Ruts Plays: Reader Survey

By Rutskarn
on Feb 15, 2017
Filed under:
Lets Play

I took the night off for Valentine’s DayActually, I’ve worked on something for Patreon backers, but the point is I took it more off than usual., but since by its nature my little tango through XCOM could snag a rug and eat floorboard any second, I figure it’s prudent to start priming the next project. I’m not going to ask for game suggestions exactly–I think I’ve got a pretty tight list–but I do have a more abstract question I’d like you all to weigh in on.

You may have noticed that I’ve got two speeds:

  • LP where I’m writing from the perspective of the central characters and create a narrative one-to-one inspired by my playthrough, such as Half Time, and
  • LP where I’m writing from my own perspective, playing tour guide to a game that’s in some way fundamentally twisted, such as Battlespire.

I’ve had little success merging the two, and think at this point I’m most comfortable with one or the other. But I don’t know which you prefer.

Does one of my house styles work better for you? Do you like or dislike both? Chime in below and I’ll bear that in mind picking the next game.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Actually, I’ve worked on something for Patreon backers, but the point is I took it more off than usual.


A Hundred!203There are 123 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

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  1. Eichengard says:

    My vote would be for the bitter and twisted tour guide, although I’m not going to object to more Skarn, regardless of style!

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im equally fine with both.You always find a twist that intrigues me,so whatever you decide on,chances are Ill enjoy it.

  3. Da Mage says:

    I prefer the tour guide in hell over your character perspectives.

  4. Yerushalmi says:

    Battlespire-style, full stop. Watching you rage against the game is infinitely more amusing; it’s not even a question.

    I prefer it so much that I’ve actually been debating for some time how to ask you to go back to it without seeming rude. So I’m quite happy you decided to ask us directly :)

  5. Mark says:

    I certainly don’t dislike your character stuff, but Battlespire was just so good…

    Eh, my final answer is that you should write what you want to write!

    • Raion says:

      This.
      I would cast my vote for the tour guide too, but my perspective is skewed by Battlespire being just. that. good.

      Ultimately, write what/how you want, because that’s bound to be a better piece than it would otherwise.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        I’m worried that so many people are voting for Tour Guide just because Battlespire was fantastic, but I can’t imagine Ruts finding another game as beautifully broken as Battlespire. Surely nothing can live up to that. Right?

        • modus0 says:

          Unpatched Temple of Elemental Evil is pretty damn broken.

          I mean, there is a specific thing one can do that will lead to a guaranteed CTD, and there are numerous other bugs infesting it.

          Not to mention certain enemies don’t play by the same rules as the player, probably owing to the game starting development under D&D 3.0, and being (sort of) updated and released for D&D 3.5.

  6. Artyom says:

    I really like Batllespire style.

  7. Syal says:

    I’ve enjoyed both, and think the narrative style would work with a wider variety of game quality, but this community’s pretty heavily built around player-viewpoint nitpicking so I’d assume it’s the more popular style.

  8. James says:

    I’m going to be unhelpful and say I like both.

    I would advise focusing on what you prefer doing.

    • Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

      same here! Keep up the good work Ruts!

      • Pete_Volmen says:

        Likewise.
        I will say however that as someone who sucks with names, the change from character to character viewpoint wise left me mildly confused.
        Battlespire was amazing, but it’s hard to find other games that are similarly… unique in their qualities. Really enjoyed the recent Mount and Blade stuff too.

  9. Vextra says:

    Like others I’m a big fan of the well written “tour guide from hell” style, but having seen similar things elsewhere on the internet and the high potential for burnout I’d much prefer to see something that is sustainable over a longer period.

    In other words, do whichever one you think will take the longest to get boring for you.

  10. Jimmy McAwesome says:

    Tour guide all the way, its much easier to follow, and dishes out fascinating insight into the games.

  11. lurkey says:

    Both are good reads, although I prefer “Battlespire-style”. Also, I really liked the mixed perspective you did with Cahmel in Morrowind and Oblivion LPs.

  12. Brian says:

    I’ve enjoyed both, though the *every session a different character* tone of the xcom means that I’m less attached to them? The tone of half-time was delightful, and the deconstructive frustration of battlespire was also delightful — but needs a far more specific game. I would suggest to let the game dictate the choice: if it can offer a central perspective of horror, let it be personalised. If it can offer a fasincating deconstruction of failure, let that occur in its own time.

