Greg Lorrimer
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I don't have this game yet, and I haven't played it, nor read the rules. But I have convinced myself, with your help, to get it. See "Is Maria the game for me?"

Right now I'm wondering at the mechanics that could put off one of my gaming partners.

It seems to me that the suit cards/mapping doesn't relate to anything real-world. Rather a pure game mechanic.

Is there some way I can think of them that makes sense in the context of this game, other just as a gaming mechanic?

For instance, that they would represent, in the abstract, the balance and wealth/morale of the country. And being drawn from the same deck, there is some relationship of this between the countries. The trouble with this easy solution, to my mind, is that the mapping doesn't fit such an idea.

Or that they reflect the varying local support for one side or another. But does this really make a difference in such wars?

What's the meaning of the suited cards/maps to you?
 
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Kris Van Beurden
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Local support, supplies in a given area, morale in the area, knowledge of terrain, ...
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Jason Adultman
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To me they are abstracting small tactical details, such as unit positioning, terrain, weather conditions, etc. The brilliance of it is you still have to play tactically, even if it seems very abstract on the surface.
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Period flavour, playing cards were very popular at the time. Just as a game of chess can represent strategy and battle, so can playing cards.
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Bill the Pill
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Fog of war, friction.
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Greg Lorrimer
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Jasonbartfast wrote:
To me they are abstracting small tactical details, such as unit positioning, terrain, weather conditions, etc. The brilliance of it is you still have to play tactically, even if it seems very abstract on the surface.


Hmm, but the cards are dealt before hand and part of the game is guessing/tracking the cards of the other players. So that doesn't tie in. It's for that reason that I mentioned background resources since it seems to fit better, except that that's also scuppered by the suited map.

I'm not quite seeing the brilliance of it yet. Perhaps an abstraction too far.....?
 
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José Antonio Rivero
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Quote:
I'm not quite seeing the brilliance of it yet.

Dear Itsa,
You are not seeing it because :

Quote:
I don't have this game yet, and I haven't played it, nor read the rules.


After your have read the rules and played the game you will most probably see and understand the whole thing cool
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Scott Henshaw
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It does make you think tactically. After you receive your hand you will know where you are strong and where you are weak. Try to force battles in locations where you have a strong suit (i.e. good terrain, good scouting) and avoid going into areas where you are short suited (poor supply lines, poor terrain, poor scouting).
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Greg Lorrimer
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jarinu wrote:
Quote:
I'm not quite seeing the brilliance of it yet.

Dear Itsa,
You are not seeing it because :

Quote:
I don't have this game yet, and I haven't played it, nor read the rules.


After your have read the rules and play the game you will most probably see and understand the whole thing cool


Granted that may be true, but I'm doubting it on the evidence of the above suggestions that don't really fit [edit: posted before ScotH's contribution].

Also it would be nice to have a notion of the meaning of such a crucial mechanic in advance. Is it really just a pure gamer mechanic to introduce bluffing and randomness (instead of dice), or does it relate to the scenario in some concrete way? It begs the question even before we consider the suited map.

Here's another possibility: intelligence reports. Sufficiently abstract in itself so not so inconceivable to link it to a suited map.

And it does seem like the suited map is the weirdest part of this battle mechanic. Why a suited map? How to make sense of it?
 
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Andrew Brown
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I look at it like this: The real life Generals of the period would have tried to pick the best position for their battles. They would take many factors (as others have mentioned) into account and make an informed decision based on their resources and knowledge of enemy.
Let us imagine that Friedrich the Great himself has positioned himself in the hearts sector of Silesia. He knows that he has 37 points of hearts cards in his hand. He also knows that the Austrian forces under Karl von Lothringen are in range to attack. He also knows that last turn the French beat the Austrian general Arenberg in hearts over in Flanders on the last turn. Therefore he would conclude that he has picked a strong position - if the Austrians attack him there is real chance of a victory. By the Austrian turn it might be the case that the Austrian exchequer (hand of cards) has received a flood of hearts cards and that an attack is worth the risk!

Both cards you get dealt and the design of the board mean you have to really think about where go and what you do.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Notwithstanding any specific abstractions, the designer chose suits for the cards because everyone knows the four standard card deck suits.

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Øivind Karlsrud
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itsastickup wrote:
Also it would be nice to have a notion of the meaning of such a crucial mechanic in advance. Is it really just a pure gamer mechanic to introduce bluffing and randomness


Yes, it is! And it works great. Playing a board game is not like fighting a real war, so you must make some abstractions, to create the experience you want to create. The cards could be taken to represent any number of factors, but it's really just an efficient way to create uncertainty, room for bluffing, room for maneuver, and to limit what you can do (you only get a fixed number of cards each round). Why does it have to be more than that? Why does it have to simulate something specific? The experience you get in Maria is great, and in the end the mechanisms doesn't make it feel too abstract. You know you have a weak position here, because you don't have hearts, while you have a strong position there, because you have spades, etc. Is the enemy in a strong position, or not? Is he bluffing, or is he hoping you will attack? These are the things you will consider. The use of cards is just a tool to create this experience. But they don't represent anything specific.
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richard sivel
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Maybe the design notes from Friedrich (which uses the same type of cards) can help a bit as well:

The Tactical Cards (...) It took a long time to decide, whether I should use the traditional French symbols or whether I should introduce new ones (e.g. tricorn, sabre, boots, horseshoe). I decided for tradition. Reasons were: a) the French symbols started to establish themselves in the 18th century; b) French was the language of the era and especially of Frederick; c) Sentences like "I will enter horseshoe now" or "You tricorn; me boots" just sound ridiculous. d) Why should I invent the wheel anew and create unnecessary terminology and confusion? -- By the way, traditionally spades were a symbol for the sword, clubs were the power, hearts the church and diamonds the money.

(...)

On a first view the TC system looks very abstract and arbitrary. But, in its simple mechanics you can find: The shortness of Prussian resources and population (the Prussian stack will constantly decrease, while the Austrians will finish the game with a full hand usually); the strangling of Prussian movement patterns beginning around game turn 12 (approximately the 4th year of the war), situations of siege (although no fortresses exist); motionless entrenchments (Bunzelwitz), threatening the supply lines (Henry's move to Görlitz in 1759); the breakdown of supply (Laudon's coup at Domstädtl); encirclement to enforce a decisive battle (Liegnitz, Torgau, Hochkirch).
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Ryan Keane
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I always thought of your hand of cards as the relative strength of reinforcements in each area and the fog of war (disregarding that the 1-8 wild is called Reinforcements). Enemies know where your generals are and may have kept track of the strength of their armies from a previous battle, but they don't know how many troops are available in the countryside to reinforce them during a battle - during battle, generals in turn bring up reinforcements to gain the advantage or to take a retreat without major loss.

It's a beautiful mechanic and feels much more like the tug-of-war between 2 generals than calculating modifiers and rolling dice.
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