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Subject: Can you explain the difference between these GMT multiplayer wargames? rss

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Ingólfur Valsson
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I got plenty of suggestions for multiplayer wargames in my earlier thread Why does warfare in multiplayer strategy games often feel stale to me?.

I've been a big GMT customer but discovered I didn't know much about a few of their multiplayer games. Can someone give me the general idea of the mechanical differences in these games?

Successors (third edition) - This one I actually entered a P500 for and it was promptly canceled the following week.

Sword of Rome - I have the feeling this and Successors are mechanically related but I'm not sure.

Pax Romana - Thematically strong as happening in the main period of the republic, how is this a multiplayer, one as Rome, rest as barberian.

Genesis: Empires and Kingdoms of the Ancient Middle East - This one is mechanically linked to Pax Romana right?

Clash of Monarchs - Is this one more in the veins of Virgin Queen and Here I Stand?

So I've got concerns about Richard H. Berg style. I've got the feeling he aims to much for historical accuracy and not enough on gameplay and balance. I'm ok with heavy rules to make a game more detailed but I don't like a exception rule to justify some historical abnormality that adds nothing more to gameplay than a complicated FAQ.

What I would love to hear from you is how these games differ when compared to each other, play time, complexity, do they focus mostly on warfare or more on economy and empire building.
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Michael Carter
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In my experience, Berg games don't actually have a lot of exceptions. Ted Raicer is the one to avoid with that. He does write pretty loose rules, though, so if he doesn't have a good developer, you have to do some guesswork on your part. Player balance isn't high on his list either.

I only have experience with Sword of Rome on your list.
 
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KronikAlkoholik wrote:
So I've got concerns about Richard H. Berg style.


Just be careful if you say his name three times.
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Rex Stites
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Clash of Monarchs is nothing like VQ or HIS. I would describe Clash of Monarchs as being closer to an operational level game, whereas VQ and HIS would be more aptly described as Grand Strategic.

CoM has a fairly detailed supply system and models combat in a fair amount of detail. Each year is divided up into a Summer and Fall campaign season. And each season will consist of 5 rounds. The entire games spans the seven years of the 7 Years' War. The geographic area covered is limited to central Europe. The colonial wars in North America are covered in an extremely abstract manner.

In contrast, the time period covered by HIS and VQ is much longer. A "turn" in HIS generally covers a 3- or 4-year period. Each "turn" will consist of somewhere around 4-5 card plays per player (hand size varies greatly). The geographic area covered is all of continental Europe, Britain, and a bit of North Africa and some Mediterranean Islands. Players can also abstractly explore the New World.

Basically, a campaign season in CoM (summer or fall) would be equivalent to a card play or two in HIS/VQ. The level of detail in CoM makes it purely about the military aspects of the 7YW. In contrast, HIS/VQ are more political in nature.

This difference can be seen when looking at diplomacy in the two sets of games. In HIS/VQ, diplomacy is completely open. Alliances and enemies will change over time. There will be times of peace for a player and times of war. CoM, on the other hand, has a rigid diplomacy model. In essence, the diplomacy is already done for the players--i.e. treaties are already in place. To the extent that players have diplomatic options, it is to the extent that they can choose whether or not to attack someone, which will start the war, but the diplomatic model will determine the consequence of that. For example, if Prussia attacks Saxony, as happened historically, then Austria becomes belligerent and it forces the French to make a commitment of a subsidy--i.e. enforcing the terms of the historical treaty.

And this doesn't even get into the religious elements of HIS/VQ, which are not present in CoM in any way.
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Ingólfur Valsson
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rstites25 wrote:
Clash of Monarchs is nothing like VQ or HIS. I would describe Clash of Monarchs as being closer to an operational level game, whereas VQ and HIS would be more aptly described as Grand Strategic.

CoM has a fairly detailed supply system and models combat in a fair amount of detail. Each year is divided up into a Summer and Fall campaign season. And each season will consist of 5 rounds. The entire games spans the seven years of the 7 Years' War. The geographic area covered is limited to central Europe. The colonial wars in North America are covered in an extremely abstract manner.

In contrast, the time period covered by HIS and VQ is much longer. A "turn" in HIS generally covers a 3- or 4-year period. Each "turn" will consist of somewhere around 4-5 card plays per player (hand size varies greatly). The geographic area covered is all of continental Europe, Britain, and a bit of North Africa and some Mediterranean Islands. Players can also abstractly explore the New World.

Basically, a campaign season in CoM (summer or fall) would be equivalent to a card play or two in HIS/VQ. The level of detail in CoM makes it purely about the military aspects of the 7YW. In contrast, HIS/VQ are more political in nature.