    Mmmm, but thinking about it, I’ve got a slight preference to your first-person discussions.

  13. ehlijen says:

    I would suggest alternating both styles (not on a strict schedule, but loosely)? It would keep things from getting too monotonous for too long compared to just ranting at a game, but offers breaks to figure out your next character viewpoint hook.

    I also think some games would be more suited for the character approach. Look at Shamus’ Let’s plays stories: Star on Chest, Lulzy and Norman were all RPG characters (MMO ones at that). Meanwhile XCOM is probably borderline at providing enough story-like content for an in character story. I don’t think I would want to see anyone try to write the story of Villager 23 for Age of Empires.

    Though since I don’t know which game(s) you are contemplating, that’s as specific as I can make that suggestion.

  14. mac says:

    I enjoy both but have a strong preference for the in character stuff.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I too, like the in-character stuff, but can live with either style! :)

      Also, I personally don’t like long, drawn-out stuff, so I preferred XCOM to Half Time, which appears to be the opposite opinion of everyone else. ^^;

    • Abnaxis says:

      Yeah, I think the response pool is skewed by Battlespire, but I’ve been reading long enough to remember the awesome Dwarf Fortress LP, so I prefer in-character

    • Nimrandir says:

      Count me in this camp as well, though I will heartily read stuff that uses either approach.

    • Mistwraithe says:

      I prefer the Xcom style article too, I didn’t actually bother reading all of the Battlespire articles (although I did read and enjoy most of them).

      It appears we are in the minority though.

    • Cuthalion says:

      I also prefer in-character, though I enjoy tour guide as well. I have vague, positive memories of Dwarf Fortress and Morrowind, in addition to Battlespire and XCOM.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Yep.

      I might add: It is sometimes hard to work out what actually happened in-game versus what you’re just confabulating (is that a word? I think it is), but the prose is more enjoyable (to me) than a recounting of how you played a game.

      So, yeah, merging them would be cool but … I don’t know, maybe have the in-game narrative in the text and some explanation of the game-playing happenings, when required, in the image descriptions? In separate text boxes? Trying to weave it into the narrative can’t really work well.

  15. Daimbert says:

    I find the “Tour Guide” style far better, but I would say that you don’t need to limit it to the fundamentally twisted part, as pretty much every game has parts that you can make wry and even somewhat sarcastic points about, and it might also let you slide in more serious and less snarky parts or even seasons as well, breaking up the monotony.

  16. Locke says:

    I enjoyed the tour guide style more, but it’s worth noting that it only worked because Battlespire was a special kind of Hell and watching you overcome it was simultaneously a fun underdog story and also a great look at a horribly broken piece of software. I’m really not sure how many games can actually hit the center of that venn diagram between “challenging,” “still beatable through normal human means,” and “constantly lowers the bar for good taste, humane gameplay, or better yet both.” Like, that one truck racing game that shipped with no AI ticks the last two boxes but not the first, so there’s no conflict to sustain a trip through the whole game and it would get dull from the second post. A game that is actually unbeatable denies the catharsis at the end where the game is actually conquered despite its apathy towards its own playability. A game that isn’t fundamentally horrible is kind of missing the point of the style. I’m not sure how many games actually hit all three of those. There are plenty of failures, but this is a very specific kind and degree of failure. If you have a roster of these kinds of games ready to go, though, it gets my vote.

    • Syal says:

      I’m totally down for a Milon’s Secret Castle LP.

      “Still beatable through normal human means” is a gray area though. “Human”, yes, “normal human”, eeehhhhh…

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      My thoughts exactly about Battlespire, it was hilarious but that game was also a fairly unique snowflake. Ultimately I understand the desire to judge audience preferences but I’d leave it to you to decide which approach can squeeze out the best entertainment value out of a game.

  17. Content Consumer says:

    I’ve had little success merging the two, and think at this point I’m most comfortable with one or the other. But I don’t know which you prefer.

    Oh, I don’t know. Your Oblivion story was quite good, and that mixed the two a bit. Give it another try!

