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Subject: Agricola, Charlemagne, or Wars of Marcus Aurelius? rss

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Stephen Jacobsen
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I'm strongly considering getting the new 2p card game The Big Push: Trench Warfare on the Western Front in World War One from Hollandspiele.

To that order, I was strongly considering adding one of their solo games.
Agricola, Master of Britain
Charlemagne, Master of Europe
Wars of Marcus Aurelius: Rome 170-180CE

I'm interested in each one, but should probably only get one at the moment.

To those that have played one or more, what do you think? What are some pros/cons to each?

My clumsy fingers might accidentally slip on the order button for Table Battles as well or instead.
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To paraphrase Aurelius ... When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love, to play boardgames.
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Geoff C
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I have table battles, charlemagne and wars of MA.

Havent played them yet though. blush
 
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Chris Blackford
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I've only played Agricola so far, but would like to acquire the other two at some point.

I found Agricola to be very clever, as each action incurs a reaction from the tribes. Crush the resistance? You won't make many friends, causing more enemies as time passes. Go too easy on them, and you may not get much done. You're building a VP engine through your pacification efforts, so there is a VP requirement to hit at the end of every turn. Charlemagne is similar, as it used the same "4 Cup" system. If you have a particular interest in one time period over another, go for that one!

I haven't played Wars of Marcus Aurelius, although I believe I saw a comparison to the Victory Point Games States of Siege Series. I can only assume the similarity is slight, especially since it'll likely have that clever Hollandspiele feel to it. I'm assuming you're dealing with your problems closing in on you, rather than snuffing out problems as they come up!
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Wayne Hansen
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WoMA first. Best States of Siege game I've played.
Agricola second. Its own beast, extremely hard (I've never won after 8 or so plays), still a fun game with a unique cup mechanic.
Charlemagne own but haven't played. Same system as Agricola, but larger in scope and complexity. I'd buy Agricola first.
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Tom Russell
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Wars of Marcus Aurelius is similar to the state of siege style games, but I feel that the card-driven game gloss elevates it above the rest, giving the player some agency and creating a legitimate decision space. I personally don't care for state of siege games normally, and was initially very resistant to the game when it was submitted to us, but when I actually played it, I was quite taken with it. So, it's the sort of state of siege game that even someone who doesn't like state of siege games might enjoy - and I think folks who like state of siege games will like it even more.

Agricola and Charlemagne do use a similar system, though Charlemagne is a larger, more complicated game. I think Charlemagne has more variability and replay value, and is more challenging. There are people who find Agricola too simple and small, and they like Charlemagne more; there are people who find Charlemagne too big and too difficult, and they like Agricola more.

Agricola has a challenging end-of-game "boss fight" that irritates some folks. The game only provides you with 38 actions over the course of eight turns - which restricts the viable strategies somewhat - whereas Charlemagne can have a potentially infinite number of actions over the course of twelve turns.

I will note that with both of these games, I get a lot of wargamers telling them that it's impossible to win, and I get a handful of eurogamers telling me that it's impossible to lose. Me? I win Agricola about half the time now, and I think I've won Charlemagne a grand total of four times out of a hundred. Experience with euro-style efficiency games will generally serve you well with either game.

Table Battles is something else entirely of course. Good play often involves enforcing a sort of deadlock, or trapping your opponent into loops of reaction. Which means from time to time that you will be forced into loops of reaction when the other guy has you on the ropes. Some folks like that sort of thing, and others very much don't, and you probably know better than I which camp you fall into. Force preservation is also a must - if you're the sort of gamer who just likes to make attacks willy-nilly and see what will happen, well, what will happen is that you will lose, and if both players are just making attacks willy-nilly, what will happen is that the game state will degenerate into an exhausted stalemate.

But if you're playing smart and carefully? Well, I think the thing is a blast. (But naturally you would expect me to say that.)
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Stephen Jacobsen
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tomrussell wrote:
I personally don't care for state of siege games normally, and was initially very resistant to the game when it was submitted to us, but when I actually played it, I was quite taken with it. So, it's the sort of state of siege game that even someone who doesn't like state of siege games might enjoy.


