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Subject: Why didn't I love TS or COIN? rss

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dave bcs
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Last night I played Twilight Struggle for the first time, and like my previous experience playing A Distant Plain, I found myself thinking that the game was OK at best, despite expecting to love it.

I am wondering why, since I played wargames for many years, and did love GMT's card driven wargames, such as Paths of Glory and For the People. I even enjoyed Genesis.

I also enjoy many Euros, especially the more interactive ones, and do like the Matagot hybrids, like Cyclades or Kemet.

But each time GMT has tried to enter the general gaming or euro arena I have been disappointed.

I think some of it could be the fact that real events are being simulated, but those events seem like pasted on chrome as opposed to core game mechanics. In a traditional war game you can move your forces up a road and mass them for some assault, never being totally sure of the outcome, yet the feeling of moving units is there. In TS I am adding or, luck depending, subtracting numbered chits to boxes which happen to have geographical names. Adding a chit to Vietnam is done in the same way as one is added to Sweden, and even the events are generally just chit adders or subtracters despite the chrome text.

I understand that there is subtle strategy to which areas of the board you want to aim for, but the differences in these areas are purely quantitative and not qualitative (i.e. plus or minus so much VP's). There is no overall fighting strength to preserve or build. There are tactics in how you want to gain control of regions most efficiently, but these tactics seem so highly abstracted yet, in some cases, highly luck dependent.

Maybe the combination of abstract strategy and luck outcome (not just coup die rolls but also the cards you get forced to play) is just too prominent for me (another example of this is Urban Sprawl). Maybe luck, which I accept gladly in wargames or lighter euros, is easier to digest when more tangibly tied to particular attacks of one unit on another in which there are more ways to influence the odds than just having adjacent territories, or when it is light-hearted and fun in more whimsical, lighter games.

Could I also be so shallow as to be influenced by physical components? In the Matagot games I move some miniature soldier or Giant Scorpion, not just placing some generic numbered chit or colored cube. The cubes seem OK in traditional euros as they seem to be just a way of tracking status or counting resources. In wargames the chits represent specific military formations I want to preserve ("Oh no! You sank the Bismarck!" as opposed to (Oh no! I lost two chits/cubes!). In TS I was much wanting to see navies, armies, industry, or nuclear arsenals; or given that the game simulates diplomacy rather than war, at least diplomatic strengths or intelligence agencies (no, not just a card that says "CIA").

Are there others who can relate to my reactions to these highly popular games? Are these games popular with other old-time wargamers or just euro gamers new to wargames? Is GMT on the wrong track with gamers like me, and what could they do to make conflict games with euro mechanics more appealing to those like me? Do wargame designers and publishers approach designing these crossover games in a different way than euro designers and publishers?

Any comments are welcome.
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Russ Williams
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drdranetz wrote:
I think some of it could be the fact that real events are being simulated, but those events seem like pasted on chrome as opposed to core game mechanics.

I guess it's subjective reaction; I have a hard time imagining TS or Fire in the Lake being rethemed to something else (as sometimes happens with more "pasted on theme" euros). Can you seriously imagine it?

Or if you're just objecting that the core game system is reused in several games, well, that's true of many traditional old-school wargames too!

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I understand that there is subtle strategy to which areas of the board you want to aim for, but the differences in these areas are purely quantitative and not qualitative (i.e. plus or minus so much VP's). There is no overall fighting strength to preserve or build. There are tactics in how you want to gain control of regions most efficiently, but these tactics seem so highly abstracted yet, in some cases, highly luck dependent.

There certainly is fighting strength to preserve or build (troops, guerrilas, bases) in the COIN game I've played (FitL) as AFAIK in the other COIN games. So I'm not sure what you mean here.

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Could I also be so shallow as to be influenced by physical components?

It sounds like it.
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In the Matagot games I move some miniature soldier or Giant Scorpion, not just placing some generic numbered chit or colored cube. The cubes seem OK in traditional euros as they seem to be just a way of tracking status or counting resources. In wargames the chits represent specific military formations I want to preserve ("Oh no! You sank the Bismarck!" as opposed to (Oh no! I lost two chits/cubes!).

