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Subject: Things not fitting into the theme rss

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Dennis _
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I'm not going to present one carefully constructed review here, just wanted to add some of my thoughts after my first chance to play Scythe.

First of all, I really liked the employed mechanics and - what's special about Scythe - the setting the game takes place in. But the theme does not work up to every tiny detail, and that's what puzzled me most.

My main criticism is about the different riverwalk abilities: How would you explain that different factions are only allowed to do this on different types of terrain? It doesn't depend on where one comes from, so the special design of the mechs could be no explanation. This even leads to situations in which you might trap yourself on the wrong side of one river - not being able to turn back.

I know that this is meant to help the balance of the game. But it feels very artificial and counter-intuitive if I can't find a convincing narrative for it.

The same holds for the tunnel systems: I know that they're needed for the balance as well. But how strange is an (ancient?) tunnel system that does allow huge mechs to pass through? What's more, it works in an area with lots of rivers and lakes and one can easily expand it to and from an own mine. This expansion however can not be found by enemy factions, which is even stranger.

Finally, the special ability to teleport you to the factory or unused bases doesn't fit in that theme at all. It feels rather like a fantasy thing to do (some sorcerer allows you to...), where the tunnel system feels like a scifi thing à la wormholes.

What's your opinion about this? Did you find a convincing narrative for your game round?

Did you even dare to leave some of these rules out? How would it alter the gameplay?

Thanks for your contributions (and feel free to send me a GM when finding grammatical mistakes)!
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Christian Fuerst-Brunner
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This is a game, an abstraction of reality at best. And there is NO reality in Mechs already, so why shouldn't these illusionary mechs not be restricted in movement by illusionary borders? Why can't there be tunnels, miles high? It is only in YOUR Imagination to put things together! Don't ask for the narrative, BE it!



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Kristo Vaher
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I like how people can imagine huge mechs in time of agricultural Boom, but not tunnels that can transport stuff faster than rough train.

If a game already steps away from reality in one way, why not another?

As for sorcerers, remember that every technological marvel seems like magic to those who don't have means to explain it.
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Driss
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Any decent fictional world has it's own rules and as the op says "theme" It does not make for a very compelling setting if there are no rules or structure. It would be out of place to have giant mechs in Middle Earth. Just as it would to have elves in Scythe. I know that is not the case but the principle is the same.
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Michael T.
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At least regarding the tunnels/teleportation there are no problems with the "inner logic" of the narrative if one assumes that a round in Scythe is a week or so in "real time" and the playing field is very large and difficult to maneuver.

So there are huge unguarded tunnels with underground railways, connected with secret guarded (Mines/Factory/Mountains) tunnels where mechs can travel much faster than over land or sea.

Riverwalk on the other hand is more difficult to explain. Maybe depending on the solution the nation found to cross rivers there are special kinds of environments or resources needed to get the mech to walk again on its legs. But that is far stretched and has already been discussed somewhere else i assume.
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Lines J. Hutter
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I don´t have much problem with the fast transport through tunnels. This is a mechanized alternate reality, they could use underground trains or whatever. It´s something I can see. (in contrary to Kemet where teleporting it´s just tacked on to speed up movement with afaik no explanation at all).

I had a lot of games where tunnesl were not or rarely used. So maybe give it a try without tunnels. I´m sure it would work, too. As for the abilities... well you´d need to come up with some alternate ones.

Now someone give me a fix for the unthematic ending soblue
 
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Dennis _
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Slashdoctor wrote:
I like how people can imagine huge mechs in time of agricultural Boom, but not tunnels that can transport stuff faster than rough train.

If a game already steps away from reality in one way, why not another?


Sure. But as long as a game is not designed as fantasy, where everything can be explained via "magic", but rather as science-fiction, you can always find a path from our world to the depictioned one.

For me, the Path for "huge mechs in time of agricultural Boom" is:

Philosophy in this society might have stated that people fighting against each other would not be accepted. Thus, people began to build machines for that purpose - and did so to an extent that they assigned all the ressources for this goal that would otherwise have helped to build tractors et cetera, hence agriculture by humans and warfare by machines.
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David Villa
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It definitely bothers me.

