Timo Ollikainen
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Hi!

I'm looking for a good hex n' counter game for more than two players. Currently I have The Supreme Commander and Unconditional Surrender! WW2 in Europe under my radar. I haven't done any detailed research with neither of the games... I was hoping to hear some comments or maybe a detailed comparison/pros-cons etc. from you before diving inside the rulebooks.

Regards,
Timo
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Salvatore Vasta
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I have not played SC to be able to make a direct comparison. I have seen its components and an early test version a few years back. As far as I know, relative to USE, I would say SC seems more traditional in its mechanics and scale.

For a review of USE, I highly recommend Paul McGuane's USE Review.

If you have specific questions regarding how USE's handles things, ask and I'll answer them.

As for more than two players, SC lists 2-5 players while USE lists 2-4.

I believe 4 is the maximum USE can have and keep everyone involved. I have had several playtest reports that said USE played well with 3-4 players. If playing the campaign game, during the early years one of the Allied factions will not have a lot to do until the Axis attacks them. That is typical of these games.

Sal
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Chris Friend
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Timo - USE hasn't been shipped yet and I've not gotten into the ruleset too much yet so I can't say. I can say the TSC is a great game and I have to agree with Mr. Sal, that TSC seems more traditional in its mechanics and scale. I'm eagerly awaiting arrival of USE. If you can afford it why not go for both?
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Arthur Dougherty
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I've played a few turns in Supreme Commander and I've read the rulebook to Unconditional Surrender a few times but I'm sure my response won't be 100% on the mark.

One difference I found is the scope to some degree. Unconditional Surrender lists a playing time of up to 50 hours for the full campaign. Having played some turns in Supreme Commander, I could see that game really moving at a clip.

Here's one embarrassing confession... my start in wargaming was basically Axis and Allies, dozens of games of Axis and Allies. In that game, you get your income, you purchase units, you go stomp and take territory, which provides more income. Repeat. Supreme Commander, to completely oversimplify it to an insulting degree, has that similar vibe. You can spend points on research, reinforcements, diplomacy... stuff like that. Maybe another possible comparison could be spending WRPS or whatever in A World At War, but you don't have to pay for military actions in Supreme Commander. Once you spend, you go into classic mechanics war game mode with movement points, attack factors, supply and things like that. There's a fun bit with naval units where you can put dummy counters into certain naval theaters to try and bluff your opponent, soloing this aspect was a touch tricky for me.

Anyway, even though the rulebook clocks in at 35+ pages or whatever for Supreme Commander, I find it to be a fun, straightforward game in the end that I feel could easily be played to completion in one long day or an easy weekend. Hoping to get a face to face game in soon to see if it really does keep that pace as you get further into the war.

There's some sandbox aspects to Supreme Commander given that you can mostly do what you want as long as you can afford to pay for it and have the units in your force pool. But, there are certain things that are what they are... like the US entry date into the war. In my mind, what I hoped for from Supreme Commander, and what I believe I got, was a real hex and counter war game I could use to replace Axis and Allies as the get the guys back together for an extended dork session of WW2 proportions.

With Unconditional Surrender, I feel you get a unique take on WW2 strategic level gaming. Now I say this as someone not particularly well-versed in all the options out there. Unconditional Surrender forgoes a number of typical tropes in order to establish a specific, consistent take of life at this scale. You won't be pushing quite as many counters around because Unconditional Surrender insists on staying up around the Army level while a number of other games have a lot of units at the Corp level, allow breakdown and combining, have more involved stacking limits, things like that. I feel Unconditional Surrender cuts down on that overhead by leaving things at the one scale so to speak.

Unconditional Surrender also has a number of mechanics that you don't see very often. Movement and combat are all built into the same phase basically. Each unit gets a certain amount of points to spend on a turn. Those points have to cover where you want to go and if you want to fight. So an armor unit's 10 MP might get spent by moving a bit, doing a quick mobile attack, moving one more, and hoping you have the points left to position yourself for an assault. Then you activate the next unit and maybe do something similar, leaving yourself with two units positioned for an assault, which is how you coordinate multiple units on one attack.

