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Subject: A disappointing first look at components rss

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Joe Thompson
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Please note: This isn't a review, I haven't spent enough time with the game to do one. Just a voicing of some initial frustrations.

This game arrived on friday and my wife and I sat down to look at it on Saturday evening. I'd read reviews that said the map was too small, so I was expecting some issues. But I have to say I think the map, though attractive, is just not fit for purpose.

We ended up trying to build little pyramids of blocks in an attempt to be able to see our units in the small space available. I had a look at the photos of people playing on BGG, and most people have the blocks one behind the other, such that only the front block is visible.

You cannot see the city names or VP numbers if there are units in a city. Even if you try and position the units just beyond the cities you are obscuring the names for your opponent.

The cities are often so close together that blocks in one city are obscuring neighbouring cities. Making it very hard to see where they belong.

I'm hoping that with a little experience we'll have memorised the city names/VPs and be more familiar with the units so we don't need to have them constantly visible.

Given how expensive this game was (eg, 10-15GBP more than high production value games from GMT like Washingtons War or Twilight Struggle deluxe) I'm disappointed. We'll keep trying since we enjoy HotS - and from what I've seen the game play on this one is going to be even better.

It would be interesting to hear from people who're more familiar with the game. Does this become a non-issue with the familiarity of a few more plays?


Edit: Updated title to make it clear I was talking about the components

Edit: See my post further down. Upon replay, placing the blocks behind each other such that you can only see the front block the game is much easier to play (and game play is brilliant).
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Brandon Pennington
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Re: A disappointing first look
Almost all block games with a point to point movement system have this 'problem' but it has never bothered me. Once you play a couple of times you know where everything is and you know what you units you have where. It has honestly never really bothered me though to have to look through my units lined up behind one another.
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Re: A disappointing first look
Well, I've played exactly 1 year in a learning game, and it is not an issue so far, and we had several bloody battles. After a couple plays, you'll get where the VP cities are without having to see them. You could easily stack them one atop another just behind the city the are in, or column them as well, so you can see the city names if you need to. And, the rules sort of discourage having huge amounts of units in a city when Winter hits, so you got to be aware of that. Being Disbanded sucks...

I think this game is great and a larger map may have been nice but it sucks up enough space on the table as it is.

There are some player aids in the files section. I printed out the battle board with letters A-D on it, Defender and Attacker columns. Makes combat a breeze. Crucial for play, IMHO, and that might be the only sleight against the game - not providing one.

My 2c from exactly 1 play.

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Harmonica
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Re: A disappointing first look
ShallowThought wrote:
This game arrived on friday and my wife and I sat down to look at it on Saturday evening.

You play JC with your wife!? kiss Lucky you! laugh

ShallowThought wrote:
But I have to say I think the map, though attractive, is just not fit for purpose.

I fullheartedly disagree.

ShallowThought wrote:
We ended up trying to build little pyramids of blocks in an attempt to be able to see our units in the small space available. I had a look at the photos of people playing on BGG, and most people have the blocks one behind the other, such that only the front block is visible.

It is not necessary to have everything in sight. However now I realized how someone not familiar with the Columbia Games games experience it. These aren't games designed to play once like so many euros, but at least 5-10 times.

ShallowThought wrote:
You cannot see the city names or VP numbers if there are units in a city. Even if you try and position the units just beyond the cities you are obscuring the names for your opponent.

True, the blocks covers the map features beneath. You have to get used to this. Lift the blocks - even if it's not yours - but also try to remember where the VP Cities are. It's not reasonable to ask from Columbia Games both superlarge maps and a reasonable price. As I said I am happy with the JC map.

ShallowThought wrote:
The cities are often so close together that blocks in one city are obscuring neighbouring cities. Making it very hard to see where they belong.

You have to get used to it. If Caesar has 4 blocks in Rhegium then place them square two by two, with Rhegium in the right corner beneath.
Pompey does the same if he has 4 blocks in Messana. If he also has one in Syracuse make sure it doesn't touch the ones in Messana.