It seems the game mechanisms were developed first and the theme was selected primarily based on the artwork, so that thematic world represented in the art was laid over the mechanisms, but it doesn't really fit well.

The game mechanisms you described pull me out of the game's theme and remind me I am just playing a game with rules that serve the gameplay and not the theme.
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Sky Zero
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Play it so Riverwalk crosses all terrain once unlocked. Problem solved. I believe it was created the way it is so newbies didn't get discouraged by getting pinned in too early in the game. Advanced groups should just allow all terrain Riverwalk.
 
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Tyrell Wood
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Once someone mentions that the game takes place in an alternate time line, an Alien planet, space etc, comparing their alternate reality to yours makes no sense at all. They have opened the door to making up whatever they want. Which is really awesome. Therefore, with a teeny bit of imagination all of the "faults" you have picked out are really not legit. This GAME is enjoyable to play, easy to learn ingenious and you trying to pick apart the theme is really silly. Who's to say you could not engineer the tunnels to keep the water out? Who's to say that a certain type of river walk is not valid in their timeline? Only the creator, because it is his world and he has chosen to share that with us. Obviously we are eating it up and can't get enough. That's why it number one on the hotness. I really think any criticism of this game has very little merit!
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Inno Van
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skyzero wrote:
Play it so Riverwalk crosses all terrain once unlocked. Advanced groups should just allow all terrain Riverwalk.


Riverwalk creates some important asymmetric plays where one player may move across a river to attack the other, but not the reverse, because of the terrain types. Removing this from the game would be lobotimizing and dumbing down a game that has been balanced and tuned through literally thousands of play tests.
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Dennis _
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tyrellrwood wrote:
Once someone mentions that the game takes place in an alternate time line, an Alien planet, space etc, comparing their alternate reality to yours makes no sense at all. They have opened the door to making up whatever they want. Which is really awesome. Therefore, with a teeny bit of imagination all of the "faults" you have picked out are really not legit. This GAME is enjoyable to play, easy to learn ingenious and you trying to pick apart the theme is really silly. Who's to say you could not engineer the tunnels to keep the water out? Who's to say that a certain type of river walk is not valid in their timeline? Only the creator, because it is his world and he has chosen to share that with us.


True. But smart science fiction (with its subgenre of alternate time lines) does give its audience clues on how things are connected with each other and with their own world (see my example for the existence of mechs above). I would even go so far as to state that comparing these worlds to ours is the essence of this genre.

The attraction benefits from the reader / player / watcher being able to comprehend what's happening and to relate this to his or her personal life. So it's not the duty of the creator of such worlds, but it should be on his behalf - doesn't he want to narrate the story in a magic-is-happening-way.

As for the tunnels: They're ancient. Maybe some culture with mechs as well. Maybe huge mines. Maybe some ancient particle accelerator (explaining the circular design).

What about the speed down there? Still operable railroads?

What about the riverwalks?

Keep fantasizing!
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Francis Siefken
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Dennis, you suggest wormhole tech but this is currently not known, maybe the novels will shed some light on this issue. Quote from the Encyclopedia Automa:

"It's a well-known fact that all Automa units carry what scholars commonly refer to as Automa Teleport Gateways, which allow any Automa unit to teleport to the location of any other Automa unit instantly, after which they can then continue moving through conventional means. How they accomplish this feat is still a hotly debated topic, with theories including quantum tunneling, wormholes and warp space travel."

Maybe Tesla's rotating magnetic fields have something to do with it. http://www.teslasociety.com/magnetic.htm
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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dajebriza wrote:
It definitely bothers me.

It seems the game mechanisms were developed first and the theme was selected primarily based on the artwork, so that thematic world represented in the art was laid over the mechanisms, but it doesn't really fit well.

The game mechanisms you described pull me out of the game's theme and remind me I am just playing a game with rules that serve the gameplay and not the theme.