Yet in many other traditional wargames the counters do not represent specific named historic military formations. (E.g. in most tactical games where counters are used in a variety of scenarios about many different battles with many different units. And also in many higher-level strategic games.) So again, I'm not sure I grok this objection.

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Are these games popular with other old-time wargamers or just euro gamers new to wargames?

I'm an old-time wargamer (played various SPI games in the late 70s) and I enjoyed TS when I played it several times a few years ago, and I like FitL a lot.

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Is GMT on the wrong track with gamers like me,

evidently yes, but a publisher can't please everyone.

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Any comments are welcome.

Hope mine are useful/interesting/whatever.
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Jim Howard
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I too am not a big fan of the system. Have You given Churchill a try? It is very euro'y.
 
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drdranetz wrote:
Last night I played Twilight Struggle for the first time, and like my previous experience playing A Distant Plain, I found myself thinking that the game was OK at best, despite expecting to love it...
But each time GMT has tried to enter the general gaming or euro arena I have been disappointed


shake

That out of the way, Twilight Struggle and the COIN series cannot be judged on one play. There are ALOT of strategies that simply cannot be considered your first time playing. Feel free to dislike them, but I think you didn't give them a fair shake.

drdranetz wrote:

Is GMT on the wrong track with gamers like me, and what could they do to make conflict games with euro mechanics more appealing to those like me?


Doesn't seem necessary, TS is incredibly popular and is one of GMTs best selling games. I don't know if the COIN series is similarly popular, but there are like 6 of them so I can only assume. If you don't like them, its fine.
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Brad Miller
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I love CDGs.

I hated Twilight Struggle.

Interestingly, I enjoyed 1960 quite a bit, other than the weakness of the "issues".

Was involved in early playtesting for Andean Abyss.

Hated that as well.

So my dislike of TS was not the system, or the clever twist to event card handling, but other aspects, (scoring cards). I disliked the COIN system, however, and haven't yet revisited.

So, you are not alone. And I am an old-school, yet casual, wargamer.
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dave bcs
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Re: Why didn't I love TS or COIN?h
I am certainly willing to play TS or a COIN game again. I guess I am fishing for comment as to reasons I might not have liked them, and the GMT non-wargame entries in general. The dislike of these GMT titles, while liking their wargames and liking other non-wargames from euro publishers seems to be a clear pattern for me that I am trying to understand. I am not just trying to trash the games.

 
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Russ Williams
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drdranetz wrote:
I guess I am fishing for comment as to reasons I might not have liked them, and the GMT non-wargame entries in general. The dislike of these GMT titles, while liking their wargames and liking other non-wargames from euro publishers seems to be a clear pattern for me that I am trying to understand.

It sounds perhaps like you want to fit them into a pigeonhole or something, and they of course don't work as "traditional wargame", and they don't work as "traditional euro", so maybe you're just having trouble accepting them for what they are? But I don't know. Maybe it's just that you happen to not like those particular games, and you'd like some other hard-to-classify euro-wargame-ambiguous thingie games, e.g. have you played Maria or Friedrich? Or Wir sind das Volk!? Or Bonaparte at Marengo (or other Simmons games)? They are also hard to classify in a similar euro/wargame hybrid sort of way, yet also are very different experiences from TS or COIN games.
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dave bcs
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Looking back, I can think of several instances in which wargame publishers have tried to publish non-wargames, some successful and some not. For example:

Origins of WW II: Avalon Hill's attempt to use area control as a way to simulate political influence: not highly successful.

Plot to Assassinate Hitler: SPI turned politics into a wargame, with political figures as units on a hexgrid: almost laughable for me.

Civilization: Acquired,I think from Hartland Trefoil, and popularized by Avalon Hill. The abstract mechanics FELT thematic: populations expanding, trade, and a technology tree and events that were unique in effect and interaction, and felt like the real thing, not just "+1,-1" as the events in other games. A highly successful title.

Merchant of Venus: Avalon Hill is successful with this game in creating a roll and move pick up an deliver system where you FELT like you where exploring a map. Subsequently re-released.

