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Subject: Hannibal, Twilight Struggle or Paths of Glory? rss

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Michael
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Hello,

I'm looking forward to buy one of these many card driven games like
* Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
* Twilight Struggle
* Paths of Glory.

Which of the mentioned one would you recommend. Or better another one (still availaible) title?


Thanks in advance,
Michael
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AxonDomini
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Hannibal is a classic, and will soon be unavailable for the time being since the first print run is almost sold out. No word on whether or not there will be another print run. I can't recommend this game enough.

I didn't care for Twilight Struggle, but many love it. It's shorter and easier than Hannibal, but I find the random elements to have too big an impact on the game for my tastes. It's second print run is sold out, I think, but I believe a third is in the works.

I've never played Paths of Glory, so can't comment on it other than it looks to be a much, much longer game than the other two. Hannibal will run 3-3.5 hours once you get to know it, TS about 2 hours and PoG, I think, runs about 6.
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pronoblem baalberith
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jeffk wrote:
I didn't care for Twilight Struggle, but many love it. It's shorter and easier than Hannibal, but I find the random elements to have too big an impact on the game for my tastes.


Strange... I don't see them as that much different in terms of randomness. If anything Hannibal is more random and the randomness plays into outcome more so. If I were to compare the two I'd say that there is a lot more to do in Twilight Struggle and that makes it more interesting of a game to me.

I own Paths of Glory and have not yet played it, but I have played other games that use the same system. I'd say you cannot go wrong with any of three that you list.
 
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Chris Talbot
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Only having played TS and PoG, I'd recommend Twilight Struggle. It's a great CDG that can be played in an evening.

What are you looking for in a CDG, though? That might make it clearer which one you should invest in.

Chris
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Don Barree
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If you can't find a copy of Twilight Struggle a good alternative that's still available is 1960: The Making of the President. I have both of these and they're both excellent games.
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Eric Feifer
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>What are you looking for in a CDG, though?

The perfect question. All three cover historic events. If you have an era preference (Ancient, WWI, or Cold War) choose that game. They are all enjoyable and I would play any if asked.

If your prime concern is play time then I would rank them TS, H, and then PoG from shortest to longest, respectively.

If your greatest concern is a history lesson I would rank them PoG, H, and then TS from most "intense" to the least "intense", respectively.

Once you pass those two decision-making ideas all three are fun games.

 
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Chistopher Frazier
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All three are outstanding. That being said:

I think Twilight Struggle is a little easier to learn than the others and I love the theme.

Hannibal has the best components and uses an older system but is still great.

Paths of Glory may have the most long-term durability but it is tough to get a grasp on with all of the exceptions, etc.

My vote would be for Twilight Struggle if you are a kind of new to these types of games and you have less hard-core gamer friends.

Paths of Glory if you want to get involved in something bigger and more complicated.

Hannibal is in the middle here for me.

1960 is the wildcard and obviously very much like Twilight Struggle with different theme prettier components.

It is basically a personal preference choice as all of the games are great.
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AxonDomini
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pronoblem wrote:
Strange... I don't see them as that much different in terms of randomness. If anything Hannibal is more random and the randomness plays into outcome more so.


Interesting. I find the luck in Hannibal MUCH easier to deal with than in TS. While I think they both have many random elements, I find the randomness in Hannibal to have a less significant impact than it does in TS. I will say that TS's theme is simply awesome, which I suspect has a lot to do with its appeal.
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M King
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I agree that 1960 is the most accessible of this style of game, and the best for an introduction to this genre. I also think it is a fantastic game. Twilight Struggle is the next most accessible, with Hannibal adding a hearty dose of complexity. TS and 1960 are all about influence--Hannibal adds the maneuver of armies to that mechanic, which I think makes it significantly more complex.
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AxonDomini
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dbarree wrote:
If you can't find a copy of Twilight Struggle a good alternative that's still available is 1960: The Making of the President. I have both of these and they're both excellent games.


Good point. 1960 is a great game, albeit significantly lighter than the other three. It definitely has more of a euro-feel, while the others have a wargame feel. While the underlying mechanics are clearly inspired by Twilight Struggle, 1960 feels like a very different game. That can be good, bad or neutral depending on your tastes.
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Jeff Coon
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jeffk wrote:
1960 is a great game, albeit significantly lighter than the other three. It definitely has more of a euro-feel, while the others have a wargame feel. While the underlying mechanics are clearly inspired by Twilight Struggle, 1960 feels like a very different game. That can be good, bad or neutral depending on your tastes.


Agreed - I wouldn't suggest 1960 unless you're interested in a much lighter version of the CDG mechanics.

