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Subject: Complexity compared to other COIN? rss

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Bob Long
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Ok
Been reading comments and watching a few vids.

This one seems to be one of the most complex in the series.

Seems to have a lot of stuff going on.

Seems the combat is similar to Liberty...maybe?

What are your thoughts?
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Scott D
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buseyhead wrote:
Ok
Been reading comments and watching a few vids.

This one seems to be one of the most complex in the series.

Seems to have a lot of stuff going on.

Seems the combat is similar to Liberty...maybe?

What are your thoughts?

This is a first impression based entirely on running through the regular tutorial, the non-player tutorial, and a few turns of a “solitaire as all sides with no bots” game. This has been the hardest to “grok” by far. The available actions each have a ton of nuance and exceptions. I cannot imagine how long it will take before I can play this without needing to constantly reference the player aid telling me how to implement each of the actions. Oddly enough, the only mechanic I think I have “down” is Battle, but that’s because there are a ton of examples of Battle in the tutorials.

Suffice it to say that this appears to give Fire in the Lake a run for its money as most complex in the series. So far, I’d still give the nod to Fire in the Lake, as I think Pendragon will be easier to play once I get down the Raid mechanic. Fire in the Lake has the advantage of being more similar to other games in the series.

What I can say for certain is this is not a good game at all to use as your introduction to the COIN series unless you only care about playing this one. It is so different than the “insurgency” games that learning it will barely help at all in learning the rest of the games (aside from the most basic mechanics like turn structure). I think it is a good game though so far.
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Jon Jones
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Someone who is quite active in the COIN playtesying community recently described Pendragon (and the rest of the COIN series)to me as if they were college level courses and Pendragon was a 730 Series class i.e. It's essentially a Post-Grad level COIN. Great Stuff too - Congrats to Marc!
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Jon Jones
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wrote:
So far, I’d still give the nod to Fire in the Lake, as I think Pendragon will be easier to play once I get down the Raid mechanic.


Give it some time whistle

I enjoy both, of course, but for me FITL, as you(and Volko) have pointed out, is closer to his original model in Andean Abyss and thusly benefits from a more 'traditional' COIN feel.


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Brian Hard
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If you are experienced in the COIN system it's not too bad to get a handle on the new mechanics. But if it is your first COIN game, take your time through rules and sample play. This one has a lot going on but all of the elements make for a very rich experience. I think this one will have a lot of payoff once you get rolling with it.
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From two solo games (one with bots, one playing all factions), I think it's fair to say Pendragon is the most complex of the COINs. But only by a bit IMO.

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Michael Dillenbeck
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buseyhead wrote:
. . .This one seems to be one of the most complex in the series . . . Seems the combat is similar to Liberty...maybe? . . .
What are your thoughts?


For Christmas, I'm going to forgo my usual lengthy discussion and try to be brief and say I think it is the most complex of the series to date. Why?

1. Its multiplayer rules are long (Liberty or Death reprint 20 pages, Pendragon 19.5 pages, Falling Sky 15.5 pages).

2. Its AI rules are the longest (Pendragon 12.5 pages, Liberty or Death 10 pages, Falling Sky 9 pages).

3. There are many rules exceptions (cube troops have a wide variety of behaviors, strongholds have a wide variety of behaviors, barbarian pieces can be marked as under a Briton faction control as Foederati, victory conditions for Briton factions and Saxons change with the Imperium track, and so on).

4. It changed terminology in the game (special actions called feats, barbarian resources called renown).

5. It probably has the most "fiddly" piece set due to Prosperity cubes that get moved onto pieces as plunder, off pieces to gain renown/resources, then back onto the board through events/actions/epoch round checks. However, population and Dux/Civitates victory conditions also move about and can add fiddly aspects to the game, and control/resources go from shared to individual faction for the Dux/Civitates.

6. It has the most involved battle system. Its not like Liberty or Death, where dice are used to determine losses in a single simultaneous combat. Instead, Pendragon uses dice to determine if or when a unit participates in a battle then uses multiple simultaneous battles to remove units. (All other COIN games are total losses, remove pieces; COIN is go through 3-4 stages of combat in an open field to remove troops and raiders, then to remove strongholds go through individual battles for each with a couple of stages.)