In USE, you don't conquer to get more income to then spend more. Taking over territory comes with a certain tax on the conquering side. It becomes something you have to take care of instead of just milking it for cash. I feel USE probably has some more diplomatic uncertainty to it with the counters you have to use for certain political events where TSC is just paying to move a track a lot of the time.

In the end, I want both titles in my collection. I see TSC being the game that I can actually play face to face and have a shot of completing. The mechanics are more in the classic war game vein, and I feel like it's meant to move along in a more beer and pretzel way (maybe not a ton of beer but I mean this in a good way).

Unconditional Surrender feels more like a very accessible monster game. Its scope, at least in terms of time commitment, seems much higher, even though the mechanics are really quite approachable with things like a pretty standardized core combat system, regardless of the units engaging, that gets cleverly tailored to the situation by using different sets of modifiers. The movement/combat combo means that there might be a bit of a puzzle element to every move, which puts it more in the brain burner category for me... again, not because the rules are tough, but because there's important choices to be made even at the smallest level of gameplay. USE also has a relatively low counter density given its ability to consistently stay at the Army level - and the rules demonstrate a real logic to the game's design given that aim to be an army level game.

Unconditional Surrender's full campaign will be the one I probably mostly solo, delving into the mechanics without worrying if my face to face opponent is bored as I try to figure out if I really can get my unit where I need it to be with enough points left over to pick a fight.

I probably have some things wrong here but hopefully there's something here that helps. In the end, Supreme Commander is a great game that is accessible and relatively quick to play (if 12 hours or whatever can be considered quick... but I feel like a full day will get experienced players through a full game). USE looks like a unique take with a clear and specific vision driving it. It will take more time, maybe some players will miss the lower level unit options, but it will allow people a monster WW2 ETO experience without requiring 200 pages of rules or stacks of counters precariously waiting for the slightest breeze to topple. In my mind, these two games have enough differences to allow them to fill separate niches.
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Salvatore Vasta
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awdougherty wrote:
Here's one embarrassing confession... my start in wargaming was basically Axis and Allies, dozens of games of Axis and Allies.


Nothing to be embarrassed about there. Sometimes all you want is a WW2 experience without any headaches and have it be done in a night.

Glad you enjoyed SC. I hope to try it one day. But then there a lot of games I hope to try one day.

Quote:
Each unit gets a certain amount of points to spend on a turn. Those points have to cover where you want to go and if you want to fight. So an armor unit's 10 MP might get spent by moving a bit, doing a quick mobile attack, moving one more, and hoping you have the points left to position yourself for an assault. Then you activate the next unit and maybe do something similar, leaving yourself with two units positioned for an assault, which is how you coordinate multiple units on one attack.


Just a quick clarification that if a unit does a mobile attack, it cannot assault in the same activation, and vice-versa. Overall, however, you nailed it.

Sal
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Arthur Dougherty
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svasta wrote:


Just a quick clarification that if a unit does a mobile attack, it cannot assault in the same activation, and vice-versa. Overall, however, you nailed it.

Sal


Ah, good to know. I guess I was picturing it that as long as you had the points at the end of the activation, you could set that unit up to assault and then do the assault separately. But it makes a lot more sense that if you want to assault, then you assault and coordinate and whatever else is involved with the assault.

With Axis and Allies, I was pretty young, maybe 11 or 12 and I didn't know that Avalon Hill or things like that existed. Finally was exposed to other games when I got to high school. At the time, I actually really liked Axis and Allies for what it is. What killed Axis and Allies for me is that our games all devolved into the exact same ideas and moves over and over. I guess if I played any game 50 times, it might end up that way.
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Phil Miller
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awdougherty wrote:

Here's one embarrassing confession... my start in wargaming was basically Axis and Allies, dozens of games of Axis and Allies.