    I guess if I had to choose between the two, I like your central-character perspective narrative more.
    However, it also depends on the game you pick, its mechanics and writing. I suppose a game like XCOM or Starcraft lends itself better to your perspective, whereas a game like the Witcher might be better seen from the inside.

  18. Leland Hulbert says:

    It honestly depends on the game. I’m quite fond of the tour guide, but the in game characters a really good for some games, too. I loved the way you did Bloodbowl, for example.

  19. Blake says:

    I find the in-game, first person ones can be difficult to follow at times depending on the games complexity.

    It can still work fine, but you just need to swap out to yellow text out-of-game speak to convey what’s going on.

  20. CJGeringer says:

    I would say tour guide, like battle spire for games with lots of glitches and/or fixed narrative.

    In character for games that work and have more emergent narrative, it worked really well for both mount and blade and blood bowl because of the emergence, which I think it is the key.

    I would LOVEto see an “in character” playtrough of endless legend, or crusader kings. If it was a playtrought of darksiders or zelda games I would prefer the tourguide

  21. Bubble181 says:

    I think I’ll be boring and agree with some of the others: it depends on the type of game and the type of problems it has.
    “In character” can be difficult for some games if there are pre-established characters. Would you run Witcher 3 as “Geralt”? That wouldn’t make for great comedy. As “Random guy who looks like Geralt and accidentally blunders in”? OK, that could be fun for a few posts, but couldn’t possibly sustain a long running series.
    The more you can easily insert your own “character”‘, the more fun it can be. The more fixed characters and their arcs are, the harder it gets to keep it funny *and* fit the game somewhat. On the other hand, the type of problems faced (UI-wise, ludonarrative-wise,…) might mean a “tour guide” style can work or can’t, really.

    That said, I’d love a play through of Age of Empires from the perspective of Villager 23! :-D

  22. Kbob2525 says:

    I prefer the in perspective character walk through. Your xcom walkthrough has been really good so far and I enjoyed your skyrim series.

  23. Jarenth says:

    Both Half Time and Ruts Plays Battlespire have had me guffaw out loud, several times each, so I’m pretty confident that I’ll enjoy whatever you write next.

  24. Thomas says:

    Tour guide. But it really depends on the character. I enjoyed the Mount and Blade guy a lot but not the XCom guy in the same way

  25. moonlup says:

    I’ll say I enjoy both, but the tour guide is far better for getting a feel of how much the mechanics themselves are fighting you. The narrative style worked well for Bloodbowl, the tour guide well for Battlespire. I’m not sure narrative was the best choice for XCOM, at least for someone like me who is a complete stranger to the game. If I hadn’t heard you raging against the mechanics on the DIecast, I’d have no idea how much misfortune they were causing you.

    I’m still enjoying XCOM’s narrative, but have more appreciation for it due to background information. And your ability to create different characters as you go is impressive.

  26. Xapi says:

    In terms of writing, I have enjoyed Half Time the most. As it was pointed out already, the constant shift in POV characters detracts a bit of my enjoyment of Unfit, but I still think the style is something I like better than Battlespire’s.

    Having said that, I do believe it depends heavily on the game, and what kind of troubles it gives you.

    It probably wouldn’t have been fun to hear Cahmel explain how he valiantly slew the enemies caught by the game’s geometry. I don’t know if it would have been fun (or funnier than what we got) to read your tales of “OMG I can’t believe this dude is standing right beside me and I only have a 17% chance to hit”

  27. Mr Compassionate says:

    Perhaps the best rule is:
    1:: If the game is normal for the player but absurd for a chracter within it then use a character voice.
    2: If the game is completely nuts to play to such a degree that it’s weird even without embellishing it then just be yourself.

  28. Darren says:

    I’m much more interested in guided analysis than in in-character goofiness. If I wanted to insert myself into the game, I could just play it myself.

    If you want to blend them, have you considered doing what Shamus does and use offset text to include your out-of-character analysis?

  29. John says:

    I’m going to take the weasel’s way out and say it depends on the game. I don’t think an in-character Let’s Play would have worked very well with a game like Battlespire. There’s simply too much to say about the game’s various bugs and such that would be hard to deliver from the perspective of the player character. My rule of thumb would be that if you have a lot to say about the game’s mechanics or how well the game functions then it would probably be for the best if you did a conventional Let’s Play. Otherwise, go nuts, because I really liked the way you handled Bloodbowl.

