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Subject: pre orders? rss

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eryn roston
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I cant imagine this is is still slated to come out this month is it? Have pre-orders ever been made available?
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Harald
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No, it isn't coming out this month.
 
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Daniel
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Well, what's the new news? what are your sources? what have you heard??? Inquiring minds want to know!
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Ron Draker
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I too eagerly await some news on how the game design is coming. Last we heard there were some issues to resolve between historical chrome and playability. Who's winning in the debate
 
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Michael Tan
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OK, Here's the quick update. The game was 98% done - as playtesters at WBC and Strategicon can attest. But then Uwe challenged me to try to reduce the playtime further. Right now the 39-45 campaign is coming in around 8-12 hours. The objective is to get that down to 6-8 or even 4-6 hours without sacrificing too much historicity (is that a word?). So I came up with some interesting alternatives to speed up combat resolution but it's a dramatic departure from standard block combat. Before I finished fleshing out those concepts, I had to take a break to focus on work and family so I haven't done much with Sturm Europa! since September. Uwe's been too busy with Essen, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943, and Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour – Poland 1939 to edge me along like he usually does. I'm planning to get back on the horse this month and make a final decision as to whether I'm sticking with the original design or implementing the new stuff. Then we can proceed with final playtesting and production.
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Marcin Woźniak
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oh no!
The combat system was brilliant as it was and was one (and very important)of the things that appealed me to rather wait for sturm europa than buy Rommel in the desert or Eastfront2 or triumph of Chaos. I found europe engulfed (though great game) has two weaknesses - combat system too abstract and too many things to memorize.
If combat system is to be changed, can the change be optional (so previous feature is kept for players/fans like myself?) I would appreciate shorter playing time, but I have some games to fill the niche - and I want one that can be played longer (with optional short scenarios as well). I think that in-battle decisions are what make sturm europa (as I picture it) high above it direct predecessors.
So, if some changes in combat system/battleboard are to be implemented, I (and I am sure am not alone in this) would like to have some more informations on it provided.
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Phil McDonald
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PLEASE don't shorten the campaign game for arbitrary reasons. Scenarios give shorter play options. 12 hours is nothing for a grand campaign.

How about some linked scenarios that add up to the grand campaign as an option to play in several sessions, for those that want them, with either results affecting the start conditions for the next scenario, or destroyed units not being carried forward.

Anyway, don't deprive us of the grand campaign option as it stand... pretty please

If necessary, use the new rules set as a quick-play alternative, not a REPLACEMENT set of rules.
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Brian Berg Asklev Hansen
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Quote:
OK, Here's the quick update. The game was 98% done - as playtesters at WBC and Strategicon can attest. But then Uwe challenged me to try to reduce the playtime further. Right now the 39-45 campaign is coming in around 8-12 hours. The objective is to get that down to 6-8 or even 4-6 hours without sacrificing too much historicity


Please don´t!

8-12 hours is just great for a full 39-45 game. It is much shorther than most games on the same subject. I am afraid that further shortening the playtime, will reduce the depth of the game.

The description of the combat system is what hooked me on the game in the first place and I suspect many feel the same way, so I hope this will stay as it is.

Brian

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Brian Berg Asklev Hansen
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If you want to shorthen playtime, I suggest introducing something like the linked scenarios from Westfront/Eastfrom (from Columbiagames) where VPs are counted every 6 months to check the victory level. This system ensures that any 6 month period can be played as an independent scenario, while still offering the possibility of playing the full campaign.

Brian
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eryn roston
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I'd like to hear about the new combat system before mourning the loss of the old one. Grand strategy in 6-8 hours would be awesome as long as it still felt grand.

-E
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Aaron Silverman
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Well, try 'em out and decide which is best for the game. If two separate combat systems can be included, then pick one to be an optional rule.

