathed it more at the time, got into the world via the adventure game followed years later by a random encounter in a bookstore (I’m Murkin), have bought and read every single one of the books. Since there’s no way you’ve got the time let alone inclination for a deep dive, I’d recommend The Last Hero as your one stop entry-and-exit. It’s an illustrated short story rather than a full novel, rather harmoniously integrates most of the major casts except the Lancre Coven, runs his full dynamic range from slapstick through philosophy to pathos, and much of the art is just gobsmackingly lovely.

      And DON”T CALL THE LIBRARIAN A M- Ah well, we live and learn. Maybe not walk, but learn.

  3. jarowdowsky says:

    Give Mort a go Rab, it’s basically Grim Fandango: The Novel if they dumped it in fantasy Yorkshire rather than Brazil…

    • Ushao says:

      Mort is still just about my favorite Discworld books out of all of them. Most of the Night Watch books come in a close second but something about Mort makes it one of the best.

  4. Stellar Duck says:

    I have judged you, Rab. I have judged you very much.

    But seriously, give Pratchett a go. His is not the dreary old fantasy crap that I have grown so tired of. It’s something entirely different in the guise of fantasy.

    • Iceman346 says:

      I second this. But then I’m a huge huge Pratchett fan so I’m probably biased. But still many of his works are just incredibly brilliant and should be a must read for everyone. Liking Fantasy obviously helps but is optional.

      I myself have never finished LotR. I tried. Three times. So having read that stuffy trilogy really is not necessary to enjoy Pratchett at all.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        But possibly he shouldn’t start with Colours of Magic and the other early books. I’m very fond of them but I also know plenty of people who have been put off my them. My usual recommended start is Mort or Guards! Guards!

        • kalirion says:

          I think Small Gods is a rather nice standalone introduction into the series as well.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Oh yeah! Good call!

          • PoLLeNSKi says:

            I’d add Wyrd Sisters as a potential starting point but then always liked the different characterisation of the three witches :)

          • Wahngrok says:

            Small Gods is THE book I’d like to slap every religious fanatic on the head with several times. Such a great book on humanity, religion, church and why it goes wrong most of the time.

          • RedWurm says:

            I’d recommend Wyrd Sisters as well – it’s the book I used to get my mum reading Pratchett – and it introduces the central characters in some of my favourite discworld books.

          • TheTedinator says:

            As a religious fanatic, I proudly have it on the shelf right next to me. Practically between my bible and my Mere Christianity.

  5. Palindrome says:

    Oh no…Rab called the Librarian a monkey……

  6. spr00se says:

    “Okay then, I’ll play um… this Librarian, who seems to be a monkey.”

    .. oh dear. Start running now

    • Fumarole says:

      It’s already too late.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      So I got as far as reading that Rab hadn’t read any Terry Pratchett and thinks that not getting through LotR has any relevance*, made my way to the comments to make sure he has been properly chastised, corrected and sent forth to correct this† and I discover he called the Librarian a monkey…he specifically called the Librarian a monkey. Rab’s trolling us all isn’t he?

      *Although while Discworld is often described as being to Fantasy** what Hitchhiker’s is to Sci-Fi, I think that Pratchett does it much better than Douglas Adams did.
      **Also, despite being approachable by those who do not enjoy typical fantasy books, it is also an example of those times when a parody of a genre can also end up being one of the best examples of that genre.
      †He has been.

  7. Tei says:

    One man, one vote. And I vote YES.

  8. Dark Malady says:

    See, I got this game a while back because I loved the books and it’s just what I needed.
    I love my friends, but they can be boring gits, so I try to get a game going whenever I see them, Catan works well, but there is a bit of a mental power imbalance and some of them don’t have the attention span (also somebody tipped a cup of tea over my wheat, so I’m loath to let them near it again). they love scattagories (which I hate), Billionare (fun but not great with only 4 people) stuff like that.

    So I wanted something fun and simple (but not too simple) and this game hits some kind of magic sweet spot, wherein everyone has fun, the 2 people who have read the books get a laugh, everybody else at least has the pretty artwork and funny names… and viola!
    the included cheat sheets really help. as it makes them think about the win conditions, every turn we count the trouble markers and the minions and we work together loudly declaring “I’m not the dragon king/Vetinari, but they might be so has anyone got a card that does… X”

    It’s the perfect Entry game.
    Also, has anyone played “the Witches” yet? it’s a new Martin Wallace discworld game set in Lancre.

