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Subject: Series Hate!!! -- ASL | ATS | PG | LnL | CC | OCS | SCS | TCS | CWBS| etc. rss

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Drew Heath
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If one wants to know why a particular series is GOOD, there are innumerable threads, geeklists, personal comments, and reviews readily available on BGG.

However, if one wants to know why a particular series is BAD... such information is harder to uncover.

People who really enjoy a series play it often, and therefore know its ins & outs the best.

So, for a change of pace, I invite you to take a moment to hate on a series that you play & enjoy regularly.

Let the rest of us benefit from the depth of your experience.

As for me? The only series I feel qualified to hate on is Panzer Grenadier.

**********
/Begin Hate:

The standalone titles are great, and the modules have the potential to be great, but they often require you to make such tremendous mental leaps with the available maps that the spirit of the game falls by the wayside. Case in point - an Arctic Front battle between Finns and Soviets using maps of rolling steppes from Eastern Front. The player is asked to visualize the road bisecting the map as a beach, and all those lovely steppes south of it as rolling blue ocean. No thanks.

The Pacific/East Asian theater is dreadfully underrepresented.

The LOS rules regarding hills/bocage are likewise overly complicated in comparison to the rest of the ruleset.

Counter errata is the worst errata of all, according to me, and PG suffers from it greatly.

**********

It's not easy to admit the defects in your lover! Give it a try, so that the rest of us may benefit!
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Ernest Schubert
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Well I second your opinions on P-Gren. I love the game, but it's not perfect. The really sad thing about the whole situation is that it's so close to being truly maginficent that I think you could, with very minimal work, make the game even more outstanding than it already is...

I have two big graphics problems with the game... one is the maps, as you have mentioned. They need to produce some downloadable, or easily mailed overlays for the specialized terrain senarios. But more to the point - they need to institute some sort of scheme to support the LOS problems that plague the rules as written. I personally would sacrifice some of the 'beauty' of the maps, and go to a 'shaded hex side' solution. This worked well in PanzerBlitz and Panzer Leader. It allows you to depict an undulating hillside or ridge - allowing either a long un-interuppted LOS along the hillside, or to represent a hidden depression in the hillside that escapes LOS from other units on the hill. The same goes for the hilltop problem... by using shaded hex sides you can either represent a big flat 'plateau' or an inverted bowl type of hilltop that limits LOS. They could just sell some updated sheets that would be able to be glued right over the existing maps - to correct these problems.

The other is the counters - errata, yes... but the armour counters need to be fixed. Either make the nomenclature more readable for those of us with less than perfect vision, or go to a siloette or 3 quarter view of the AFV's to make them more recognisable. The top down view is just too hard to identify.
 
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Keith Mageau
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Panzer Grenadier

At one time, about 6 months ago, I owned the vast majority of all boxed games and many expansions. I have since gotten rid of all the games except Eastern Front Deluxe. What would make me get rid of virtually an entire system? Two major factors are at play here.

1. The rules, while short, were very ambiguous in certain spots. Also the rules for leaders acting as forward observers were idiotic. As the rules read, a leader can spot for numerous artillery types at once and throughout the turn and then continue to activate and order platoons into combat. We had to make a house rule to more accurately represent the efforts of forward observers. The could activate to spot, but not order platoons into combat.

2. I seemed to put a lot of mental effort in and get very little satisfaction in return. I once played the Battle of Epsom (first day) (Beyond Normandy) for 11 hours and we were not at a point to conclude the game. For god sakes this is a tactical game, not a operational or strategic game. Many times we spent way to much time on a scenario than it probably warranted.


For the record, I will still play the game, it just is not high on my priority list.
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Michael Taylor
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I really enjoy ASL and its iterations and modules, but there are times that I look at the game system on the shelf, the tackle boxes full of counters, the three-inch rulebook, and then just look away and find something a little less intense. To do ASL, you have to be in the right frame of mind, and be prepared for the setup, the take down, finding the right vehicle counters in a vehicle counter system that does not lend itself to organizing, etc.

