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Subject: There is so much that is great in this broken game. rss

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Leo Zappa
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Given the historical result, there probably shouldn't be a strategy that allows the Germans to win consistently. Occasionally, sure, but consistently, not so much!
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Mark Sterner
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Given the historical result, there probably shouldn't be a strategy that allows the Germans to win consistently. Occasionally, sure, but consistently, not so much!


Well, one can't have it both ways. If the game isn't meant to be a historical sim, then the historical result shouldn't factor into the game that strongly. If the historical result is a big factor, then the historical early success of the Axis should be a consistent hallmark of the game.
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Edward Kendrick
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Interestingly, several of the problems you mention - overuse of shore bombardment, and unlimited Anglo-French cooperation - were problems in the early versions of Third Reich; they were fixed by later rules alterations. Exactly the same issues crop up in Triumph and Tragedy - although their impact is only marginal there.

Another unrealistic ploy that was addressed in later editions of 3R is allowing British forces to occupy French colonies to keep control if/when France falls.
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Derry Salewski
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I think a tweak to shore bombardment is warranted. (I think they made naval rules a little too complex for the game anyway.)

I think the German 1939 force is probably too weak.

I think Italy should not be so vulnerable.

(Thankfully those are all easy to fix with what comes in the box!)
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Sean Norman
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I suppose Columbia brought in the 4-turn year to shorten the game length?

As someone mentioned above, at least all that's required are a few tweaks to the rules...everything else in the box is fine. The problem is finding someone willing to put in the effort. Now that Triumph and Tragedy's out, there's more competition for table time. Fortunately, they both have different feels to them so there's room for all.
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Paul C
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The use of the word "broken" on BGG is broken.
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Sean Norman
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Ralph, isn't this somewhat of a historic result? What year did Germany fall?

Quote:
The last game I played I did manage to knock out France relatively early, and penetrated fairly deep into Russia with a two pronged powerful attack. Unfortunately, I nevertheless lost, and my opponent told me later that he was never really concerned. He had powerful Russian reserve forces waiting to finish me off once my depleted and overextended German units broke through the lines
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kesavan sittampalam
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With T&T in, I have little reason to revisit VIE.

T&T is a clearly superior game
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Willem Boersma
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As for shore bombardment I certainly feel it's overly powerful. Wouldn't it be an idea to allow shore bombardment by a battleship to upgrade an infantry unit one class for the duration of one combat round? This seems to fit the scale of the game much better.
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Ron Draker
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Columbia did make a number of big changes in my original design, but I was the one that suggested we go from five to four cards per year to shorten playing time.

The borders are tight but amazingly people find ways to work around them and get near historical results.

Originally the air units were Air Groups with mixed fighter, tactical bomber wings. I had separate units for heavy bombers. At this scale the Spitfires or ME-109s are not really just fighters.

Overpowered shore bombardment has been a regular complaint and I agree in general terms but I believe at this scale it is acceptable given there are means to counter it and it still costs a precious Command to carry out.

I disagree that the game is "broken" or that the Soviets are too strong. Like so many Columbia games, this one is full of subtle combinations that take time to master. I have commented before on some general tactics to consider and am inclined to leave players the challenge of finding their own brilliant tactics or strategies.

If you want a game with more pro-German rules, try Europe Engulfed. It is great fun and has far more historical restrictions. I recently played T&T and love it! It's a great game but very different from VE. T&T starts in 1936 and allows players free rein in recreating the conditions for war or peace through the end of 1945. VE starts with the war and allows players to refight it with their own strategies. VE also has a bit more tactical depth in the combat system.

Overall I am pleased with the game. Sure I wish the rules were tighter at first release and the map bigger but Columbia is committed to updating the rules as they receive feedback and I have printed an oversize version of the map that works great. I was concerned that after so many years of developing and playtesting the game that I would never want to play it again, but that has not happened and I still enjoy every game. I hope people will give the game a fair chance and if there are issues that bother them, such as shore bombardment being too powerful, they go ahead and house rule them.

Thank you for the thoughtful comments Ralph.
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Matthew Taylor
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I would suggest that shore bombardment only be allowed on invasions. Removing it on defense and coast walking would mitigate most of the problems folk complain about with regard to shore bombardment.