Except it has been written elsewhere that the world created by the artist was the inspiration for the designer to create the game!

Anyone who has ever played a wargame, or read military history, or been in the army, knows that moving mechanized units across a river is a tremendous and difficult task. A rocky shore on one side and sand on the other can often mean that units can only be easily transferred one way but not the other. Many rivers, vary in depth from one side to the other, or have cliffs on one side and not the other.

Armies have entire engineering units dedicated to the difficult process of allowing the crossing of rivers by mechanized units. Riverwalk is very easily explained using real world logistics for anyone who spends more than 5 seconds researching the challenges of rivers to military strategy.

Varying technology from faction to faction easilty explains why certain terrain is a hurdle to some but not others.

Some links for those too lazy to look them up themselves:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_wading

"All modern Soviet/Russian tanks since the 1960s (such as the T-55, T-72, T-90) are also able to perform deep fording operations. However, unlike NATO tanks, Russian tank snorkels are generally only a few inches in diameter, and do not provide a crew escape path. This is considered a worthwhile tradeoff, since the snorkel tubing can easily be carried on the tank itself and erected in a few minutes, rather than requiring logistics vehicles to bring the snorkels up to the crossing area. However, a crew in a stuck or broken down tank is forced to wait underwater until a cable can be attached and the tank pulled from the water; this makes water crossing quite unpopular with crews, and larger NATO-type snorkels are often used while on exercises, for safety reasons."

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/river.htm

"A river crossing is a unique operation. It requires specific procedures for success because the water obstacle prevents normal ground maneuver. It also requires detailed planning and control measures and different technical support than other tactical operations require. The nature and size of the obstacle, the enemy situation, and available crossing assets limit the tactical commander's options."

http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a233627.pdf

"The rapid tempo of ground force dispersion and concentration will present unique challenges to heavy forces conducting river crossing operations."

As for the Tunnels, there is clearly a rail system there to allow rapid transportation. It can easily be assumed that above ground rail lines were damaged by the war and now the only remaining rapid transit is available in the underground tunnels which were protected by geography and preserved due to their military importance. There are several historical precedents for this.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro-2

"The Soviets have constructed deep-underground both in urban Moscow and outside the city. These facilities are interconnected by a network of deep interconnected subway lines that provide a quick and secure means of evacuation for the leadership."

And units don't "teleport" back to home base, they are routed and rapidly retreat there. Military history is replete with examples of forces that retreat through their own territory much faster than they advance into uncontrolled or enemy territory. These retreats often occur in an unplanned fashion when units are demoralized.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_tactics

"Feigned Retreat: Having a frontal force fake a retreat, drawing the opponent in pursuit and then launching an assault with strong, hidden forces. If morale is not high enough, your feigned retreat may rapidly become a real one."

For a game that is based primarily in euro-style mechanisms, there is so much rich theme it is incredible. It may not be to everyone's taste, but suggesting that the theme was tacked on to the mechanics is just disingenuous. It is obviously not the case.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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skyzero wrote:
I believe it was created the way it is so newbies didn't get discouraged by getting pinned in too early in the game. Advanced groups should just allow all terrain Riverwalk.


Actually it was carefully constructed to balance the "distance" from faction to faction. It has nothing to do with newbies and everything to do with crafting a game that has an ostensibly "tight" board with a lot of players while still allowing tense and balanced gameplay. Allowing all terrain Riverwalk is the worst house-rule idea I have heard yet for Scythe, and there have been a lot of terrible ones suggested so far.
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Chris Laudermilk
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TBH, since it's an alternate reality settings, I employ suspension of disbelief and go with it. In other words: I don't let those niggling anomalies bother me that much.

Uncle Bastard did such a good job of making the points I was going to, I'll simply add a link to the tunneling example I thought of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_New_York_City_S....