7. The strategy is different from most other COIN games. In most COIN games you start near or a bit away from your goal and work towards it, in Pendragon that is only true for the short late 5th Century campaign. Otherwise, the game has the Britons at victory with the other players having the burden of not only carving out their own victory but immediately depriving the Britons of being at victory. In other words, most games start with a fractured state as 4 factions try to carve out success; in Pendragon a faction or two start out at success and try desperately to hold onto it.

However, while the most complex to learn and most "fiddly" to play, I think it will be one of the easier ones to overcome the complexity. Why? Most factions have 2 ways to initiate combat and you don't need to use the COIN standard of two turns to a fight (one to move and/or reveal pieces, one turn to actually fight). The complexity is mostly in battles and moving around pieces constantly, but that is the central focus of this wargame.

I know I'm going long, so I'll end it with this: if the other titles in the COIN series are Stellar Conquest with all its combat but you want to control the most points in Terran and Sub-Terran planets, then Pendragon is Space Empires: 4X - the game so much like its grandfather game, but instead the victory condition is "kill an enemy's homeworld"... and that one change makes the world of difference. It makes learning the game and manipulating the pieces more difficult due to the higher complexity, but the play focuses you so much on those complex tasks repetitively that you will eventually become a master at them. I was skeptical but excited at first, but I think this is a title that will grow on me and has a shot at becoming my favorite game (Right now #1 is Liberty or Death then Falling Sky... this one is already #3 for me and most likely going to become #2). I agree this isn't a first COIN game for a general audience, but if you are a wargamer used to Great Battles of History and the like it might be a better first COIN due to its more traditional wargame pacing.
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Bob Long
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thanks for the comments
Yes, I own all the COIN series games
so far my favorites are
Cuba Libre
Colonial Twilight
Fire in the Lake

I like the time period/conflict. All are set in the 1950-1970s during the Cold War. I think this sets them as a true COIN representation. Or whatever that means. Cold War counter insurgency...

Also both CL and CT have smaller boards and goals are really set to the conflict.

It is very interesting how this series has evolved. The question:

Do I really need another COIN game? Ahh I got to answer that one myself....Or as Mr. Bill once asserted OHHHHH NOOOOO

Thanks again for the responses. And here is wishing for Angola or maybe the French Revolution

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Morgane Gouyon-Rety
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Thank you all guys for the great feedback. I'm pleased to see some people actually experiencing that the Battle system, though looking daunting at first, is actually fairly easy to master. The key is that every step is very simple, and the nuances of the battle system are built into the sequence, rather than in tables, DRMs or tons of tolls. Once players get a feel for what the steps do, and understand they often use only a few steps each time, I think they will find the system actually more intuitive than LoD's or FS's, IMHO (nothing I have not discussed already with my good friends Harold and Volko!)
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Jon Snow
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goo Lots of simple rules are better than a few complex ones!
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Richard A. Edwards
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chas59 wrote:
goo Lots of simple rules are better than a few complex ones!

But even better are a few simple rules.

My first attempt at Pendragon quickly bogged down (and I have played COIN games before) due to the huge number of exceptions or limitations that requiring reading (and trying to remember) when doing even the simplest of things.

For example, March could just be move a force to an adjacent space, but certain types of troops have an exception allowing them to move along the roads, if certain conditions are met.

Individually, this makes great historical sense and is clearly written. But adding so many more commands and feats, many of which likewise have several exceptions or limitations, makes it very difficult to grasp all of your options easily at any one moment.

I found myself having to review many possibilities only to see that there was an exception or limitation I had forgotten that made me change what I wanted to do.

Lots and lots of reading, rethinking, and finally making one turn.

I think the COIN games would appeal to a much bigger audience if they weren't so complicated. But I also think that they would lose devoted historical gamers who love such complex accuracy.

I fall in between and do play COIN games. But I fear Pendragon willlanguish because my group of experienced gamers, who are not "wargamers", will refuse to play once they see the complexity.

When teaching COIN I love the simplicity of just saying how it's card driven and showing how the active player can choose the event or command and/or feat. the players aids are great and it's easy to point out when a player does a command they just choose from the list of 4 and potentional feats adding 4 more choices. They love the idea of asymmetry in player choices too.

But the moment they choose a command and we spend 20 minutes reading the commands and their exceptions and limitations in order to decide what to do, Their eyes glaze over and I lose them.

Honestly, I'd like to have seen fewer rules and exceptions even at the loss of historical accuracy in order to have a game that I would get to play more.

I think there's a market for a COIN "light" game that uses the basic system but with very simple commands in order to teach the system and draw in more non-wargaming players.
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SirRoke wrote:
I think there's a market for a COIN "light" game that uses the basic system but with very simple commands in order to teach the system and draw in more non-wargaming players.