I know that I'll forget a couple of rules in the process.

There is no practical way that I know of to sort out the vehicular counters.

Also, I hate overlays. Hate them with a passion. I hate cutting overlays. I hate playing with the overlays. I hate overlays.

Just a couple of peeves about one of my favorite games.

Mike
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Dan Owsen
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I don't know if it's strong enough to call hate, but I do dislike it when I forget rules while playing ASL. Usually it is not something huge that tips the balance of the game, but it's still annoying.

(Of course for me that can happen in any game, it's part of getting older, I think...)

The other thing I dislike about ASL is "trick" scenarios. These are ones that have some kind of trick to winning them. I also dislike scenarios where one side is expected to get wiped out, but can win if one counter survives. (This could be a sub-set of the trick scenario... for example, if you HIP a unit in the right place you could win if your opponent doesn't mop up buildings...)

I love straight-forward slugfests with room for tactics and manuever, and more than one path to victory.

I'll also second some of the comments about PG, especially the maps. I only recently started playing it so I don't have experience with the earlier rule sets. The current rules seems pretty good. I do enjoy it as a change of pace from ASL.

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Xander Fulton
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Shad wrote:
The standalone titles are great, and the modules have the potential to be great, but they often require you to make such tremendous mental leaps with the available maps that the spirit of the game falls by the wayside. Case in point - an Arctic Front battle between Finns and Soviets using maps of rolling steppes from Eastern Front. The player is asked to visualize the road bisecting the map as a beach, and all those lovely steppes south of it as rolling blue ocean. No thanks.


This is one reason I do not have many of the modules - and generally, just those you can get away without much map 'modifications'. As to the case you note, though - and others like it - this IS one of the advantages of having an empty 2' x 3' plexiglass poster frame sitting around. Set up the maps behind it, and you get a much smoother/flatter surface to play on. AND, with a handful of dry erase marker colors, it's easy to mark the map up with whatever terrain mods are required.
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Ben Smith
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The biggest problem with the PG series is Avalanche Press. Give the series to GMT or MMP, it needs some love!
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Steve
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Great idea for a list, very enlightening to hear people really familiar with the series discuss its faults. But I'd like to hear some other series beat up on besides PG!
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Drew Heath
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garysax wrote:
Great idea for a list, very enlightening to hear people really familiar with the series discuss its faults. But I'd like to hear some other series beat up on besides PG!


I just came here to say the same damn thing!
 
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Jason Roach
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You will get get a new series soon that may end-up being your "go-to" platoon level game: Panzer Blitz II by MMP.

Here is a link.

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/preorder/viewGame.php?id=3...

I have play-tested an early run of the game about two years ago and even in that state, I found it to be far better than Panzer Leader/Blitz.

-Jason
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Jason Russ
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Difficult assignment, Shad! But I'll take a shot here.

I'm an OCS nut and at least 90% of my game time goes to the series. I'm currently playing the entire Case Blue campaign (though not linked to GB II) via Vassal and I have a smaller scenario set up for face to face play that gets time every Saturday with a local player. I've played every game in the series except GB II.

So frankly there is not much wrong with the series, but there's always room for improvement, eh?

1) Lack of smaller scenarios. This doesn't bother me directly as I tend to just jump into the campaign anyway. But it does limit some players - particularly new players - and that is a problem for the system.

2) Replacement system in Case Blue. Instead of paying pax and eq for air, trucks, and arty, these items have their own separate replacement mechanism. I preferred the "usual" method as it forces tough choices.

3) Only CB and Burma are in print. It would be great to finalize the rules (maybe 4.0 is the end) and reprint everything!

4) I've always felt that the game was just crying out for some hidden markers and a recon system. There is a tiny optional recon rule, but I would like to see more. Could easily be fleshed out and only used as an optional rule.


Man, I feel like a traitor!


