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Subject: DRAFT rulebook posted rss

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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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The DRAFT rulebook for Cataclysm has been posted to the [filepage=133413]files[/filepage] section here on BGG. Take a look and see what all the fuss is about!

From today's GMT update:

PROJECT UPDATE: THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM

Cataclysm: A Second World War is a single-session global World War Two game over six years in the making. Players represent powers belonging to an ideology - Democracy, Fascism, or Communism - and steer their destiny through politics and war in the 1930s and 40s. A true sandbox experience, we have done our best to allow players the freedom to explore what-ifs and might-have-beens while remaining true to historical constraints and motivations. Every game is an outlier - and the narrative generated never fails to entertain.

Cataclysm has been on GMT Games' P500 list for over a year, and the development team has not spent that time idle. After overhauling the entire naval system and reorganizing the rulebook, we have spent the last few months playtesting the shorter scenarios for balance and fun factor. Our crack team of testers has been hard at work pushing cardboard and challenging the system, and we've made a plethora of adjustments thanks to their thoughtful feedback. After this last batch of comments, we feel the time has finally come to share the draft rulebook with the gaming public. A PDF of the rules is now available at GMT's website, as well as the game-specific pages at Boardgamegeek and Consimworld.

At this point the actual rules content is not likely to change, except for tweaks here and there. Of course, being a draft, we expect more rounds of proofreading to identify errors and tighten up ambiguous wording. No matter how much work is done before release, opening up the text to more eyes always uncovers more to be done! Anyone who wants to volunteer to help us with this process should contact designer Scott Muldoon at silentdibs@gmail.com.

Cataclysm needs about sixty orders to reach the magic number and earn a production slot. We hope a read of the rules will convince more of you that Cataclysm is not like any other WW2 game out there, and is one that would look good in your collection. Come visit us on BGG and CSW and join the excitement!

Designers William Terdoslavich and Scott Muldoon
Developer Kevin Bernatz
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Geoff C
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Looks interesting, especially the chit pull for actions. But the lack of technology rules is disappointing for the subject matter and scale.
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David desJardins
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As a technologist, I've always thought that "research" was overdone in WWII strategic games. The leaders of nations didn't really have much ability to strategize in deciding which fields to make technological breakthroughs in. And the player always will have much more information than the actual leaders did about what discoveries are possible, and the odds of success.

So I don't miss that in this game. That said, what I do think feels missing is any sense of technological *progress* during the course of the game. The technologies in use advanced rapidly during the course of the war, and at different rates in different nations. I don't miss giving the players influence over that technological progress, but I do wonder at the absence of any perceivable impact of such progress, at all. Air superiority, for example, is determined by the number of air units, their quality and capabilities are irrelevant? I guess you can say that all technological progress is incorporated into production (with the sole exception of the atomic bomb?), but that feels awfully abstract.
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J. R. Tracy
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I guess you can say that all technological progress is incorporated into production (with the sole exception of the atomic bomb?), but that feels awfully abstract.


It is rolled up into a couple factors, including an increasing operational efficiency as you ramp up your war effort. It is certainly abstract, I agree, but I like the effect in game terms. You do miss the ability to focus your R&D effort that you see in other games, outside of the simple choice of what to build (strategic bombers vs armor, etc).
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David desJardins
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jrtracy wrote:
You do miss the ability to focus your R&D effort that you see in other games, outside of the simple choice of what to build (strategic bombers vs armor, etc).


That I wouldn't miss, as I said. I guess it's impossible to tell whether the game gives a feeling of technological progress just from reading the rules, as opposed to playing actual playtest games.
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Kevin Bernatz
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Hi David,

To answer your question...'yes' and 'no'.

