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Subject: "Something about This Game Feels Wrong..." rss

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Cameron Taylor
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“... an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1946)
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Have you ever played a game and thought, "Hmm... this doesn't chime with the history of the subject, something's wrong." Do you have any examples of that occuring?

Please detail what game mechanic seems ahistorical and what you're comparing it to (e.g. other games, history books, documentaries).
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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M St
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Well, where do I start? Why not with the top 100 wargames?

#1 Twilight Struggle: the game that takes place in a parallel world where the Domino Theory applied.

#2 Paths of Glory: The game where the system is geared to threaten immediate-death encirclements that never occurred in WWI... where there are no mountains between Austria and Italy...

#5 Combat Commander: Pacific: where you can decide which of the enemy guns your malfunction card will apply to <shudder>

#12 Advanced Squad Leader: The game where "skulking" is good form - units running out of hexes they sit in and then jump back in in a sequence-of-play generated artificial move that's not movement...

#13 Maria: a very clever game but the card suits in combat just completely grate. Destroys any connection to historical maneuvering that the game may have, even as it makes it even cleverer as a game.

#18 Napoleon's Triumph: The game where it is so tough to site and fire artillery (the major killer of the Napoleonic Wars) that its best use is to sit there undetected as an apparent threat - because the enemy historically couldn't distinguish artillery from infantry until they were at point blank range...

I could go on...


Quote:

Please detail what game mechanic seems ahistorical and what you're comparing it to (e.g. other games, history books, documentaries).

Yes.
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Eddy Sterckx
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All is lost to me: Pavia 1525

To be fair, I only played an advanced beta copy of it, but going by the other comments I don't think the designer changed a single thing about it.

You can learn more about 16th century warfare by playing a game of My Little Pony.

Put me off beta testing other people's designs for a year.
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Jim F
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Who knew trench warfare could be such fun?
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Another Tom and Jerry thread

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Cameron Taylor
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Okay, let me try my hand at this.

COIN series: Losses are entirely deterministic.
Fields of Despair: There's virtually no stacking limit (technically 60 strength points).
Leader series: The expectations of enemy losses in a single sortie are ridiculously high.
Triumph & Tragedy: Tanks can fire before infantry, but have half the firepower of infantry. Terrain has virtually no effect on combat.

Euro Front II series, Fields of Despair, Hammer of the Scots system, Paths of Glory, Rommel in the Desert, Triumph & Tragedy, ... plus too many more to be named: Combat is incredibly dicey.
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Tim Korchnoi
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Having recently played Fleet Commander: Nimitz the first thing that comes to mind is all those zombie carrier aircraft(especially IJN) zombie It reminds me of that old Doritos commercial: "Munch all you want, we'll make more!"

And the battle plans. So let me get this straight: somehow in 1942 the IJN was able, at times, to enhance their AAA defense in a given battle but the USN never did?

I really need to write that review I've been kicking around...
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Ivor Bolakov
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Yom Kippur: "Circle the wagons, men!"
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David Janik-Jones
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1. The Conflict of Heroes series. The mechanic that encourages you to fire a second time at an enemy unit that has a yellow hit marker to eliminate it, instead of a more obvious threat. Gamey.*

I'd prefer a variant that let you accumulate, and then rally off in whatever order made sense, multiple yellow hit markers on a unit, with accumulation penalties. Units can only get destroyed in close combat, drawing the killed yellow marker, or by a second (third?) yellow hit marker received when fired from an adjacent unit maybe.

I think the series is pretty good other than that.

2. The ability in the Combat Commander Series series to discard more cards than your nation is allowed to normally discard in a turn (breaking the spirit of this rule), by simply playing movement cards in an ASL skulking type manner. This is slightly countered by the fact that you may be discarding valuable movement cards you might want later, but it still feels kind of gamey to me. However, I do admit to freely doing this during play if necessary ... even though I feel like I should shower or something for doing it.

3. All of the popular tactical games (ASL, CC, LnL, BoB, ATS, et al) for not enforcing any sense of actual unit cohesion and/or C-and-C. These squads are part of that platoon; these platoons are part of that company, etc. You actually didn't get to run willy-nilly all over the field of battle, you know.

And don't get me started on how under-powered artillery is in these games. Whole companies of men can be savaged and stopped by some well placed artillery in a very short period of time. A standard X-pattern of single spotting rounds would cover seven CC hexes, never mind a full on fire barrage or quick firing plan; a barrage would cover, at a regimental level, an area equivalent to 10x10 CC hexes. And the safe distance from the blast of a "small" 25 pounder or 3.7" howitzer shell? 200 yards (almost 7 CC hexes).

Even a single US 81mm mortar could bring down a concentration 100 yards by 100 yards (3 square CC hexes), according to Bull's research.

----------

*Then again, the whole two-state "okay-broken" trope in tactical games probably needs some re-thinking.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Duc de Guise wrote:
However, all that they simulate is a (differently-themed) eurogame.

You keep saying this, but I haven't seen any convincing evidence to back it up.
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Wayne Melnick
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leroy43 wrote:


Crap. Nothing on but reruns.
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WMelnick wrote:
leroy43 wrote:


Crap. Nothing on but reruns.


