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Subject: Are there games to avoid that favor one side over another??? rss

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Clay Stone
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Hey Fellas,

I was wondering are there wargames to avoid that are design by the game designers to be "heavily" weighted in favor of one side over the other side that no matter what you do you just can't win or a very very slight chance you might win?

I'm trying to avoid games like this that are so historically correct that it takes away from the sandbox effect.

I love the history in wargames, but i don't want to "relive" the history in my games I want "rewrite" history in my games.
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Karan R
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Almost all solitaire games
Who really wants to play an easily winnable solo game
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Roger Hobden
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AFAOS ?

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Jason Cawley
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Yes, there are.
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Darrell Hanning
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VG's Pacific War: The Struggle Against Japan 1941-1945. The designer even states in the design notes that the Japanese have no realistic chance of winning, because historically, they didn't have a chance. The challenge for the Japanese player is to try and do at least as well as (or better than) they did in real-life.

But many wargames are like that. A lot, on the other hand, simply stilt the victory points or victory threshold to redress the historical discrepancy. Realistically, the South had virtually no chance to win the Civil War, and the Axis had virtually no chance to win WWII.

And yet, these are the two conflicts on which there are more wargames published than on any other.

Historical wargaming is perforce less about balanced situations, and more about history. Just their nature. It isn't that the designer "chose" to imbalance these games; it's that the designer chose to stay faithful to historical capabilities.
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Allen Dickerson
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If a game is poorly written, then one side can have an unsurmountable challenge.

That's why there are "victory conditions". These can be weighted to create a tense, tight game, while not necessarily re-writing history. You can have a game that is a walkover for one side, yet have super-ambitious victory criteria for the side that has the advantage: the player must duplicate or better the historical success to win THE GAME.

Clear as mud?
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Lance Runolfsson
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Some time back I asked how important balance was and the response I got from a significant number was not very.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/782669/game-balance
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Jim F
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When I play the Japanese in a Pacific War campaign game I always start out with the fantasy (shared by some if not all of their Generals) that I have a chance of winning. Or at least ending the game in an advantageous position.

It is this optimism that attracts me to the hopeless causes. Of course the fact that I am frequently proved wrong doesn't stop me going through the same cycle again and again.

Or maybe my opponents are just better than me...
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Darrell Hanning
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Des Esseintes wrote:
As for the Japanese having no chance of winning WWII in the Pacific and the South having no chance of winning the US civil war, I suppose it depends on how you define victory. In Mark Herman's CDGs on these two subjects, a negotiated peace is considered a victory for Japan, as is McClellan's election in 1864 for the South (with the political will tracks).


That was after Mark Herman designed Pacific War, and he probably took some flak for not giving the Japanese a chance of "winning".

Historically, a negotiated peace was not ever on the table, with Japan in WWII. Revisionists might read the possibility into this or that reflection or account, but by all personal accounts of people I knew who participated in that war, the attack on Pearl Harbor made it impossible for any President to allow any cessation of hostilities with the Empire of Japan on any terms other than complete surrender, and have a chance of staying in office.

As to the ACW, McClellan getting elected might have introduced some slight chance of negotiated peace, had Sheridan not taken Atlanta two months prior to the election. I can't see anybody giving the South even the most remote chance of getting out of that war in one piece, by then. Further, Lincoln won in a landslide (212 to 21 electoral votes), so the only real question is what would be more astronomically improbable - McClellan winning, or a crushed Confederacy negotiating a peace? (Much less both happening.)

Designers of wargames want their designs played, and publishers want those same designs sold. If you think this doesn't reflect on design/development efforts to ensure both players have some kind of chance of pulling some sort of morale victory (if no other type) out a bad matchup, I respectfully submit you should think again.