    • Scurra says:

      I think I like The Witches more than Ankh-Morpork but mostly because it’s a lot easier to house rule as you get the hang of it. It’s basically a crisis management game which starts out fairly easy but soon becomes quite scary as end game conditions start to threaten. As it is written, the “family friendly” version is not too painful as it’s somewhat trivial to control the situation. But, as with Knizia’s Lord of the Rings game, you can slowly crank up the difficulty without adversely affecting the essential gameplay since there are two or three variables that can be “tweaked”.

      They are both gorgeously thematic though, and a lot of the pleasure of the games does depend upon you recognising the sources for the various cards. Rob’s main complaint that the first few games will feel a bit “samey” is true but also largely irrelevant to Pratchett fans.

    • Shadowcat says:

      The game comes with a viola?

  9. pakoito says:

    You have been judged.

  10. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I suppose all these people coming out of the woodwork these days to proudly proclaim that they found LotR boring, is just a sign that it’s becoming uncool again, thank God for that. I much preferred it the last time it was uncool. Perhaps us Tolkien fans can regain our nerd-cred again. Pratchett himself has a charming story about the first time he read the book, in one 25 hour sitting when he was a teenager. I have never put that book down voluntarily myself, only dropped it down the side of my bed from exhaustion.

    Otherwise, jolly good article :)

    • SuddenSight says:

      I don’t know if Tolkien can ever truly be “uncool.” The man was like Shakespeare or Seinfeld: he inspired so many works that build off of his framework that it feels weird to enjoy anything “fantasy” related without at least tacitly acknowledging Tolkien as a motivating force.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I think we agree on everything here except the definition of uncool :)

        For most of my life Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings meant “that book” and a whole host of negative connotations associated with reading it. When the movies came out, being a fan of the Lord of the Rings took on a whole new meaning for the majority of people who would call themselves such.

        You’re right that Tolkien’s importance was never really in dispute among readers and writers of fantasy, or players of fantasy games. I just don’t think that has any bearing on his being cool. When he was cool in the 60s and 70s, association with his work in mainstream art was an asset, partly because of that popularity fantasy in general became progressively more kitsch until people got bored of it and put it back on the shelf for a decade or two.

        That’s when Pratchett struck a chord with his genuis, fantasy was there for the taking :)

    • HadToLogin says:

      I prefer his little story about being an RPG Game Master for few moms (it was in those 1980s) – they were saying after newspapers “those book-games are evil”, so he asked “maybe you’d like to try them before condemning them?” and they surprisingly agreed.

      I can’t remember all the details, but:
      -first NPC, old man who gave them basic quest “rescue the princess from castle”, ended tortured for more information
      -townfolk became “trap detectors” (“you go forward, if you lose head we’ll go other way”)
      -castle ended half flooded, half in flames
      -princess died.

      In the end, moms decided there’s nothing wrong with them.
      Wouldn’t be surprised if Pratchett would actually start thinking RPGs really are evil :P

  11. Morph says:

    This game really didn’t work for our group (even with some Discworld fans). You spend a lot of time trying to stop others winning, but one of the secret goals (if you’re Vimes I think) wins when the game ends and no-one else has won. So towards the end you’re just kingmaking, without any real tactics. Add to this a high random factor in the power levels of cards you draw and… meh…

    • Jayblanc says:

      There are actually two decks, and you’re supposed to stack them on each other to go through the one then the other. This ensures that the early cards are low power and the later cards high power. If you’ve gone and shuffled both decks together, you’ll get a horrible overly random mess.

      (disclosure – playtester of the game during development)

      • peth says:

        Great job playtesting I absolutely love this game, as do my gaming friends. Would be great if there could be an extension deck:)

      • Morph says:

        Well that may explain part of it… though I first learnt the rules during a demo game at the UK Game Expo, so either that rule didn’t make it into the the final rules or the demo guy was unaware.