Count me among those with minimal interest in a COIN game that sacrificed historical accuracy for “approachability.” But if you want a “COIN-lite,” there’s always Cuba Libre and Colonial Twilight.
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Juan Valdez
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SirRoke wrote:
I think there's a market for a COIN "light" game that uses the basic system but with very simple commands in order to teach the system and draw in more non-wargaming players.


Bofem: I'd buy "COIN Lite" along with "COIN regular."

Historical "accuracy" is a different conversation.
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Bob Long
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Yea
Cuba Libre and Colonial Twilight still has complex decisions but the maps tend to be intuitive

I don't know if they are COIN lite games....yes a little more approachable in terms of playability. We know historically what the objectives were.

I prefer those decisions than in what I experienced in LoD. I have enjoyed all of the COIN games but really enjoy CL and CT.

Thanks again for the responses.
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Jon Jones
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Scottland wrote:
Count me among those with minimal interest in a COIN game that sacrificed historical accuracy for “approachability.” But if you want a “COIN-lite,” there’s always Cuba Libre and Colonial Twilight.


I would argue that, in my opinion, there is not a single COIN with a historical model that is not "broken". As long as one faction isn't winning more than 30% of the test plays then it's not really an issue (for GMT). Pendragon does a great job of adding the historical accuracy that other COINSs might have been lacking, however it was necessary to add a bunch of moving levers to do so. Six of one...


note: all the super-scientific-technical-game design-terms are my own (please castigate me after the holidays, thanks!)

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Bob Long
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Hello Jon
yes agree....COIN is not a true simulation hence the syndicate in Cuba Libre etc

But I will argue that the Cold War COIN games sometimes "feel" the part. But again we could argue the point....or go as far and argue about COIN being a wargame.

Ok, I opened the can of worms...uncorked the genie....stirred the pot

or as Eric Idle once asserted "nudge nudge know what i mean, say no more say no more....very good"




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jjones8086 wrote:

I would argue that, in my opinion, there is not a single COIN with a historical model that is not "broken". As long as one faction isn't winning more than 30% of the test plays then it's not really an issue (for GMT).


Would you be willing to expound upon that a little more?

I'll put some words in your mouth to tell you what I read there, but please correct me if I'm wrong. (And please note there is no castigation here, just a desire to understand)

What I'm taking away from what you're saying is: the COIN system is "broken" because the system is more bent on creating the outcome where any player can win than in following the history. Essentially sacrificing historicity for play-ability. Is that correct?

Thanks for the discussion!
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Mark Gilbertson
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Sigrdrifa wrote:
jjones8086 wrote:

I would argue that, in my opinion, there is not a single COIN with a historical model that is not "broken". As long as one faction isn't winning more than 30% of the test plays then it's not really an issue (for GMT).


What I'm taking away from what you're saying is: the COIN system is "broken" because the system is more bent on creating the outcome where any player can win than in following the history. Essentially sacrificing historicity for play-ability. Is that correct?

Thanks for the discussion!

~ one must decide how much "abstraction" one can tolerate in ANY game, or else they must accept the fact that a
game which truly "simulates" the Thirty Years' War will require 30 years to complete the full "campaign scenario"

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Late to the thread. So...with me jumping at LoD and now getting Pendragon I'm apparently jumping at the deep end of the series? No matter, I'll deal with it. The earlier titles didn't interest me.

I'm only up to the Feats rules in my read thus far. However, I am not having much trouble wrapping my head around the concepts. Even Battle, once I read through the whole sequence isn't bad. I guess being a programmer helps there-I'm just reading it as a simple program. Execute the step, move to the next, repeat until you run out of steps.

Since I've tackled understanding the basic COIN turn structure and overall concepts I think learning this one has been easier so far. I do think I'm grasping the objectives of the factions more easily.

I've only gotten through card 2 in the tutorial and will tackle it again now that the holidays and some work insanity is done. However, I did get through the first Scotti turn and went "Oooo! That's a darn good opener and I completely see why they did that!"
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Jon Jones
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Sigrdrifa wrote:

What I'm taking away from what you're saying is: the COIN system is "broken" because the system is more bent on creating the outcome where any player can win than in following the history. Essentially sacrificing historicity for play-ability. Is that correct?


Yes and No.