ShallowThought wrote:
I'm hoping that with a little experience we'll have memorised the city names/VPs and be more familiar with the units so we don't need to have them constantly visible.

True.

ShallowThought wrote:
Given how expensive this game was (eg, 10-15GBP more than high production value games from GMT like Washingtons War or Twilight Struggle deluxe) I'm disappointed. We'll keep trying since we enjoy HotS - and from what I've seen the game play on this one is going to be even better.

I think Julius Caesar is far superior to Washington's War but in the same league as Twilight Struggle. It has more strategic options and possibilities than Hammer of the Scots, which is an outstanding game anyway.

ShallowThought wrote:
It would be interesting to hear from people who're more familiar with the game. Does this become a non-issue with the familiarity of a few more plays?

YES!
 
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Jim Patterson
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Re: A disappointing first look
The map could be bigger; the blocks could be smaller. Overall, though, I think the combination worked OK in the game a friend and I had on Friday. There just aren't enough VP cities to make covering or partially covering them that much of a problem. I do think the map gets cluttered around the straits more than it doss around the VP cities, but even that's pretty survivable. It's a subjective call, but more experience should alleviate the problem.
 
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Re: A disappointing first look
If not knowing the VPs and city names is an issue, It's also easy enough to go to the Columbia Games site and print out a 1-page copy of the map for reference to keep next to the board. I printed out 2 color copies and it seems pretty useful.
 
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Joe Thompson
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Re: A disappointing first look
Thanks for all your replies. I'm heartened that this doesn't appear to be that much of a problem for you all.
 
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M D
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Re: A disappointing first look
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.
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R Larsen
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Re: A disappointing first look
I dont really see how this should be a problem of CG or block games.
I normally have this problem especially with hex and counter games, where you will have to move stacks in tiny hexes in order to see the map below.
The CG system really is an improvement to the standard wargame. (IMHO)
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Neil Henning
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Re: A disappointing first look
mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


How so?
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Brandon Pennington
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Re: A disappointing first look
mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


Please enlighten us on how you would produce the same quality of game (or better) with the same print run and sell it for cheaper while still making a profit.
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Re: A disappointing first look
Vikingwarrior wrote:
mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


How so?

Why do I sense this thread is about to descend into more Paper vs Mounted Maps blither blather?
 
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M D
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Re: A disappointing first look
TGov wrote:
mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


Please enlighten us on how you would produce the same quality of game (or better) with the same print run and sell it for cheaper while still making a profit.


I'm not a game publisher. I'm a game buyer. I open a box of Labyrinth: War on Terror from GMT that I paid $38 for vs. a box of JC which I paid $64 for and it's hard not to wonder what I'm paying for. I'd be curious to know the print run number on Julius Caesar. Having said this, I think JC is an amazing game, I just wish I got more bling for my buck. Hell, I'd simply take a paper map twice the size and be happy.
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Stefan Daniels
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Re: A disappointing first look
mgdpublic wrote:

I'm not a game publisher. I'm a game buyer. I open a box of Labyrinth: War on Terror from GMT that I paid $38 for vs. a box of JC which I paid $64 for and it's hard not to wonder what I'm paying for. I'd be curious to know the print run number on Julius Caesar. Having said this, I think JC is an amazing game, I just wish I got more bling for my buck. Hell, I'd simply take a paper map twice the size and be happy.


Probably something to do with the number of units published and the size of the publisher (I think GMT is bigger than Columbia). I could be wrong but I think these sound like the two primary reasons.
 
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Nicholas
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Re: A disappointing first look
Yes, the map is definitely a pain - I wish it was a bit bigger as well, but really the "fault" lies with the combination of point-to-point movement and multiple blocks. You do get to know the map after a few plays and have to move pieces around less as you play.

I enjoy great components, too, but the nickle and diming complaints about bits always baffles me a little. Isn't the game itself - the intellectual property - the primary thing you are paying for? Sure, there is a certain expected level of quality, but Julius Caesar doesn't fall below this. I always figured I'm paying about $5 for the bits no matter what the game - the rest is for the game idea!
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Re: A disappointing first look
mgdpublic wrote:
I open a box of Labyrinth: War on Terror from GMT that I paid $38 for vs. a box of JC which I paid $64 for and it's hard not to wonder what I'm paying for.

