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Subject: Better Player Aids Needed rss

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Robert Mull
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Just played my first game of Spartacus yesterday and it was readily apparent that better player aids are needed.

First, all the charts and tables are printed on the map, oriented so only one player can read them. I would expect this from a magazine game but not a boxed game. My solution was to photocopy the corner of the map with the charts to provide a copy for the other player, but the better solution would have been to put all the charts on a player aid sheet, and provide a copy for each player. GMT has this down to a science, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do this.

Next is the province control markers - they don’t work well as provided. At first we tried placing them on the map next to the name of the province, this works OK for provinces with their names out in the water but not for provinces with names inland (like Western Celtiberia), plus they just make the map more crowded. Next we tried lining up the markers along each player’s edge of the map, to show how many provinces were controlled by each player. This worked, but it didn’t tell us which provinces were controlled by each player, and as important, which provinces were uncontrolled. What is needed is a separate province control display with a box for each province to place a marker in (and the name of the province outside the box so it can still be read when a marker is placed), organized in four groups - Spain, Gaul, Italy and Asia. Then one could tell at a glance which provinces were controlled by who, and which were uncontrolled.

Perhaps some enterprising graphic artist out there could devise some player aids and post here on the Geek.
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Neil Randall
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First of all, thanks for playing the game, and I hope you do so again. Let us know the results, okay?

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First, all the charts and tables are printed on the map, oriented so only one player can read them. I would expect this from a magazine game but not a boxed game. My solution was to photocopy the corner of the map with the charts to provide a copy for the other player, but the better solution would have been to put all the charts on a player aid sheet, and provide a copy for each player. GMT has this down to a science, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do this.


Because not everybody likes a separate sheet. I'm one of those people. I much prefer the charts on the map when so few are needed. I didn't even want the play-aid card we did include, but it was decided having one was a good idea. We experimented with a different orientation for the charts, but it didn't work out given the map orientation. If it means anything, our artist (Mark Mahaffey) always fights against putting charts on maps (he doesn't like the look of them), but I kept arguing in favour of it. This time, I won - usually I don't.

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Next is the province control markers - they don’t work well as provided. At first we tried placing them on the map next to the name of the province, this works OK for provinces with their names out in the water but not for provinces with names inland (like Western Celtiberia), plus they just make the map more crowded. Next we tried lining up the markers along each player’s edge of the map, to show how many provinces were controlled by each player. This worked, but it didn’t tell us which provinces were controlled by each player, and as important, which provinces were uncontrolled.


Just put them on the province name and you're okay - most of these are in the sea anyway, and I've found they don't crowd the map unduly. I do concede that they would have been better shaded somewhat differently. But once you start looking for the word "Province" you can pick them up pretty quickly. Point taken, though.

Quote:
What is needed is a separate province control display with a box for each province to place a marker in (and the name of the province outside the box so it can still be read when a marker is placed), organized in four groups - Spain, Gaul, Italy and Asia. Then one could tell at a glance which provinces were controlled by who, and which were uncontrolled.


I have to say I completely disagree that a separate display would be a good idea - it gives the game far too large a footprint, and, again, I personally don't like separate sheets for that kind of thing. For me, separate displays are always in the way, and always being jostled, etc. I always end up getting rid of the and using a pencil and paper instead of the display.

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Perhaps some enterprising graphic artist out there could devise some player aids and post here on the Geek.


Certainly possible, and it usually happens.

Edit: I kinda wish we'd put all the province names in the sea, or in Gaul's case in the blank areas, but I'm not sure that would have helped. By the way, the absolute best way to mark provinces is to use small plastic thingies like you used to get with Risk (maybe still do). Or any other small coloured thingies, like poker chips.

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Zippadeedoodah
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By the way, the absolute best way to mark provinces is to use small plastic thingies like you used to get with Risk (maybe still do). Or any other small coloured thingies, like poker chips.

What an excellent idea! You just gave me the perfect excuse for using my yellow and red legionaries from Conquest of the Empire to mark the ownership of the provinces. Such 'plastic thingies' stand out brilliantly and make it ever so easy to count.
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Neil Randall
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Great idea.

 
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Walter
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Rob1977 wrote:
Just played my first game of Spartacus yesterday and it was readily apparent that better player aids are needed.


I haven't played the game yet, but I started making an overview of the various things you can or cannot do with the cards/cp (siege, raid, etc). And what units/armies can do it. I'm not a graphical wizard but when it's done and formatted I'll post it here.
 
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Doug Cooley
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Rob1977 wrote:
Perhaps some enterprising graphic artist out there could devise some player aids and post here on the Geek.

I found that I had trouble remembering what the various terrain and connection types allowed and disallowed, as well as the CP costs for individual units. There are also a few "easy to forget rules" that I listed, all on one sheet. I made up a player aid, which I submitted a few days ago but it hasn't been "cleared" yet. So keep an eye out.

You don't need any graphical wizardry, just a word processor app that will let you do easy tables and arrange the information into a useful format. I'm happy to take suggestions once the danged play aid makes it through Customs.

I also sent a copy to Compass Games, but they haven't put it up on the Spartacus page yet (they did for the Asia Minor play aid you can find on the 'Geek already).

No, no need to thank me. Just send money. ;-)
 
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Doug Cooley
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Player aid is up. Please point out any errors, but I'll only take critiques about content and layout if you've actually tried to play the game using the aid.

I'm already considering adding a note that minor leaders (legates) can only be placed/teleported during the active player's turn, as only Successors players would be familiar with their use.

Also remember that I produced the aid for use by those who were already familiar with Hannibal and/or Successors and thus know the basics. An aid that covers your options during a turn was, at this point in the history of CDGs and IMHO, more paper and work than it was worth. If there's enough outcry for that sort of aid, I'll produce one separately so that the grognards don't need the extra stuff on a playaid.

Doug
 
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Daniel Berger
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Next is the province control markers - they don’t work well as provided.

I plan on simply using one for each player on the Crisis Point track to track how many provinces each player controls, and adjust them as needed.

Now, I *am* curious why the Crisis Point track wasn't made large enough for the counters to actually fit in - you had the room. Not a big deal, though.
 
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Neil Randall
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Now, I *am* curious why the Crisis Point track wasn't made large enough for the counters to actually fit in - you had the room.


Well, I believe the thinking was that it didn't actually matter, given that only one marker goes on the track. But yes, a little odd.

 
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