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Subject: Am I Just Getting Old and Crotchety? rss

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Ken Takacs
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The last several new games that I have played have left me dissatisfied. There was every reason to like those games, most of them had good design, unique mechanics, nice components, dedicated fans, great forums devoted to the games, game designers who regularly interfaced with the fans on forums, etc. Many of those games were strategy type games or war games, the types of games I have always preferred.

I believe the source of my dissatisfaction was the luck factor in the games, particularly using dice as the method to resolve combat. I suppose I have grown weary of having dice dictate the outcome of some things. Believe me, this is not the result of sour grapes, as I either won most of those games or played them solitaire. I have been playing games for a long time and well understand the need for the luck or chance factor in games. I have read many things on the element of luck in game design, both on these forums and elsewhere. The purpose of this thread is not to debate the merits of luck in games, that has been discussed in multiple other threads.

I have searched for games with alternative methods for resolving conflict situations. However, there are not many war, strategy or sports games that do not make use of dice or some other significant luck mechanic to resolve conflict situations.

Do any other members feel the same way, and if so, what did you do? I would hate to give up on boardgaming as one of my major hobbies, but some of the luck mechanics have taken the fun out of games for me.
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James Bentley
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Thank you! You have voiced something that I've been feeling for a while. I almost felt guilty about being dissatisfied with some games recently, knowing that I've enjoyed them greatly in the past, and they are certainly great games. But lately I've come away from playing them with an "unfulfilled" feeling.
I just wrote it off to a phase I'm going through.

(However, there is one game that I'm really just now getting into more and I'm still quite happy with it....Memoir '44.)

Thanks for putting my own feeling into words.
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Hammock Backpacker
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kenntak wrote:
The last several new games that I have played have left me dissatisfied.
...
I would hate to give up on boardgaming as one of my major hobbies, but some of the luck mechanics have taken the fun out of games for me.


That's like wondering if you should give up on reading books because the last few you've read left you dissatisfied. Keep playing the ones you like and keep looking forward to the next one.
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Joel K
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Ken,

You might consider investigating Napoleon's Triumph, which has very different resolution mechanisms than those that leave you dissatisfied.

Napoleonic stuff isn't everyone's bag, of course, but maybe it'll pique your interest.
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Will Green
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Ken, take heart! Help is on the way. You are not getting old, nor crotchety, you are just experiencing a new plateau of what you're expectations are for wargames. This is sensible. You want "More!" out of "War!"

Here are some games that are luckless, (well at least diceless), and they "bring back that loving feeling" to the games that you...once, so enjoyed.

There are three games that spring to mind:

Bonaparte at Marengo

Baptism at Bull Run and

Napoleon's Triumph

These three games utilize a unique mechanic, often being termed "Block and Manuever" rather than just "Block" games. Investigate them for yourself. I have and if you try them out in the order listed above I think you may find that they'll
"bring back that loving feeling" sooner, than later.


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Victor Watrous
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Yeah, I feel your pain. And yes, you are just getting old and crotchety.

Seriously, I gave up BattleTech because of the randomness of the dice. I am a horrible dice roller. I know the dice are inanimate, but I also know they hate me. I got tired of playing game after game, watching strategy turn into tragedy due to poor dice rolls. And I played against a fellow who consistently rolled good. Go figure.

I have moved more towards Eurogames where the dice don't dictate the winner (as much).

Lady Luck is a harsh mistress.
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Daniel Cristofani
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kenntak wrote:
However, there are not many war, strategy or sports games that do not make use of dice or some other significant luck mechanic to resolve conflict situations.


Could have a look at Go. That's a strategy game if anything is.
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Shane Is Board
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And if you're in the mood for having more players around and eliminating luck altogether, then take a good hard look at Imperial, you shan't be disappointed.
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alan beaumont
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Same old same old
kenntak wrote:
....the types of games I have always preferred. ....

Enough said.
 
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Troy Winfrey
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These are some excellent points. The question, I guess, might be whether the *degree* of luck is satisfying in a particular game. For that, you'd have to look at theme, flavor, and other "experience" intangibles.
One of my faves is Last Night On Earth, which is FULL of luck, so much so that it enrages a lot of would-be grognards. However, in my opinion the incredible amounts of luck are OK given that they fit so well with the theme...a B zombie movie in which everything is getting worse and worse. The effect is to ratchet up tension, so that you might lose everything on the last turn or two (adding to a nice sense of tragedy or horror if you're the humans). Or you sometimes get a deus ex machina for the humans, which again fits beautifully with the B-movie theme. I'll never forget when Nurse Becky, wounded and having lost all her companions, staggered, bloody and screaming, into the bank right before the board was overrun. She searched and found...a chainsaw. (We decided this was a reward if you opened a $10,000 CD with the bank, which was also kind of fun.) She burst out and proceeded to Stihl a victory in two turns, which while disappointing to me and my zombs was also...coool.

