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Subject: First game fell flat rss

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Cameron Chien
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Before I get into the impressions and questions, I had a few rules questions:

Does a revealed and equipped card count towards the "4 card carry limit"?

Can you reveal a ranged weapon and use it during the same OpFire phase?

Can you switch between multiple weapons at will? Say, shoot a bow then move up and switch to a melee weapon?

We played Mission 1: Rush, and it was a bust. Six players, all first time but experienced gamers.

I think it is a poor starting scenario. Too many characters on the board, and the game just fell flat. A lot of people thought the game was overly complicated just for the sake of being overly complicated. Sooooo many different stats, so many things going on, but not in a good way. It was like going to an ice cream store with a hundred flavors. More options was not necessarily better.

There also seem to be a million little rules to remember.

I want to like the game, but we considered the following changes:

Only one active character at a time per player.

A different win condition. The random nature of the encounters was just that, random. Is there some sort of "default" win/achievement rules? The base game comes with only three Missions, and we had no idea which one you're supposed to play with.

We liked that the encounters de-emphasize combat, since some characters are lousy at combat. Maybe play with four platters, lots of labyrinths and encounters?

Cameron
 
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Cameron Chien
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Also, is it correct that in other Missions the White Team's first turn consists of nothing but placing their highest Respect characters on the board?

Cameron
 
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Bern Harkins
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Zeede wrote:

Does a revealed and equipped card count towards the "4 card carry limit"?


Yes. However, deployed Sentinels and Hunters do not, nor do placed Monuments.

Quote:
Can you reveal a ranged weapon and use it during the same OpFire phase?


Yes. Generally, cards are revealed at the moment they are used. For instance, you would not reveal an armor card until you take damage. (Remember that this is a computer simulation; armor "appearing" after you have been shot at does not violate any physical laws, here.)

Quote:
Can you switch between multiple weapons at will? Say, shoot a bow then move up and switch to a melee weapon?


Yes, you can switch weapons at any time. However, you would usually not be able to both fire and move on the same turn; Op-fire is for the inactive team, not the team that is Moving, and Firing prevents Moving.

Quote:
We played Mission 1: Rush, and it was a bust. Six players, all first time but experienced gamers.

I think it is a poor starting scenario. Too many characters on the board, and the game just fell flat. A lot of people thought the game was overly complicated just for the sake of being overly complicated. Sooooo many different stats, so many things going on, but not in a good way. It was like going to an ice cream store with a hundred flavors. More options was not necessarily better.

There also seem to be a million little rules to remember.

I want to like the game, but we considered the following changes:

Only one active character at a time per player.

A different win condition. The random nature of the encounters was just that, random. Is there some sort of "default" win/achievement rules? The base game comes with only three Missions, and we had no idea which one you're supposed to play with.

We liked that the encounters de-emphasize combat, since some characters are lousy at combat. Maybe play with four platters, lots of labyrinths and encounters?

Cameron


There's always the possibility that DOA may not suit you or your group; it's not for everyone.

That said, some of your problems resolve themselves naturally with repeated plays. The number of stats IS large, but they are laid out in a very logical way, and familiarity comes quickly. Not one-game quickly, perhaps, but midway through the second, everyone should be pretty firm on combat related stats, and the icons make it easy to determine what you should be using in any circumstance.

The complexity is a feature, not a bug. The combat portion of DOA is descended from hex and chit wargames, and is actually an amazingly lean rule set for the amount if tactical depth it provides. Once you get used to it, it's very empowering, giving you numerous paths to improving your chances... but tactical simulations are complex by nature, and take some getting used to. If you are used to simpler methods of combat resolution, it's like opening up a well stocked tool box, and thinking what you have is just a bunch of funny shaped, inefficient looking hammers.

The randomness... will persist; this game is a crazed experience, and meant to be. The uncertainty of the outcomes of Adventure attempts can be nerve wracking, and you have to keep modifying your plans. From my standpoint, this is a major source of fun in the game, but you ain't playing Power Grid.

I like labyrinth scenarios better than Rush. Rush is fun if time is limited, but it never really develops the way a labyrinth game does.