      • Diatribe says:

        Within the two decks, the cards are still of incredibly varying power levels. Any card that does something positive then lets you play another card is far superior to a card that does not let you play another card. The reason being, drawing new cards gives you new options, and you get more positive effects. Also the building that lets you discard to gain $ is by far the best building. As in, it’s not even close.

    • peth says:

      Stopping people is only required if your own strategy is failing in my experience.

  12. Eight Rooks says:

    Thing is – just to push the pendulum back the other way a little – I get that Pratchett’s fantasy for people who don’t like fantasy, I do, but… one reason I like him as much as I do is that his best books are every bit as epic and thrilling and evocative as the best fantasy novels despite being intended (on several levels) to rip the piss out of them. I still want to see a Weta-level FX house get behind a film of Going Postal or The Hogfather or something and a director who understands the text works just as well as a piece of SERIOUS BUSINESS as it does as a comedy/a satire/a deconstruction of human nature/etc., etc. Not that godawful… thing Sky TV foisted on us.

    • qrter says:

      Hey, the TV version of Going Postal wasn’t bad at all, especially when compared to other Pratchett adaptations, which were really, REALLY bad.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Which ones were bad?

        Going Postal is, as you note, good—I think they really nailed Vetenari. In games, Discworld Noir is one of the highlights of the latter point’n'click adventure game era. I think the Colour of Magic films mostly suffer from the books being weak and undirected, being his awkward, early steps, but Twoflower seems to be well played. I’ve not read Hogfather, but I’m guessing its awkward latter act is again accurate to Pratchet’s foibles.

        • jezcentral says:

          Definitely read The Hogfather. It contains possibly his best metaphor, that we need the little lies, like believing in Santa, as a step to believing the Really Big Lies, like honour, love, mercy, society etc. (I.e. these things don’t exist in any tangible way, but we act as if they are real).

        • Baines says:

          I remember really not liking the adaptation of Hogfather, though I cannot recall why. I mostly just recall it feeling cheap and poorly executed.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            It was also paced to plod. I love the book, and the script was pretty good, but the director needs to be given a shot of espresso, a bag of wine gums, and a barrel of amphetamines to accelerate to normal human speed before he/she/it is allowed to direct anything ever again.

        • Amazon_warrior says:

          Yay, someone else who’s played Discworld Noir! <3

      • RedWurm says:

        Going Postal was the only one I’ve seen, and it was better than I expected (and Charles Dance is a delight) but fell over when special effects were required – and I could see that being a pretty big problem in the later parts of The Hogfather. And since it’s one of my favourite Discworld books I don’t really want to see a dodgy adaptation.

        • LuNatic says:

          Watch it. It was really well adapted, much better than going postal or colour of magic. They absolutely nailed most of the characters, in fact, the only one I didn’t like the way they’d done him was the dean. Death, Albert, Ridcully, Susan, Teatime, Nobby and the Oh god of Hangovers were a perfect fit.

    • Jackablade says:

      Here’s hoping they get a little bit more budget for Unseen Academicals.

  13. N'Al says:

    I met Terry Pratchett once, at a friend’s wedding. He wore a cool hat.

  14. Lambchops says:

    I second all the judging going on, Discworld isn’t fantasy (with perhaps the exception of the first couple of books, which, while they have their moments, really aren’t a good example of what it would eventually become, though they do contain the seeds of it.

  15. ironman Tetsuo says:

    Someone forgot to take their dried frog pills…

  16. Benkyo says:

    “I couldn’t even make it through Lord of the Rings”

    That’s your problem, right there. Not being able to get through one of the stodgiest doorsteps in the genre is normal, not an indication that fantasy isn’t for you.

  17. JamesTheNumberless says:

    From my most recent studies I’ve concluded this: the most important elements of modern popular fantasy are in fact ,naked whores, and the repeated utterance of the word “c*nt”.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I suspect I know what you’ve been reading.

      That author is in dire need of an editor to cut 50% of the books away. It’s just a never ending series of events that go nowhere. I got stuck in book 3 or 4 and I can’t face returning. Just too much like Robert Jordan in the constant parade of characters and badly paced piles of prose.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        I loved the first one and, it really felt like a new kind of fantasy writing where the romance is in the tradgegy and the humanity, not great heroes or great magic. Much more like somebody had decided to write Macbeth on a larger scale, than try to take on Tolkien.

