Good games ruined by bad combat systems....
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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It's happened to you. You buy a game, read the rules, it's full of awesome and innovative mechanics. Then you play it and realize the game is rendered completely worthless by a tragically flawed combat system. Hours of your life are gone, and the pain is compounded by all that gaming goodness, spoiled by that one critically broken, critically important combat subsystem.
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1. Board Game: Age of Conan: The Strategy Board Game [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1339]
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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This could have been a great, great game. Excellent license. Superb production. Yet, this precious opportunity has been THROWN AWAY. It wouldn't be so bad if the game did not contain several excellent and intriguing ideas. The pain is acute. I can only bow my head and wonder, WHY?!?

The problem with this game is not the length, not the complexity, not the fact that you don't actually play Conan. No, the problem here is that the designers created a great, dynamic, tense combat system and then just threw it away. The most interesting battles in Age of Conan are those conducted against neutral provinces. The push-your-luck aspect of choosing whether or not to force march is brilliant. Player battles are, by contrast, rather boring affairs.

They could have placed control marker removal at the end of a campaign, but instead they chose to front-load it. Given the way the dice are stacked in favor of the attacker, the results are very predictable. It's very difficult to hold onto anything you've built. Much better to just save your cards for the counter-attack, because attack is all that matters in this game; not position, not internal lines of communication, just getting 5 armies together to attack. 5 attacker dice will crush 5 defender dice. 1/2 vs. 1/3. Ties don't mean squat. The only hope is if you can get Conan to help you defend. If that's actually the point, it sucks.

It's such a tragically squandered opportunity it actually makes me physically angry...
 
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2. Board Game: Sword of Rome [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:854]
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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Again, such a close brush with gaming GREATNESS, LOST!
Everything about this game absolutely rocks (save the long playing time), but it's all undone by the tragically broken combat system.
When you fail, you fail utterly. And it can happen no matter how much you outnumber your opponent. You can play for 6 hours and loose it all because of one catastrophic die roll.

A brilliant system, ruined.

Think I'm going to have a bloody stroke...
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3. Board Game: Warrior Knights [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:841]
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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Again, almost everything about this game draws you in, and then you realize how utterly random the combat system is. Force ratios have barely any impact in most battles. All that really matters is who draws the most victory cards. May as well just have both players flip a coin. A real shame because there is a lot to like in this one otherwise.

Sweet Jesus.
 
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4. Board Game: Age of Mythology: The Boardgame [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:2492]
Bryan Maxwell
United States
Burtchville
Michigan
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The creatures and units in the game were more interesting to look at than to enter combat with. The "let's chuck handfuls of dice" combat felt out of place. It's a shame, AoM has potential. And nifty little miniatures.
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5. Board Game: Fury of Dracula (second edition) [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:404]
John Culp
United States
Gillette
Wyoming
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not saying this game is 'ruined' by the combat...but combat is by far the weakest part of this game. each player rolls a die, and the highest wins. ugh. there's more to the combat than that, but too often Dracula will set himself up for a strike on Mina in the middle of the night, and roll crappy and end the game.
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6. Board Game: Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:49]
 
Ian
Denmark
København
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Now I wouldn't call this a "great game", in fact, I would call it nothing close to that. I must, however, say that it squanders so much potential - most of all with the combat system.

yuk The Axis-and-Allies style of combat system is garbage, it takes a very long time to play out a combat, and is so attrition heavy that it discourages combat. Combat is rarely worthwhile if attacking someone destroys your own forces to such an extent that you become easy prey for the other players.

...and don't even get me started about the units. Is there a reason to use large ships? Why not just spam with fighters and carriers? That seems to be the only viable strategy.

I have heard that the expansion "fixes" this game or at least "pulls it out of the latrine" - but does it do anything to combat?
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7. Board Game: Junta [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:949]
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
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Pitying fools as hard as I can...
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All of the election, favor trading, backstabbing, and assassination in the game is awesome. Unfortunately, every so often a coup happens and the game drags to a grinding halt. A shame because it really doesn't seem like it needs to be that complicated/lengthy.
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8. Board Game: Chess [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:421] [Average Rating:7.09 Unranked]
 
Larry Welborn
United States
Anderson
South Carolina
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Horribly biased towards the attacker. Even the weakest unit in the game, the pawn, will take out the strongest if it is the attacker.
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9. Board Game: Middle-Earth Quest [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:433]
Bonaparte
United States
DesMoines
Washington
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This is an interesting and unique game with good mechanics, but the combat system is too symbolic for a individual character based game. It is hard for me to imagine an elf dueling the Ring Wraiths, let alone walking away "fatigued" when they lose.
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10. Board Game: Return of the Heroes [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1674] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Roberto Arbelaez
United States
Boca Raton
Florida
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This game is a very decent fantasy game.

However, the combat system (if you can call it that) is basically throwing 1D6, adding bonuses, and comparing with a target value. You either suceed or fail. That's it, just one die roll. If you fail combat, you take some damage and your turn is over.

For some people that is good, for me, it kills the game. I wish the game had a better combat system, like Runebound has (of course, I've read some posts stating a dislike for RuneBound's combat system because they think it is too complex and they prefer the simplicity of Return of the Heroes - go figure)




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11. Board Game: StarCraft: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:341]
Justin Bagley
United States
Berkeley
California
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This game has it all. Cool components, cool theme, playable in a relatively short time. However the card driven combat falls flat for me. This isn't a game I get to play too often, and when I do it is common for others to be new to the game. It seems like the combat system requires multiple plays to enjoy. For new and occasional players it just seems unnecessarily obtuse.
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12. Board Game: War of the Ring [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2383]
Rob Rob
United States
Tampa
Florida
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Individual combat = the Fellowship is discovered by a single roving Nazgul. The Fellowship lines up, single file, to fight the Nazgul. If there are more than one enemy, they also line up single file. Combat continues until one side is eliminated, no retreat, no surrender. Meat grinder style. zombie
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13. Board Game: Antike [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:567]
Andy M
United Kingdom
Norwich
Norfolk
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If combat in this game was something other than 'trading' it might actually be interesting. Euro games often go down this route of combat, and they need to buck their ideas up.
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14. Board Game: Axis & Allies [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1051]
Ralph T
United States
Signal Hill
California
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All the Axis & Allies games have combat that takes far longer than it should and involve 4 times more die rolls per round than necessary. It was the next new thing in 1989--it has room for a lot of improvement in 2009.
 
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15. Board Game: Marvel Heroes [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1813]
Ralph T
United States
Signal Hill
California
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One of the few games that uses a rock-paper-scissors method of combat, but the combat is so random and time consuming that guessing right seldom affects the outcome.
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