Titan: Avalon Hill 1980. A fantasy wargame with an abstract map which channeled movement around the board. The abstract strategy of moving around the board fits well with the FEEL of recruiting stronger and stronger creatures by landing on the right lands, and the battle boards provide a true wargame battle feel. Another successful title re-released by Valley Games, despite the game's length. The believable feel of the game and tense strategy and suspense of the all or none battles can keep players engaged for hours on end (as did Civilization, another long game).
 
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dave bcs
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russ wrote:
drdranetz wrote:
I guess I am fishing for comment as to reasons I might not have liked them, and the GMT non-wargame entries in general. The dislike of these GMT titles, while liking their wargames and liking other non-wargames from euro publishers seems to be a clear pattern for me that I am trying to understand.

It sounds perhaps like you want to fit them into a pigeonhole or something, and they of course don't work as "traditional wargame", and they don't work as "traditional euro", so maybe you're just having trouble accepting them for what they are? But I don't know. Maybe it's just that you happen to not like those particular games, and you'd like some other hard-to-classify euro-wargame-ambiguous thingie games, e.g. have you played Maria or Friedrich? Or Wir sind das Volk!? Or Bonaparte at Marengo (or other Simmons games)? They are also hard to classify in a similar euro/wargame hybrid sort of way, yet also are very different experiences from TS or COIN games.


I really like Maria. Despite the abstraction it still feels like a wargame. A Few Acres of Snow less so. Maybe it is harder for me to feel like deck builder strategies simulate war.

I think that for me it has as much to do with whether the mechanics feel true to the theme as much as anything else. I do not think I am caught up on labels. Money/business games are another genre of games which often provide the right business decision feel. In war you maneuver forces, contact the enemy, and hope for the best; you don't play a hand of cards to add and subtract chits then count up the VP's when someone plays a scoring card.

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Clint Pewtress
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I had no love for TS until my third attempt... finally got that, "Ahaa" moment. Really can go "high level", as you try to divine your opponent's intentions. TS is as much about playing your opponent (IMO)

COIN was/is all about theme... FitL, LoD, FS draw me in pretty well, CL, aDP, AA... zero interest. The COIN mechanics are the draw for me, and I think to enjoy them (and how I explain them to newcomers), is how each faction has a different approach to their victory conditions.

Churchill I've played six or seven complete games... and it always turns out utterly "bleh" for me. All the appeal of TS, COIN (and I love PoG, FtP, WW, etc) is completely missing in that game... but there's them that luv it!

Clint
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dave bcs
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tailz wrote:
I had no love for TS until my third attempt... finally got that, "Ahaa" moment. Really can go "high level", as you try to divine your opponent's intentions. TS is as much about playing your opponent (IMO)

COIN was/is all about theme... FitL, LoD, FS draw me in pretty well, CL, aDP, AA... zero interest. The COIN mechanics are the draw for me, and I think to enjoy them (and how I explain them to newcomers), is how each faction has a different approach to their victory conditions.

Churchill I've played six or seven complete games... and it always turns out utterly "bleh" for me. All the appeal of TS, COIN (and I love PoG, FtP, WW, etc) is completely missing in that game... but there's them that luv it!

Clint

In A Distant Plain it seemed like your military strength depended more on the play of events than on what you did with your units in the field.

I definitely want to try some of the other COIN titles you mention, though I fear that the equation of:

Abstract strategy + Luck + Long length = Tedium

may be the rule of thumb for me.
 
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Leo Zappa
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You aren't alone. I'm a wargamer from way back, and still play, along with some Euros and a lot of thematic games, and I have to say that TS and the COIN games don't do anything for me. I don't hate them, but they fall flat for me.
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Mark Langford
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Because we are all different and these games didn't resonate with you like they do with others. No problem.
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lanky321 wrote:
Because we are all different and these games didn't resonate with you like they do with others. No problem.

Exactly.

I really like TS and I'm looking forward to Imperial Struggle. Wouldn't mind seeing that system ported a bit more.

The whole COIN series leaves me cold, however, despite covering (generally) topics that interest me greatly. Clearly I'm in the minority here, but it saves me money, and I haven't lost any sleep over it.

This is an obsession a hobby we pursue for entertainment and no 2 people will have the exact same tastes. You don't love them because you don't love them.
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drdranetz wrote:
Last night I played Twilight Struggle for the first time.