Looking over your collection and ratings, I think there's a good chance you will come to love this game, but it takes a few tries for everything to click. Remember your first few games of Arkham or Battlestar? DOA has a similar learning curve; ultimately, it's about the same complexity level, but may be more unfamiliar to start with.

Also, it's important to keep in mind that thematically, this game (A.) simulates a virtual reality, and things make more "sense" if yoou remember you are in a computer simulation, and (B.)simulates a sporting event, so victory is based on the scoreboard (Achievements) ONLY. The idea is not to win combats, although that helps. The idea is not to Adventure, or attack the enemy base, although THOSE help. The idea is to have the best score at the end, any way you can swing it.

So in summary, yeah, you did start with a "flatter" scenario, and one game won't really show you what the game has to offer. It still may not be for you, but I'd recommend giving a few more tries. It greatly improves with familiarity. The rest of my own group was underwhelmed (though entertained) with our first play, but now, everyone enjoys it and other players suggest it.


I would definitely try that before fudging around with house rules; the game is tightly balanced and extensively play tested, and the reasons for some rules may not be apparent until you have a grasp of the struggle. I think it would be fairly hard to "break" with a few modifications, but you might miss out on some pretty clever nuances.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and good gaming!
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Bern Harkins
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Zeede wrote:
Also, is it correct that in other Missions the White Team's first turn consists of nothing but placing their highest Respect characters on the board?

Cameron


That is correct; the first turn will be only a Reinforcement phase. The first few turns tend to go very quickly, as do the last few (as characters are committed to their final goals, limiting the amount of planning necessary... and there are a few less live, free characters).
 
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Bern Harkins
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Oh, and if you haven't already downloaded it...

http://www.duelofages.com/Content/Documents/Duel%20of%20Ages...

The Master Compendium is the real rule book, hosted online since it is a "living document"; the one in the Basic set is more of a tutorial.
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Aaron Steiner
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Experienced players or not, I've found that the tutorials are a must for teaching/learning. The game is not hard, but it is very different, and the tutorials ease players into the right mindset quickly. You might have lost your chance for a good impression, but if you have one other player that would be willing to step back and walk through the tutorial missions, you'll probably be OK.

(BTW, I found the tutorials to be fun missions in their own right.)

One character each would be a disaster. The key part of the game is the interaction of characters. A few characters on the board would be terribly dull.
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Aaron Steiner
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You should play through the three rulebook missions in order as well. That gives you the good cross-section of.mission types. The Masters Compendium has like 25-30 mission types to choose from, before you start creating your own.
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Denise Lavely
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Wald wrote:
You should play through the three rulebook missions in order as well. That gives you the good cross-section of.mission types. The Masters Compendium has like 25-30 mission types to choose from, before you start creating your own.


This. Especially if you are finding the game to be too complex. The missions are specifically designed to break down the complexity so you can absorb the game a bit at a time.

I owned and played the old Duel of Ages & had played it a LOT, and when DOA II came out I went through the training missions one by one. It was well worth it, and did not seem too easy. The training missions are very carefully crafted and present interesting challenges in their own right. Absolutely work through these, I think that will solve most of your problems with the game.
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Bern Harkins
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We skipped the training missions. I am not necessarily recommending that approach.

Three members of my gaming group are old hands at hex-and-chit wargaming. As I explained the movement rules, one of the players actually commented, "So one hex movement impeding ZOC's..."

The fourth member of our group never touched a designer game until 1999. She had no idea what a ZOC was, and had never dealt with line-of-sight in any context more complex that Descent. She had a MUCH harder time getting her (considerable) brain around the concepts involved...

Some of the workings of this game are based on mechanics that were at one time common and well understood among the gaming community. They have fallen out of use, and new adapters have to learn them anew.

This is an unfortunate extra bar to new players, but really, these are sound mechanics that add a great deal to the gaming experience. They are well worth mastering.
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Adam Lucas
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Wald wrote:
You should play through the three rulebook missions in order as well. That gives you the good cross-section of.mission types. The Masters Compendium has like 25-30 mission types to choose from, before you start creating your own.


I learned the game through playing the tutorial missions, which are great for learning the rules, but at the same time lack a lot of the fun of the game.

My suggestion would be to pull the game out again an go through a few of the tutorial missions with one other opponent or play versus yourself to get all the rules down. Once someone has a good understanding of the game then you could try the game again and things will go smoother.