My mistake - meant Sherman, wrote Sheridan.
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Jim McNaughton
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There is a great difference between winning the battle and winning the game. I'd much rather play games that reflect the real historical situation, as modelled by the designer, than games that have been 'balanced'. For example The Flowers of the Forest where the design states, "The game is not balanced but plays quickly so that each player may have a turn at each side." In this case, the game is designed to be unbalanced because the situation was, undoubtedly, unbalanced.

Victory conditions are all important. They need to involve analysis of how likely the historical outcome was and whether or not a game 'win' only comes with a better-than-historical outcome.
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Etien
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It is well understood in Civil War historical circles that if Sherman hadn't taken Atlanta prior to the election, McClellan was a strong favorite to become President. Grant was bogged down in Virginia with high casualty returns coming in daily; Sherman was lost somewhere deep in the South; and even Lincoln himself, feeling he did not have a chance of winning, wrote a sealed letter to McClellan (only to be open after the latter's victory) urging him on in an effort to "save the Union." [fact]

The unknown is what McClellan would have done as President. He was a general that one would think would attempt to continue the war to some degree but may also have been open to a negotiated peace of some sort.

All of this reminds me of Vietnam. On paper there is no way the Americans can lose, but . . . (we are back to shaving victory conditions, in this case based on political conditions rather than combat results).

So Lee wins at Gettysburg, not based on defeating Meade tactically at Cemetery Ridge, Culp's Hill, and the Little Round Top, but in strategically having prevented the Union army from besieging Richmond for yet another campaign season and in forcing those boys in blue to eat Pennsylvania corn rather than Virginia corn. It is all in how one wishes to view what is considered the victory conditions.
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Darrell Hanning
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Personally, I think the argument that the capture of any, one city in 1864 makes a difference to the outcome, while the South suffers rampant inflation, an inability to export or import needed goods and supplies, a vastly inferior manufacturing capacity, the obvious inability to remotely come close to the manning figures of the North, and an indifferent Europe, is more than a little misleading, but it's best reserved for a different thread (which has been done on BGG, on numerous occasions).
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Charles Lewis
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DarrellKH wrote:
Personally, I think the argument that the capture of any, one city in 1864 makes a difference to the outcome, while the South suffers rampant inflation, an inability to export or import needed goods and supplies, a vastly inferior manufacturing capacity, the obvious inability to remotely come close to the manning figures of the North, and an indifferent Europe, is more than a little misleading, but it's best reserved for a different thread (which has been done on BGG, on numerous occasions).


Absolutely true, but what the capture of Atlanta did was shore up Northern public opinion that the war was, indeed, winnable, and the right people were in charge to make that happen. Capturing Atlanta was far more important as a political objective than a purely military one.
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Rex Stites
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DarrellKH wrote:
Personally, I think the argument that the capture of any, one city in 1864 makes a difference to the outcome, while the South suffers rampant inflation, an inability to export or import needed goods and supplies, a vastly inferior manufacturing capacity, the obvious inability to remotely come close to the manning figures of the North, and an indifferent Europe, is more than a little misleading, but it's best reserved for a different thread (which has been done on BGG, on numerous occasions).


Of course, the voting population was completely ignorant of these realities. It's not the actual state of the war that is important. It's the perceived state of the war by those who control who will be deciding whether to continue the war and the perceived state of the war of the person who would ultimately be elected.

So the proper questions are:
1. If Sherman had failed to capture Atlanta, would Lincoln have won reelection?
2. If McClellan won the election, would he have continued the war?

It is irrelevant to the answer of either of those questions what the consensus of historians is about the South's ability to continue the war.
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Andrew Kluck
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I recall a few battles in Across 5 Aprils being unequal. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how the Rebs had a chance at Pea Ridge for instance.
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Darrell Hanning
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Meisterchow wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Personally, I think the argument that the capture of any, one city in 1864 makes a difference to the outcome, while the South suffers rampant inflation, an inability to export or import needed goods and supplies, a vastly inferior manufacturing capacity, the obvious inability to remotely come close to the manning figures of the North, and an indifferent Europe, is more than a little misleading, but it's best reserved for a different thread (which has been done on BGG, on numerous occasions).