My only complaint with the components was the decision to make some of the minors one block wonders (looking at you Sweden and Yugoslavia).
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Lance McMillan
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I'm confused. The OP starts by saying "there is so much that is great" in the game, but he never outlines what features of the game he feels are the good ones. Instead, he launches into a detailed breakdown of all the game's flaws. If he's looking to fix the game, wouldn't it be helpful to know which features he doesn't want altered before you start making changes?
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N P
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The game is definitely NOT broken. Played a couple times, no expert, but Russia did not feel overpowered. It was the US that kicked Germany's butt. Make house rules if you disagree with the rules.

Here are two we play with.

All shore bombardments are a "1".
The DAK piece cannot be elminiated in Africa due to supply.

Things we really enjoy:

Simple rules,
Unit denisity, we still printed out a bigger map
Can finish in about 6 hours with good play
Strategies are not railroaded to history.



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Dave Daffin
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Ron D wrote:
Columbia did make a number of big changes in my original design, but I was the one that suggested we go from five to four cards per year to shorten playing time.

The borders are tight but amazingly people find ways to work around them and get near historical results.

Originally the air units were Air Groups with mixed fighter, tactical bomber wings. I had separate units for heavy bombers. At this scale the Spitfires or ME-109s are not really just fighters.

Overpowered shore bombardment has been a regular complaint and I agree in general terms but I believe at this scale it is acceptable given there are means to counter it and it still costs a precious Command to carry out.

I disagree that the game is "broken" or that the Soviets are too strong. Like so many Columbia games, this one is full of subtle combinations that take time to master. I have commented before on some general tactics to consider and am inclined to leave players the challenge of finding their own brilliant tactics or strategies.

If you want a game with more pro-German rules, try Europe Engulfed. It is great fun and has far more historical restrictions. I recently played T&T and love it! It's a great game but very different from VE. T&T starts in 1936 and allows players free rein in recreating the conditions for war or peace through the end of 1945. VE starts with the war and allows players to refight it with their own strategies. VE also has a bit more tactical depth in the combat system.

Overall I am pleased with the game. Sure I wish the rules were tighter at first release and the map bigger but Columbia is committed to updating the rules as they receive feedback and I have printed an oversize version of the map that works great. I was concerned that after so many years of developing and playtesting the game that I would never want to play it again, but that has not happened and I still enjoy every game. I hope people will give the game a fair chance and if there are issues that bother them, such as shore bombardment being too powerful, they go ahead and house rule them.

Thank you for the thoughtful comments Ralph.


This is a great post, Ron. A tighter, clearer rule set would have been nice from the off, and I would still like to have a definitive version for a lot of the clarifications and FAQs that have been flying about. I've invested a lot in the game, and want to get a good lot of gaming time from it.
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Matthew Taylor
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I like this - I might add one Italian unit immune to supply reduction as well. No steps added without supply, but no reduction. The supply route was short enough that it was really impossible to completely cut it.

Normal supply would apply if Sicily or any Italian mainland region captured and occupied by Allies.

Braveheart wrote:


The DAK piece cannot be elminiated in Africa due to supply.

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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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I'm enjoying this game also - it's just plain good fun and has some interesting options to explore. When I played it for the first time, I didn't recognise it from some of the near hysterical comments I'd heard about it being broken beyond repair etc... (I'm not including this review in that category btw).

The one thing I'd agree with are some of the comments on shore bombardment - they don't really stack up for me - but hey ho, that was a design decision and somebody made a different call on that. As for the clarity of the rules, version 1.1 of the rules was definitely an improvement but, with a little bit of goodwill, we muddled through with version 1 on our first game.

I have arranged to pick up a copy at the end of the month (payday!) and I'm looking forward to having it in my collection. Many thanks Ron for a design I suspect will become a staple for my ftf opponent and I over the next few years.
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Willem Boersma
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taylorsmatthew wrote:
I would suggest that shore bombardment only be allowed on invasions. Removing it on defense and coast walking would mitigate most of the problems folk complain about with regard to shore bombardment.

My only complaint with the components was the decision to make some of the minors one block wonders (looking at you Sweden and Yugoslavia).