    • neothoron says:

      I agree. For a fundamentally good game, in-character perspectives (provided it is not a duplication of the in-game narrative) is pretty pleasing to read (how would you even do a demented tour guide for Blood Bowl or XCOM? Wouldn’t that be pretty boring/reviewy?)
      On the other hand, it would have been possible to write a purely in-character piece on Battlespire, but you would have had to drop out of it at least… sometimes.

      Basically, it depends on whether the spectacle/trainwreck is in the particular way you play the game (Blood Bowl halflings, XCOM overtuned), or in the game itself (Battlespire).

      • Daimbert says:

        I’d actually forgotten about the Blood Bowl one. Blood Bowl was pretty good.

        I think the issue is that if he’s going to invent a character, it needs to be one that works and is tailored to that game, but also needs to be one that he can do. I’d say that he should pick a game and then pick a method/character to work with that, but that might be what he’s doing now and it’s hit and miss. I’d almost, then, suggest picking a character that he wants to do — ie it might be a good time to do a player character role, but for the next one I’d like to take on the role of a small-town person thrust into a sci-fi world — and then find a game that matches that or allows for it.

  30. GeoG says:

    I absolutely don’t care, as it’s all awesome. Depends on the game, shirley? I will say this, though: don’t be fooled by Villager 23. Villager 23 is a right showoff. Waffer-thin. Villager 27 might not seem as interesting on the surface, but there’s a depth to the 27 backstory which would be much more fertile ground.

  31. Nixorbo says:

    Add another one to the ol’ boring “prefer tour guide but it really depends on the game itself” pile.

  32. Droid says:

    I really enjoyed Battlespire, but that maybe has to do with how much it hates its players. More Battlespire-esque LPs, please!

  33. Ninety-Three says:

    I vote for the in-character writing. Tour guide style shifts a lot of the responsibility to the game for being funny (or y’know, so broken that you can’t help but laugh). I enjoyed Battlespire, but unless you can find another game equally awful and broken, I’d rather you stick to the format that gives you more space for making clever jokes.

  34. Christopher says:

    Tour guide is easier to read on a weekly basis for me. With in-character let’s plays, I tend to mostly ignore them until they’re done and then read it all at once. Half Time is great, but I couldn’t follow along, it’s a bit like reading a few pages of a novella and then putting it down. It’s not that nothing happens, it’s that I think it’s difficult to get immersed in the narrative for ten-fifteen minutes a week. With Battlespire, every week is an adventure.

  35. Viktor says:

    I usually prefer your in-character stuff, but I’m missing the Tour Guide in Hell. So do one Tour Guide then go back to the mouse-eye perspective IMO.

  36. Genericide says:

    As is typically the case, other commenters have beaten me to the punch several times over. (Either some of you are in wildly different time zones or you start your blog commenting EARLY). I like both and think it depends on the game. Tour guide is more suited to mechanical discussion, and/or shambling broken messes like Battlespire. Multiple protagonist perspectives too quickly a la XCOM can have less impact, though part of that might be my unfamiliarity with the game. But even at your worst your let’s plays have always been at least somewhat entertaining to me. So ultimately, do what you feel like.

  37. CrushU says:

    It… sorta depends?
    I feel the character-perspective is more amusing, but your perspective gives more information. Generally speaking, I’ll read both of them, but I prefer getting info about games I’ve not played (Battlespire) and getting amusement from games that I have (Mount and Blade)

  38. Collin says:

    I prefer the first person jaded, snarky veteran narrative- especially when the character’s cynicism is proven wrong.

  39. baseless_research says:

    I tend towards the tour guide more than the in-character stuff, but I was very entertained by the craven Mount & Blade character chronicle.

    It would mostly depend on the game and the chosen angle taken. I’m not into the current Xcom stuff but I doubt that I would have preferred a guided tour – it’s just not my game.

  40. Dustin says:

    I’m a big fan of the tour guide style. It grabs my attention in a way the the first person narration doesn’t.

  41. Fade2Gray says:

    I strongly prefer your personal perspective. Battlespire was amazing in part because you could describe what was going on both in the game and what it was like playing the game as a human meatbag.