As for the faction abilities to "teleport" to spots (Crimea's Wayfare and Rusviet's Township), well...I have no handy explanation. But then consider they also have tame Tigers and Eagles with telepathy. whistle

In the end I simply enjoy the game and refuse to allow these minor (to me) anomalies get in the way of fun.
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Christoph Weber
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In the end, there is hardly any game without some inconsistencies, especially the more complex mechanisms it has. And since Scythe is more Euro than anything else, Uncle Bastard is right that the thematic appeal is really high for such a game.
Tweaking mechanics so that they make gameplay better is common in games, if the theme suffers at the same time, that's a small price to pay imo, as long as the gameplay itself benefits.
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Barry Miller
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dajebriza wrote:
The game mechanisms you described pull me out of the game's theme and remind me I am just playing a game with rules that serve the gameplay and not the theme.

Ahhh.... one of the classic definitions of a Euro.

 
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Sky Zero
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
skyzero wrote:
I believe it was created the way it is so newbies didn't get discouraged by getting pinned in too early in the game. Advanced groups should just allow all terrain Riverwalk.


Actually it was carefully constructed to balance the "distance" from faction to faction. It has nothing to do with newbies and everything to do with crafting a game that has an ostensibly "tight" board with a lot of players while still allowing tense and balanced gameplay. Allowing all terrain Riverwalk is the worst house-rule idea I have heard yet for Scythe, and there have been a lot of terrible ones suggested so far.


shake

Actually, what I noted was also cited as a reason. ANYWAYS, I've played a few times now ignoring resource specific Riverwalk and the game played fine. It creates an openendeness where more alliances are formed upfront, are shattered later on, and new ones emerge. It's a more aggressive game sure, but we know what we're getting into opening up movement.
 
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Affensohn wrote:
My main criticism is about the different riverwalk abilities: How would you explain that different factions are only allowed to do this on different types of terrain? It doesn't depend on where one comes from, so the special design of the mechs could be no explanation. This even leads to situations in which you might trap yourself on the wrong side of one river - not being able to turn back.

I know that this is meant to help the balance of the game. But it feels very artificial and counter-intuitive if I can't find a convincing narrative for it.

Getting a huge mech into the water is easy ... it just walks or propels itself forward with minimal resistance. Getting out, though, is tricky: deal with the mud, the uphill movement, and the terrain on the other side. Each faction designed their mechs based on their home terrain, with ability to specifically cross into two types of terrain.

Affensohn wrote:
The same holds for the tunnel systems: I know that they're needed for the balance as well. But how strange is an (ancient?) tunnel system that does allow huge mechs to pass through? What's more, it works in an area with lots of rivers and lakes and one can easily expand it to and from an own mine. This expansion however can not be found by enemy factions, which is even stranger.

There was a time when tech was pretty advanced -- the factory is a remnant. Back then, there were enormous underground tunnels connecting parts of the world to each other. The remnants allow unimpeded movement for people and mechs.

Affensohn wrote:
Finally, the special ability to teleport you to the factory or unused bases doesn't fit in that theme at all. It feels rather like a fantasy thing to do (some sorcerer allows you to...), where the tunnel system feels like a scifi thing à la wormholes.

It's just a variant on the tunnel system. It turns out that tunnel system was even more extensive then you thought! You finally discovered (when you developed that one mech) how to get past the defenses or obstacles in place keeping you from entering/exiting the factory or unused bases (used bases are, of course, well defended and impossible to use now).
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Tyrell Wood
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Affensohn wrote:
tyrellrwood wrote:
Once someone mentions that the game takes place in an alternate time line, an Alien planet, space etc, comparing their alternate reality to yours makes no sense at all. They have opened the door to making up whatever they want. Which is really awesome. Therefore, with a teeny bit of imagination all of the "faults" you have picked out are really not legit. This GAME is enjoyable to play, easy to learn ingenious and you trying to pick apart the theme is really silly. Who's to say you could not engineer the tunnels to keep the water out? Who's to say that a certain type of river walk is not valid in their timeline? Only the creator, because it is his world and he has chosen to share that with us.


True. But smart science fiction (with its subgenre of alternate time lines) does give its audience clues on how things are connected with each other and with their own world (see my example for the existence of mechs above). I would even go so far as to state that comparing these worlds to ours is the essence of this genre.

