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Subject: Another view of Wallenstein rss

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Derek Croxton
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In light of the fact that every other review of Wallenstein has been positive, I thought I would offer my opinion, which falls on the other side.

First, it is a beautiful game with some interesting mechanics. I don't particularly like the combat tower, but not because I'm opposed to the idea; basically, I just found it a not-very-interesting way to add some randomness. It wasn't strikingly different than rolling dice -- faster, admittedly, but not much different. When reading the rules, I was hoping the addition of peasant armies would provide a significant advantage to the defender, but in actuality the attacker won almost every battle I witnessed. The potential is there for a reversal of fortune, but it is unlikely. One good feature is that the player with more units is likely to lose more.

I will only mention briefly that this game has nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with history. It isn't really intended to, and most reviewers have recognized that. While I prefer games that at least simulate some aspect of the period they deal with, I'm not a stickler on this point and I can certainly enjoy a good game that is totally abstract (in premise or practice).

What I really disliked about this game when I played it was that it was a free-for-all, i.e., any player could and would attack any other player and win. There is no hope of creating a defensive perimeter and opting for that kind of strategy. It is just a matter of who decides to attack whom at which location. While some people doubtless will like this, it makes games too random for me. Since there is no particular reason to attack one person over another, the game just comes down to the whim of the individual players rather than strategy. This is fine in Diplomacy, which is designed around that premise, but it doesn't work well in a game where you are supposed to be managing resources and actions. Everything else is outweighed by arbitrary choices on whom to attack, and I find that dull.

Derek Croxton
 
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Ken Boone
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton wrote:
It wasn't strikingly different than rolling dice -- faster, admittedly, but not much different.


This just isn't true. Dice have no memory. If you've just lost a battle in an upset, and you're using dice, then the odds for your next battle are unchanged. The tower provides a slick balancing mechanism since lost armies are hung up inside, waiting to come out on the next battle. A good Wallenstein player will take advantage of this fact in much the same way that an El Grande player might.
 
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Ken Boone
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton wrote:
What I really disliked about this game when I played it was that it was a free-for-all, i.e., any player could and would attack any other player and win. There is no hope of creating a defensive perimeter and opting for that kind of strategy. It is just a matter of who decides to attack whom at which location. While some people doubtless will like this, it makes games too random for me. Since there is no particular reason to attack one person over another, the game just comes down to the whim of the individual players rather than strategy. This is fine in Diplomacy, which is designed around that premise, but it doesn't work well in a game where you are supposed to be managing resources and actions. Everything else is outweighed by arbitrary choices on whom to attack, and I find that dull.


I'll have to disagree with you here too. As you play more games of Wallenstein, it will become obvious that arbitrary free-for-all attacks are a sure fire way to lose when you're playing with more than two players. The successful Wallenstein player will make minimal attacks to maximize his building bonuses in each region. It becomes important to make sure your attractive provinces are both well defended and backed up, so that if you lose your prize province with three buildings, you can win it back with your adjacent province. Another major strategy involves predicting which province your opponent will tax and attacking it before they receive their gold or grain.

Honestly, if all your opponents' attacks were based on whim rather than strategy, you weren't playing against good opponents. As with many games, as you learn the game the chaos level goes down significantly. In this game that's admittedly full of randomness, the learning curve involves figuring out how to best tame that randomness.
 
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Brian Newman
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
Hubajube (#42721),

Totally agree. Also, if your entire Wallenstein strategy is based around conqering territory, you're going to do very badly. What you need to do is *optimize* your territory, a very different thing. With a good setup, you don't even need to do that. You could go all game without making an attack and win handily by judicious building and harvesting/taxing.

 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton (#42701),
I disagree twice. Free-for-all will NOT win games.
As to "simualtion" it's got more command control then many
actual wargames.cool
 
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Kevin Rohrer
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
I've only played two games so far, both with 5-players. In each, I was able to setup a defensive perimeter as almost all my armies were clustered in one area. This made it easy to defend and expand.
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton (#42701),
..nothing to do with history...
BS. Hell, the map is more accurate than 99% of any Eurogame.
 
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Chris Morriss
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton (#42701),

I really like this game and yet one thing, as yet unmentioned, annoys me about it. This is the random turn order. Turn order is so vital in the game, especially during fighting actions A and B, that I feel it should be bid for via some mechanic probably involving gold (as in Serenissima). The trouble here would be how to integrate it into the game as gold is quite tight. I have found that a player going first or second all the time is highly unlikely to win the game.
 
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Nomadic Gamer
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
Chris Morriss (#67284),
I disagree. Going first can zap a following players action,
for instance. Or taking a territory with a large army first will discourage subsequent attacks on same territory.
Etc.
 
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Bruce Sturrock
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
davedanger (#68503),

I can see why bidding for turn order would make this game more interesting for certain gamers - possible way to make it work would be to add an extra gold for each territory - but I think in Wallenstein - for me - it gives you more to think about...

That's the idea though isn't it? That's one of the things that makes the game great - I mean thinking to yourself as you make your plans...'well I could do this if I get to go before this player...but what if he goes first...well I'd probably better do this...ooohh decisions decisions.'

After a few online games I'd like to think I'm pretty adept at Wallenstein and if you play without aggression until neccessary then you can usually succeed.

B
 
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Sight Reader
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Re:Another view of Wallenstein
dcroxton wrote:
What I really disliked about this game when I played it was that it was a free-for-all, i.e., any player could and would attack any other player and win. There is no hope of creating a defensive perimeter and opting for that kind of strategy.


I would agree that it appears to be that you're missing the subtleties of the game. One of the many keys to winning is to create a buffer zone so you can create buildings safe from attack. Remember that the enemy cannot advance more than one country per season, so there's only so much buffer zone needed before 3 seasons is up. Even cheaper is to trick players into doing construction then stealing their buildings from them.

If you're playing to win, then you are not at all free to attack anyone you choose. Gaining a lot of territory can result in disaster when winter comes, so you need to be extremely selective in which territories you capture. I've seen 12 or more points lost in winter revolts. I found that you can destroy many players by tricking them into overexpansion while secretly planning a strike on their vital wheat province. One turn with a failed wheat harvest is usually enough to eliminate them from contention. In terms of points, once again it goes back to buffer zones: you've got to recognize when one is being being constructed and fortify a bastion within striking distance their homeland. You don't have to actually attack: simply the threat of being nearby will make most players too nervous to construct. If they construct anyway, then you got a great opportunity to steal points. You have to keep an eye out for players creating buffer zones or getting huge wheat harvests, because otherwise the ignored players will win.
 
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