Justin Gortner
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Howdy!

So I wanted to love both Viticulture and Euphoria but decided they ultimately had some critical design problems. They both seemed like games from a 'young' designer.

For Viticulture, the cards were very unbalanced. And for Euphoria, I hated the busy board layout, and thought that process by which you loose workers was underdeveloped (I lost a worker immidiately after aquiring one without even being able to use it). But otherwise, both games had some great concepts.

With Scythe, there are a few things that seem questionable that I would love to generate some discussion about. I have read the rules and watched some gameplay videos and have the following observations:

Top & Bottom Action Syngergy
The pairings seem to be random. Top actions do not deliverately have any synergy with bottom actions. And on top of that, each board is different.

Doesn't this just make for a dry and abstract puzzle to solve that has nothing to do with the theme or logic? "This game I want to be able to do both Bolster and Upgrade at the same time..." or " This game I want to trade and deploy at the same time ..."

Someone bring me to the light side here as to why these random pairings are fun or interesting. It's a core mechanic to the game that I cannot wrap my brain around as being fun. I like the idea of action pairs and creating an engine but don't understand why they are random, different among boards, and are not planned to make sense.

This is my biggest gripe. If I can understand the logic behind this better I'd likely be on board!

Faction Balance
Every faction has a unique power and a, load of different starting resources and starts in a different location on the map (which gives them easy access to a different subset of goods which may or may not be good for the beginning of the game.

That is a ton of variables to balance. And reminds me of the imbalance in Viticulture. I understand there were 700 blind playtests but blind playtests are not a power balancing metric.

Not that things have to be perfectly balanced here. But this makes me nervous.

Enlist
This mechanic just seems to overcomplicate an already medium-heavy game. Now you have to watch what actions your neighbors are doing and see if they match an elist action you did previously? This seems like something that is going to get missed often.

I would love to generate some healthy debate from both sides / opinions. I am very interested in this game and am strongly considering pledging. So I value everyone's opinion!



PS. Can anyone speak on how durable and long lasting the paint job is on the real resources?
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Jack Francisco
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I have to say that I feel similarly as you. I wanted to like Viticulture, and it's ok, but ultimately fell flat for me. I love the world Euphoria is trying to create, but the gameplay is again kind of meh. I was in for Scythe, again because I love what the art is trying to evoke, but have decided to back out. There is something that doesn't sit right with me with this one as well.
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There is a pnp for you to test if you have questions. Otherwise I don't think opinions can help you.
 
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Justin Gortner
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scott3387 wrote:
There is a pnp for you to test if you have questions. Otherwise I don't think opinions can help you.
I believe they will. And I would love to hear from people!
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Gordon Watson
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scott3387 wrote:
There is a pnp for you to test if you have questions. Otherwise I don't think opinions can help you.
It's a bit late to get the printer and scissors out now before the pledge window closes - so opinion is all that's left to go on.

I'm in the same boat - like the art, like the concept, and if it really is a Kemet/Terra-Mystica mash-up, both mechanically and quality wise, then I'd be in. But I am still dithering - Euphoria left me underwhelmed and Viticulture never appealed either thematically or on mechanics. Just because he's the greatest KS campaign/project manager that's ever asked for our money (and he probably is) doesn't necessarily mean he's a great designer.
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Craig C
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jgortner wrote:
Doesn't this just make for a dry and abstract puzzle to solve that has nothing to do with the theme or logic?
We just refer to them as Eurogames here on BGG.

jgortner wrote:
Every faction has a unique power and a, load of different starting resources and starts in a different location on the map (which gives them easy access to a different subset of goods which may or may not be good for the beginning of the game.

That is a ton of variables to balance.
This part actually excites me about the game. I've always felt it's up to the players to keep runaway leaders in check, not the game. So this one actually makes me like Scythe more.

jgortner wrote:

Enlist
This mechanic just seems to overcomplicate an already medium-heavy game. Now you have to watch what actions your neighbors are doing and see if they match an elist action you did previously?
This one seems like an effort to give people something to do during other players' turns, and may end up being a bit of overkill, since each player only takes one action before the next player goes. Time will tell if this fits well, or is too much to keep track of. And it could probably be called something besides Enlist.

Despite all these things, my connoisseur pledge is still in, with just a few hours to go.
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Craig C
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domus_ludorum wrote:
Just because he's the greatest KS campaign/project manager that's ever asked for our money (and he probably is) doesn't necessarily mean he's a great designer.
Or he may be, but his designs may not be right for you. Or me. Still not sold on all the mechanics myself, but I love the art, and I think a couple house-rule tweaks will give me a game I'm happy with.
 
