Game Review: Influence and Rules Rant

Two Monkey Studios/Game Salute 2014

If anyone was wondering if all I do are positive reviews, the answer is no. I’ve been debating on this one, but finally decided to give my two cents worth on this game. Influence is a 2-6 player short game. I tried twice to sit down with a group and the rules to puzzle out how to play this game. We gave up both times. The rules are confusing. Overall, it looks like it would be an easy game to play and learn, but as we figured out parts, we came across questions that either weren’t answered in the rules, or led to more questions that weren’t clear. After more than an hour with 3 people, 2 sets of rules, and the internet, we were still no closer to figuring out the game than when we started and finally gave up. I’m sure if someone who knows how to play were to put up a video, or were we to go to a convention or event where it was being demo’ed, we would probably enjoy the game, we just couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to play.

So here is where I go into my rant. Rules. Games are made or broken by them. Many a great game has had it’s downfall in poor rules, and many mediocre games have been made more fun and accessible by having great rules. They are such a critical part to every game. So, to game companies, put more time into your published rules than you do into your playtesting. Give your game to people and let them try to play it by learning the rules from your rulebook. As you see them get off track, don’t try to correct them, take notes and figure out how to write your rules better. Then playtest them with a new group who have never seen them. I’m serious. If people have trouble learning your game because of bad rules, you won’t get the sales, even if it is a great game. Make sure they are clear, concise, consistant and enjoyable to read. Add timing charts, or bulleted lists.

[getting off my soapbox] And so, in conclusion, this is a possibly good game, with rules bad enough that we walked away from it. Twice. You are welcome to give it a try, but until someone posts a video play, I wouldn’t recommend picking it up.