Absolutely true, but what the capture of Atlanta did was shore up Northern public opinion that the war was, indeed, winnable, and the right people were in charge to make that happen. Capturing Atlanta was far more important as a political objective than a purely military one.


I wasn't disputing the value of the political capital gained from capturing Atlanta - only its relative importance in the actual situation of the two factions. I have my doubts that its capture would dramatically change any president's overall assessment of the war situation. By late 1864, the discrepancy in production and manning was staggering. That is far from being irrelevant, when you're the one in power. Appearance might get you in office, but information is what you act upon.
 
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Wendell
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rstites25 wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
Personally, I think the argument that the capture of any, one city in 1864 makes a difference to the outcome, while the South suffers rampant inflation, an inability to export or import needed goods and supplies, a vastly inferior manufacturing capacity, the obvious inability to remotely come close to the manning figures of the North, and an indifferent Europe, is more than a little misleading, but it's best reserved for a different thread (which has been done on BGG, on numerous occasions).


Of course, the voting population was completely ignorant of these realities. It's not the actual state of the war that is important. It's the perceived state of the war by those who control who will be deciding whether to continue the war and the perceived state of the war of the person who would ultimately be elected.

So the proper questions are:
1. If Sherman had failed to capture Atlanta, would Lincoln have won reelection?
2. If McClellan won the election, would he have continued the war?


3. What would Lincoln have done between November 1864 and McClellan's inauguration on 4 March 1865?
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M St
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DarrellKH wrote:
VG's Pacific War: The Struggle Against Japan 1941-1945. The designer even states in the design notes that the Japanese have no realistic chance of winning, because historically, they didn't have a chance. The challenge for the Japanese player is to try and do at least as well as (or better than) they did in real-life.

Actually, I don't think this is an answer to the question, which wasabout games to be avoided because of that property. Like most monster games, if you play the Pacific War campaign game, it is likely not about winning. You are playing it for the experience, which is stupendous.

Also, Pacific War: The Struggle Against Japan 1941-1945 was not designed specifically for the campaign, but for playing its large list of scenarios, many of which are very well balanced. The campaign was included for those that want it, but there is a world of competitive playing experience in the scenarios. If you're looking for balanced games, it's not one to be avoided, but a treasure trove of opportunities. You just have to look in the right corner of the box.
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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claystone wrote:
I was wondering are there wargames to avoid that are design by the game designers to be "heavily" weighted in favor of one side or the other that no matter what you do you just can't win or a very very slight chance you might win?

I'm trying to avoid games like this that are so historically correct that it takes away from the sandbox effect.

I think that's a mistake. For example, in the Barbarossa scenario in EastFront II, usually the Axis beats the hell out of the Soviets for several hours; then you add up the points and apply the handicap, and the Soviets win. It's great fun for both sides, though, and when you do win (or even get a draw!) as the Axis, it's pretty sweet.
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Simon
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If you are hunting for games where both sides historically, and in the game, can achieve something resembling a victory you are probably better off asking the positive version of your question rather than the negative. There are many games that have a strong historical bias to one side and many that don't.
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ted raicer
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>Realistically, the South had virtually no chance to win the Civil War, and the Axis had virtually no chance to win WWII.

I disagree on both counts (they had their chances, and fortunately blew them), but in any case, there are always ways to balance victory conditions. Most cases of lack of balance in games are simply the result of players trying strategies that weren't used by the testers, and given that there are always more plays of a game by more people after publication than before (or at least, as a designer or publisher one hopes so), it is a fairly common event. Fortunately in the age of online errata and Living Rules, these problems can be and generally are addressed.
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Bruce Jurin
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Sometimes trying to balance a game with victory conditions can lead to players adopting strategies that likely aren't realistic. I remember that S & T put out Case Green about the same time that Command put out Czechoslovakia '38; in both cases the Czechs can 'win' but have their country effectively totally occupied, based on losses inflicted, amount of time they held off the attackers, etc.

