This is really weird. JasonJ's and Just_a_Bill's comments have echoes what I've been trying to get address in most these FFG forums. A writer and editor myself, being a lover of games and their systems is almost a curse now that I've tried to get into FFG games, whose notoriety for badly written code made me ignore them for over a decade. Now that they have a hold of my favorite game, Cosmic, and have taken over distribution of my new favorite game, Cadwallon, I've been trying like a tasmanian devil to get involved and help push them toward what I saw was the obviously right direction:
More re-reading of rulebook prototypes
Test-reading by Newbies and Novice game-players (to see if they can then play the game correctly)
Better writers who know how to teach, how to sequence, and even how to spoonfeed rules
Better editing for the love of goddess please mary and joseph come ON! Ahem, so there aren't glaring contradictions out the gate
I've owned every edition of Cosmic, so I didn't read the rules to the FFG, just dove in, and while I agree with Adam's comment that this game is wildly unbalanced—that's the strength of the game and why we all love it—any dedicated team could sit down and really analyze the system to put it into a shape that would amicably assemble all its disparate elements into a solid system. Then writers could arrange and spoonfeed that system through text. Then editors with sensitivity to the written word could maybe be hired. Then test reading, then more editing. This sounds like a lot, but it's what would make these games go mainstream. Catan did it (after a stuttering step, maybe two at most), and yet FFG keeps dressing up games—even those it didn't invent—in colors and components so dazzling we can't HELP but want to love.
But alas, Jim is right. I even try to overlook certain things but the thought hovers in the air between me and the beautiful board I've laid out before me for its virgin play: "That card doesn't even make sense with itself!" or "Why do I have to decide between the number they listed here and the different one in the rulebook?" or "Wouldn't anyone who read this once have caught this misspelling?"
We are regularly frustrated by the apparent complete lack of care for the nervous system of the game itself. It's getting painful. I tried to start this kind of thread with House Rules/Fixes next to it in their forums, and though a lot of people were interested within the first couple days (as apparently most people come to these forums to try to fix their broken rules), I was practically lambasted for the effort, accused of spamming, and even told by a quintessential rules-lawyer type that my successful effort to get clarification on a couple elements of Cadwallon I suspected were rushed (by confirming my suspicion with the game's designer himself) was just an attempt to justify my own house rules. So I gave up, realizing nobody was really getting the irony here, which I'll end with:
Those of us who care enough to come on these forums do not in the slightest represent the mainstream game audience, and if FFG wants to reach the broader base I know it can with some of these classic and potential classic games, it's going to have to take the freaking time to write and edit better rules.
Otherwise, please at least surrender custody of games you didn't create to more caring parents.