Cheers,
Jason
www.wargamedepot.com

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Good idea. I'm not quite your target- I don't 'love' ASL. But I play it (or, rather, I play ASL Starter Kit, and have ASL, and occassionally play ASL).

What's to hate about ASL? The rules are simply too complicated. I think ASL Starter Kit is a great infantry game. If ASL had the starter kit level of infantry, and added vehicles and other terrain and so on at a comparable level of complexity, it would be almost perfect. As it is, its just too much.

I know people who run ASL tournaments who don't like to use vehicles because they don't know the rules well enough. I haven't played a great deal, but I have never seen people use indirect artillery (and of course many people use it-I get it). But if a WWII tactical game is so complicated that even its fans often forgo vehicles (!) and indirect artillery (!!), that game has crossed some kind of line.

Its unfortunate because the system has so much potential: there are alot of players out there that would like a system which allows them to fight in Stalingrad one night, in a battle between Rumanians and Hungarians the next, and with the French vs. the Germans in a country setting the night after that. The variability is so fantastic, the potential is so fantastic, and yet, because of the rules set, those players are restricted to the Starter Kits, with limited terrain and limited scenario variety.

Steve
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Ken Feldman
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Weighing in on ATS here. I love the system, but they really need to stop tinkering with the rules! It seems like each release has a new rules version. Yes, you can email CH and get the latest update, but who wants to print out a new 60 page rule book every six months and scan it to see what has changed!

I much prefer the approach Avalanche took with Panzer Grenadier. They quickly corrected the big bugs in the rules by going from the First Edition to the Second. Then they waited a few years and went to a Third Edition, which just clarified (no changes) a few things. There are still some typos and unclear parts, but no major problems. I can wait a few years for the next version of the rules.

TCS has suffered from this as well. I just bought a used copy of Objective Schmidt so I went to the MMP website to get the latest rules. They are up to version 4.16 now. Last time I checked, when I got Bloody Ridge on pre-order, it was version 4.11.

I like living rules, but come on, I want to play the game, not relearn the rules every couple of months!
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Andrew C
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Paraguay wrote:
Good idea. I'm not quite your target- I don't 'love' ASL. But I play it (or, rather, I play ASL Starter Kit, and have ASL, and occassionally play ASL).

....

Its unfortunate because the system has so much potential: there are alot of players out there that would like a system which allows them to fight in Stalingrad one night, in a battle between Rumanians and Hungarians the next, and with the French vs. the Germans in a country setting the night after that. The variability is so fantastic, the potential is so fantastic, and yet, because of the rules set, those players are restricted to the Starter Kits, with limited terrain and limited scenario variety.

Steve


I'm with Steve.

A question, though, can't most of the scenarios be played with the SK#3 ruleset?


In terms of my own love/hate relationship with a series, how about SCS?

1)The ridiculous round-up/round down rule?

My mind is so trained to drop fractions that the round-up for fractions over .5 takes way too much thought that would be better spent on developing my strategy.

2) Set up

What gives with hex numbers only every fifth hex? And no simple chart, map notation, or counter notation for set up. Games meant to be simple and relatively quick shouldn't require herculean efforts to set up. I've had to label most of my counter trays to make set up reasonable.
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Richard Savage
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Not to pile on the PanzerGrenadier series, but here we go...I feel the same way about the mapboard problem, it REALLY irks me. I bought the Bulge PG game, expecting a lot of gaming fun. Instead I got, "disregard all trees, treat as flat land, disregard hills, treat as wheat, etc." It goes against the whole idea of being submersed in your wargame! A rant against LnL is, although I like the game system, the having to pay for the 2nd edition rules, and to buy 2nd edition Band of Brothers so I can get haloless mapboards. I know, I know, you can download a halo-less map for free, but I'm not exactly Mr. Precision when pasting, cutting and sticking print-and-play stuff. I'll have halo-less maps, but it will feel like you're playing LnL on a bowl of oatmeal. Make the 2nd edition rules down-loadable, and charge for the halo-less maps professionally done instead!
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Andrew-
No, most scenarios can't be played with the ASLSK 3 ruleset. The biggest hurdle is the terrain: the Starter Kit maps have a very limited terrain set compared to ASL as a whole (not merely terrain, but elevation: hills and multi-level buildings).

