Captain Nemo
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Since the Civil War was published I have been interested to see if a better design could be made. Given the opportunity to play PoF I was happy to agree to play.

Not being familiar with the game I started by playing the confederacy. In the first draw I received the KENTUCKY card as well as the vital ROLL A FIVE card for an attack on Washington. For the first turn I ignored my opponents advice to garrison the Mississippi and jockeyed for position in the east in the first impulse before surprising him with the KENTUCKY card in the west, taking Cairo and threatening the north. The reshuffle gave me back the ROLL A FIVE card. I started by a move to take the northern resources and bring down the WE and the Union. Grant fought ferociously and eventually smashed the southern army twice with an effective counter-attack. Then I switched to the east and surprised my opponent with a counter-attack on Washington, which with the vital card fell to the Army of Northern Virginia pulling the Union WE below that of the Confederacy. A Confederate victory on turn two!

For the replay I played the north. The Confederacy rolled up to Washington and took Cairo to hold two key pinning positions. The only Union success was starting the blockade early in the war. Three unsuccessful attacks on Cairo ensued. Eventually Grant succeeded after three failures and with the KENTUCKY card the Union finally achieved counter-play with Pope in Nashville and Grant in Memphis. The Confederacy was psychologically spent and on the point of collapse. Mid-war it all went wrong with three Union defeats rolling 1 against confederate 6. The Union position collapsed, the Army of the Potomac was back in Washington in a mess and the Confederacy regained its frontiers. Worse to come. The MILITIA card prevented any Union recruiting and the Confederacy, having the advantage pressed on , taking the war into the Union. Only fortuitous attrition prevented a Union military loss. Closing on turn 7 it was evident that Lincoln was not going to be doing well enough to survive the election. On turn 7 the Confederacy were dealt the MILITA card again so the Union once again could recruit no troops. The only chance now was a military victory! A major attack in the east now took place towards Richmond. The Confederacy ran out of troops, Lee’s army smashed and the Union broke out but failed to take Richmond. At the final curtain there was one Confederate corps in the West and one in the East, all other troops were dead; three Union corps in the East, one OP short of an attack to finish the Confederacy. Another Confederate victory.

That the Union was defeated badly in four critical battles with rolls of 1 against 6 is not something that could be expected often but game design has to take extremes into account. The more critical issue is being forced to have no recruiting for two turns, which is quite a likely occurrence for the Union but which would hurt the Confederacy much less. Does the game really favour the Union so much that it can win if it loses 25% of its recruiting? A very clever game that draws together the disparate parts of the war. The difficulty is to decide if victory or defeat is due to your use of resources or the impact of dice rolls and card draws. A game worth investigating even if some individual detail is questionable but I think I will be keeping my copy of A House Divided for the moment.
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Rauli Kettunen
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hammurabi70 wrote:
The MILITIA card prevented any Union recruiting and the Confederacy, having the advantage pressed on , taking the war into the Union.


I think you mean "War Weariness" here.

Quote:
The only chance now was a military victory! A major attack in the east now took place towards Richmond. The Confederacy ran out of troops, Lee’s army smashed and the Union broke out but failed to take Richmond. At the final curtain there was one Confederate corps in the West and one in the East, all other troops were dead; three Union corps in the East, one OP short of an attack to finish the Confederacy. Another Confederate victory.


If/when WW hits, you have to husband your forces more carefully than usual, any attacks against, say Richmond should be forgotten completely IMO. Especially late game as the default modifiers are already very unfavourable for the Union: CSA +3 (home, capital and late game, doesn't even include any commander bonus) vs Union -2 (enemy capital, though Sheridan probably gives +1).

Quote:
The more critical issue is being forced to have no recruiting for two turns, which is quite a likely occurrence for the Union but which would hurt the Confederacy much less. Does the game really favour the Union so much that it can win if it loses 25% of its recruiting?


WW is a tough card, but once you know it is in the deck, you can plan around it, mostly by keeping your corps near the maximum allowed, ideally at max. Very rarely will you lose 2 corps per combat, even your bigger army probably inflicts some casualties on the other side (from a Union POV).

Who says the game favours Union? My results after 54 plays have the wins split 27-27 (could be 28-26, too lazy to check), balance has been just about perfect for me.

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The difficulty is to decide if victory or defeat is due to your use of resources or the impact of dice rolls and card draws. A game worth investigating even if some individual detail is questionable but I think I will be keeping my copy of A House Divided for the moment.


