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Subject: Addressing Some Complaints about Heads of State rss

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Daniel Running
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First, I will say that I have enjoyed playing this game and was a little surprised by some of the more toxic comments regarding it, but I can definitely respect a few of the issues people have with it. So, in this review, rather than rehash how it's played and go over the rules and stuff, I'll give my opinions on some of the complaint areas.

I'm always somewhat baffled when games get unfavorably compared to other games that are "just like them", as if one docks points for a game because it uses a similar mechanic. Well, there are only a few mechanics out there, really, so how do we separate games? I would say that's what makes theme so important to me as a gamer. Like, if there were no theme, most auction games would be "just alike". So, Heads of State is often compared to Thurn & Taxis and Web of Power (for the latter, Heads of States is apparantly "on steroids"). Comparisons are fair, but a chief complaint has been that Thurn & Taxis "just does it better". But does what better? Yes, you pick cards from an open display and you're trying to makes sets. For me, it ends there. the three game turns in Heads fo State are very different from each other while Thurn & Taxis never changes, really. As for theme, another complaint regarding Heads of State, it's hard to say that its theme is more tacked on than that of Thurn & Taxis, no?

Another complaint appears to be no more than nitpicking to me, but I'll address it. So many have been annoyed by the double score keeping. Why have a track and a bunch of pieces that do the same thing? Well, I guess I figured it was so that you could easily make a variant of not using the track and have everyone's score be hidden--just turn over the wooden scoring pieces.

The final issue I'll talk about is one I actually agree with. I consider this game to be a visual nightmare. Everyone more or less looks the same and it's impossible to glance at the board and really get the situation of the game. That's what leads to this game's issues with AP, in my opinion. Most of one's turn is just figuring out who the hell is where. I don't really know how you'd get around it, though, in the case of Heads of State. Still, it can give you a headache when you accidentally try to assassinate yourself thinking that the Duke in France was the green guy's, not yours.

Again, I like this game. I think it's deep and rich, and I like how different it gets from game turn to game turn. There's a lot to think about each turn and I find myself always having to shift my strategy to react to someone else's sudden move. I have never won and a part of me likes that, too.

Finally, I have always felt that one can get way too tied up in comparing games to each other based on how well "they do" a certain mechanic. It's okay to just not like a game, but Heads of State is one I like--not tremendously--but enough that I don't think I'll ever tire of playing it when it comes to the table.
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Chad Ellis
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bigfomlof wrote:
The final issue I'll talk about is one I actually agree with. I consider this game to be a visual nightmare. Everyone more or less looks the same and it's impossible to glance at the board and really get the situation of the game. That's what leads to this game's issues with AP, in my opinion. Most of one's turn is just figuring out who the hell is where. I don't really know how you'd get around it, though, in the case of Heads of State. Still, it can give you a headache when you accidentally try to assassinate yourself thinking that the Duke in France was the green guy's, not yours.


Agreed. The really unfortunate thing about this is that the designer's final prototype (which he showed me at BGG.CON) had much easier-to-distinguish noble chits. Apparently the graphic designer for the publisher made a design call that was quite reasonable in the abstract but which magnified this problem considerably.
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Robert Bor
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bigfomlof wrote:
I'm always somewhat baffled when games get unfavorably compared to other games that are "just like them"...


Categorization is a primary means for us humans to make sense of the world around us. Why is this bad? It has to be done in the right way admittedly, but I see no fault here.

bigfomlof wrote:
... Well, there are only a few mechanics out there, really, so how do we separate games?


I heartily disagree with you on this one and rather state the opposite: there are many mechanics out there. Game mechanics are one way of differing between games.

bigfomlof wrote:
I would say that's what makes theme so important to me as a gamer. Like, if there were no theme, most auction games would be "just alike". So, Heads of State is often compared to Thurn & Taxis and Web of Power (for the latter, Heads of States is apparantly "on steroids"). Comparisons are fair, but a chief complaint has been that Thurn & Taxis "just does it better". But does what better? Yes, you pick cards from an open display and you're trying to makes sets. For me, it ends there. the three game turns in Heads fo State are very different from each other while Thurn & Taxis never changes, really. As for theme, another complaint regarding Heads of State, it's hard to say that its theme is more tacked on than that of Thurn & Taxis, no?


A good Euro game is strong in its mechanics and a good AT game is strong on its theme. I love both, by the way and a lot of the best have more than their fair share of theme and mechanics.