'No', because there is absolutely no distinction between nationalities on units other than the counter mix and maybe a few special rules (e.g. Japanese Infantry don't suffer out-of-supply penalties). In all other cases, a Soviet 'air fleet' is the same as a German, US or Italian air fleet...and an air fleet built in 1935 is identical in all regards to an air fleet built in 1945. This is part of the belief by Scott and Bill on abstracting the game to reduce complexity and focus more on the 'what do I do with my toys?' versus 'what toys do I build?'. That isn't to say the latter question isn't also an issue (it is, given the limited force pools and counter limits), but it is a higher level question of air, navy or land versus 'do I build the Me-109s or the FW-150s'. That level of detail is below the scope of Cataclysm.

'Yes' because all powers have upgrade markers which they will build more of later in the war when their commitment level increases, meaning they have more disposable builds and can therefor use them on 'luxury' items like upgrade markers. These markers will flip a regular Tactical air into a Strategic air, which has twice the range and gains the ability to perform several additional missions. It has a 'feel' of increasing Tech, because they are significantly more useful and valuable (but still only count as a single air unit for air superiority). While these units /can/ be built early in the game, the realistic situation is that they are often not due to the cost involved (also, nations at Civilian commitment cannot even have upgrade markers in their force pools).

-K
Developer, Cataclysm
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Talonz wrote:
But the lack of technology rules is disappointing for the subject matter and scale.


JR and Kevin have pretty much given the answers I would give. Your perspective is that of a head of state, not a commander in chief. You are less concerned with line items in the R&D budget than with the broad outlines of your forces' capabilities -- armor vs infantry? carriers? bombers or fighters? With two-year turns and areas spanning hundreds of miles there's no need to show most technological progression. If you have a commitment advantage (measuring the degree to which your economy is geared for war) we assume a concomitant technological advantage.

At one point in the design we considered powers having to purchase "doctrines", but it was discarded to keep the scope of the game clear and playable in an evening. Once we start adding back in all that kind of stuff, we're right where nearly every other WW2 game is - taking a weekend to play.

FWIW, I love the way tech is handled in Triumph & Tragedy, so if "no tech" is a dealbreaker for you, I heartily recommend you snag a copy of Craig's game.
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Geoff C
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WW2 was awash with vast and varied technological advances which impacted the outcome, duration and way battles were fought. This 'battle behind the battle' interests me greatly.

To ignore this is to leave a huge hole in the simulation imo. That is all.
 
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Obviously we didn't ignore technology, it's there in the form of commitment and upgrades (armor, carriers, etc.) but if you think a WW2 game that spans at least 14 years in five hours is not complete without Tiger tanks or V-weapons, then some other game will accommodate you.
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Hawkeye
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Talonz wrote:
WW2 was awash with vast and varied technological advances which impacted the outcome, duration and way battles were fought. This 'battle behind the battle' interests me greatly.

To ignore this is to leave a huge hole in the simulation imo. That is all.


As others have pointed out, it really doesn't factor in at the level the game is played. I have enjoyed games where technology is a factor, but they rarely get it right and it ends up being a distraction. Cataclysm finds the right pitch of keeping the player focused on decision making at the right level.
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David desJardins
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Misterhawk wrote:
As others have pointed out, it really doesn't factor in at the level the game is played. I have enjoyed games where technology is a factor, but they rarely get it right and it ends up being a distraction. Cataclysm finds the right pitch of keeping the player focused on decision making at the right level.


Technology has to be a factor, because technology changed so much over the course of the war. That doesn't mean that the players have to make *decisions* about technology, but there should be some feeling that technology is advancing and that new campaigns and strategies are possible that weren't before. Whether the game does that or not, I can't judge from the rules, I would have to play it.
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Stephen Rochelle
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Tech advanced, yes, but what changed in terms of strategic capability?

From 1930ish (that's when Cata starts, yes?), let's first start with what simply didn't exist (or nearly didn't exist):
Aircraft carriers (though fleet carriers were commissioning in the late 20s). Requires an upgrade marker, which requires progressing into Rearmament. But the tech was established by 1930.