There's also other special weapons (as I mentioned, offboard artilllery, as well as panzershrecks, molotov cocktails, piats, the extra various guns, etc etc). As well as fortifications (wire, entrenchments, pillboxes, etc). And finally, the odd rules and units (cavalry, night, desert, boats etc etc).

Its an interesting question, though. Could someone come up with a ruleset (Starter Kit 4?) that would cover say 90% of scenarios? I bet if you added terrain, some basic fortifications, some of the other basic weapons (panzerschrecks and piats and so on), you might be able to do it (how long would the rules be? Basic Squad Leader had all of that-and were about 21 pages). You couldn't do the Pacific, or desert, or night, or cavalry, or beach landings. But maybe you could do, as I said, the majority of the standard European force-on-force scenarios.

Steve
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Matt Longabaugh
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kypros wrote:
Difficult assignment, Shad! But I'll take a shot here.

I'm an OCS nut and at least 90% of my game time goes to the series. I'm currently playing the entire Case Blue campaign (though not linked to GB II) via Vassal and I have a smaller scenario set up for face to face play that gets time every Saturday with a local player. I've played every game in the series except GB II.

So frankly there is not much wrong with the series, but there's always room for improvement, eh?

1) Lack of smaller scenarios. This doesn't bother me directly as I tend to just jump into the campaign anyway. But it does limit some players - particularly new players - and that is a problem for the system.

2) Replacement system in Case Blue. Instead of paying pax and eq for air, trucks, and arty, these items have their own separate replacement mechanism. I preferred the "usual" method as it forces tough choices.

3) Only CB and Burma are in print. It would be great to finalize the rules (maybe 4.0 is the end) and reprint everything!

4) I've always felt that the game was just crying out for some hidden markers and a recon system. There is a tiny optional recon rule, but I would like to see more. Could easily be fleshed out and only used as an optional rule.


Man, I feel like a traitor!


Cheers,
Jason
www.wargamedepot.com



I'm with you Jason, I love OCS, but I have a couple pet peaves of my own:

1) I really don't like how you have to move a HQ to the location you want to use it for its Engineer functions, bridging, airfield and hedgehog construction. Its improved slightly in 4.0, some things can now be done with two hexes of a HQ, but not bridging. To someone of my knowledge and experience this makes no sense whatsoever and is not consistent with other design aspects of the HQ. In the game the HQ serves no real command function, it really acts more like a Corps or Division (depending on the game) logistics support area, although Division and Corps Command HQ are often co-located in these areas. If these HQ/LSAs can deliver "throw" thouands of tons/SPs of supplies 5-10 hexes across the board each turn then why can't they do the same with their Engineer functions. Engineers are generally a Corps, Army and/or Theater asset and they move and conduct operations throughout the Corps AOR, independent of the location of the Corps HQ it's attached to. Its more than just a little absurd that I have to move my entire Corps HQ/LSA (a large operation in its own right)to the location I want to bridge or airfield I need to improve. A platoon or company of construction or bridging engineers would be sent to the location and conduct the mission, not the entire Corps HQ/LSA. I have mentioned this to the designer and his response was he didn't want Engineer units added to the counter mix for players to abuse as combat units. Still doesn't make sense to me, the functions could be thrown, same as SPs, or the construction engineers (which are NOT the same as combat engineers) could be counter similiar to Arty or HQ, not attack capable or a 0-0-12, with no combat factor at all, attack or defense. It seems the designer must have made this compromise for some reason other than just he didn't want the extra counters, but I can't figure out what it is when a simple modeling solution without counters is viable.