  42. Warclam says:

    I like both very much, as long as it’s somewhat unified. I’m finding the changing characters in Unfit for XCOMmand very confusing. I probably prefer the personal Battlespire approach overall.

  43. GeoG says:

    Some early polling data, after 63 comments:

    Tour Guide
    28

    Character
    8

    Both
    11

    Depends On the Game
    13

    Villager 23
    1

    Not Villager 23
    2

    Villager 27
    1

    Australians Read the Quickest
    1

    • Confanity says:

      Let me chime in to support the “It depends on the game” option, to the degree where I feel it should almost be self-evident. If the goal is humor, then it’s worth keeping in mind that humor is probably more contextual than any other genre. It stands to reason, then, that the format and presentation of a text LP should take the details of the game itself into account, instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all strategy before even knowing what the subject matter is going to be.

    • Christopher says:

      Australians Read the Quickest
      1

      HAH!

  44. I’d vote for a Cahmel style, where it’s mostly in character with the occasional ooc tour guide aside. That said, I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve done, and would love more Battlespire if I wasn’t kinda worried it’d end with you gibbering in a padded room somewhere.

    I’m always happy to have more Rutskarn to read, but I would request that there be one main character if at all possible. I’ve been having some trouble following the XCom one because of the character switching (tis my own issue, not anything to do with the writing).

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      Agreed. I love the ability to explain things from the outside like in BattleSpire, but by far my favorite LP from Rutskarn has to be Morrowind, and Cahmel his best character. Plus the 4th wall breaks in the Morrowind LP always worked well enough. It doesn’t matter how many times I read it, I still giggle into fits of laughter just thinking about it.

      *Snigger* “Mournhold (CoLCoM)” *Deep Breath* Shuts door on Prune Face *cough snort*

      At this point, I waved my tiny blade somewhere the in vicinity of his ribcage, and felt a tiny dink as it connected. Imagine a piñata. Imagine a kid hauling back and swinging at this piñata as hard as he could, hitting it with enough force to hear from two rooms away. Now imagine that there was a live grenade inside the piñata, and also the whole thing was shaped like a zombie knockoff, and you’ll get a sense of what happened. He exploded and imploded and shredded apart, bits of corpserot and stankmeat flying around like I was carving up the worst turkey in town with a chainsaw.

      *curled up on floor unable to breath due to laughter*

  45. Paul Spooner says:

    How about writing the in-world character as if they are playing the real-world Rutskarn? Holding themselves responsible whatever decisions you make, while also attempting to navigate and surmount the game’s necessarily incomplete information to get you, the player, to input the right commands so their world turns out how they want. It could even be from the perspective of the enemies, where they are attempting some QWOP-style human control to defeat their enemies, and fail so hilariously that they are themselves defeated. Anyway, would be meta AF which could be fun both to write and to read.

  46. Miguk says:

    I vote for tour guide. Maybe you could do the in-character stuff as short vignettes that pop up when that character is in an especially ridiculous situation. But I need the tour guide to tell me what’s really going on, even in a game I’m familiar with like XCOM 2.

    I imagine that playing games like Battlespire must be damaging to your mental health, but I think you could use the same style of writing about a less horrible game and just focus on the bad parts of it.

  47. Decius says:

    I think that in-character works better for games with a consistent character to have the viewpoint, and tour guide works better if characters are expendable.

    Basically, the in-character setup for Xcommand fails because it has to change character as the narrator dies.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      This was the original sin: the narrator should have been one of the controllers relaying the Commander’s orders -not one of the operatives. “And I was thinking that there was some really attractive cover right there, but the Commander insisted ‘no, they need to take the shot from the middle of a wide open place!’ so I relayed the order and…”

  48. sofawall says:

    I prefer the out-of-character style. Or rather, the in-character as Rutskarn, not in-character as a character.

    You know what I mean.

  49. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    I probably like the tourguide approach more. I like the narrative gloss of the story, but these are games, and in this crowd, talking about things like the Lunchbox or the cover mechanics of XCOM -punctuated by things like your team captain hurtling through the air, tears of joy streaming down his face -seems to work better than pure narrative without that tour discussion.