Twilight Struggle is probably the most accessible of the 3, and it's wildly successful. It might be a good place to start. However, the game is all about influence placement (area control), not military maneuvering. If you're interested in moving chits around the board and getting into direct conflict - army v. army, then PoG is more the type of game you're interested in. PoG is a huge step up from TS, IMO. Hannibal is probably somewhere in the middle.

It's all about personal taste, and how much effort you want to put into learning. I don't think you could go wrong with any of them.
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Karl Deckard
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You can't really go wrong with any of those titles, because they are all excellent. 1960: The Making of the President is like a simpler version of Twilight Struggle. Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage is a classic. Paths of Glory is the most complex, but has a lot of depth. We the People is a good introduction to the genre and it is the one that started it all, if you can get it.
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Stephen Shaw
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I love all three, but which one of these is not like the other? PoG is much more complex and lengthy, but extremely rewarding in its game play. Ive only gotten 3 full games of this in, where you can run TS or Hannibal any night after work in 3 hours or so.

I also prefer TS to Hannibal and think that for its length, complexity, and theme, offers tremendous strategic possibility and play.
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Chris Farrell
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Of the three, the only one that has serious long-term staying power in my opinion is Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage. This is an awesome game that I've played 50+ times and continue to play 2-3 times a year. It has good playability, a modest playing time, and lots of interesting variability without simply feeling random. The other two are interesting games but don't hit that same sweet spot: Paths of Glory is very long, and Twilight Struggle can feel both stereotyped and somewhat random. But to try to take both sides ...

The argument for Twilight Struggle: It's much simpler than the other two. It's much easier to get up and running, while it may take a game to learn Hannibal and a couple to really learn Paths of Glory. The theme is fun, if not particularly deep.
The argument against Twilight Struggle: It's got some heavy-handed luck, which the other two don't generally. There are serious questions as to whether it's at all balanced (our experience is that the Soviets win all the time, and others seem to agree). The game is very punishing of experience differentials in a way that Paths of Glory and Hannibal aren't, since a lot of the strategy in Twilight Struggle is knowing what's in the card deck. It's long for what you get out of it. There are systemic imbalances; the realignment game mechanic, for example, doesn't work.

On a personal note, the reason we ultimately sold our copy of TS was the balance issues. The rest of the stuff we could live with because the game was simple and could be fun, but when we looked up and realized the Soviets had won like 10 games in a row, frequently by big margins despite switching sides and playing with newbies, we just gave up.

The argument for Paths of Glory: It's the meatiest of the three games. It's got a great historical feel. It's very tense throughout he entire game; it often forces you to make some gut-wrenching decisions about how to play your cards. It's more complicated than the other games, but the complexity is not out of control and as a game system it's pretty clean.
The argument against Paths of Glory: It's long to play (10+ hours) and lacks viable shorter scenarios unless you get the players' guide. You really have to get the Deluxe Map because the included map is lame. Game-play can become stereotyped after a while. There is a Central Powers play style that makes the game degenerate.

Again, for me personally, I still like PoG a lot but I think the reason it never hits the table anymore is a combination of the playing time and the fact that the games were all a little samey after some point. But it's still a great game that I played dozens of times despite the length.

The argument for Hannibal: In my opinion, this is one of the all-time great games. Unlike the other two games, it's multi-dimensional: the political, operational, and tactical games are all interesting in and of themselves and they all interact in interesting ways, unlike the strictly military Paths of Glory or the strictly political Twilight Struggle. The first game or two will probably run longer, but once you get the hang of the game you can play in 3 hours, not that much different from Twilight Struggle even though Hannibal is a much richer game.
The argument against Hannibal: It is more complicated than euros. While all the complexity in the game serves a purpose, and it's not very chromy, the complexity is a non-trivial step up from your average euro game, so if you want something easy you might find a better place to start.

Some alternate suggestions: Shifting Sands is very similar to Paths of Glory, but the playing time is not excessive (4-6 hours). 1960: The Making of a President is very similar to Twilight Struggle, and I like it better simply because you can play it in about half the time, although there are definitely some questions about systemic balance in 1960, and the theme is less compelling. WWII: Barbarossa to Berlin is the WWII version of Paths of Glory, and has some advantages (the game is a little cleaner, the tactical elements are slightly richer, and it doesn't seem to have degenerate strategies). It's still got a very long playing time, though.
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Brad Miller
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Hannibal, no question. PoG is good, but as Chris said, it's long, and can be a bit prone to degenerate play, and there are certain ahistorical things that make you go...hmmm. It's a very good game, very fun to play, with lots of tough decisions, but they are not of the same scale as hannibal.

TS is very clever, and has quite a bit of fun in it. However, it certainly does seem wicked unbalanced, and one bad hand will lose you the game, and there is nothing you can do to skillfully play that hand to avoid the doom.