This difference can be seen when looking at diplomacy in the two sets of games. In HIS/VQ, diplomacy is completely open. Alliances and enemies will change over time. There will be times of peace for a player and times of war. CoM, on the other hand, has a rigid diplomacy model. In essence, the diplomacy is already done for the players--i.e. treaties are already in place. To the extent that players have diplomatic options, it is to the extent that they can choose whether or not to attack someone, which will start the war, but the diplomatic model will determine the consequence of that. For example, if Prussia attacks Saxony, as happened historically, then Austria becomes belligerent and it forces the French to make a commitment of a subsidy--i.e. enforcing the terms of the historical treaty.

And this doesn't even get into the religious elements of HIS/VQ, which are not present in CoM in any way.


This is exactly the kind of comparison I'm after, thank you. However you didn't have to dwell into how VQ works because I own and have played that game, just how CoM differed. It sounds like a interesting game to me, I've heard it's actually longer than VQ and as such I would mostly grab it as a novelty item that might or might not get played.
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Rex Stites
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There are shorter scenarios in CoM. The training scenario is a single campaign season. The shorter scenarios generally seem to cover 1 to 2 years.

Also, the game works relatively well PBEM. In fact, there is an ongoing group of CoM players, here, if you're interested in playing. whistle
 
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If you've played Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, Successors is multi-player version of that (card-driven wargame).
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Ingólfur Valsson
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rstites25 wrote:
There are shorter scenarios in CoM. The training scenario is a single campaign season. The shorter scenarios generally seem to cover 1 to 2 years.

Also, the game works relatively well PBEM. In fact, there is an ongoing group of CoM players, here, if you're interested in playing. whistle


Perhaps, will add the rulebook to my stack of rulesbook I've yet to read, recently played a VQ PBEM and had fun, though F2F is my preferred way.
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Kai Mölleken
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KronikAlkoholik wrote:
Sword of Rome - I have the feeling this and Successors are mechanically related but I'm not sure.


Since I only have Sword of Rome, I'd rather point you to some first hand knowledge instead of pretending to know it myself

Similarities and differences have been explained here:

Re: Successors vs. Sword of Rome

Hope this helps.
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Geoff C
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I have interest in all 5 you mention. I own and have played SOR and SUCC. I have preordered PAXR and GEN. I was going to try COM late last year but we had it scheduled towards the end of the con and the rulebook was heavy enough that we gave it a pass (as I frequently remind myself now, try the heavy new stuff first, save the fun stuff I know for the end of the con when fatigue has settled in).

I love Successors. It is my favorite mp cdg right now, with VQ just behind it. SOR seems far more locked in and the pushmepullyou aspect of its victory point system is....anh.

Successors is far more exciting, wheeling and dealing and open to more results and different play. So much fun!
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My view on Pax Romana is that it is much more of a civ building game than a wargame. I suspect that Genesis is also going to be the same way. Moving your armies across the board especially by sea to attack someone else is a chancy affair. I think that it is also a much longer game. Successor's in comparison feels very tactical and quick playing. We can usually blow through the game in 3 hours or so.


I happen to love Pax Romana, but I've mostly played it in long PBEM sessions where there is a lot of behind the scenes negotiation.
 
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Ingólfur Valsson
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Talonz wrote:


Successors is far more exciting, wheeling and dealing and open to more results and different play. So much fun!


This makes me extra sad they canceled the P500.
 
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Jacob
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This is a crosspost from Roman Shenanigan Simulator where I posted a tad of info on Pax, specifically looking at political aspects of it but there's some general info too:

Quote:

ax Romana doesn't really deal with politics in any detail, there are lots of revolts and some other political events like alliances with neutrals, conspiracy/civil war that can occur but they just effect a very abstract Stability metric or just remove some enemy forces. There are some advanced rules in the "ultra-historical" scenario such as Carthage's council limiting military expansion, the Eastern player being split into the Seleucids and Ptolmaic Egypt and the Diadochi wars sapping the Greek player's treasury, but the player has no control over it so it's really just to differentiate the player factions and are essential to play imo.

On the whole though, Pax for the most part a fairly typical strategic level point to point wargame with some basic economics and a bunch of events; but not much in the way of actual politicking (the turns are 25 years, half the Senate probably died in that time ) I've found the length of the rulebook (41 pages) to be really misleading, about half of that is your basic econ (think, WWII Production Points), movement-retreat-interception, and combat (which is unique, but not difficult); all pretty standard CDG/point-to-point stuff. The other half of the rules covers neutral powers, barbarians, revolts, events, etc., which I've all found pretty easy to digest and the advanced rules really just add some fairly simple things that should be included and the event cards (which replace an event table, not a big difference) . It is a big game in the scale of its subject (250 years) with many different scenarios (which play well if you want a shorter game) but it's deceptively simple imo. I even find the factions to be too generic.


I don't really find it to be that much of a "civ game". Infrastructure is limited to paying to building/upgrade towns/cities (and possibly razing them after battle) and repairing walls. The economic system only serves two primary purposes: building cities and raising/supporting troops. It's a good game, but it's still, by and large, a military game. Most of the other aspects are handled with random events tables or event cards.