Something else that helps with the game, stress that like a war game, the game tends to favour the defenders, but unlike a war game, combat is not the focal point. Killing makes it easier for you to move around the board, but if you focus on it then you'll never catch up on achievements. In a triad labryinth game there are seven achievements and combat is only one.
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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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Wald wrote:
You should play through the three rulebook missions in order as well. That gives you the good cross-section of.mission types. The Masters Compendium has like 25-30 mission types to choose from, before you start creating your own.


How long are they to play, in a row ?

I fear that the first 2 mission will be too much combat orientated and be disliked by the less combat-minded part of our group.
 
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Denise Lavely
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Not sure how long they are to play in a row, but you don't have to play the training missions with the WHOLE group, just pick one other person to learn with you. Once there are one or two people who really understand the rules, you can teach the game without going through the training missions with everyone. I taught the game last weekend to two people who had never played - we went straight to a Dual game (2 platters, 6 characters per side) and they played while I was the explainer-on-the-side. It worked fine.
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Hi Nathaniel, thanks for sharing your group's frustration. Here's what we did in my group to jump past that initial learning curve.

It may not have been ideal, but we did not actually play the tutorial trials of Mission 1 (Face Off, Crossfire, Storming, and Rush) because I was worried that my players would get tired of them very quickly. Instead our first game was Mission 2: Triad. But first I walked the players through the rules and interactions that are introduced with each trial. We went through the game concepts and used the same sample characters that the rules do; we just didn't play them. I had my friends play out mock combats and run through a couple of mock adventures using the labyrinth guardians and challenge deck.

I tried not to cover each of the character stats in great depth. That came naturally after each player had had a character in combat a couple of times. Likewise, we did not discuss each terrain type immediately, although I explained how movement works and showed them the player reference card and how to read it. Later in the actual game, when a new type of terrain became relevant we checked the card and saw how it affected movement and line of sight.

It seems like certain stats stay confusing to some of our players longer than other stats do. For example, everybody understands Speed, Strength, Health, and the ranged stats. But Honor vs. Respect, and Power vs. Damage... those still trick some folks even after they've played a couple of times.

Another thing that can take a while to learn is how weapons and other items work. In hindsight I wish I had had my group play its first game with all cards face up so that we could discuss what they do. In your first game there is no real expectation of fierce competition, after all: it's a learning experience.


The mechanisms in this wonderful game are very simple, it's just that there are so many of them! That is what seems to offer the learning curve. I hope the advice that you are getting in this thread is of use to you, and good luck on your next session!
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Cameron Chien
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I skipped the tutorial missions because the first two just teach melee and ranged combat, and the game has a lot for non-combat characters to do.

I think people would be willing to try it again. It's interesting that the encounter tokens aren't used in a lot of the missions.

Cameron
 
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Nathaniel GOUSSET
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Feelitmon wrote:
Hi Nathaniel, thanks for sharing your group's frustration. Here's what we did in my group to jump past that initial learning curve.

It may not have been ideal, but we did not actually play the tutorial trials of Mission 1 (Face Off, Crossfire, Storming, and Rush) because I was worried that my players would get tired of them very quickly. Instead our first game was Mission 2: Triad. But first I walked the players through the rules and interactions that are introduced with each trial. We went through the game concepts and used the same sample characters that the rules do; we just didn't play them. I had my friends play out mock combats and run through a couple of mock adventures using the labyrinth guardians and challenge deck.

I tried not to cover each of the character stats in great depth. That came naturally after each player had had a character in combat a couple of times. Likewise, we did not discuss each terrain type immediately, although I explained how movement works and showed them the player reference card and how to read it. Later in the actual game, when a new type of terrain became relevant we checked the card and saw how it affected movement and line of sight.

It seems like certain stats stay confusing to some of our players longer than other stats do. For example, everybody understands Speed, Strength, Health, and the ranged stats. But Honor vs. Respect, and Power vs. Damage... those still trick some folks even after they've played a couple of times.

Another thing that can take a while to learn is how weapons and other items work. In hindsight I wish I had had my group play its first game with all cards face up so that we could discuss what they do. In your first game there is no real expectation of fierce competition, after all: it's a learning experience.