Just speaking for myself, I'd be much more likely to buy the 4-8 hour game than the 8-12 hour game.
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Phil McDonald
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I'd be much less likely to buy it with a dumbed-down combat system as the ONLY option. A grand campaign in 4-6 hours? It takes longer than that to play Axis and Allies the boardgame and that's only marginally better than Risk (as a game).

Also, if it removes blocks from the game, I'm concerned that it may be more about trying to take production costs out of the game than about reducing playing time.

Before anyone hails this as a good thing, you should know cost savings in wargames are NOT passed on to the retail price. Take a look at the existing wargame base.
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Michael Tan
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The reasoning for changing combat systems has nothing to do with trying to save production costs or dumbing down the game. It is motivated by two very compelling reasons:

1) There is an asymmetry in playing time in the 3-player game. For much of the war, the Soviet or Allied player have very quick 1-minute turns. They choose a card for ops or event and move/place a few units or shift the diplomatic chart slightly. Then the Axis turn comes around and one card play results in 15-minutes of combat. The extreme is about 30-minutes on the first card play of Barbarossa. Things become much more balanced from mid 1942 onwards. By streamlining combat, the disparity will not be so glaring. This problem does not exist in two player scenarios becuase they are centered around a major campaign such as France, Barbarossa-Taifun, Kursk, or Overlord-Bulge where both players have an opportunity to be the aggressor.

2) Games with faster playing times sell much better. They also get much more table time. Undoubtedly a well designed 8-12 hour game can still seel relatively well in today's marketplace, but all the really big sellers (Twillight Struggle, Axis & Allies, Memoir 44, Conflict of Heroes, Shogun) have much shorter playing times than traditional wargames. The challenge that Uwe has presented before me is to shorten the playing time, while preserving the core essence of what the game is about.

Uwe has made it clear to me that the game is my vision and I have the final say in any creative or design decisions. He is going to publish the game either way - that much he has made 100% clear. I'm not going to make the change unless I feel the operational flavor of the game is still retained.
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Phil McDonald
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Having done all the work, please retain the original ruleset as an option at least. The core sales from this will come from wargamers, not Eurogamers, and 8-12 hours for a full campaign will already be much shorter than for a tradional full-campaign game.
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eryn roston
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again. I'd like to actually SEE the new rules before automatically assuming they are inferior or "dumbed down".

I don't see why 6-8 hours can't be enough time to capture the essence of the campaign here. It depends on how the time is being spent. If I get to DO a lot in 6 hours, than I dont see a problem. A streamlined combat system might allow you to accomplish more action in less time is all.

I'd rather be maneuvering more often then rolling dice or cross referencing combat resolution charts.

*shrug*

 
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Michael Tan
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baditude wrote:
I'd like to hear about the new combat system before mourning the loss of the old one. Grand strategy in 6-8 hours would be awesome as long as it still felt grand.

-E


I can't say too much about it yet because it's really still in the brainstorming stage. I have a number of individual mechanics worked out but haven't tested them all together yet in a full game playtest. This is the gist of it:

1) Offensive and defensive HQ blocks will be introduced to streamline combat decisions. One of the very compelling aspects of the current system are the gut wrentching in battle decisions such as do I blitz with my armor, line up everything on the frontline, hold units in reserve, or retreat to save some units. Now instead of making multiple decisions in battle, players commit to a general "game plan" for each army group during the production phase. Combat will be sped up because there won't be the need to pause while players make the half dozen or so decisions as the battle progresses. The comparison of the HQ block values generates dice modifiers or pre-programmed responses that will yield results comparable to players making the individual decisions of the previous system (albeit with slightly less control). The HQ blocks would move with other blocks but have no combat value other than qualitive step levels that describe the posture of units in that territory. For instance the 4 facings of the attacking block would read: blitz (oil), assault (steel), attrition (manpower), feint(free). The four facings of the defensive blocks would read: counterattack (steel), entrench (manpower), defense in depth (oil), withdraw (free). You purchase a block by selecting a step level and paying for the respective resource. You are committed to that position unless you change it during the next production opportunity. Guessing wrong on an attack (blitz verus defense in depth) or defending with an attacking HQ (or vice versa) will have negative DRMs. Whereas guessing right (blitz versus entrench) will have positive DRMs. This creates a very nice tie in to the production and resource system. It also adds a unique wrinkle that few games account for - Are you stockpiling and preparing for attack or defense? If one subscribes to Suvorov's Icebreaker theory, then this is a nice tie-in to simulate the Soviet unpreparedness for the German attack: the Soviet's were too busy purchasing offensive HQ blocks instead of preparing their defenses.

