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Napoleon's Triumph» Forums » General

Subject: Lack of Markers rss

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Mike Richardson
Belgium
Brussels
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Just got this game, and it looks amazing. Played through a couple of times solo, and will play FTF next week so looking forward to that.

One thing I have found is that, while there are markers for the following in the Vassel module, there are none in the actual game:

1. Artillery Fired
2. Defending Pieces
3. Guard/Heavy Cavalry Committed
4. Attack Threat Locale
5. Locales moved through by Corps using road move

This is by no means a criticism of a great game, but I was wondering how do people keep track of these things?

Mike
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
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gasha1 wrote:
1. Artillery Fired

I use little glass beads for this.

gasha1 wrote:
2. Defending Pieces

I just slide them sideways a bit so that they don't line up with the rest of the corps.

gasha1 wrote:
3. Guard/Heavy Cavalry Committed

This file has a little sheet with each side's one-time morale adjustments, which I mark with glass beads. You can see a copy above the morale track in the game nearest to the camera in this picture:



gasha1 wrote:
4. Attack Threat Locale

(Approach, not locale.) I never mark this; once someone declares a threat, that approach is the focus of all the attention until the threat is resolved.

gasha1 wrote:
5. Locales moved through by Corps using road move

Glass beads.
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Stefan K.
Germany
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We also use glass beads.
The one we use to mark the attack approach is red and called the "blood marker".
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Dan Silverman
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Waltham
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I use glass beads for the command markers, and the little black discs that were supposed to be used for that instead for marking artillery and moved independents and the like.
 
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Mike Richardson
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I am kind of torn between using cubes/beads or making my own markers.

The two I had problems remembering were "did i already deduct 4 morale for committing the guard?" and "which pieces were already declared as defenders?"

I think little yellow cubes for named defenders and I will just write down the morale losses.


 
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David Hansen
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St. Louis
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I use the cubes from my copy of Dos de Mayo. Nicely color coded, keeps up Rachel's aesthetic.
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Zara Thustra

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I think this actually is a criticism, and a legitimate one. But it's constructive.

Personally, I feel that if I buy a game, any record-keeping in the game should be handled by a game mechanism clearly laid out in the rules. There should always be counters, tables, or tracks to do all bookkeeping. Players should never have to rely on memory alone, as this just detracts from the game experience. Players end up getting confused, making mistakes, and spending too much time trying to track game state and rules adherence rather than enjoying and experiencing gameplay.

Maybe designers assume that gamers usually have a ready supply of extra bits (cubes, discs, beads, markers, etc) and that players can use those to fill in the gaps. After all, even coins will work just fine as simple markers and conventions such as laying a piece on its side or otherwise manipulating game piece positions to indicate their status of having moved/fired/etc is often sufficient. But this places that burden on the PLAYER when it should really be built into the game itself. Commands and Colors Ancients is one for me where this issue really stands out, because tracking which units have moved, which have fired, and how many I've moved is a real problem for me without using 3rd party markers of some kind.

I think Simmons is an impeccable designer and I think NT is a truly magnificent game and design. But you are correct that even here there are examples of oversights. Anytime there's a rule where some unit can't perform some action two turns in a row (as in the case of firing artillery or not being able to attack twice across the same approach), you really need a way of tracking those instances. This is a BIG game and unlike video games where rules and state are strictly and consistently enforced and game state is tracked automatically for us (it just won't LET you make an illegal action if properly programmed) with board games we are left trying to solve these problems for ourselves. While most players will identify these kinds of things within their first couple of games and naturally and quickly devise simple means of dealing with them using what they have available, I don't think that gives any designer (even a very good one) a pass here. It just gets taken for granted that we will "figure it out"

Now, let me point out some positive examples of things Simmons did right in this case.

For one, the Morale tracks' very existence is an example of a game mechanism that plays such a role (we could use pen and paper, right?). But, you are right that sometimes it is difficult to remember if a penalty has already been applied. For your point there, I think it's less a matter of markers than a really good set of player reference cards with the attack procedure (and all penalties) clearly indicated. Then, you just follow the procedure every time you make an attack and apply the morale hit for guard attacks as a part of that consistently. No need for a marker if you are following it step by step, right? I don't know why Simmons has never thought to make nice, easy to use player aids, but rules and learning curve seem to be the most issue people have with NT. A good player aid walking folks through the basic procedures goes a long way (one area where I think C&C: Ancients is exemplary for having a FANTASTIC player aid).

The other thing I think work pointing out is Simmons' inclusion of the command track with markers. This is awesome. Many games have limited numbers or orders per turn but no way at all of tracking 1) how many orders/actions were expended, 2) which units have already been activated on a turn. So, there's deserved kudos to give the game for that design choice! It would be a mess otherwise.

Likewise, the game uses simple conventions (but formally described ones) for tracking unit positions (in the approach vs in the reserve) and states (corps vs detachments). The game could easily have described means of indicated unit states for the things you mention rather than leaving it as a gameplay issue for players to solve.

In any case... the job of a designer is hard, especially balancing things like the added cost of extra components (more markers = more price) and adding specific formal rules for things like positioning pieces to track unit states, etc. But I also can't for the life of me sometimes understand how these things couldn't have been obvious in play testing, as the first thing new players are going to be confused by while trying to absorb the rules is going to be something like "wait, did I use my artillery last turn? crap... I don't remember".
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