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Subject: Brilliance in Map Design rss

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Dave Mendiola
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Hey guys,

So we often praise specific things about Cthulhu Wars. The awesome minis or the neat asymmetrical game design. These are all great things for sure and in fact, I'd say they're groundbreaking in their own ways.

But I feel like the map itself, and for our purposes let's talk exclusively about the original map, is brilliant in it's own way. The brilliance is subtle, but I feel it's a critical part of what makes the game as good as it is. The design helps create interesting choices and helps promote conflict! So how does it do this?

What is truly remarkable is how the areas are split up. If you imagine a square grid, then the distance between each mob is how many grids they are from each other. This helps you efficiently balance movement, but by itself, it isn't really that interesting. There isn't a huge tactical difference between any two spots, other than how close they are to any other spot. So the decisions you're making by moving from one spot to another is rather shallow. Obviously additional game mechanics can give more depth (combat, goals, ect...) but it's important to realize you're starting with less depth.

In Cthulhu Wars, Sandy has made a map with areas that stretch and twist to bump into many other areas. An example would be North Atlantic. North Atlantic, on the 5 player map, bumps into 11 different territories. Contrast that to South America East, which bumps into 4 other territories.

This creates areas that are intrinsically different in how they should be treated. You now have spots like the Arctic or North Atlantic which are great for a very aggressive group of units, but very poor for a lone cultist and a gate. But you also have spots like East Africa, Antarctica, and South America East which don't have as many borders, so they're a bit safer to stick your power generating units.

By just changing how the lines on the board intersected, Sandy has added a layer of depth, bringing a risk vs. reward system. And all that was done without any additional rules.

That is why the map is brilliant.
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Sounds good to me! I'll still wait until I've actually played the game before I start singing its praises though.
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Jason Farris
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While I am excitedly waiting for Cthulhu Wars, I have to say that you have effectively rediscovered Risk. Ever since Risk, or perhaps even before, there have been territories that border lots of others and territories that don't (Australia anyone).

So... cool, yes... super innovation and brilliant... not so sure.

Besides, I may be wrong, but the way movement works, you can pretty much get anywhere you need to for the right price. I find that more interesting from a resource management perspective than the map itself. YMMV.
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Sid Rain
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I remember bringing up alot of these same things right after or during the KS campaign and I've been curious what, if anything, was found during playtesting. The two extreme map areas you can point to on the original map are Australia with a meager 2 connections to any other areas and the North Atlantic with a whopping 10 connections. Do either of those situations provide any specific benefits to their controller?

In Risk, a game that behaves the laws of nature (for the most part), players tend to have 'fronts' where they have their main forces deployed, reserves behind this, and possibly a mobile strike force expanding the front. Limiting your connections to other players limits how many avenues of attack they have at you, and so you want to create choke-points where you can focus your forces at. In Cthulhu Wars however, it seems like there are so many distinct spellbooks/abilities that invalidate those concepts that it's hard to judge the strategic value of areas in this same way. Plus there really aren't any choke-points in the game since units can move equally well on Land or Ocean areas.

The only big benefit I could come up with that would be inherent to an area with more connections, is that you have more options to move when getting pained out of the area. Though perhaps that would work equally against you in a game with Crawling Chaos as he's more likely to split your forces apart.
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Arthur Petersen
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Just remember when you play it for the first time:

Crawling Chaos can get to anywhere from South America on the 3 and 4 player maps. On 5 player I can't remember off the top of my head, but I think there may only be 1 or 2 places you cannot get to from South America proper.

Thus, South America is the center of the world

I will let you find out on your own which areas on the expansion map are the centers of their worlds.



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Lincoln Petersen
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It is usually harder for people to get to Australia it's true so it can be a little defensive. Usually going to the North Atlantic is saying you're aggressive, but not to who as you can move out and strike almost everyone from there.
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Dave Mendiola
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Smilinbrax wrote:
While I am excitedly waiting for Cthulhu Wars, I have to say that you have effectively rediscovered Risk. Ever since Risk, or perhaps even before, there have been territories that border lots of others and territories that don't (Australia anyone).

So... cool, yes... super innovation and brilliant... not so sure.

Besides, I may be wrong, but the way movement works, you can pretty much get anywhere you need to for the right price. I find that more interesting from a resource management perspective than the map itself. YMMV.


Quick point. When moving, you can move to one adjacent spot. In the 5 person game, you can hit anywhere from 4-11 spots, out of 22 in total.

Now onto your main point. I can see where you're coming from. Risk and Cthulhu Wars do have similar maps, but I feel like Cthulhu Wars does this much better.

1. It's not losing a huge amount of the real estate due to the water spots not being usable. I feel that is one of Risks huge failings in design, having water spots be nothing more than blank spots of strategic unimportance.

2. Cthulhu Wars has much more connections. Risk generally has people gang up on borders (Australia anyone?) and try to tank anyone who comes at them. If you have Europe, you generally don't need to fear aggression from South America. The distance between any two spots is much smaller with these larger, sprawling areas intelligently put into the game.