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I backed Scythe, and I love Viticulture. If I had misgivings about Viticulture I'd be waiting for retail.

I don't think it's a great idea to back a Kickstarter by a designer you don't already have faith in.
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Gordon Watson
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bird94us wrote:
domus_ludorum wrote:
Just because he's the greatest KS campaign/project manager that's ever asked for our money (and he probably is) doesn't necessarily mean he's a great designer.
Or he may be, but his designs may not be right for you.
Agree entirely, but whereas the previous games did not really appeal on theme (Viticulture) or mechanics (Viticulture and Euphoria), Scythe does - it's just very hard to get a definitive feel for a game from just a rules read and some tame video (p)reviewers - although I did like the 'Scrappy' one.
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I think you raise some interesting points. Here are my thoughts:

jgortner wrote:
Top & Bottom Action Syngergy
The pairings seem to be random. Top actions do not deliverately have any synergy with bottom actions. And on top of that, each board is different.

Doesn't this just make for a dry and abstract puzzle to solve that has nothing to do with the theme or logic? "This game I want to be able to do both Bolster and Upgrade at the same time..." or " This game I want to trade and deploy at the same time ..."

Someone bring me to the light side here as to why these random pairings are fun or interesting.
The way I see it, the basic mechanic is just the pairing of the top and bottom actions: the top ones being the basics (move or get resources/workers/power/money/popularity) with the bottom ones having a relatively high resource cost and getting you a permanent benefit and progress towards one of the various achievement stars (get mech, structure, upgrade or recruit).

The random combination of the action pairs on the different player boards (and the different costs and upgrade options of bottom-row actions) provides the game with a lot of replayability as you might find different strategies work better with different player boards (and different combinations of player boards and factions). To some extent, the "randomness" of the combinations is mitigated by the factory cards that allow you to add to your action options. Since you have some choice in which factory card you get (or even when and whether you get one), you can try to improve your action selection if you aren't happy with it.

However, having not played the game, this is all speculation.

Anyway, it seems to me like it should be lots of fun figuring it all out and which combinations work better with different strategies.

jgortner wrote:
Faction Balance
Every faction has a unique power and a, load of different starting resources and starts in a different location on the map (which gives them easy access to a different subset of goods which may or may not be good for the beginning of the game.

That is a ton of variables to balance. And reminds me of the imbalance in Viticulture. I understand there were 700 blind playtests but blind playtests are not a power balancing metric.

Not that things have to be perfectly balanced here. But this makes me nervous.
I don't share your concerns here but I am not really a very competitive person when it comes to board games, which you may be. I certainly play to win but I don't really mind if I do or not as long as games are fun and it doesn't feel like there is absolutely no chance for me to win. The way I see it, any imbalance that there may be with the different factions (I don't think there is any but even if there is) would be mitigated by the different player boards and in any event are probably very minor.

I love Terra Mystica but without the expansion I find the game is very imbalanced with some factions being clearly superior to others that are pretty useless. I still think it is an incredible game.

Also, the skill-sets of my friends are completely imbalanced. Two of my friends are brilliant at Terra Mystica and games of its ilk whereas I am rather mediocre and other people I play with are even worse than me. To make things "fairer" we sometimes allow the worst players to choose the factions for the best - and often even in these situations the better players tend to win (although that Fakir faction really is pretty useless!). I guess for me there are always ways to mitigate a slight imbalance (if one does exist) like house-ruling an auction for the factions in the beginning of the game or something.

jgortner wrote:
Enlist
This mechanic just seems to overcomplicate an already medium-heavy game. Now you have to watch what actions your neighbors are doing and see if they match an elist action you did previously? This seems like something that is going to get missed often.
I think I disagree with you here the most. I like mechanics that keep you engaged with what the other players are doing. It's like the "follow" mechanic in Tiny Epic Galaxies. To me this doesn't appear to be very difficult to remember. And there's a clear reward for watching out for what your neighbours do on their turns. And for your own action, the recruit token has exposed the reward so you can generally tell when you move the action marker to the corresponding part of your board that you get that benefit.

