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Comments on Version #1

The following comments were received on version #1. Most of these were posted on the Magic Realm mailing list, but a few were e-mails sent directly to me. I have removed all of the names since these are now being posted in public. Feel free to add your own comments at the bottom of the page.


It is very nice info, but I think it may be a little too long or detailed for someone just coming to the site. The detailed examples with the chits may scare some people off. Perhaps I am just not sure of the target audience...


I think it is obvious a lot of time and effort has gone into this introduction, and I thought it explained the important things and in a good order too.

My original take on the introduction that was being talked about on the list was a few lines to go on the home page.

Clearly, your intro goes way beyond the needs of the home page, but why not have a link straight to it, with a caption, along the lines of "if the prospect of the exploring the realm intrigues you and you want to learn more then click here..."

My only addition would be to expand on the chits section - I would add you can only use one chit a round, and that there is a limit to how many *s that can be used.

When I first started playing this game, the chits confused me so much that I just played without them... then I wondered why the game did not seem balanced! If the intro can explain how they work and not scare people of then I think it will have done an excellent job!


You mention that some characters have special chits, but then don't illustrate any. Suggest that instead of White Knight and Swordsman for illustration purposes, you use Berserker (special chit) and Wizard (to have more magic chits to talk about).


My brain tripped on the following...

"Avalon Hill hoped that Magic Realm would capture the excitement of the Dungeons & Dragons pencil and paper game in a board game format, but designer Richard Hamblen delivered far more than they expected. Magic Realm is one of the most complex and innovative board games ever designed."

Well, that's putting it mildly. There are some very smart people here who have read and re-read the rules and played several games and can still come up with questions and loopholes about the rules. The game is so complex that in the end it was easier and more rewarding for most folks to create a p&p experience out of whole cloth than to figure out the rules to MR.

I always assumed that part of the richness of the MR gaming experience is because of the complexity of the game. I'm not so sure. How much of MR could you remove and still have MR?

Any opinions?

btw jay, assuming your audience was a random browser driven to the page by a search engine, I liked what you wrote.


> It is very nice info, but I think it may be a little
> too long or detailed for someone just coming to the
> site. The detailed examples with the chits may scare
> some people off. Perhaps I am just not sure of the
> target audience...

I agree - there needs to be a much shorter "what is" page, and then something like an "everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask" page for which the current page would make an excellent candidate.


Very nice - my only tiny comment is that you can do development, which is like increasing in levels. It's actually a very fun way to play the game. You might put a little caveat where you say this isn't part of Magic Realm, and say that it's an optional rule or something.


I like it Jay. I think it is a nice length (reads like a short article), and the illustrations are great. I think that if anyone were frightened off by the chits, they wont like the game anyway, and should "surf" elsewhere.

At the very least, this should be the result of a "What is it?" link from the Introductory page.


Nice article. I like most of it as-is. I do have a couple of nit-picking type comments.

1) Not sure you want to start off with the comments about so many versions of the rules. How about:

> "Magic Realm is a fantasy role-playing board game,
> published in 1979 by The Avalon Hill Game Company.
> Avalon Hill had hoped that Magic Realm would capture
> the excitement of the Dungeons & Dragons pencil and
> paper game in a board game format, but designer
> Richard Hamblen delivered far more than they expected.
> Magic Realm is one of the most complex and innovative
> board games ever designed."

and putting the comments about the rules down near the end, when you mention the on-line community.

2) Another suggestion would be to insert some headings to set off various sections. Sections might be "The Board", "The Characters", "Weapons", "Monsters", etc.


This could be very useful as a lead in to "The Least You Need to Know" or the 3rd Edition Rules. The figures are striking.

Some comments:

1. "Unlike many role-playing games, the characters do not gain experience or levels: they begin the game at full strength. However, many of the items they can find will enhance their capabilities, and there are also various mercenaries that can be hired."

Two comments on this:

a. As I once wrote on Boardgamegeek, "Since nearly all the treasures convey advantages to certain characters, the play balance will vary widely through the course of the game as characters gain treasure items, new weapons and armor, or hire a tough group of natives." (Not to mention learning spells or collecting artifacts or spell books.)

b. The optional development rules do have development, and the character cards explicitly show this.