Hannibal is the one...
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michael dorazio
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Do not choose Paths of Glory for your first CDG. It's very long and detailed compared to the other two you mentioned in your post. Completely different league. Awesome game, but not a good starting point. TS or Hannibal are great choices.
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Aram Schvey
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Agree 100% with the above comment. Paths of Glory is great but is very complicated and nit-picky with many exceptions -- you can play it 2-3 times (i.e. 18 hours or more) and still not have all of the rules and rule interactions down completely. Also, the Out of Supply rules in PoG are brutal, and can mean getting stomped simply by a single corps getting behind your lines. That rule forces very careful play. That's not per-se bad, but not a great idea for your first card-driven game.

Twilight Struggle is a little easier than Hannibal, but both are accessible (though Hannibal may seem very complicated if you're new to war games). Twilight Struggle is about placing influence; Hannibal is more about killing the enemy in order to place influence. Both are about 3-4 hours long (Hannibal a little longer). Compare that to Paths of Glory which can take all day for the campaign.
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Iain Cheyne
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cfarrell wrote:
On a personal note, the reason we ultimately sold our copy of TS was the balance issues. The rest of the stuff we could live with because the game was simple and could be fun, but when we looked up and realized the Soviets had won like 10 games in a row, frequently by big margins despite switching sides and playing with newbies, we just gave up.


In the 2007 World Boardgaming Championships, the average bid in influence points to use the Soviets was only 2.4. To me, this means they have a definite advantage, but not a crushing one.
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eryn roston
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quick questions

cfarrell wrote:
There are systemic imbalances; the realignment game mechanic, for example, doesn't work.


How do you mean exactly?

cfarrell wrote:

On a personal note, the reason we ultimately sold our copy of TS was the balance issues.


Why not just start each game giving the US 2-4 VP? Easy fix.

Oh one more question...

cfarrell wrote:

definitely some questions about systemic balance


What's the difference between regular balance issues and systemic balance issues?

-E
 
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Chris Farrell
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baditude wrote:
quick questions

cfarrell wrote:
There are systemic imbalances; the realignment game mechanic, for example, doesn't work.


How do you mean exactly?


I mean realignment is too expensive, risky, and generally unavailable (due to defcon restrictions). I've played maybe 12 games and realignment has been used maybe twice, and in both cases it was probably a mistake.

Without realignment working properly, you lose the domino effect that was supposed to be part of the game and you also lose any sense of geography. You can't put geographical pressure on your opponent. This is a significant loss to the game.

baditude wrote:
cfarrell wrote:

On a personal note, the reason we ultimately sold our copy of TS was the balance issues.


Why not just start each game giving the US 2-4 VP? Easy fix.


Yeah, if you knew what that number was or how if it would help.

Our experience is that the US gets too easily behind the curve early in the game. If the USSR pressures Asia and the Middle East early, doing almost exclusively influence adds, the US gets into a hole from which it is frequently impossible to escape.

If we had felt that the game was anywhere close to balanced out of the box, we'd probably still own it and play it from time to time. But since to us it clearly was not, and there wasn't an easy fix, we moved on.

Again, this was our personal experience, in that even in a game that is so heavily biased against first-time players because it requires so much deck knowledge, the smart newbies had no trouble winning as the USSR. There is evidence from other quarters that the balance problems aren't as severe (or quite as severe) as what we experienced. So YMMV. But our experience on the balance issue was certainly bad.

baditude wrote:
Oh one more question...

cfarrell wrote:

definitely some questions about systemic balance


What's the difference between regular balance issues and systemic balance issues?


Normally when I say "balance" people think of play-balance, in that everyone has a fair shot to win.

When I talk about "systemic" balance, I mean the balance between the underlying mechanics of the game. So I would say that the realignment problems in Twilight Struggle are a systemic balance problem, in that realignment is essentially never worth it and that whole thing could have been deleted. Likewise, I'd call the apparently underpowered media cubes in 1960 a systemic balance problem. I'd also say that the rules for support checks in 1960 represent a systemic balance problem, in that you've got this whole rules section describing what to do for a situation that basically never occurs.
 
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Jeff Coon
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cfarrell wrote:
I mean realignment is too expensive, risky, and generally unavailable (due to defcon restrictions). I've played maybe 12 games and realignment has been used maybe twice, and in both cases it was probably a mistake.


I thought that too, for a long time. However, continued play has shown that realignment rolls just require more subtlety than coups. They're not used as often, but when employed in the right situation, they can be much more effective. They're particularly effective in Africa and the Americas, where you're not burdened by DEFCON restrictions.

