At a GenCon auction ten or twelve years ago, someone suggested to me that the greatest tragedy that can befall a wargame is to be auctioned in a state where the shrinkwrap has been removed but the counters remain unpunched. Someone wanted to love this game but never began preparing to actually play. The game somehow turned an eager player into one who couldn’t bring him or herself to separate the components.
I’m reading — or, rather, have begun to read — a gorgeous rulebook that I picked up at GenCon. It’s a beefy, full-color hardcover crafted by a designer with a good eye. The game appears to have been designed from laudable assumptions, and word-of-mouth is positive.
What I discovered when I actually began to read it is that the text is a disaster, and in spite of the positive buzz, wanting to like the game, and thinking that it looks great, I can’t bring myself to continue reading. Much less play the game, to say nothing of buying the other beautiful components and follow-on products.
No creator wants this to happen to his or her game. Certainly this game’s designer didn’t set out to write a horrible rulebook. So, without naming names, I thought I’d enumerate some of this game text’s sins, that others may avoid them.