2. "The map tiles are printed on both sides. When a character enchants a map tile it is flipped over to reveal the hidden side, and the roadways may change when this occurs."

This seems to come in too soon. I would leave the unenchanted picture up, talk about caves, mountains, secret paths, etc. and then later, when magic is introduced show the enchanted woods tile when you talk about color magic. You could point out the path change at that point.

3. Just to reiterate, I would save magic for the end, describe the combination of Rituals and Color magic, Magic chits, spells, and enchantments there.

4. "The White Knight's Magic chit is a type I, which gives him a very limited ability to cast the beneficial type I spells."

I would say "The White Knight has only one type I magic chit, which gives him a very limited..."

5. "An action chit with no effort asterisks can be played without causing any fatigue; a chit with one effort asterisk may cause fatigue; and a chit with two effort asterisks will always cause fatigue. When a character fatigues, he must remove an action chit from play. It remains out of play until he takes time to rest and recover."

I would point out first that the major use of chits is in the combat phase. And then "An action chit with no effort asterisks can be played in combat..."

6. "Each turn in Magic Realm represents the passage of one day, from sunrise to midnight. Each player must record his activities for the day in advance, using a simple notation system, with no way of knowing what the other players might be planning. This pre-planning of moves can sometimes take on a chess-like intensity, as players try to predict what the situation on the board might be when they finally get to take their turn. Combat takes place at the end of the day, after all moves have been completed. In each round of combat, a player must select his battle strategy without knowing what tactics his opponents will be using."

I would move this up to the front, even before the map tiles are shown.


I think it's a good, compelling description. The way you wrote it is perfect. I wouldn't worry about writing it for someone to find from a search. I doubt that anyone would come across MR.net by a search engine unless they were looking for Magic Realm. Someone who comes across it will already be at least slightly familiar with the game. There's not much else that you would type into a search engine besides, "Magic Realm" and expect to find Magic Realm. Give it a try.


> I doubt that anyone would come across MR.net by
> a search engine unless they were looking for Magic
> Realm. Someone who comes across it will already be
> at least slightly familiar with the game.

People are sent to web pages by other means than just search engines. Thinking that everybody who comes to a Magic Realm site already knows what Magic Realm is is the surest way to make sure nobody new ever finds out. I've lost count of the number of times I've been told "Doesn't randomstringofletters.sourceforge.net look cool?" and tried to figure out from the site what the hell the program was for and given up.


> People are sent to web pages by other means than
> just search engines. Thinking that everybody who
> comes to a Magic Realm site already knows what
> Magic Realm is is the surest way to make sure
> nobody new ever finds out. I've lost count of
> the number of times I've been told "Doesn't
> randomstringofletters.sourceforge.net look cool?"
> and tried to figure out from the site what the hell
> the program was for and given up.

Bottom line is: I went to "randomstringofletters.sourceforge.net" because you sent me there. I went to the original MR.net because someone sent me there. Look at the Alexa ratings of any of the sites. For the most part we're the only ones going to them. Bryan Winter's site has the best rating because other people besides "Realmers" go there. Chances are that one of us will send someone we know to one of the sites. I don't think I'd send someone to MR.net that didn't get some information from me on Magic Realm before hand.

That does bring up a good question though. How can we get new people to come and join our community? Is there a way to attract search engine traffic? What kind of meta tags would we use? These are all things to think about.


I agree that you should have more than one page, but I think two will suffice. What you've really written is two things: an explanation of what Magic Realm is, and an overview of the rules. If you put these things on two different pages, the length would be about right, I think.

Another thing: You talk about recording turns at the very end, in a couple of sentences. I'd put it nearer the top (ahead of the combat stuff) and give it a bit more attention.

Overall I think it's well done. I could make plenty more suggestions but you're already feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I sympathize - it's not easy to distill such a large and complex subject into a few pages, not to mention trying to imagine what a beginner might most want to know!


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Page last modified on April 25, 2005, at 12:21 AM