Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Simple GBoH» Forums » Reviews

Subject: User Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
BGG Admin
United States
Unspecified
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
I've been spending a bit of time playing this recently, having now played through several of the Alexander scenarios using SGBOH, as well as a few SPQR scenarios. I have not yet played anything from the later modules with the new rules.

Interestingly, I find the "Simple" angle of the rules to be one of the least compelling selling points of the new product. In truth, GBOH's main problem is really not complexity; GBOH is not simple, but it seems to be fundamentally on the same level as many of the modest-complexity games I play. It's more a matter of consistancy and coherency than complexity; most of the GBOH rulebooks are rather poorly-presented and hard to learn, thus adding a significant amount of unnecesary complexity to the basic system. Combine that with the fact that the rules change subtly and in undocumented ways between games in the series, and you get a system that should be of only modest complexity but ends up with significant complexity issues. SGBOH scores on both these counts, giving you a rule set that is applicable across all the games in the series and presented in a reasonably orderly manner. In truth, though, while simpler than the system it replaces, it's not really a streamlined one; when I think of good modest-complexity wargames, I think of games systems like Royal Tank Corps, East Front, or even Great Campaigns of the American Civil War (except for those impenetrable flank modifier rules). SGBOH is fairly fiddly for a simple game, with a lot of hard-to-remember combat modifiers, special unit attributes, and different kinds of TQ checks.

My main beef with the system, though, is the new activation rules. The old GBOH system of ordered formation activations, with the number of activations dictated by momentum and the order affected by trumping, is now replaced with the players simply taking turns to activate any arbitrary formation. In the battles in Alexander, when formations are of fairly comparable power, this seems like no big deal; Chaeronea played quite well. At Zama though, theoretically much more interesting, the system became degenerate. The Romans and Carthaginians each have one overwhelmingly powerful formation: the legionary infantry for the Romans, the Heavy Cavalry for the Carthaginians. So our game simply degenerated into the one powerful formation being activated every impulse until it had done enough damage to rout the opposing army. Other formations were simply rooted in place, never moving (this leads to somewhat amusing effects, such as seeing the skirmishers frozen in place where they were left 15 turns ago). This felt decidedly wierd. Of course, the original GBOH often felt awfully gamey, but it seems to work in conveying a nice period feel; SGBOH often doesn't, quite. Also, Zama used to be reasonably balanced; now, with the Romans simply able to activate their very powerful legions every impluse, I have no idea how the Cartheginians are supposed to be competitive.

So I end up feeling somewhat conflicted about SGBOH. On the one hand, my GBOH collection has seen more play now, definitively saving it from the "for sale" bin. And those plays have, generally, been fun and engaging (with the exception of that Zama game). Certainly, the rules were a problem with GBOH: with perhaps only one or two scenarios per game which are balanced and/or interesting, the complexity of moving from game to game was a fairly serious problem. Trimming the game length down to somthing fairly short is good too, as you can play even some of the more unbalanced scenarios (that is to say, most of them) and have fun since they are pretty short. Chaeronea probably wasn't worth 5 hours in the original version, but at 1.5-2 hours or so it's good for a go (although it does seem the time estimates in the scenario book are a bit optimistic).

On the other hand, I still find myself wishing mainly for an aggressively edited series rulebook for these games. The basic GBOH game is quite good, and not vastly more complex than SGBOH. I liked Cataphract, as it seemed to capture all the good stuff from GBOH without taking the more drastic measures of SGBOH.

I guess my recommendation is that if you play and enjoy GBOH as it is now, there is certainly no reason to purchase SGBOH. If, however, you own Alexander, SPQR, or Caesar and rarely play, or would like to play with wider range of opponents, the $16-$20 you'll spend on the SGBOH rulebook is probably a good investment. Possibly SGBOH's most compelling application is as a stepping-stone to the full game. On the other hand, SGBOH has virtually no benefit for Cataphract players, and is fairly marginal for Caesar: Conquest of Gaul, as these systems are already significantly streamlined and superior to SGBOH in most ways (with the exception of the fact that the C:CoG rulebook is dreadful, worst of a not-overly-impressive bunch).

As a final note, it also should be mentioned that only Caesar: The Civil Wars is still in print (although this still has some of the biggest-name battles from any of the games). The remainder of the games remain fairly available on eBay, althogh they aren't cheap (though they weren't cheap when they were new, either).
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter Mc
United States
Dunkirk
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Re:User Review
Your long review is more positive than your short one!

A couple of points, somewhat related:

1. I'm not sure it has been Established as Fact that SGBOH doesn't work with Legions, but I'm willing to hear more.

2. There are some realism issues that have to do with the activation system...but imo GBOH has the same problems, with a more tricked-out system certainly, but you get staggered activations, wide circling moves, etc., in both games. I still wonder if Igo-hugo isn't a better way to play ancients (oh how boring of me!).

3. the scenarios are still the dominant factor. Most suck on balance issues alone. Then you add in history problems, such as at Chearonea which no one seems to think is accurate in Big Al, and you are left with only a few gems. Imo the "gems" work well in SGBOH, so stick with them. I've heard that the C3I scenarios are really some of the best...and if you haven't tried them the Tyrant scenarios are really good too (I know this from playing them).
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

I completely agree on the issue of activating the same formation over and over until it breaks or wins the day, as the game-est aspect of Simple GBOH as written, and I've house ruled it away. Because I simply cannot believe it or the results it gives.

There is however a very simply solution, and fits the spirit of stolen activations, without a lot of overhead. All it requires is imposing a notion of "game turn" and tracking who already activated during one.

Players still alternate activations. They can only activate a formation already activated once that game turn, however, if they are using one of their (whole scenario leader-limited) stolen activations, and succeed at it. In addition, they may only make such a stolen activation move once per formation per "game turn". Otherwise, they have to activate a different formation, one not used previously that game turn. Or they can pass, and their activation is then skipped, and the previous player goes again.

When both players pass or all formations on each side have activated that "game turn", the "game turn" is over and everyone may activate "normally" - restart the time clock, basically.

This means the player is still in complete control of the *order* he uses his formations. Important formations will still activate more times than unimportant ones - since they will be the ones chosen for leader "trumping" to steal activations. They may activate twice as often, if leaders have enough steals to try and succeed at enough of them.

But they will only move more than twice as often if the commander deliberately "passes" rather the moving his lesser formations. Normally, every formation will move and fight once per "game turn", on each side. Time will not stand still for some of them while the others charge about frantically. There will be some "double move" frantic-ness, at command direction, at key points in the fighting - as in the original Simple GBOH. But it can't take over the game. Everyone on the field will get their chance to take part.

Very simple fix...
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bel Riose
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
This is the best solution I've seen yet for eliminating the gamey "activate the same unit over and over" ploy.

Then again, one could always play IGO - UGO...I suspect the game would work pretty well that way too.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.