Heads of State is definitely not in the AT corner. Its theme is as poor as they come. Remember, if you can interchange the "theme" of a game with any other theme and it still works, then you have a weak theme. For example, I could just as well imagine the HoS mechanics (for lack of a better word) in space colony settlement, East Indies trading, mob control over a city, [fill in what you like here].

On the other hand it is certainly not a good Euro game either. Its mechanics are too poor to make a good game.

bigfomlof wrote:
Another complaint appears to be no more than nitpicking to me, but I'll address it. So many have been annoyed by the double score keeping. Why have a track and a bunch of pieces that do the same thing? Well, I guess I figured it was so that you could easily make a variant of not using the track and have everyone's score be hidden--just turn over the wooden scoring pieces.


The double score keeping is an ominous sign that the game has not been properly designed. It is like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don't fit.

bigfomlof wrote:
The final issue I'll talk about is one I actually agree with. I consider this game to be a visual nightmare. Everyone more or less looks the same and it's impossible to glance at the board and really get the situation of the game. That's what leads to this game's issues with AP, in my opinion. Most of one's turn is just figuring out who the hell is where. I don't really know how you'd get around it, though, in the case of Heads of State. Still, it can give you a headache when you accidentally try to assassinate yourself thinking that the Duke in France was the green guy's, not yours.


You are completely mistaken when you think that the game's issues with AP (ie, Analysis Paralysis) result from the visual nightmare on the board. The AP results mainly from each player calculating the various permutations for buying the optimum number of nobles.

bigfomlof wrote:
Again, I like this game. I think it's deep and rich, and I like how different it gets from game turn to game turn. There's a lot to think about each turn and I find myself always having to shift my strategy to react to someone else's sudden move. I have never won and a part of me likes that, too.


You say you think the game is rich and deep and then offer the following arguments:
- it is different from game turn to game turn
- there is a lot to think about each turn
- you have to shift strategy to react to someone else's move

The first argument is not a differentiator at all. This describes virtually every game out there.

The second argument is exactly what causes the Analysis Paralysis.

The third argument... well, there is a name for constantly changing a strategy to circumstances and that is opportunism. Is it a coincidence that you cannot stick to a strategy in this game? I do not think so.

bigfomlof wrote:
Finally, I have always felt that one can get way too tied up in comparing games to each other based on how well "they do" a certain mechanic. It's okay to just not like a game, but Heads of State is one I like--not tremendously--but enough that I don't think I'll ever tire of playing it when it comes to the table.


Good for you that you like the game. As for the quality of this review, it is regrettably not very good. You draw some premature conclusions without substantiating them.

Note that I have gone to some trouble to react to your review on the basis of its content, despite its low quality, and quite contrary to your personal attack on me in this thread. I challenge you to come back with content-based answers to my criticism instead of resorting to verbal violence.
 
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Daniel Running
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Wow. I'm curious how you define "verbal violence". I stated at the beginning of the review that it was less of a typical review and more of my thoughts regarding various complaints I read about the game. That's all. As for the personal attack I am charged with I will only say this: Every thread about this game has you on it condemning it, so I was just kind of curious what your beef id with the game. I wouldn't call that an attack, at least not as much as telling someone he writes "low quality" reviews.

I guess it's funny how these posts and threads work out on BGG, where more or less normal people get all worked up about something that isn't really that important. I mean, we're bickering about a game. That seems silly. So, I say truce. we know how each other feels about Heads of State and I guess that's the most important part.

Take care and let me know what you think of Battlestar Galactica. I just got it and haven't had a chance to play it yet.

Cheers.
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Jur dj
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bigfomlof wrote:
Take care and let me know what you think of Battlestar Galactica. I just got it and haven't had a chance to play it yet.

Cheers.


http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/367353
 
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Daniel Running
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Thanks, and that's one of the best session reports I have read in a very long time. can't wait to get this one on the table.
 
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Tom Hancock
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Chad_Ellis wrote:


Agreed. The really unfortunate thing about this is that the designer's final prototype (which he showed me at BGG.CON) had much easier-to-distinguish noble chits. Apparently the graphic designer for the publisher made a design call that was quite reasonable in the abstract but which magnified this problem considerably.


I have heard the same thing- that the designer's prototype had more recognizable tokens than the printed game. Totally not expected from Zman who typically does a bang up job. Blame EggertSpiele for this one.

 
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C Lloyd
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bigfomlof wrote:
Thanks, and that's one of the best session reports I have read in a very long time. can't wait to get this one on the table.

Get it to the table already. Great game that my group has a blast with.
Nice review above, by the way. It accomplished exactly what you set out to do and was very objective.
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