Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Goodbye Days of Wonder

No, they are not going away. Far from it. Soon they will be selling more games to more people than ever before. The hype is just starting to pick up for their new BattleLore game system.

I bought Memoir '44 back in 2004, mostly because I had a friend who was very interested in it. We played each scenario 4 times, twice each way. And that was it. The game will never come out again.

Pirate's Cove was an impulse buy (before I got smart about my game purchases), and a complete waste of money. I was much more careful in my decision to grab Shadows Over Camelot.

And that is the end of it. BattleLore is going to be hugely successful from what I can see. I have no problem with that. Days of Wonder is a business. They can make money however they want. But for me, I see no relationship between the company and serious gamers.

Cleopatra was a step in the right direction, but it was clear from the physical design that they cared more about form than function. More about eye candy than playability.

In their defense, Days of Wonder never really wanted to be a gamers' game publisher. It's just a shame that their attention to quality (not necessarily their manifestation of quality) could not have been used in some serious games.

So I'll just give a friendly parting wave to you as you drive off to your future.


At 3:34 PM, Blogger Mark Haberman said...

I'm with you. I was never really into any of their games either, but they do put out a very polished product and have great support.

At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But for me, I see no relationship between the company and serious gamers."

I must say I disagree with this statement quite a bit. I consider myself a serious gamer, and know many others who also enjoy Days of Wonder games.

Perhaps you should have said...

"But for me, I see no relationship between the company and myself"


At 4:54 PM, Blogger ekted said...

Well, of course, even serious gamers play lighter games. I guess I should have said, "I see no relationship between the company and serious games."

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All depends on your gaming preferences of course - while I found Pirate's Cove pretty forgettable, Cleopatra and Camelot are great fun, and Memoir '44 never fails to give me a fantastic game. It's become a favourite. That's why I'm so excited about Battlelore (and, if I may plug, set up a fansite at

'Serious games' and 'gamers' games. I don't know, where is the line drawn? I find these labels a bit strange, and even a tad pretentious. DoW ever set out to make 'serious games', but what they have done is make very high profile games that have increased the interest in the hobby. It's all a matter of taste - some see this foray into 'hobbyist' gaming as ill-advised or even DoW trying to be the next Games Workshop - but personally I think it's just going to supply me with yet another excellent option when I decide what to play of an evening.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Seth Jaffee said...

I'm with you as well. I like Cleopatra all right, but I think the physical production of it is overhyped (and overdone a little). I like Mystery of the Abby, and the production of that game is perfect.

David Brain and I were sort of targetting Days of Wonder with our Three Musketeers game design (All For One), because we would have loved to see our game looking like Mystery of the Abbey looked. Sadly, their (expected) reply was the following:

"... since we put out so few games, we don't like to revisit themes. We've already got a game, The Queen;s Necklace," loosely themed around the Three Musketeers."

This exemplifies the difference of perception they have between Theme and Mechanics - They're disinterested in even looking at a big box board game with an integrated theme on the basis of having already published a card game having nothing to do with the theme except the pictures on the cards. Yet they'll launch an entire line of product based mechanicaly on one of their prior titles.

I'm not saying they need to be interested in my game, I'm just amused and saddened as to their reasoning for not.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger ekted said...

"I find these labels a bit strange, and even a tad pretentious."

I don't know what else to call them. Heavy games? Deep games? Games where the players stare and think rather than socialize while they are playing? Call them whatever you like, DoW is giving me and my kind a wide berth.

You will probably call this elitist thinking as well... Why is it that anything that is widely accepted by the masses (music, movies, art, games, etc) is usually not considered "the best"? I think it's because in order to make something acceptable to the layman, you have to condescend. The jokes must be silly, the plot obvious, the decisions simple. That is a conscious choice you make when you market your product. Nothing wrong with that.

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say that "Ticket to ride" is not a bad game. I really enjoy it with none-board gamers. It is easier to play it than dumping ASL into their laps :)

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I "gave up" on DoW a couple of games ago, myself.

Like you, I prefer "gamer's" games, games with a lower level of randomness that the average DoW game. And if a game is going to be random and light, I perfer it to play fast (e.g. Liar's Dice, Diamant).

If I were going into the boardgame publishing business (and wanted to make a living from it), I would almost certainly follow a similar strategy to DoW, as well. It is aimed at a much larger audience than people like Jim and I provide, whih is necessary to survive. Even Rio Grande mixes in Carcassonne and Lost Cities with Puerto Rico and Torres.

My default assumption is that a DoW game is not for me when it comes out. It's not impossible to think that they could come out with a game that fits the same niche as Blue Moon City or Ra or Diamant. I will just have to be convinced that is the case before I get my hopes up.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Jason Little said...

I agree with the spirit (if not verbatim the text) of the post. Days of Wonder had more than enough chances to win me over. They sell the sizzle, not the steak. In fact, after the sizzle is gone, there's nothing left. I've been disappointed with Mystery of the Abbey, Pirate's Cove, Ticket to Ride and Shadows Over Camelot despite their stellar production and components - there isn't enough game to warrant the production or retain my interest.

Memoir '44 is the only exception, but I'd argue that has less to do with Days of Wonder than it does with Borg's game system, as evidenced successfully in Battlecry and countless other games.

Battlelore is a neat concept, sure, but it's hardly original now, and despite the amazing production quality I'm sure it will have, with there be enough gameplay to keep people enraptured?

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I play a lot of games against my 10yo son. He has played Mystery of the Abbey, Pirate's Cove, Memoir '44, Cleopatra, Gang of Four, Queen's Necklace and Shadows Over Camelot. When you're a 10yo gamer, DoW make GREAT games. You're really excited when your dad buys them. And you're really looking forward to Battlelore because it's going to cost dad an absolute MOTZAH. I am squarely in DoW's target audience, and they've got me sucked in big-time. Good work by them!

Can't log-in to blogspot :-(.


At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whilst I'm mindful of Jason Little's caveat about Borg's design, above, I have to say that I always viewed DoW in a similar fashion, but with a significant distinction; their MULTI-player games are very much a case of physical design (or 'eye-candy') over mechanics and strategy. Cleopatra, TTR, Queen's Necklace, Shadows, all seem to bear this out. None of the above are TERRIBLE games, but none of them have enough meat on the bone to satisfy the majority of hobby gamers.

Memoir 44 and BattleLore, on the other hand, whilst inarguably lushly produced, have MORE than enough depth to keep me engaged to this day.

Horses for courses, of course... just pointing out a singular distinction you may have either overlooked, or considered and disregarded (for all I know). Great blog btw, keep it up!


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