How exactly does AHD differ? You roll dice, lot more dice in that one and can't even hedge your bet with modifiers like in PoF. For me, after I got PoF, AHD never had a chance to come out again, PoF just blew it out of the water in so many ways (luckily at least I managed to sell AHD so it's not taking up space): generals, army limits, political aspect (even if something like Emancipation), playing time, victory conditions (last one is especially horrid in AHD, had a game where Union held everything but Richmond but could not crack it and lost, in PoF, Union would get a Military Victory if that happened).
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Renaud Verlaque
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Rauli, you're da man. Remind me to look you up next I'm in Helsinki (or do you live in a more remote part of Finland?)

I may be in part guilty of misleading advertising, but PoF is not really a simple game. It has many dimensions. What it does not do is use unit, time and map scales that belong more to games covering campaigns rather than entire wars.
 
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Captain Nemo
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Dam the Man wrote:
hammurabi70 wrote:
The MILITIA card prevented any Union recruiting and the Confederacy, having the advantage pressed on , taking the war into the Union.


I think you mean "War Weariness" here.

Quote:
The only chance now was a military victory! A major attack in the east now took place towards Richmond. The Confederacy ran out of troops, Lee’s army smashed and the Union broke out but failed to take Richmond. At the final curtain there was one Confederate corps in the West and one in the East, all other troops were dead; three Union corps in the East, one OP short of an attack to finish the Confederacy. Another Confederate victory.


If/when WW hits, you have to husband your forces more carefully than usual, any attacks against, say Richmond should be forgotten completely IMO. Especially late game as the default modifiers are already very unfavourable for the Union: CSA +3 (home, capital and late game, doesn't even include any commander bonus) vs Union -2 (enemy capital, though Sheridan probably gives +1).

Quote:
The more critical issue is being forced to have no recruiting for two turns, which is quite a likely occurrence for the Union but which would hurt the Confederacy much less. Does the game really favour the Union so much that it can win if it loses 25% of its recruiting?


Correct card. The Confederacy played this card on turn 7 so husbanding corps was now irrelevant. It was the second time it has been played. The ONLY option available in this instance was the military one. The Union no longer had any troops in the West and the Confederacy only one corps. All other troops were in the East. The only win option was to destroy the Confederate army in the east and all of them were in Richmond. Thus attacking Richmond was inevitable. An odd way to finish the game.

Quote:
The more critical issue is being forced to have no recruiting for two turns, which is quite a likely occurrence for the Union but which would hurt the Confederacy much less. Does the game really favour the Union so much that it can win if it loses 25% of its recruiting?


Quote:
Who says the game favours Union? My results after 54 plays have the wins split 27-27 (could be 28-26, too lazy to check), balance has been just about perfect for me.


On average the players go through the cards twice during a game. On average in one in four games the Confederacy will play it twice. I do not recall the time delineation; if it can only be played in the latter half of the game then it becomes one game in eight. In fact I held the card twice as well so it came up four times in one game; playing it as the Union is much less interesting in terms of effect. When it gets played twice it deprives the Union of any reinforcements and if that happens twice then that is 25% of reinforcements gone. In fact it is worse because in a seven turn game it becomes 2/7 of reinforcements that have gone - 28%. So either (a) the loss of 28% of Union troops means that troops are not that important, or (b) there is a bias in the system towards the Union. A corps is worth +1 as a DRM. It was notable that whereas the Confederacy was literally down to their last two corps half the Union army had never been deployed - those ten corps of reinforcements were sorely missed. To me it looks better as a play-once card.

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The difficulty is to decide if victory or defeat is due to your use of resources or the impact of dice rolls and card draws. A game worth investigating even if some individual detail is questionable but I think I will be keeping my copy of A House Divided for the moment.


Quote:
How exactly does AHD differ? You roll dice, lot more dice in that one and can't even hedge your bet with modifiers like in PoF. For me, after I got PoF, AHD never had a chance to come out again, PoF just blew it out of the water in so many ways (luckily at least I managed to sell AHD so it's not taking up space): generals, army limits, political aspect (even if something like Emancipation), playing time, victory conditions (last one is especially horrid in AHD, had a game where Union held everything but Richmond but could not crack it and lost, in PoF, Union would get a Military Victory if that happened).


A lot more dice increases the application of the law of averages. Any game with dice can be liable to the impact of dice variables. Having three critical battles go bad with a 1-6 unfavourable result is a rare chance effect that you have to live with but evidently in PoF each die roll is more critical. Political aspects are the product of cards and I am not sure what effective control that gives the player. Getting the blockade is significant so as the Union I need to pick up the cards three times and NOT have the Confederates pick up a blockade card. I am not sure what skill there is other than the luck of the card draw. The second game swung back and forth: skilled play or random chance? Of course all games have these elements in some way; preferred games give players greater input, or the illusion of such control. As I wrote: A game worth investigating. However, where Civil War has a system to spread activity across the theatres there is no equivalent here except perhaps the card forcing an attack; the generals and command rules feel to me a little contrived. I do not have [i] Civil War [/q] (too complex) and feel AHD needs augmenting but I am not convinced of PoF.