Hmm, I took it only to apply to invasions automatically, but apparently that's not the case.
 
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Marten Tjaart Raadsveld
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We' re also enjoying the game very much. The game is certainly not broken. I do agree on the suggesting of limiting shore bombardment to invasions.

I don't have a lot of games under my belt, but I don't understand geeks stating that attacking is too difficult. Attacks can be very powerfull with the right combination of units (air + tanks). Furthermore, I don't agree to the Soviets being too strong. Initially,the Soviets seem strong in holding of the Germans, but it is hard to replace these Soviet losses. We haven't figured our Soviet strategy out yet.

All-in-all, a great game with still lots of options and strategies to explore
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Sean Norman
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Is everyone here mostly playing the 3-player game? Any experiences with 2?
 
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Derry Salewski
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snorman wrote:
Is everyone here mostly playing the 3-player game? Any experiences with 2?


I'd assume posts are about two player.

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Matthew Taylor
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My solo games are three player.
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Michael Hyland

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It's a good solid game. It sounds like the OP is referring to a few things he wants tweaked which I understand but the game isn't broken. I think it's fine. Maybe there will be some changes and updates over time and that's fine and I'm glad to hear Ron is committed to keep that discussion open.

I saw some good play at the WBC that showed to me attacking isn't weak, but it has to be done right. After a couple of engagements you generally understand what you have in front of you and it's impossible to protect your line equally all the way through. This give the edge to the attacker who can choose where the attack happens if he/she can get enough front to attack from a few borders.

Anyway bidding a few build points or cps could help balance things out if people feel one side has the advantage. I haven't played the game enough to really know because my level of play isn't very high. I think the allies tend to be easier in the 39 scenario because they are building up and getting stronger. The Axis has to go out and do something on the board to make itself stronger which is the harder task and requires better management which means more than novice play to do well.
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Michael Wild
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I played two games as Germany in 1939 game right after I got my copy from Kickstarter and lost both times. I could not figure out the combinations to break open France and I had a terrible time with the British shore bombardment. I have not played for a few months waiting to see how other did.

I liked the play and we had some errors in play. We were to flexible with damage assignment.

I will try again and make sure we follow the rules and maybe add the optional house rule for the bombardment to be valued at 1.
 
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James McHaffey
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I must concur, this game is broken. As published, the game was not only unplayable, but incredibly frustrating to even setup - it takes longer than any other Columbia game I’ve played, even East Front. The map is too small and some areas have several names, making it extremely time consuming to find locations. Many units are free deployment, which is a bad idea for such a complex game. It adds time, plus you might lose Paris in 1939 with a couple of rookie placements. In the least, a suggested setup should have been offered with free deployment an option for advanced players. As an aside, the game was impossible to setup as the legal deployment areas were undefined until the online Q&A. Another annoyance is that many blocks start below full strength. They could have indicated starting step levels on the block with a watermark, underscore or ANYTHING, but instead a TON of time is wasted staring at the setup card and double checking everything. It took us nearly 2 hours to setup on our first play. We got that down to about 30 minutes by our third and final play.

Once play begins, the map continues to frustrate. Many of the borders and port cities are extremely ambiguous. Bergen doesn’t appear to touch any water, but we both agreed it MUST be a port city. But what about Tirana? It clearly doesn’t touch water, but does that mean Albania is the Hotel California of Europe? "You can check in but you can never leave..." The Italian unit presumably landed by sea invasion, but it can never leave because you cannot strategically move out without a port. There is a random mountain on the border between Basque/Bilbao, Pyrenees/Catalonia/Ebro/Barcelona, and Spain/Madrid (I listed all names so you could find easier). Does that mean none, one, or both of those borders is a mountain border??? I could go on and on…

The v.1.01 rulebook that shipped with Kickstarter was fraught with errors and ambiguities. I won’t beat a dead horse. That was largely fixed in the 1.1 rules, but sadly, the game still isn’t any good.

