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Subject: Monmouth as first BAR game? rss

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Dave Johannsen

Virginia
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I promise that this is my last nagging question on the BAR series. blush

I've decided to take the plunge and try BAR. Most people seem to recommend Lobositz or Fontenoy as first BAR games. As I know a bit more about and am more interested in the American revolution than either the Seven Years War or the War of the Austrian Succession, I am very much thinking about Monmouth. Would someone please tell my why they think that this is a bad idea.

I know that this game doesn't include any small scenarios. I am not opposed, though, to tossing a handful of counters from each side on the board in order to learn the system before plunging into the full scenario.

I guess the large number of special rules for Monmouth is also considered a drawback? This is potentially a more serious downside than the large number of units; i.e., having to first master the base system and then learn all the special rules. Is this one of the reasons that people tend not to recommend Monmouth for us noobs? How serious a hurdle do you think this is?

I would be grateful to hear what people who know the system think of Monmouth as an entry point to BAR (for a reasonably experienced wargamer, who has a taste for study and detailed simulation [over gameplay]).


Dave
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Paul Borchers
United States
Keller
Texas
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You've mentioned most of the issues that make Monmouth (and also Brandywine/Germantown) a tougher entry point for the series.

Yes, once you learn the basic BAR rules, you then have to make some adjustments for the scale of the American Revolution games. This doesn't really change principles of play of and by itself, but it might make you cross-reference two sets of rules as you try to get used to the system (it would be manageable if an experienced player is there to help, or if you're very patient in working through a scenario). Additionally, the American Revolution games add a tweak to the standard Voluntary Retreat option that players might forget to exercise.

Most players have to get used to the command hierarchy and how that's used to activate the commands and wings of an army. In Monmouth this becomes a bit tricky as the American organization is a bit odd, and the British have a relatively large number of Independent units (this isn't difficult in concept, but in play it's easy to overlook opportunities for these units and not use them to their full potential).

Lastly, some people don't like the way casualties occur in Monmouth and Brandywine/Germantown. The standard combat system combined with the change in scale produces a higher chance of Morale Checks. Factor in the average to lower morale of some of the units engaged, and losses tend to be proportionally higher than the other games, and the units tend to stay in the fight for a shorter amount of time. This doesn't necessarily bother me as "losses" here aren't necessarily piles of dead and wounded, and it's difficult to find fights in this war where the units were engaged in really long musket duels, but for others it detracts from the game.

Have you seen the BAR Primer? The videos on the BGG page show exercises from the Primer, and that would give you an idea of the detail of the system:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/148213/primer-gamers...

It took me a lot of trial and error to get comfortable with this system (before the Primer existed), and I considered myself a fiarly experienced wargamer (GCACW and ASL were the games I used to play).
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Dave Johannsen

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mr_peabody wrote:
You've mentioned most of the issues that make Monmouth (and also Brandywine/Germantown) a tougher entry point for the series.


Thank you Mr. Peabody. I am not purchasing until next week, so I have little more time to weigh my greater interest in the American Revolution against the additional difficulty in learning the game. I am still leaning to Monmouth, as the whole point of wargaming (for me) is to be immersed and really learn the history; I think that the American Revolution will draw me in more fully than a conflict that I only understand vaguely.

As for the Primer, thank you for the link to videos (I'll have a look when I get home from work - streaming video = bad, at work). I wish that print copies of the Primer were available, but I know that a pdf version can still be purchased (sadly I don't have a color printer).

Again, thank you for the very useful comments and suggestions.


Dave
 
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Paul Borchers
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Keller
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Glad to help. I had a couple of other thoughts after posting.

One advantage of the American Revolution games is the lack of cavalry. While you are adjusting for the scale of the game, you get to leave out sections on cavalry charges, reaction charges, counter charges, and pursuit, so that's one plus to learning the system this way.

I don't think the first scenario for Monmouth was really that large (although I should go back to the rulebook to verify it). It does feature some very good British troops driving back a mixed bag of Americans, so it has some interesting moments.

I agree that these games are great motivators for learning more about their respective eras. I was initially hooked on the American Civil War, and then led backwards to Napoleon, then to Frederick the Great and his battles. It becomes quite a rich mix.

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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Paul, I really wish you can teach me the system and the game someday via Vassal PBeM. The movement rules on line and column change really spin all the strings in my brain. I am disoriented/ dizzy simply by reading the rules. There must be something inside the system but I just can't get it myself. I have some games in the series but stop to purchase more because of the unsuccessful experiences.
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Paul Borchers
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Lawrence - tell me what game and scenario you want to try, and we'll see if we can get it to work. I normally don't play BAR by e-mail, but I'll make an exception for a learning game. Maybe I'll get comfortable with it and I'll be able to play BAR more.
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Dave Johannsen

Virginia
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djohannsen wrote:

I've decided to take the plunge and try BAR.


Well, I opted for "none of the above." Watching eBay, I picked-up an unpunched copy of Brandywine & Germantown, as I may not have another chance to grab this one. So, that will be my first taste of BAR. I've got a couple of things on the table right now (including finally learning to play Gulf Strike), so it may be a while before I get to this, but I'm sure that I'll be stopping by the Brandywine thread with questions as they arise. Again, thank you to all for the comments and suggestions.


Dave
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Paul Borchers
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Given that Monmouth's still widely available, you took advantage of a good opportunity.
 
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Dave Johannsen

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mr_peabody wrote:
Given that Monmouth's still widely available, you took advantage of a good opportunity.


My thinking, exactly. If I love the series, I still have time to grab Lobositz or Monmouth or Fontenoy. Brandywine was a "target of opportunity" and still gives me an American Revolution entry point to the BAR system. Seemed like a no brainer, especially as Brandwine, I believe, has two single-map scenarios.

Having just finally committed to Gulf Strike (after it's sat on my shelf for a bit), I may wait a month or so before jumping into BAR. I don't think that I want to try to simultaneously learn these two monsters - trying that might cause my noggin to explode.
 
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