2) A single dice resolution to resolve all hits rather than rolling block by block. If I eliminate the in battle decisions there is no reason why all dice can't be rolled at once. Even differing types of units can be resolved simultaneously with the introduction of custom dice (which we were already planning on).

Example:

The Soviets attack with (1) B4 shock army, (1) A3 tank army, (1) B4 guards army, and (1) C2 conscript army. The Germans defend with (1) A2 armor, (1) A2 SS panzer grenadier, (1) B3 infantry, and (1) C2 Romanian infantry. In the old system there is a whole lot of back and forth as the "A" defender rolls first, attacker remove casualties/retreats, then the "A" attacker rolls, defender remove casualties / retreats, then the "B" attacker rolls etc... If you have 3-4 battles like this, a single turn can take 20 minutes. Fun for grogs like me laugh but probably a drag for guys who are playing Sturm Europa! for the diplomacy, production, and grand strategy. With the new system the Soviet player would roll 13 dice all at once (because he has 13 total steps). The German player would then roll 9 dice (9 total steps). The six facings of the dice would be as follows:

1. Unconditional Miss
2. Tech symbol
3. Plane symbol
4. Tank symbol
5. Supply symbol
6. Unconditional Hit

"6"s are unconditional hits. "5"s are only hits if your units are supported. Units are unsupported if they are out-of-supply, feinting, or withdrawing. "4"s (tank symbols) are hits if you have armor present - but the maximum number of hits is limited by the number of armor steps you have. "3"s (planes) are hits if you have air support - again the maximum number of plane hits is limited by number of air units. If you are blitzing, results are interpreted slightly differently - "tank" and "plane" hits are "breakthrough" results instead of step losses. If you have defense in depth, you can ignore a certain number of "breakthrough" results. If you are "withdrawing" you lose firepower (units are unsupported) but you have the option of retreating some units instead of taking all step loses.

Much of the essence of the orignal system is retained but the two dice rolls and interpretation of results takes less than 60 seconds versus 3-4 minutes. Considering there are about 80-100 battles per game, we're talking about slicing off 3-4 hours of playing time...
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Phil McDonald
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Sounds fascinating, and I withdraw my pre-emptive strike of dumbing down
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Marcin Woźniak
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IF there are old rules included as an optional rule (COMBAT BOARD) I like the new one. Closer to Battlelore now, but still deep.
(sigh of relief)
 
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Michael Tan
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There won't be an optional rule system. I think that is a sure fire way to ruin a game. It's one thing to have a few optional rules like new cards or historical variants. It's another to have two entire systems to resolve the same thing. I'm going to flesh out the current system a bit more and them take it through the paces. Barring some horrific flaw I haven't foreseen yet, I'm leaning towards implementing the new system and saving the other system for a future operational level design.
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Bill Lawson
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I much preferred the battle board system you had before. It gave it an operational feel and added some interesting decision making. This seems to have been replaced with production (blocks) decisions. For me this sounds like a deal breaker.
 
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Dirk Knemeyer
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Wow. As a confessed fanboy of the "old" system this is tough news to read.