Spooky. Me too.

drdranetz wrote:
highly luck dependent.

Maybe the combination of abstract strategy and luck outcome (not just coup die rolls but also the cards you get forced to play) is just too prominent for me (another example of this is Urban Sprawl).


This was my main impression from playing the game: really surprised at the amount of luck (dice & cards) throughout the game for something that sat atop the BGG rankings for some time.

I enjoyed the session very much, but am still trying to work out whether I like the game itself.
 
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I haven't played TS but I did play my first COIN game(Falling Sky) just this week. It was a game that was hard to pin down. It was a sort of a Euro-ey game with some war game qualities. I'm also someone who liked old school war games and such. I'm also often baffled by the lack of fun a very large portion of popular modern Euro games offer.

Falling Sky was interesting. After I sort of got what was going on I could have some fun since it did provide that direct player interaction and conflict so it was easy to stay involved and give yourself some goals and things to do. I wasn't merely investing in maybe moving up a point track later on. But it still didn't scratch that itch of a game where I feel like I have control over everything and simply have to judge my probabilities. I think a lot of that stems from the card draw and limited action mechanic. I don't always feel like I'm making the decisions from what is available to me. I feel like I'm choosing between what a random card offers and one thing I'm allowed to do.

The fascination with the card draw mechanic in modern games perplexes me. It's so very limiting. I understand it can streamline complex problems to make a more approachable game but when it is applied to complex situations it really flattens what is available for decision making while constraining all options to exactly what the cards offer and no more.

That being said, I would like to play Falling Sky again and try other COIN games. It was an interesting game in it's own way. But I think there is a strong card draw and working mechanics feel that leaves many Euro games lacking for me and it holds the game back from being truly excellent for my tastes. I can say it was fun to see the players who normally only play mechanic laden Euros have to actually think out conflict with the rest of us. I like having them engage the rest of us rather than gaming their point totals most of the game.
 
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WetRock wrote:
I haven't played TS but I did play my first COIN game(Falling Sky) just this week. It was a game that was hard to pin down. It was a sort of a Euro-ey game with some war game qualities. I'm also someone who liked old school war games and such. I'm also often baffled by the lack of fun a very large portion of popular modern Euro games offer.

Falling Sky was interesting. After I sort of got what was going on I could have some fun since it did provide that direct player interaction and conflict so it was easy to stay involved and give yourself some goals and things to do. I wasn't merely investing in maybe moving up a point track later on. But it still didn't scratch that itch of a game where I feel like I have control over everything and simply have to judge my probabilities. I think a lot of that stems from the card draw and limited action mechanic. I don't always feel like I'm making the decisions from what is available to me. I feel like I'm choosing between what a random card offers and one thing I'm allowed to do.

The fascination with the card draw mechanic in modern games perplexes me. It's so very limiting. I understand it can streamline complex problems to make a more approachable game but when it is applied to complex situations it really flattens what is available for decision making while constraining all options to exactly what the cards offer and no more.

That being said, I would like to play Falling Sky again and try other COIN games. It was an interesting game in it's own way. But I think there is a strong card draw and working mechanics feel that leaves many Euro games lacking for me and it holds the game back from being truly excellent for my tastes. I can say it was fun to see the players who normally only play mechanic laden Euros have to actually think out conflict with the rest of us. I like having them engage the rest of us rather than gaming their point totals most of the game.


I agree that the card draw mechanic is far too limiting and random in some games. Compare the well known card games war versus bridge. In war it is a total random draw with no decisions whereas in bridge the random draw is highly mitigated by the fact that the entire deck is dealt out, that bidding helps ascertain the location of the cards, such that trick play can be planned. In Paths of Glory you always get your own cards, which you see over and over again unless you event them out of the game, and each card has four possible uses. In Twilight Struggle the deck is common such that what you get versus what your opponent gets is random, yet you must play almost all of them that turn (more like war than bridge). Three of the four uses in TS are all operation actions, and still require the activation of opponent events even if used as such. The fifth use, space race, can only occur once a turn and is a total crapshoot.