Because we couldn't see how to employ them effectively in our first few games, it became an "out of sight, out of mind" groupthink, and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now that I've had a chance to play a variety of other players, I'm seeing realignment rolls become more effective. They'll never be as key to the game as influence placement or coups, but they can be very important at the right time.
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Colin Hunter
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Jeff wrote:
cfarrell wrote:
I mean realignment is too expensive, risky, and generally unavailable (due to defcon restrictions). I've played maybe 12 games and realignment has been used maybe twice, and in both cases it was probably a mistake.


I thought that too, for a long time. However, continued play has shown that realignment rolls just require more subtlety than coups. They're not used as often, but when employed in the right situation, they can be much more effective. They're particularly effective in Africa and the Americas, where you're not burdened by DEFCON restrictions.

Because we couldn't see how to employ them effectively in our first few games, it became an "out of sight, out of mind" groupthink, and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now that I've had a chance to play a variety of other players, I'm seeing realignment rolls become more effective. They'll never be as key to the game as influence placement or coups, but they can be very important at the right time.

I couldn't agree with this more.

I'm sorry chris I normally respect your opinion on most games, as virtually the word of god Realignments are not the most used ops choice, but if you get it to work is is massively powerful. Usually if you can get your realignments going either through defcon manipulation or by targeting south america, central america or Africa. If you can dominate the board position in these areas or in others and get a 4 ops realignment off it can be a huge swing. Realignments are one of those things that take a good deal of experience to make work and if you get them to work, they devistate your opponent. I've seen them decide games.

As for recomendations i would go with Twilight struggle or 1960. I think TS is the better of the two, but it has worse components and is longer.

Paths of Glory is definitely the most complicated so I wouldn't start there unless you are used to playing lots of wargames. Paths of Glory is probably my favourite of the 3.

Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage, from my limited experience I would guess this is the most luck filled, but having said that the game keeps its tension over its length. I think if you want something slightly more complex than twilight struggle with really nice pieces (the new valley games reprint is beautiful) it is the way to go. It also has some really cool mechanics, especially the area control mixed with military battling.
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Another vote for Hannibal here. PoG is good too, but has much longer playtime and is harder to learn than Hannibal. I didn't care much for TS, too chaotic imo.

Another good starting game is Wilderness War, see my review of it here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/236822
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Steve Bauer
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I would vote for Twilight Struggle.

I have not tried Hannibal and I found POG to long an complicated.
I love Twilight Struggle, I do not think it had to much luck and realignment can work.
 
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Chris Farrell
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Quote:
Jeff wrote:
cfarrell wrote:
I mean realignment is too expensive, risky, and generally unavailable (due to defcon restrictions). I've played maybe 12 games and realignment has been used maybe twice, and in both cases it was probably a mistake.


I thought that too, for a long time. However, continued play has shown that realignment rolls just require more subtlety than coups. They're particularly effective in Africa and the Americas, where you're not burdened by DEFCON restrictions.

Now that I've had a chance to play a variety of other players, I'm seeing realignment rolls become more effective. They'll never be as key to the game as influence placement or coups, but they can be very important at the right time.


I couldn't agree with this more.

I'm sorry chris I normally respect your opinion on most games Realignments are not the most used ops choice, but if you get it to work is is massively powerful. Usually if you can get your realignments going either through defcon manipulation or by targeting south america, central america or Africa.


Perhaps I overreached and should slightly rephrase. I think there are times that realignment can be useful, particularly in Africa with its large area and many battleground states (I haven't found it to be very useful in Central or South America because the states there usually split, so it's hard to get any significant connectivity edge). But it's exceedingly rare in my experience. In order to make realignment useful, you need either a target country with high stability that you can surround with your own influence, or a target country that's a battleground state that you can't launch a coup into (because that would start WWIII), but still surround with influence, have influence in, but is not so low stability that it wouldn't be cheaper just to take control by playing influence. Plus, in order to avoid wasting too many ops, you want to be able to set up a couple of these opportunities at the same time. It's a very narrow window, especially considering how easy it is for your opponent to block it by putting out his own influence.

The other use case is a high-stability country which you control and want to realign your opponents' influence out of. This situation rarely occurs, even if it does it's usually too risky unless you have big mods from a lot of neighbors, and even then is usually prohibited by defcon because it would usually be in Europe or Asia where stability numbers are higher; but it can happen.

Anyway. There are times for realignment. But it's exceedingly rare. We did find our use of realignment went up as we played more, but that was from never to maybe about once a game, and even then it was marginal.

I think it's a shame because if realignment were more useful, if you could use your connectivity advantages (even small ones) to leverage your opponent out of areas, it would make the game much more fluid and interesting. But in general, you can't.

Regardless, as I say, the Realignment issues were not a show-stopper for us, just one of those odd little things, like the support checks in 1960 - why are there all these rules for something which is used so incredibly rarely? And wouldn't it be nice if it were actually generally applicable? The real problem in TS was our experience of the play-balance.
 
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