I suppose it might get more complicated as you begin to unlock more of the recruits so that there are say three out of the four actions that give you a reward. But I can't imagine that it's much of a problem if you forget it every now and then and remember a turn or two later and ask to take the benefit then. You could either play strictly and not allow this or you could allow it for new players or allow it as long as only one or two turns have passed or something. This happens in my gaming group at lot and while we eventually get to the point of making the firm rule NO MORE TAKE-BACKS, if it doesn't harm anyone by allowing a player to gain the benefit slightly late then I'm generally fine with permitting it.

jgortner wrote:
PS. Can anyone speak on how durable and long lasting the paint job is on the real resources?
No idea!
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Juan Crespo
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Anyone still on the fence just remember that you can pledge now, ensuring the discounted price. Then if by 30 days of receiving the KS reward, you decide that Scythe is not the game that you expected, you can take advantage of the 30 day money back guarantee, no questions asked that Stonemaier offers.

That's having confidence in your product, while acknowledging that it may not be for everyone. How many other KS, or even regular publishers do that?
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Drew Scott
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If you have that many reservations about this designer, I'd say this is an unequivocal try-before-you-buy. Sounds like there will be plenty of copies in the wild, so try it then and save today's money for something you have higher faith in. (Or take Stonemaier up on that money-back guarantee; for me that's a hassle, and is the last option I'd consider. Better not to back at all if you're wary, I say.)
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Mark Palframan
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jgortner wrote:
PS. Can anyone speak on how durable and long lasting the paint job is on the real resources?
I'd also be interested to hear about this!
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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I have fabricated my PnP set, and while I've only played 1.5 games (had to abort the first due to time constraints), I like it.

Top & Bottom Actions. There really isn't any specific synergy there, in part because the order changes to give each of the 5 cards different combinations. It's a big part of the asymmetric design central to this game. This helps replayability as each time you don't know what your own puzzle will be--that is why they are different. To me that is definitely a feature, not a bug. Scythe has always been presented as primarily a worker-placement style Euro. It just has some Ameritrash mixed in.

Faction Balance. I cannot speak to this as I've only played a little. The one play with Rusviet vs Polania I have done (see my session report) seemed balanced enough. It didn't seem that one or the other had a major advantage & the perceived lead fluctuated throughout the game.

Enlist. Yeah, for me enlist is the clunkiest mechanic right now. I haven't quite got my head wrapped around that one quite yet. One thing it does do is give incentive to stay engaged in the game between your turns.

On the whole, I like the game and expect play will smooth out as I gain experience with the rules. I'm certainly not second-guessing my pledge at this point.
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Justin Gortner
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So just as a positive note, one of the bigger reasons I am on board is because of the rules. I like the simplicity of simply picking an action column and then going to the next player. I also think it will be easy to pick up 2 months down the road and play without a lot of reading!
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J Kaemmer
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1&2. Agree the random player boards seem a little odd, and may dictate strategy a little more than I would like... but the fact you can't do the same thing twice in a row means you were already having to jump around and do different action slots, honestly I bet all of the Actions are important to success in one way or the other and you'll hardly notice. As for the Factions keep in mind while the resources and shapes of the territories may differ, you typically have access to the whole board via riverwalk and tunnels fairly quickly to get the other resources. The powers aren't super over powered either. What I think you should look at is the tracking spreadsheet Jamey collected on the 750 play tests. He was very concerned on balancing the Factions AND Playmats. Here's some data I stole:

Blind Playtest Data (through June 21)

Average winning score: 96
Faction with the most wins: Crimea (yellow)
Player mat with the most wins: 3
Average second-place score (if any): 74
Average last-place score: 60
Faction with the most loses: Polania Republic
Player mat with the most loses: 1 and 4
Average margin between winning score and last-place score: 36
Highest winning score ever: 144

It's not like he just wanted it to kind of work and sent it out into the wild. He was definitely concerned with balance, particularly with faction and mat combinations if I recall, and only once it started coming out even/balanced, was he satisfied. (Neat to see that 2 of the mats tied for most losses)

3. Not sure about the enlist. It's a little extra work and easy to miss your trigger but I don't really understand why people think it would make for a BAD game You don't seem to against it, but I have definitely seen other posts. Hopefully, like all other SM games it feel really natural and thematic and not as "tacked on" as some have feared.

(And in regards to the Realistic Resources they all have a protective clear coat over them so the paint will last forever and will be less susceptible to dings and scratches)
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Dirk Ackermann
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After about a dozen games on Tabletopia I decided to back off. The reason is, although a fine mesh of an euro with an ameritrash game, the gameplay was too gamey (just look at the gameboard and the player-mats) for me and the ways it played didn't make any sense in-theme. Four mechs or four armies of mechs? A mill in a province lets you produce more of anything? Buildings are only there to make the board more count - and they can't be really conquered? Folks are not able to go over lakes and rivers - although there are pictures of bridges and huge boats... (and this is a post-WWI-area, where such things wouldn't be called a problem at all). What is this magical factory anyway, why is a hero as mighty as a mech - or mech-army - and why do all factions start so similar? The losing of popularity because of whacking other folks around is a nifty idea - but lacks a logical explanation in-theme. And I could go on.