Random occurrences, like combat resolution in wargames can be quite exciting, because you have chosen to have them occur by initiating attack, and have a rough idea of the probable outcomes, create a fair amount of suspense. Compare these two situations:

1. In Titan you have chosen to use your Titan to try to finish off your opponent's wounded Serpent, trying to secure a quicker and more certain overall victory. Defeating the serpent makes losing the battle much more unlikely, but you risk losing the game if the Serpent can manage six sixes out of his 18 dice. The suspense is palpable as your opponent shakes those 18 dice!

2. In Twilight Struggle it is DEFCON 3 and you play Olympic Games during the Headlines phase, feeling fairly safe doing so. I your opponent, without even considering that this could happen, have played Five Year Plan and randomly draw an event from your hand raising DEFCON to 2, then refuse to attend the Olympics causing you to lose the game, a game your were winning until that unexpected moment. This actually happened the first game I played, and I was the winner. I felt more awkward, apologetic sympathy for my opponent for winning in such a cheesy, random fashion, as I did nothing to either anticipate or plan for this occurrence, than exultation. We quickly decided to start over again. (Yes, I admit my opponent could have prevented this by never playing Olympics games as a headline, further restricting his already limited options).
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Matt Brown
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It might be interesting to see what length of game people are playing for COIN games. I was under the impression FitL smoothed out as you played the longer games.
 
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drdranetz wrote:
Last night I played Twilight Struggle for the first time, and like my previous experience playing A Distant Plain, I found myself thinking that the game was OK at best, despite expecting to love it.

I am wondering why, since I played wargames for many years, and did love GMT's card driven wargames, such as Paths of Glory and For the People. I even enjoyed Genesis.

I also enjoy many Euros, especially the more interactive ones, and do like the Matagot hybrids, like Cyclades or Kemet.

But each time GMT has tried to enter the general gaming or euro arena I have been disappointed.


I don't think GMT was trying to enter the Euro arena per se. Both COIN and TS fit within the norms of what GMT generally does with games--i.e., create historical games that attempt to model the underlying subject matter.

Quote:
I think some of it could be the fact that real events are being simulated, but those events seem like pasted on chrome as opposed to core game mechanics.


I'd suggest reading the design notes, especially for any of the COIN games. There's a justification for all the mechanics in the COIN series based on modeling insurgency/counterinsurgency or the particular historical conflict. TS is more abstract and really takes a handful of plays to get comfortable with the game to really start to see the cold war.

Quote:
In a traditional war game you can move your forces up a road and mass them for some assault, never being totally sure of the outcome, yet the feeling of moving units is there.


Neither TS nor the COIN series cover "traditional" war. As such, they play much differently than games that do.

Quote:
In TS I am adding or, luck depending, subtracting numbered chits to boxes which happen to have geographical names. Adding a chit to Vietnam is done in the same way as one is added to Sweden, and even the events are generally just chit adders or subtracters despite the chrome text.


You can boil any wargame down to the same absurdity.

Quote:
I understand that there is subtle strategy to which areas of the board you want to aim for, but the differences in these areas are purely quantitative and not qualitative (i.e. plus or minus so much VP's). There is no overall fighting strength to preserve or build. There are tactics in how you want to gain control of regions most efficiently, but these tactics seem so highly abstracted yet, in some cases, highly luck dependent.


Well, the Cold War isn't equivalent to Risk; it wasn't won by building up armies and marching them through territories.

Quote:
Maybe the combination of abstract strategy and luck outcome (not just coup die rolls but also the cards you get forced to play) is just too prominent for me (another example of this is Urban Sprawl). Maybe luck, which I accept gladly in wargames or lighter euros, is easier to digest when more tangibly tied to particular attacks of one unit on another in which there are more ways to influence the odds than just having adjacent territories, or when it is light-hearted and fun in more whimsical, lighter games.


Random die rolls are not the equivalent of "luck." There are die rolls in TS, but player strategy dominates. A good TS will beat a noob, and do so soundly.