But I do not want to go into greater detail. All games require some level of compromise and each individual has their own choice to make so it is good that we can have variety to choose from.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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hammurabi70 wrote:
On average the players go through the cards twice during a game. On average in one in four games the Confederacy will play it twice. I do not recall the time delineation; if it can only be played in the latter half of the game then it becomes one game in eight.


WW is turn 5+ card, so for more than half the game (most of my plays have ended turn 7) it's only 3OP. There are also three deck reshuffler cards (Kentucky, Draft, Conf Inflations) as well as Emancipation which reshuffles the deck, so I wouldn't say you go through the cards twice with all the reshuffling. Although there is "In God We Trust" to take a card back from the discard pile.

Quote:
It was notable that whereas the Confederacy was literally down to their last two corps half the Union army had never been deployed - those ten corps of reinforcements were sorely missed. To me it looks better as a play-once card.


2 turns of recruiting is not 10 corps, it's 6 corps early-War (though moot since WW is late-War), 4 corps late-War (6 corps with Draft).

Quote:
Getting the blockade is significant so as the Union I need to pick up the cards three times and NOT have the Confederates pick up a blockade card.


Union in general draws more cards and for Union, each Blockade lets them place 2 Blockade markers (one each coast), while for CSA, they can only remove 1 marker per Blockade. So each Blockade for Union is basically two Blockade cards for CSA. Two Blockade cards + naval invasion of on AC location = both coasts Blockaded.

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I am not sure what skill there is other than the luck of the card draw. The second game swung back and forth: skilled play or random chance?


If you don't like your hand, you have the option to discarding it and drawing a new hand with -1 card. Especially Union with their pretty normal 10 card hand, don't have Blockade but need one, discard and draw 9 (well 8 since C-in-C doesn't count), you'll be going through the deck rather quickly.
 
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Captain Nemo
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Dam the Man wrote:
WW is turn 5+ card, so for more than half the game (most of my plays have ended turn 7) it's only 3OP. There are also three deck reshuffler cards (Kentucky, Draft, Conf Inflations) as well as Emancipation which reshuffles the deck, so I wouldn't say you go through the cards twice with all the reshuffling. Although there is "In God We Trust" to take a card back from the discard pile.

So about one game in eight but more frequent if the In God We Trust card is played. True the reshuffle card makes it a complex calculation.

Quote:
2 turns of recruiting is not 10 corps, it's 6 corps early-War (though moot since WW is late-War), 4 corps late-War (6 corps with Draft).

As you cannot place Corps as reinforcements or from the card, and I would expect to add more from cards, it means 5 each time.

Quote:
Union in general draws more cards and for Union, each Blockade lets them place 2 Blockade markers (one each coast), while for CSA, they can only remove 1 marker per Blockade. So each Blockade for Union is basically two Blockade cards for CSA. Two Blockade cards + naval invasion of on AC location = both coasts Blockaded.

You need three cards for the Atlantic coast without the confederacy knocking one off through getting a card. It is not clear that invading a port is equivalent to taking the blockade area outside it but that would help. Still looks a bit of chance on the cards.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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hammurabi70 wrote:
It is not clear that invading a port is equivalent to taking the blockade area outside it but that would help. Still looks a bit of chance on the cards.


"A coast is blockaded if each of its coastal regions is Union-controlled and/or the
corresponding blockade box contains at least 1 Union blockade marker, e.g., the Gulf
Coast is blockaded if the Union controls New Orleans and Mobile is blockaded." (p. 7)

One Blockade card + Butler to New Orleans shuts down the Gulf Coast right off the bat.
 
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John Steidl
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I am not sure what skill there is other than the luck of the card draw.


I just dusted this off recently, so not speaking here from personal knowledge of PoF. I've played quite a bit of Empire of the Sun recently though, and when I started that, my initial impression was that luck with the cards would overshadow skill in the game. It turns out that luck with the cards does play a factor in determining the course of that game, but that just adds to replay value without really overshadowing skill.

I would guess that the same is true for PoF, and Rauli's experience seems to bear that out.

There is no doubt that people who like to be able to control the course of a game with skillful play might not enjoy CDGs as much as non-CDGs, even where they are well balanced.

Cheers.
 
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