The mechanisms in this wonderful game are very simple, it's just that there are so many of them! That is what seems to offer the learning curve. I hope the advice that you are getting in this thread is of use to you, and good luck on your next session!


Thanks... But I am NOT the original poster
 
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Damon Asher
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This is now one of my favorite games, but there is no denying that my first few plays were a slog. Even after years of playing DOA1, my first play of DOA2 was a learning experience. I think I would expect first plays to be similar to yours.

However, once you internalize the rules, and with a couple more plays you will, this game comes ALIVE, and you will see that all that apparent complexity is there to provide you with interesting things to do. The mechanisms of the game will become somewhat more natural and you will be able to fully experience the amazing narrative this game generates. Hang in there!

Lowering the per-player character count would be a good idea until you get up to speed. I'd suggest 2 or 3 per player.



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John
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IKerensky wrote:
Thanks... But I am NOT the original poster

Oooooops, forum foul! Sorry about that. blush
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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You've gotten some fantastic advice already, especially about how different you'll find the game once you move on to Triad missions and beyond.

That's when you'll finally move past the learning and teaching of the mechanics and get into the real meat of the game tactically and strategically.

One thing I want to address though is this:

Zeede wrote:
I want to like the game, but we considered the following changes:

Only one active character at a time per player.


I highly advise against this. Based on numerous demos at Cons I find the exact opposite is one of the keys to enjoying the game for most people.

In general I've found 4 player demos (4 characters each) > 6 Player Demos (3 characters each) > 8 player demos (only 2 characters each). Even more than downtime I've found that the more characters per player the more likely a favorable first experience.

Because of the nature of the game there can often be long stretches (and even entire games) where particular characters are getting all the glory while others are little more than supporting cast.

Having less characters under a player's control increases the odds that they can be sidelined by circumstances. (not being able to get their hands on useful cards, getting killed or imprisoned, etc.)
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Aaron Bohm
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A couple things in case no one else mentioned them:

1. Rush is my least favorite scenario. Since it doesn't have the adventure keys, the game will feel like there's much ado about nothing. You run around collecting circles and shooting opponents. Other scenarios (further in the book) give a more "full" game feel.

2. It really helps having the game explained by someone who knows how to play. I understand that might not be a possibility but here's how it pertains to you:

The stats are really not that overwhelming when you think that everything in the game requires a challenge (even combat) and each stat is simply how good your character is at a particular challenge. In addition to that, almost each stat has an additional attribute it contributes to the game (knowledge and strength determine which items you can use, for example).

When I explain these two things to a new group, they don't typically have a problem with it being too complicated and I think simplifying it relieves some anxiety. Find out which stat you need, find out whether you're higher or lower, and flip a card.

3. As mentioned above, the game isn't for everyone. I noticed that finding a small group who are willing to play it on a regular basis is better than trying to force it with an entire group.
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Josh Koehn
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Radulla wrote:

Three members of my gaming group are old hands at hex-and-chit wargaming. As I explained the movement rules, one of the players actually commented, "So one hex movement impeding ZOC's..."

The fourth member of our group never touched a designer game until 1999. She had no idea what a ZOC was, and had never dealt with line-of-sight in any context more complex that Descent. She had a MUCH harder time getting her (considerable) brain around the concepts involved...


I am sort of a gamer, I have played (and own) DoA original, and got DoA II as soon as I could. But here comes the sad part, What is a ZOC? ( I think it is a zone of somesort) If someone could please tell me to remove my ignorance, I would greatly appreciate it.
 
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-=::) Dante (::=-
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DuelistofAges wrote:
What is a ZOC?


Don't feel bad, I had to Google it myself:

Zone of Control
 
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Bern Harkins
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It was probably a mistake for me to even introduce the term ZOC into the discussion, since DOA does not use it... doubly so since Wikipedia refers to adjacent hex zones of control.

This is actually only the most common form of ZOC; some games use the single hex in which the counter rests as its ZOC, and this is the case in DOA.

So forget about ZOCs; they aren't really relevant, its just how one of our players linked DOA's mechanics to other games we were familiar with.
 
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Josh Koehn
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Okay, thank you guys.
 
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