Quote:
Could I also be so shallow as to be influenced by physical components? In the Matagot games I move some miniature soldier or Giant Scorpion, not just placing some generic numbered chit or colored cube. The cubes seem OK in traditional euros as they seem to be just a way of tracking status or counting resources. In wargames the chits represent specific military formations I want to preserve ("Oh no! You sank the Bismarck!" as opposed to (Oh no! I lost two chits/cubes!). In TS I was much wanting to see navies, armies, industry, or nuclear arsenals; or given that the game simulates diplomacy rather than war, at least diplomatic strengths or intelligence agencies (no, not just a card that says "CIA").


How would you "see" the diplomacy on the board? I suppose the chits could be considered such, as they represent each side's influence, diplomatic or otherwise, in a particular country.

As far as the cubes in the COIN series, I really don't see the difference between a wargame that has SPs. You could have SP counters, I suppose, but that would be much more difficult to handle mechanically given that you're constantly adding/removing single units.

If you want to play with plastic toys, there's plenty of ameritrash games out there to do that.

Quote:
Are there others who can relate to my reactions to these highly popular games? Are these games popular with other old-time wargamers or just euro gamers new to wargames? Is GMT on the wrong track with gamers like me, and what could they do to make conflict games with euro mechanics more appealing to those like me? Do wargame designers and publishers approach designing these crossover games in a different way than euro designers and publishers?

Any comments are welcome.


My impression is that GMT isn't out there trying to court Euro gamers to wargames by designing games that appeal to them. What has happened is that many of the designers of wargames are more familiar Euro designs, as such, they're starting to use many mechanics that superficially appear like they would be more at home in a Euro game. But they're still designing wargames, i.e., designing a game to model/simulate a historical conflict. Because of that, most of the design choices are made on the basis of what best reflects the designer's interpretation of the history. In contrast, a Euro is going to be designed from the standpoint of what makes the best game. For some euro gamers, the fact that the game could have been better will turn them off from the cross-over games (though, given its history, it's hard to say TS could better as a "game"). On the other hand, other Euro players seem to have an epiphany that games can actually reflect their underlying subject matter and begin their journey to playing other wargames.
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David Janik-Jones
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You're not alone, OP. TS is only "meh" for me ... I love 1960 though. And I love Churchill as well. And for whatever reason, the COIN system falls completely flat for me. I've tried them all (except the recent LoD) and not one has ever clicked. And it should be right in my wheelhouse. Just, empty for me for some reason.
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I hated my first play of the COIN series game Cuba Libre. I told myself I was one and done with the game, but some how ended up in a 2 player game of it shortly after I swore it off. Something clicked on that second player and I ended up really enjoying that game. I tried it solo and enjoyed it even more.
I can't tell you what the difference was from that first play and all my other plays, but like others have suggested you might want to give it a second chance.
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My impression is that GMT isn't out there trying to court Euro gamers to wargames by designing games that appeal to them. What has happened is that many of the designers of wargames are more familiar Euro designs, as such, they're starting to use many mechanics that superficially appear like they would be more at home in a Euro game. But they're still designing wargames, i.e., designing a game to model/simulate a historical conflict. Because of that, most of the design choices are made on the basis of what best reflects the designer's interpretation of the history. In contrast, a Euro is going to be designed from the standpoint of what makes the best game. For some euro gamers, the fact that the game could have been better will turn them off from the cross-over games (though, given its history, it's hard to say TS could better as a "game"). On the other hand, other Euro players seem to have an epiphany that games can actually reflect their underlying subject matter and begin their journey to playing other wargames.


While I disagree with most of your rebuttals you make an interesting point here, pointing out the difficulty in fitting mechanic to theme as opposed to the other way around. Sometimes the mechanic does not create a feel consistent with the theme. The euro hybrids give a little wargame-move and attack feel and a little euro puzzle feel. The GMT non-wargames seem to give me neither of either.
 
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Clint Pewtress
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In Twilight Struggle it is DEFCON 3 and you play Olympic Games during the Headlines phase, feeling fairly safe doing so. I your opponent, without even considering that this could happen, have played Five Year Plan and randomly draw an event from your hand raising DEFCON to 2, then refuse to attend the Olympics causing you to lose the game, a game your were winning until that unexpected moment.