I haven't given the system a fair chance, but my initial impressions were not favorable (only played Levée en Masse, which I understand among the most simple in the series, but I felt like I had little agency in the game). It turned me off from digging into them further. I do like Navajo Wars, which I understand is a loose riff on the system. I love CDGs, so WoMA sounds like it could be a great fit.

tomrussell wrote:
Agricola and Charlemagne... Experience with euro-style efficiency games will generally serve you well with either game.


I come from a strong Euro background, so maybe I will do ok!

tomrussell wrote:
Table Battles is something else entirely of course... if you're the sort of gamer who just likes to make attacks willy-nilly and see what will happen, well, what will happen is that you will lose, and if both players are just making attacks willy-nilly, what will happen is that the game state will degenerate into an exhausted stalemate.

But if you're playing smart and carefully? Well, I think the thing is a blast. (But naturally you would expect me to say that.)


I like to think of myself as the latter, though I've been known to do the former from time to time. One of my main gaming buddies is frequently a "willy-nilly" kind of guy (we call him the "Lord of Chaos." He's the sort to push the big red button if given half a chance), but he takes it in stride usually, so this may be a good fit yet.

Choices, choices!
Thanks for responding, Tom!
 
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Joshua Gottesman
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How will you know what the big red button will do if you don't push it?
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Chris Smith
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Shipping often isn't linear, so the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. Do you really want that money going towards the shipping company? I don't, so I'd get at least a half dozen games to teach them a lesson.

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Geoff C
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Venser wrote:
Shipping often isn't linear, so the more you buy, the cheaper it gets. Do you really want that money going towards the shipping company? I don't, so I'd get at least a half dozen games to teach them a lesson.



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Kurtis Swekla
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I have played Agricola and Charlemagne. Both are very fun solitaire games and not the boring sort of solitaire games where you don't feel like you have any decisions to make. These you have real decisions to make that make or break how you do, as opposed to states of siege games that feel more like random die rolling (that being said Malta Besieged is a wonderful SoS game and Dawn of the Zeds has a great thematic feel).
I haven't played Marcus Aurelius but hope to get it soon.

Agricola I found a bit too easy after a few plays, you can start figuring out how to best maximize the development and deployment of your army and consider the odds of where the enemy will be coming from next. That being said, it is still fun to play and is good at easing you into this system.

Charlemagne is the same system but a much bigger beast of a game. It will take a lot of games just to wrap your head around when you should buy what type of unit, church, etc, when and how to build and maintain the army is proving to be much more challenging.

The only down side I have with these games is there is a lot of dice rolling for the combat, but otherwise they are a load of fun. They are not the solitaire type of game that is a puzzle that needs to be solved, more of a figuring out when to use your money or VP for units to mitigate losses based on the odds of where the enemies will pop up next. In a similar sort of feel to Butterfield's D-day series wherein the game is entirely about mitigating losses and considering the odds of who will fire on your units next and how best to maneuver around.

I am not sure if that helps at all, but honestly if I were you I would get both Agricola and Charlemagne. Start playing Agricola first and once you have the system figured out then move onto Charlemagne. The other advantage of Agricola is that it only takes 30-60 minutes to play and set up is real quick whereas Charlemagne is a couple hours to play (as long as you don't have early end game losses like I seem to have) and a bigger setup so I often bring out Agricola when I only have a bit of time.
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Stephen Jacobsen
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I ordered:

Big Push
Table Battles
Agricola

Part of it was price motivated (Agricola being cheaper than the others by $15), which allowed me to justify the purchase of Table Battles (a game I've had my eye on for some time, and it keeps on getting a positive reception). I could use a super-quick tactical battle game, and I love how this one is being applied to a variety of conflicts/eras. It also looks reminiscent of a dice-allocation game, a genre which I've been known to enjoy in Euro form (Troyes, Castles of Burgundy, et al).