3. There isn't a huge difference in the spots in Risk. They're all relatively blocky in their design and have very similar amount of adjacent locations. The value in a spot mostly comes from the points it gives you.

I'm not saying that other games don't have a risk v. reward system in Conquest. But what I am saying is that Cthulhu Wars managed to do it simply based on the design of the board itself, without ever having to open up a rulebook. That to me is pretty awesome, especially when you want to make an approachable game with depth.
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Quote:
Risk and Cthulhu Wars do have similar maps


When I first showed CW to my girfriend she said "Isn't Risk the same?"

The memory still haunts me shake
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Dave Mendiola
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thegrinder wrote:
Quote:
Risk and Cthulhu Wars do have similar maps


When I first showed CW to my girfriend she said "Isn't Risk the same?"

The memory still haunts me shake


How did she take the breakup?
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Dave Mendiola
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paddirn wrote:
The only big benefit I could come up with that would be inherent to an area with more connections, is that you have more options to move when getting pained out of the area. Though perhaps that would work equally against you in a game with Crawling Chaos as he's more likely to split your forces apart.


Higher connections = More risk/opportunity
Lower connections = Less risk/opportunity.

So you're more likely to be able to hold something longer (all other things being equal) in a spot with less connections than you are with a spot with higher amount of connections.
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Afrofrycook wrote:
thegrinder wrote:
Quote:
Risk and Cthulhu Wars do have similar maps


When I first showed CW to my girfriend she said "Isn't Risk the same?"

The memory still haunts me shake


How did she take the breakup?


Well, after months of CW talk, pictures and videos she's in love with the game (Windwalker in particular).

I'm pretty happy with how that turned out
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Mark Llewellyn
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thegrinder wrote:
Afrofrycook wrote:
thegrinder wrote:
Quote:
Risk and Cthulhu Wars do have similar maps


When I first showed CW to my girfriend she said "Isn't Risk the same?"

The memory still haunts me shake


How did she take the breakup?


Well, after months of CW talk, pictures and videos she's in love with the game (Windwalker in particular).

I'm pretty happy with how that turned out


Her opinion may change when the boxes start to arrive....
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Moshe Saricov
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Yes, cthulhu wars is like a shoe collection FOR MAN.

I can see the question "where do you plan on putting all this boxes?" Come up.
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Sandy Petersen
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DeePee wrote:
Sounds good to me! I'll still wait until I've actually played the game before I start singing its praises though.


TO clarify - the original poster HAS actually played the game (and on more than one map), so his opinion is somewhat informed, though obviously another's experience may differ.

Sandy Petersen
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Dave Mendiola
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The only faction I haven't played is Sleeper. If I can swing the August trip, then I'll make sure that I play that one.
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I'm jealous, I've only played Cthulhu
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Arthur Petersen
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Afrofrycook wrote:
The only faction I haven't played is Sleeper. If I can swing the August trip, then I'll make sure that I play that one.


Yeah, come back in August! You know that Robertghent and his brother have come down twice. Why not you?

 
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existoid wrote:
Afrofrycook wrote:
The only faction I haven't played is Sleeper. If I can swing the August trip, then I'll make sure that I play that one.


Yeah, come back in August! You know that Robertghent and his brother have come down twice. Why not you?



Trying to get friends who want to come. Giving up a day for a boardgame, even one as awesome as this, hasn't been easy lol.

Coming by myself seems like almost a waste of your guy's time.
 
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Afrofrycook wrote:
The only faction I haven't played is Sleeper. If I can swing the August trip, then I'll make sure that I play that one.


Cthulhu World Problems...I have not played any faction yet =)
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Adam Starks
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If an extra warm body is needed to justify the trip, and schedules align, I'm also in Austin.
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Arthur Petersen
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Test
Yay! There are two cultists in Austin. Ye are summoned
 
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Mark Llewellyn
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existoid wrote:
...There are two cultists in Austin....


It's official, Austin has been possessed. devil
 
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Ken Mortis
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Kmortis wrote:


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Sandy Petersen
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knightstalker30 wrote:
existoid wrote:
...There are two cultists in Austin....


It's official, Austin has been possessed. devil


You must understand - you need TWO cultists in an Area. One holds the Gate, while the other is a buffer, protecting against Cthulhu's Dreams ability, or Crawling Chaos trying to snipe a Cultist with a nightgaunt or flying polyp. If you have a lone cultist on a gate, you are vulnerable. This follows perfect Cthulhu Wars sense.

Also, I do feel bad for the Cthulhu World Problem people. Here is all I can do for the nonce: we are attending GenCon in force, and Cthulhu Wars will be played non-stop during the dealer's hours. Non-stop I say.

Then I and my lovely wife will be at Der Kraken, in Germany (http://the-kraken.de/get_there/) a tiny little convention. I will, again, be playing Cthulhu Wars though not non-stop, because my circle of cloned Grants won't be available.

Also spawn Arthur is in Mesa Arizona and I believe is rallying believers to the flag.
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