As far as Clash of Monarchs, I think R Stites has summarized it very well and he seems to share a similar love of the game that I have. I will add though that though its focus is primarily military, I find the most unique aspect of the game to be the Kleiner Krieg (little war / irregular warfare) system. Light units (hussars, grenzers, pandurs, cossacks, etc.) can be used attached to regular armies or deployed to the offboard Kleiner Krieg chart where they can conduct raids on provinces. Raids primarily function to damage the agricultural infracture of provinces (tracked by province in 'Forage Points'), which reduces the income that the province owner receives each spring. Each province also has a limit to how many Forage Points they can take, whereupon they are 'Devastated' which causes harsher attrition for out of supply forces in the province and makes the owning nation lose Monarchical Will. (a sort of "national morale", the ability to sustain the war effort) Every action in the game has affects a myriad of other systems, it's really just an astounding achievement in design. I'll leave my ranting there and just encourage you to give it a try.
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Richard Hellsten
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Sword of Rome plays very similar to Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage with three main differences.

1) There are 4/5 players instead of 2 which opens up all the multiplayer options including alliances.

2) Each player has their own deck full of events just for them.

3) Combat is resolved via dice instead of battle cards.

Thats the broad brush big picture idea though.
 
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Dave Cruces
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Noble Knight has 2 copies (2nd Edition) for sale.



I've been a big GMT customer but discovered I didn't know much about a few of their multiplayer games. Can someone give me the general idea of the mechanical differences in these games?

Successors (third edition) - This one I actually entered a P500 for and it was promptly canceled the following week.

 
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Johnny Wilson
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OP,

I've only played the original Successors once. It was at a game club and it was much more political than "wargame" in my feeling. The dynamic around the table was "cutthroat," but that may have just been the people I was playing with. Yet, it was much more satisfying than Sword of Rome and not as satisfying as Here I Stand. The former tends to take a rather serious view of the "all or nothing" aspect of battle by severely penalizing the losers (simulating the high rout quotient in ancient battles, no doubt) and the latter tends to do a much better job of providing alternate means of winning (I almost won as the Turks simply on the basis of successful piracy because no one was paying attention, not to mention the religious debates and castle building victory points available when you play other factions).

Hand management for cards is important in all CDGs, but I felt like Successors and Here I Stand offered the most interesting uses for operation points.

BUT, the real reason I wrote this text was to respond to the aspersion against Richard Berg's designs. I think it is wrong to castigate his designs without looking at such approaches as he used in Conquistador and Waterloo (published under a nom de plume in honor of his son). This aspersion against Berg has also instigated me to seek out one of his designs on my back burner--Confederate Rails. If I ever see that one at auction... BTW, it's not multiplayer, but my favorite GBoH title is Devil's Horsemen. And yes, I do own a copy of Chicken of the Sea (and enjoyed it, too!).
 
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Ben Schomp
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GMT often puts their designer notes in a game's Playbook, rather than the Rulebook. I've found a good bit of information on the lineage of games there.

For example, the Sword of Rome Playbook discusses its inspiration from Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and The Napoleonic Wars. The Napoleonic Wars Playbook also points to Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and its predecessor, We the People.

There is a point-to-point comparison between The Napoleonic Wars and its successor Wellington by the designer of both games, again in the Wellington Playbook.

I enjoy reading the what and why certain things ended up the way they did directly from the designer and developers -- these are discussion points that are often overlooked since they're not in the Rulebooks (which people often read to get a feel for a game when considering whether or not to buy).

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drjohnny wrote:
OP,

I've only played the original Successors once. It was at a game club and it was much more political than "wargame" in my feeling. The dynamic around the table was "cutthroat," but that may have just been the people I was playing with. Yet, it was much more satisfying than Sword of Rome and not as satisfying as Here I Stand. The former tends to take a rather serious view of the "all or nothing" aspect of battle by severely penalizing the losers (simulating the high rout quotient in ancient battles, no doubt)


I'd say the combat resolution in SUCCESSORS is substantially more punishing to the loser than SWORD OF ROME. Whichever general loses in SUCCESSORS has all their non Greek forces killed, attrition against Macedonians is taken, and the survivors are removed from play til the end of the turn. Sword of Rome's CRT was designed to have the average of 3:1 losses for loser: winner, but more extreme results are possible, including the losing smaller side unflicting more losses than it incurs. Note that the second edition toned it down a bit by removing the result of each losing dr of "1" inflicting a hit.
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Matt Irsik
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Successors and Sword of Rome are great for group play, plus they're fairly easy to teach to others. Clash of Monarchs, however, is a totally different beast. Even though there is a training scenario, the several hours of rules reading that you need to go through makes it easier to just set the whole thing up and start playing since you need to learn the entire system anyway. I think it is a very good game, but I would liken it to a dark, brooding version of Successors on steroids. This is a scorched earth, grind your enemy into the ground, desolate the countryside type of longer game much different than the other games you asked about.
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