We also can get unrealistic behavior by having the end-date to a conflict known ahead of time - we all know that we get the 'last turn suicide attack' if losing the army or navy doesn't lose victory points. Of course a real commander wouldn't think that way.

One interesting game on this topic is Imperium Romanum II. This game has many scenarios on Roman cvil wars. Many are balanced, and I admit I do favor them; but some aren't balanced. The game designer (Al Nofi) said that you can't balance these scenarios through 'victory conditions', these are civil wars, and invariably one side controlled the empire and the other was dead, and he wasn't going to mess around with history to balance them. The good news is that there are so many civil wars that we do have quite a few that are balanced.
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Arrigo Velicogna
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tdraicer wrote:
>Realistically, the South had virtually no chance to win the Civil War, and the Axis had virtually no chance to win WWII.

I disagree on both counts (they had their chances, and fortunately blew them), but in any case, there are always ways to balance victory conditions. Most cases of lack of balance in games are simply the result of players trying strategies that weren't used by the testers, and given that there are always more plays of a game by more people after publication than before (or at least, as a designer or publisher one hopes so), it is a fairly common event. Fortunately in the age of online errata and Living Rules, these problems can be and generally are addressed.


Ted, I think there is also an expectation that, as bad a player historical situation is and as bad his plans there must always be 50% chance to victory. Some designers (no names here, but I think you can understand who I am criticizing here) put so much balances and handicaps that players follows in the end strategies based on these conditions rather than their real aims often leading to game victories that are quite weird. I still think that game victory has to have some real world relevance, otherwise it is a bad game. I have to say that I appreciated the on Barbarossa you published several years ago because it made some good points on what victory on Barbarossa was like (and also very good point on the Moscow-Kiew debate that usually is portrayed in very simplistic ways).

All the best,
Arrigo
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Andrew Kluck
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Breunor wrote:


One interesting game on this topic is Imperium Romanum II. This game has many scenarios on Roman cvil wars. Many are balanced, and I admit I do favor them; but some aren't balanced. The game designer (Al Nofi) said that you can't balance these scenarios through 'victory conditions', these are civil wars, and invariably one side controlled the empire and the other was dead, and he wasn't going to mess around with history to balance them. The good news is that there are so many civil wars that we do have quite a few that are balanced.
Ostensibly one side believed they had a reasonable chance of success it just didn't pan out and then became a one sided conflict early.

Championing lost causes does happen, though it might be instructive and entertaining to craft into the scenario the reasons one side believed they had a reasonable shot and then give them an opportunity for it to work out.
 
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Bruce Jurin
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Sitnam wrote:
Breunor wrote:


One interesting game on this topic is Imperium Romanum II. This game has many scenarios on Roman cvil wars. Many are balanced, and I admit I do favor them; but some aren't balanced. The game designer (Al Nofi) said that you can't balance these scenarios through 'victory conditions', these are civil wars, and invariably one side controlled the empire and the other was dead, and he wasn't going to mess around with history to balance them. The good news is that there are so many civil wars that we do have quite a few that are balanced.
Ostensibly one side believed they had a reasonable chance of success it just didn't pan out and then became a one sided conflict early.

Championing lost causes does happen, though it might be instructive and entertaining to craft into the scenario the reasons one side believed they had a reasonable shot and then give them an opportunity for it to work out.


Sure you could, and Nofi has some 'what-if' scenarios, especially Belisarius vs. Justinian, a really good one. But my understanding is that he wanted the game to be accurate. A lot of people would holler if you make a guy who is second tier general as good as Caesar or Belisarius.

Some of the scenarios balance depend on the number of players. For instance iirc the crisis of 69 AD is balanced for three but not for 4.
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