Also table time ended up being a motivator. The fact that I can play a full game of Agricola in under 2 hours (probably closer to 1 once I get a handle on it), was a bonus in my eyes, as I only solo things that take 3 or more hours on somewhat rare occasion.

As I stated in my OP, there's a good chance I'll pick up the other two, Charlemagne partially dependent on my enjoyment of Agricola.
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Severus Snape
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Agricola is a one-trick pony that quickly wears out its welcome. There is simply not enough depth to it to generate the desire for repeated plays. The fact that the end-game mechanism can undo a potentially winning situation is not exciting, but rather deflating because of its random nature. It is not as if the game engine punishes you for doing things wrong in the endgame--though that can happen along the way, as it should--it is just a random draw from the cup.

I am currently playing Marcus Aurelius and, so far, I like it much better. It will take more plays to see if it has the staying power.

Charlemagne comes later in the summer, likely August.

Anyone who wants to work a trade for Agricola: Master of Britain should email me.

goo
 
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Tom Russell
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bentlarsen wrote:
Agricola is a one-trick pony that quickly wears out its welcome.


When I was in high school, I took several classes in video production that were taught by an eccentric local millionaire who, as it happened, had no experience with video but knew a lot about radio. That's neither here nor there, but the one thing I remember about his classes is that he always asked two questions, and only two questions, about every project -

(1) What did you think you did well?
(2) If you had the project to do over, what would you do differently?

And with that second question, if I was going to do Agricola over again, I probably wouldn't have done the end-game boss battle thing, as it does (somewhat) put you at the mercy of the die rolls (particularly with the enemy units attacking first). I consciously avoided doing it in Charlemagne (where, historically, it wouldn't make sense anyway) and I think going forward even if it was warranted by the history, I would find some way to avoid it.

So, while obviously I have a better opinion of my game than you do ("one trick pony?" ouch), I definitely understand where you're coming from regarding your frustrations with the endgame.

And you might even be right about its strategic depth - certainly it has a much narrower decision space than Charlemagne, and one of my goals with Charlemagne was to widen that exponentially. How much I succeeded or failed in that endeavour of course is up to the player to decide. Personally I think it's very much a superior and better game - it's one reason why I was so surprised when some folks said that they preferred Agricola.
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Dave Cruces
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I really enjoyed WOMA vs Agricola. Have not played Charlemagne.
 
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Severus Snape
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Quote:
So, while obviously I have a better opinion of my game than you do ("one trick pony?" ouch), I definitely understand where you're coming from regarding your frustrations with the endgame.

And you might even be right about its strategic depth - certainly it has a much narrower decision space than Charlemagne, and one of my goals with Charlemagne was to widen that exponentially. How much I succeeded or failed in that endeavour of course is up to the player to decide. Personally I think it's very much a superior and better game - it's one reason why I was so surprised when some folks said that they preferred Agricola.


Tom, I appreciate your honest and gracious comments.

When I first picked up Agricola, I set it aside for many months and finally played it a couple of weeks ago. My initial rating was a 10, but that quickly changed. The game is too much of "wash, rinse, repeat" in it mechanisms. I never felt the tinge of history beyond the nice looking graphics. I also do not like the small playing surface.

Marcus Aurelius, through the use of the cards, offers more variety in the unfolding of the game, though this is within limits because most of the Barbarian cards--correct me, please, if I am wrong--involve revolts. When the Surge gets going, so does the tension. With MA, there is more than one way to lose the game, and there are different times when such a lose can occur.

Tom, I own four of your games, and I know that I want to get the two Supply Lines of the Revolution games. I support you and your company, even if I do not always like a game. I wish the best for you and your family. You make a good, overall, product.

Just because I do not like Agricola does not make it otherwise.

goo
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Tom Russell
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I understand completely - we appreciate your business. No worries, and I got a pretty thick skin (except where For-Ex is concerned, apparently). :-)
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