Saturday, March 12, 2011
Mayday Games - It's Not Crokinole, It's Crock o' Crap
As I've recently noted, there's virtually nothing that bothers me to the point of anger. It may be the years of court-ordered psychotherapy that has deballed me for the most part, but the one thing that still gets me hot as an Atlanta summer is when I drop over a hundred dollars on something that turns out to be a piece of crap.
Enter Mayday Games, and their Crokinole board. I learned of this at Gencon and played on it. It was a great board, great finish, and a hell of a fun game. It even had little rubber-coated pegs to give the bouncing a little more action, and perhaps even protect the discs from the abrasion of wood-on-wood. I reported on it at for my annual Gencon report, and I thought that the thing was a real winner.
Last week I purchased one of these, and when it arrived, "thoroughly underwhelmed" is the only description I can provide of my feeling. Upon just a very glancing inspection I found myriad defects that not only affected the look of the board, but also affected the play. Not only that, but the board is clearly of the "bargain bin" variety. This was NOT what I saw at Gencon. It's fair to say, at this point, that I feel as if a bait and switch has taken place, and I'm pissed.
Before I begin tearing into Mayday, let me take a step back. For those of you who don't know what Crokinole is, let me give you a quick rundown. It's a dexterity game that is similar to the East Indian game of Carrom, where you flick little 1" disks on a polished playing surface with the aim of scoring a "gopher hole", which is when you land your disk in the depression in the center of the board, scoring twenty points. If you miss, as long as the disk lands somewhere either within or touching the fifteen-point line, it stays on the board, otherwise you remove it as a dead disk, moving it to the ditch that surrounds the board.
Players alternate taking shots, and if an opponent's disk is on the board, you must strike it with one of your disks, either via a carrom shot including more than one disk or by hitting it with your shot directly. If you don't hit the opposing disk, it too is a dead shot that goes to the ditch. That's pretty much all there is to the game, but there's a catch. The central ring is surrounded by pegs that hamper your shots, and so it's not quite as simple as just aiming at an open target. There's strategy involved if you're good enough to place shots with some accuracy, and hiding a disk behind a peg is brutally awesome.
In short, it's a very simple game but is fun as anything you can play. I liken to to poor man's pool. It's just a bunch of fun to have a beer, flick some disks, and talk some smack, and I recommend Crokinole to anyone who has fingers and a flat surface to place the board on. Just not a board from MayDay Games. I would rather you go out and buy anything else, in fact, because the quality of this board doesn't even come close to what I saw at Gencon.
Now back to MayDay. The board that I received is a bloody mess. There's screws that come in from the backside of the board and mount the playing surface to the surround, and three of these screws protrude slightly above the playing surface, which left a little hump in the surface. It looks a little crappy, but it's not a dealbreaker. On top of this, they painted the scoring rings on top of the lacquer rather than under it, and these have the texture of 600-grit sandpaper. They slow the disks as they slide across the board, and have already, in one night's play, started to wear the finish off of the disks. Then to add insult to injury, you can see a bunch of missed spots where the spray-on lacquer they used didn't coat, so it looks like the finish has a bunch of little pockmarks on almost a quarter of the board.
But that's not all, folks. For that hundred dollar investment in fine Chinese craftsmanship, the surround had lacquer that is cracked off with bare wood showing. It totally takes away from the overall look of the board, although it doesn't affect gameplay at all. It just makes the whole thing look cheap. I could've lived with all of that crap, but the killer for me was the fact that one of the aforementioned screws that have the raised indentations on the face of the board didn't get screwed in all the way, and it was also slightly stripped,leaving a burr. The upshot is that when it was time to put the board away for the night, my wife was piss mad when she saw the five long gouge out of the surface of my year-old kitchen table. She lost her damn mind she was so mad. I'm a little pissed myseld, seeing as I'm the one who gets to sand the thing down, restain it, and then lacquer over it. Thanks, Mayday, for soaking up at least three days of my time to fix that.