The attraction benefits from the reader / player / watcher being able to comprehend what's happening and to relate this to his or her personal life. So it's not the duty of the creator of such worlds, but it should be on his behalf - doesn't he want to narrate the story in a magic-is-happening-way.

As for the tunnels: They're ancient. Maybe some culture with mechs as well. Maybe huge mines. Maybe some ancient particle accelerator (explaining the circular design).

What about the speed down there? Still operable railroads?

What about the riverwalks?

Keep fantasizing!


So... if I understand you correctly, you enjoyed the game so much that you want more. You want them to piece together the little loops and holes that have not been tied up yet. If this is the case then I must commend you for your efforts in asking for more. We may get more in an expansion. Until then I too shall keep fantasizing!
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Colin Taylor
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snoozefest wrote:

It's just a variant on the tunnel system. It turns out that tunnel system was even more extensive then you thought! You finally discovered (when you developed that one mech) how to get past the defenses or obstacles in place keeping you from entering/exiting the factory or unused bases (used bases are, of course, well defended and impossible to use now).


Interestingly, the powers that were at the time of development had the foresight to make these tunnels one way. Or did they just not get around to making the tunnel for the opposite direction?

Colin
 
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ColintheFlea wrote:
snoozefest wrote:

It's just a variant on the tunnel system. It turns out that tunnel system was even more extensive then you thought! You finally discovered (when you developed that one mech) how to get past the defenses or obstacles in place keeping you from entering/exiting the factory or unused bases (used bases are, of course, well defended and impossible to use now).


Interestingly, the powers that were at the time of development had the foresight to make these tunnels one way. Or did they just not get around to making the tunnel for the opposite direction?

Colin

That is interesting! It was a crazy, war-torn time. Every faction was just SO paranoid that they built defenses into the tunnels underground near their home territories. Sadly, the secrets of how to get around those defenses were lost during the war. Now, after long study, some factions finally figured out a partial solution: dig a mine to get access to the system (the easy part), and not get killed by the defense systems. Unfortunately, it's only a partial solution that only worked on the easy end of things -- those initial defenses were largely built to prevent attack from without, not escape from within. It's going to take more time and resources before our scientists figure out how to counteract the other defenses. Maybe when they do, we'll even be able to sneak into other factions' mines!
 
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Colin Taylor
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snoozefest wrote:

That is interesting! It was a crazy, war-torn time. Every faction was just SO paranoid that they built defenses into the tunnels underground near their home territories. Sadly, the secrets of how to get around those defenses were lost during the war. Now, after long study, some factions finally figured out a partial solution: dig a mine to get access to the system (the easy part), and not get killed by the defense systems. Unfortunately, it's only a partial solution that only worked on the easy end of things -- those initial defenses were largely built to prevent attack from without, not escape from within. It's going to take more time and resources before our scientists figure out how to counteract the other defenses. Maybe when they do, we'll even be able to sneak into other factions' mines!


Soon, the Crimean scientists noticed something. After years of research to determine a way back out of the base, one of them wandered over to a quiet corner and voila, a tunnel without defenses, that leads directly to another base. Huzzah, what luck! Cancel the research! We don't need it after all!

Your explanation just goes to prove the initial point, doesn't it, i.e. that theme works in places, but not in others, where mechanisms were added without any real effort to explain theme-wise. Why does the Crimean faction get Wayfare? Other than to give them a Mech power, how does it fit their character? Is there something about them that allows them to see these hidden passages that exist in every hex, whereas others cannot? That would have been interesting. Not saying that it needed to be spelled out specifically, but some character trait of the Faction that would have implied a fit would have been nice.

Thanks,

Colin
 
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Eric Hogue
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ColintheFlea wrote:
Interestingly, the powers that were at the time of development had the foresight to make these tunnels one way. Or did they just not get around to making the tunnel for the opposite direction?

Colin


Not one way, but with different defenses in different locations.
 
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