    If I can also throw in, much like the discussion of story unraveling we have from time to time, I’m slightly put off by XCOM or Fire and Sword because there’s not much reason to believe these stories are going to last long, let alone go anywhere. I’d much rather have the guarantee that the story isn’t going to solidly faceplant after 8 episodes at the cost of letting you indulge the occasional save scum, than the reverse.

    Ironman may be more fun in a stream, but it doesn’t make a great narrative.

  50. TMC_Sherpa says:

    Here is what I will say. I think playing an open ended game where there isn’t an expected end works better if the write up happens after the game is over? Like with the XCOM write up each installment (episode?) is good on its own but I’m not sure taken as a whole it tells the best story. The miracle mission last week was great but reading through the archive it’ll look kinda strange if next week everybody dies and you lose the game.

    This doesn’t actually answer the question and probably isn’t even helpful but that’s never stopped me before.

  51. djw says:

    I like both styles. The Saga of Cahmel was quite good (especially the Morrowind bits) and the “With Fire and Sword” walkthrough was even better (though shorter).

    I think that the tour guide style works better for me in cases where I have no intention of ever playing the game (a la Battlespire) so reading your detailed description is the closest I will ever come to understanding the game itself.

  52. Primogenitor says:

    While I “voted” above for tour-guide style (though I don’t think I would ever have described it like that!) I think the character-style would work better if you video’d the original action as well. That way the humorous disconnect between “what happened” and “what the characters perceived / admitted / reported” would be more natural. However, I appreciate that that would be a *lot* more work!

    (I guess you could do a character-style piece alongside Spoiler Warning – though I really don’t know if Josh’s “unique” driving style would help or hinder the final product…)

  53. Nick-B says:

    I’m sorry, but I couldn’t make it more than a few paragraphs into the Xcom one before I closed the page and ignored the rest. It’s not that you did badly, but something just irks me about fan-fiction, which it felt a lot like to me.

  54. Aerik says:

    Tour guide.

    Your Battlespire LP is my favorite thing you’ve written.

  55. Paul says:

    I prefer your perspective. It allows for more disection of the game.

  56. Zagzag says:

    You managed a bit more of a mixture back in the Morrowind days, though largely by making fun of the game through the character’s own perspective of it I suppose, but if we’re drawing a fine line I’d vote for the in character variety.

  57. acronix says:

    Both are good, but I prefer the tour-style. I think it’s mostly because I get an idea of what it is like to actually play the game.

  58. Hermocrates says:

    Is there any chance of being able to vote for both alternating, where we get an in-character perspective for one series, and then a tourguide perspective for another, depending on the game and what you feel like doing at the time?

    Basically,m I’m just asking for more of the same, I guess.

  59. methermeneus says:

    I enjoy both, but I think the tour guide works better for games I haven’t played myself…which happens to be everything you’ve done so far, since I never have enough time to play games, but that’s just me.

  60. JAB says:

    I greatly preferred the Blood Bowl stuff to the Battlespire stuff, for what it’s worth.

  61. I’ll chime in as having a stronger preference for from-your-own-perspective works like “Battlespire” to this point. That was something I enjoyed a ton, even though it was not a game or genre I particularly had any direct interest in. The “all of this is bonkers to me as a player, but I will sweat bullets and pull it out!” was something I could absolutely relate to.

    I don’t think the other format is bad, as such, but I think it’s more fragile – more dependent on how much I know of that world ahead of time, or how well “buying in” to those characters is established, or how many “narrative asides” are present. Like, I love Shamus’ “Star on Chest” chronicles, but can very easily see how without sidebars establishing why the characters are going through the idiocy they’re going through, it could be something of a disjointed mess I’d have trouble engaging with.

  62. The Seed Bismuth says:

    Battlespire style all the way.

  63. Rack says:

    I mostly liked them in Alphabetical order. Battlespire and Blood Bowl were great, Mount and Blade less so and I’m afraid I’m not getting much from Xcom. So pick whatever style you want for A Dark Room.

  64. The Other Matt K says:

    While it probably depends on the game itself, I think my default would be the Battlespire approach, which just feels more likely to keep the reader engaged throughout.

    I think the first person narrative worked great for the Blood Bowl series, but in the ones since then, I’ve basically had no idea what was going on at any given time. There were certainly some great turns of phrase and amusing insights into the imagined characters, but the actual game itself felt basically out of reach.

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