One of the things I like about the brinkmanship in this Cold War title... Sabre Rattling on the Defcon track can quite easily cause the global situation to go sideways and earn you a loss. (unlike Churchill where good play can earn you a loss if your opponents play poorly enough... only game I've encountered where it's easier to win by pushing some poor sap far enough into the "lead")
 
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dave bcs
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tailz wrote:
In Twilight Struggle it is DEFCON 3 and you play Olympic Games during the Headlines phase, feeling fairly safe doing so. I your opponent, without even considering that this could happen, have played Five Year Plan and randomly draw an event from your hand raising DEFCON to 2, then refuse to attend the Olympics causing you to lose the game, a game your were winning until that unexpected moment.

One of the things I like about the brinkmanship in this Cold War title... Sabre Rattling on the Defcon track can quite easily cause the global situation to go sideways and earn you a loss. (unlike Churchill where good play can earn you a loss if your opponents play poorly enough... only game I've encountered where it's easier to win by pushing some poor sap far enough into the "lead")


Except that the FEEL is wrong. The game ended without either of us feeling like we escalated tension in any particular way: no refusing to back down from some escalating conflict. Instead it felt like the game ended because of a card combo that popped out. Imagine how much more suspense, tension, and realism feel there would be if there was some issue in dispute, with each side that refuses to back down having to survive some type of gradually worsening die roll, kind of like Russian roulette: "Get the missles out of Cuba!", "No!", "Yes!", "No!" Etc.... Players could choose to back down, just like they could choose to avoid (or not) a risky attack in a wargame. In TS the card pops out and you do what it says. No brinksmanship feel for me.

Perhaps if GMT created mechanics that more truly recreated the FEEL of the processes they are simulating. It seems that instead the mechanics are designed to approximate historical outcomes without regard to the FEEL of the process.
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drdranetz wrote:
tailz wrote:
In Twilight Struggle it is DEFCON 3 and you play Olympic Games during the Headlines phase, feeling fairly safe doing so. I your opponent, without even considering that this could happen, have played Five Year Plan and randomly draw an event from your hand raising DEFCON to 2, then refuse to attend the Olympics causing you to lose the game, a game your were winning until that unexpected moment.

One of the things I like about the brinkmanship in this Cold War title... Sabre Rattling on the Defcon track can quite easily cause the global situation to go sideways and earn you a loss. (unlike Churchill where good play can earn you a loss if your opponents play poorly enough... only game I've encountered where it's easier to win by pushing some poor sap far enough into the "lead")


Except that the FEEL is wrong. The game ended without either of us feeling like we escalated tension in any particular way: no refusing to back down from some escalating conflict. Instead it felt like the game ended because of a card combo that popped out. Imagine how much more suspense, tension, and realism feel there would be if there was some issue in dispute, with each side that refuses to back down having to survive some type of gradually worsening die roll, kind of like Russian roulette: "Get the missles out of Cuba!", "No!", "Yes!", "No!" Etc.... Players could choose to back down, just like they could choose to avoid (or not) a risky attack in a wargame. In TS the card pops out and you do what it says. No brinksmanship feel for me.

Perhaps if GMT created mechanics that more truly recreated the FEEL of the processes they are simulating. It seems that instead the mechanics are designed to approximate historical outcomes without regard to the FEEL of the process.


Well, technically there was some sort of issue, DefCon 3 certainly isn't a safe place to be, much of the key parts of the world are straight up locked out of the coup process entirely... and a single battleground action in any of the remaining and you are dealing directly with Khrushchev's meniscus theory of diplomacy, at the sharp end!

The tension and risk were there as soon as Europe, Asia and the Middle East became "don't mess around" zones... neither of you recognized the danger, and the situation got out of control.

However, that said, more experience with the decks and game may have averted it (or you may recognize the risk, and gamble it would stay contained). I relish weighing the permutations and combinations and outliers of the ongoing cardplay as the war phases change and deck makeup shifts, and influence setup on the map... but I can easily see where TS is simply not everyone's cup of tea (even for my enthusiasm, it was an acquired taste, not an instant hit). My friend DaveyJJ posted above TS is only meh, and he LOVES Churchill.... exactly the polar opposite of me... (whistle we both like Triumph & Tragedy though...)
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