        But by the epilogue of the 3rd book though, it starts to feel like it’s getting into the territory of many other fantasy writers… And not the kind I’m fond of.

        I tried a Robert Jordan book once… I managed 4 pages.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I… I actually read all but the last of the Wheel of Time books. I think I may have been crazy at the time. By gods, they were infuriating and tedious. And yet I kept at it.

        • tnankie says:

          I think I got to the sixth book and threw it accross the room. The female characters were particularly excruciating for me, I think he was trying to make the empowered or something. The just came across as nagging controlling power freaks.

          I’d also like to add Janny Wurts with the light and shadow series as a clear shark jump.

          It must be hard as a writer of these epics when you get six books ain and realise that you’ve painted (writen) yourself into a corner and have no idea how to salvage the series, so you just push on into the bedrock.

          Proud of that mixed metaphore :)

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I swear that 95% of the problems in Wheel of Time could be solved if the entire cast stopped being idiots for a day and talked together and exchanged information.

            And you’re right about the ladies. They were incredibly infuriating for reasons that were entirely pointless. Instead of them being good characters they were just one note harpies.

        • Jackablade says:

          Did Robert Jordan write the one with Garret holding a cat on the front cover? I quite liked that one.

  18. SuddenSight says:

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t make it through your opening paragraph.

    Saying LoTR kept you from Terry Pratchet is like saying the BBC kept you from ever enjoying Monty Python.

    Read Terry Pratchet, or be judged.

    • Geen says:

      Amen.

    • tnankie says:

      Aye, you don’t have to like it. It is hard to take a critic seriously if they refuse to even aquaint themselves with (relevant?) material.

  19. jimbobjunior says:

    First of all, I’m a huge discworld fan. This game is very thematically compatible with the books.

    Second of all, I loathe this game.

    Mechanically odd, the randomness in the game makes this little other than a play-with-non-gamers board game. One card can basically eliminate you from the game (HELLO!). One character (drawn at random) has a massively easier victory condition (Vimes’ winning condition is to basically wait out the clock). All coherency is lost between your turns so there is practically no possibility to plan for the future.

    If you don’t like uncombatable randomness in games (looking at you Catan), stay well clear. I guess it’s ok to get drunk to and screw your friends over with massively unblanced cards though.

    • peth says:

      IMO this means you didn’t get the game…. Since you have read the books have you atleast tried to play the game like the characters are in the books?

  20. Arathain says:

    As a Discworld fan I really enjoyed the imagination used in creating the rules for each of the cards. Each one felt appropriate for that character, so for the couple of times I played it was a geeky thrill each time a favourite character showed up and did their thing. Fun design trick for a licensed piece.

  21. Metr13 says:

    *Judges silently*

    Also, really, don’t compare Discworld to LotR, LotR is made of boredom.

  22. Alistair Hutton says:

    There were so many archly observed comments from a “non-reader”, I can only assume he’s read the lot. Or did a lot of Googling first. Calling the Librarian a monkey indeed: no-one, upon seeing an orangutan would call it a monkey except if they were in on the joke.

    As for the game, I am worried that in a 4 player game that Vimes is over powered as you burn through the deck a lot quicker. And there is not counter to this.

  23. Gilead says:

    Not sure about all the people in the comments defending the Discworld series on the grounds that it’s not ‘really fantasy’ but actually a cutting satire and exploration of the human condition or something. It’s a series of books that take place on a disc-shaped world that lies on the back of four elephants who in turn rest on the back of a gigantic turtle. It’s fantasy. It should come with a ‘Warning: May Contain Wizards’ warning label.

    It’s just that the Discworld series happens to be really good fantasy. If you reduce the fantasy label to contain only those books that aren’t very interesting or original, that isn’t a particularly fair view of the genre and it means people get put off some really excellent books.

    • Lone Gunman says:

      Completely agree. They are just a different style of fantasy. People don’t lump all of the Sci-fi genre into one type of book, they shouldn’t do the same with fantasy.