If you're looking for a strict humans vs. zombies sim, this ain't your thing...but I have to wonder whether zombies are a good sim idea, if you're going to invest the time and energy in a sim.

I grew up on AH and SPI monsters from the 1970s. There was some luck there, of course, but much less. If you managed your fire discipline and odds, you'd usually do OK or better than OK. The experience of these "games" (or sims) was much more analytically-driven, not emotionally-driven, and so luck's presence didn't seem to be that big a deal. It was more about positioning yourself to eliminate or mitigate luck. We've forgotten a lot of that in a lot of contemporary game design. Part of this, of course, is that this emphasis nearly proved fatal to the US game industry the first time around, and took down a far, far bigger player than anyone on the current scene.

At the extreme end, you had early miniatures rules and games like Warp War, which didn't even use randomness in inflicted damage. With those it was possible, although very difficult in practice, to calculate exactly how many enemies a unit of 150 spearmen would kill when they attacked the opposing formation. But even then, many players yearned for the emotional aspect, which is why Dave Arneson's little Chainmail innovation of adding heroes with variable powers took off

So you should ask how important the emotional experience (tension, "flow" or movement, the sense of "stuff happening") is to a particular game...that is a likely tell whether "luck" is involved, instead of the more analytical/cerebral pleasures to be had in other types of games.

 
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Will Green
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misteralan wrote:
kenntak wrote:
....the types of games I have always preferred. ....

Enough said.


...and speaking of old and crotchety...
 
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Michael Barlow
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All game rules, in my game group, are open for discussion and debate, with the possibility of testing or adopting house rules.

I dislike dicey games, particularly solo, and have tried various methods to minimize the flip-floppiness of the luck factor:

Add a fixed number to one side's dice rolls to make victories less certain.

Change the dice. In roleplaying games, I dislike the wild chance of the d20, so I've fiddled with smaller dice (2d10s for example, or 3d6 +2).

Make a CRT to replace the dice. Just determine odds from 1:2 to 2:1 and read the results as is. If that's too cut and dry, then, yes, you'll still be rolling a die or flipping a coin to vary the results.

But then, that's all still dice.

To truly step away from the randomness of dice, just apply a simple method of highest number wins. If your units' numbers double, then that's a kill; if your units' numbers are greater but not double, that's another result. "My tank with a 5 squishes your infantry with a 2 and damages your light tank with a 3". This is how Hordes of the Things et al. work (although they use a die as well).

You can add to this sort of system with a random activation mechanic, probably through chit-pulling. "Only my blue tanks can activate this turn".

Then there's the equal playing field. In Chess, any piece can take another as soon as contact is made. Works for abstracts, but needs something extra for themed or historical games.

There's Chris Engle's matrix system. Each conflict becomes an opportunity to discuss the likelihood of the outcome. Debate continues until the most likely result is selected. If two equally likely results are found, then it comes down to dicing (or fisticuffs).

Speaking of Chris Engle, his Ritter system of wargames removes the need for dice by using a descending list of possible outcomes for conflicts as defined by the interaction of unit types. For example, in 1066, en Ritter Spiel,

(condensed list)

1. Everyone defeats routing troops
2. Everyone defeats troops attacked in the rear or flank
10. Warband attacks defeat heavy infantry
23. Light cavalry attacks defeat light infantry in the open
25. Generals who attack defeat everyone
26. All other attacks are inconclusive

So the results are read, each line from 1 down, until the statement matches the current battle. "No routing troops... not that one. Not attacking rear or flank... not that one" and so on.
 
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Seriously, turn off Facebook. You'll be happier.
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    You don't sound old, you sound young. Most of us old people are very comfortable with dice-resolved combat actions. As best I can tell the rebellion against unpredictable events is a relatively recent thing, and it's quite the trendy talking point now.

    "Luck" is the new "roll and move."

             Sag.