I agree with Salvatore, it's nothing to be ashamed of at all. I own just about every Axis & Allies game out there except Anniversary Edition.

I consider Axis & Allies the gateway drug of the wargaming hobby

-Phil
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How about Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! compared to the two?
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Jim F
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PhilFromIT wrote:
awdougherty wrote:

Here's one embarrassing confession... my start in wargaming was basically Axis and Allies, dozens of games of Axis and Allies.


I consider Axis & Allies the gateway drug of the wargaming hobby

-Phil



thumbsup Agreed. Great fun.
 
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Salvatore Vasta
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RoadHouse wrote:
How about Axis Empires: Totaler Krieg! compared to the two?


For that comparison, see thread 1089394.

Sal
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Timo Ollikainen
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Thank you guys! Especially Arthur and Sal for the effort! So far the USE seems to have a way better online support than TSC

I like "realism" and simulation aspect in games so from that point of view the USE seems more interesting. I'm also open to new mechanics and not afraid of rulebooks that have more than 30 pages.

Anyway I'm looking for a Here I Stand / Virgin Queen type of experience but in hex n' counter world. With this I mean that the game should be played in a (long) day. As a multiplayer game it should involve a lot of interaction and maybe even serious negotiation with the players. If USE is designed to be more like a monster game that needs several days to complete with multiplayer rules. I'm affraid it wont ever end up to my table. I like to play longer games with Vassal, but I'm not sure am I able to find enough devoted players for USE. Are there any playtime estimates for the scenarios and is it possible to "chain" different scenarios in some reasonable manner?
 
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Salvatore Vasta
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otjp wrote:

Anyway I'm looking for a Here I Stand / Virgin Queen type of experience but in hex n' counter world. With this I mean that the game should be played in a (long) day. As a multiplayer game it should involve a lot of interaction and maybe even serious negotiation with the players. If USE is designed to be more like a monster game that needs several days to complete with multiplayer rules. I'm affraid it wont ever end up to my table. I like to play longer games with Vassal, but I'm not sure am I able to find enough devoted players for USE. Are there any playtime estimates for the scenarios and is it possible to "chain" different scenarios in some reasonable manner?


USE is definitely not like HIS. I can't think of a hex n' counter game that is like that. But I've not played many of the different games that have come out over the recent years so there may be one.

For what it is worth, USE only has two paragraphs of extra multiplayer rules, which deal with how to split up the Axis command. Other than that, it is just one player per faction.

There are smaller scenarios in USE, but they are mostly two-faction scenarios. The three-faction scenarios are simply the whole campaign starting in a different year. Except for possibly the 1944 or 1945 scenarios, they will take more than a long day to complete.

As for playing USE on VASSAL, it will have both a VASSAL and Cyberboard version. So USE may not be what you are looking for now, but it may be something to consider for the future.

Good luck in your search.

Sal
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Paul Pfeiffer
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I will repeat most of what is said here. SC and USE have one major thing in common: WW2 in Europe. After that they are very different. USE is a very time consuming/engrossing game with a simply fantastic combat system. SC has a more tradition combat mechanic.

If you want to fight ww2 in one or two nights pick SC. If you want more details and longer game play get USE. However, I have played a few USE scenarios which last less than an hour...some 2 hours. Fun. It plays kinda like a monster, but you don't need a doctoral degree to figure out how to play

USE has very good online support here on the geek. Thanks Sal.
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Kamil Klapka
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I think one of great reasons to choose USE over SC is long list of scenarios. For me particularly is important to be able to finish some scenarios in one evening (4-5 hours).
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John Smales
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PhilFromIT wrote:
awdougherty wrote:

Here's one embarrassing confession... my start in wargaming was basically Axis and Allies, dozens of games of Axis and Allies.


I agree with Salvatore, it's nothing to be ashamed of at all. I own just about every Axis & Allies game out there except Anniversary Edition.

I consider Axis & Allies the gateway drug of the wargaming hobby

-Phil


My gateway game--led me to the Avalon Hill promised land.
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