Some of these you can explain with a stretch or two, but the bottom line is that the game always trumps the theme or its logic. The result is a build-your-engine-puzzle-game with region control and a very good replayabilty but with just a tiny nod to its theme. Actually I wouldn't call it a game with a good theme, but a game with a great atmosphere.

In my games I couldn't see any faction would fare better than its comrades. But they are actually different, so much so, that you can play with them in a certain style.

A good game but not my taste. Unfortunately, because it looks so gorgeous and was so promising.
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steve w
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I have not played viticulture (though the upcoming Jamey + Uwe Essential edition is on my list) or Euphoria. I have a PnP copy of scythe that I paid $20 at my local printer for nice colored cardstock and pulled components from a bunch of my other games (see instagram #penguinmechs)

jgortner wrote:
Top & Bottom Action Syngergy
The pairings seem to be random. Top actions do not deliverately have any synergy with bottom actions. And on top of that, each board is different.

Doesn't this just make for a dry and abstract puzzle to solve that has nothing to do with the theme or logic? "This game I want to be able to do both Bolster and Upgrade at the same time..." or " This game I want to trade and deploy at the same time ..."

Someone bring me to the light side here as to why these random pairings are fun or interesting. It's a core mechanic to the game that I cannot wrap my brain around as being fun. I like the idea of action pairs and creating an engine but don't understand why they are random, different among boards, and are not planned to make sense.

This is my biggest gripe. If I can understand the logic behind this better I'd likely be on board!
When I played last night, I never though that the top and bottom actions were going to be complimentary, so didn't miss the same engine synergy maybe you were looking for? I liked the fact that we each had our own pairs of actions to work out, and knowing that every play was going to give me a new puzzle to work out was a bonus for me, not a detriment.

jgortner wrote:
Faction Balance
Every faction has a unique power and a, load of different starting resources and starts in a different location on the map (which gives them easy access to a different subset of goods which may or may not be good for the beginning of the game.
There was one placement on the map I could see that it didn't appear to have quick access to Metal, which is what everyone needs to start deploying their mechs, and deploying a first mech is key to getting the Rivercrossing ability. Another asymmetrical issue you might have is that each faction, even when they achieve Rivercrossing, can only cross to certain land types, I think last night I could cross to Farms and Tundras. It felt constraining, at first, and I had to back a move up at one point because I had crossed illegally, later in the game it was a relief, as my son was chasing some of my resources down with his mech and i was able to escape by crossing a river onto a land tile he wasn't able to cross into. So there is that added piece that might turn you off, for me, it saved my ass during the game.


jgortner wrote:
Enlist
This mechanic just seems to overcomplicate an already medium-heavy game. Now you have to watch what actions your neighbors are doing and see if they match an elist action you did previously? This seems like something that is going to get missed often.
We may have missed it once or twice during the game, but my son is pretty competitive and was watching for it. I liked the aspect in which the recruit helped you not only on your own turn, but on others as well, granted we only played 2P, so we might have been more engaged then you would be not on your turn in a 4P or 5P. Once I got my head around when my opponent would trigger my bonus (and some of this was due to the actions not matching top/bottom - you basically ignore the bottom portion when "calculating" the recruit bonus, just go by the top action) it made me actually calculate and choose my next placed recruits more carefully to hopefully trigger them more often by placing them on an action I thought my opponent would use more often.

This is what I wrote last night after playing:

My son and I played and it felt great, we forgot about the factory being worth three territories at the end so we both abandoned it when we probably should have fought to keep it. the scoring at the end was close 53-48 and neither of us was sure who was going to win. had he not attacked me me near the end and taken my resources I probably would have won. I really like the asymmetrical powers, my son had a really good faction power, but my mech building was significantly cheaper. I was out producing him for most of the game, but left my workers undefended and he was able to steal them from me. replay value seems high since you have the random faction and random player mat, as well as the random factory cards and structure bonus. as we sit around and postgame we both realized the game could have gone either way with just a couple different moves on either of our part. I think I read somewhere that an average game is 75-90 points at the end, and I think we would both do much better next game. I'm glad I'm a backer and upset that it's not scheduled to deliver until August 2016. the same 'point salad' complainers will complain, there is a basket of scoring you have to do at the end, and combat is pretty sparse, it's not like forbidden stars where you can expect combat each round. the artwork on the board and the cards is great, oh, and I really liked the Upgrade mechanic, where when you upgrade your actions it allows you to make one action cheaper as well as another action more rewarding. the print and play doesn't have all of the encounter, factory, or structure bonus cards, but it didn't feel like a half-a-game at all. I will undoubtedly play again, and I hope to scrounge enough components to add a third player. it's easy to see how a 2P game would be wildly different than a 5P - two player gives you more time to build your resources and upgrade your cards, while I imagine a 5P gameboard would be much busier and include more jostling back and forth. I would say from my one game so far that anyone on the fence should go ahead and get in. would love to hear anyone else's thoughts.