2) I was a bit annoyed when MMP reprinted DAK as DAK2 with only minor improvements and then charged $220 for it and no upgrade kit was offered for DAK owners. So in a way DAK has been "invalidated", but I refused to spend the money on DAK2. I was ok with GB II and Case Blue, which were essentially updates, but they came with substanially new material, counters and maps, not offered in the original. Just reprint the originals if the demand is there (and I am in favor of this), no game is perfect, I still enjoy them warts and all. Or least offer low cost upgrade kits if simply can not resist tinkering with the original.
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Ray
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Kenfeldman wrote:
Weighing in on ATS here. I love the system, but they really need to stop tinkering with the rules! It seems like each release has a new rules version. Yes, you can email CH and get the latest update, but who wants to print out a new 60 page rule book every six months and scan it to see what has changed!

You beat me to it. and as each of my playing friends will buy a different game so we can try different maps and scenarios it makes it hard for each of us to play on the same page rules wise.
 
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Erik Hedegor
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If this is a thread hijack, it is unintentional...(disclaimer).

What Steve said...if ASL is so complicated, why doesn't someone start badgering MMP to re-release the original Squad Leader? Or is your thought about a SK#4 that it would a rules set that would adapt ASL counters to use the original SL rules?

Personally, I played a LOT of the original SL in my younger years, and it was plenty complicated enough. Which is why I never transitioned to ASL. But I gotta admit, having played Panzer Grenadier, it lacks a lot of the chrome of SL. But PG offers a LOT of scenario variety and cool counters, with a different emphasis on combat from SL (assaults vs. pure firepower). Squad leader lite, I guess.

Still, would any ASLers like to see the original SL reappear?
 
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Drew Heath
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Erik the Red wrote:

Still, would any ASLers like to see the original SL reappear?


Thanks for posting. I'm not an ASLer, but I'll hazard a guess that the answer is "probably not / no" simply because SL hasn't disappeared. Copies are readily available on Ebay / BGG / CSW for relatively low prices.
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Erik the Red wrote:

Still, would any ASLers like to see the original SL reappear?


As a former ASLer, I'd say no, I wouldn't. You can't go back. When I bought SL in 1980, it was the greatest game ever--compared to the wargames I'd played up to that point. But if I played it today, I'd be thinking, "Yuck--this is so . . . late 1970s."

It might be interesting to relearn the old rules and replay the dozen scenarios that wowed me way back then. But it'd be like hearing a favorite oldie on the radio: after delighting in being "taken back," I'd smile at how much things have changed since then--and how much I've changed.

No, I feel I'd do better to look for a new game that suits me today.

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James Lowry
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Erik the Red wrote:
Still, would any ASLers like to see the original SL reappear?

I'd say that's what ASLSK is. I wish it had been aimed a little more closely at replicating the original SL feel with the ASL rules, but it seems to have done well enough.

The main thing is that there are some parts of ASL that are decidedly superior to what was done in the original SL and its follow-ons (defensive fire, MGs, snipers...), and I see little point to going back to the previous way of doing things.
 
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supersolid wrote:
1) I really don't like how you have to move a HQ to the location you want to use it for its Engineer functions, bridging, airfield and hedgehog construction. Its improved slightly in 4.0, some things can now be done with two hexes of a HQ, but not bridging. To someone of my knowledge and experience this makes no sense whatsoever and is not consistent with other design aspects of the HQ. In the game the HQ serves no real command function, it really acts more like a Corps or Division (depending on the game) logistics support area, although Division and Corps Command HQ are often co-located in these areas. If these HQ/LSAs can deliver "throw" thouands of tons/SPs of supplies 5-10 hexes across the board each turn then why can't they do the same with their Engineer functions. Engineers are generally a Corps, Army and/or Theater asset and they move and conduct operations throughout the Corps AOR, independent of the location of the Corps HQ it's attached to. Its more than just a little absurd that I have to move my entire Corps HQ/LSA (a large operation in its own right)to the location I want to bridge or airfield I need to improve. A platoon or company of construction or bridging engineers would be sent to the location and conduct the mission, not the entire Corps HQ/LSA. I have mentioned this to the designer and his response was he didn't want Engineer units added to the counter mix for players to abuse as combat units. Still doesn't make sense to me, the functions could be thrown, same as SPs, or the construction engineers (which are NOT the same as combat engineers) could be counter similiar to Arty or HQ, not attack capable or a 0-0-12, with no combat factor at all, attack or defense. It seems the designer must have made this compromise for some reason other than just he didn't want the extra counters, but I can't figure out what it is when a simple modeling solution without counters is viable.