"Modern" tanks: Requires an upgrade marker, which requires progressing into Rearmament.

Long-range heavy bombers: Requires an upgrade marker, which requires progressing into Rearmament.

Atomic weaponry, which is handled by special case.

Paratroops, which are not specifically present. But paratroop-only strategic strikes were exceedingly rare historically; the invasion of Crete is about the only thing I can think of that wouldn't lump in to a standard uses-ground-forces operation at Cata's scale.

So, there's no real tech difficulty for any of those save the A-bomb's special case, but how much should there be for those capabilities? Most everybody developed carriers, tanks, and heavy bombers; capability to invent the tech wasn't an issue. So, on to technological disparities.

At a two year scale, what historical technological disparities might Cataclysm have cause to model? There are very few cases where one side was unable to counter the other's capabilities (outside of cases where the numerical edge was also heavily stacked with the technological edge). The extreme range of B-29s is the only one that seems remotely compelling to me, but Cata can handle extreme range (operating a strategic bomber at extended range), and the same thing that made it practicable historically is what would make it practicable in the late game, but not the early game, of Cata -- the target's air force and ability to rebuild its air force have to first be reduced to the point where unescorted bombing over that distance results in acceptably low losses.

But tanks? Nobody's tanks were ever advanced enough, reliable enough, supplied enough, and numerous enough that they could sweep the field against a reasonably similarly-equipped opponent. Tanks advanced by leaps and bounds from 1939 to 1945, but they did so at a more-or-less constant pace (accounting for the above). Tiger IIs are pretty cool one-on-one, but there were 500 of those vs over 100k Shermans and T-34s.

Fighters? Same thing. Field-developed tactics, not technology, blunted the Zero in the Pacific. Germany and the UK were fairly evenly matched across the course of the war. The Allies couldn't touch German jets in the sky, but they could nail them over their runways -- but again, at the big picture, this is a case where the strategic position has rendered the technology imbalance obsolete.

And even if we argue about whether these things really were big enough to matter at this scale, the time factor kicks in. None of these high-level imbalances persisted for more than two years; in practice, you'd be bolting on a tech system to gain an advantage for one, maybe two, Offensive chit pulls. And then some combination of factors addressed above would pull things back into a rough equilibrium in a few months' time. And Cata handles this, too! Just dump some of your actions into Augmenting an operation. That's your short term tech push. What it is doesn't really matter.
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Kevin Bernatz
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For what it is worth, we have discussed Tech 'issues' in the past. For a while, we threw around an idea of having the Germans begin with a +1 the first turn they use their tanks on an opponent (representing both better tanks and superior blitzkrieg abilities). But ultimately we felt that the scale did not justify it.

Remember, we're talking a scale where Germany begins the invasion of Poland (1939-40 turn) with maybe FOUR non-naval units on the map in total!

Small scale actions like paradrops, etc. are actually represented by diplomacy actions; e.g. the German invasion of Norway would not be the German player sending one of his Army units to attack Norway, but playing a Flag to generate a 'Diplomacy' action and succeeding in placing Norway under German control. After all...as Clauswitz said, war is simply an extension of politics .

-K

P.S. Anyway, as Scott has said before...we realize that Cataclysm is not going to be 'for everyone' (is /any/ game 'for everyone'???), so if you feel that any game focused on the WW2 period - regardless of the scale - must have game-related benefits for FW-150's and Tiger tanks, then Cataclysm probably won't be a good fit for you.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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kbernatz wrote:
Small scale actions like paradrops, etc. are actually represented by diplomacy actions; e.g. the German invasion of Norway would not be the German player sending one of his Army units to attack Norway, but playing a Flag to generate a 'Diplomacy' action and succeeding in placing Norway under German control. After all...as Clauswitz said, war is simply an extension of politics .

And paradrop operations to seize island bases are explicitly in the rules (requiring strategic air, i.e. some tech advancement).
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