Not fair comparing full MSRP to 36% discount. I just checked B&B - JC is $45 and Labyrinth is $38.
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Re: A disappointing first look
pastabatman wrote:
mgdpublic wrote:
I open a box of Labyrinth: War on Terror from GMT that I paid $38 for vs. a box of JC which I paid $64 for and it's hard not to wonder what I'm paying for.

Not fair comparing full MSRP to 36% discount. I just checked B&B - JC is $45 and Labyrinth is $38.


No exaggeration intended. I did a admittedly quick google search and columbia was the only one that came up.
 
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Re: A disappointing first look
ShallowThought wrote:
Thanks for all your replies. I'm heartened that this doesn't appear to be that much of a problem for you all.


From the title of your post I was expecting a much bigger disapointment than a "too small" map. The title doesn't hint at all that you are referring to components only. Hopefully people just reading titles won't have a false impression.

I believe this game doesn't deserve this, even if the map is a bit small.

Alain
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Joe Thompson
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We played a full game through last night. This time giving up on the idea of always being able to see the faces of all the blocks; and instead placing the blocks in lines behind each other. This was a much easier way to play. It doesn't take that long to flick through the blocks to see the units in a stack, and it's very quick to pick a line up between thumb and forefinger to peek at the city/VP details underneath. I still feel the map is cramped in places - particularly the area where modern Italy is.

The game itself started with 2 pretty dull turns - due to us not really knowing what we were doing. Turn 3 we started playing with more purpose, and turns 4/5 were fantastic. This is a really, really good game and obviously has a lot of depth to explore.
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Joe Thompson
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A_Denis wrote:
From the title of your post I was expecting a much bigger disapointment than a "too small" map. The title doesn't hint at all that you are referring to components only. Hopefully people just reading titles won't have a false impression.


Title updated.
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ad1642
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ShallowThought wrote:
A_Denis wrote:
From the title of your post I was expecting a much bigger disapointment than a "too small" map. The title doesn't hint at all that you are referring to components only. Hopefully people just reading titles won't have a false impression.


Title updated.


that's kind!

I also played my first game last Sunday, won with Ceasar 7-6 and enjoyed it alot too.
 
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Neil Henning
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mgdpublic wrote:
TGov wrote:
mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


Please enlighten us on how you would produce the same quality of game (or better) with the same print run and sell it for cheaper while still making a profit.


I'm not a game publisher. I'm a game buyer. I open a box of Labyrinth: War on Terror from GMT that I paid $38 for vs. a box of JC which I paid $64 for and it's hard not to wonder what I'm paying for. I'd be curious to know the print run number on Julius Caesar. Having said this, I think JC is an amazing game, I just wish I got more bling for my buck. Hell, I'd simply take a paper map twice the size and be happy.


I think this is a fair comparison as both games cost about the same. GMT is slightly cheaper.
As a game buyer I do not care how big or small a company is. So when you get a game that you feel has great production quality for $60 and is a great game I think it is fair to criticise a game that is a great game for $60 but the production quality isn't nearly as good.

If Columbia wants to play with the big boys they need to step it up.

There are plenty of great games out there to choose from so the one that will get my money is the one that has it all and that includes what I consider good production quality.
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I think the production quality is fine. The map is beautiful, and the stickers for the blocks have nice color and detailed shading, and give the appearance of a 3D image as much as possible. Again, the map may be slightly small, but I think any bigger it becomes unwieldy on a normal gaming table.
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Joshua Northey
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mgdpublic wrote:
The small map is very annoying indeed. Unfortunately for me, any game published by Columbia has two strikes against it where production value is concerned. What you get for the money is bordering on insult.


You need to adjust the cost based on the number of sales. Do you understand economics at all? This game isn't monopoly so you cannot have super nice components and still make money, you won't sell enough.

If it becomes crazy popular they will probably do another run at a lower margin.
 
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