All things being equal, the attacker IS at an extreme disadvantage because of the oppressive border limits. In many famous historical battle sites, the attacker can only field 1 or 2 land units. They “solved” this problem by introducing extremely gamey “combined arms” to allow you to exceed those limits. It’s quintessential for the Germans to use the Fallschirmjäger and Panzergruppe Graf Spee in every battle possible to glean an advantage. Also Germany starts with an absurd numerical advantage to offset the inherent defender advantage. Historically, Germany and France fielded roughly the equivalent number of divisions all through 1939-40, but check out the OoB in the 1939 campaign game. Germany starts with 45 steps (48 if you count Panzergruppe Graf Spee) compared to 19 steps for France. Germany needs all those steps because the attacks are so ineffective and armies are so lumbering, you basically need 3 major army groups: one to safeguard against an aggressive (i.e. bored) Russian player, and two to take out France. The first, since it is restricted in size by border limits, just softens up France, then steps aside. The second army group, then delivers the coup de grace. They can’t attack in a pincer – the borders don’t allow it.

At first glance, the production system (take the lower of resources and factories) seems like a stroke of brilliance, but the awesomeness of that concept is totally wasted because factories are much easier to acquire than resources. Ex. The Soviets can build a factory for 2PP (about 5% of your annual income) or waste 2-3 precious ALLIED commands and lose about 5-6PP of units to capture one measly resource in Petsamo. So the obvious path is to build factories to exactly equal your resources and never bother with attacking Finland. Petsamo is an extreme example, but it illustrates the strategic implications (or lack of) for resources and factories in a nutshell. A wasted opportunity as the game could have been so much more interesting if the cost of building factories were comparable to the cost of acquiring resources. Germany does have a few interesting decision points (build a factory for later or build a unit now), but the same can’t be said for any other power. The UK, US, and Italy (if not conquered in 1939) are always fully built out relatively early in the game. CPs and board position are the only thing that matter for them. We actually found ourselves frequently attacking as the Allies or Italians, just to kill steps so that they could be rebuilt. Bad news…

The diplomacy system is fun but some of the target numbers are arbitrary or nonsensical. Finland would never join the Soviets nor would Belgium ever join the Axis. Forcing Italy to roll to enter the war, but allowing the Allies to attack at any time makes them a sitting duck. Poland joining the Soviets as a rule to discourage Germany attacking France first, is just fixing one bad rule by adding another. Those can all be easily house ruled though…

The card system is frustrating. You draw 4 out of 8 possible cards, and must play all 4. The last card of each year is an automatic play with no decision. I think it would be much more interesting if you played one and drew one each season. Also, the cards are terribly imbalanced creating unnecessary luck. A well designed card deck introduces variance for replayability, without adding unnecessary luck. If the card has a low CP value, the event should be awesome to offset that. It’s nothing of the sort in Victory in Europe. Often the lowest CP cards have the worst events. There is ONLY one card that has NO EVENT at all. It’s also the only ZERO CP card in the game. Sitzkrieg. Frankly, that card should be burned. The text states “Movement OK, but no Attacks”. Well duh!!! It’s ZERO CP. They couldn't even leave the card blank, but had to add insult to injury… To illustrate how absurd the variance can be, in 1940 the Allies could have as little as 8 CP or as many as 16 CP, the Axis vary between 10-16. So the swing from one game to the next can be as high as 14 CP!!! Groan…

The winter firepower rule (all units reduced to 1) has profound implications. It encourages the creation of two types of army groups. Army group A consists of your best units (D2 and D3 infantry, C2 and C3 armor, and A2 and A3 air) and attack only in good weather, and Army Group B (D1 infantry, B1 air) attack only in Winter. It levels the playing field for Russia in the Winter, but it's way overdone. The Eastern Front becomes almost entirely an exercise of creating minimum exposure of your best units by rotating your two army groups in and out. It also creates extremely gamey tactics like only using Wellingtons and He-111s in Winter or targeting battleships with destroyers since they all roll 1s.

Then of course there are the silly battleship shore bombardments, that can be easily house ruled, but as you can see from the above. There are just way too many issues I have with this game to attempt to fix it to my tastes. It's on my trade list and probably my very last Columbia kickstarter. On to Triumph & Tragedy which just arrived last week!
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Derry Salewski
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I agree about the cards and that the low value cards should have high value/consistent events. Either really good things you can set up, or things that will always be available. Sometimes they don't even do anything.
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