Personally, I love the old system. I won't enjoy the new one as much. That said, if the goal is to produce a game that captures that same Conflict of Heroes "crossover" crowd I think playing time is a huge, huge deal. Through that lens I think the new version is an acceptable alternative. As much as it might break my little Grognard heart. :-)

It "feels" like the game is heading toward being a much better and more involved Axis & Allies. No harm in that. However, along with the faster play I wonder if there might need to be more production "chrome". Dare I say, plastic pieces instead of blocks?! Certainly the new mechanism for combat resolution obfuscates some of the key benefits of the block fog of war. And as we all know, people like to buy the pretty toys.
 
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Adam Ruzzo
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I am torn. I really liked the idea of the old system, but I can see how it could get very long rolling a lot of dice many times in a row. That could hurt the intensity of the game as it slows it down a lot.

I do like the new system with only one exception. I don't like the idea that you have to produce the HQ step you want turns in advance. It seems to me a combat situation in which you might have used feint 3 turns ago could very much require a "blitz" now that the enemy has left a spot less well defended.

I don't know how the overall turn flow is, so maybe you could change these on the same turn as you launch an offensive? I don't mind producing "offensive" or "defensive" HQ blocks ahead of time, as that is a very generic strategic choice that will likely maintain through a few turns. I do not like the idea of choosing a particular battle maneuver an entire season in advance though. I feel like I'd prefer to have more control over the battle (which is one of the reasons i liked the old system!).
 
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Michael Tan
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dknemeyer wrote:
Dare I say, plastic pieces instead of blocks?! Certainly the new mechanism for combat resolution obfuscates some of the key benefits of the block fog of war. And as we all know, people like to buy the pretty toys.


I don't think the new system really affects the fog of war aspect. The only characteristic that is directly impacted is the "A", "B", "C" ranking if all fire is simultaneous. I'm sure I can come up with some DRM that will differentiate "A", "B", and "C" units though.
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Dirk Knemeyer
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m3tan wrote:
dknemeyer wrote:
Dare I say, plastic pieces instead of blocks?! Certainly the new mechanism for combat resolution obfuscates some of the key benefits of the block fog of war. And as we all know, people like to buy the pretty toys.


I don't think the new system really affects the fog of war aspect. The only characteristic that is directly impacted is the "A", "B", "C" ranking if all fire is simultaneous. I'm sure I can come up with some DRM that will differentiate "A", "B", and "C" units though.


But that begins to add time and weight again, no?

Do you have an up-to-date prototype available? I haven't played since the production, diplomacy and tech got baked: it would help me comment if I could kick the tires a bit.
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Michael Tan
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Bridger wrote:
I do like the new system with only one exception. I don't like the idea that you have to produce the HQ step you want turns in advance. It seems to me a combat situation in which you might have used feint 3 turns ago could very much require a "blitz" now that the enemy has left a spot less well defended.

I don't know how the overall turn flow is, so maybe you could change these on the same turn as you launch an offensive? I don't mind producing "offensive" or "defensive" HQ blocks ahead of time, as that is a very generic strategic choice that will likely maintain through a few turns. I do not like the idea of choosing a particular battle maneuver an entire season in advance though. I feel like I'd prefer to have more control over the battle (which is one of the reasons i liked the old system!).


Players alternate actions through the play of cards a la PoG or B2B. If you playe the card for ops and not the event, you can move/attack, build, strat move etc... The ops value determines how many moves/attacks or new builds you can place. You can perform multiple activities of the same type but you can't mix and match different types. So on your first card play, you can move and attack. On the next card play, you can move and attack again or build units but not both. There are five action rounds so a well planned Spring offensive might flow like this:

Card 1 (4 ops) - attack with 4 HQs built up during Winter.
Card 2 (2 ops) - rebuild 2 HQs or replace losses.
Card 3 (3 ops) - attack with 3 HQs.
Card 4 (1 ops) - rebuild 1 HQ or replace losses.
Card 5 (2 ops) - attack with 2 HQs.

You don't need to spend ops rebuilding HQs unless you have a change in plans or exhaust your HQ. I haven't worked out all the mechanics but you will certainly have the flexibility to change the battle plan mid-turn, provided you have the resources available.
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