Now, I waxed the living piss out of the board with the very good, but expensive, Mother's California Gold Carnauba wax, and it slicked up the surface considerably after four coats. I even waxed the disks with two coats, and not only does it protect them, but the wax-on-wax action really gets these things zipping when you're flicking. Still, the indentations and the pockmarks do affect the gameplay slightly as we noticed over the night's play, because shots across those areas were more prone to stand up on a hard shot, especially on the largest of the indentations.
So, in short, the whole thing is a loss in my opinion. Now that I've been incited to wrath, I've looked on BGG and apparently there's a tremendous amount of negative feedback from these boards, and it came out that the surface isn't even actually hardwood, it's MDF with a veneer, which is clear on my board since it's obviously veneer from the side-profile. That's a shallow observation, though, because the lacquer finish theoretically makes it as durable and smooth as glass, were it not for defects and the above-the-lacquer painted scoring rings.
Along with the board comes fourteen disks in two colors, white and black, and a scoring box loaded with the pegs for installation into the board, as well as two scoring pegs. While the disks are top-notch quality, and the pegs go into the board with just the right amount of resistance, the scoring/storage box is another epic fail in the quality department. The predrilled holes that are used for scoring were 4 drill sizes too small, and according to the Boardgamegeek.com threads, MayDay is trying to portray that you're supposed to lay the box top flat and hammer in the two pegs to get them to size. First, there's not a chance in hell that it would ever fit. Second, I went ahead and did precisely what they said, and all it did was squish the wood and leave a large indentation around the hole. It's retarded. Just admit you need to drill it out and be done, it's no biggie. And that's what I did...and now the pegs fit perfectly snugly and it functions flawlessly.
To conclude, Mayday has received numerous complaints, and I'm just another one on top of the pile. While the board plays reasonably well, the defects and the problems with this board contribute to the absolutely terrible quality of the product. MayDay has said that they're shooting to provide 85% of the quality of a top-grade tournament Crokinole board for 50% of the price, and that is a total sack of steaming, hot cat shit. This is maybe 40% of the quality of even an entry-level Hilinski or Mr. Crokinole board, and it's 75% of the price. You can get a Hilinski board for $150 to $300, you can get various other brands for $125-$175, and you can get them on Ebay for 50-75 bucks on occasion, with all of them being superior to this product.
I'll report back on what happens with the warranty, and since I travel a lot, I'm sure I can be in Utah for a couple of days to file and subsequently stand tall before a judge in small claims court. I have reps out there anyway, as well as friends, and after just buying this table, I'm going to seek damages, for sure, unless they come back with an offer that's equitable.
Why This Crokinole Set Doesn't Croak:
- The disks are top-quality, with smooth finish and nice, round edges
- The inclusion of a scoring and storage solution is pretty slick and adds value
Why MayDay's Company Name Says It All...DISASTER:
- The quality of this product, overall, is a pariah
- For $25.00 more, you could get a much better board from a reputable dealer
- This was a total, unrelenting disappointment, and my expectations weren't even that high
In short, don't ever even consider buying one of these disasters from MayDay. Even if Seth at MayDay will honor their 1-year warranty, which appears to be in question from the lack of responsiveness people have complained about regarding Mayday, the pain in the ass of having to box it back up, ship it back, and wait two weeks or more for a new one is SO not worth the fifty bucks you save on this lower-quality product. Imagine how disappointed I am just based on the quality, and then top it off with the fact that the board completely fucked my kitchen table up. Do you really want to have this experience? Is that really worth the fifty bones you save? Don't do it. Don't even think about it. If you do think about doing it after reading this, go ahead and hit yourself in the genitals with a deadblow sledgehammer and realize that's just a taste of how you'll feel when it arrives, looking like crap and damaging your property.
If you really, really, really want to buy this, take a look at MayDay's site for details:
...then look at my photos again, and tell me that after watching the video and examining the product depicted that these products are even in the same realm of quality. I'm telling you, don't do it. This board is a total, total piece of crap.
Follow Up: If you want a refund from Tanga for one of these boards, email Nate~AT~Tanga.com.