Yes, your interpretation is correct in the sense that it is my opinion that any company that makes and markets products to be sold in volume cannot possibly (in this particular case) be bothered to make sure that every designer's game contains the exact historical balance of factions (even if it would break the game)because, as a business, they simply must, as you say, sacrifice history for a balanced game as they rightly look towards a bottom line.

No, because I don't feel that COIN as a system is broken at all. I stated that I personally felt that there was not a COIN game to date that contains a model that is 100% historically accurate. As Grim Norsefury aptly points out: we must all decide what level of subjective realism we want in our conflict simulation games for, indeed, the Thirty Year long game of the Thirty Years War (where do I sign up btw?) would be simply overwhelming if applied at scale. Just because I feel the faction balance in COIN games can occasionally seem "broken" doesn't mean that I think the series itself is by any means broken or degraded. In fact, I think it's an exceptionally brilliant product from a very sharp mind (I'm speaking here of Volko and the designers following in his asymmetrical footsteps).

Keep in mind: I'm not a game designer, an Agency national security analyst nor a Grognard. I'm just a guy who loves to play lots of games, so please take the preceding statements as well as the following with a few grains of salt:

Even if a COIN game were unbalanced in that one faction was winning, let's say, 39% of Playtests. In determining the true balance of the game we would still have to account for the random nature of the Event Deck, the unpredictable nature in which 2-4 individuals will react to each other and the randomized cards as well as the occasional die roll all in addition to a host of other almost un-quantifiable factors such as the number of previous plays/experience with the system and even the players' respective mood(s) and how they affect their decisions. Suffice to say, I feel that achieving any semblance balance in an asymmetrical exercise like a COIN game is something best done in well tested/researched yet offhand dashes and dabs, not exact weights and measures.

If exact historical realism is your bag (I know that I have a thing for it) Try any of the Admiralty Trilogy, especially Harpoon 4 or Persian Incursion. They provide a balance that is skewed more towards realism than ease of simulation; I enjoy both games.

I feel like it's time for some FULL DISCLOSURE:

I do not work for, represent, playtest for or otherwise have any affiliation with GMT Games other than the fact that I LOVE the games they make as can be evidenced by the depth of the GMT section in my office. GMT could literally toss crud in a box and I would, "play with intent to buy", because I know that when I buy a GMT game the component quality will be the best in the industry, the rules and playbook will be printed on good stock and well written with proper indices as well as being accompanied by good customer service; and let's face it - the games are all first class.

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Bob Long
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well now i guess its time to veer off course and pose the question


What if a COIN game on the Russian Revolution or Civil War

the old SPI game I have played and liked but was hoping for something else

Reds, well more of a war game

Triumph of Chaos, well Im just not that smart to play/try it.

Czar/Whites
Bolsheviks/Reds
Mensheviks/Blacks
Allies/Blues
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Russian Civil war would be fun indeed. Lots of chaos to be had. On a more related note, Pendragon has landed, but have not had a chance to dig too deep yet.
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Jon Jones
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bsets wrote:
On a more related note, Pendragon has landed, but have not had a chance to dig too deep yet.


I hope to get it to the table again (this time with 3 other lads, not just solo) this week. I'll try to post a brief AAR.
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jjones8086 wrote:
I would argue that, in my opinion, there is not a single COIN with a historical model that is not "broken".

Leaving aside the accuracy of this statement and the subsequent discussion of your definition of “broken,” there is a difference between a game that sacrifices some history so that we don’t have a 30-player game representing every single Indian tribe or Afghan opium group and a game that sacrifices history in the name of being “COIN-lite.” For example, one thing likely essential to a “light” COIN game would be minimizing the differences between actions available to the factions. I would be completely uninterested in this sort of game unless the theme fit that decision. It might be very approachable to have a version of Liberty or Death where the British and Patriots have the same menu board of actions, but it wouldn’t be interesting to me since you’d be severely compromising the history to make such a game.
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Jon Jones
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Scottland wrote:
jjones8086 wrote:
I would argue that, in my opinion, there is not a single COIN with a historical model that is not "broken".

Leaving aside the accuracy of this statement and the subsequent discussion of your definition of “broken,” there is a difference between a game that sacrifices some history so that we don’t have a 30-player game representing every single Indian tribe or Afghan opium group and a game that sacrifices history in the name of being “COIN-lite.”


COIN good. I like COIN. GMT good company. I like GMT. Make good games. I like. I like Volko. Volko make good system. End of Story.


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