I agree with you. This is sometimes the most irritating. But in all fairness, at least in Case Blue, there seem to be enough HQs so that some of them can be devoted to function as bridging equipment.

Another sometimes irritating point is the constant fuel costs. Especially when the supply is tight, it is frustrating to pay the full 1 SP just to shift a mobilized formation a few hexes to a better position. However, on the other hand, I like how it recreates the need to "refit and rest" your mobile forces from time to time.
 
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Peter Vrabel
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Let's have some OCS nitpicks:

1: REs. For the love of god, print the RE on the unit, don't make me decifer the NATO symbology everytime I want to to barrage a hex. The RE system wasn't designed for this level of game. It would make sense if there were just 1 RE units, or 1 RE units combined with multi-step units. But when you throw batallions into the mix, it just becomes a pain.

2: HQs' engineering abilities. As other people have said, this just doesn't make any sense. This is especially bad in Tunisia you simply don't have any HQs to spare. But note that you don't need HQs to build hedgehogs, those just need 1 RE of units in combat mode.

3: The anti-tank effect rules. So, let me get this straight, an armoured unit's combat strength is multiplied by 2, if it attacks an open ground space. Okay. But this multiplier is reduced to 1.5 if there's another armoured unit, or an anti-aircraft unit, or an anti-tank unit, or a hedgehog. Just put a little symbol on the counter, or a colored dot or something. And get rid of mechanised units, they just clutter things up.

4: Replacement system: So I can either use this replacement to replace a 1-0-3 Italian terratorial batallion, or a 4-5-3 German infantry batallion. Hmm, tricky one. That's not too bad, but in CB, the Russian player just end up repeatedly rebuilding the high-AR cavaly regiments, rather than funneling any of those replacements into infantry divisions.

5: Scenarios that are of a playable size would be nice.

6: There's too many good games OOP. (I've just vistied the MMP website, and Tunisia is now OOP! When did that happen?) Basically, everything except CB and Burma is OOP.

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Angela Sutton
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LordStrabo wrote:
Let's have some OCS nitpicks:

1: REs. For the love of god, print the RE on the unit, don't make me decifer the NATO symbology everytime I want to to barrage a hex.

2: HQs' engineering abilities. As other people have said, this just doesn't make any sense. This is especially bad in Tunisia you simply don't have any HQs to spare. But note that you don't need HQs to build hedgehogs, those just need 1 RE of units in combat mode.

3: The anti-tank effect rules. ... Just put a little symbol on the counter, or a colored dot or something. And get rid of mechanised units, they just clutter things up.

4: Replacement system: ...but in CB, the Russian player just end up repeatedly rebuilding the high-AR cavaly regiments, rather than funneling any of those replacements into infantry divisions.



These are some good points. Cleaning up the counters to clarify the way they actually function in game terms is a no-brainer - even old hands sometimes forget what can do what.

I think the replacement issue is really confined to the Eastern Front games, where there can be such a wide spread in the Soviet capabilities. There's been some talk over on Consimworld about how to get people to rebuild the rifle divisions, other than the fact that you will eventually realize you need infantry to hold lines down. I wonder if a simple die roll when a 2 AR or less division is destroyed, that would place a step of it on the reinforcement track as a freebie cadre, would help.
 
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