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Chris Schenck
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As far as a good wargame that has little luck -- you may be in trouble there. You're either going to have to focus on luckless euros for a while to "get it out of your system" or (hang on a second ... "Hey! You kids get off my lawn!") just suck it up, grab a beer or two, and accept the luck.

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Paul Franklin-Bihary
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Dice are just fine. They are small, cheap, and they work. True, an innovative new system would be cool. But dice are fine. Life is random. Games are too. Deal with it.
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Chris Broggi
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Personally, I often enjoy the randomness that luck brings into a game, as long as it is not too much. Luck allows for less skilled players to have a chance at winning and it allows for solitaire play.

Interestingly enough, my current favorite game Imperial, does not have any luck. While more of an economic game than a war game, you might want to check it out.

Another very fun war game with diceless combat is A Game of Thrones (first edition).
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Barton Campbell
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Apparently Mr. Franklin-Bihary didn't read the OP's remarks. He's saying that dice are NOT fine for him. Or perhaps you just thought that if you told him that using dice is okay, that would magically change his mind??

 
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Nevin Ball
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Interesting comment from someone who has a "Commands & Colors: Ancients Fan" microbadge.

It sounds to me that burnout is setting in and you may need a break from gaming until you feel the love once more.
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Phil
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broggi wrote:
Another very fun war game with diceless combat is A Game of Thrones (first edition).
But only if you play with four players and the A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords Expansion. Great books, great game.
 
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Barry Kendall
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You could try "Friedrich" (see details here or at Simmons Games' site) in which cards, and card management, are very important. My co-design "Defcon One" is diceless as well (would you like to be a playtester?)

Regarding "dice," I find I like the work being done in designs using a variety of different dice (D4, D6, D8, D10, etc.) to determine outcomes (see the extensive notes for the soon-to-come "Where There Is Discord") rather than a simple D6.

However, I find it depends mostly on the game situation and the level of detail represented by the system. Many game systems rely heavily on player decisions in matters such as asset management, timing, choice of ground and maneuver even though combat is still die-determined.

Others rely a great deal on dice for variable circumstance elements (for instance, games with "Events Tables") which produce changed situations requiring player adaptation. If I see the value in such things (such as the recent S&T issue game on a Sino-US naval war in the Western Pacific) I'm perfectly happy with dice as randomizers.

Where I find a certain threshold of tolerance for dice exposure is in the buckets-of-dice combat systems in which units roll a certain number of D6's "to hit"--games like the "New" Third Reich (Avalanche) and A&A (though in fairness, A&A never claims to be a hardcore wargame). This can really become a chore with the more powerful units of the "Axis & Allies" miniatures games where one tank main gun might require seventeen D6s thrown at once (and the dice HAVE to be larger than those chihuahua-chokers that come with it!) and the results discerned from the scattered debris of that dice roll.

Then again, when I play games such as these, I KNOW I'm getting into a dicefest, and it's my choice to live with.

As I age I find my patience for repeating unsatisfying play experiences is not what it used to be, but I simply adapt by playing something else for a while. I find that eventually I come back to the dicefests just for something different.

Personally, I sometimes get more tired counting hexes for movement and range than using dice. Games requiring the use of more than three or four charts also have begun to vex me.

So, to answer your original question, it probably does have something to do with becoming older and more crochety, but there are ways to cope.
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Ian Klinck
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kenntak wrote:

I have searched for games with alternative methods for resolving conflict situations.


You mean, like everyone just trying to get along?
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J
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Ken,

Welcome to the wonderful world of dice-less euros! We welcome you with open arms!
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James Casey
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I get the gist that what you object to is the idea that the dice decided the games rather than the players skill. For a game to prevent dice luck being the deciding factor, you need lots of rolling to ensure things even out over time, with each dice roll having roughly the same level of importance.

I agree with VanVeen that sometimes randomness fits the theme. I find that I sometimes appreciate luck based games - I can just relax and have fun, its the dice's fault if I lose! Variety is the spice of life, just play more different games and you're sure to find some that sit better with you.

I definitely think it might be the time for you to look at something like Chess or Go, where you have noone but yourself to rely on/blame. You might well have dismissed them as dull and dry when you were younger, but now that you are older and wiser (crotchety or not ) you are far more likely to appreciate their incredible depth.
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Stephen Brewbacker
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"Am I Just Getting Old and Crotchety?"

Getting old and crotchety is OK; as long as you don't smell 'old and crotchety'?

Give Antike a try.

 
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