With SG money-back guarantee, I don't see why you wouldnt at least back it and send it back, if it ends up not being your cup of tea. I backed at the lowest level, and while I do like shiny coins and resource storage boxes, just wanted to get a copy of the game in my hands. But, with all of your stated asymmetrical misgivings, I would always caution people not to get swept up in the hype. I enjoy my PnP and am glad I have something to do while waiting for August 2016 to roll around.
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Dirk Ackermann
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A thought that always lingered in my brain as I played it: The game would make more sense if it would be a sci-fi-opera; you could very logical explain some of the game mechanics without stretches at all. Maybe it was, as its very first version...

But JS seems like an outstanding marketing man - he surely would have thought that there are a zillion of those already - and him, knowing the awesome art and its cool atmosphere, he made a very fine and conscious decision...
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David Kodeski
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I backed it and am not too crazy about the theme - as I generally prefer real-world themes.

My backing the game had more to do with how much I've enjoyed both Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture and Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - for whatever all that is worth.
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Chris Laudermilk
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There is a pretty good explanation of the popularity loss in the game: it's post-war and the population is tired of fighting. When you show up & kick the people off their farms, they get pissed at you. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

Not every game is a good fit for every gamer, and that's ok. I don't agree with your assessment, and that's ok too.

Steve, the faction you are thinking of (no immediate metal access) is Polania--I happened to be playing that one on my first full game. It didn't really hurt that much, you just do a couple of trade actions to get your resources to build a mech, then you have one hex right across the river where you get more. I deployed my first one one turn after my son got his first out. There has been a lot of time spent to make sure that the factions are pretty evenly balanced according to reports.
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Dirk Ackermann
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Sorry, but that is not a good explanation! Shortly after WWI there were wars - and boy did they like it if the other side got their butt kicked (Polish-Soviet-War for instance)!!! Were most of the people in that war war-weary? Of course! But the Polish liked it nonetheless when the Soviets were beaten and driven off to peace talks. Most of the wars function that way - if your side is winning then the very negative seems to disappear. (meaning not every war is the Vietnam-War)
 
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Like I said, we don't necessarily agree on the reasoning. Not a big deal.
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Jeffrey Smith
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DarAng wrote:
Sorry, but that is not a good explanation! Shortly after WWI there were wars - and boy did they like it if the other side got their butt kicked (Polish-Soviet-War for instance)!!! Were most of the people in that war war-weary? Of course! But the Polish liked it nonetheless when the Soviets were beaten and driven off to peace talks. Most of the wars function that way - if your side is winning then the very negative seems to disappear. (meaning not every war is the Vietnam-War)
Not looking for a debate, but just a thought; While national pride and popularity may increase with war victories, this game is focused on a fairly small geographic region of farmers. Battles will destroy crops and fields locally. Plus the new workers you "capture" are certainly not going to celebrate your victory.

My main thought is this is a fictitious world, so I'm okay if things don't work exactly as I may expect them to work, as long as it's consistent.

But you are obviously entitled to your opinion. I almost passed on this one because I'm usually not that into sci-fi, steam-punk, alternate history type of things. For whatever reason I changed my mind.
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DarAng wrote:
Sorry, but that is not a good explanation! Shortly after WWI there were wars - and boy did they like it if the other side got their butt kicked (Polish-Soviet-War for instance)!!! Were most of the people in that war war-weary? Of course! But the Polish liked it nonetheless when the Soviets were beaten and driven off to peace talks. Most of the wars function that way - if your side is winning then the very negative seems to disappear. (meaning not every war is the Vietnam-War)
This is just an abstraction of resistance forces. You are vying for the "hearts and minds" of the people who live in the lands that you are newly acquiring through warfare. Or think of the Balkans, many disparate cultures awaiting the results of endless battles to see who there next leader will be. Think of all of the factions as having arrived from neighboring countries to fight over this land. These people aren't completely loyal to anyone.
 
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