Yep. Hopefully the popcorn can kill the taste of:

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Wendell
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All I know is, when I shoot somebody in a tactical war game, my opponent isn't actually injured.

Sad!
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SeriousCat wrote:
Have you ever played a game and thought, "Hmm... this doesn't chime with the history of the subject, something's wrong." Do you have any examples of that occuring?

Please detail what game mechanic seems ahistorical and what you're comparing it to (e.g. other games, history books, documentaries).


I still maintain no game can be historically accurate to the point it satisfies everyone. Games resonate with folks because it aligns, at least to some degree, with the fan's level of knowledge and expectation for the topic.

I point back to Churchill because people griped up a storm about FDR & Churchill being at odds. Herman kept reminding folks that things weren't blissful and that the US and England had different approaches which were quite contentious at times. Now, of course, there's a book on the subject but when the game was released it didn't align to the narrative most accessible to gamers and therefore didn't ring historically true.

In short, there's no pleasing all the people all the time.
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Rich Keiser
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Case Blue... too short.
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Rich Keiser
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leroy43 wrote:



He's got Hand! On popcorn.
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Sean McCormick
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DaveyJJ wrote:

3. All of the popular tactical games (ASL, CC, LnL, BoB, ATS, et al) for not enforcing any sense of actual unit cohesion and/or C-and-C. These squads are part of that platoon; these platoons are part of that company, etc. You actually didn't get to run willy-nilly all over the field of battle, you know.

And don't get me started on how under-powered artillery is in these games. Whole companies of men can be savaged and stopped by some well placed artillery in a very short period of time. A standard X-pattern of single spotting rounds would cover seven CC hexes, never mind a full on fire barrage or quick firing plan; a barrage would cover, at a regimental level, an area equivalent to 10x10 CC hexes. And the safe distance from the blast of a "small" 25 pounder or 3.7" howitzer shell? 200 yards (almost 7 CC hexes).

Even a single US 81mm mortar could bring down a concentration 100 yards by 100 yards (3 square CC hexes), according to Bull's research.

----------

*Then again, the whole two-state "okay-broken" trope in tactical games probably needs some re-thinking.


This times 1,000. I will say that the effect grates on me more in systems like ASL that layer on the detail--the end result is just Quixotic.

Also a general shout out to the many games where the scenario set-ups would be profoundly suboptimal positions to find yourself in mid-way through a campaign.
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Holman
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wifwendell wrote:
All I know is, when I shoot somebody in a tactical war game, my opponent isn't actually injured.

Sad!


??

Very few rule systems actually forbid this.
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michael connor
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M St wrote:

I could go on...


Please do.
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Michael Rinella
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The irony here is that so many of these games have sold/are selling like hotcakes. If only I would design games so wrong . . . laugh
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Eric Walters
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-- Turning Point: Stalingrad. German losses feel relatively tiny compared to what we know from history. Players look at the Soviet "dead pile" and then the German one and can't understand how this happens. Soviet play is focused on inducing time delays/friction into German operations vice going after unit kills most of the time. I suppose there's an argument to be made that the scale of the game makes outright kills of whole companies/battalions unlikely for the German side, but--yes--"it doesn't feel right." I still can't stop playing this game, however.

I agree that there are a huge number of games that feel wrong in one way or another. It's merely a matter of what individual players are willing to overlook/suspend disbelief over/otherwise put up with. What I can live with may not be something you are willing to live with--and vice versa.

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Combat Commander Series You cycle through the deck to find the cards you need for that damn action in the midst of tactical situation.

Victory Point Games States of Siege Series You roll to defeat a Front of Army, with no strategy but luck.
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Michael Rinella wrote:
The irony here is that so many of these games have sold/are selling like hotcakes. If only I would design games so wrong . . . laugh



How in Monty's Gamble British Armored Car Recces are so POWERFUL and how in the tournament scenario often ends in throwing chit at the the last turn edge hoping something survives for that last VP...in grand lemming style suicide.
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David Janik-Jones
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wifwendell wrote:
All I know is, when I shoot somebody in a tactical war game, my opponent isn't actually injured.

Sad!

Agreed! I think John Hill's quote is appropriate here ...

Quote:
The only way you could possibly approach an accurate simulation of the battle environment and its tension would be if both players had the clear understanding that the loser would be shot.

PaulWRoberts wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
All I know is, when I shoot somebody in a tactical war game, my opponent isn't actually injured.

Sad!


??

Very few rule systems actually forbid this.

Surely there's an ASL rule somewhere, though?

ericmwalters wrote:
It's merely a matter of what individual players are willing to overlook/suspend disbelief over/otherwise put up with. What I can live with may not be something you are willing to live with--and vice versa.

QFT.
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Neil Mooney
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Routing rules in any number of games where the routed unit is removed from the point of contact to reappear at some pre-placed standard, or supply point, or another designated location, magically reformed (if disrupted).

Problem I suppose is that more plausible routing schemes would mean a lot more rules...
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