    • Paul.Power says:

      I think it stems from the literary conceit that “all genre fiction is bad: if a piece of genre fiction is good, then it has ceased to be genre fiction.” Historic examples of this treatment include things like Gulliver’s Travels and Alice in Wonderland, more modern examples of this are Hitchhiker’s and Discworld.

      • Lone Gunman says:

        I think it stems from the literary conceit that “all genre fiction is bad: if a piece of genre fiction is good, then it has ceased to be genre fiction.”

        Well the people that say that sort of thing are ignorant snobs.

    • Wulfram says:

      It is fantasy, but I think it’s also fair to say that it’s not your typical fantasy, and has a good chance of appealing to non-fantasy readers. Certainly, I don’t think whether you enjoyed LotR would be an especially good predictor for how enjoyable someone would find it

      Though probably a non-fantasy reader shouldn’t start early on, where the parody tends to be of other fantasy. Though starting with Wyrd Sisters might work, since the fantasy being parodied there is Macbeth.

      • Werthead says:

        I usually recommend that people start with GUARDS! GUARDS!, as it is an early book, a very good one and you can follow the City Watch/Guards plot strand through the several sequels before trying out other books in the setting.

        As for the fantasy thing, I think modern fantasy has done a pretty good job of switching to being more about using fantasy tropes to explore real-world issues rather than being straight-up entertainment. Pratchett is a good example of that, but so are people like Steven Erikson, George R.R. Martin, Elizabeth Bear and Kate Elliott. If you go back to the 1980s those sort of authors were around then (Stephen Donaldson, Glen Cook, some of David Gemmell’s work) but an awful lot of the genre was made up of popcorn reads alone (Eddings, Brooks, Feist etc). Nowadays it’s rather more than that, thankfully.

    • Nouser says:

      While I don’t consider the fantasy aspects the most attractive part of the Discworld, I think that in all its apparent silliness and randomness the lore is one of the most elaborated and internally coherent I’ve seen in fantasy.

    • The Random One says:

      What we’re doing is perfectly acceptable in this context. We’re saying that if one hasn’t read Discworld because one doesn’t like fantasy, one may be depriving themselves of something they’d enjoy, as it does not contain the fantasy tropes one who dislikes fantasy might think of as negatives. Whether or not it fits some sort of objective criteria for what is and isn’t fantasy is immaterial for this discussion.

  24. Dug Briderider says:

    I always thought that anyone making a game (Board or Video) of Discworld needs to look at “Solium Infernum” which RPS did a wonderful play though a while ago. The game needs put the characters and their interactions at the heart of the game otherwise the license is wasted. Sounds like Martin Wallace did a good job of this, will keep an eye out for this when the kids are old enough.

  25. Sharlie Shaplin says:

    I remember a lady librarian giving me a judgemental look when I was borrowing a James Herbert book called, The Rats. How dare she judge my taste in mammalian horror!

  26. GardenOfSun says:

    I second that Discworld is really nice, sure (despite having read only one of them), but… it makes me sad to read so many people saying that Lotr is boring. :(

    • GardenOfSun says:

      I mean, I know it’s not the quickest thing ever, but isn’t its grand scale and forays into the themes of faith and love (true love, as in “willing the good”, not rhetorical stuff about guys wanting to nag ladies), not to mention its huge poetical breath, worth of making it a fond and beautiful experience?
      I mean, you can criticise it – I for one think that from a literary standpoint The Hobbit is a better book – but still…

  27. kablui says:

    I JUDGE YOU.
    READ DISCWORLD.

    This is not just about “nerdcred”, up until now I essentially was living under the assumption that pratchett was required reading for RPS staff.

    And Tolkien very much != Pratchett

  28. Mrice says:

    Butbutbut….. I like tolkien AND terry pratchett. Am i some sort of inhuman monster to you people? Everyone here seems to view tolkein as a 5000 page essay on the migration of condensation across a particularly dull glass. I think tolkien is fantastic. Its all about really investing yourself in a fantasy world with totally unparalleled depth. There really is not anything quite like it. Yeah its not quite as “punchy” as some people would like but god dammit that’s not the point. If you want bombastic read something else this is about creating a world thats so detailed its practically real.

    And to go in line with the rest of the comments. Tolkien and pratchett aint nuttin alike and you should read pratchett. They are satire more than fantasy. And excellent.